28 December 2015

The Epic story of Jakhoo Hill of Shimla!!!!

Himalaya has always been a holy mountain range and is associated with many of the Hindu Mythology. Be the Char Dhams which are associated with Lord Shiva or Lakhamandal associated with Pandhavas or Sanjeevani with Ramayan. Jakhoo Hills in Shimla share the same Mythological significance of Ramayan, Hanuman's search for Sanjeevani. Recently I have been watching EPIC channel, a channel all about Indian History, which showcased an Episode on Jakhoo hills on their Kahi Suni series. So when in Shimla, I wanted to visit this hill.
The statue of Hanuman as seen from Mall Road
Its said that when Hanuman came to Himalaya in search of Sanjeevani, he heard the sound of a saint chanting Shree Ram and landed on the hill. The hill is said to have got reduced by 3/4th by his foot step. He asks the saint for guidance to reach the Sanjeevani, which is the present day Dronagiri Parvat in Uttarakhand. The saint was the guardian of the hill, so called Yaksha. Yaksha guide Hanuman to Dronagiri Parvat and asks him to visit him again during his return. But hurry Hanuman, leaves without visiting Yaksha. Its said Hanuman gave his virtual appearance to the Yaksha at the present Jakhoo temple in Shimla. Yaksha, which later got changed to Yakhoo, finally got its present name Jakhoo.
Himalaya, Himalayan peak, Jakhoo Hills,
The snow capped mountains from the road to Jakhoo hills, just before sunset
Even today Jakhoo hill stands tall with the Idol of Hanuman visible from most of Shimla. Its a 10km drive from Mall road to reach the Jakhoo Hills. The road is very narrow and the final stretch is very much steep and you need to trek or can take the local taxi for the last leap to reach the top of the hill. By the time we reached Jakhoo, it was already very late and was getting dark, we were told the temple was closed. We enjoyed the beautiful snow capped mountains from the highest peak of Shimla, drove back to Chandigarh the same night and took our train back to Mumbai the next morning.
This is my final post of our Punjab and Himachal Pradesh trip which we had been to in March this year. Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here.

18 December 2015

A Photo Tour of Mall Road, Shimla!!

Shimla the capital of Himachal Pradesh, has always been one of the top honeymoon destinations. What makes it more special is the Kalka - Shimla toy train. But you really need to plan your visit in ease to experience the toy train journey. All we had was a day's time to take a trip from Chandigarh to Shimla, and so did we book a taxi for the day. With only a days visit, we had to cut short our visit to Kufri and Chail, which we had planned earlier.
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
We reached Shimla by 12, had lunch and wandered around. It seems like every hill station in India has a Mall Road, and all share the same look. Automobiles are not allowed on Mall road, though there are prams to hire to carry your kids.
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
State Library and Christ Church
Once the summer capital of British, the place still preserves the colonial look, with its heritage buildings - Christ church, State Library, Municipal Corporation Building, Police Headquarters, Gaiety Theater, General Post Office. The shops on Mall Road sell beautiful handicraft and woolen cloths, they are quite reasonable as well.
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
Christ Church with Hanuman Statue of Jakhoo Hills


Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
Municipal Corporation Building
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
General Post Office
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
Murals on the walls of Mall Road
 
 
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
The Lamp Post, a beauty in itself

Statue of Freedom Fighter Lala Lajpat Rai at the junction of Mall Road and Ridge Road

Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
Rock models, representing Rock garden of Chandigarh

Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
An arch from the heritage building

Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
I liked this statue in front of Police Assistance Room, a Policeman with a kid, DUTY WITH LOVE, so meaningful.
Himachal Pradesh, India, Photography, Shimla, Travelogue, Heritage Tour, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Walk,
One of the stores at the mall road, any ordinary building, but liked the structural design with bright colour.

Thats kiddo with her new muffler and ear muff, aren't they pretty?





Travel Tips:
Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh, around 115km from Chandigarh. 
By Road: Shimla is around 360km from National Capital Delhi and around 115km from Chandigarh and has regular PUNBUS and HRTC buses connecting Shimla with other places. There are over night Volvo buses as well playing between Delhi and Shimla.
By Train: Its the narrow gauge toy train which connects Shimla to Kalka. Chandigarh which is around 30km from Kalka, is connected to major cities of the country by train.
By Air: Shimla airport is 22km from Shimla city and well connected to Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities.
Best time to visit:
Winters, if you want to experience snow fall, summer to get of the heat from other parts of the country.

Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here

12 December 2015

Stay and Din option at Pathankot..

Due to kiddo's bad health we had to skip Dharamshala and come back to Pathankot from Dalhousie. We were at Pathankot by 8 in the night and our taxi driver who had come to drop us from Dalhousie took us to Hotel R K international. R K International is next to Dalhousie Bus Station and very close to Railway station. We had our bus booked for Chandigarh the next day and the hotel looked convenient.
The rooms are quite big and clean, with bed, dresser, TV, mini fridge, sitting place and cupboard. One of windows of the room we stayed at opened towards the backside, thats Pathankot bus stand. With snow fall on last few days, the view also had snowcapped Himalayan peaks, which is always a bliss to watch.
Hotel Review, Pathankot, Restaurant Review, Punjab, Food, RK International Pathankot, Hotel Green Pathankot, Where to Stay in Pathankot, Where to din in Pathankot

Hotel Review, Pathankot, Restaurant Review, Punjab, Food, RK International Pathankot, Hotel Green Pathankot, Where to Stay in Pathankot, Where to din in Pathankot

Hotel Review, Pathankot, Restaurant Review, Punjab, Food, RK International Pathankot, Hotel Green Pathankot, Where to Stay in Pathankot, Where to din in Pathankot
A budget option if you are looking something just for a night's stay, but they don't have a restaurant. We had our food at Hotel Green which is close to R K International. The food is very good at Hotel Green, with Indian, Chinese, Continental. A very good restaurant at the proximity of Bus stand and railway station. When we checked at Hotel Green for accommodation, we were told the hotel was going on with some renovations and hotel was to start very soon, might be we will head straight to Hotel Green during our next visit to Pathankot.
Hotel Review, Pathankot, Restaurant Review, Punjab, Food, RK International Pathankot, Hotel Green Pathankot, Where to Stay in Pathankot, Where to din in Pathankot
Tariff at R K International Rs. 1500/- per night, contact detail 0186 223 1888

3 December 2015

Holiday IQ Traveller's Meet @The Leela, Mumbai..

Few weeks back I was invited by Holiday IQ for their Reviewers Meet. There are so many online sites which provide platform for travellers to share their reviews about places, hotels and service, what makes Holiday IQ different is, every review is varified by their team before publishing it. I came across Holiday IQ, while planning one of my trips few months back and then after reviewed few hotels and places on their site.
The event was at The Leela, I took local and then metro to reach on time. Few of the fellow travellers and Holiday IQ team had already gathered and I joined them. All of us shared about our travels, and travel stories. While all our reasons to travel differed, while few loved to trek to mountains, others liked beaches and few more loved exploring the heritage, one thing which brought all of us together was our love for travel.
The passion for travel gets along with it to taste food from different parts of the world. The Meet was for a culinary trail to experience food from Karnataka, Kashmir and Goa exclusively curated by Chef Surender at The Leela Mumbai. Sunitha Duggal, Marcom and PR Manager, took us through the tour of their kitchen and Chef Surender introduced to food from different states of the country. We were welcomed at Jamavar, The Indian Restuarant in The Leela Mumbai, in traditional way with garlands, tilak and aarti. The ambiance of Jamavar is superb and lux, the candles, chandeliers, floral decor, the luxury silver dinning and culinary set makes it stand out.



We had the best feast curated from the three states. The vegetarian menu had Tomato saaru(as appetizer), Ajwani Paneer, Mangalore Goli Baji, Saag Paneer, Jeera Pulao, Appam, Dosa, Malai Kulfi, Kesar Phirni to name few and ended with sweet paan. The feast turned memorable with lot of talks with new friends. Below is the clip from the Meet.

25 November 2015

Skywatch - Sky from Himalayas - Mountain, Lake, Tree and The Sun... #Silhouette

Sunset clicked on the way from Dalhousie to Pathankot, tried Silhouette. Mountain, lake, sun and a tree :)
Dalhousie, Silhouette, Mountain, Himalayas
HAPPY SKY WATCHING!!!


Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here

19 November 2015

Hotel Review - Oak Valley Residency, Dalhousie...

As I shared in my previous post, it was our taxi driver who took us to Hotel Oak Valley Residency. It started snowing heavy when we reached Dalhousie and we didn't have option to look for other Hotel at night. The hotel is few steps from Dalhousie Bus Stand, taxi stand and Lhasa Market. Its a budget hotel, no great view, as the window opens towards the city. Few reviews about this hotel say, there is sewage line next to the hotel which makes the room foul, but during our stay, the temperature was very low and we hardly used the balcony.
Hotel review, Oak Valley Dalhousie, budget hotel in dalhousie, hotel in dalhousie

Hotel review, Oak Valley Dalhousie, budget hotel in dalhousie, hotel in dalhousie
Restaurant was not so great, ok kind of for budget. Room was quite clean, they have wooden flooring rather than carpets, which makes it tidy. Bathroom was clean as well. They don't have blower heater, but only coiled heaters, which you have to be in front of, to warm yourself. They don't have power back up as well, which makes it more difficult to stay with-out heater during winter.
 
Hotel review, Oak Valley Dalhousie, budget hotel in dalhousie, hotel in dalhousieHotel review, Oak Valley Dalhousie, budget hotel in dalhousie, hotel in dalhousie
Hotel review, Oak Valley Dalhousie, budget hotel in dalhousie, hotel in dalhousie
The view from the room
Proximity to bus stand is the only reason you should look for at this place to stay. Being next to bus stand, this is the route which gets cleared first during snow fall, thats from our personal experience. I suggest this hotel only if you are looking for budget stay, else its a no, especially if you are visiting during winter.
Hotel tariff starts at Rs. 1200/- per night, with 1PM check-in and 12noon check- out.

Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here

8 November 2015

Chilling Snow and Steaming Momos at Dalhousie!!!

Next morning we woke up to find the ever beautiful sight, the snow capped trees, buildings and mountains. Its so much fun to find snow, but its more beautiful when you experience the snow fall. Usually its in December and January that most of the places get snow fall and we were lucky enough to experience it in March.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
Our hotel was just few steps from Dalhousie bus stand, and we walked down only to realize  how tough it was to walk on the snow. We hired snow boots at a near by shop 'Sip and Bite', to wander around the town. The shop also has a snack center, where you get momos and noodles. That was our pass time spot for next two days to sip and bite, hot tea and Momos. The store owner was an elderly person and he used to share so much about Dalhousie on every visit of ours.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
When I asked the uncle, I couldn't find anything on my way to the Hotel the previous night in dark, while there is a busy street during the day, he said, the city closes by 7 in the evening during winters. The life is so simple, yet so difficult in mountains where they get snow fall. The city literally hibernates during winters, but its the tourism which keeps these places going. Tourism brings life to the city. The snack centers, the porters all rely on tourists. As its rightly said the 'Grass is Greener on the other side', we love mountains while they love Metros like ours.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
All the roads were snow flood and that disconnected Dalhousie from rest of the places. We wanted to drive to Khajiar but that route was blocked as well. We were told Dalhousie-Khajiar route is completely blocked during winters, and instead suggested us to drive via Chamba, once Dalhousie-Chamba route got cleared. But we instead opted for enjoying the snow in Dalhousie itself for next two days. We walked around, played with snow balls, made snowman, the road was all for ourselves, till it was cleared by snow removal truck.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March


Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
Thats the Dalhousie Club, near Dalhousie Bus Station

Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March

Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
Thats Tibetan Lhasamarket, closed due to snow fall.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March
Kiddo busy playing with the snow

Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas, India, Travel, Travelogue, snow fall, snow fall in Dalhousie, winter, Dalhousie in Winter, Dalhousie in March, Momos, Veg Momos, Vegetarian Momos, Momos with Chutney, Vegetarian Momos with Chutney
Steaming hot Veg Momos with chutney
We had to cancel our visit to Dharamshala Mcleodganj, as kiddo fell sick. We drove back to Pathankot the second day evening.

Travel Info:

Dalhousie is a Hill station in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. Dalhousie is around 54km from District headquarter Chamba, around 100km from Pathankot. The city is stretch over five hills Kathlog, Patreyn, Tehra, Bakrota, Balun.
How to reach
By Road: There are PUNBUS(Punjab Roadways), HPSRTC(Himachal Pradesh State Road Transport) and other privat buses which play between Dalhousie, Pathankot, Chamba and other near by places. You can also hire taxi from Pathankot, they charge Rs. 2500-3000 depending on the season.
By Train: Nearest railway station is in Pathankot around 100km from Dalhousie, which is connected to major cities of the country.
By Air: Nearest domestic airport is Pathankot Airport around 100km from Dalhousie.
Where to stay:
There are many budget and luxury hotels, bungalows and resorts in Dalhousie. We stayed at Oak View Residency near Bus stand, will review the hotel in upcoming post.
Food:
Most of the hotels serve all Indian food. When in Himalayan mountains, the best companion anytime is noodles and momos which are not to be missed.

Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here

5 November 2015

'Master Class with the Masters' @The Lalit Mumbai, #BNLF

BNLF(Blog Now Live Forever) was a much awaited event by the blogging community. Day 1, thats 30th of Nov, being the 5th Saturday of the month, I had office and didn't register for the event, while I had registered for the second day. My facebook timeline on 30th evening was full of BNLF updates by all my blogger friends. Harley Davidson motorcycles, Segways, rock-climbing wall and much more and that made me not to miss Day 2 event. 
I managed to be at The Lalit Mumbai, the venue for BNLF only by 2. Just as I reached, a group of bloggers were heading for the Master Class. I had registered for the Master Class as well and joined the group. 
Who don't like Tortellas, I just love them and when the event invite read the chef was about to prepare Tortellas, I didn't wanted to miss it. What better than trying your hands in making the pasta dough, sheeting fresh pastas and shaping your tortellas. Here is what the chef made for us,
 Dish
Food, Food Photography, Tortillas,  Ricotta Spinach Filled Tortellini on the Bed of Mushrooms, recipe, recipe of  Ricotta Spinach Filled Tortellini on the Bed of Mushrooms
 Ricotta Spinach Filled Tortellini on the Bed of Mushrooms


Ingredients
Ricotta Cheese - 25gm
Baby Spinach - 50gm
Farina flour 00' - 50gm
Semolina - 15gm
Eggs - 1 nos.
*EVOO - 5ml
Button Mushrooms - 50gm
Onion - 25gm
Asparagus - 25gm
Sage Butter - 5gm
Sundried Tomato - 10gm
Pine nuts - 10gm
Chives - for garnish
Cherry Tomato - 1 no.            
Salt - To Taste
Cracked black peppers - 2gm

Method
1. Make a mixture of ricotta cheese and spinach with seasoning for pasta filling.
2. Make dough for pasta with Farina flour, whole eggs, salt and olive oil keep for resting. Sheet the pasta and fill with the spinach filling. Give a shape as described.
3. Chop mushrooms and saute with chopped onion in EVOO. Place it as a base for the pasta.
4. Blanch the pasta in salted water for 8 minutes.
5. Make a sauce with sage butter, add chopped onion, garlic. Cook it until translucent, add chopped sundried tomato and chopped pine nuts. Add chopped parsley and fresh sage. Toss the blanched pasta in the sauce. Place the blanced pasta on bed of mushroom.
6. Garnish with butter poached asparagus, balsamic reduction, chopped chives and sundried cherry tomato.
Executive Sous Chef Ravish Mishra and Chef Rajeev Kumar

Blogger trying hands on Pasta making

Fresh Herbs



Plating the dish

Chef with his dish
 Cookery tips:
1. Floating pastas are the indication of cooked pastas when boiling in the pots. 
2. You can give flavours of sage, rosemary or any Italian herb to butter.
2. You can replace eggs with potato starch for vegetarian pasta. 
3. Substitute for mushroom for bed could be Spinach, while you can choose other filling.
* EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

After Master Class we headed to '7 Key Steps to blogging mastery' by Jeff Bullas, a workshop on blogging.
Thank you Indiblogger for the wonderful event, as always you people rocked. I badly missed the day 1 Clear Trip activities, hope to be part of the next #BNLF :)

31 October 2015

Journey from Amritsar to Dalhousie...

While the first day of our Punjab and Himachal Pradesh tour was for Amritsar, second day we had booked our train from Amritsar to Pathankot, and then after had planned to take bus to Dalhousie. Our train was at 8:30 in the morning and we were quite on time, but the train was almost 3hours late and by the time we reached Pathankot it was 2. Pathankot railway station and bus station are quite close by, but with baggage and kid, we took auto rickshaw. We had lunch at Hotel Green and inquired at Bus station for Dalhousie. We had missed Pathankot - Dalhousie bus by few minutes and they suggested us to take the Chamba bus, which would drop us at Baniket and there after we could take taxi to Dalhousie. That was the ordinary State Government Bus, while there were other AC buses to Dharamshala and near by places. You start the climb to the Himalayas, with-in few kilometers drive from Pathankot. While we were looking for the snow capped Himalayan peaks, the drive was similar to any hill-station, with turns and steep valleys, but with no signs of snow, and kiddo throughout the journey was checking when she could find snow. By the time we reached Baniket, it was 6 in the evening and it was already dark and it started pouring heavily. There are quite a number of taxis at Baniket bus stand(which is just a road on the Pathankot-Chamba Road) to take you to Dalhousie, we took one. We had checked for a budget hotel on net at Dalhousie and asked our driver to take there. The hotel was quite a distance from Dalhousie bus station and our driver instead suggested us to take to a hotel near station at the same price. He suggested, its only during peak season, thats in May you need to go for online bookings and rest of the year, you can get hotel at budget rates for direct check-in. As we neared the hotel, the pouring rain turned snow. Just as we reached the hotel, it snowed so heavily, with-in minutes, the road was filled with snow. It was our first experience with snow fall and we went crazy. Hubby and driver went to check the hotel, the hotel was ok, but with heavy fall, we had no other option as well to drive to other hotel. It was freezing cold and we went to our room to warm up in the heater. We were in no mood to sleep and waiting for the sunrise, to go out and play in snow outside. But a very tiring journey from Amritsar to Dalhousie made us fall asleep. 
The Fall
 
Me and Kiddo in no mood to get off the snow

Do check out the complete series on this trip of mine here.

25 October 2015

Durga Pooja, Pandal Hopping!!!

There is so much to do during Navratri. Haldi Kumkum and aarti of our bombe in the evening and late night Garbha in our society. And weekend late night Durga Pandal Hopping.
There are so many associations around our place, who set up many big and small pandals during Navratri, of which there are few we visit every year.
While Maharashtrian and Gujarati Associations, have idols of Devi in sitting posture on her vahan(Vehicle) Lion, the Bengali Associations have idols of Durga, along with Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganapati and Karthikeya. Each idol and pandal have different themes and colourful decors which attracts most of the devotees. Here are few of the pics of the Durga Pandal we visited this year.
There is something new to learn with each visit. This year I found all Bengali association Durga pandals have Shivji's idol or photograph on top of all idols. Do check out the photographs and don't miss the image of Shivji in all of them.
Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai

Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai
 
Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai
Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai


Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai
 
Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai


Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai

Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai

Durga Pooja, Dasara, Mahishasura Mardini, Durga Pandal, Durga Pandals of Mumbai
Durga Pandal by a Maharashtrian Association