4 Breathtaking Days in Mumbai

An Awesome Experience of Fast-paced Life, Lip-smacking Delicacies and A Plenty of Sightseeing

 

Satellite Image of India during DIwali

You have seen this picture many times, year after year, during Diwali, haven’t you? Yes, you have. It is said to be the satellite view of India during the festival. I don’t know whether to believe this, but I do agree that my first glance of Mumbai through the not-so-big window of an Indigo flight was so much similar to the satellite picture.

View from Plane

Finally, I was visiting the city that Sunita had always desired for. I was super excited, so was she.

The sun had already set in, hence making way for the colorful lights of the streets, vehicles and towering buildings to dazzle and sparkle, creating a festival-like scene. In my mind a lot of things were happening; after all, it was one of those first trips I made in the recent times. And peeping through the window in the midair at the effervescent, vivacious Mumbai city, filled me with vigor, keenness and a sense of ceaseless excitement.

First Day at Leisure, a Gourmet Meal & the Night Adventure:

At Airport

While you have a giant suitcase to carry and a tiny human creature to hold with utmost care, getting completely exhausted is what you would experience by the end of the day. I could feel the same as our flight landed in the city that is often termed as Mayanagri.

It was 9 pm by then, and the fast paced life (the office hour rush – terming it alternatively) seemed to have slowed down as we (my wife and our daughter) drove past the Vashi Bridge, connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai (my brother’s residence). “Rome didn’t fall in a day” a poster that caught my attention was one of the first sights to witness in this new city. As our cab rolled in, I was utterly wooed by the roads lined with high-rise buildings, skyscrapers, ocean and hills. Everything was so sublime, and all were wrapped in a cloak of silence. ‘The city that never sleeps’ – this fits aptly as I came across some of the most astonishing commercial architectures, colonial buildings, the bustling beaches, fancy hotels and chic nightclubs. The one and half-hour cab ride set a perfect platform for us.

Not only did we receive a wholehearted welcome by my brother and sister-in-law, but also we were warmly greeted by a wide gamut of delectable homemade Odia delicacies, prepared by my sister-in-law (she’s a damn good cook). There were so many things to talk and gossip about, and the conversation started right from the dining and don’t know when it got ended (I remember the chat show was still on as we retired to the bed).

Second Day – A Stroll amongst the Celebrities in Film City, Goregaon:

A new day, a fresh start! The rejuvenated soul got up to a bright morning that promised a day full of activities. The parks and footpaths were jam-packed with morning joggers, walkers and parents of the kids trying the best to make their little champs achieve the unachievable. After a short session of badminton in the park, we set out to explore the most coveted attraction for any budding movie or television star– the Film City Tour.

Owned and operated by Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation Limited, the Mumbai Film City, known as Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari, is an integrated film complex located at Goregaon. Sprinkled with manicured grounds, lush greenery, parks, fountains, lakes, and famous daily soap sets, the complex nicely sets up for the Hindi film and television industry.

Yes, we made it just in time. I was wondering how come this time Indians were so punctual. We would have missed the tour bus, had we been late by 5 minutes. The wife whispered in my ear, “Are we really going to see the film stars?”. “I’m very much optimistic, and we may spot Salman Khan”, encouraging her to stay curious. We were endowed with packets of chips, water bottles and ID cards as we boarded the bus.

The AC bus was power-packed with visitors of all ages – couples, kids, older person, and the women taking their respective seats. And guess the most excited people on the bus? The WOMEN. Yes, they are the most loyal viewers of the shows, and no one can deny their contributions to the TRP of the daily soaps, particularly. From Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai to Chidiya Ghar, from Bahu Hamari Rajnikant to Saath Nibhana Saathiya and from Yeh Hai Mohabbatein to Thapki Pyaar Ki – not only did they quickly brush up the recent episodes, but they didn’t forget to reveal their favorite characters also. I was not surprised to find the ladies remarkably talented with exceptional memory power since I hold personal experience in it (married man, you know :D).

Bahu Hamari Rajnikant Set
A movie set is in the making
Chidiya Ghar – Famous comedy serial on SAB TV
Thapki Pyaar Ki – Live shooting set
You have seen it in many films and serials.
The Tour Bus
Suicide point. Suicide scene from No Entry was shot here.

A smiling face with a lot of dynamism and vitality exuded as an earnest ‘hello’ from Pankaj (our guide) broke the momentum and it brought me back to the reality (I was also dreaming about the Biggies). Diminutive in size, this man had come to Mumbai from Lucknow many years ago. Like many, he too nurtures Bollywood Dream or a good break in TV at least. He’s tried his hands at many popular serials, including Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma and has materialized opportunities that have come his way.

Pankaj in action

He had something quite hypnotic in his voice that made us inquisitive and keen about the tour. He explained the rules saying that tourists (the visitors on the bus) are not allowed to create a turmoil on the sets, and requested everyone not to get down and loiter here and there without his permission. As the bus rolled in, he switched on the TV that showed a video which further explained the history and geography of each TV set and film location, simultaneous to our current tour.

Star-like feel for Pankaj

Third Day – Exploited High Speed Internet Broadband:

Working while on the go

The third day was a complete rest. Rest – what? Well, I’m not the kind of person who would love to laze around and do nothing. Since our abode was embellished with high speed internet, I exploited it my way. And my way was taking up freelance projects and accomplishing maximum. I needed instant bucks, and I had this only option at which I’m the best. Also, I wouldn’t lie about watching a few videos that I’ve subscribed to.

Family dining at J Diner’ss

Fourth Day – Exploring the City as If I Wouldn’t Come Back:

How long could you confine yourself to the cubicle when there was a whole new world full of amazing sights waiting to be explored? My heart was beating faster and faster as I was inching towards the tour culmination. Before we flew back, we had just one day and I made certain that I was not leaving any stone unturned to cover as many places as possible; hence, boarded a local cab and kicked off to an eventful day.

‘City of Dreams’, ‘City that Never Sleeps’ and ‘City of Firsts’, Mumbai was always on my bucket list. Boasting all the ingredients of a top notch holiday destination in India, Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, offers an electrifying vibe, conducive climate and a plethora of amazing places to see.

It was a 12-hour city tour that included the majestic sights of the five-star Taj Hotel, the stunning architectural beauty of the Gateway of India, an afternoon stroll along the pristine beach of Chowpatty, an evening ferry ride on the Arabian Sea, witnessed the paramount religious site of Haji Ali, drove past towering buildings along Marine Drive, captured an awe-striking Bandra-Worli Sea Link, clicked photos in front of Bollywood stars’ residences and splurged on mouthwatering street foods.

Hotel Taj on the Backdrop
Bandra-Worli Sea Link
At Shah Rukh Khan’s Residence
Look up there? Probably, the next super star. (Shah Rukh Khan’s son Abram)

 

Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai

Twin Towers
Haji Ali
Haji Ali
Antilia Building
Chowpatty Beach
From the ferry
Marine Drive

A Plenty of Memories to Cherish:

Though it is different from my current city i.e. Delhi in many ways, Mumbai unquestionably became one of my favorite destinations. I can now say that I would love to come back here and go little off the beaten path to discover more life that I missed on this trip. The short span of a halt here accumulated a plenty of memories that are not going to get erased from my memory anytime soon.

Mumbai Travel Tips – Some Handy Info:

Best Time to Visit:

Spring is the best time to visit Mumbai (January to March). The temperature hovers between 20-degree C to 28* C. By the end of March and the start of April experiences high temperatures. Avoid summer travel in the city and escape the scorching heat. Be prepared for monsoons because the city receives heavy downpours that cause road blockages.

How to Get in?

Mumbai is well-connected to domestic as well as international airports. Home to the second busiest airport in the country – Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, it is a major international gateway to the country. It has a strong railway network that is well-linked to all major Indian cities.

Getting Around:

Count on public transport –local trains, taxis, buses, metro, ferries and cars – hire them as per your travel plans.

Where to Stay?

Accommodation in Mumbai is pretty expensive. It will make think twice before booking even the cheapest hotels. In other words, finding a hotel within your budget is not an easy stuff. But yes, if you go little away from the bustling town, places like Navi Mumbai has some good accommodation choices. That further increases your traveling hours. If you are lucky like me and manage to find a friend or relative’s place, you don’t have to spend your fortune then. 

Eat:

From upscale restaurant serving Italian, Japanese, Sushi and Lebanese to street food stalls tempting visitors with vada pav, bhelpuri, rolls, etc. – you get a wide variety to munch on.

Can’t Handle Heat? Say Good-bye to 5 Indian Destinations in 2016

One of the ways to get relief from summer. Photo Credit - The Hindu
One of the ways to get relief from summer

Summer in India is terrible. With most parts of India are experiencing waves of Loo, there are some places that display a ray of hope to avid travelers. The vast and diverse country won’t let you sit idle and do nothing. You can have an array of thrilling activities if you could manage to escape these travel hot spots.

Dozens of pages have been written on the Internet, awareness has been made on TV and Radio, government initiatives have been taken to avoid the sweltering heat of with soaring temperatures going above 45 degree C. This is the true picture of India. Incessant sweat running down the body, making clothes completely drenched and droughty throat; locals have no courage to move out of their houses and challenge the sun. If you are all set to beat the heat and accept the challenge, the obvious destinations to resort would be the hill stations. Popular hill stations in India that can be taken into consideration are Mahabaleshwar, Munnar, Coonoor, Coorg, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Nandi Hills and Wayanad.

So, you already know these places. Let’s have a look at the destinations or cities that you should avoid during his trip to India this summer in 2016 if you want your days to be pleasant and nights to be cold.

5. Chennai:

This is true that southern region of India is cooler than the northern part. But Chennai is an exception. The mere temperature rises above 45 degrees in the months of April, May and June. The native of this hot place has given a unique name to this particular phase. It is called Fire Star – in native language it is called Agni Natshatram.

4. Delhi:

Couple Under Tree Shade
Couple Under Tree Shade

Delhi is the political capital of India, but not the summer capital. And the Britishers were right choosing Shimla as the summer capital of India. Summer in Delhi is hot and deadly. For vacationers and Delhiites, to holiday in the capital in summer is like having a blast in the furnace. What adds to the already existing misery is the paucity of water. Think twice before heading to this part of India with family unless your tour operator preserves a five-star accommodation.

3. Jaipur:

Hawa-Mahal

A dry city as it is known, summer witnesses extreme hot from April to June. The temperature rises above 42 degrees. The fun of exploring the Pink City extinguishes in the roasting heat. Instead of taking a stroll along the beautifully painted walls of ancient forts and castles, you would rather prefer to take a nap in the centrally air conditioned heritage hotel.

2. Agra:

Agra, Taj Mahal

Will the spell-casting majesty of the Taj Mahal be able to comfort you from the frying heat? Or will you be enthralled to take a dip in the River Yamuna? Agra certainly deserves to be in this list as the city gears up to be claimed as one of the hottest destinations in the country. There is no denying that even the most discerning holidaymakers want to get a glance of the love epitome.

Also Read: A Short Trip to Agra

1. Goa:

Evening on the Beach, Goa
Evening on the Beach, Goa

The best time to be a part of India’s beach lifestyle is the advent of winter; hence, avoiding beaches is avoiding unbearable heat. Pristine beaches, hot sand, blazing sunlight and intolerable searing breeze will increase the percentage of melanin in your body. Goa is an iconic destination, but saying NO to Goa in summer is a wise decision.

Agree? Or do you have a bigger list that includes some more places?

You might be interested in reading Top 10 Monsoon Destinations in India that You Should Not Miss

A 6-month Break from the Blogging World – Did I Enjoy or Regret?

I find solace in writing. To me a day spent without writing something that my heart says is a day wasted. Whether I’m scribbling down my on-the-road-experience or carrying out a major freelance project, keeping me inundated with such activities gives tremendous pleasure. But if I’m asked what gives comfort to my heart, the instant and obvious answer that would come out spontaneously is blogging.

It’s been six months that I published my last post. I’ve been receiving emails from people, my avid readers that why I’m not penning. People on Facebook are curious to know when I would resume my work. I thought instead of answering each and one of them, better a write post and break the gap.

What I Did If I Was Not Traveling & Authoring?

Well guys before you construe some tragedy happened to me, let me just clarify that this six-month period was full of fun. It was total ecstatic, complete blissful. I was on seventh heaven. Reason? I spent the most precious moments of my life with my bundle of joy, my daughter. (Also Read: Saanvi Sravya – Miracle Happened). I almost forgot my other responsibilities and got fully immersed in the contentment of fatherhood. Six months have passed with the blink of an eye. Time passed like the winter wind.

Moments Snapped!
Moments Snapped for Life!

Peek-a-boo, I See You:

Also, I learnt how to entertain kids. When I was around, why my little angel would need toys? Making funny face by sticking out tongue, playing peek-a-boo (I term it hide & seek) by covering face with hands or blankets certainly did the job. I must say that she’s a quick learner. Whatever activities that I got involved in to entertain her, she imitated effortlessly. From wiggling her limbs to placing an eye catchy object to grab her attention, I tried my hands at everything.

Became Medical Expert:

Yes, I became an expert partially. But I won’t take the credit because the wife literally took great care of our daughter. The toughest moments are those when she is given vaccinations. The after vaccination is the most painful because she has to bear the pain, sometimes the pain turns into severe fever. As a parent you can’t just see your baby cry and suffer through all this. Yes, I’ve seen it, excruciating!

Indulged in Massive Freelance:

Work? At this moment? No, I don’t like it at all. But I realized that if I have to keep everything in right place, well-balanced, I need to switch on my laptop, get high speed internet connection, and take up freelance projects; in fact, I had the luxury of doing a NITRO BOOSTER. Working as a freelancer for a while has been fun. The moment I’m overburdened, there was this little creature to keep me entertained. Oh, did I just say that? Yes, this is true. She’s the biggest stress buster till the time I get on the road.

Yes, I’ve missed the fun of not being on the go. The narrow alleyways of Old Delhi, the vibrant nightlife of the capital, the tranquility of Alleppy, houseboat cruises along rustic backwaters, the cascading waterfalls of Uttarkhand, the sweet dishes of Odisha and the sumptuous Muradabadi biryani didn’t leave me at all.

Now that I’m back, your wait to be entertained with interesting stories is over. 🙂

How to Celebrate Diwali in Delhi If You Are a Visitor?

Diwali in Delhi
Diwali in Delhi

The streets are getting overcrowded, the alleyways are already bustling and highways are crammed with vehicles. When such scenario turns up in India, one can be sure of some massive event or festival at the doorstep. Yes, it is. This time it is Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Conjure up pictures of the glittery capital city with its every street, nook and corner and every house being lightening up with vivid and vibrant lights. Diwali is already knocking at the doors and people are all set to make it a happening festival, once again. If you are by any chance traveling to this part of the world and want to see how Delhiites mark this up, you should be a part of the festival this time.

Diwali Mela in Delhi – Visit Dilli Haat, INA:

Delhi Mela at Dilli Haat
Delhi Mela at Dilli Haat

Okay, you have missed fairs and carnivals of Janakpuri Dilli Haat. You can still witness the extravaganza of INA Dilli Haat. It is ending on 11th November. Diwali Mela at Dilli Haat is teeming with exclusive gift items and decorative items to adorn houses. Buy candles, floating diyas, rangoli stencils, vandanwar, handicrafts and handlooms for your home. Other things to spot are food delicacies, camel rides and other invigorating rides. Cultural programs are held by the Sahitya Kala Parishad and Punjabi Academy.

No Cracker, Only Diyas:

Only Diyas
Only Diyas

Be a part of CM’s initiative to make Delhi a pollution free city and celebrate this Diwali by lighting up diyas, brightening up your house. Cracker is certainly not the only to bring happiness, joy and sparkle in your life.

Embellish Your Home with Decorative Items:

Diwali Home Decor
Diwali Home Decor

Next I would recommend you to revamp your house using Diwali lamps, candles, glass lamp, rangoli, flower decoration and diya decoration. This is a mere list of items to transform the look of your home.

Do Diwali Puja:

In India, it is a tradition to do Diwali puja. You are not at home native place. That’s fine. You can still do the puja in Delhi. The traditional ritual is performed at every house to drive away evil spirit and bring happiness and ecstasy.

Give & Receive Giveaways:

Sweets are offered. Gifts are exchanged. Diwali sees love, bonding, blessings, respect and affection amongst people. Giving gift on Diwali is also a tradition, which continues till today.

Places to Visit in Delhi on Diwali:

Delhi Attractions
Delhi Attractions

Winter has made its presence felt in Delhi. It’s slowly settling down at least for coming 3 to 4 months. Well, that’s not going to thwart the plans of avid travelers. Anyway, it is Diwali time and travelers are already on high spirit.

Why I Don’t Want to Celebrate this Year Diwali?

 

Diwali in Delhi.jpg

This is that week of the year when people forget all worries, dreariness and monotony of life and venture out on a journey full of fun, jolly and gaiety. Life seems to be so easy-going and relaxing when meeting with friends, relatives and families. City centers, alleyways, narrow lanes and streets – in short every nook and corner of India, including rural and urban areas are brighten up with vibrant and colorful lights. Even the sky looks so glittering as the crackers go high up in the air diffusing diverse colors, offering a perfect visual treat.

Diwali is not just about fireworks and mouthwatering food delicacies, but endearing the feeling of togetherness. Being away from native place for several years did not lessen my zeal, excitement, fervor and enthusiasm for this festival. I’ve mastered the art of celebrating festivals alone (kind of). 😉

A Year with Exception – Diwali in Delhi:

Festival of Lights, Not Festival of Smoke
Festival of Lights, Not Festival of Smoke

This year is an exception. I see no exhilaration in me to rejoice considering the increasing air pollution in Delhi. A few months ago in last May, air pollution in Delhi became the talk of the town for becoming the most polluted city on earth. The city was literally engulfed by toxic smoke coming coal-fired power plants, dust coming from construction sites and huge emissions from vehicles. A place that has become unhealthy to stay, how can I think of absorbing myself in fireworks and whole night crackers?

Appeal from the CM:

Say NO to Crackers
Say NO to Crackers

I’m apprehensive about what the authorities are doing. I mean this is true that every year, they adopt certain measures to restrict the air pollution (air in Delhi is hazardous), but in vain. Authorities take initiatives to check the acute problem of air pollution, speak about the problem, and make similar pitch, only to be heard or fell on deaf ears. This year the Chief Minister himself comes out and appeals not to convert Festival of Lights into Festival of Smoke.

Charismatic Delhi – The India Gate

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The India Gate

Kids playing around, friends chilling out, families picnicking, couples rekindling love and patriots becoming more patriotic – when all these are found at one spot, you must be conjuring up images of the India Gate. I see them all as I approach this historic site. Though chaotic in nature as the surroundings are occupied by large number of people, you will find some space for yourself, solitude in nature.

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Rambling lush lawns, long narrow canals, colorful flowers, beautiful fountains, imposing structures, expansive areas and wide streets are some of the main attributes of the India Gate. Sooner I come out of the Central Secretariat Metro Station; the delightful sights of couples, families and youngsters completely inundated in the water activities. A summer evening at the India Gate is pretty much relaxing and unwinding.

Since the distance from Central Secretariat Metro Station to India Gate is less than two kilometers, I prefer taking an evening stroll along the canals in the lawns, seeing the crowd at their best playful acts. Indeed, watching a large number of crowds indulged in outdoor activities is a delightful sight.

Top 10 Activities at the India Gate:

If you ask me to name one destination that can keep you thrilled, keep you occupied the whole day, my answer would be the India Gate. And why not? The iconic structure, which is a war memorial, is India’s one of the most intriguing tourist attractions. For Delhiites, the India Gate is a regular spot for fun. For international travelers, it’s to witness and admire India’s glory.

Universal Picnic Spot for Everyone:

Relaxing Crowd in a Laid-back Environment
Relaxing Crowd in a Laid-back Environment

The expansive greenery, well-manicured lawns on both sides of Rajpath well complemented by canals mostly adorned with boats offer a plenty of space for families and friends to spend some quality time away from home. The vibe it produces is so enthralling. Come once, the captivating sight will entrap you and would not let you go back easily. Pack your picnic basket, filling it with essentials like food and beverages, tableware, cleanup (paper towels and trash bags) and other miscellaneous items that you need.

Boating:

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Want a Ride?

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It is true that Delhiites don’t have access to beaches. So what? They can do other water related activities. One such is boating. India Gate boating is very much famous amongst couples, lovers, kids and families. Do not forget to take a snap of yours keeping the imposing Arch on the backdrop. Anytime throughout the day is an awesome time for boating. Those who are in love, go for a romantic boat ride in the dusk and rekindle the momentum.

Here’s the Youtube link of boating video.

You Don’t Need a Cricket Ground to Play the Game:

Cricket at India Gate
Cricket at India Gate

Are you a diehard cricket fan? Then you don’t need a cricket ground to play your best short. Even I have played cricket with my brother and other guys in the narrow lanes and alleyways. Visitors who are in group should not afford to miss this fun. Oh, your group comprises beautiful girls who consider themselves so delicate and frail? I don’t think that is a problem. Even cricket is very much admired by girls. Ask your friend, I’m sure she won’t turn her back.

Here’s the Youtube link of funny cricket match video at India Gate.

Walking on Rajpath:

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Not the type of visitor who would simply sit back and relax? If so, then why not prefer a romantic walk along with your sweetheart hand-in-hand on Rajpath with India Gate embellishing the background? Feel the aroma of love when it is drizzling on the most celebrated street in New Delhi. No, you cannot afford to miss. What a feeling! Isn’t it?

Have Meetha Pan & Get Your Picture Drawn:

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Take One
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He is a genius.

Look at the panwala! How meticulously he’s performing his job. I take a pause and see him moving his hands so fast, serving his customers diligently – nah, not a single customer returns empty handed. Have a meetha pan, and move forward till you reach the wonderful guy who sees you and draws your picture. He’s a real professional.

Pamper Your Girlfriend’s Moods with a Long, Tiring Photo shoot:

Your girl is likely to tempt you to capture her many moods. That’s not a bad idea I guess because there is no better location that India Gate. Show your creativity and capture shots that are beyond the imagination of your girl. I’m sure your sweetheart will go gaga over your ingenuity. Why would you ask a professional photographer when you can take overwhelming pictures and save a few hundred bucks?

Watch the Sunset, Followed by Carnival-like Evening:

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Swarming with hordes of visitors and hawkers, India Gate creates carnival-like scenery as the Sun moves to the other part of earth. Witness the marvelous sunset like nowhere in Delhi (well, I cannot guarantee a breathtaking sunset like at the Taj Mahal, yet it is no less than that). Budding photographers always wait for this time of the day so that they can have some fantastic pictures to their name.

Watch a Candlelight March:

They say if you sneeze in Delhi, the entire country catches the cold. Do not try and make out its literal meaning. Since Delhi is the heart of this vast subcontinent where media has its home established, no matter how big or small an event or protest happens it reaches to the nook and corner of the country. And when in Delhi, especially at the India Gate, you can spot hordes of people go candlelight vigil on the Rajpath, demanding justice to the victims.

Be a Live Spectator to President’s Speech:

Our President is a great orator. Witnessing his articulation is a real treat. Be fortunate enough to appreciate India’s first citizen delivering public speech at Rastrapati Bhavan, only a few kilometers away from your fun spot. You never know you might get the first news than India’s leading daily.

Admire the Iconic Structure of India Gate:

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Wow, you covered almost all major activities. There is still one left. You got to admire the majestic arch structure and go gaga over the aesthetic artwork of this magnificent war memorial. The majestic monument was designed by the most famous war memorial designer Edin Lutyens, whose feat also lies in building some of the most impressive war memorials in Europe. He has built 66 war memorials in the continent, Cenotaph constructed in 1919, being the most known after World War I. While constructing the India Gate, Edin had the shape of the Arc de Triomphe. The massive structure stands tall up to 42 meters and spans over 30 feet. The flame, which is known as the Flame of the Immortal soldier or Amar Jawan Jyoti, under the shrine of the structure is ceaselessly burning since 1971, commemorating the immortal soldiers who lost their lives during the wars.

Top 10 Odia Sweet Dishes for Every Occasion

Have you come across anyone saying “no” to sweets? Honestly, I haven’t seen any. Okay let’s say you have seen such people. Then let me tell you that he or she must be a diabetic. 🙂 😛

I am going to take you on a culinary trip in Odisha where you will only discover unique, delicious sweet dishes to tantalize your taste buds. Don’t believe me? Okay, then check out the following dishes. Try these out – I’m sure you are going to miss them next time you have them somewhere else.

Poda Pitha:

Photo Credit - Odisha News Insight
Poda Pitha. Credit – Odisha News Insight

I bet your taste buds are deprived of the delicious flavor of Poda Pitha unless you were invited to an Odia house. Why I’m saying so because only Odia families can do this magic. Poda Pitha is a unique sweet dish prepared during Raja Festival.

Ingredients used for Poda Pitha are rice, black gram, baking powder, ghee, cashew nuts, scraped coconut and     sugar or jiggery.

Manda Pitha:

Photo Credit - Youtube
Manda Pitha. Photo Credit – Youtube

Odias celebrate more festivals than there are days in a year. Yes, I’m not joking at all. You visit Odisha and be lucky to get an invitation for a lunch or dinner at an Odia residence. It will not be surprising to find a wide variety of dishes served in your plate. You never know you might get a chance to spoil your taste buds with Manda Pitha. It is prepared at each and everyone’s home during the festive seasons of Durga Puja, Gamha Purnima and Kumar Purnima.

Ingredients used for Manda Pitha are suji, scraped coconut, sugar, ghee, cardamom and salt (if required for better taste).

Chhena Poda:

Photo Credit - Odisha News Insight
Photo Credit – Odisha News Insight

To try this, you don’t have to wait for any festivals. The most popular and most loved Odia sweet dish is Chhena Poda. The cheese desert is widely available in restaurants.

Ingredients used for Chhena Poda are cheese, cardamom powder, semolina, milk, ghee, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins.

Kakara Pitha:

Kakara Pitha
Photo Credit – Odia Kitchen

You know how donuts taste? But you don’t know how scrumptious Kakara is. Don’t trust me? Then have it. Kakara or Kakara Pitha is a sweet deep-fried cake mainly offered to Lord Ganesh. Ladoo is another sweet item our much loved Elephant-faced God love.

Ingredients used for Kakara are semolina, cheese, scraped or shredded coconut, sugar, etc.

Kheer or Kheere:

Kheer
Photo Credit – Very Good Recipes

I guess you have tried it already. However, do try it once when you visit east. Much attention is given to prepare rice kheer. It gives you the real taste when flavored with almonds, raisins, cashew nuts, saffron and cardamom. Kheer is literally for all occasions. It is served after a hearty meal. Besides that there is huge demand of Kheer before some important work. Have Kheer before starting a great work. It certainly falls in right place.

Ingredients used for Kheer are basmati rice, organic milk, green cardamom, golden raisins, kaju, saffron and sugar (according to taste).

Rasagola:

rasgulla brown
Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Yes. I have had Rasagolas in places like Delhi and Bengaluru, but I was not very much impressed. Everyone knows Rasagola is a famous Bengali sweet dish. I admit. But I also admit that you get it better in Odisha. There’s been a battle between Odisha and West Bengal over rasagola invention. July 30th is celebrated as Rasagola Day or Rasagola Dibasa in the state. (“Rasagolas made in Odisha are softer and creamish than Bengali rasgullas” – as stated in Wikipedia).

Ingredients used for Rasagolas are milk, sugar, suji, cardamom powder, etc.

Rasabali:

Kendrapara Rasabali
Photo Credit – Travellian

You have not probably heard this name. Famous sweet dish from my native place. Yes, I brag off it. Cheese is the main ingredient of Rasabali, which originated to be served as Bhog to Baladevjew Temple of Kendrapara.

Ingredients used for Rasabali are baking soda, cheese, saffron, maida, sugar and milk.

Malpua:

Malpua
Photo Credit – Orissapds

Mainly prepared during Pausa Sankranti, Malpua is one of the mouthwatering sweet dishes served as snacks at many Odia homes. Malpua is a prominent food for the Almighty, Lord Jagannath, in the morning and evening.

Ingredients for Malpua are semolina, baking powder, maida flour, sugar (to make sugar syrup), fennel and ghee or oil.

Rabdi:

Rabdi
Photo Credit – Veg Recipes of India

Rabdi or rabri is a delicious Indian sweet dish. This is a different thing that Rabri was not derived from Odisha, but you got to taste its flavor. Various spices, sugar, nuts, salt, zeera, etc. are added to give it the best flavor.

Ingredients used for Rabdi are milk, sugar, cardamom, cardamom powder, saffron strands, rose water, pistachios and almonds.

Ghee Pitha or Arisa Pitha:

Ghee Pitha
Photo Credit – Shibani Kitchen

Another Odisha special. As the name suggests, this particular unique sweet item is made up of pure ghee. Have a bite of Ghee Pitha and you are surely going to remember this for a long time. If I remember correct, I’ve mostly eaten this during marriage ceremonies. Ghee Pithas, otherwise known as Arisa Pitha, are prepared and sent to the groom’s house from the bride’s home as gift. Obviously, there are other items too.

Ingredients used for Ghee Pitha are ghee, flour, sugar or jiggery, salt and sugar syrup.

If you want to prepare them at home, you can do that. But I would rather ask you to try them first so that you know what they taste like. Next time you travel to Odisha, try them out at an Odia house.

Charismatic Delhi – The Red Fort

The Red Fort
The Imposing Red Fort

 

Now at the Red Fort! The aroma of Old Delhi is emanating everywhere. The busy streets and narrow alleyways mostly occupied by cyclists, motorists, rickshaw-walas and an array of shops and stores, from saree shops to lehenga markets, decorating both sides of the road speak loudly that the scene is certainly procured from Chandni Chowk. And it is correct. I am at the Red Fort, once served the residence of the Mughal family for over two hundred years.

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Handcrafted Traditional Stuff

Red Fort at a Glance:

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With a history close to four hundred years, the Red Fort or Lal Quila built by Shah Jahan in 1648 stands still partially and has withstood all odds over several centuries. Perched over a massive area of two hundred and fifty acres fenced by thick, strong walls, the imposing fort showcases extraordinary Mughal artwork and architecture, which combine Indian, European and Persian art. Apart from holding historical importance, the largest monument in Delhi also plays a pivotal role on Independence Day when the Prime of Minister of India hoists the Tricolor National Flag and delivers a patriotic speech, ultimately motivating and inculcating patriotism in the minds and souls of Indians.

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I just returned from a complete sightseeing of the Tughlaqabad Fort, which was sparsely sprinkled with visitors. At the Red Fort, the scenery is totally different. It is pretty hot out here. That hardly makes any difference to the ever-increasing enthusiasm and zeal of the visitors, both locals and foreigners alike. Families, friends, couples and individuals are busy taking that perfect shot that would certainly ornament their Facebook page. A long queue is waiting for me, probably testing my patience (but I am unperturbed. I’m not worried. I’m fully equipped to tackle the scorching heat).

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You See the Queue?

A head-to-toe security check is performed by the security personnel and entrance is then allowed. What catches the attention at once is the vast collection of art and craft shops selling all kinds of stuff, including glittering jewelry, beautiful hand bags, etc. at pocket-friendly rates. Walk pass the art and craft shops, visitors are welcome by a great complex of buildings, intricately crafted and impressively designed.

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Inside the fortification are constructed outstanding building complexes, such as Divan-i-Khas, the Rang Mahal, Moti Masjid, Mumtaz Mahal and the hammam. The manicured green meadows adorned by birds and humans and surrounded by imposing mahals and masjids offer a perfect visual treat to the eyes.

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The Delhi Red Fort is octagonal and appealing interiors with notable marble structures. The robust walls that stretch up to approximately two and half kilometers are draped with turrets and bastions.

Sound & Light Show:

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Sound & Light Show – Red Fort Delhi

One of the highlights of the Delhi Red Fort is its Sound and Light Show.

Important Information:

Delhi Red Fort Tickets: Rs 10/- for Indian adults, Rs 150/- for foreigners

Nearby Attractions: Chandni Chowk Market, Jama Masjid and Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib.

Nearest Metro: Chandni Chowk Metro Station

Charismatic Delhi – Tughlaqabad Fort!

If you have been to Delhi in summer, at least you know what it is like. It is too hot in May, with daytime temperatures are sizzling, touching above 430 C. While the scorching heat of the sun compels Delhiites to stay indoors, I thought to myself – why not give it a challenge and have a glance at some of the capital’s historical sites?As I was lost in the thoughts of the massive stone fortifications of Tughlaqabad Fort, thick defensive walls of the Red Fort and verdant surroundings of India Gate, my shoes were already dancing and my camera was going out of control to take snaps. Before I could do anything, my restless feet had already started the journey, leaving no choice.

Also Read: Replica of Taj Mahal in Delhi…Any Guesses?

Fort Entrance
Fort Entrance

Tughlaqabad Fort – The Third City of Delhi:

Spreading over six kilometers in the southern part of Delhi is the striking, yet dilapidated huge stone fortification of Tughlaqabad. The citadel is one of the most outstanding historic monuments in Delhi was built in 1321 by the founder of Tughlaq Dynasty by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. Perched right on the Mehrauli-Badarpur road connecting to the new city, the Tughlaqabad Fort was the third historic city of Delhi. It is now able to draw a generous amount of visitors who combine serenity with history.

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Uneven Terrain
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Beautiful!!!

 

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Nice Place to Play Hide & Seek
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Big Well

Be watchful! The craggy, uneven terrain is often threatened by thorny shrubs might make you uncomfortable as it did to me while trying to cover the remains of this vast complex. Make sure you have got big eyes to cover up this massive complex because the remains stretch as far as your eyes can observe.

The Romantic Side of Tughlaqabad Fort:

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Unperturbed

While strolling through the rocky terrains, I stumbled upon with a handful of innocent visitors who have no knowledge of the outer world and busy in finding the safest place so that they can spend some quality time with their partners. I thought to myself – apart from its historical importance, the fort also bears some romantic tinges or it has gradually earned a big name amongst romantics. I couldn’t but laugh when I saw the guards constantly making efforts to spot lovers, poking at them and drive them away or at least ask them to sit at a little distance. I must say the guards need a handsome hike in next three months because they are doing more than what they are assigned.

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The Mausoleum of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq:

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Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq
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Verdant Garden
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Graves of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (middle), His Wife & His Son

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Connected via causeway (divided by Mehrauli-Badarpur Road) is the Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. The tomb is set in a lush garden in one corner surrounded by thick, fortified walls. The walls are approximately fifteen meters high. The red sandstone tomb is actually a single-domed square tomb. The white marble dome looks so elegant and is clearly visible from a distance. Peep through inside and discover three graves lined up – the grave of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq is nestled between the graves of his wife and successor (his son).

Guidelines for Visitors:

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Some Handy Information:

Tughlaqabad Fort Tickets: To get inside the fort, it is important to have Tughlaqabad Fort tickets. Indians can pay Rs 5/- for a ticket, while it costs Rs 100/- to foreigners.

Tughlaqabad Fort Timings: What make Tughlaqabad Fort different from other attractions in Delhi are its timings. It is open all days of the week. You could start your trip from 7 am till 5 pm.

Tughlaqabad Fort Address: It is located on the popular Mehrauli-Badarpur Road. Reaching this citadel is easy by car, auto, bus and metro.

Tughlaqabad Fort nearest Metro Station: The nearest metro stations are Tughlakabad Metro Station and Saket Metro Station.

Also Read: Tuglaqabad – The Other Side of Delhi

Sunday Fun in Delhi

I know, I know, you have been waiting for this day since last Monday. Too much work pressure, consistent yelling of your boss and the meeting deadlines at the last minute –your life’s finished. Isn’t it? No, I don’t think so. Sundays can never be uninteresting if you are a Delhi resident or staying in the capital for some time now.

If you are a kind of person who does not like to be restricted to the four walls of your home or hotel and want to embark upon a never-ending journey of fun, adventure and amusement, you need to get up early, put aside your blanket and tighten up your shoe lace for an exciting day in the capital of India. There are a pool of things waiting for you out there.

Fun Parks:

Can you hear the constant calling of dozens of amusement parks, water parks and picnic spots? These places get crowded by toddlers, bigger ones and couples occupying respective comfortable places – ideal places for refreshment. There is a wide range of interesting things to keep everyone busy – from delightful amusement rides (such as tele combate, hang glider, ranger and carousel) and water rides (such as flume raft slide, tube slider, multi lane slide and aqua twister) to adventure games (such as balance walking, tug of war, Burma bridge, paintball and commando tunnel crawl). At the same time, one should not miss the scrumptious gastronomy. Grab a chicken sweetcorn soup or bite a slice of pron and fish at Food Court.

Fun Parks in Delhi
Kids Zone

Watch a Movie:

Hey lazy folks, there is an excellent way to immerse yourself in endless entertainment is to go and watch a movie. Whether you are a Bollywood movie buff (Salman Khan fan) or a Hollywood flick lover (die-hard fan of Leonardo DiCaprio), the national capital of India has an array of theaters showing flick at your disposal. Just drag your laptop and book a movie at some of the prominent cine-multiplexes such as PVR Cinemas, Fun Cinemas, Wave Cinemas and Satyam Cineplexes. Cinemas are and have always been a major form of entertainment in the national capital.

Watch a Movie
Which movie are you up to?

Shop till You Drop:

From funky to formals, from traditional to western, from jewelry to handicrafts, from branded stores to local stalls, from local souvenir to library, Delhi has an electrifying market that fulfills all your shopping needs. The vibrant atmosphere of Delhi markets keeps you busy shopping. You will find one shopping market better than its predecessor.

Connaught Place, DilliHaat, Sarojini Nagar, Palika Bazaar, ChandniChowk, Lajpat Nagar, Khan Market and Karol Bagh are leading markets bustling with local flavors. Why not buy a Banarasi sari for your mother on her birthday and make the special day even more exceptional?

Shopping in Delhi
Make sure your wallet is fat!

Dine at Best Places:

What are you left with? Oh!!! How can I forget to mention your favorite eateries? I know you are a foodie, and my blog will be incomplete without mentioning the best places to eat in Delhi with family. Top-notch family restaurants close to your home are Indian Accent, Dakshin, Bukhara, Dum Pukht, Karim’s and Punjabi by Nature. However, there is no dearth of Chinese restaurants, French restaurants, Japanese and Italian restaurants if you have had enough of Indian dishes.

Eateries
Don’t interrupt them!