This is going to be my first ever attempt to write a travel diary. I haven’t tried anything like this before and don’t know how it’s going to come out. I think writing one single post for each day spent will be the right way to do it. Anyhow, here it goes :)

 

I wanted to go on a solo trip somewhere for a long time and 1st week of April seemed like a good opportunity.  But I had no idea where to go until last week of March. All I knew that the place should be mountainous and not crowded.  McLeodganj seemed to be a good enough place and after thinking about it for a bit I chose it as my destination. Getting there from Delhi takes approximately 12 hours by road. I took a Volvo bus which was full of tourists from all over the world. It wasn’t very comfortable journey but I managed to doze through most of it.

I woke up as the bus stopped at the town’s bus stand just before 6 am. As I opened my eyes, I was greeted by the sight of mountains covered with lush greenery and dozens of crows cawing loudly. Unlike their city cousins, these are a bit larger and completely black.   Gathering my belongings, I got out of bus and stretched my limbs. First thing that hit me was the cool breeze. It was colder outside than the air conditioned bus ! That’s one of the reasons why I love mountains. <3

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The incident which I’m about to talk about here happened a long time ago, when I was 12 years old and even more stupid than now. I’m from Jammu, somewhat famous for it’s Vaishno Devi Temple.and a bit too famous for terrorist related news. The attention is entirely undeserved for the 2nd part though.
So it happened that I was in Ramnagar for a week during my summer vacations in 1996-97 when I was 12-13 years old. It’s an old historical town nestled among beautiful hills famous for it’s well designed forts. Apart from that it’s an excellent location for trekking. The hills are covered with pine trees, houses are few and far in between and the weather is much cooler than the cities in plains.

 

A similar place elsewhere would have been developed and made famous in to a hyped tourist attraction, but a lot of things(which I’d rather not explain here) have prevented that till now. Anyhow coming back to the topic, I had two other boys for company, Manu a year younger than me and Vicky, 2 years older (Names aren’t real). Vicky like me, had come in to spend his holidays in Manu’s house. We spent our days collecting wild berries and playing cricket, marbles etc. It was all great fun for 5-7 days after which some monotony started to set in. So one day we were lazing around on the roof of Manu’s house when I noticed a white temple on a distant hill top. I asked Manu about it and he said that he had no idea.
Not to be discouraged so easily, I asked another question, “How long does it takes to get there ?”Continue reading

If you are short on time but still want to sample as many different varieties of food as possible in the shortest amount of time, then there is no place better than a food court. Fortunately, there are quite a few such places where you can have almost any kind of Indian food in clean surroundings at fairly decent prices.

Some of the more famous ones are in Pragati Maidan,  Dilli Haat, and Kingdom of Dreams. Additionally, there area few smaller courts in less famous places like Garden of Five Senses. A food court in general, will have small stalls serving food from all corners from India and sometimes foreign too.  If for you a South Indian food place means a joint which serves the usual <em>idli, dosa, uttapam</em>, curd-rice kind of stuff, prepare to get surprised. You can find many more dishes from ALL of the south-Indian states which includes Kerala,  Tamilnadu, Karnatka, and Andhra Pradesh, each with it’s own stall. Even the staff belongs to that particular state for that extra authentic touch.

Quality of the food might differ from one place to another even in the same premises. For example, a particular state’s stall in INA Dilli Haat may serve some really good food, while it may be not that good in Pitampura Dilli Haat. That was just a general example,  but we hope that you catch the drift.

Of course, food is not the only reason to visit these places as these are some of the must visit places in city. Dilli Haats for example  have handicrafts, traditional clothes, furniture and other knick-knacks from all over India for sale all the year round. In addition  a lot of cultural events like music shows, conventions etc. are held there all the year round.   Similarly, Garden Of Five Senses has some really beautiful and interesting flora, fauna and artistic concepts.

Pragati Maidan with an approximate area of 72,000 sq m is one of the largest exhibition grounds in world. It’s a favoured venue for numerous events ranging from expositions by all kinds of industries to trade, book fairs etc.  Quite often, on occasion of some popular event like  International Trade Fair, Auto Expo etc, authorities are forced to limit the number of visitors in order to maintain law and order.

Bhel poori in Pragati Maidan

Bhel poori in Pragati Maidan

 

 

To cater to demands of so many visitors, Pragati Maidan has quite a few eateries spread all over the area. If you aren’t in mood to eat in any of the restaurants inside premises, you can still have quite decent street food in any food court. Apart from the usual snacks, one can find popular food from almost all corners from India. Gatta roti from Rajasthan, Hyderabadi biryani, Pao Bhaji & Bhel Puri from Maharashtra, most of South Indian dishes, these and many more are available in their authentic flavour.  Although in some case the prices are slightly higher, it’s offset by the sheer variety of food available in such a small area. Another plus point is decent indoor seating facility which is often missed in other places.

Next time you are in Delhi, be sure of including Pragati Maidan or any other food court in your must see places . Even if you don’t like the event being held, it’s quite likely that you’ll like the food.

 Your’s truly is one of select people on the planet who have had the chance to act in the movies, It isn’t like I’m a good actor, I never took part even in school plays. Neither do I have a great personality or good looks, In fact on that day I was looking even more hideous than usual. No shave for 2-3 weeks, overgrown hair looking like matted coils due to sweat and dust and worse. Anyhow, here is the  story:
               It just happened that we and a few friends from office were on a visit to Khajuraho in late August. We were 5 people, me, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Archie.Obviously the names have been changed to protect the identities. :p   Rainy season is usually  an off season for tourists  due to rains  and the fact the nearby Panna National Park is closed. So we were able to find  a good lodge nearly empty. How it filled up to it’s full capacity just in 2 days is another story,Continue reading