Sunday, July 27, 2014

In search of Good food.. Rajasthan Diaries- Jaisalmer-Part1

We walk away from the hustle and bustle of the metros into the desert towns to get you the inside story. There has been quite a stir in the ravines and no soul is untouched with the beauty and the peace it brings to one's mind.The stories of kings and queens, of battles, of lost love and not to forget, of FOOD.

Our visit to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan brings us to exalt spiritual journey with our inner self

Jaisalmer is smaller in comparison to other cities  like Jaipur, Jodhpur or Udaipur, but it fills your soul with its culture and of course, good food.There is a certain charm and romance in its air, which lures you back each time you think of the place.

We start the day by visiting the Jaisalmer Fort also known as the Sonar killa. Most forts in India, are either abandoned or converted to museums or hotels,but this is a living fort. 

It is also called Trikoot Killa and has been a witness to many battles fought and won.The fort gets its name from the lion colored walls which have a honey-golden sheen when the sun sets. 

The ruling family of erstwhile Jaisalmer state belongs to Bhati clan of Yadu Rajputs of Chandravanshi race who claim descent from Lord Krishna who ruled Dwarka. In 1156, Rawal Jaisal constructed this fort at Meru hill.

Jaisalmer, is also known as the Golden city and is quite close to Indo-Pak border and it is a treat in itself.One of the most popular tourist destinations, a world heritage site, yet one of the best kept secrets which awaits you to be discovered.

There are shops,hotels,temples,cafes and age-old havelis (homes) inside the fort where families continue to stay from centuries.

You walk away from  present and then again to your past as you enter the majestic Raja Rani Mahal. There are guides as well as the audio tours, and you can see through the jharokhas at your own pace and study the history of the palace as you walk through narrow passages into history.
There is something majestic in the air yet you are so much at peace like you are its own.

You can see people selling their hand embroidered bed-sets,clothes as you walk in past that old door which one stood witness to numerous battles. An old man playing Rawal bhata providing you with all the drama which adds to the mystique of this living fort.

You can see a craftsman making beautiful puppets along the road next to the Ramdev Temple, some tribal ladies selling crinkets and bangles.
As you walk through the fortress, numerous, shops, artisans, Jain and Hindu temples await you. Its like a maze through the annals of history that you discover color of life in the dry and barren desert. People are friendly and helpful and life beckons you asking what do you seek more..

You can have tea at the stalls, shop around and wonder at the marvelous architecture which has stood the strength of time, the heat, the cold and still wonder at the city of gold .

It is home to many temples like Ranchodd ji temple, Chamunda Temple and Jain temples which can be visited in its bylanes.

Fortress is as beautiful like a new bride at moonlight.Its quite a sight to watch, as you sit down for dinner,you can look at its magic for hours together as it is a sheer piece of poetry.There is a chill in its air, yet its charm king size and warmth so endearing that you are captivated forever.

Yes, one of the best things about Jaisalmer, is the simplicity of the people and the colors it brings to your soul....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In search of good food - Hyderabad & Secunderabad

The first thing which comes to your mind when you think about the city of Hyderabad and its twin Secunderabad is the delicious biryani, kebabs and curries.
We visit this paradise to food lovers in the holy month of Ramzan.

The city is bustling with flavors as you watch people shopping, fasting and of course feasting.

Lad bazaar, Kapda bazaar, Chudi Bazaar
We visit the old city where Charminar stands as a witness to change in guard of centuries.It is in these bylanes of Lad bazaar and chudi bazaar is the old world charm that slowly oozes out.These bazaars have existed for centuries and are extremely popular with both tourists and locals.

Queens have now given a way to commoner's but the charm of shopping captivates one and all.

You can explore by-lanes where women haggle, bargain and shop all their necessities.Bangles to purses,clothes to jewellery, pearls to Mehendi(henna) and shoes to bed sheets and household articles, it is a shopping paradise.You can find various jewellery showrooms selling pearls and imitation jewellery but you need to bargain for a good deal

Tucked away in this hustle bustle near Medina masjid is 'Shadab', A name is synonymous with one of the best places to eat for any biryani lover.. Your visit to Hyderabad is incomplete without a visit here. Chicken,mutton,egg, prawn variants of biryani filled with flavors and juices its definitely a treat to ones' senses. Keema, Paya are not to be missed.

Vegetarians don't be disappointed,veg biryani is yummy as well and you will keep asking for more.Also, enjoy falooda (more drinkable version without kulfi) filled with rose syrup, sabja seeds, ice cream.

Irani Chai Osmania biscuits and Karachi bakery
Must have is the special Irani Chai, Osmania biscuits at small joints near Charminar for a hot cuppa refreshing your senses while you shop till you drop.

Another place which symbolizes the love for food is the Karachi bakery.It brings out the child in you as you ponder at the varieties.
Exotic dry fruits, Fruit biscuits, chocolate ,ginger biscuits, naankhatais complete your food safari as you gulp it along with that special Irani Chai.Various outlets ensure you are not deprived of the go
odies in any part of the twin cities.

Another special offering the city brings to you during Ramzan is special Irani Haleem.It resembles the Parsi dish Dhansak, and is made of mutton chunks cooked in ghee(clarified butter) along with the various spices and dry fruits. You can find stalls serving them at every nook and corner. Veg variant of this exotic dish is also served at some restaurants. You can enjoy this at various outlets of Pista House

Cafe Bahar, Paradise , Four seasons
Cafe Bahar @ Basheerbaagh is another place which has made a mark for its biryanis. You can also enjoy delicacies like khubaani ka meetha and bread ka meetha here.Also, must visit is Paradise which is one of the favorite joints @SP road.Four Seasons near Madhavpura and Hyderabad House are also a hot favorite with biryani lovers.

Although Andhra is now divided, food does unite all andhraites.One cannot miss dosa idli upma and several other snacks served @ various tiffin parlors. Healthy and steamed idli sever with various dry and wet chutneys are a delight for vegetarians and fitness freaks.
You can have these and enjoy the tangy spicy andhra meals at Chutney's @ Inorbit mall after you are tired shopping at this huge complex.
Hussain Sagar , Lumbini Park -Waterfront
Must visit the eat-street waterfront which serve you yummy food along Hussain Sagar lake.You can find various eateries serving coffee,pizzas, dosas and other snacks etc.

This lakes both divides and unites the twin cities,long drive along the lake is both scenic and soothing.Colorful lights adorn Buddha statue while sun goes down. Enjoy the sunset by taking a ferry from Lumbini park till the statue and back to complete that lazy Sunday evening.

Tips: Bargain with auto rickshaws before you travel. Meter reading is not compulsory here unlike Mumbai and if they do you will end up taking a longer route or prefer reliable taxi like Greencabs, Meru, radio taxis etc.

AdiĆ³s Twin cities we will be back for more..