Posted in himalayan resort, himalayan river, himalayas, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, Jim Corbett, Kosi, Kosi river, mountain, mountains, National Park, Nature, north indian, Ramnagar, the lesser himalayas, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, uttarakhand, Wildlife

Where tigers are supposed to rule – Jim Corbett

If you are a passionate traveller, your travels are incomplete without a Safari tour or a national park/wildlife sanctuary journey.

And for a Delhiite, the nearest protected reserve is Jim Corbett – a mere 6 hour journey from the national capital.

Day 0: Since bus journeys are mostly uncomfortable, we opted for Indian Railways this time. Ranikhet Express presents an overnight journey from Delhi to Ramnagar. But it reaches Ramnagar at 4:50 am so better to arrange the pick and drop services from the hotel/resort.

Day 1: Our train reached at the designated time and the staff at our stay in resort Corbett Woods had already sent cabs for pick up at the Ramnagar Railway Station. The fresh morning breeze was soothing and prepared us for a relaxing journey ahead.

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The resort has Swiss tents and cottages alike and the facilities provided are top notch. Our morning tea and cookies, the myriad items in the breakfast and the morning dip in the swimming pool were the best welcome kit that we had been offered.

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The only downside of the day was bed bugs on our beds. We got the room changed but unhygienic tents are totally unacceptable.

After stuffing ourselves with the lip smacking lunch and resting for a while, we took an open jeep tour to Girijiya temple near the banks of the Kosi river.

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The waters of Bihar’s sorrow are extremely clean and many of my companions took a dip or two in the river. The scenery is delightfully wonderful.

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Day 2: The second day began early at 4:30am as the time was finally here for the Jim Corbett Safari tour. Our resort had already arranged the permits for us and it is required to carry your ID proofs (no PAN cards) as the forest officials keep a vigilant check at the entrance gates. A guide will also accompany the tourists.

Do not buy the rumours that Jim Corbett is overrated. Trust me, it is not! The tall Savannah grass hiding the herd of elephants, the numerous family of peacocks & peahens and grey Francolins on the road and the myriad groups of deer families galloping in the dense forests and grasslands are the sights to behold. The sounds of the not-so-naughty wild rhesus macaques which are pretty sophisticated compared to their mischievous city counterparts & langurs will alarm you once in a while.

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And do not forget to marvel at the beautiful nests of the weaver birds.

We did not spot a tiger or a leopard but the pug marks were there.

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The usual wine & dine routine went after we were finished with our Safari.

We also took a tempo facilitated journey to the Souvenir shops in Ramnagar.

Our returning train Ranikhet Express was scheduled at 8pm from the Ramnagar Railway station and it reached Delhi Cantt at 5:30am.

This journey has instilled in me a resolve to take more Safari and wildlife sanctuary tours and revel in the sound of the forest.

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Posted in fort, india, indian, indian food, Jodhpur, Mehrangarh fort, Nikon, NikonD5600, photography, Rajasthan, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized

Travel musings – Jodhpur

Standing at one of the many numerous balconies and soaking in the relaxed ambience – you will never get bored at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur.

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Posted in afghani chicken, chicken, chicken kebab, chicken malai tikka, chicken tangri, dal, dal makhani, Gulab jamun, gurgaon, gurgaon restaurants, halwa, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, kebab, Moong dal halwa, mughlai, mughlai cuisine, mutton, mutton biryani, Mutton kebab, north indian, rogan josh, Uncategorized

The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Sohna Road, Gurgaon

Shorba with bread: Bread fluffy and with a distinct flavour of fennel. It compliments the tangy and light tomato shorba pretty well.

Pudina Rani Murg: The juicy chicken leg piece is good to dig into and refreshing mint marination along with creamy yogurt is a wonderful add on.

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Galouti Kebab: The chefs at The Great Kebab Factory are Galouti Kebab specialists – you know it when the kebabs are flavourful and melt in the mouth.

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Machhi ke sholey: Delicate fish chunks with a chewy crust – I could not have asked for more!

Gosht Tawa Chaap: A very pleasant surprise! The tender mutton ribs are drenched in a hot and spicy gravy with the prominent flavour of black pepper. Lip smacking to say the least!

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Methi Murg Malai: The usual Malai Chicken with the goodness of fenugreek and smoked to juicy perfection.

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Mutton Dum Biryani: Pure love with tender mutton pieces in a flavourful bed of rice and coarse spices.

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Mutton Rogan Josh:  My favourite to place to have Rohan Josh – the lightly mutton shanks in a rich gravy served with Naan.

Gulab Jamun: Very mellow and moderately sweet.

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Moong Dal Halwa: Full marks to the presentation! The halwa has the necessary richness but not too sweet.

Pineapple Phirni: The velvety texture will leave your heart splits although the extra sweetness will compel you to have this slowly. Hi

The Great Kabab Factory - Radisson Gurugram Sohna Road City Center Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in button mushroom, cheese, Dahi ke sholey, food, food blogger, fusion food, gluttonyguilts, gurgaon, gurgaon restaurants, indian food, mushroom, paneer, paneer tikka, soya chaap, Tandoori mushroom, Uncategorized

Roohaani Rasoi, Sector 14, Gurgaon

Tandoori mushrooms: Tangy and spicy mushrooms which are juicy as well.

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Dahi ke sholey: They are deep fried yes but airy and light at the same time. Not to forget the creamy insides with the balance between the sweetness of yogurt and the scovian factor of green chillies.

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Cheese Burst Soya Chaap: As if the mellowness of this soya chaap wasn’t enough, these guys dipped the same in a cheesy sauce to entice our bellies.

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Zaffraani Paneer: Paneer and assorted colourful bell peppers compliment each other in an excellent way. But when served in a hot onion based gravy and topped with carom seeds, do provide a tantalizing experience.

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Paneer Tikka Lasagna:

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Roohaani Rasoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in chicken sandwich, chocolate brownie, dehradun, dessert, desserts, dhanaulti, grilled chicken sandwich, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, mountain, mountains, mussoorie, north indian, pancakes, penne, penne pasta, sandwich, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, white sauce pasta

Winter special – Dehradun and Mussoorie diaries

I could never understand the fondness associated with Mussoorie amongst the hearts of the north Indians. In the 29 years of my not-so-boring life, I had never been in Mussoorie for than an hour and that too whilst visiting some village while crossing it.

And the title of “Queen of the Hills”? Maybe the Britishers gave that title. But I had to find out, enough years had already passed.

A friend’s reception at Dehradun brought the perfect opportunity Dehradun, Mussoorie and Dhanaulti. A mutual friend and travel buddy had some exigency, so I was left solo to wander these lands.

2018 winters bloomed early and below 10 degrees temperature was expected to hover on. After bidding goodbye to Nanda Devi Express, the biting cold welcomed me at 5:45 a.m. at Dehradun. I took the local taxi from the railway station to J.P. Manor, Barlowgunj which comes 4km before Mussoorie.

The taxi driver was a local Pahadi and kept on assuring me that I will be able to withstand the chill as I was shivering like hell despite the fact that only my eyes were visible. I was alone so slightly scared of catching the commonest of all colds.

It took me just an hour and a half to reach J.P. Manor and the journey from the taxi to the hotel reception was a battle between my body and the morning chill. Ask my knees, they will tell you better.

The staff at J.P. Manor was extremely helpful and courteous. Since the rooms were not available as the check out time is 2pm, they offered me the spa facilities for refreshing myself. They also upgraded my booking with least charges when one of the rooms got an early check out at the Valley View Tower.

And trust me, the room was fabulous with French windows, shared lawn and a view to die for. The only caveat was or were the monkeys who were monkeying around the lawn premises. I could only open the curtains and not windows. Sigh!

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And these naughty apes got more excited as my heavenly English breakfast came. The sight of omelette, bacon and sausages must have excited them and they kept on knocking on the window.

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An hour’s sleep and I was ready to visit Dhanaulti. The local taxi stand at Mussoorie has a good amount of experienced drivers who know the ways in and around. I was advised to visit the Eco park at Dhanaulti and the Mall road considering the shortage of time.

The road connecting Mussoorie and Dhanaulti is a winding one and offers spectacular views of the Greater Himalayas. I constantly bothered the taxi driver to stop at such locations and he told me eagerly about the various peaks visible. Kedarnath and Badrinath being some of them.

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I expected the Eco park to be just another playful park for kids, but the sight surprised me. The area is pretty close to a virgin forest where the vegetation is left in its most natural state. The greenery reminded me of the Maphland Sacred Grove at Shillong. The towering Deodars and Pine trees were in full bloom and the air was cold but fresh. The silence of the park was broken down by our footsteps and the monkeying around of the monkeys.

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I wished to go deeper into the woods but was scared of the monkeys. I have already gone through the Rabipure series against a cat bite. Hell no I am going for that again!

There were many gazebos and swings on which you could relax and revel in the serenity.

After the tryst here, I requested the driver to take me to those step farms where cauliflowers are planted. I expected a vibrant scene but got a very dry terrain. The locals told us that monsoon is the time of fully bloomed cauliflowers. Better luck next time.

The journey from Dhanaulti to the Mall road was slightly dreadful as my altitude sickness came back and the heaviness in my head increased fourfold. I was dropped at the Picture Palace from wherein I started exploring the bylanes of Mussoorie. The road is dotted with a plethora of cafes, bakeries, woollen apparels shops and of course the Maggie & the momos vendors. My first destination was the ropeway to the Gun Point hill so had to keep an empty stomach.

While the ropeway vault was full of newly-wed couples stealing a selfie or an embrace (which I tried to overlook), the underlying view was refreshing.

Gun Point hill was slightly disappointing because of the clichéd outlets there. Or rather I played those games in my childhood that they no more the charm anymore. But if you have a book to read, an empty belly to hog on to the piping hot Maggie and ample time to bask in the blazing sun, then please take a table for some time.

The Maggie definitely warmed my insides and the sunlight the exterior of course. My altitude sickness also got relieved. I could not see the Camel back road from there although I was advised that it will be visible from there.

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My target was to reach the hotel by 5pm because I had no intention of facing the zero degree temperature after an eventful day. I got free earlier though, at 4pm, after having a freshly brewed cuppa of Earl Grey tea at a café.

Since I had not slept in the train because of small berths and cool temperatures, I went into a short lived slumber before heading to Café Manor – the hotel’s Italian dining restaurant.

I ordered my favourites – chicken ravioli in white sauce and vegetables loaded pizza. The ravioli was freshly prepared and had the right quantity of cheese and cream. The veggie pizza when brought for the first time was slightly burnt but after a request by the manager, a second version was provided which was perfection. The quantity and quality both are excellent here.

The second day was reserved for the journey to Dehradun and trust me it was not an easy one. The winding roads wreaked their havoc  again and deep breaths were my only respite. Though when the cab driver took the car through the greenery loaded area of Garhi Cantt, I was in for a peaceful drive.

I checked into Saffron Leaf (where my friend’s reception party was due) and ordered a chicken sandwich. I was extremely surprised by the quantity of the breakfast – the potato wedges and the coleslaw were the icing on the cake! After a brief period of reading and resting, I was ready for the Buddhist Monastery in Clement town.

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After a drive of about 4km, prayer flags greet you as are en route to the monastery. It is a huge complex having a slew of stupas, temples, rotating drums and gardens. The setting sun casted a beautiful shadow around the huge Buddha statue and it becomes worthwhile to take a snap before it gets dark as well as late.

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The evening was spent at the Singh Sour Bar where the myriad variety of momos will baffle you. Vegetarian, paneer, chicken, mutton and cheese – you name it, they have it. We explored the vegetarian, vegetarian cheese, chicken and mutton momos and they were all food gasmic. The cheese ones tasted as if a small portion of Domino’s pizza had been enclosed in the momos sheet.

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And the evening would have incomplete without grabbing a sweet bite at Ellora’s Melting Moments. We tried Cinnamon Danish and Christmas Brownie and somehow I felt that the place is over rated. The Danish is supposed to be flaky & airy and instead it was doughy & chewy. The brownie was good but could have been better.

The second day began with a visit to Sahastradhara. It is situated on the outskirts of Dehradun and is usually thronged by Hindu believers. There are sulphur springs situated here and the waters are believed to heal one of diseases. But somehow I felt that this place would have been picturesque a few years back but is now marred by garbage and people bathing in it. The streams have a lesser amount of water which sometimes stagnates because of the underlying garbage. Nevertheless, the place is tranquil and the numerous tiny cascades with the music of flowing water provide a serene atmosphere.

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It is advisable to be wary of the transportation issues while visiting this place. Ola/Uber does not work here and a solitary auto came to our aide when we wanted to go back to city.

Dehradun is known for many cozy cafes serving comfort food and who am I to turn down the delicious affairs of these outlets? We wanted to explore The Orchard while enjoying the view of the mountains but unfortunately it open at 1pm. We decided to visit Café Marigold instead and the visit reminded us of our college days.

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The menu is not very extensive but the quality is to die for. The penne alfredo was beyond perfection and the maple syrup pancakes were charismatic save for a few raw bites. The honey lemon ginger tea actually tastes like the ingredients used for preparing it and Marigold special Coffee is their unique offering, which I did not taste because of my aversion to caffeine.

Overall the visit to Dehradun was refreshing and I fell in love with the ubiquitous greenery. The bougainvilleas in myriad colours, the sunflowers and the enormous roses are charming and beckon you to come here again and again.

Posted in brunch, chicken, delhi, food, food blogger, halwa, indian food, JW Marriot, JW Marriot Aerocity, luxury brunch, makke di roti, mutton, mutton biryani, mutton keema halwa, punjabi, punjabi cuisine, sarso ka saag, Sunday brunch, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

Amritsari Swaad – the Punjabi food festival at K3, JW Marriot, Aerocity

A traditional cuisine specific food festival has a special place in my heart. Especially when that cuisine is from the Punjabi heartland of our country. So when JW Marriot, Aerocity comes up with an Amritsari Swaad Tadka at their famed K3, could I have said no? Absolutely no!

Starting from perfectly smoked Kandhari Paneer Tikka, juicy and tangy mushrooms – Tandoori Khumbh, spicy Highway Tandoori Kukkad (chicken cooked in hand pounded spices) and meat de tikki (chewy mutton prepared in aromatic spices), your belly does get filled after these appetizing appetizers.

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And what is a Punjabi meal if it is not relished with Makke di roti, Sarson da saag, chhole and stuffed kulche? Though the chhole could have been spicier although the texture was excellent.

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And for vegetarians, there is a dearth of varied options – Paneer Taka Tak (loved it!), Kadhi Chawal, Hare moong ki daal (now that is something new!) and Matar Vadiyan di sabzi.

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And for non vegetarians, the Mutton Chawal is one dish worth experimenting. The mutton pieces are succulent although the rice could be more flavourful. Do not expect Biryani, this is Amritsar special.

And the best one is always reserved for the last. Ever heard of mutton keema halwa? Yes you read it right, the keema halwa. This was warm and heavenly and tasted like moong daal halwa.

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So when are you visiting next? The festival is on till 25th November.