Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Top 12 Mouthwatering Street Delights In India

Street food is the true essence of India – spicy, flavourful and so irresistible! It’s hard for an Indian to pass by a food stall without taking in the enticing whiff of delectable Samosas and Aloo Chaats. We are quick to stop by to gorge on our favourite street dishes. Isn’t it? So, if you love Indian Street Food, you are going to relish this yummy post!

This is a special collaborative post, which I have compiled after asking my FACEBOOK FANPAGE readers to share their favourite street foods in India and why they love them so much. Well, some of the readers answered the question plainly without mentioning much, but some of them really expressed the ‘yumminess’ of their favourite street food with lots of gusto.

So enjoy the delicious post prepared by my wonderful Facebook Fans –    

Pav Bhaji

The Pav Bhaji in Mumbai - The spicy red sauce (Bhaji) soaks into the delicious fresh bread (pav) for a perfect snack! Mmmmm - The Yoga Nomads

Image source - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N34I2DbgZG4

Chole Bhature

I love them, because I consider them as complete food when I am hungry. Chole Bhature is something I can still try even when I am not hungry. These food items tempt me to try and enjoy their flavours. – Vishal Grover

Image source: www.timescity.com

Sev puri

Sev puri for the mix of flavours and textures. Gobi for the spice and yummy taste. And dosa for the crispness and the chutney. And street food in general because it is delicious and offers fantastic opportunities to people-watch while you eat, forgot about shawarma also -- because it's the best thing to eat after a few drinks! - Veena Rangaswami

Image source - http://apnachaat.ca/gallery/index.php/Food/Sev-puri

Aloo tikki Chaat

Aloo tikki...zubaan ka tadka – Shipra Pande

Though I love many street food of India I like the mix of the flavor of the fried Ram ladoo with the chutneys & raddish. – Gurmit Bhatia

Image source - http://www.theprimlanikitchen.com

Corn on the cob

I like the taste of the corn with the scent of charcoal on it, mixed with some seasoning! – Rohith Girish

Corn on the cob. Such a unique combination of salty, sour and spicy. – Indiapalette

Mall Road in Mussoorie

Golgappe aka Pani puri

All through life, people struggle for happiness, tears, spicy flavour in life. All I do is go and eat Golgappa, Puchka or Bhaiyya's 5 ki pani puri. – Feet On The Map

Dahi wale golgappe..b’coz they are sweeeeet and cold and spicy and mouth watering..... and you just can’t resist eating them... – Swara Sharma

Gol gappe one of the popular street food of India (Pani ke patake ).... – Shweta singh

Food stall in Mussoorie

Spicy aaloo sabji and crispy kachodis

I love the spicy aaloo sabji and crispy kachodis that are sold at breakfast time at various points across Delhi. There are some good points for the same such as Chandni Chowk near Paranthe wali gali, Old Hanuman Mandir near Yamuna and a few more. I also love golgappe. – Praveen Gupta

Well my favourite street food is "Bedai-Sabji" at St. Johns Crossing in Agra & Onion Kachaudi at market of Mansarovar in Jaipur. I would say "Ek baar jo khaaye, usse raha na jaaye". They are really... really delicious. – Manu Khandelwal

Image source - www.sailusfood.com

Seekh Kebabs

Seekh Kebabs in Mazid wali Gali, Flavour of rich spices and taste of Awadh food. – Eric Singh

Image source - Google

Steamed Momos

Ok street food in India, my recent one - "Steamed Momos" in yuksum (Sikkim) served by a humble couple, outside their village hut, stuffed full of fresh veggies(included bamboo)in typical freshly grounded spices, no fat, neat and clean. The best so far! – Shubham Aggarwal

Image source - www.taste.com.au

Dosa

In case of dosa, one thing which makes the difference is the potato stuffing and white chutney. Stomach full of experience (along with crunchy flavor of their outer crust) is what makes them my favourite street food. – Vishal Grover

Hiranandani in Mumbai

Dahi Vada

We like street food like mainly Dosa, Idli, sambar, Chat, Dahi vada, Pakoda, etc. In Cuttack people specially do not eat breakfast at home, but at road side shops. - Ch Sidhartha Mishra

Image source - toprestaurantsindelhi.blogspot.com

Kulfi, Faluda & Thandai

Everything from aloo chat to chole bhature, from kulfi to faluda, from samosa to pakode, from kulfi to thandai...from aloo to any kind of parantha...from sev puri to bedami puri...I love everything... – Satnam Kaur Dey

Eat street in Hyderabad

Masala Chai

Not really food ~ yet the Marcella Chai, watching, listening, interacting with the people that gather .... This is the local India. Where the food people try to duplicate in other countries ~~~~ oh not the chai. - Leila Niemann

Over to you! What’s YOUR favourite street food in India?

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Saturday, 21 March 2015

6 Reasons Travel Photography Is An Epic Experience In INDIA

Although I haven’t been to many countries, I can still declare India to be one of the best countries for travel photography. I believe India challenges you as a photographer, forces you to be creative in the most uninviting situations and offer images that are beautiful beyond being visually appealing. India induces a photographer to be curious and hungry for soulful images. To be really honed as a photographer, you need to do a photography tour of India – you will get accustomed to the unglamorous side of photography pretty soon and know your true worth as a photographer.


So why is India a refuge for travel photographers?

It’s a land of colours.

Perhaps the easiest way to make your pictures attractive is by adding colours to the frame, and when you are in India, that’s an obvious thing to do. India is so full of colours – gorgeous Indian outfits, bangles, decked out bazaars, adorned elephants and camels, spices, festivities, rituals, street processions and so on. Reds, pinks, yellows and blues are all there to lure you into the revelry of everyday hues.


MY TOP 3 FAVORITE PLACES TO CAPTURE COLOURS IN INDIA – RAJASTHAN, SIKKIM & KARNATAKA.

Do I need to say anything about the colours of Rajasthan? Everything about the royal state is colourful and vivid. I noticed a lot of colours in Sikkim, too. Although the approach to colours in Sikkim is quite different from other states in India – I’d say Sikkim is very tastefully colourful. I also love the use of colours in Karnataka – the banana stalls look so pretty and also the flower shops that always manage to grab my attention.

The landscapes are lush, arid, mystical, dramatic…  

India is a country of surprises. When it comes to landscapes, the diversity will blow your senses – there is the divinity of the Himalayas, the nothingness of the deserts, the serenity of the lakes, the verdure of the islands and the imposing benignity of the rocks. Besides, the romance between the elements of nature and our man-made structures is beguiling, too.
    

MY TOP 3 FAVORITE PLACES TO CAPTURE LANDSCAPES & NATURE IN INDIA – SIKKIM, HAMPI & KERALA.

Well, my choice for landscape and nature photography in India is not limited to just three places. (Of course, I will also have Kashmir and Ladakh added to this list very soon.) But yes, I have picked Sikkim, Hampi and Kerala for the contrast they offer – Sikkim has mountains, Hampi has boulders, while Kerala has islands.     

The people are so interesting.

If you talk about conventional good looks, most people in India fall short of it – they are usually not tall, fair and slender, and they are far from being sophisticated. But, Indian faces and personalities are so interesting and photogenic. It’s hard to resist an Indian face – it’s so real. It’s a photographer’s joy to translate the everyday frowns and smiles into an artistic symphony through the power of his/her lens.   


MY TOP 4 FAVORITE PLACES TO CAPTURE PEOPLE IN INDIA – KUTCH, RAJASTHAN, SIKKIM & KARNATAKA.

Although the list is even longer because every state in India has interesting faces, I choose to pick Kutch, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Karnataka for the edged-out personalities that you get to see in these states. Also, people are rooted in traditions; they are simple and charming.

There are everyday quirks and nuances to capture.

More than anything else, India has so many ordinary and mundane moments for photographers – vendors at their stalls, rickshaws, labourers on the job, Chai shops, the display of laundry, cows on the streets, the narrow alleys, the atmosphere around the temples, mosques and Gurdwaras, and of course, the epic train journeys. Outlandishly, every bit of it is quick to grab your attention. It’s practically hard to ignore any sight in India. I’d say capturing the real, ordinary and ignorable moments of everyday life in India is like a furnace test of a photographer. Each and every frame that you freeze has to be birthed amidst the crowd, the chaos, the dust, the noise, the heat and the various smells.


MY TOP 2 FAVORITE PLACES TO CAPTURE THE EVERYDAY LIFE IN INDIA – DELHI & MUMBAI.

I’d like to settle for the two biggest cities of India – Delhi and Mumbai for everyday photography. But, you will have to leave the posh areas and frequent the old areas to find your treasure as a photographer – the alleyways, the street life and all that stuff.

Even the pace of life is diverse.

I feel India has various worlds within it. The metropolitan life is so fast-paced, while the life in small towns and villages is so laid-back and quiet. I think the contrast is amazing to notice and capture for a travel photographer.


FOR ‘PACE OF LIFE’ KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY, I’D NOT LIKE TO PICK ANY FAVORITES, BECAUSE I GUESS THAT’S SOMETHING VERY SPONTANEOUS.

Everything in India exudes stories.   

The most awe-inspiring part of photographing India is being part of its age-old stories. You can’t capture India’s soul without taking a few steps back into its history. Be it the food, the festivals, the many cultural dances, the artworks, the architecture or the ruins, everything has a story in tow. In short, you cannot really capture India merely on the surface. You have to go deep into its traditions, mingle with its people and embrace the eccentricities to be able to slice off a layer of India for your lens.


MY TOP 2 FAVORITE PLACES TO CAPTURE FOOD, ARCHITECTURE, CULTURE & TRADITIONS – KUTCH & RAJASTHAN.

Without a doubt, Kutch and Rajasthan are the epitome of Indianess – forts and palaces, traditional Indian clothes, the village life, rich cuisines and boisterous festivals.   

Which part of India did you enjoy the most as a travel photographer?

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

How To Save Money While Travelling – 5 Practical Tips

Who wouldn’t want to spend less and travel more? All of us want to curb our expenses on the road, because we want to travel longer and experience more. Isn’t it? Before I give you my practical tips on travelling on a budget, let me tell you that I am not very good with money. I tend to spend more than I should. I am not naturally an economic person. You can rather call me a spendthrift! But, my ambition to travel more has persuaded me to become a budget traveller, which I don’t mind at all. Being a budget traveller doesn’t mean that one has to stay in dirty hotel rooms or compromise on one’s safety.

Photo source: babblzoom.tumblr.com/image/44161007999

Now when I have gained some experience on saving money while travelling, I can share the same with you guys. I can understand that travel can intimidate most people because it involves so much of money. The generalised opinion is that you have to be rich to be able to travel. But that’s far from the truth. If everybody had to be rich to be able to travel, then I guess, only a few of us would have been able to do it. I’d say TRAVEL IS FOR EVERYBODY – RICH OR NOT SO RICH.

How to do it?

Most people don’t realise that they end up spending so much of money on things that they don’t need or they wouldn’t like after a while. So, first and foremost, if you want to have a life of travel, set your priorities right. Think before buying an expensive watch or a pair of shoes!

Well, I am not going to tell you how to save money to be able to travel, because that’s all up to an individual. This post is all about saving money while travelling and experiencing more –

Jot down all your expenses.

It may sound funny, but jotting down each little expense is important to keep a tight rein on your purse strings. I have been doing it for a while now, and it has helped me a lot in keeping my budget under control. As soon as my trip starts, I make a separate word file for a record of my expenses – I write down everything from buying a water bottle to dining at a restaurant to accommodation fee. At the end of the trip, I know exactly where did my money go and I also know how much do I really need for a trip.
Photo source: Shutterstock
Make use of local transport.

Nothing saves money more than the local conveyance in a city, because most of your money is demolished by private taxis. Don’t you agree? Take a bus or a shared auto instead of a hired auto or a cab. If you are worried about the comfort part, make your own judgements about it. If it’s too bad, find a middle ground – choose cheap transport option for short journeys and hire a cab for long ones. Also, if you have used local buses for five days in a city and you want to just take it easy on the last day, get a cab! It’s fine. You have to balance it out. You need to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Get on the bus instead of a cab.
Don’t keep buying water bottles every now and then.    

Of late, I have saved a lot of money on my travels by just ‘not buying’ water bottles! Yes, it’s so simple and environmentally good, too. Get a water bottle from home and keep refilling it wherever you find clean drinking water. Enjoy a nice meal at a swanky restaurant with that money!

Don't let your money flow out of pocket!

Choose accommodation that includes meals, and book in advance.

Today, it’s quite easy to find homestays that provide meals along with the room in the same rate. Do a deep research on accommodation options available, pick and choose, talk to the manager, negotiate the price and make the booking. It’s always good to book your accommodation in advance. It saves you a lot of trouble and money as well – you won’t have to drag your luggage from one place to another in search of a hotel, depend on a commission earner or call up different travel agents.

An accommodation with the meals is more cost-effective.
Don’t buy things on impulse.

Lastly, forget shopping while travelling. If a girl like me can do it, anyone can! I am a typical girl who loves to shop – I love clothes and shoes. But, when I am travelling, I stay away from shopping. I am not saying that you should totally refrain from buying anything – you can shop a bit at the end of your trip if you are left with some extra cash. But, don’t let any retailer lure you into shopping for the sake of it.

Shopping is like a dragon. Stay away!

What's YOUR top tip to save money while travelling?

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

8 Countries On My Bucket List

All images sourced from different websites

Today, I’d like to eat my own words (I don’t believe in making a travel bucket list) and talk about my ultimate travel bucket list. Yes, I have always been reluctant or rather decisive about sharing my travel bucket list on the blog. I want my travel life to be spontaneous and I would like to share my ‘road experiences’ as and when they happen. However, I do have certain destinations on my mind that fascinate me for different reasons. I believe there are destinations that you get intrigued about by seeing their photos on a travel blog, magazine or maybe hear about them on a travel show, and then there are destinations that you fall in love with – those are your dream destinations. So, when I talk about bucket-list, I mean those destinations that I absolutely want to tick off before I die.

I’d like to mention that the first FOUR in the list are my absolute favourites. I have been dreaming of them for as long as I can remember.

ITALY

Italy is a charmer. It’s a like that handsome, imperfect and incurably romantic man that I would want to be in love with. I am drawn to every bit of Italy – its nooks and corners, pizzas and pastas, wines and coffee, vineyards and sunshine. People usually talk about its architectural appeal and history, but I am more fascinated by its aura, its culture, lifestyle and romance. Places that I’d like to explore in Italy would be the Tuscan countryside, Puglia, Naples, Sorrento and of course, Venice.   

You can also check out this lovely post on Walks Of Italy

Photo credit: 2luxury2.com

ENGLAND

I have always been fascinated by the English life – the afternoon tea, the stately mansions, the pretty thatched roof houses, British ladies and their sophistication. Although I would like to travel through entire England, London has a special place in my heart. London perhaps is the most coveted (and you can even call it clich├ęd) destination in the world, but it’s still fresh and new for me.   

Photo credit: theapricity.com

SCOTLAND

I don’t know why but I find the Scottish mountains surreal. They just seem out of this world – fictitious. And then you have the castles that just add to the beauty. Besides, I find the name ‘Scotland’ very appealing. It just sounds so good that I feel like being there. 

Photo credit: andromedafree.it
    
SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is definitely one of the countries that I can’t imagine not ticking off in my lifetime. Be it the Swiss Alps, the spotless countryside, the cute little open-air cafes or the Swiss chocolates – everything is simply charm personified. I’d like to admit that a lot of my inspiration to visit Switzerland has come from the movies that I have been watching since childhood, and also the travel shows on Television, but what I truly love about Switzerland is that it has got all the ingredients of a great destination – its lovely bucolic life blends effortlessly with the vivacity of its cities. 

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alps
   
JORDAN

Well, Jordan was not on my mind until a few months back when I found it on so many travel blogs and also as a dream sequence locale in a movie or two. I think it’s an extremely beguiling land! So yes, I have my eyes on Jordan.

Photo credit: pixgood.com

MOROCCO

Morocco has grown on me. I got attracted to its desert, the blue alleyways, colourful markets and a certain mystical aura that I guess I can discover only when I visit it. I believe Morocco is beautiful in its own unique way, but more than that I am curious about it.

Photo credit: travelanthropist.com

NORWAY

I want to visit Norway for its sheer beauty. It seems to me a country that’s a storehouse of natural treasures. It almost feels like life is yet to begin there – the landscapes look so pure and divine.

Photo credit: lonelywolf2.deviantart.com

SLOVENIA

Slovenia is a stunning country! I mean whatever I have seen of it in the pictures is simply breathtaking. I am stuck with Ljubljana – the capital city of Slovenia. Again, the credit for the inspiration and fascination goes to travel blogs. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about Slovenia that’s just too exquisite to resist.

Photo credit: Pinterest

What countries do you have on your bucket list?

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

KUTCH Travel Guide – Top 5 Experiences


First things first, Kutch has way too long distances. I covered around 95 km one way when I travelled from Devpur Yaksha to Lakhpat, around 65 km to Mandvi and 40 km to Bhuj. But, there is nothing to fret about, as I am going to share with you my practical tips on commuting in Kutch. So, don’t let distances scare you! There is another side to the coin, which indicates that Kutch has good roads, less traffic and a variety of transport options.


Before you even plan your travel to Kutch, be sure what you seek. Do you want to see the museums, temples and palaces, or do you want Kutchi experiences? I think filtering out your travel interests can save both your time and money. Besides, there are other factors to consider, too – season, duration of your trip, budget and your companions.

My stay in Kutch was for six days and I visited Bhuj, The Great Rann Of Kutch, Kala Dungar (Black Hill), Khavda Village, Ludiya Village, Hodka, Bhujodi Village, Bhadli, Lakhpat and Mandvi.

Since I like experiential travel more than sightseeing, I would like to recommend the following experiences –

The Salt Walk on the white desert

The Greater Rann Of Kutch is one of the most unique experiences for a traveller. The moment I stepped on the salt desert, it seemed like I had slipped into a white canopy of the sky and the earth. What made the experience so awe-inspiring were the strong winds and the infinite landscape. The more you walk towards the horizon the better it gets.


Practical Information: The Greater Rann of Kutch is around 90 km from Bhuj and is accessible by taxis, which can be arranged for you by travel agents or by your hotel manager. If you choose to stay overnight in the desert, the accommodation is quite expensive. However, there are quite a few village resorts 15-20 km away from the desert, where you can experience staying in a mud hut and other village charms.

I stayed overnight at Shaam-E-Sarhad Village Resort for which I paid a discounted rate of INR 1750 including all the meals. You can check their tariff here. Taxis to the white Rann cost between INR 2400 to 2800 depending upon from where they pick you and what all you cover along the way.

Also, you need to obtain a permit to get to the Rann, which you can get at a check post on the way to the desert. It apparently costs INR 250. However, I’d advise you to do your own research regarding this part.

Unearth the treasures at Lakhpat Fort

Lakhpat was an intriguing surprise. You can read about it in detail here. There is a lot to discover within the fort walls – the tombs, the ruins and the peacocks. Besides, I immensely loved my chitchat with the two BSF men posted at the border outpost.


Practical Information: It takes over two and a half hours to reach Lakhpat from Devpur Yaksha (Nakhatrana) by a shared auto. Since I hired the shared auto personally, it cost me INR 1200 for a return journey.

Panoramic views of Bhuj from a Dargah

Bhuj has great panoramas to offer. However, it’s important to find a good vantage point to see the city of Bhuj in one frame. One of the auto guys in Bhuj suggested Bade Pir Ki Dargah, which turned out to be not just a fantastic vantage point, but was beautiful, too. When it was time for the sun to set, the old man at the Dargah burnt some coals in a pot. I didn’t get the purpose behind doing so, but I liked the combination of the waning sun and the fire.


Lush landscapes towards Mandvi

I wish I could get down from the jeep and take photos of the many lush farms that I came across while travelling towards Mandvi. The whole district of Kutch is known for barren landscapes. But, I got see totally different landscapes around Devpur Yaksh and Mandvi. I saw quite a lot of banana and other plantations that it made me feel for a while that I was in some different part of India. I really didn’t expect to find so much of greenery in Kutch, which I was pleased to witness.

Practical Information: There are regular shared jeeps and autos available to commute between places. It’s a great feeling to pay only 30 bucks and cover distances like 40 and 60 km.

Relish the Gujarati and Kutchi cuisines   

Devouring the traditional Gujarati and Kutchi platters at various restaurants in Kutch was also an exceptional experience for me. I ate at Green Rock Restaurant in Bhuj, which is not very far from Prag Mahal. The platter was delicious with all the Gujarati veggies and sweet dishes. Then I had a traditional platter at Krishna Palace Restaurant in Mandvi, which was decent, too. I liked their suji ka halwa a lot. On my last day in Kutch, I tried a Gujarati platter at Toral Restaurant of Prince Hotel in Bhuj, which served yummy dahi bade and jalebi garnished with rose petals.


HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED TO EXPLORE KUTCH –

Since Kutch is a vast district with so many places to visit, I’d advise you to plan at least a week’s trip if not more.

WHERE TO STAY IN KUTCH –

Devpur Homestay (40 km from Bhuj)
Kutch Adventures Homestay in Bhuj (kuldip@kutchadventuresindia.com)
RukmavatiGuestHouse in Mandvi (rukmavati@rediffmail.com/hotelrukmavati@gmail.com)   

HOW TO COMMUTE AFFORDABLY WITHIN KUTCH –

Bhuj, the main city of Kutch, has an efficient transport system. It is well-connected to the rest of Kutch by buses, shared jeeps and autos.

Do you have any more questions for me?

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