While walking towards Humayun’s fort, I walked into this mosque to offer Zohar prayers. Old, not-taken care of, withered over time and hardly anyone at the mosque. The Wazoo-khana at the mosque reminded me of innumerable other mosques of the yesteryears. Now, they all have swanky tile-fitted-running-water wazoo khanas. Don’t mistake me for speaking of this modernization in a dismissive tone. I’m more of a purist and cherish the sacrilege-like feeling associated with a Wazoo khana.
A good number of mosques still have this, but perhaps I rarely visit the ones which don’t have a tap running with a board mentioning, “Wazoo ka paani zyaya na karen.. Paani Allah ki rehmat hai”. Only to see people read it while water while the water flows out at speed faster than their reading.
Anyways, at this mosque, one needed to take out water from the adjacent well, fill it out in the badna and then perform wazoo.
Every-time the mosque near my office runs out of water and the water-tanker doesn’t arrive, we have to take two small mugs, out of a bucket of water, for use. Inconvenient. But we all end up saving almost half the water we’d normally use.
And more importantly, we read the signage: “Wazoo ka paani zyaya na karen.. Paani Allah ki rehmat hai” without letting the water flow away down the drain.
Post offering the prayers at this mosque, everyone gave me sort-of welcome smile. As if they recognized that I’m not from the place. Probably, I clicked a lot of pictures to make sure of that.
The options for food in Delhi are immense. The variety is staggering. Every pocket size can get something at every street corner. Something that’s amiss here in Bangalore. The tales of street-food around Jama Masjid had already raised expectations and naturally this was the first place where I took the metro to. Jahangir
So, my friend took me to Jahangir instead of the famous Karim’s. Knowing this won’ be my only visit in this vicinity for this trip, I agreed to trust him. Of all the choices, Biriyani was definitely one. Chicken Lollipop and Mutton kassa became the starters. The Biriyani was a little oily and the rice wasn’t the usual Hyderabadi Biryani kind and a little peculiar. But it definitely boasted of strong flavors and was cooked well. Chandni Chowk. So, confession time, I had no idea as to what Chandni Chowk was. But thanks to the innumerable references, I was curious. Well, it turned out to be an overcrowded market place burstling with energy and yes, lots of people. Lots.
Daulat ka Chaat
I ended up trying “Daulat ki Chaat” in the streets and it was melt-in-your-mouth Yum. Expensive by street-food standards. However, I wouldn’t mind paying double of that if I could get it now. Nataraja Dahi Bhalle
The Dahi Bhalle was on the sweeter side and personally didn’t like it. But the crowd seemed to love it. Hordes of people lining up to buy this on an evening. I’m told that this is a regular scene at this outlet. But were they all like me to have visited the outlet because of the “crowd”?
Close to this shop is what the Delhiwaalas call the “Paranthe wali Gali”. It’s not just parantha but a variety of fried Indian stuff being dished out. One can find umpteen number of parantha combinations. For a lane this size, there would hardly be a time when it is not crowded. Khan Market
My cousin took me to this posh Delhi Market called Khan Market. It’s different from the usual Delhi, although there’s no dearth of girls pouting for selfies like the rest of Delhi. Jokes apart, the place is interesting and would have been great to be hanging around. Khan Chacha We went to another famous outlet called “Khan Chacha”, started Haji Banda Hasan in 1972. With a modest shop and ended up becoming popular as ‘KHAN CHACHA’ among students and youngsters. It is sort of a legacy now. We tried rolls which were good, the kebabs too but the Biriyan was okayish. What I realized is, if you’re used to the Hyedrabadi style of Biriyani, getting used to Biriyani they serve in Delhi is difficult. Barcelos
This one is close to Khan Chacha and this Burger is something to die for. The black burger is too big a mouthful but is worth it. I’m waiting for the day when they open an outlet in Bangalore. Haus Khaas Village
Crushed Chicken Kathi Rolls at one of the many food stalls at this happening place. The crowd is good and the food around is good too. Nikashee
Tried a little bit of Chinese as well. Noodles, Fried Rice and Shezwan Cheese Gravy to accompany it all. Changezi
This was one dish my friend has been telling me a lot about. So, we went to see what the whole fuss was about. When you visit a place and just by looking at the food being cooked you realize, woah, this is going to be good. This outlet was one of those.
Changezi laden with Creamy butter was to die for. One of the highlights of my delhi trip. Karim’s
This place has a waiting line which can envy even government office counters. I’ve been to my fair share of restaurants but had never waited this much to get a seat. Food was good, however, cannot tag it “best I’ve had” and Delhi has much more variety and quality food than just Kareem’s But of course, one needs to experience the place, and so I did. Tried out these Kebabs among various other things. Just out of Kareems’ there is a sweet shop opposite to Kareem’s. Tried their Rabdi to end my meal on a high.
I ended up trying their Biriyani at a food court where I met a friend and found it okayish. But then, it is wrong to copare food-court wala food with restaurant quality. Right ?
Momos from Delhi:
Momos from Delhi are famous. One can find them wherever you lay your eyes on. If I had to compare it to the ones we get in Bangalore, they were far better. I’m not a momo-fan, even though I don’t dislike ‘em either and found these momos great. The chutey served makes it even better. And they’re cheap as well. The Parantha Mornings
My usual travel plans are spread across weekends. But for the Delhi trip (as it was longer), getting to experience the weekday rush around town as well as the breakfast options. Amazingly good breakfast at 20 bucks, where you get to eat hot spicy paranthas with chutneys. Great, isn’t?
I’m sure I’ll definitely be visiting Delhi again and will add onto this list. if you have any suggestions around food, then do comment.
Scratching through the wee hours in teeth crushing cold, my bus, Good morning’ed Jaipur. It was cold. Everything which I could pack to keep myself warm was not much of help as I had hoped.
It was December after all. It took 5 hours from Delhi to Jaipur. Here’s my Jaipur Travelogue.
With no hotel booked as this was supposed to be just a day’s trip, I walked around the surprisingly crowded bus stop at around 4:30 AM! The upbeat brokers strolling around made sure that I know the rates of nearby hotels as I sipped a cup of chai.
I started towards Jal Mahal by asking directions from locals after the bus I boarded dropped me near the main market. This bus has to be the tiniest Mini-bus that I’ve ever traveled in and which was driven by the oldest driver I’ve seen driving anything. He was clearly in his late-80s but the way he was handling himself appeared to be a seasoned professional nevertheless.
I walked by to see the city waking as the street lights on the clear roads slowly shutting down, one at a time, theatrically. The roads and the visible infrastructure around the city appeared good and the early risers were helpful in showing directions. When traveling down south, (Whether its Chikmagalur, Kodaikanal, Allepey, Varkala, Mangalore, Yelagiri, Kochi or even Chennai), sometimes, language does become an issue when asking directions. I mostly try to understand by gestures and then confirm after every few minutes as Google maps, which is still fun. In this case, Internet had ditched me and I had to talk more than I usually do.
The picture of Jal Mahal, in my mind, was a wee-bit different than what was in front of my eyes. It reminded me of the man-made islands in Zoological parks around which you row boats. Only, in this case, the island was a Mahal and ,of course, there were no boats to row and enjoy a closer view. I wished there was a way to access a better view like the birds flying above the mahal. But then.
However, it was a lovely sight to wait and ultimately breathe in the sunrise along with hundreds of pigeons flying around to give me company.
My next stop was the Amer fort. Along with the rising sun I trekked (sort of) uphill on the straight road. I was glad to have packed lightly which made things easier. Meanwhile, I was introduced to an unheard cultural practice by a passerby heading in the opposite direction when he told me about a temple on the hills. On completion of a wish (mannat), which you ask the deity here for, one has to offer a bottle of liquor as offering. This was new and interesting.
I could already notice the boundaries of the fort from a distance. The off-Yellowish lines visible from a distance added on to the excitement. Scenes from movies and innumerable music videos had featured this sight quite a lot and it all came running down. It was exactly how I had imagined it to be.
There is a lake called Maota is adjacent to the fort and gives it a scenic semblance as you walk alongside to enter the fort. Amer was built by the Meena Tribe and later occupied by Raja Man Singh I.
The insides of Amer Fort: As I entered, I noticed the Chaar Baagh (Four Gardens) formations which are a prominent part of Mughal Architecture. Like the ones which I saw in Delhi a couple of days before. With the shining sun illuminating the pathway towards the fort entrance, the doors literally make for a Grand Entrance.
A more-than visible print of Elephants being regulars here can be seen with their “discharge” all over the pathway.
Rajasthan in general is a primary tourist attraction even before the “Incredible India” campaign kicked off. Finding foreign tourists in huge numbers is quite expected and this early morning at the fort definitely was one of it.
The fort has a multistoried layout which is no less than a Bhool bhulaiya of sorts with the tiniest of windows and doors spread throughout the structure. This characteristic was quite prevalent in almost all the architectures at Jaipur(which I visited) and I presume in Rajasthan as well. The Hawa Mahal is basically an ensemble of these tiny windows. Interestingly, I also noticed a few of the cleaning staff, which comprised of women, draping a Ghoongat (Dupatta used with a veil).
I also heard from one of the guides who was explaining to the foreigners that these windows helped the women folk to easily witness gatherings, markets or processions in the sanctity of the mahals and forts.
I headed back in a crowded bus which charged around 14 rupees and dropped down near Jal Mahal which was in contrast to what I saw earlier. A makeshift market place had emerged around the pavements selling shoes, clothes and even food to be fed to the pigeons roaming around soaking the morning sunlight. The pigeons were not alone BTW!
I headed over to the City Palace which is located amidst the Jaipur market. Renovation work was underway on one of the gates.
The insides are filled up with these glass colored window panes which add on to the many decorations in the palace.
The tiny staircases leading to the terrace are little suffocating and I cannot imagine getting lost in the dark in one of those. Nightmare.
However, once you’ve reached the top, the view is supremely beautiful. Not just that, the feeling of getting out in the open and watching the whole city is sublime.
Venturing out of the City Palace, I went around the market to grab something to eat. Now Jaipur is called the Pink City. So, when you walk around the market, one can notice that the shops, walls and everything where you can lay your eyes on has a shade of pink.
It’s not Pink. But Pink. The market looked very organized and pink. (The pink color maes it all a litte funny though. But its not pink).
I stopped by to have Rabdi (in the pic above) and Malpuas in the market. Eating these was just out of sheer hunger of not having eaten anything since morning and I ended up at the first outlet I saw. They were pretty decent and I would have definitely got a better one had I done any sort of “food research” like I usually do. But then, Internet!
The Hawa Mahal in my head was supposed to be this mammoth building but it wasn’t so. Only when I started taking pictures, I realized why it was so. The Road opposite to the Mahal is pretty narrow and for a good picture, one would either have to take a side-shot to capture it perfectly. Of course it still looked good.
It was a Friday and I needed to search for a mosque to attend Jumma Prayers and even though I was hungry, I held on as I had to meet a friend who works nearby an IT park.
The nice people of the city guided me to the right bus. A vegetarian thali for lunch while reminiscing about college days was great and as always it’s great to meet known friends in unknown cities.
I headed back in another bus and then also took a tuk-tuk just to have an experience on how the city moves around in these.
On reaching the Bus stop and getting onto one of the Delhi bound buses, I realized how much I could do in just one day. Due to time crunch, I could hardly get my hands on Rajasthani food but if I ever visit this place again that will be my priority.
Jaipur is a traditional city which has kept its original charm even with steady development. At least the areas I went around appeared to have better civic sense. Of course the public transportation can improve a lot but the folks of the city make a tourists’ life much easier.
Our initial plan was to return to Ernakulam and after spending some time there around the city, to head back to Bangalore. But all of a sudden, we thought why not go to Varkala?
And the next moment, we took a bus for Varkala. Don’t you love it when impromptu plans work out? I do.
Changing two different buses, we reached Varkala. Reviews showed that the place will have more foreigners than Indians. And it was actually true.
We were lucky enough to get a decent room at just 600 INR. We freshened up and headed for the beach-side restaurant for dinner. Sizzlers, prawns and juice, and we were already full. Along the beach, there are a series of restaurants and we randomly entered one of them.
Tired as we were, headed back to hotel along while indulged in a conversation with a french whom we befriended on our way to Varkala. We talked about issues ranging from politics , culture, and religion. Like every foreigner, his questions were based on things they hear back from their own media. It was around the time when the documentary on the Delhi Rape accused was Banned in India and most of the questions centered around the topic.
The next morning started with a great breakfast.
An interesting thing happened, while we happened to have our Breakfast, we were told that “French Toast” isn’t actually french!! Thanks to our french friend.
Post breakfast, the moment we saw the beach. OMG!!
It has to be the best, out of all the beaches, I’ve seen till date. We had no second thoughts on NOT getting into the waters. Like kids, we splashed around and just enjoyed the course.
When sanity prevailed and we headed back to have our lunch as we needed to rush over to Ernakulam to catch our train. But before that, it was time for food.
Finally, I could taste beef fry from Kerala at this seaside restaurant. The best part was not just the food, which comprised of amazing Tuna laden pizza too, but also the decor of the place.
Filled with books around, it was as if we were eating inside a library overlooking the beach.
The weather was excruciatingly hot and humid. I can’t even recall how many bottles of water I would have gulped down to compensate for the loss by sweating.
Varkala is one of those places where you should not visit during summer unless you are okay with the hot and humidity. However, my bet is, you’ll still end up loving the place.
The beach is amazing and we could see a lot of trekking options available along the beach like the one Gokarna offers.
We had a shortage of time and hence could hardly explore anything apart from the beach.
We ultimately ended up reaching Ernakulam late, very late. We were supposed to reach by 8.30 PM to catch our train, but then we reached only by 10.30 PM.
It all was because we started late, and then took a bus instead of the train, which everyone suggested. We ended up spending the night on the platform, like a couple of nomads and the next morning boarded the train, but not before having a nice breakfast outside the station.
It’s a wrap of the Kerala adventure. There are of course many places to visit in the state which is termed as “God’s own country”, and hopefully will visit them soon.
Read the other two parts of the Kerala Trip as well and share your thoughts in comments.
Over the last year, I’ve been to quite a few hill stations. There are numerous weekend getaways around Karnataka, Kodaikanal is one of them. Located in Tamil Nadu, this hill station is quite famous and here in this Kodaikanal Travelogue, I’ll take you through with me. After Ooty, also located in Tamil Nadu, this definitely is the second best in South of India. Although, Chikmagalur isn’t bad either.
A group of 4 from my previous office, planned a weekend trip last month, this was supposed to be my farewell trip with those folks. A bus ride at night landed us in the scenic beauty of Kodaikanal. We were glad that our hotel was just around the corner of the Kodaikanal City bus stand. Having refreshed ourselves, we headed off for our breakfast before embarking on our schedule.
This place right around the bus stop called Astoria, was where we started off. One of the softest Idlis, I’ve had in a long time. And the variety of chutneys and sambhar makes it even better. You’ll go wow, just when you break those soft Idlis and the moment you dip into those chutneys and savour it in your mouth, your mouth will burst with authentic south Indian flavours. Everything else, the Rawa Dosa and Masala Dosa, were good too. If you want a good vegetarian breakfast before you head for the trek, Astoria Veg is the place.
Being a tourist place, you’ll have a sea of drivers and tour guides vying for your attention as soon as you’re out of the bus, or any restaurants. We decided not to use the guided tours and instead walk and trek our way to different suggested spots which Kodaikanal had to offer. Stopping regularly for innumerable photoshoots from time to time.
While heading out to the Pillar Rocks, we even came across several fruit stalls, and couldn’t help ourselves stop eating these, what looked like litchis.
Stopping at various “suicide points” and discussing why they were called that, and then idling around the roads, we thought we will never reach our destination!! But then, the best part about being in a group, how small it may be, is that you always have something to do. And if you don’t, something crazy can always be done. Like I did.
Finally after walking a lot, we got to see The Gigantic Pillar Rocks!! What a sight it is. My personal view is, places like this should be little less crowded, so that people can savor the beauty a little more. The shops lined across the view point add a little congestion to the whole view. But then, a tourist town and it’s people earn their livelihood through this only and is totally justified. We purchased a few Kodaikanal Chocolates to eat, so as to prolong the lunch pangs after the long walk uphill.
Walking back, we decided to take a cab, but it wasn’t easy to get one. So, we had to adjust by taking a lift from one of the mini-buses and then finally halfway across, where we had to stop for a little Kodaikanal shopping. Coffee, Dry Fruits and lots of Chocolates, after having tasted a variety of them, we took a can back to our hotel. Cabs don’t come cheap when you hire them. They have a standard rate of Rs 150 no matter how less the distance may be.
We took solace in getting our food from a hotel nearby on our way to the hotel and dozed off for a while as we all were really tired. All of it was a result of our extended walking spree.
We headed out to have dinner at The Tawa, this vegetarian joint was recommended by almost all travel blogs, and gorged on the food. Aaloo paranthas laden with Butter, Pav Bhaji, Matar ki sabzi and Shreekand to finish off our dinner. Paranthas were the pick of the lot. Good vegetarian option is what this place is.
Next morning, checked out of the hotel and had breakfast at the same hotel, Astoria , where we had the amazing Idlis the previous day. I tried out their Rawa Dosa and then we after a cup of coffee at the nearby stall, headed towards the lake to hire a bicycle. We took it from the first shop we could lay our eyes on, but I’d recommend you to explore your options before hiring. Our initial plan was to head towards the Water Falls, but we made it to just one of them which was dry. Expecting the same in other places as well, we decided to skip hopping waterfalls and head back to the lake area.
We did have fun on the road while cycling, and pictures do essay the fun we had cycling around.
Heading back, we roamed around the lake eating Corn and the local wheat laddoos, and also indulging in some balloon shootings as well. And yes, this time, we even took the Double-rider cycles, which was a first-time experience as well. The single riders cost us Rs 50/hr and the Double rider Cycles cost us Rs 100 each.
Once we finished off our cycling, headed to a Tibetan place for Lunch. Although the initial plan was to head to a place called Altaf’s Cafe, but for some reason, we headed to this Tibetan joint located inside the market. The ambience is pretty cramped up and but the food is great. On a friends’ recommendation we ordered the Beef Fry, Fried cheese Momos, and Chicken Noodles and along with it Gobi Manchurian for the veggies. Liked the Fried cheese Momos and loved the Beef Fry, but the noodles were a little bland. But, must add, all of it was worth the bucks.
The heavy lunch required us to head back and we finally explored the Coakers Walk, a scenic point to check the vast expanse of the Kodaikanal beauty. There are lots of Telescopes put to view closely, charges Rs 5, and is a perfect waste of your time and money. Stalls are lined around the stretch and if you’re interested, you can buy a few decorations for your home or even mementos around the lakeside area again.
Roaming around to finally land in one of the antique shops. This store had a lot of stuff and each of us bought a lot of stuff for ourselves. Most of it is wooden stuff and is comparatively cheaper from all the tourist places I’ve visited. The store’s name is “Danish Display” and would recommend you to pay a visit. It is near the Kodaikanal bus stand.
We packed our Dinner, Subway Sandwiches, and headed back to Bangalore. Must add here, the journey back might make you feel nauseous and precautions for the same should be taken.
To Wrap up this Kodaikanal Travelogue:
Kodaikanal was pleasant. Hill stations are generally quite similar from one another, but this is a great place for a short weekend trip. Head out and relax in the surroundings.
A good nights’ sleep, and a bus to catch for the most anticipated part of our trip, Allepey, or as it is now referred to as Alappuzha Our morning at Fort Kochi started off on an adventurous note. We ended up missing our bus stop and the wait to catch another bus literally took ages!!
We had planned to reach Alleppey before 11 AM, in order to catch the government-run-ferry. Time was of the essence.
From figuring out, where to stand in order to catch a bus for Alleppey by confirming multiple times with different people, we finally made it.
Ferry boats, Shikaras, and colorful houseboats greeted us, along with hordes of boatwaalas asking us to take their boats instead.
On time for the Government boat, with a ticket costing 400 INR, we started off our ride. Alleppey to Kollam in nearly 8 Hours, with two stops for meals. Awesomeness was expected, and it was indeed what we got to see.
The backwaters. If you’re wondering, what is a Backwater?
A backwater is a part of a river in which there is little or no current. It refers either to a branch of a main river, which lies alongside it and then rejoins it, or to a body of water in a main river, backed up by an obstruction such as the tide or a dam.
From what I had imagined the backwaters in my head, the view definitely did justice to it. And yet, the feeling of being in the midst of the green serenity was just pure bliss.
Our eyes turned into cameras, capturing the green and colorful. Of course, cameras gave them company too. Waving to the street children along the banks and rushing around the deck to get the best view kept everyone in the boat busy.
The locals could be seen rowing their boats around like it was just another day. While the fishermen were busy in readying their ships as these fishing net gateways welcomed us.
Along with this, one could see the birds scattered around our boats, as we moved along to our destination, Kollam.
This bird watching experience as they fly behind the boat was pure bliss. The video isn’t clear but the view is still fresh in my head.
In between, we stopped for lunch. Eating an all-vegetarian Kerala meal with its boiled rice, curries and vegetables, was a unique experience. Definitely not my first Kerala meal experience, but eating it there was quite nice. A stamp of authority, maybe?
By the time we reached Kolam, we were tired but the experience was inspiring enough to keep us upbeat.
The trip didn’t end here but got extended to another day. How ?
From all the trips that I’ve done till now, the one last year to Pondicherry has been the best yet. Reasons ? Well I have a lot of em.
This happened to be my first solo trip. I was excited to finally get something off my bucket list. I loved the whole experience of what it brought along with it. Travelling around to explore something new. Meeting people, trying out new cuisines and spending time without having to worry about time itself. Interestingly, the Pondicherry tourism tagline goes by, “Give time a break”. And I did.
During my stay, I was roaming around the town on a bicycle as well as a Vespa on the two days. On the second day, when I had pretty much roamed around the place, was left with time and petrol to spare.
One person, a middle-aged man, was asking for lift to passerby. I stopped my bike close to him. Happily, he boarded the bike and said something in Tamil. After having established that I knew none of it. Except of course Tamil Terriyadu (which means I don’t know Tamil). We conversed in a little broken hindi which he knew, surprisingly. He thanked me for that and I moved on.
Although it was just a start. When you’re driving you can see a lot many asking for lift. In strange and peculiar ways sometimes. Some do the standard waving, while others excitedly wave around to catch attention.
I again met this young lad, clad in a lungi who asked me for lift. We talked a little where he was surprised as to why I was travelling alone. Yes, I get that a lot too. And due to some reasons, I’ve not been able to travel alone much. He enquired about my stay and whether I liked his town or not.
I was almost on my way back, where I met this teenager. Torn jeans and sadly not for his fashion sense, but actually torn, without any shoes or slippers walking along. Occasionally turning back to see if someone stops their vehicle to reduce his effort to walk back home. Or to wherever he meant to be taken to.
I stopped and he was almost expressionless at that time. I signaled him to hop on, which he did and finally put on a little smile. He knew a little English, so we talked. I asked him about what he does to which he replied that he was a daily wage labor and usually heads back home at this time. From what we could talk, it was not very clear because of the language issue. I took out my camera and told him to pose for it, which he was very reluctant to. He then offered to take a picture of me in my camera. Even though I had to teach him on handling the camera, he did take one.
This picture was clicked by him..
Having clicked me, he was happy. As if he has learnt something new. He returned me the camera and shaking hands he went away. I was waiting for the signal to turn Red, while I saw him dancing happily and running into the lane.
I was smiling. It felt good. A different kind of good.