adventure

India's Best Places for Food Lovers

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World Food Day is one day which should be cherished and upheld by all foodies across the globe. Established to commemorate the setting up of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in the year 1945, World Food Day is celebrated on the 16th of October every year. If you’ve been looking for a bonafide reason to let loose the pent-up foodie in you, here’s cause for celebration! This World Food Day, go on an expedition to any of these foodie cities and blissfully watch your diet go for a toss!

1. Delhi

Delhi street food

The National Capital is a food lover’s Mecca with the sheer variety of delicacies available here, right from the famed chole bhature and kebabs at Chandni Chowk to butter chicken at the landmark Moti Mahal, Daryaganj. At the former, you will also be swept away with the tantalizing aromas of aloo parathas, crispy jalebis and nahari. If you’re looking for scrumptious street eats, try golgappas at the first vendor you come across! Another go-to place in Delhi for binge eating is Karol Bagh, which is famous for chicken changezi with khamiri roti and phirni at Changezi Chicken Restaurant and chicken malai tikka at Ganesh Restaurant. The kulfi falooda at Roshan Di Kulfi also gives a heavenly experience! Paharganj, near New Delhi Railway Station, offers an eclectic mix of cuisines across its narrow alleys, right from the chole bhature at Sita Ram Diwan Chand to biryani at Satyam Rooftop Restaurant and Sam’s Café which is unarguably the most famous dining hotspot in Paharganj. Even Safdarjung has favourites like Rajinder Da Dhaba (the makhmali fish tikka and tandoori starters here are to die for).

2. Kolkata

The City of Joy will bowl you over with its culinary prowess! Bengalis are really passionate about their food and it shows, right from the melt-in-the-mouth phuchkas to some of the most unique fish curries you will ever sample in the country! Go crazy with the choicest Hilsa, Bekti and Prawn preparations and indulge your sweet tooth with the finest rosogolla and mishti doi. A variety of street food in Kolkata can be sampled at the commercial hub of Park Street (city’s food street) and Dalhousie including Mughlai paratha, fish fry and lots more! The dum aloo puchka in the Vivekananda Park neighbourhood and mutton kabiraji cutlet at the Mitra Café establishment are urban legends along with the mutton stew at Golbari Hotel and the prawn cutlets at Allen Restaurant. In the by-lanes of Tiretta Bazaar and Tangra, you can relish Tibetan and mouth-watering Chinese as well.

3. Mumbai

Mumbai food

Mumbai, over the years, has acquired a certain cosmopolitan palate, much like its population. Right from the authentic Maharashtrian and Parsi cuisine to Gujarati delights, there’s something for everyone in Mumbai. You’ll find some of the best street food here; the iconic vada pav, pav bhaji, panipuri, dahi puri and bhelpuri are to die for! Even the sev puri is something you shouldn’t miss out on! Other must-try local food items in Mumbai are Bombil fry, falooda, modaks and sandwiches. Take a walk-through Crawford Market and try the famous kheema pav at Gulshan-e-Iran or the white biryani at Bhendi Bazaar’s Noor Mohmmadi. If you’re in the mood for a traditional snack, try the delicious bun maska and mawa samosa at Merwan’s along Grant Road. Pratap Da Dhaba is famous for its vodka panipuri while Kobe’s at Girgaum Chowpatty offers you ultimate sizzlers. Café Noorani on Tardeo Road is famous for its tandoori chicken and you should not miss out on the ice-cream sandwiches and biscuits at Churchgate’s K. Rustom.

4. Hyderabad

Give your belly a royal treat with the best seekh kebabs, chakhna and haleem in Hyderabad. The City of Pearls is also famous for its biryani which is aromatic, spicy and simply irresistible! In fact, you can find some of the best Ramadan delicacies here in Hyderabad. You’ll find a delightful culinary fusion of Arabic, Mughlai and even Telugu influences. The kachche gosht ki biryani, Hyderabadi marag and paaya will land you in 7th heaven for sure! Gachibowli has its famous Sardarji’s Chaat, where you can sample the famous dahi bhalla, papdi chaat and samosa. Go crazy at Rajasthani jalebi and namkeens near the iconic Charminar. The street food havens of Pragati Gully, Tank Bund and Sindhi Colony will give you a taste of lip-smacking Hyderabadi local food. Madina is where you should go for the best Mughlai cuisine. 

5. Goa

Goa food

Goa is not just about the gushing waves, quaint shacks and unlimited partying; there’s a whole treasure trove of gastronomic delights to be discovered here! Hog on the tempting prawn curries and seafood delights like lobsters, salmon, mussels, tuna and mackerel. The more adventurous ones can even feast on jumbo-sized crab fries. Try Pousada which is a more secluded place away from the main beach in Calangute. You will certainly love the aroma and flavour of local ingredients used in a variety of beef, prawn and other meat dishes. The balchao is a must try and makes use of fresh toddy vinegar while the caldin or stew with vegetables is also tempting. La Plage on Ashvem Beach serves some amazing treats including beef carpaccio and sesame-grilled tuna while Anjuna’s well-known Noronha’s Corner offers cutlets, sausages, burgers and lots more! Try the famous chicken cafreal or grilled and spicy chicken here. Just outside the bus stand in Mapusa, the Ajit Tea Stall offers an iconic curry or xacuti. Goan cuisine is all about the effortless mélange of flavours right from chilli and coconut milk to tamarind.

6. Kochi

Authentic Kerala cuisine is like a delightful tapestry to be unveiled, one layer at a time! From heady spices to slimly sweet, there’s a lot to discover in Kochi. Try the famed Kerala beef roast which is absolutely divine! If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be surprised to find the array of lip-smacking treats here. Come here during Onam and it will definitely be an unforgettable experience for your taste buds! Shala Restaurant is worth a visit if you want to try the delicious local fare prepared by housewives. Kingfish steak and Malabar prawn curry are major specialities at this Fort Kochi address. At Fort Kochi, you can also sample the legendary Kayee’s Rahmathullah Hotel’s biryani. This is perhaps the best biryani that you will find in Kerala and the wait here is worth it! Fish biryani is offered on Fridays while Tuesdays are for prawn biryanis. Mutton and chicken are available on all the other days. The Grand Pavilion in Ernakulam is another must-visit for finding authentic Kerala specialities and Syrian cuisine. Try the Karimeen Pollichathu or fried pear spot fish here. You should round off your trail with a journey to the Kashi Art Café which offers fabulous western dishes and breakfasts and the ambience itself is worth taking in.

7. Banaras ( Varanasi)

Banaras is your go-to destination for bingeing on street food and chaat. Right from the acclaimed malaiyo and ghee-laced baati to the simmering achari murgh and chicken tikka, Banaras is a land of mystical surprises and this is reflected in its diverse culinary treats as well. Try baati chokha on Puran Das Road where you can relish delightful dals and roasted chickpeas along with the sattu parathas and litti chokhas. You will also love the Deena Chat Bhandar at Dashaswmedh Ghat Road which offers a special palak chaat and tamatar chaat. Gulp down magical lassis at Blue Lassi Shop, Kachowari Gali Chowk or feast on malaiyyos at Neelkanth. Ram Bhandar, Thatheri Bazaar also has hot, steaming kachoris that you will love pairing with the perfectly cooked chickpeas subzi and jalebi.

8. Rajasthan

Rajasthan is a land full of enchanting stories from the past and while you’re at it, why not savour local delights like daal-baati-choorma and kadhi? If you’re in the mood to indulge, try the laal maas or the gatte. Sweet lovers will find solace in the flavoursome, pure desi ghee gujia, ghevar and balushahi that have successfully entrapped foodies down the ages! Handi Restaurant on MI Road (opposite the GPO) is one of the best places to savour lal maas while daal-baati-choorma can be enjoyed at Udaipur’s Krishna Dal Bati Restro or Jaipur’s Daal Baati Churma Restaurant. For satiating your sweet tooth, Paharia, Kishangarh, is definitely a must-visit!


The Best Wildlife Tours in India

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India is rich in wildlife and wilderness. The vast and diverse country is home to many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Jungle safaris are very popular in India as you enjoy a wide diversity of flora and fauna. While most species of the animal kingdom abound in the landscape, there is a particular fondness for Tigers. Besides, the majestic cats, there are elephants, the only habitat of Asiatic Lions, one-horned rhinoceros Along with spotting the wild species in their natural habitats, get to enjoy at eco-friendly wildlife resorts, campsites, treehouses, etc. Go for jungle treks, bird watching, elephant rides, jeep rides and even boat rides which adds to the fun of the wildlife holiday.

To enjoy the pleasures of wildlife tours in India, here are the top choices:

Bandhavgarh National Park

The most popular wildlife sanctuary in India, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh has the highest density of  tigers the country’s national animal. Besides the Royal Bengal Tigers, this park was also famous for white tigers. Other animals inhabiting the jungles are sambar, chital, wild boar, wild dog, Indian fox, leopard, bison, blue bull, antelope, nilgai and others.

Wildlife safari in Bandhavgarh includes options of jeep or elephant rides, stay at the jungle resorts, visit to the Bandhavgarh Fort and certainly exciting memories.

Ranthambore National Park

Once the hunting grounds of the royal family of Jaipur, Ranthambore is the most popular option for wildlife tours in India. The favourite resident of the jungle, tigers bring visitors in huge numbers from all across the globe. The many water sources in the jungle are home to a huge number of crocodiles, nilgai, sambhar, birds and more.

Stay at the heritage jungle resorts, the very ones used by the royalty on their hunting trips is particularly exciting as is exploring the 10th century Ranthambore Fort atop a hill overlooking the wilderness.

Gir National Park

The exclusive home of Asiatic lions in the natural habit, Gir National park in Gujarat is among the most visit places for a wildlife getaway. Besides, the king of the jungle, there are many inhabitants such as leopards, jackals and the Indian fox. Jeep safari brings you close to the lions.

Kanha National Park

Said to be the inspiration of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, Kanha National Park lures quite a huge number of wildlife lovers and animal enthusiasts. Apart from spotting tigers, you can find gaur, palm squirrel, striped hyena, chinkara, mouse deer, black buck, jackal, porcupine, sambhar and others. The best way to spot tigers is by taking the early morning elephant safari from Mukki entrance of the park.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur)

The bird sanctuary with a status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, earlier known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is one of the best places to go for jungle safari in India. Bird watching is a pleasure here as the nature reserve is home to more than 450 species of birds including migratory species that fly in for a winter visit as far as from Siberia and other cold countries. Keeping the natural beauty intact and noises at the minimum, safari at the bird paradise is available only on cycle rickshaws.

Periyar National Park

Settled in God’s Own Country of Kerala, Periyar National Park is one of the most popular places in for wildlife safari in India. Elephant’s and tigers are the most popular residents but there is the Indian wild dog, sambar, wild pig, barking deer, mouse deer, Nilgiri Langur, Nilgiri Tahr and others.

Early morning safaris are known for the decent chance of getting close to the wildlife as is boating in the Periyar Lake where the beasts come to quench their thirst. Eco-lodges and treehouses are popular options to stay while the national park also offers the chance to explore spice plantations of Thekkady.

Jim Corbett National Park

The oldest wildlife sanctuary in India, Jim Corbett National Park is settled on the mighty foothills of Himalayas. The residents of the jungle include tigers, sloth bear, goral, fishing cat, leopard, chital, barking deer and others. The best way to spot tigers is jeep safari in the Bijrani zone while some glimpse of the wildlife is also available from the watchtowers in Dhikala and other regions.

Kaziranga National Park

Home to one third of world's population of one-horned rhinoceros, Kaziranga National Park is a must visit detsination for wildlife tors in India. The UNECSO listed wildlife sanctaury is spread in India's North Eastern state of Assam.

Manas National Park

 

 

 


Wildlife Safari in Kaziranga National Park

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The wildlife haven in North East India, the Kaziranga National Park is one of the most popular places for jungle safaris in India. Spread over the foothills of the Himalayas besides the Brahmaputra River, the national park is one of the enriched biodiverse habitats. The wildlife sanctuary is most popularly home to one-horned rhinoceros, in fact one-third of the entire population of the species of the world.

One-Horned Rhinoceros in India

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) authorities in Assam have introduced boating, cycling and trekking tours in the fringe area of the park for the first time in its history.

Jeep safaris and elephant  safaris in Kaziranga

Earlier, the park could be explored only via jeep safaris and elephant rides — this is the first time boats, bicycles and trekking have been introduced.

Trekking in Kaziranga

Boat safari in Kaziranga


Ladakh, India's Rooftop

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Just a 75-minute flight north of Delhi lies the region of Ladakh, India’s rooftop and a stark frozen desert. Technically a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but the Ladakh region is far removed from anything Kashmiri, be it the topography, the culture, the way of life, the religious beliefs, and even the security issues that have haunted Kashmir for several years now. Ladakh is and has been an entirely safe area to travel too for all the years I can remember, with its wonderful peace-loving Buddhist residents. 

For years we’d thought of going to Ladakh, but for some reason or the other we’d been postponing it, but I’m glad we finally bit the bullet the summer. Ladakh exceeded our expectations several times over, and rates highly in our very own list of beautiful places to see in the world.
 

Monastery in Ladakh

Leh, the capital of the Ladakh region, and also the city with the region's only commercial airport, is a picturesque little town. The monasteries, monks and Buddhist way of life are very much visible everywhere as also the Tibetan influences. For years Leh lacked good modern hotels, but fortunately, those days are over now, with good quality modern hotels like the Grand Dragon and the Indus Valley being there. 

Leh and it’s surrounding areas have plenty to see and do, the Thiksey monastery, the Hall of Fame museum, the Shanti Stupa, the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, etc. and the two days spent there, partly acclimatizing to the thin air with the low oxygen levels were well worth it. The local bazaar with its colorful small shops, Tibetan and Ladakhi food restaurants, all very interesting and very different from anything seen in the rest of India. Other interesting and worth visiting sites we visited were the Sangam, where the Indus and the Zanskar rivers meet, and the Magnetic Hill, where vehicles seem to be magically rolling upwards defying gravity. 
 

Hunder Sand Dunes, Ladakh

Our next stop was the Nubra Valley, with its stark desert landscape, about a 4-hour drive west of Leh. The drive from Leh to the Nubra Valley area took us through snow-capped mountains, with the Khardung La Pass, one of the highest motorable passes in the world, certainly being the highlight of the drive. 
 
The Nubra Valley area has plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets, but for those not on a budget, the ultimate place to stay is, of course, the Ultimate Traveling Camp’s Chamba Camp. I’d have to say that the two days we spent at the Chamba camp were perhaps the best part of the trip. From the minute you arrive till the minute you depart, the service standards and the hospitality that you experience are a world apart. Luxurious tented accommodation, friendly smiling staff, gourmet cuisine, TUTC has really set the standards as far as glamping in India is concerned.

In the Nubra Valley area, there’s plenty to see and do ( provided of course that you can bring yourself to leave the luxurious surroundings of the camp ) with the Diskit Monastery just down the road , the Hunder sand dunes ( where we rode the two-humped camels ) and the remote village of Turtuk ( with a small museum run by the erstwhile Balti rulers of the area ), the village of Chang (the last village in India ) where a soldier from the Indian Army happily pointed out both, the Indian and the Pakistani border outposts to us, all this being within easy access of the Chamba camp.

Pangong Lake

Post two wonderful, relaxing, though adventurous days at the TUTC’s Chamba camp, our next stop was the Pangong Lake, at an altitude of over 4000 meters above sea level , this lake is huge , as in 134 kilometers long and about 5 kilometers wide at this widest point and extends from India to the Tibetan part of China. Words cannot describe the beautiful lake and its surrounds, truly magical in every way and certainly worth the long drive.

Happy Faces in Ladakh
 
With that, it was time to bid goodbye to Ladakh, a trip that we’ll remember for long, and a destination we’d like to return to, sooner rather than later.
 


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