The Residency

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 4

Now that you’ve read about my Day OneDay Two & Day Three in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 4th day. And this is the last one. I promise! 🤥

It was time to head back home but only after a heritage walk! As part of the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival, a heritage walk of the British Residency was offered. It was called War Chronicles: Residency Heritage Walk.

The Residency

Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula agreed to keep a British resident in Awadh. Accordingly, residential premises were built to accommodate the British officers & their staff. The premises included bungalows, Muslim shrines, thatched houses, and ‘high end’ buildings for higher officials.

During the First War of Indian Independence, the Residency underwent a siege for 87 days. It was a refuge for ~3000 British inhabitants then. British from across Lucknow congregated here & sought shelter. By the time General Campbell stopped the freedom fighters, it was already in ruins.

In fact, the damage is such that today we can’t ascertain the real architecture & purpose of the buildings. The ruins, British cannons & bullet holes on the walls speak of the terrible war. However, a few attractions still stood out for me as I walked through, e.g., Banqueting Hall, Treasure House, Dr. Fayrer’s House, and the main Residency building. The Banquet Hall is a double-storied building with impressive architecture.

The Archeological Survey of India preserves the Residency ruins. You can book an e-ticket to visit. Note that plastic disposables are prohibited to be taken inside.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Deep Dive India

The War Chronicles: Residency Heritage Walk was conducted by Samir Kher from Deep Dive India, an organization that conducts immersive travel experiences. It conducts tours that go beyond the typical circuit & a local architecture/ history expert accompanies.

Now, I’ve attended a few heritage walks; the best ones aren’t those that are regurgitated out of history books but those that tie the people of that time, the sociopolitical scenario of that era to the events. Samir did exactly that.

Listening to Samir was like visualizing a movie playing out in front of my eyes. He spoke of the Nawabs of Awadh, the East India Company, the La Martiniere boys, the soldiers, the ladies & children, and others – all of whom had a part to play in the events of 1857.

I already have it in mind to attend another walk with Samir next year to another part of Lucknow. Highly recommended!


Rating: 5 out of 5.

For archaeology aficionados, Lucknow is a pilgrimage! Ditto for history buffs! Lucknow is inseparable from Indian history. As I boarded my train, I made up my mind to return to Lucknow for a fourth time. Still lots to see & eat!


The frugal me couldn’t find appropriate accommodation in the heart of the city & thus booked Click Hotel in Transport Nagar.

Transport Nagar is a locality on the Lucknow – Kanpur Road. Its USP is its proximity to the Amausi Airport. Other than that, the locality still looked like it was in a development stage. When I turned off the highway to get to the hotel, the roads were unpaved & dusty.

Click Hotel is the budget hotel of the Clarks group. I became apprehensive seeing its (comparatively) remote location but over the next few days, having my own cabs proved this to be not a problem.

When I reached the reception to check in, the receptionist did not have my booking details. I was put off more by this & already in a good mind to switch hotels if she created any fuss. But she received the details from their central booking office & after 10 minutes, I was escorted to my room.

The room was comfortable, decently sized, & lit well. It overlooked the road; so, I would have to keep the curtains drawn. But I was OK with this.

I ordered a plate of Chhole Bhature from a nearby restaurant called Chetram Pindi Chole. I requested Click Hotel to send me crockery & cutlery to eat the food, but it took them some time to get this done. (The next three days were better in terms of service speed.)

My stay was quite uneventful. I would leave early after an average buffet breakfast & return post – dinner. So, I did not spend too much time in the hotel.

However, I guess, for the money I spent, I shouldn’t be expecting more. In fact, I would say, for a budget/ corporate hotel, Click Hotel may be a good choice.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Aap Lucknow Mein? – III

Dilkusha Kothi, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 3

Now that you’ve read about my Day One & Day Two in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 3rd day.

Today was the highlight of my trip to Lucknow. I was slated to attend the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival (MSLF). My friend D was showcasing her silver jewelry brand, Daayita, & I was there to support her morally.

The Festival was to begin at 11 AM but I, being an early riser, was already up & about by 9. I thus chose to spend some time at Dilkusha Kothi, another of those lesser known attractions that my cabbie did not know about.

Dilkusha Kothi

Dilkusha Kothi is in the cantonment area. Its entrance was wrongly pinned on Google Maps. It took me a couple of turns & finally asking a local before I could get to the gate. The gate too was chained & I had to ask again if entry was allowed.

Anyway, Dilkusha Kothi was another stunner that I am glad I got to visit. Magnificent is an inadequate term for it. It is historically important as it was destroyed during the First War of Independence.

Interestingly, Dilkusha Kothi was built by a British even though it was a hunting lodge for the Nawab. This explains its Baroque style, rather than an Indo – Islamic style. As with most other heritage structures in Lucknow, this too is constructed with lime mortar & Lakhauri bricks.

There is also a mansion adjacent to the Dilkusha Kothi, built in an Indo-European style. Both the buildings are set amidst lush gardens. Despite being a ruin, it still has a regal air. The Archeological Survey of India have restored it.

I was moved by its sight, for the events that took place here reminded me of the travails that our ancestors had faced.

Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival

I still had some time to kill before I could make my way to MSLF. The internet showed me Buttercup Bungalow (six minutes away) would be open for a cup of coffee but when I got there, I came to know that it had moved to Gomti Nagar.

I whiled away a few more minutes clicking pictures of the kitschy interiors of Cappuccino Blast & finally headed to MSLF which takes place at the Safed Baradari (3 kms from Cappuccino Blast).

Safed Baradari

The Safed Baradari has a Mughal architecture & is given out for public gatherings. It was initially constructed to be used as an Imambara. It was used for meetings during the First War of Indian Independence.

In the main hall of the Safed Baradari, I saw two statues – of Maharaja Mansingh & Digvijay Singh of Balrampur. Several movies have been shot here. The heritage structure does exude an old – world grandeur.

The Festival

MSLF is held not just at the Safed Baradari but also at another historical monument called Salempur House. I find it difficult to not stop whenever I pass in front of history! Always the stories are more & the time, less. Always!

The theme of the 2023 MSLF was Raqs-o-Mausiqi. The Awadhi dance & music traditions are explored in depth through the festival. Awadh is the land of Thumri & Khayal, of Kathak, and of Sozkhwani & Marsiyakhwani!

In the MSLF, there are indigenous musical & dance performances as well as an experiential exhibition on the theme. It also has heritage walks to explore the unknown facets of Lucknow. I had signed up for a walk the next day & was quite excited for it.

MSLF also has craft stalls, a food festival, talks, films, & workshops. 100+ artisans & weavers display their crafts.

A Festival Within a Festival

I was fortunate to attend the Home Cooked Food Festival where Lucknow’s hidden culinary treasures became exposed – pulao, aloo – gosht, mustard fish, dhaage wale kabab… Toothsome!

This food festival is an annual outing for the home chefs of Lucknow. The number of participating chefs has increased over the years. In fact, participating here is considered an honor. While I love Awadhi cuisine available in the restaurants, I found the home – cooked fare splendid!

Nafasat & nazakat – on point!!

It was crazy to see the queue to buy tokens for food at the Home Cooked Food Festival. D had warned me about it, but I was still taken aback. It was only thanks to the regulars that I managed to get a token!

I saw a couple of live performances. It was heartening to see cultural admirers come together as a community. I also saw an equal space being given to the LGBTQ+ community. By the end of the day, I was exhausted but also exuberant that I got to participate in the cultural & heritage celebration of Lucknow.

The MSLF takes place in February every year. I encourage all my readers to explore this gala! There is something for everybody here!

Aap Lucknow Mein? – II

La Martiniere College

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 2

Now that you’ve read about my Day One in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 2nd day.

Fresh after a restful night, I was ready to explore Lucknow (a third time). The best way to get around Lucknow is by public transport & I’d booked Bharat Taxis & Savaari Cabs for the duration of my stay.

Vidhan Bhavan

My first stop was the Vidhan Bhavan. How cool is it when our temples of democracy are also architecturally brilliant! In the 1920s, Chief Architects Sir Swinon Jacob and Sri Heera Singh built this edifice that presents an imposing, magnificent sight even today.

On both sides of the road, the Houses of the People stand, giving off a majestic aura. The Gothic influence is unmistakable. The Bhavan is crescent – shaped. Its front part is built with carved Chunar stones.

The front of the portico is tri-arched. You can see the State emblem carved on it. The Vidhan Bhavan has several administrative offices in its vicinity, making the area crowded & important. There was such security at the Bhavan that I was unsure if I should click photos!

Vidhan Bhavan, Lucknow

Vehicles are prohibited from stopping in front of the Vidhan Bhavan. So, I got down from my cab at one end & crossed over to the other side on foot. It was while walking that I had the brainwave of breaking my sightseeing for a cup of tea!

Sharma Ji Ki Chai

Sharma Ji Ki Chai was less than a kilometer from the Vidhan Bhavan. As the name suggests, it is a teahouse. It also has light snacks to pair with tea. But do not go expecting a Zen – like ambience of a teahouse; Sharma Ji Ki Chai is chaotic in the most Indian way. Be ready to stand with dozens of other tea drinkers, ready to shout out your order over the din, to share tables etc.

I had a Kulhad Chai & a Bund Maska. After my frugal breakfast, these were deeply satiating!

Christ Church

Christ Church was the first English church to be built in North India and the third in India. It is in the Hazratganj area, just a little over a kilometer from Sharma Ji Ki Chai. Sadly, the gate to the Church premises was locked; the caretaker informed me that it opens only on Sundays.

Christ Church, Lucknow

When the Christ Church was built, it was called St. Mary’s Church. It was part of the British Residency. It was attacked during the First War of Indian Independence like all other British establishments were.

The first people to be buried in the Church cemetery were those that fell during the 1857 War. Standing at the gate, I tried to imagine what the interior would be like. It certainly looked as if it could accommodate 100+ people!

Given that I could only look at the façade, I turned my sights towards the bell tower. It comprises a spire with a cross at the top. This was an eye turner!

Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Lucknow

Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

I then moved on to the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, barely 1.1 kilometers away. Just my luck, or my timing, but even this Cathedral was closed. The police officer, however, let me enter the premises. So, once again, I stood outside, sighed at the architectural brilliance & then bowed my head.

The St. Joseph’s Cathedral dates to the 1800s. Its architecture is outstanding. I particularly liked how its crescent is topped by a column with a cross. The massive Jesus Christ statue is unmissable. When I had had my fill, I moved to the right of the Cathedral to pay respect to Mother Mary’s Grotto.

Shahnajaf Imambara

When I asked my cab driver if he knew the Shahnajaf Imambara, he said he knew the Bada & Chhota Imambaras! This actually was a highlight of my trip that my cabbies usually didn’t know the attraction that I intended to visit.

Anyhow, the Shahnajaf Imambara (3 minutes by cab from the Cathedral) was a beneficiary of loan agreements between the Awadh Nawabs/ Kings & the British Resident. This commitment moved to the British Government & then to the Uttar Pradesh Government.

Facade of Shahnajaf Imambara, Lucknow

The Shahnajaf Imambara has an enormous dome & is built of lakhauri bricks in lime concrete mortar. It has a closeted verandah all around the inner building. It was undergoing renovation when I visited but, luckily, it was still open to visitors.

The Shahnajaf Imambara was empty except for a couple of foreigners. I removed my footwear, covered my head & entered. The Shahnajaf Imambara was established in honor of the Caliph, Hazrat Ali.

The central hall has the graves of the king, Ghazi – ud – din Haider, & his queens. The hall is also decorated with historical mementos. Photography inside is allowed. It is worth it too – chandeliers & crystal glass lampstands!

Chandeliers & Crystal Lamps at Shahnajaf Imambara, Lucknow

Caution – Women are required to cover their heads here.

Sikandar Bagh

My next stop was Sikandar Bagh, 1.4 kms away. It is a hidden, small monument but extremely crucial from a historical standpoint. During the First War of Independence, a battle was fought here in which 100s of British & 2,000 freedom fighters lost their lives.

Uda Devi, a woman warrior, too was shot dead here but not before she killed several British sepoys. The British were baffled by her courage. So much so that the souls of the British still roam in the park, after dark, as per legend.

The entrance is from a side gate. On the left are the ruins while on the right is an imposing gateway. If you love architecture, you will find the gateway a treat for the eyes. You will find the two – fish symbol here, that can be seen in modern crests.

Sikandar Bagh is peaceful, despite the bustling roads outside. The garden is well – maintained. And empty – I spotted about four or five visitors, mostly college sweethearts. It is sad that people’s interest in heritage & history is diminishing. The buildings & stories that we should be cherishing, feeling proud of & taking inspiration from are becoming merely photoshoot locations.

Ruins at Sikandar Bagh, Lucknow

Hazratganj Market

My ultimate halt before I took a lunch break was the iconic Hazratganj Market, 3 minutes away by car. It is a Victorian – style shopping area. The British built it on the lines of the Queen’s Street in London.

Today, however, Hazratganj is famous even outside Lucknow; in fact, it is synonymous with Lucknow. I walked the length of the market from one end to the other. It is a veritable shopping paradise, especially for Chikankari (a traditional embroidery design).

I just window – shopped but watching the pace of activity at Ganj was exciting. But I must admit, the rickshaw pullers were quite annoying; throughout my walk, one or the other of them would accost me that he would take me to the best Chikankari store & to Chowk & to Aminabad (& God knows where) for just INR 10!

Let me just say this about Hazratganj – if you are getting bored, come to Hazratganj; you will find plenty to do! The best way to get around is on foot. Food was another thing Hazratganj boasts of; I had my eyes on Royal Café.

Royal Café

Mutton Degi Masala

After all the sightseeing, I attacked what Lucknow is famous for – the Awadhi cuisine. Tucked in the center of the Hazratganj Market, Royal Café provided an excellent dining experience. Its ambience was fine.

I went with my server’s recommendation & boy, was I delighted! The Mutton Degi Masala was mouthwatering. Portion size, of course, was too much for one. I must compliment the food quality; the chefs’ commitment was evident.

If you are a meat – eater visiting Lucknow, you MUST try the Mutton Degi Masala at Royal Café. The food cost was fair. Its popularity was also apparent with the crowds thronging the restaurant. It has four branches in Lucknow.

Habibullah Estate

Habibullah Estate

Stepping out of Royal Café with a big smile, I strolled to the Habibullah Estate (half a kilometer away) taking in the sights & sounds of the market. It is a restored heritage home which is now the first boutique retail space in Lucknow having outlets like Anokhi & Geetanjali.

Habibullah Estate has colonial architecture & is 300+ years old. I particularly liked the lofty ceilings & arched doorways. It was the ancestral home of Hamida Habibullah, at one time the President of the Avadh Girls Degree College. She was an active participant in social causes & had been a role model for Muslim women.

Heritage structures lend such an appeal to a place… sigh!

Cherry Tree Café

I read a lot about the Cherry Tree Café. I had to check it out, but it turned out to be a major disappointment. The ambience is green & great, but the service could not be worse. I sat there for an hour but was not served.

Cherry Tree Cafe, Lucknow

I asked first for 🍦; they said it’s unavailable! I then asked for a Mud 🍫 Pudding: they said that’s unavailable too. Then another server said 🍦 are available but I’ve to go to the counter & see which ones.

At the counter, there was no ice cream. Still, I didn’t lose my cool & told the lady at the counter that I want a Berry Vanilla Custard & that I’m sitting outside. I told the server too that I’ve ordered. But even after sitting for an hour, nothing came.

So, I finally got up & left. Oonchi dukan, feeki pakwaan!

Calm but disappointing Cherry Tree Cafe

Chhatar Manzil

Onwards to Chhatar Manzil! It was less than two kilometers away. It is located on the banks of River Gomati. Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider (same as Shahnajaf Imambara) laid its foundation. However, while I had heard a lot about this attraction, I am afraid to say it was poorly kept.

Chhatar Manzil was abandoned. Even the garden had not been manicured. It has the Central Drug Research Institute in its premises, yet looks desolate, so much so that I felt a tinge of fear when I was here.

However, none of this took away the beauty of the Chhatar Manzil. It is built in an Indo – Italian style. It has a large umbrella topping on it which gives the monument its name (umbrella = chhatri = Chhatar).

Farhat Baksh Kothi

The Farhat Baksh Kothi is built adjacent to the Chhatar Manzil, within the same premises. It was built by & was the residence of the French Major General Claude Martin. Its original name, thus, was Martin Villa.

Farhat Baksh Kothi, Lucknow

Nawab Asaf – ud – Daula later bought the Villa. Legend has it that he used to be frequently unwell; the British Resident recommended him to stay in the Villa, post which his health improved significantly! It was then that the Nawab named it Farhat Baksh Kothi (‘pleasing mansion’).

The Farhat Baksh Kothi has Gothic architecture. In the olden days, its ground floor touched the river Gomti because of which it always remained pleasant inside! I love how the old structures were built so thoughtfully; not like today where you just fit air conditioners!

Recent excavations have also brought out pillars going deep inside the ground, i.e., a subterranean floor in all probability! TBH, I preferred the Farhat Baksh Kothi much more over the Chhatar Manzil. I could not take my eyes off this beauty, especially its Romanesque roof!

Farhat Baksh Kothi, Lucknow

La Martiniere College

The last stop of the day, to honor Major General Claude Martin, had to be the La Martiniere College. Born in Lyon, he came from a humble background. He realized the value of formal education and set aside a portion of his estate for the founding of schools in Kolkata, Lucknow & Lyon.

The La Martiniere College I visited was the Boys’ College. I took less than 15 minutes to reach here from Farhat Baksh Kothi. Its campus is spread over ~1.6 square kilometers. TBH, I did not expect to be let inside La Martiniere College. It is a private educational institution, not a tourist attraction.

I was, thus, pleasantly surprised when, at gate 4, the security guards enthusiastically answered in the affirmative when I asked for permission to go inside to see the structure. From the gate to the main building, called Constantia, was a nice 10-minute walk with heritage structures on both sides.

The first I encountered was the Mews, i.e., the stable for the horses, used by the pupils to learn horse riding.

The next was The Tomb of Boulone Lise. Lise was the daughter of Nawab Fazal Khan Bahadur, the grandson of the Wazir of Aurangzeb, and was Major General Claude Martin’s companion. The Tomb was purpose built as she chose to be buried on the College grounds.

Tomb of Boulon Lise, Lucknow

The Tomb is a small domed building but with a striking light green color. (If it weren’t a tomb, I would daresay call it fairytale-esque!)

Further ahead was the grave of a Major William Hodson who killed Bahadur Shah Zafar. On my right was the Stobart Hall which is a school to learn the French language.

At last, I stood in front of the Constantia & I’m not exaggerating when I say that my jaw dropped on seeing this imposing, magnificent, 18th century building. It is a fine example of European funerary monuments.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow

I climbed a few steps & stood in front of the Laat, a 40 meters high column. (The Laat itself remains a mystery. A few consider it a lighthouse while others believe it is a marker for the grave of Major General Martin’s horse.)

Turning around, I could see the expanse of Constantia & the other arms of La Martiniere. The architecture is crowned by several statues, the most majestic of them being the lions. The fact that Major General Martin built both Farhat Baksh Kothi & Constantia is very evident from the similarities between both the heritage structures. But the latter is grander!

Major General Martin is buried in a basement mausoleum in the building. I came to know later, during my British Residency heritage walk, that the Boys’ College is the only school in the world that was awarded royal battle honors for its role in the defense of the Residency during the First War of Indian Independence.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow

(The flag has not been displayed since the Indian independence because of the objection it may cause.)

I really wanted to explore the interiors of Constantia, but I was unsure if I would be allowed. It was also getting dark by now. So, with a heavy heart, I exited but promised myself (& the marvelous architecture) that I would be back!

Roastery Coffee House

I ended our day at Roastery Coffee House (7 kilometers away). It is a frequent haunt for me in my hometown; I wanted to experience what another of its outlets looks like. Glad I did! It was, indeed, popular in Lucknow too.

Roastery sources coffee from farms across India. It offers single – estate specialty coffee. I first calmed my sightseeing nerves with a Milk Mocha & leisurely read a novel. The aroma of the distinct kinds of coffees is divine.

I then satiated my appetite with Chicken Nachos which were yummy. The flavors just exploded in my mouth. It was still quite early when I wrapped up from Roastery. I knew I would be hungry later. So, I got myself a Chicken Salami Salad bagged. Later, tucked in my bed in the hotel, I polished it off with great contentment.

Umbrella decor at Roastery Coffee House, Lucknow

Roastery is a family-friendly place. Its ambience is cheerfully delightful, with the yellow lights & the inverted parasols. It is a premium café, but it feels very home – like. I was taken diligent care of by my server, Manish. He ensured he was attentive yet not intrusive. His service made my experience richer.

I hope it continues to maintain its remarkable existence even as it expands into newer cities.

A busy but really satisfying day came to an end!

Aap Lucknow Mein? – I

Water body in the foreground reflecting sunset colours, Janeshwar Mishra Park

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 1

Lucknow always brings a sense of belonging. Tunde kebab & kulfi at Aminabad, walk at Hazratganj, sightseeing at Bada & Chota Imambargahs, crossing Cantt, mutton nihari at Rahim’s, kulfi at Chhappan Bhog, chikankari & zari shopping at Chowk, walk in Ambedkar Park, galauti kebab at Dastarkhwan, & kulfi (again!) at Nishatganj – these were the highlights of our previous two hurls.

So, when P got an invitation to visit Lucknow a third time, she didn’t think twice about it. A solo trip usually lasts for four days & three nights which proved to be quite adequate to see many new sights.

For my third trip to Lucknow, I’ve broken down the blog posts by the days so that it does not get overwhelming to read. And I’ll end with an itinerary for Lucknow.

Thus, here I go with Part 1.

rose, train, swarn shatabdi express, indian railways, delhi, lucknow

Getting There

Leaving from NCR, using the Swarn Shatabdi Express, I made good time & reached Lucknow by afternoon. Interestingly, the Shatabdi started almost empty from the New Delhi Railway Station but became a houseful at Ghaziabad. Maybe Delhi & Gurgaon folks prefer to fly to Lucknow.

A highlight of the Swarn Shatabdi is the station on which it arrives at the Lucknow Junction. It’s Platform 6 on the ‘Chhoti Line’ which has road access. This means that you can call your pickup vehicle right to your bogie! It is a little thing but thrilled me to bits!

The First Evening

Janeshwar Mishra Park

My first evening in Lucknow was a walk in the Janeshwar Mishra Park. I chose to stroll around it in a relaxed manner, taking photographs, watching the Sun set, & retiring early.

Janeshwar Mishra Park

The Park is built in memory of the late politician Janeshwar Mishra. It has been in existence for ~10 years now. It is spread over 350+ acres, making it rightfully the biggest park in Asia.

As I entered the Park after buying a ticket (INR 10), to my left was an Indian Air Force plane & straight ahead was a huge statue of the late Janeshwar Mishra.

Apart from the extensive greenery & kilometers of walking tracks, there are two water bodies within the Janeshwar Mishra Park. The walking tracks have ornate lights flanking them; you could be mistaken for thinking, for a moment, that you are in a European country.

Greenery at the Janeshwar Mishra Park

In early February, spring was already knocking. I had the good fortune of seeing many floral colors. The Janeshwar Mishra Park also has a few fountains & if you get tired of walking, there are several seating facilities.

I also came across a food plaza & an open-air gymnasium. The Janeshwar Mishra Park was huge; I doubt I saw even 25% of it. As the sun set, I hurried towards the main gate but not before I witnessed a spectacular sunset over one of the water bodies.

At times, a little thing like watching a sunset can bring immense happiness. As the evening got colder, my soul became warmer. I thanked my gods for all the good things bestowed on me…

Dusk at Janeshwar Mishra Park

All in all, the Janeshwar Mishra Park is well – designed & quite well – executed.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan

I then made my way to The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan for an early dinner. Lucknow is full of restaurants called Dastarkhwan. Depending on who you ask, any of them could be the ‘original’ one!

I didn’t bother with the semantics on this occasion & headed to the Dastarkhwan located in Lalbagh.

Galauti Kebab is just what the doctor ordered. I heeded to the server & took a Mughlai Paratha with it but that turned out to be quite heavy. So, for seconds, I opted for a Roomali Roti.

I’m not a big fan of Mughlai cuisine but I really like the Awadhi one.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

It was time to call it a night after the yummy in my tummy.

I’ll be back with Part 2 soon!

Three Lessons I’ve Learnt as A Solo Female Traveller

sunset, walk, janeshwar mishra park, lucknow, uttar pradesh, india, solo

Can we confidently say that COVID is behind us? Well, it may or may not be, but, in its wake, it’s left behind a thought with me – a thought that I’ve religiously been applying myself to.

And the thought is that life is WAY too short to wait for ‘someday’ to execute our plans. Like Shah Rukh Khan famously says, “Kya pata kal Ho na Ho?”, it’s become a reality ever since the pandemic struck us.

All the grand plans I’d been making for myself for that mythical ‘someday’, I’m executing them rapidly now. A big part of that plan has always been solo travel.

rose, train, swarn shatabdi express, indian railways, delhi, lucknow

While I’ve been travelling solo for several years, it’s still been intermittent. But post COVID, I’m trying to do at least two solo trips in a year.

And my lessons from my previous travels too motivate me to keep going. Can I share what these lessons are? Or, at least, what the top three are??

Humanity Exists

gentlemen, rajasthan, talk, fascinate, baba harbhajan singh mandir, sikkim, india, solo

Women are brought up to believe that the world is a dangerous place. That they are better off within the confines of their homes, or only when accompanied by men.

I have rebelled against this for as long as I remember. The world is only as bad or as good as we want it to be. In all my solo travels, I have been treated with curiosity (sure) but also with awe & respect.

Strangers have directed me to the right paths & helped me with translations. And I’ve tried to do the same to the best of my ability. Despite being an introvert, I have got into more conversations with strangers when traveling alone, than when in company.

I have felt freer on my journeys alone. More introspective. More at peace! And I wish more girls experience these moments of exhilaration for themselves.

Make Your Own Packing Checklist

I’ve read so many, many articles & posts on what I ‘must’ pack for my trips. But, honestly, most of these lists are overkills. Or, at least for me, they’re!

I certainly don’t need packing cubes, power banks etc when I travel. I don’t even need the dozens of apps that are supposedly ‘compulsory’ for solo female travellers.

I’m not dismissing these lists; just saying that everybody’s their own preferences & therefore, they must come up with their own checklists, based on trial & error.

No Need to Do-It-All

I love sightseeing. I’m not the kind of person who can go to one resort & lounge away my days by the pool there. But, even when I travel solo & pack my days with sights & experiences, I take out some time to unwind.

To maybe sit in a café & read a book. Or enjoy a drink in a bar while listening to live music. Or walk around a park. These moments of calm help me recharge my batteries & get me going on another sightseeing spree.

And TBH, I don’t feel guilty about listening to my body!

Have you learnt anything from solo traveling? Love to hear!

Read my other post on solo female travel – A Girl Who Travels .


khajuraho, erotica, hype
Prefer hearing over reading? Listen to this verse on Spotify!

बचपन से ही खजुराहो का नाम सुना था.

खजुराहो की मूर्तियों में जान है, ये सुना था.

जब अपनी आँखों से देखा तो समझ आया,

की जिसने भी ये कहा था, सौ आने सच कहा था!

मंदिर घूमते घूमते ये ध्यान आया,

की जब चंदेल राजवंश ने ये बीड़ा उठाया,

सोच भी नहीं पाए होंगे,

की ऐसा वास्तु कला इतिहास बनाएंगे.

khajuraho, paradise, architecture, art, history, photography, enthuse

हम एक कदम न चल पाए खजुराहो में,

बिना इतिहास से टकराए हुए.

हिन्दू और जैन धर्मों के मंदिर,

रह न सके बिना हमें बुलाए हुए.

मंदिरों और उनमें स्तिथ प्रतिमाओं

का एक अलग ही निखार देखा,

जब सूर्योदय और सूर्यास्त पर,

पहली और आखिरी किरणों से उनको नहाये देखा.

चतुर्भुज, लक्ष्मणा और कंदारिया महादेव

हर मंदिर की कहानी हमने जानी है,

पार्वती, नंदी, कई और अनगिनत

हर मंदिर की विशिष्टता हमने मानी है.

पहली नज़र में प्यार सुना था,

उत्तम मूर्तियों में जान सुना था,

मूर्तियों से प्यार हो जाएगा,

जिसने कहा था, सौ आने सच कहा था!

Ganga Kinaare…

Ganga, Mango Orchards, Garhmukteshwar

Our earlier posts on Devprayag & Haridwar made us look back at another of our travels along the river Ganges. For this one, we did not have to venture far from our home.

This holy town is rightfully called the closest point from Delhi NCR where you can witness the Ganges. Yes, we are speaking of Garhmukteshwar. It’s easy to reach by road via NE3 & NH 9.

We recommend visiting in winter as the summer months can be incredibly hot. But mornings, evenings & nights do get cold during winters. We have made three trips to this holy town by now – twice in winter & once in monsoon.

TBH, we have not gone sightseeing in Garhmukteshwar. All our visits have been staycations. But even those have been quite eventful. You can ride a bullock cart. You can throw yourself a picnic in the expansive lawns. You can go swimming on warm days. You can play a ton of outdoor games like archery, cricket, dartboards, volleyball, & commando bridge.

So, the next time monotony gets to you, just pack your bags, drag your co-travellers/ pets, & head out to Garhmukteshwar. Once you leave the city limits behind, it’s lovely seeing the mustard fields in bloom during the winter season.

We give below our experience of two resorts in Garhmukteshwar, viz, Baghaan Orchard Retreat & Mango Tree Resort. Both are set amidst mango orchards & have a cottage – style accommodation.

Most importantly, both Baghaan Orchard & Mango Tree are pet – friendly! (Yeesss!!)

Baghaan Orchard Retreat

Baghaan Orchard is ~26 kilometres from NH 9 on the road leading to Siyana. We find its location desirable as it’s situated away from the city hustle bustle.

Baghaan has lawns, a restaurant, a conference hall, a swimming pool, & an activity area. It’s ample parking space. The abundant grounds make for a lovely setup for winter sunbathing.

All age groups can find some or the other activities to keep themselves involved – badminton, croquet, pottery, Burma bridge & table tennis etc.

The restaurant offers multicuisine food. The room service was good too. We celebrated Christmas on our second visit and had a bonfire going in our private lawn. The Retreat dedicated one server to us to cater to all our needs.

The cottages have all facilities like LCD TV, coffee/ tea maker, and attached bathroom & toilet. They also have private sit outs.

Baghaan also seems to be a resort of choice for corporate offsites & for celebrations. During our first visit, we saw a company offsite taking place there. We ourselves were part of a bachelor’s party celebration.

First Visit (2015)

We stayed in an Orchard Cottage for one night. It’s a one – bedroom unit, ideal for a couple/ a family with a young child. We’d reached late at night, but the restaurant still served us dinner.

The next morning, we strolled around the activity area & the orchards.

Second Visit (2020)

We stayed for two nights over the Christmas holiday, along with friends. We stayed in a Dasheri Kothi which was an independent two – bedroom unit in a corner with a private lawn.

The Kothi had a living room and a sit-out, in addition to the lawn. This configuration is ideal for four individuals/ two couples/ two families with young kids.

Our puppies had a marvelous time playing in the private lawn.

On our first night, we had a bonfire going. The next day was spent playing badminton & volleyball and soaking up the sun. for the night, all of us crashed into the living room of the Dasheri Kothi for an evening of discussions & drinks.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Mango Tree Resort (2022)

Mango Tree is one of those places where the only sound you’ll hear is the rustling of leaves. It’s ~20 kilometres from NH 9 on the road leading to Siyana.

The Resort has lawns, a restaurant, recreation rooms, a conference hall, a play zone, a swimming pool, & ample parking space. If you’re done with soaking in the Sun, you can involve yourself with activities like badminton, cycling, tambola, carrom board, & table tennis.

The restaurant, Daana Pani, offers dishes made with homegrown ingredients. We loved our gastronomical experience here. You can satiate your palate with a mix of Indian, Continental, & other cuisines.

The 31 cottages at this resort are an amalgamation of contemporary design & rustic elements. We’d booked the Premium Cottages which were in a block of six. So, if you’re in a large group, you can book all the six & the block (kind of) becomes exclusively yours.

The Premium Cottage is a one – bedroom unit with a small living area, a private sit – out & an ensuite bathroom.

First Day

On our first day, we were the only guests & thus had the entire resort at our disposal. It was a rainy day, but the staff was kind enough to provide quite a few umbrellas.

Amongst us, there were five pet dogs who had a wonderful time running around in the lawns, sniffing at new scents & muddying themselves in the puddles.

We spent the evening at the Gazebo near the well, partying the night away. The staff members arranged everything for us including lights, fans, mosquito repellents & the like. The service was impeccable.

Second Day

On this day, other guests arrived & Mango Tree Resort got completely occupied. We spent the daytime either lounging by the pool or participating in the many activities available. A bunch of us also went for a bullock cart ride.

At night, it was back to dances, discussions & drinks. Mango Tree dedicated a server to us who ensured we never had to ask twice for anything.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


We would place Mango Tree Resort a notch above Baghaan Orchard Retreat because of its more polished look & feel. From the front desk itself to the rooms, every inch spoke of swankiness.

However, both the retreats are perfect for rejuvenation amidst nature!

Pawrents, please note – Pets are prohibited inside the restaurant at both the resorts. However, both also have sit – outs accompanying the restaurants where you can sit with your pet while you pig out on meals.

We would recommend booking an APAI plan in both the resorts as there are no restaurants for quite a few kilometres.

Have you been to either? What’s your experience been like?

Guest Post on Travelers Talks: How To Make Money For Traveling?

Money is an important part of travel. Like the Happy Little Traveler rightly says, a lot of folks think that travelers are loaded (typically on their parents’ money) when the reality is we just save & save to fund our travels…

Read how we fund our travels (& how other travelers do too) in this fantastic post by Sonia & Wojtek! Thank you for including us!!


How to make money for traveling? This is a question that many wonder about. Check out inspiring stories from travelers and get the answer.

Source: Travelers Talks: How To Make Money For Traveling?

A Beautiful & Celestial Hop

We have visited the Kumaon side of Uttarakhand quite a bit but not so much the Garhwal side. Putting our limited experience together, we nonetheless realized that a seven – day itinerary can be drawn up.

This holiday will bring together the charming Saur Village & the divine towns of Devprayag & Haridwar. Let’s begin!

Day 1 – Drive to Devprayag

  1. Drive to Devprayag (~6.5 hours) & reach by evening. Chill at your accommodation!

Day 2 – Angling, Kayaking & Waterfall

  1. Use this day to soak in the experience of the river Ganges either in the form of angling or kayaking or white-water rafting or yoga by the river or simply reading a book on the banks.
  2. If you stay at Banyan by The Ganges, ask the staff to take you to the waterfall. Enjoy a heady shower there.

Day 3 – Devprayag & Danda Nagraja Mandir

  1. Drive to the Danda Nagraja Mandir (~1.25 hours) after an early breakfast. Offer prayers & gape at the snowy Himalayas in the distance. Try your hand (& eyes) at bird-watching.
  2. Return to your accommodation, partake a hearty lunch & rest a while.
  3. Drive to Devprayag (~45 minutes) in the early evening hours. Pray at the Raghunathji Mandir & then attend the evening Ganga Aarti at the Sangam.
  4. Drive back to your accommodation to call it a day.

Day 4 – Drive to Saur Village

  1. Check out from your accommodation & head to Saur Village (~1.25 hours).
  2. Check in to your accommodation.
  3. Spend the day & evening at leisure. Take a walk around and experience village life at its best.

Day 5 – Tehri Dam & Kanatal

  1. After breakfast, head to Tehri Dam (~3 hours). Good to get a permit beforehand. While you cannot go on top of the dam, you can drive up the hill & get grand views. There are water activities/ sports in the reservoir that you can indulge in. The boat ride gives a chance to see the reservoir in its entirety.
  2. Head to Kanatal (~1.5 hours) from Tehri and spend the day soaking in the beauty of the little-discovered hill station. You will find apple orchards & majestic hills quite charming.
  3. Back to Saur for dinner.

Day 5 – Drive to Haridwar

  1. After breakfast, head to Haridwar (~3.75 hours). Check in to your accommodation. In the evening, head to the ghats for the Ganga Aarti. We recommend you go for the main aarti by booking online beforehand. However, this advance booking is done months in advance; so, you may have to plan accordingly.
  2. Back to hotel.

Day 6 – Haridwar

  1. Spend time at the Har Ki Pauri. It is believed that a dip in the Ganga here will wash away one’s sins. Do note that the river current is strong; do NOT cross the barricades while taking a dip. Life along the banks of the Ganga, specially in a town as holy as Haridwar, takes another form altogether.
  2. Post lunch, visit the Maa Chandi Devi Mandir. You can either trek to the temple or take a rope-way. You will be surrounded with greenery & divine presence. The temple architecture itself is quite humble.
  3. If you have time, you can also visit the Shri Mata Mansa Devi Mandir. It is located on the Bilwa Parvat & is accessed by a rope-way or by trekking. There is a combined rope-way ticket for Maa Chandi Devi & Shri Mata Mansa Devi temples; availing this may be beneficial.

Day 7 – Back to Base

  1. The saddest day of the trip – the day it ends! But begin it with a morning Ganga Aarti.
  2. Check out after breakfast & head home. (Haridwar to Delhi = 4.25 hours)

Accommodation Recommendations

Devprayag – Banyan by The Ganges (Review here –

Saur Village – Saur Cottages (Review here –

Haridwar – Haveli Hari Ganga by Leisure Hotels Group

While we like to maximize our trips with as much sightseeing as we can, we don’t believe in overdoing it. We recommend the same – don’t treat sightseeing as a competition or a checklist. So, even if you don’t manage to see a few of the above, it’s okay. It’s more important to enjoy yourself. Happy sightseeing!

Devprayag – The Birthplace of The Ganga

Devprayag, Birthplace, Ganga

In 2020 September, we decided to bring Fluffy home. As she was due to come to us by the third week of October, we knew we had to have a last hurrah because once she came home, we would be confined within our four walls till her vaccinations were complete.

We also had more than a long weekend with us. One of our friends had recently visited Devprayag & we thought of giving one of these Panch Prayag’s a shot.

About Devprayag

Devprayag is the town where the holy River Ganges takes shape. The rivers Alaknanda & Bhagirathi merge at this holy town to form the Ganga which then flows through the northern plains of India & end in the Bay of Bengal.

Devprayag is one of the five sacred confluences (called Panch Prayag) of the Alaknanda. Apart from the Sangam (confluence), pilgrims & tourists alike throng to the ancient Raghunathji Mandir.

For pilgrims, Devprayag is replete with holy spots – Baitalshila, Varahishila, Bhairava Shrine, Bhushandi Shrine, Durga Shrine, Pushyamal Tirth, Varah Tirth, Vishveshvara Shrine & more.

Day One

We took the Noida – Modinagar – Bijnor – Najibabad – Lansdowne – Devprayag route as we had information about the main route (NH 334 & NH 7) being constructed. Unfortunately, this alternate route had bad patches too.

When we were crossing Bijnor, we noticed a billboard at the Barrage advertising a Dolphin Jalaj Safari. In 2020 itself, the National Mission for Clean Ganga had launched Ganga Dolphin safaris at six destinations in India to preserve the river ecology & to conserve the Dolphins.

On this Dolphin Safari, tourists can also spot Gharials. Bijnor comes under the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary where, as of 2020, there were thirty-six dolphins. Now, this wildlife sanctuary is something we would like to return to someday.


Gangetic Dolphins are blind. They catch their prey with the help of ultrasonic sound waves.

We took just one break on this journey – at Kanha Farms, Bijnor – for lunch.

Kanha Farms

Kanha Farms (also called Hotel Kanha & Resort) is located on NH119. It is a hotel, restaurant & banquet hall rolled into one. There was ample space to park our vehicle. The restaurant was spacious too.

We pigged out on parathas on both our stoppages. Unfortunately, their tea was too sweet to our liking. Service was good. The washrooms were decently clean & usable.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Despite this single halt, it was late evening by the time we reached Devprayag. Well, technically not Devprayag, but Vyas Ghat, a village seventeen kms before Devprayag, where our accommodation – Banyan by The Ganges (BBTG) – was located.

Day Two

There are hops when we are out & about. And then there are hops where we just relax. Our Devprayag holiday was of the latter kind. Well, at least this day was!

This was a time when we did pranayama regularly, thanks to the COVID scare. So, our day began with a round of pranayama overlooking the river Ganges, under the banyan tree. The serene morning made our practice even better!

After breakfast, N went off for a kayaking lesson. BBTG has trained guides who create a welcoming environment for all participants. Deepak, the guide, introduced N to navigation & safety on the river. BBTG is right on the banks of the river; so, one does not have to go far either.

In the evening, we drove to Devprayag & back.

Day Three

If you are not someone who is into thrill, BBTG has easy activities too.


Deepak, a staff member took us to a nearby pristine waterfall. This is hidden; only locals & the hotel staff know about. Guests staying at BBTG become privy to this cascade. We enjoyed a heady shower under it.

The force with which the water tumbled down was quite something. The stream with the most concentration of water, there was no way we could put our heads there; it would feel like rocks coming down on our crown!

And the water temperature… Brr!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Please note that the way to the waterfall is through a mud path with uneven footholds & slopes. So, wear proper footwear & ensure you are sure – footed when you visit.


In the evening, we drove to Devprayag again but this time, to bow our heads at the Sangam. When you drive at/ after dusk from BBTG to Devprayag, there is a good chance you will see one or the other wild animal on the road. We saw a Spotted Deer! Deepak, who was accompanying us, mentioned that leopards too have been sighted on this road!

From the main road, where you can park your vehicle, you must climb downstairs, walk through a market, cross a suspension bridge over the river, climb up inclines & stairs & it is only then that you get to offer prayers!

Suspension bridges over both the rivers provide grand views – the river flowing beneath, the charming town & the sublime mountains in the background!

Raghunathji Mandir

Our first stop was the Raghunathji Mandir. It is also known as Tirukantamenum Kadi Nagar & is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama’s sacred shrine is crowned by a conical roof.

We came to know interesting legends related to the Raghunathji Mandir. That it has existed since the Ramayana days. That the Pandavas came to the temple at the onset of the Mahabharata war. That the lost/ mythical River Saraswati flows directly below Lord Rama’s shrine. That a nearby banyan tree has mysteriously withstood all calamities.

Legends aside, the Raghunathji Mandir came into existence & its present form due to the devotion of Hindus. The Himalayas are earthquake – prone & in 1803, a quake did shatter the temple but was subsequently repaired.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Please note that you must further climb a flight of steep stairs to reach the Raghunathji Mandir.


Apart from Alaknanda & Bhagirathi, it is believed that the mythical Saraswati meets these two rivers at the confluence albeit underground. We walked up to the Sangam & waited for the evening aarti to begin.

We always think of rivers (or any water bodies) as being blue. And we think all rivers are of the same blue color. After having seen two confluences – Indus & Zanskar and Alaknanda & Bhagirathi – we can safely say that is not the case. Rivers can vary drastically in their colors; & they may not be blue all the time.

At the Devprayag Sangam, if you stand facing the meeting point, on your left will be the Bhagirathi & on your right, the Alaknanda. We were visiting right after the monsoon season; thus, both the rivers were of brownish – grey shades. The Bhagirathi was clear while the Alaknanda was muddy.

Also at the confluence were tens, if not hundreds, of Himalayan Golden Mahseer. We saw locals & pilgrims tossing dough bits to the fish who got into a mad scramble to catch it. The size of the Mahseer was huge!

The stairs on the Sangam Ghat are a good spot to meditate. The peace you will get will be unparalleled.

Soon, the aarti began. It was simple & yet peaceful. We felt the blessings of the gods on us just by being there. Despite spending only a few minutes here, we were already feeling affection for the Sangam.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Day Four

This was our last full day in Devprayag & we made the most of it by visiting the Danda Nagraja Mandir, bird watching & angling!

Danda Nagraja Mandir

Danda Nagraja is a Lord Krishna temple, 1.5 hours’ drive from BBTG. Anil, a staff member, took us there in a hotel vehicle. The temple is located on a higher altitude. Hence, on a bright day, you can see snow-capped peaks.

And we did! But we are jumping the gun. First things first – the place where you park your vehicle, an uphill path takes you to the temple. The path is a cemented one with shades provided at frequent intervals, but it is, nonetheless, uphill. So be prepared!

While we huffed & puffed our way to the top, we were greeted along the way by the chirping of birds. Being beginner bird watchers, seeing a few distinct kinds of birds brought us happiness.

Danda Nagraja Mandir is surrounded by oak & rhododendron trees. We could see that the temple held a place of reverence for locals, as well as people from across Uttarakhand.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna still resides in the temple. When devotees’ prayers are fulfilled, they return to Danda Nagraja Mandir to tie bells in the premises.

If you want to see the temple in all its festivity, make your way here in April for the Mela. Dharamshalas, shops & rest houses can be found around it.

After offering our prayers, we turned towards the viewpoint. It was a cloudless day & we got to see the peaks of Chaukhambha, Trishul, & Hathi Choti! The proverbial cherry on top!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bird Watching

Descending from the temple, Anil took us to a forest road where we walked & spent some time watching birds. We heard many but saw only a few!

Nonetheless, it was good to be able to breathe in some clean, fresh air.


Our last activity in Devprayag was trying our hand at angling. BBTG arranged a fishing guide who took N to a spot on the banks of the Ganges to catch the Himalayan Golden Mahseer (on catch & release basis).

Mahseer is regarded as a challenge by anglers across the world. It is a perseverance test. N did not catch any fish!

Day Five

We left Devprayag to return to our home. On the way, we halted at Lansdowne Trip Travel Café as it had caught our eye on our onward journey.

Lansdowne Trip Travel Café

Lansdowne Trip Travel Café caught our eye due to its colorful décor in a rustic setting. When we browsed for more information, we became aware that it was the idea of Shipra & Amit who quit their city lives to pursue their passion.

Trip Travel Café is an artistic café & a vintage store set in a converted donkey shed. We hopped in & took our seats on the low chairs.

Then something quite interesting happened – P had seen their Instagram post featuring coffee. So, we ordered that, but the server told us that they did not have coffee that day. So, P left a comment on the Insta post regarding coffee being unavailable.

Immediately, Shipra called her staff & asked to speak with P. She apologetically explained the situation (something to do with coordination if we remember correctly). We were impressed. Not every hospitality business takes its customer complaints seriously. And this level of promptness is unheard of.

Good hospitality does make us smile!

We switched our orders to Bread Pizza, Fresh Lime Soda & Ginger Honey Lemon Tea, all of which were toothsome.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Note – Since our visit, Travel Café has moved to a new location with a new décor. We are sure the ambience & service remain as warm as ever!

This brought our Devprayag expedition to an end!

Accommodation Recommendation & Review

If you visit Devprayag purely from a pilgrimage POV, we recommend you stay in the main town. There are a few stays near the holy spots. A more popular way of visiting Devprayag is on an excursion from Rishikesh/ Pauri/ Haridwar.

However, if, like us, you visit with the desire to have the best of all worlds, then we highly recommend Banyan by The Ganges.

Banyan by The Ganges

We must thank our friend S; she truly has a knack for finding bewitching accommodations. BBTG is named after a banyan tree that stands on the banks of the Ganga.

BBTG is located on the Devprayag – Satpuli road, in a hamlet called Vyas Ghat. Everything about BBTG was captivating. The hotel premises were well – maintained.

The view of the Ganga & accessibility to it is simply excellent. Listening to the sound of the flowing river made us feel close to nature. (Not having network helped too!)

We were in the Riverfront Cottage. The cottages are Swiss Tents & thus, give you the feel of glamping. Though they are in a row, there is ample privacy.

Every cottage has a sit out ideal for meditating or simply soaking in nature. Our cottage had all the basic amenities & was comfortable. Housekeeping was on point.

BBTG has a lounge & a restaurant serving finger – licking cuisines. Over all our meals, we demolished dishes like Kadhi, Chocolate Cake, Malai Chicken, Methi Paratha, Pahadi Daal, Aloo Baigan Capsicum, Puri & Aloo Sabzi, and so many more. Our compliments to Chef Mukesh!

Servers Ashish & Ravinder ensure we ate well, always attentive to what we may need in the next moment. All the staff members ensured we had a brilliant stay.

The feature that seals the deal for our future visits – BBTG is pet – friendly!

Our Two Cents

  1. It may be difficult to access Devprayag or other nearby attractions if you do not have your own vehicle. But BBTG can arrange that for you.
  2. BBTG is better suited for adults – couples, groups of friends, people with pets etc.
  3. There is neither network nor TV nor Wi-Fi at BBTG. If you are a sucker for these, this hotel will not be the right choice for you.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The City of Joy in Four Days

I wrap up my City of Joy series with this last post sharing a four – day itinerary for Kolkata. KOL is a getaway for those who enjoy art, architecture, culture, food & heritage.

Detailed descriptions & reviews of each of the attractions are given in my earlier blog posts.

Day 1

  1. Arrive early in Kolkata & check in at your hotel.
  2. Have an early lunch & gear up for quite a bit of walking.
  3. Drive to the Victoria Memorial Hall. The gardens & museum are open till 5 PM. So, take your time to see each & every artefact, & to roam around in the glorious gardens.
  4. Walk to the Saint Paul’s Cathedral next door (~10 minutes). It is open till 6 PM.
  5. Have dinner at any of the iconic restaurants in Park Street – Flury’s/ Mocambo/ Trincas/ Moulin Rouge/ Peter Cat (~15 minutes)
  6. Call it a night at your hotel.

Day 2

  1. After an early breakfast, drive to the Mother House. It opens at 8 AM. Spend some time in meditation at the Mother’s Tomb.
  2. Head to the Howrah Bridge (~30 minutes) & do an end – to – end walk on it. Enjoy the quintessential yellow taxis plying on the Bridge.
  3. Take a lunch break.
  4. Visit the Dakshineswar Kali Mandir (~45 minutes from Howrah Bridge). Take your time to complete the darshan & then see all the pilgrimage spots within the premises.
  5. Make your way to the Belur Math by either boat or car (~15 minutes).
  6. At Belur Math, spend some time meditating at the Sri Ramakrishna Mandir. Then, walk around the campus to see all the other temples & holy spots.
  7. End your evening with some fun at one of the many bars in Kolkata.
  8. Return to your accommodation.

Day 3

  1. After breakfast, drive to the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore. It opens at 10:30 AM. Gurudev is the star of Bengal Renaissance. Spend at least two hours here to know more about Tagore’s life.
  2. Take a lunch break.
  3. Head to the Birla Mandir (~40 minutes from Jorasanko Thakur Bari). It opens at 4:30 PM. Enjoy seeing the magnificent architecture.
  4. Visit the Prinsep Ghat (~25 minutes). Walk & click your way through the Prinsep Memorial & the Prinsep Ghat Station. Then work off that lunch by taking a long walk on the Prinsep Ghat. Closer to sunset, take a boat ride & enjoy the sun going down while you’re cruising on the Ganges.
  5. Return to your accommodation & spend the night at leisure.

Day 4

  • After breakfast, check out from your accommodation & drive to Gallery Sanskriti & Kaee Contemporary. These open at 11 AM. Spend time understanding the art on display.
  • Take a lunch break & then head to the airport.

Accommodation Recommendation

Fairfield By Marriott

I’d a great time at Fairfield. The location was perfect – not far from either the airport or the heart of the city. All amenities were taken care of. Both Kava & Vertex were a foodie/ drinker’s delight. Sunipa at Kava took great care of me & arranged a special dinner too for me, so that I could taste Bengali cuisine.

My room had a first-class view of the Biswa Bangla Gate & the Newtown skyline. My only peeve was that the hotel allowed guests in the swimming pool without proper swimwear. I wanted to use to the pool but got disgusted seeing men in their underwear using the pool, instead of swimming trunks.

While we like to maximise our trips with as much sightseeing as we can, we don’t believe in overdoing it. We recommend the same – don’t treat sightseeing as a competition or a checklist.

So, even if you don’t manage to see a few of the above, it’s okay. It’s more important to enjoy yourself. Happy sightseeing!

City of Joy – P Seeks Divinity

You’ve read about my Day Three in Kolkata; now read a detailed account of my 4th & last day.

The Goddesses & Swamis wanted me to visit their abodes. The rain took a break & I made a voyage to the Dakshineswar Kali Mandir, a Hindu navratna temple.

From there, Alam bhai drove me to the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission. After the hustle bustle of Dakshineswar Mandir, the Math was an oasis of calm!

As soon as I stepped out of Belur & sat in the cab, it began to rain again! I’d planned to visit the Eco Park but had to drop that. Instead, I headed back to the hotel, packed, partook of the lunch buffet & checked out.

On the way to the airport, I stopped at Mishti Hub (read review here). Lounging at the Vistara lounge & then being pampered in the business class brought to an end a fabulous trip!

Dakshineswar Kali Mandir

Dakshineswar Kali Mandir has a spiritual & a socio-political history. In the early 1800s, Dakshineswar was a small village before Rani Rashmoni, a devout believer of Goddess Kali, built the Mandir here.

The night before Rani Rashmoni was to leave for Varanasi to worship Goddess Kali, she had a dream. In her dream, the Mother Goddess asked her to build a temple near the river Ganges rather than going all the way to Varanasi.

And so, the Dakshineswar Mandir came into existence. The mystic sage and reformer Ramakrishna Paramahansa and his wife Sarada Devi are also associated with it.

Sri Ramakrishna’s elder brother, Ramkumar Chattopadhayay, was appointed the head priest. Sarada Devi stayed south of the music room, which is now a shrine dedicated to her.

Rani Rashmoni wanted the Kali Mandir to be open to people from all sects of the society, something that holds till date.

To enter the main Dakshineswar complex, I needed to deposit my cell phone & shoes. A nominal fee was charged for the same. I then got confused regarding the mask mandate because everyone I saw in the security line was wearing a mask.

I contemplated taking back my shoes & returning to the cab to get my mask. While I was wandering around in the larger complex thinking my course of action, I realised that I was mistaken – there was no mask mandate!

Thus, after a security check, I entered the Mandir complex & immediately gasped at the spectacle in front of me. The main temple is glorious! I took my time walking around & admiring the brill architecture.

I queued up to enter the Dakshineswar Kali Mandir & after a bit of pushing & shoving Indian style, I was in front of the idols of Goddess Kali & Lord Shiva. They are standing on a lotus made out of silver.

Having bowed my head, I exited towards the 12 small Shiva temples facing the Dakshineswar Mandir. These are constructed in the typical Bengal architecture style. A Radha Krishna temple is also located here.

In spite of the chaos that usually surrounds Hindu temples, I manage to find my sense of calm in them. I roamed around the Kali Mandir premises & even in the middle of the hustle bustle, I felt alone. Alone, not lonely!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Belur Math

There’s a convenient boat ride from Dakshineswar Kali Mandir to Belur Math. Boats ferry frequently & for a reasonable fee. But as I’d a dedicated cab, I went to Belur by that.

The Math is the core of the Ramakrishna movement & was an oasis of calm. Alam Bhai dropped me at the gate from where it was a nice, serene walk with different Math buildings on both the sides of the walkway.

Unfortunately, the Ramakrishna Museum was closed due to it being a Sunday.

Sri Ramakrishna Mandir

So, I proceeded to the Sri Ramakrishna Mandir which resembles a temple, a mosque, & a church, if seen from different angles. Its facade has Buddhist influences. The central dome has Renaissance architecture influence.

The Mandir is built of chunar stone. Inside, pillars in a line on both sides are in the Greek style. The hanging balconies are in the Mughal style. On top of the Temple is a golden kalash with a lotus below.

I sat inside & meditated for some time. Thoughts of my mausa (uncle) kept popping in my head. He used to be a follower of the Ramakrishna Mission; we lost him in 2021. He’s in the forever philosophical grounds; discussing ideologies with Sri Ramakrishna & Swami Vivekananda!

Sri Ramakrishna Temple, as seen from the souvenir shop

Swami Vivekananda Mandir

Going ahead, I came to the Swami Vivekananda Mandir which was undergoing a renovation. It stands on the spot where Swamiji’s mortal remains were cremated.

Swami Vivekananda died at the age of 39. Interestingly, he’d prophesized that he’ll not live to be forty-years old!

Holy Mother’s Mandir

The Mandir is over the area where Sarada Devi’s mortal remains were cremated.

Swami Brahmananda Mandir

The Mandir was built on the place where Swami Brahmananda (a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) was cremated.

Belur Math conducts relief work, rural uplift work, spiritual & cultural activities, and more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Sri Ramakrishna Mandir, as seen from the Swami Vivekananda Mandir side


Kava is the all-day diner at Fairfield by Marriott. I demolished three breakfasts, one lunch & one dinner here! It’s an elaborate vegetarian & nonvegetarian buffet spread.

You can easily find international selections, street food, Italian, Indian & Asian fares here. At every meal, I was totally spoilt for choice. For me, one of the highlights was always the live counter. I specially loved it when they put together chaat for dinner & prepared Wai Wai for breakfast.

The other highlight, & this goes without saying, was the range of confectioneries & desserts. The lunch buffet I’d on my final day, I found Brownie & Poha Kheer to be so tempting! (In the same meal, the Fish Begum Bahaar was finger-licking.)

The atmosphere is appealing. The staff is resourceful. Sunipa, one of the staff members, seeing that I was dining alone, made me feel comfortable. For all my three breakfasts, she specially made Cold Coffee for me. On coming to know that I was in Kolkata for sightseeing, she arranged a special Bengali dinner for me. This included delights such as Begun Bhaja, Jhuri Aloo Bhaja & Kosha Mangsho.

I recommend Kava; it’s certainly an ultimate culinary getaway!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Vistara Lounge/ The Irish House

I’d a business class ticket which meant that the formalities at the airport took barely a few minutes. I made my way to the Vistara Lounge which is located within The Irish House.

I grabbed a corner table & read a book. The décor is a typical The Irish House one. Everything, apart from alcoholic beverages, are complimentary. I packed away some Chiri Bhaja & Dry Jhaal Moori, more out of boredom than hunger.

The Irish House doesn’t have an ensuite toilet. You’ve to step out & walk along the corridor to get to the common facility.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Vistara Business Class

As of today, Vistara is the best airlines in India. Its economy class itself is first-rate. Hence, I knew I was in for a bosting time in the business class. I got priority handling for my luggage.

My seat was a window seat on the right side of the aircraft. The Italian leather seat was very comfortable, with generous leg room. I crammed down a gourmet vegan meal.

The hospitality was outstanding. I hope I get to take more business class flights in the future!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thoroughly restful – that was my last day in Kolkata. Back with an itinerary soon!

City of Joy – P Goes Ekla

Now that you’ve read about my Day Two in Kolkata, you can read a detailed account of my 3rd day.

What a generous breakfast spread at Kava, the Fairfield restaurant! It set me up for a walking & sightseeing day ahead. First up was the Howrah Bridge. My nemesis, the rain, had begun to fall again in a milder format; that emboldened me to walk the length of the Bridge & feel history exude from its every joint!

Apart from the Victoria Memorial, I’d been quite eager to see the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore. My eagerness was fully satiated at this typical Bengali mansion of the older days with its striking green & red color, & the countless galleries holding invaluable information about the Nobel Laureate.

Some more family time followed with lunch with SD & her parents, my uncle & aunt. I wanted to visit the Science City but the rain had finally dampened my spirit. I wasn’t in a mood for more knowledge – gathering.

I made a brief halt at the Birla Mandir in Ballygunge. I was lucky to be there at the time of the evening aarti.

The rest of the evening was spent at Vertex, the lounge at Fairfield, listening to Pratham Kar, & then at Kava munching on a special Bengali dinner. Wraps on Day 3!

Howrah Bridge

The Howrah Bridge, also called Rabindra Setu, connects Howrah & Kolkata. I don’t think any bridge is as famous in India as this one is! And why should it not be? Apart from carrying 1L+ vehicles & 1.5L+ pedestrians on a daily basis, it also weathers the Bay of Bengal region storms. And that’s not a small feat!

Trivia – The steel to be used for the construction of the Howrah Bridge had to be imported from the United Kingdom but because of World War II breaking out, UK’s steel was diverted there.

Then, Tata Steel stepped in, developed the steel quality needed, & ensured the supply happened on time! Tatas, never letting the nation down!

I crossed the Howrah Bridge first in the cab & went till the Howrah Station. The Station too looked quite spectacular with its red facade. We returned to the Bridge but this time, I decided to get down & walk.

Howrah Station

We’d crossed about 1/4th of the Howrah Bridge when I got down. But there was no provision for me to enter the pedestrian path from the vehicular road. So, I walked back towards the end of the Bridge, crossed over to the pedestrian side & then began walking, enjoying this cantilever bridge as well as the Hooghly flowing below me.

So many, many people were walking on the Howrah Bridge. My cabbie had told me that the footfall was less that day because of it being a Sunday. I can’t even! I seemed to be the only one without anywhere to go!

All the while, old Hindi music kept popping into my head.

Traversing the Howrah Bridge

I do have to admit though that the pedestrian path was a little dirty. It may have been due to the rain.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari

Isn’t the name itself so romantic & evokes a sense of nostalgia? Sigh! Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral house of the Tagore family. It was here that Rabindranath Tagore was born, lived & died.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari is a priceless heritage remnant. It’s constructed in the typical Bengali style. I fell in love with the bright green & red facade the moment I saw it! The Museum within, commemorating the life of Rabindranath Tagore, is called the Rabindra Bharati Museum.

Apart from the entry ticket (INR 10), there is an INR 50 ticket to use mobile cameras within the premises but do note – photography inside the Rabindra Bharati Museum is prohibited.

The Museum comprises galleries related to Rabindranath Tagore & to the Tagore family. In the galleries related to Tagore, you’ll find his possessions, photographs, sequence of events leading to his illness & last days, his relations with countries like China, Hungary, Japan & the USA.

In the galleries related to the Tagore family, you’ll find family ancestry & photographs, Bengal School paintings, & Tagore house portraits. You can do justice to the Rabindra Bharati Museum only if you’re ready to invest at least three hours.

I love history & the Museum made me more aware of the nationalist movement in Bengal. I’d to tear myself away only when I began to feel a little faint & remembered that I’d to join my relatives for lunch!

As you tour the Museum, there are security guards who guide you on the right path & ensure there’s no noise/ unruliness. My only peeve here was that a couple of galleries had captions only in Bengali, making it difficult for me to understand.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick

I visited two outlets of Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick to buy the famous Bengali sweets. The Ballygunge outlet was quite large & had a sitting section on the first floor. It was clean & well-organized. I can say the same about the Mishti Hub outlet.

I bought Sandesh & Baked Rasgulla. Sandesh was tempting but the Baked Rasgulla was finger-licking! I now know what to ask for myself if someone goes to KOL!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sharee Kuthi

My cabbie recommended seeing Sharee Kuthi if I was interested in buying saris. How can I say no to saris? So off I went to this store in Ballygunge to hunt for graceful tant saris.

Tant saris originated from the eastern side of undivided Bengal. During the Mughal rule, they flourished in their Jamdani & Muslin avtars. Sharee Kuthi has been manufacturing & selling Tant sarees since the late 1970s.

The shop was mid-sized but every conceivable kind of sari could be found there. I was only looking for tant; so, the friendly salesman displayed many beautiful saris for me.

I’m a quick shopper; I chose my purchases in a matter of minutes but I must admit that the temptation to buy more was there, owing to the wide & glorious variety available.

The salesman was a little pushy but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from N, it’s to brush off pesky salespeople!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Birla Mandir

This was an unscheduled halt. I’d asked Alam bhai if there was anything on the way to the hotel that I could see. Coincidentally, we were right in front of the Birla Mandir then.

An Evening at the Birla Mandir

I was also fortunate to visit at the time of the evening aarti. The Birla Mandir was opened to the public in 1996. It’s built in a contemporary style & has three impressive shikhars.

Shlokas & pictorial depictions from the Bhagavad Gita are engraved on the marble walls. I could imagine sitting & contemplating in its courtyard. All the idols inside – Radha Krishna, Shiv, Durga, Shakti, Hanuman, Ganesh, Dashavtars – are bewitching!

I was immensely contented with being able to participate in the aarti. Serendipity!

Note – Photography is prohibited inside. Cell phones have to be switched off. The shoe counter is located at the bottom of the stairs. The Birla Mandir was the only place in Kolkata where wearing a mask was mandatory.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Vertex – The Liquid Restaurant

I like the term ‘liquid restaurant’. It sounds so much better than ‘restobar’! It was my last night in KOL & I wanted to unwind. Vertex has both indoor & outdoor seating. The outdoor seating, of course, has a handsome view of the Biswa Bangla Gate.

I chose to sit indoors, thanks to the rain. The lighting was dim – quite a club kind of ambience. I caught a corner table at Vertex. Vertex has quite a range of beers, cocktails & wines.

I got myself a Paan Sour & sat back to enjoy my drink & the live music. The Paan Sour was a heady mix of Beefeater, gulkand, rose syrup, & freshly squeezed lime juice. To me, it tasted a lot like Paan Pasand, the candy I used to eat in my childhood. Yum!

Vertex – The Liquid Restaurant

Performing that night was Pratham Kar. He sang a medley of Bollywood songs & his energy was infectious! I spoke to him & came to know that he’s a software engineer by profession but sings as a side hustle.

He took down my requests & ensured he ended the night with my favorites! He’d built such an ambience at Vetex that a few of us were on our feet & grooving to his music. More power to you Pratham!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Pratham Kar Live

Rating for Pratham Kar – 10 stars!

Exhausting but thoroughly soothing – that was my Day 3. Back with Day 4 soon!

How Traveling Changed Our Lives!

We were approached by Sonia & Wojtek from Happy Little Traveler for a collaboration post on how traveling changed our lives. We tried to put into words what traveling means to us; trust us, it’s not easy to describe something that’s your life force…

Enraptured that Sonia & Wojtek included us in their great post! Reading life-changing stories of fellow travel bloggers has been a first-rate experience. So, it needn’t be travel, but we do encourage all of you to realize your passion…

&, in the meanwhile, you can read the collab. post here – ! Let us know what you think about it.

City of Joy – P Meets V!

city of joy, kolkata, victoria memorial

Now that you’ve read about my Day One in Kolkata, you can read a detailed account of my 2nd day.

I’m not a fan of gyms but as I’m used to morning walks, I end up visiting hotel gyms to use the treadmill. And that’s what I did in KOL too. all would have been well had I not been subjected to the sight of male guests taking to the swimming pool in their underwear, rather than in trunks! Ugh!!

Getting the adrenaline going!

A tasty breakfast at Kava, however, put the bad sight behind me. And soon after that, I was ready for an excursion to cultural institutions. I headed first to the Saint Paul’s Cathedral (~45 minutes).

As I admired the stained-glass windows & the memorial reliefs, it began to rain. The initial idea was for me to walk down to the Victoria Memorial but I waited for 30 minutes for the rain to cease & it didn’t. So, I made my way in the drizzle to the Victoria Memorial (10 minutes’ walk).

Irrepressible Subhas, an exhibition on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was ongoing on the ground floor while on the first floor of the Memorial was the Biplobi Bharat Gallery. Those who know me know that I read every single exhibit but the wealth of information here overwhelmed even someone like me.

The Victoria Memorial was crowded beyond imagination. So, I was glad to step out into the fresh air after a while. My legs were aching by now & I desperately wanted to sit down.

Kolkata was my one saudade, the other being Flurys (~15 minutes). I don’t even remember since when I’ve wanted to visit this iconic café. My wish got fulfilled on this excursion.

Lunch was followed by a solemn, humbling drive to The Mother House of The Missionaries of Charity (~10 minutes). How does a person be so selfless?

I wanted to visit the South Park Cemetery as I’d read articles about the gorgeous mausoleums & tombstones but they now prohibit casual visitors.

Thoughts kept churning in my head as I walked later on the James Prinsep Ghat (20 minutes), a promenade on the river Ganges.

With my heart so full, I needed to loosen up & Soul – The Sky Lounge (~25 minutes) in the Park Street Area provided the perfect spot for this. As the dusk sky turned pink, I reminded myself that maybe we can be both – fun-loving & selfless, & that not all of us can be Mother Teresa, but can try to be good human beings!

Back to Fairfield (~1 hour) & wraps on Day 2!

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Saint Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican Church & was the first of its kind within the erstwhile British territory, outside of Great Britain. It was built when a need for a bigger cathedral was felt, courtesy the growing European community in Kolkata.

Rain rain go away…

The cathedral was damaged twice in earthquakes. The steeple we see today is the renovated one after the second earthquake. Lighter bricks were used to build the Cathedral but these bricks also could withstand extreme temperatures & natural disasters.

After paying an entry fee of INR 10, I walked down to the white facade which looked absolutely magnificent. The moment I laid my eyes on the tall structure, my jaw dropped at its surreal appearance.

The interior has a high ceiling, carved pews, frescoes & reliefs. A number of the memorial reliefs were dedicated to soldiers & officers of the British Army who had fallen in the two World Wars & other battles.

Not-so-little P wants to play!

Seeing the chiselling of marble done so finely was a treat to my eyes. I wish I could have clicked a few pictures but photography was prohibited inside.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Victoria Memorial

For the Victoria Memorial, two kinds of tickets are available – one for the gardens (INR 10) & one for the gardens + museum (INR 30). With the wispy rain on my face, I bought the latter ticket & proceeded inside.

The pathway was flanked by gardens on both sides. Walking down, I first came to a bronze statue of Queen Victoria. It depicted the Queen in her later years sitting on a throne.

Lord Curzon wanted the Queen’s memorial to be stately with beautiful gardens. What’s interesting is that the building fund came from Indian princes and native states! The Victoria Memorial was opened to the public in 1921.

The Victoria Memorial Gardens

The Victoria Memorial is an iconic structure & is synonymous with Kolkata! I’d been desirous to see the Memorial for donkey’s years now. So, even the rain couldn’t dampen my excitement.

The Victoria Memorial is, in one word, breath-taking. I got a chance to drive around it at night & it looked even more marvelous with its illumination. It’s constructed with white Makrana Marble that was brought from Rajasthan.

Irrepressible Subhas

This ongoing multimedia exhibition celebrates Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary. I walked around absorbing Netaji’s life stories, ideals & beliefs. Instead of a linear narrative, the exhibition was presented as a set of FAQs made the viewer naturally curious to know the answer to the question posed.

As I soaked up all the information, many new to me, I pondered how we’d not been taught as much about this important facet of the Indian freedom struggle as it warranted.

My favorite was the map depicting Netaji’s ‘great escape’ – travel by various means from Kolkata to Berlin (7,000+ KMS), evading the British authorities.

Royal Gallery

This gallery on the ground floor consisted of oil paintings from the British Raj. A painting depicting the Prince of Wales’ entry in Jaipur by Vassilli Verestchagin was impressive.

The other set of paintings I liked were by the Daniell duo; they traveled across India & documented what they saw in their paintings.

Entrance Hall Gallery

Here, paintings & photographs showing the stages of the building of Victoria Memorial were displayed.

Biplobi Bharat Gallery

As I began to exit the Victoria Memorial building, I realized there were people on the first floor too on what looked to be a balcony. I took directions from the security guard & headed upstairs. There the Biplobi Bharat exhibition was on display.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated this Gallery on Shaheed Diwas (23 March 2022). It contains aspects of the Indian freedom struggle that haven’t been given their due importance in the mainstream narrative (Revolutionaries & Armed Resistance).

This, to me, was an eyeopener because while I knew about a few of the revolutionaries, there were so many more I’d not heard of. I took my time reading through contribution of Naval Mutiny, formation of significant associations etc.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


My initial plan was to have lunch at Peter Cat & then come to Flurys for a dessert but when I found that the former had a 45 minutes’ waiting, I marched straight into the latter the next door.

Flurys on Park Street – What a landmark!

Best decision! Like I’ve said earlier, I don’t even know since when I’ve wanted to visit Flurys. It’s the distinction of introducing Swiss & other international delicacies to Kolkata.

Over decades, Flurys has become a part of Kolkata culture. The Park Street outlet is a landmark. And this is where I was now sitting. I’d a Cola Float (tasty), a Summer Crunch Salad & a Rum Ball (OK).

The Summer Crunch Salad had walnut & cheese & vegetables & apple, drizzled with vinaigrette. Certainly delish!

Delish Salad!

My servers were absolutely great, giving me just the right amount of attention & a whole lot of courtesy. The soothing pink décor made for an extremely lively ambience. The heritage Kolkata pictures on one of the walls was worth stopping & looking at.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Mother House of The Missionaries of Charity

This was the house where Mother Teresa lived & served, and where today she’s entombed. Entry is free. I was shown to Mother’s tomb where I sat awhile & brooded over her life.

We read a lot of conflicting messages today but in my childhood, all I knew about Mother Teresa was that she was a pure, selfless soul who served the poor & destitute community till her last breath.

The entire Mother House & specially the tomb room were so peaceful that I could almost hear my own heartbeat. Next to the tomb room was a small museum named ‘Mother Teresa’s Life, Spirit and Message’.

Here I saw & read through displays of Mother Teresa’s enamel dinner-bowl, crucifix, handwritten letters etc. On reading that she’d left her home to join a convent at 12 years of age, I was again struck by how clear some chosen ones are on this earth w.r.t. their calling!

I then climbed the stairs to view the Mother’s Room, i.e., the room Mother Teresa occupied. It’s been preserved the way it was when she was alive. But its small size left me amazed.

Please note that photographs are allowed only at Mother Teresa’s tomb and of her statue.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

James Prinsep Ghat

As if I’d not already walked enough for the day, I decided to tire my legs some more! I stood in front of the James Prinsep Memorial with the Vidyasagar Setu as its backdrop. The sky was showing its evening colors now. The entire effect was magical.

James Prinsep was the Assistant Assay Master in Calcutta Mint & later the Assay Master in Banaras Mint. He pioneered the idea of building a tunnel to drain swamps. He introduced uniform coinage. He decoded the Brahmi script.

He died young & in his memory was built the James Prinsep Memorial. The monument is in the Palladian style – six sets of Ionian columns holding a 40’ white roof. I believe due to increasing graffiti on the walls, the administration had now cordoned off entry inside the Memorial.

Countless number of visitors were sitting in the Memorial lawn & even more were visiting the riverside. So, I did too!

To get to the Ghat, I first crossed railway tracks of a railway station called Prinsep Ghat Station. A train was waiting for its last passengers to embark & while I crossed the tracks, a shiver of thrill ran down my spine.

On the other side, a few steps further, stone steps led to the Ganges. This is where you can engage a boatman for a river cruise. Further ahead, walking along the Ghat, I figured it was a popular place to meet friends & chat over bhelpuris. The innumerable stalls ensure no taste bud goes unfulfilled.

Gwalior Monument

While walking, I came across a cenotaph named Gwalior Monument. Lord Ellenborough got this memorial erected in the memory of the British Army soldiers who died quelling the resistance in Madhya Pradesh.

The Gwalior Monument was an unassuming structure & would have gone unnoticed, if not for my keen sense of sniffing out heritage!

I watched the Ganges flow. Little boats bobbed on it. The mother river cleansed my heart of doubts, if not permanently, then at least momentarily. I’d wanted to watch the sunset but there was still an hour to go + it’d begun to drizzle.

James Prinsep Ghat is a splendid place to evoke – nostalgia, old world charm, life’s calling, spirituality…

No entry fees.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Soul – The Sky Lounge

By now, I was drained. I just wanted a meal & a bed. With one last effort, I made my way to Soul in the Park Street area. It’s a rooftop lounge with both covered & open – air seating. The weather was beautiful; thus, I chose open – air.

The ambience was first-rate. The sky at dusk was nothing short of gorgeous, showing first its pink hues, then purple, then blue & finally fading to black. I sat enraptured at the sky for quite a few minutes.

I was soul-ed!

The service was great. The manager lady, realizing I was dining solo, chatted up with me & made me feel at home. I’d a Gandharaj & Basil Mojito which wasn’t just delicious but also fitted well with the foot tapping music.

Dinner was Chicken Chelo Kebab which was succulent but too large a portion for one person. So off it went in the doggy bag!

Enervating but thoroughly cheering – that was my Day 2. Back with Day 3 soon!

City of Joy – P’s Expedition to Kaee

City of Joy, Expedition, Kaee Contemporary

Now that I’ve summarized my Kolkata excursion (you can read that here), I’ll write a more detailed account of my days there. The first day, of course, was partly about getting to the city of not just joy, but diversity too.

A first-rate weather in Delhi NCR calmed my resfeber (noun. Swedish. The tangled feelings of fear & excitement before a journey.). The blue sky I saw from my IndiGo flight gave me hope that my expedition would go well.

The KOL airport has undergone a transformation since I was last here (2011). It’s streamlined now but still retains its compact nature; it took me barely 15 minutes from disembarking from the plane to exiting the airport.

I’d booked a Bharat Taxi; my cabbie, Fakhre Alam, promptly picked me up. Over the next four days, Alam bhai gave me a fine download of Kolkata & how it changed visibly over the last 20 years or so.

My first stop was my hotel, Fairfield by Marriott, to check in. I thank the hotel for assigning me a room with a fantastic view – from my panoramic window, I could look at the Biswa Bangla Gate, a futuristic structure; a curved metro line; & the skyline of Newtown.

It was early for lunch but I also wanted to grab a nap before heading out in the evening. So, I made my way to Chowman, an Asian restaurant owned by Debaditya Chaudhury, the founding member of a popular Bengali Rock Band, ‘Lakkhichhara’.

As I packed away on Chili Teriyaki Potato & Chowman Special Noodles (both of which were tasty), my tryst with the KOL rains began.

Luckily, when it was time to step out in the evening, the rain had ceased. I was on my way to Kaee Contemporary, an art gallery owned by Ms. Ambica Beri, whose Art Ichol I’d visited in Maihar in January. (Read my verse dedicated to Maihar here.)

It was the opening night of the exhibition, When the Other Stares Back. While I’ll write about it in detail below, let me just use one compound word to summarize it: thought – provoking!

My cousin, SD, picked me from Kaee Contemporary & we drove to Polo Floatel for dinner. At The Bridge, overlooking the river Ganges, we noshed at copious amounts of kebabs & biryani, gossiped about the past & the present, and had a fantastic time.

An adventurous Uber ride (where the driver told me he’s not the driver :D) brought me back to Fairfield & I called it wraps on Day 1.

Night View from my Room

Kaee Contemporary

Ever since I heard the name of the art gallery, I was curious to know what Kaee meant. It didn’t strike me that it referred to the Hindi word for moss. But, on visiting, my doubt was dispelled.

Like moss, Kaee Contemporary is perceptive to the changes within the environment. It elucidates Kolkata’s contemporary art ecosystem. The gallery nurtures a community of patrons, practitioners & public.

TBH, Kaee wasn’t part of my original sightseeing plans but when I came to know it was the opening night for a new exhibition the same day that I landed, I knew I’d to go. I’m glad I did!

‘When The Other Stares Back’ is an exhibition that will make you think about the dystopia we’re moving towards. It’ll move you with its dejection & it’ll frighten you with its atrocity. “What ARE we doing to our world?” is a question you’ll be forced to ask.

The very first set of art by Mr. Jagannath Panda caught my eye with its big & bright brocade birds (alliteration unintended!). The work The Custodian of Untold Truth (I) held my gaze for long. The multicolored rooster standing on an upturned Lamborghini with migrants on the move in the background (amongst other things) spoke ominously of a time when wealth will come crashing down when those whose labor helps in wealth creation will turn their backs on it.

Amongst Mr. Gigi Scaria’s work, Wrapped made me ponder about its significance for a while. It took me a few minutes to realize that this is what we’d been doing to our mountains – blasting them, cutting them, rounding them up, fencing them in & so on. We don’t even realize that in the end, it’s the mountains that will survive & not us.

Ms. Jayashree Chakravarthy’s Twigs to Creepers made me gasp. Her use of cotton, jute, paper, tea stain & the like make this piece of art so real & yet so surreal at the same time.

Ms. Radhika Agarwala’s Primordial Ooze series made me think, for a moment, that I was looking at fossils in amber. It reminded me of the multiple times I’d felt that nature will find a way, if left alone.

Ms. Sonia Mehra Chawla’s Vital to Life brought the microscopic world of plankton to the fore.

Lastly, Ms. Suhasini Kejriwal’s sepia – tinted artwork gave forth a new dimension to our everyday streets.

While many of the art works left me brooding, let me add that the opening night was also a lot of fun. For one, it gave me a chance to meet Ambica ma’am again as well as other interesting art practitioners.

The exhibition is on till 2022 September end. I’ll urge Kolkata residents to give a dekko.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Bridge

The Bridge is the casual dining restaurant at the Polo Floatel. Walking the plank to enter the ship – themed hotel, I was immediately taken in by how vibrant the decor was.

Vibrant, ship – themed Polo Floatel

I’d expected the hotel/ restaurant to bob & was disappointed when it didn’t. We chose to sit inside as the weather was pretty airless. Soon we were munching on a Non-veg Kebab Platter in which all the types were succulent. An Assam Tea Spritzer performed the role of the perfect accompaniment.

Entrée was a Kolkata Chicken Biryani. What makes a Kolkata Biryani different is the inclusion of potatoes apart from the main meat.

We called it a night with a set of pictures on the Sky Deck. The soft sound of the river in front of us & the shimmering lights of the Howrah Bridge made for a fitting end.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


A small eatery but serving pretty scrumptious Asian cuisine – who dislikes that? My initial thought was to just eat an appetizer but when my Chili Teriyaki Potato turned out to be spicy, I ordered myself a Chowman Special Noodles. This was a mixed meat noodles & was pungent.

The decor had a black & red color scheme while the centerpiece was a Buddha statue, giving the place a soothing ambience.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bharat Taxi

I’m enraptured I booked Bharat Taxi. Conveyance was my biggest apprehension as I dislike the uncertainty of app-based cabs. Bharat Taxi turned out to be the best decision of my Kolkata trip.

Coordinating with them was easy. Ms. Noori, my coordinator, understood my requirements well & remained in touch throughout my journey to ensure a hassle-free travel.

Mr. Fakhre Alam, my driver, was amiable, flexible & knew Kolkata well. Being a solo women traveler, I felt comfortable traveling with him.

No wonder Bharat Taxi is a reputed name in this service.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

That’s about my Day 1. Back with Day 2 soon.

City of Joy – Life of P

city of joy, Kolkata

Saudade (n.)

Origin: Portuguese

Definition: A nostalgic longing to be near something/ someone who is distant

The Howrah Bridge in the distance, putting up a show with its lights!

Calcutta, or Kolkata, has always held a place in my heart. I’d traveled to KOL a few times but always for work or when passing by. But, in my heart of hearts, I was always desirous to holiday in the City of Joy to grasp what my longing had been for.

Yes, KOL had been my Saudade.

So, when it was time for me to make a solo expedition, I chose KOL, in spite of questioning looks from family & the disheartening weather forecasts. Thus, here I’m, P, sharing my story of traveling to Calcutta, the business hub of Eastern India.

See the color color color of the sky!

(A detailed account of each day will follow in subsequent blog posts.)

Friday, 22 July 2022 – NCR to Kolkata

A first-class blue sky from my IndiGo flight, a transformed Kolkata airport & a friendly Bharat Taxi cabbie made up the first half of my Day 1. A room with a fantastic view at Fairfield by Marriott & a Chinese meal at Chowman prepped me for a peaceful slumber.

Jagannath Panda’s art for When The Other Stares Back

Evening was all about art at the Kaee Contemporary. It was the opening night for a new exhibition called When The Other Stares Back. In one word, thought – provoking! Noshing on kebabs & biryani followed at The Bridge, Polo Floatel with my cousin SD.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 – Central Kolkata Sightseeing

The day my tryst with rain began. All was sunny till I entered the Saint Paul’s Cathedral. As I sat admiring the stained-glass windows & the memorial engravings, at some point of time, it started raining.

Bougainvilleas adding beauty to an already magnificent structure!

I waited for 30 minutes for the rain to cease but when it didn’t, I made my way in the drizzle to the Victoria Memorial. Irrepressible Subhas, an exhibition on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was ongoing on the ground floor while on the first floor of the Memorial was the Biplobi Bharat Gallery.

Those who know me know that I read every single exhibit but the wealth of information here overwhelmed even someone like me. (Still raining when I stepped out of the Victoria Memorial!)

Kolkata was my one saudade, the other being Flurys. I don’t even remember since when I’ve wanted to visit this iconic café. My wish got fulfilled on this excursion. (& finally, the rain ceased!)

Cola Float at Flurys

Lunch was followed by a solemn, humbling drive to The Mother House of The Missionaries of Charity. How does a person be so selfless? Similar thoughts kept churning in my head as walked later on the Princep Ghat, a promenade on the river Ganges.

With my heart so full, I needed to loosen up & Soul – The Sky Lounge in the Park Street Area provided the perfect spot for this. As the dusk sky turned pink, I reminded myself that maybe we can be both – fun-loving & selfless, & that not all of us can be Mother Teresa, but can try to be good human beings!

Sunday, 24 July 2022 – North Kolkata Sightseeing

Keep walking… On the Howrah Bridge!

What a generous breakfast spread at Kava, the Fairfield restaurant! It set me up for a walking & sightseeing day ahead. First up was the Howrah Bridge. My nemesis, the rain, had begun to fall again in a milder format; that emboldened me to walk the length of the Bridge & feel history exude from its every joint!

Apart from the Victoria Memorial, I’d been quite eager to see the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore. My eagerness was fully satiated at this typical Bengali mansion of the older days with its striking green & red colour, & the countless galleries holding invaluable information about the Nobel Laureate.

Some more family time followed with lunch with SD & her parents, my uncle & aunt. I wanted to visit the Science City but the rain had finally dampened my spirit. I wasn’t in a mood for more knowledge – gathering.

Playing catch-up!

I made a brief halt at the Birla Mandir in Ballygunge. I was lucky to be there at the time of the evening aarti.

The rest of the evening was spent at Vertex, the lounge at Fairfield, listening to Pratham Kar, & then at Kava munching on a special Bengali dinner.

Monday, 25 July 2022 – Wrapping Up On A Divine Note

A throng of devotees against a backdrop of the Dakshineswar Mandir

The Goddesses & Swamis wanted me to visit their abodes! The rain took a break & I made a voyage to the Dakshineswar Kali Mandir, a Hindu navratna temple. From there, Alam bhai drove me to the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission.

After the hustle bustle of Dakshineswar Mandir, Belur was an oasis of calm! As soon as I stepped out of the Math & sat in the cab, it began to rain again! Ha ha! I’d planned to visit the Eco Park but had to drop that.

Instead, I headed back to the hotel, packed, made short work of the lunch buffet & checked out. On the way to the airport, I stopped at Mishti Hub to buy Sandesh & Baked Rasgulla. Lounging at the Vistara lounge & then being pampered in the business class brought to an end a fabulous trip!

Why have I made such a brief blog post? 😀 Because I intend to write detailed posts for each of these days. This blog post was to give an overview of how a long weekend KOL trip can be planned.

Stay tuned for more posts on Kolkata, once the premier centre of Indian culture!

The Alwar District in Five Days

alwar district, five days, itinerary

Our recent blog post (& the comment it generated) made us realise that the Alwar District was a wholesome getaway. It has the advantage of being close to Delhi NCR (4.5 hours from ISBT) & enough to see & do for more than a weekend!

We dug through our emails, photographs, and memories, & compiled an itinerary of the Milk Cake City.

Day 1 – Drive to Sariska Tiger Reserve

Indian Grey Mongoose in Sariska Tiger Reserve

Indian Grey Mongoose

  1. Drive to the Sariska Tiger Reserve & reach by lunchtime. The evening safari takes place at 3 PM. Unlike other tiger reserves, Sariska isn’t too crowded. The probability of getting entry tickets, vehicle & guide at the ticket counter itself is quite high.

The best part about the Sariska Tiger Reserve is the Dhok Tree. Well, apart from the big cat! The evening safari ends at 6 PM.

  • Return to your accommodation & rest.

We fell in love with the blue sky!

Day 2 – Sariska Tiger Reserve & Bhangarh Fort

  1. Return to the Sariska Tiger Reserve for the morning safari the next day at 6 AM. At different tiger reserves, we’ve taken both the morning & evening safaris & they’ve always turned out to be different experiences! The morning safari ends at 9 AM.
  2. Return to your accommodation, partake a hearty breakfast, & head to Bhangarh (~45 minutes).
  3. If you’re a lover of all things paranormal, the Bhangarh Fort will leave you elated. If you’re not, you can still enjoy the climb & walk through the fort, and listen to the haunted stories.

The Bhangarh Fort is believed to be haunted. There are countless tales that augment its mystery. One legend goes that the saint who approved the fort construction did so on the condition that the shadow of the king’s palace wouldn’t fall on his retreat. But when this condition wasn’t honoured, by the saint’s anger, Bhangarh transformed into a cursed city.

Walking towards the Bhangarh Fort

Another legend attributes it to Princess Ratnavati’s beauty. A sorcerer adopted to entice her with his magic. However, the Princess saw through his trickery. His magical oil morphed into a rock, rolled towards him & crushed him. Before dying, he cursed Bhangarh.

Ensure you engage a guide. Our guide claimed to have heard women crying in the fort! As it’s believed a person can’t come out of the Fort after sunset, the Archaeological Survey of India has prohibited entry after dusk. Irrespective of these fables, do go there & ascertain for yourself if the Bhangarh Fort is really haunted.

The Bhangarh Fort is best visited from November to February. We’d scaled the Fort on a January afternoon & it was still quite warm then.

Introducing our new travel companion, Fluffy! She, then four months old, scaled the Bhangarh Fort with us.

  • Drive back to your accommodation to call it a day.

Day 3 – Alwar

  1. Check out from your accommodation & head to Alwar (~1.25 hours).
  2. Check in to your Alwar accommodation.
  3. Freshen up, have lunch, & head to Lake Siliserh for watching a first-class sunset. Make yourself comfortable on the terrace of Siliserh Palace or choose one of the many spots around the Lake. Soak in the beauty of the Aravali Hills, the Lake & the hues of dusk.

(To read more about Lake Siliserh & Siliserh Palace, head to our last blog post by clicking here.)

Lake Siliserh on a rainy day

  • Return to hotel & spend the night at leisure.

Day 4 – Alwar City Attractions

  1. After breakfast, check out from your accommodation & make your way to the Vinay Vilas Mahal complex.
  2. Start with Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri. Head inside the Vinay Vilas Mahal then & proceed to the Government Museum in the end. (To read more about these three attractions, head to our last blog post.)
  3. Have lunch at one of the many restaurants in Alwar & start your drive to Neemrana (~2.25 hours).
  4. Check in to Neemrana Fort Palace. The evening is available to you for leisure.

Baori facing Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri

Day 5 – Neemrana Fort Palace & Back to Base

  1. The last day of a trip is a sad one, isn’t it? Ending it at the Neemrana Fort Palace should lessen some of that sadness. The Fort Palace is an absolute delight to view. Though, we must add, a fair bit of climbing up & down is needed.

Nonetheless, the Palace is sure to immerse you in its centuries of grandeur!

Neemrana Fort Palace waayyy back in 2010!

  • Check out post breakfast & head home.

While we like to maximize our trips with as much sightseeing as we can, we don’t believe in overdoing it. We recommend the same – don’t treat sightseeing as a competition or a checklist.

So, even if you don’t manage to see a few of the above, it’s okay. It’s more important to enjoy yourself. Happy sightseeing!

Alwar – An Anonymous Historical Enchantment

Alwar, Historical, Enchantment

It was an airless August morning when we drove to Alwar to see its nameless attractions. By the end of the holiday, we were left wondering how this city retained its allure in spite of being so close to NCR!

Alwar is one of the oldest cities in Rajasthan. It’s surrounded by a moat & wall. It’s dominated by a fort on a conical hill against a backdrop of a range of hills. It’s famous for its milk cake (locally called kalakand).

It took us about four hours to reach Hill Fort – Kesroli, our accommodation. We chose to spend the first evening at the hotel itself, exploring its nooks & crevices. The evening culminated with a poolside cultural performance by Kalbeliya artists.

You ever associate this shade of green with Rajasthan?

Extraordinary Historical Delights in Alwar

We’d one full day in Alwar. It’d been drizzling since morning & we waited before realising that the rain wouldn’t let up & also that we wouldn’t exactly melt if we got drenched a wee bit. So off we went!

Lake Siliserh

Claggy boating at Lake Siliserh

About an hour from Hill Fort, Lake Siliserh & the Lake Siliserh Palace were our first stops. The Lake is man-made but beguiling. It marks a periphery of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. It’s surrounded by forested hills.

There’s hardly any building to blemish the calm of the Lake. Touchwood! It offered a first-class view of the hills enveloped in the monsoon mist. We could imagine watching a fine sunset on a clear day.

One can enjoy boating at the lake but when we were there, we didn’t see any boats plying; it may have to do with the rain.

Lake Siliserh in the foreground & Palace in the backgroun

Lake Siliserh Palace

The Lake Siliserh Palace stands on the banks of Lake Siliserh. It was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh for his Queen Shila. It served both as a palace & a hunting lodge. It’s now a heritage hotel run by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation.

We climbed to the terrace in front of the cafeteria & ordered some watery coffee for the heck of it. It was a late Sunday morning & dozens of locals had flocked to the Lake/ Palace to enjoy the weather. It goes without saying that our COVID angst hit a high.

Smiling despite the COVID anxiety!

But from the terrace, we beheld a picturesque view that calmed our anxiety a bit. The expanse of Lake Siliserh in front of us, the Aravali range surrounding us, light rain falling upon us, steaming cups of (although watery) coffee in our hands, excited chatter around us – for a moment, it felt everything was alright with the world!

We drove back to the city & stopped for lunch at Hotel Grand Ashoka. Threadbare restaurant but the food – 🍚, Aloo Jeera, Dal Fried, Punjabi Paneer & Tandoori Roti – was simple & succulent.

Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri

Bloomy Designs on the Arches

We next drove to the Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri, also called Bakhtawar ki Chhatri. Chhatris (cenotaphs) were a central element of traditional Indian architecture. They accurately mean umbrella. Consequently, these typify structures with domed roofs.

‘Chhatris’ refer to two structures –

  1. The merely decorative cupolas that mark the corners of a main roof
  2. The baroque stone pavilions built at the funerary site of important people

Such pavilions comprise carved pillars supporting the chhatri. Chhatris denote honour; they were built at the cremation site of kings. Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh in memory of his father Maharaja Bakhtawar Singh.

Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri from outside

Bakhtawar ki Chhatri is a double – storied, fantastic piece of architecture. It is a chic structure shaped like a flower. The arches have bloomy designs. Gold leaf paintings depicting mythological characters adorn the ceiling.

The storeys are a mix of sandstone & white marble.

There is an expressiveness about this Chhatri because of the story behind it. Moosi was Maharaja Bakhtawar Singh’s lover. She didn’t get the status of his wife in her lifetime. When Maharaja Singh was deceased, she jumped into the pyre along with him and committed sati.

The White Marbled First Storey

As sati was reserved for wives, Moosi came to be regarded as Bakhtawar’s wife. The Chhatri commemorates Moosi’s love for Bakhtawar & so is also called Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri. Their footsteps are carved inside the pavilion.

If you bask in Rajput architecture and love fables, the Chhatri is a must-visit. & don’t forget to engage a guide to know all the legends.

In front of the Chhatri is a Baoli nestled in the shadow of the Bala Quila.

Alwar City Palace/ Vinay Vilas Mahal

Next to the Chhatri is the Alwar City Palace, also called the Vinay Vilas Mahal. The Jaipur & Udaipur City Palaces are famous & while the Alwar City Palace isn’t as grand as they are, it’s its own appeal. It’s a vibrant chronicle.

The City Palace is a faultless blend of Mughal & Rajput architecture. It’s a treat with its mirrorwork. We hung around the courtyard for a bit, listening to our guide narrate the history of the Palace & taking pictures.

Clicking our way through the Alwar City Palace Courtyard

Alwar Museum

The Museum is located inside the Alwar City Palace. We traversed a sloping passage to the top floor. Its run – down feel made us sceptical about the Museum but it turned out to be a hidden gem. It’s well – maintained & home to fabulous exhibits.

The Museum presents a glimpse into Maharajas’ lifestyles & the rich Indian culture. The miniature paintings with complex brushwork and bejewelled colours declare the artist’s mastery. The armoury section is fab with its pistols, shields, swords etc.

A Gold & Velvet Throne

Alwar is an explorer’s enjoyment. Writing about this holiday has us elated, knowing that we’d witnessed something exceptional.

Accommodation Review

Hill Fort Kesroli was one of the best heritage hotels we stayed in. It was well-maintained & had all the modern facilities we needed. Yet, when we scaled its ramparts, we felt we’d time – travelled to the 14th century.

Time Travel to the 14th Century

But please note that entering the hotel needed climbing up a steep incline/ flight of stairs which may be troublesome for the elderly.

Food (particularly Mutton Curry & Rogan Josh) & service were excellent. We saw the Rajasthani hospitality in action.

Our rooms were Bhawani Mahal & Hariyal Mahal. Bhawani Mahal was located on the first floor & shared a veranda with Shankar Mahal. It had a bedroom, an ensuite bathroom, a living room, a private balcony & a private terrace.

Portraits in Bhawani Mahal

Please note, there were quite a few steep steps to reach the room; it may be unsuitable for the elderly.

Hariyal Mahal, in accordance with its name, was coloured in shades of green. It was a smaller room compared to the Bhawani Mahal but quite adequate for a couple. The ambience of this room, however, was extremely soothing.

And it overlooked the lush green fields. So, win!

Lounging in the Soothing Green Hariyal Mahal

Har Destination Kuch Kehta Hai!


Stealing & modifying the tag line of an Indian multinational paint company, we firmly believe Har Destination Kuch Kehta Hai. Every place that we’ve been to has stood out in one or the other aspect. This has led us to believe that there are no bad destinations; just unfortunate circumstances that ruin a trip.

We define & categorise destinations in seven broad classes –

Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha Fort

Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha


These are destinations where the fine architecture will attract your attention. The architecture could be heritage (like the forts of Rajasthan, India) or contemporary (like the skylines of Melbourne, Australia).

Our Architecture Destination Pick
Jhansi Fort, Uttar Pradesh

Jhansi Fort, Jhansi

The Bundelkhand region no doubt! We’ll probably never get tired of singing praises of this brave, historic land full of bonzer architecture. The Jhansi Fort is a testimony of the supreme sacrifice of Queen Laxmibai. In Orchha, you will brush past history at every turn. Khajuraho doesn’t even need too much mention; it’s already known across the globe!


Culture is a pretty all-encompassing term. A culture destination is one where you can experience fantastic cuisines, events, heritage landmarks, museums, national parks, temples etc. in one place.

Lodi Tomb, Delhi

Our Culture Destination Pick

We’re doubtless it’s India! Beguiling yet intimate, our country crackles with culture. Delhi with its ancient tombs. Sacred city of Varanasi. Romance of Rajasthan. Sunrise at Taj Mahal. Succulent idlis & dosas of Tamil Nadu. Rath Yatra of Odisha & Durga Pujo of West Bengal. More than a thousand museums sprinkled all over India. Bastion of tigers at the Corbett, Nagarhole & Bandipore reserves. Innumerable religious venues making our country the Land of Faith!


Event/ festival destinations are those that revolve around visitor – focused festivals and/ or special events endorsed by tourism boards.

Our Events Destination Pick

We can’t really pick here because we’ve not done much of events/ festival tourism. The biggest reason for this is P’s fear of crowds. But the following are on our bucket list; so, hopefully, we’ll make at least these three happen –

Stock image from Pexels Free Photos

  1. Witness a Brazilian Carnival
  2. Go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve and count down as the ball drops
  3. Watch the fireworks over Sydney Harbor on New Year’s Eve


What’s life without food? & what’s travel without some fabulous, never-tried-before food? A food destination is one which attracts food lovers with its culinary specialties or with its platter of scrumptious dishes.

Our 1st meal in Italy… a brilliantly-done Carbonara

For such destinations, you will always hear the refrain, “If you go there & don’t eat xyz, did you even go there?”

Our Food Destination Pick

As far as we remember, it’s Italy for us! Tender pasta, meaty tomato sauces, wine in Tuscany, briny olives. Our wine tasting tour, overlooking the vineyards, was straight out of a foodie’s best dream! This was a decade back but we still remember the beautiful day spent in Chianti. It was gorgeous. There wines for tasting were amazing & so were the cheeses, the olive oils, the prosciutto… Sigh!

Mount Batur, dusk

Sit & stare!


Fab, dramatic landscapes are the main attractions of Landscape Destinations. Everything else becomes secondary. These are places where you don’t have to see a particular structure or experience an event. These are places where just being there is enough. Because, all around you, is surreal landscape!

Our Landscape Destination Pick
rare sight, mountain, urbanization

Panoramas to die for!

Think landscapes, think mountains! Think mountains, think the Himalayas! For those who live in Delhi NCR, the Himalayas are the chance of awesome panoramas. There is no better way to escape reality in our opinion.

When we are in the mountains for a break, we are in awe of life every single day. If dramatic scenes do not make us believe in the beauty of life, we doubt anything else can.


A People Destination is one where we go to know more about the people of that place & to meet them. To be precise, this has to do with indigenous populations. Like the Hill Tribes of Northeast India or the Indians of North America.

Our People Destination Pick

This is again something that we’ve not done too much of. We’ve briefly met the Masai tribe in Kenya & the Bishnois of Rajasthan but it was a cursory meeting in both the cases. The following are a few of the indigenous people we would like to meet & know more about –

Stock image from Pexels Free Photos

  1. The Inuits of the Arctic
  2. The Andamanese of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India


A wildlife destination is one where you can interact with wild animals in their natural habitats. While there are countries & regions that promote active interaction, i.e., collecting and/ or hunting, we don’t support that view.

masai tribe, mara, spotted land, plain, thorn tree

Masai Mara National Reserve – bliss for wildlife lovers

For us, wildlife is best enjoyed passively, i.e., by watching or via photography. By now, we’ve spent quite a few hours bruising our backbones, jumping around in the jeep/ gypsy, doing a safari. The excitement of catching a glimpse of an elusive big cat or the contentment of watching deer sunbathing is unmatched.

Our Wildlife Destination Pick

Almost certainly, it’s the Masai Mara National Reserve for us! We’ve grown up watching nature & wildlife channels on television. The Masai Mara occupied the top spot on our list. We visited during the migration season. And boy oh boy, till date it’s one of our best memories ever!

lion, lioness, grassland, camouflage

A Lazy Lion

Imagine an unending stretch of land in front of you, with golden grass swaying in the breeze, a blue sky overhead, and here & there a spotting of acacia trees! A giraffe chomps on the thorny leaves of the acacia tree! And then a Common Eland. Then a Lion. A Cheetah. An Impala. A White-Backed Vulture. Lilac – Breasted Rollers. Wildebeest. A White – Bellied Bustard. African Elephants. A Rhinoceros. Zebras. An Ostrich. Hippopotami. Agama Lizards. A Warthog. An East African Jackal. Just remembering these sights, & writing about them, still gives us Goosebumps!

So, there are the main destination classes. What kind of destination appeals to you?

A Monsoon Drive to Mathura

monsoon, drive, mathura

The weekends when we’re unable to head out of the city, we think of ways to make the best of the days. Moreso during the rains. A long drive in the monsoon months cures even the worst of our moods; we’re sure it does for you too.

One such weekend in July 2020, we made an impromptu plan to head to Mathura to buy peda. (Mathura Peda is a classic Indian sweet made with milk solids & sugar.)

India had begun to relax its COVID restrictions; we were desperate to get out of the house after more than four months. Also, driving on the Yamuna Expressway in the rainy weather sounded like a holiday in itself. We weren’t disappointed!

We hit the road with songs matching the monsoon mood. Raindrops bounced off the windscreen. On either side of the Yamuna Expressway, lush green fields & trees getting splattered with rain made for a soothing sight.

The clean, uniform & wide Expressway was perfect for us hodophiles & the rainy season made it look even better. A stretch of 140 kilometres took us about two hours.

A Drive In The Rain

We were also glad the rain hadn’t really created a slippery drive. The superb road quality helped us enjoy the relaxed drive. We cruised, watching the scenery, listening to songs, and conversing.

Once we exited the Yamuna Expressway & entered Mathura, we made our way straight to the sweet shop, Brijwasi in Chowk Bazar. (Brijwasi is a 60+ year old shop specialising in Mathura Peda.)

We were a bit anxious about stepping down in the crowded Bazaar but didn’t want to retreat without munching on the pedas. So off went N while P waited in the car, watching the rain & hoping N doesn’t return with the darn virus! (He didn’t!)

Lal Darvaza

Our vehicle was parked right in front of the Lal Darvaza (a miracle); Brijwasi was located right behind the Gate.

After what seemed like hours but were actually only minutes, N jogged to the car, trying to keep the food packets in his hand from getting wet.

As soon as he sat in the car, P could smell the aroma of freshly fried samosas.

We chomped on the samosas right away. Oh, the spiciness! Our mouths salivate by merely remembering this day.

Once satiated, we fired up the engine again to head back to NCR. The weather still tantalised us. After the samosas, a cup of tea was warranted. We halted at The Food Street near the Vrindavan exit. The rain had halted too. Slurping at chai while looking at the rain clouds & the frangipani trees giddily swaying was just what the doctor ordered!

One of Our Favourite Plants – Frangipani or Champa

It was now time to truly head home bringing our mini – expedition to an end.

Back at home, we opened our packets of Peda & Soan Papdi and felt like we were back in Mathura again!

The fragrance of desi ghee filled our beings with love.

Regarding the taste, delectable is an understatement…

As we write this, we’re so tempted to order the sweets online & make short work of them!

We hope, after reading this, you’re tempted to either drive to Mathura or to order peda & satisfy your temptation!!

Travel Attitude!

Travel Attitude

We often get asked about how we manage to travel so much. TBH, we don’t think it’s ‘much’; we would love to travel at least twice as much as we do now. But, returning to the point, we realise we cannot give ‘tips’ for we are not experts.

What we can do is share our ‘habits’ that make our life fuller of travel than most.

Habit #1 – Holiday Calendar

If you work in the corporate sector, your organization would send you a holiday calendar in the second half of December or latest by the first half of January.

This is our first step. The moment N’s holiday calendar comes, we begin our holiday planning. (P does not work in the corporate sector; so, she works around N’s calendar.)

These days, organizations give holidays closer to weekends – Monday/ Tuesday/ Thursday/ Friday – so that by taking just one leave (or no leave at all), you are able to get an extended weekend. We utilise this provision wholeheartedly.

For most people, we have seen they do not pay attention to the holiday calendar. One day before the holiday, they go to ‘HR’ & ask – “Is tomorrow a holiday?” Well, if you are going to be a last moment person, then you can certainly not plan a holiday.

If you do not work in the corporate sector, you can work out your own holiday calendar. By November, the internet is flooded with the list of holidays for the next year. Just a matter of then deciding which dates suit you the most.

Pay attention to the holiday calendar & mark out the dates which are long weekends or those which can provide opportunities to travel. A short trip does not need more than three days.

We all get opportunities equally; depends on what we make of it…

Habit #2 – Long Voyages

We have a few thumb rules, the biggest of which is – More shorter holidays, fewer longer holidays. In a year, we take off for a long holiday only twice.

Once is during our anniversary where we take a week off & try to make it an international holiday. The second is sometime during the middle of the year where we can get five days off comfortably.

For many years, this second holiday has fallen around 15th August which is a great time to take off in India, especially in a larger group, as everyone has a holiday around this time.

Both the longer holidays are meant for destinations not close by. Over the last few years, we have covered Bhutan, Singapore, Australia, Italy, Ladakh, Malaysia, Kashmir, USA, China, United Kingdom, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Indonesia, Indian West Coast, Kenya, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra.

We work towards making everything revolve around our holiday, rather than the other way around.

Habit #3 – Short Drives

We find these trickier than longer ones. Our short breaks are over an extended weekend. Every single time, it’s a bother to ascertain how to fit the most in the limited time, while also accounting for the travel time.

We’ve another thumb rule: if it’s a three-day break, we don’t go beyond 300 kms. Living in the NCR, 300 kms translates into the Himalayas in the East & Rajasthan in the West.

If we want to exceed the 300 kms limit, we opt for places that are easy to get to. Places which are a flight/ train/ bus hop away. In the last few years, we’ve covered –

We hear folks say they don’t get leave from work. We find it hard to believe that taking ONE day off can be such a challenge.

Habit #4 – Seasonal Travel

We plan our travels around seasons which means we opt for the off-season for most places. This helps in avoiding crowds & getting value out of whatever we spend.

E.g., we will never go to a Goa during the peak winter season in north India. But this also doesn’t mean that we go to Ladakh in January or Rajasthan in May! (There are perks of this kind of travel too – like spotting tigers in the peak of summer.)

In extreme weather conditions, we opt for off-beat destinations, like a Rikholi over a Mussoorie.

Habit #5 – Research, Research, Research!

Before embarking on any trip, we carry out extensive research. What to see, where to eat, where to shop, best sunrise/ sunset spot, best local cuisine, mode of transport, hidden gem & so forth!

We try to make the best of our visits because we usually don’t intend to return to the same destination. Life is too short for repetitions! 😀

Habit #6 – Day Planning

Thanks to the above research, we manage to plan each of our travel days. This ensures we don’t waste time once we reach in figuring things out. When we’ve travelled in groups, & where we’ve let go of our obsessive planning tendencies, we’ve realised that groups waste a huge amount of time in just ascertaining what to do on a particular day. By the time they decide, half the day is already gone!

Habit #7 – Expect the Unexpected!

Like we said above, we always have a plan about what we want to see but we also allow for surprises. E.g., in Daman, we had our minds on the beaches & forts but also managed to chalk out one day to drive south, along the Arabian Sea, to the twin seaside towns of Bordi & Dahanu.

Habit #8 – Ditch the Lethargy

We hear folks say ‘we just want to rest over the weekend’. It’s surely tempting to sleep in over a long weekend but we know this time isn’t returning. There’ll come a time when we’ll be forced to stay within the four walls of our home; so why not make the most of ‘now’ right now?

So, don’t be lazy! Go watch stories unfold!

Habit #9 – See Local

We try to get locals to show us around the destination. In Jaipur, we had our City Palace, Amer etc. lined up, but we also got a ton of recommendations from our homestay owner. That made all the difference to our trip!

In Melbourne, the hotel concierge suggested us to walk to the Hosier Lane to see the street art. We weren’t disappointed!

Habit #10 – No Herd Mentality

There was a time when everyone was making her/ his way to Greece or Kasol closer home. Not us! We dislike flowing with the tide for the simple reason that tourist hype ruins experiences.

So, if the world is heading east, you’re sure to catch us heading west!

Habit #11 – Method in Madness

When we embraced the travel life, a lot of people would constantly express shock about our need to travel frequently. The same people now themselves travel whenever they can!

Travelling every month (or at least trying to) may seem absurd but our explorations have left us more adaptable, more contented, wiser and better human beings.

So here we are – an open book! We hope we’ve inspired you to get out more.

Eat, Stay, Love – In Dehradun!

Eat, Stay, Dehradun

We would have crossed Dehradun countless times, thanks to it being a gateway to the hill stations of Garhwal. But, it’s only over the past few years that we began considering Doon, as it’s fondly called, as a destination in itself.

Over time, we realised that this capital of Uttarakhand is an idyllic weekend destination for Delhi NCR residents looking for a break from their schedules. Over our multiple visits, there are a few places that have stood out, either for their ambience or food or hospitality or all. We’re happy to share these recommendations.

A word of caution though – Dehradun witnesses substantial rainfall during the monsoons; if you intend to visit, please take the season into consideration! All other seasons are OK for a visit.

Kalsang Café & Restaurant

Address: 88 A, Rajpur Road, Opposite Osho, Chander Lok Colony, Hathibarkala Salwala

Hours: 9:30 AM – 10:30 PM

Phone: +91 955 727 0285

Thumbs Up: Kalsang is located right on the main Rajpur Road which makes it easy to locate. The café is on the ground floor while the restaurant is on the first floor.

We chose the restaurant & were pleased to get a table with a view of the mountains. The ambience was done up in a Chinese manner, complete with paper lanterns & umbrellas. Very red décor!

Under the glass top of our table, we could read little notes left by previous patrons; Kalsang seemed much loved.

The restaurant claims to serve Thai & Tibetan cuisines but we’d only Tibetan here. We started off with Cold Coffee & Hot Chocolate, both of which were delectable.

We then moved to 😈 Momos & Chicken Noodles. These two were spicy but in the good way. The portion size was more than adequate for two people.

Thumbs Down: Its location makes parking a little difficult. The café & restaurant has a parking of its own but not more than five vehicles can fit here.

We found the service to be a little aloof; it could be because of the mad rush but the warmth was certainly missing.

Café Marigold

Address: Near Shehanshahi Ashram, Old Mussoorie Road, Rajpur

Hours: 10 AM – 10 PM

Phone: +91 955 767 9927

Thumbs Up: Café Marigold claims “Enjoy a new and fresh menu every day in quaint surroundings amidst natural beauty!” Now, we can’t vouch for the ‘new & fresh menu every day’ because we’ve been here only once but we can assure you of the ‘quaint surroundings.

The café is located away from the hustle bustle in a somewhat rural – looking setting. The seating was in the open next to a tiny, vibrant building. We visited in the late morning hours & looked for just a quick beverage.

Our Cold Coffee & Hot Chocolate arrived on-time & were dainty. We sat in the charming garden & felt Café Marigold had a fairly laidback ambience. This certainly wins with the younger crowds IOHO.

Thumbs Down: The location of Café Marigold is also its drawback. It’s located right on the main road. Add the open seating to it. This results in dust going into the food & beverages as vehicles pass by.

The other bit was that while the café claims to open at 10 AM, when we visited around noon, it still seemed to be in a ‘getting ready’ mode.


Address: 3/B, Dhakpatti, Near MDDA Park, Rajpur

Hours: 12:30 – 9:15 PM (Tuesday closed)

Phone: +91 991 773 3111

Thumbs Up: Orchard came highly recommended from not one but multiple friends. Located in an enclosure, the restaurant had ample space for parking. We chose to sit in the terrace as the weather was still salubrious.

The view was of the mountains in the background & a sort of riverbed in the foreground. We believe the riverbed would fill up during the monsoon season; that would make for an even better ambience. We could also imagine the restaurant taking on a romantic feel at night, specially with live music playing in the background.

We ate Chicken Thukpa & Mutton Kothay which are the specialities of this family – style restaurant. Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup while Kothay is a half-fried, half-steamed Nepalese momo. Both the dishes were scrumptious! The quantities were generous; even the two of us couldn’t finish both the dishes. The Kothay is a must-try.

Thumbs Down: The aloof service again! We like servers being attentive. Also, the fact that it’s not dog-friendly ☹

Coco Osteria

Address: Ground Floor, LP Residency, 32, Kaulagarh Road

Hours: 12 – 10:45 PM

Phone: +91 135 275 2638

Thumbs Up: Coco Osteria was really a chance finding for us. But so glad we did because it’s turned out to be our favourite place in Dehradun till date! It’s part of a hotel called LP Residency.

Coco Osteria is located on the ground floor with al-fresco seating. The menu isn’t extensive but whatever’s on it is appetizing!

Coco Osteria boasts of ‘traditional handmade Neopolitana pizzas freshly baked in a wood fired oven’ & we totally vouch for that! We ate a Fiery Diavolo Pizza and a Pancetta & Pepperoni Half & Half Pizza. Both were scrummy; two of the best pizzas we’ve eaten till now.

The Half & Half Pizza is a brilliant concept where you can order two varieties in one pizza, ensuring you get to have different tastes without over – ordering (& thus wasting) food.

At Coco Osteria, we sampled the cocktails too & fell in love with their Jaisalmer Fizz (Jaisalmer Gin + Housemade Ginger Concoction + Sparkling Water). Ageless, energizing & minimal!

You can also order food from the two other restaurants of LP Residency – Wasabae & Zaffran. We had two kinds of dim sums from Wasabae & these turned out to be ambrosial too!

Coming to the ambience, the weather wasn’t kind but the large mist fans at Coco Osteria didn’t let us feel the heat. The seating was amidst plants which would make you want to sit for longer. European feels we say!

Now for the best part – Coco Osteria is dog-friendly! Bless them! They even provided F&B bowls for our doggos.

Thumbs Down: NOTHING! It blows our minds to think that a place consistently got everything right!!

Walterre Resort

Address: Swami Lakshman Joo Marg, Jamoliwala, Bhagwant Pur, Utari Gaon

Phone: +91 991 102 0246

Thumbs Up: While searching for dog-friendly accommodations in Dehradun, we came across Walterre & liked the images we saw on the internet. It’s located in Utari Gaon, a village on one of the roads leading to Mussoorie from Doon.

A boutique hotel, Walterre is Mr. Bikram Grewal’s holiday home. It’s three gardens with thick shrubbery & plenty of trees, designed to attract birds. If you love waking up to birdsong, this beautiful cottage is THE place!

Mr. Grewal, himself an author of books on Indian birds, has ensured birdwatchers have an enthralling time here.

The colonial design of Walterre awed us. A library on the first-floor is well-stocked with books on diverse subjects. On the terrace, wooden pillars support the semi-covered roof.

The interiors are exquisite, decorated with quite a bit of avian artefacts – lithographs & paintings.

Our room, the Peacock Suite, was excellent with its blue & green theme & peacock motifs. It was furnished with traditional wood furniture. The four-poster bed was SO dreamy! The linen was in shades of blue giving the room a comfortable vibe.

Walterre is a haven for nature lovers. We spent our mornings on the first-floor terrace watching the clouds roll down the mountains & the Sun rise behind them. A sense of calm amidst nature!

Walterre doesn’t have a set menu; the cook checked with us every day to inquire about our breakfast & dinner. We’d our breakfasts on the terrace in the company of cheeping birds!

Lastly, the staff members are courteous & their hospitality really made our stay memorable. They’re professional & well-trained.

A picture-perfect getaway from the demanding city life!

A vlog of our stay at Walterre. Enjoy watching!

Thumbs Down: Not a drawback but more of a suggestion – if someone can guide on the birds & birdwatching, it will be fantastic!

So, the next time you head to Dehradun, don’t forget to check at least one of these places out. We’ll be glad to hear about your experience!

August Trails in Jabarkhet Nature Reserve

trail, Jabarkhet Nature Reserve

When we planned our Landour trip, the name ‘Jabarkhet Nature Reserve’ kept popping up. But we’d only one day in Landour & weaning ourselves away from this serene town seemed impossible.

Someone advised us to visit the Jabarkhet Reserve before we started for Delhi NCR. We’re glad we got this counsel & that we took it. It turned out to be worth it!

The Nature Reserve is a private endeavor set up to protect & conserve the ecology of the forests around Mussoorie in the Himalayan foothills while encouraging nature – based education & tourism.

It’s small enough to be explored in a few hours but the moment we entered; we knew we could keep ourselves engaged here for days. There are seven main walking trails & countless connecting ones; the staff at the entrance can propose which one to take.

We would have loved to take a guided walk but we were early & the guides were yet to arrive. So, we equipped ourselves with a map & took off. Most of the trails could be covered in two-four hours.

We chose a mix of the Spring & Wildflower Trails due to paucity of time. The Wildflower Trail began at the main gate & went downhill, leading to a stone wall with a wooden gate.

We went past the gate & walked across the first meadow to The Hut. Just behind The Hut was a circular sit out & a small waterhole. We followed the Wildflower Trail sign & climbed the wooden stile over the dry-stone wall.

The lower meadows were covered with tiny blue gentians. From here, a trail to the left led us to The Spring, from where we climbed back up to the gate & the entrance.

We saw flora of many kinds and listened to numerous bird songs. We were ecstatic with the pin-drop silence and the unspoiled air. Due to the conservation measures, Jabarkhet has become an area to explore nature & encounter Himalayan wildlife.

We hope it becomes an archetype, for both the government & the private land owners, to conserve similar natural areas.

For your visit, we recommend –

  1. If you’re unused to exploring forest/ mountain areas on your own, please walk with a guide.
  2. Please don’t shout/ talk loudly as this will drown out the birdsong & disturb the wildlife.
  3. Please don’t walk in the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve after dark; this’s when the wildlife needs a peaceful sanctuary.

A cheery place, it delighted the nature lover in us. When we left the Jabarkhet Reserve, we were also leaving Landour & the Himalayas behind. Our sinking hearts took refuge in words again –

I leave behind the gravity defying inclines of Landour.
The biting cold. The fragrance of pine needles.
The winter line. A stand-off with monkeys.
Endless cups of hot 🍫 & plates of momos.
With a heavy 💓. For I don't know when I'll travel again, thanks to covid19.
But जान है तो जहाँ है। This too shall pass dear 💓!

Landour – A Scenic Town in Garhwal

It felt like craziness but we’d to do it!

So, March 2020. The world was locking down in a frenzy. We knew India would shut down anytime. The threat of COVID was rife but we knew we’d to make the most of a long weekend.

A last long weekend for a long time to come…

We decided to head to Landour. A place of serenity in the Himalayas. An advantage of the COVID scare was that roads, hotels & attractions, all seemed to be empty.

But the ascent from Mussoorie to Landour brought our hearts into our mouths. A narrow, uphill lane, jostling for space in Landour Bazaar, made us question our decision.

A narrow, sharp, ascending turn turned reaching our guesthouse, Ivy Bank, an adventure too. Nonetheless, as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

We reached Ivy Bank, checked in & got a jolt from the chill. It was raining in the middle of March. We were caught a little by surprise at how very cold it had become.

The Full Day in Landour

We knew Landour as a tiny town that could be explored while walking briskly around its tranquil magnificence. So that’s what we did! After breaking our fasts with Aloo Pyaaz Parathas & Bournvita, we began to climb towards Char Dukaan.

We’d a choice between a shorter but steeper route and a longer but gradual road. We chose the latter. This was our only full day in Landour & it was a Sunday. And yet, the town was eerily empty.

We strolled on the empty uphill street, gaping at the white hail. The sky was blue. Clouds floated along rapidly yet gracefully. The Sun shone brightly after four days of absence. Eagles soared high.

We crossed Mr. Ruskin’s Bond house & Rokeby Manor on our way. Usually, P would crib about the strenuous climb but the hail patches on the ground kept her distracted.

Char Dukan

At Char Dukan, we were surprised to see people; we’d gotten used to the emptiness! This gets its name from the, literally, four shops adjacent to each other, next to the Saint Paul’s Church.

Tourists, or maybe youngsters from Mussoorie, ate away at the street food. Seeing the number of people hanging out at this spot, we knew it was a pretty popular place.

Anil’s Café & Tip Top Tea Shop seemed to be the more famous shops.

We chose to go to Café Ivy. The Café serves Continental & Italian food, amongst others. The Café Mocha & Hazelnut Cappuccino, with a view of the mountains, turned out to be good after that tiring climb.

Saint Paul’s Church

With our tiredness gone, we meandered to the St. Paul’s Church and checked out the stained Belgian glass used in the arty windows. Even after restorations, the carvings on the stained-glass windows looked perfect.

The heritage look has been maintained wonderfully.


We then chose to walk some more, this time taking the Chukkar. Best decision ever! This was a trail that circled the Landour ridge summits. This turned out to be the emptiest & the most beautiful part of Landour.

Our only companion was the fresh air. We walked among dense cedar, oak & pine trees. Foxy messages on signboards hung on these trees. We so wished the Chukkar never ended.

It’s become the best memory of our Landour trip.

Sunlight filtered in through openings in the forest. Now that’s a sight we can’t forget!

Sister’s Bazaar

We eventually reached Sister’s Bazaar. The Bazaar gets its name from the sisters who worked as nurses in the British Military Hospital. It was a residential colony with old cottages and shops.

And this is where the iconic Landour Bakehouse & A Prakash are located.

Landour Bakehouse

Landour Bakehouse is burrowed amidst the pines on the edge of a cliff. On entering, we knew we had time travelled. Its antique portraits & wooden décor made us feel so.

A board at the entrance gives a background of the place. Landour Bakehouse whips up delicacies based on the Landour Cookbook; a book written in the 1900s. Now that’s a way to celebrate recipes through eons, with lakhs of people savouring them!

With the wooden floors creaking under our shoes, we found our way to a table & ordered for a Cappuccino, a Hot Chocolate, & an Orange Marmalade Cake, and devoured these leisurely. We were taking in calories but they were worth it!

On our way out, P picked up a copy of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth.

A. Prakash & Co

A. Prakash & Co, just down the road from the Bakehouse, has been functional since the 1920s. The popular adage goes – ‘if they don’t have it, you don’t need it!’

They started off by making peanut butter for the Britishers but now stock almost everything one can think of. However, their peanut butter & cheese continue to be incredibly famous.

We bought some Peanut Butter & some Ginger Orange Marmalade.

Kellogg Memorial Church

On our way back, we crossed the Kellogg Memorial Church & were infatuated with its fine architecture. The Memorial Church is named after Dr. Samuel Kellogg who wrote a book on Hindi Grammar for the English speakers.

We could see that the Church was quite an attraction. All tourists passing by would pose for clicks on its stone steps.

Landour Language School

Landour Language School is located inside the Memorial Church. For its students, being able to live in this stunning Himalayan hill station must be a big positive.

It was now time to descend & return to our guesthouse. We passed houses with pots hanging by the dozen. The word ‘wow’ was constantly on our lips. We were also loving the chill in the air.

All that walking had made us hungry again.

Doma’s Inn

Before we went to Ivy Bank, we stopped at Doma’s Inn next door for a late lunch. Chicken Phaley, Mutton Momos & Chicken Clear Soup made for a great Tibetan meal after all the English food we had eaten.

The restaurant was cute & silent. The staff was friendly but not intrusive.

This brought our Landour day to an end. As P sat in the guesthouse garden, looking at the sky, & warding off monkeys who seemed eager to steal her book, words began to pop in her head –

Cappuccinos, hot chocolates & mochas provide succour from the chill.
Bhutia puppies loiter around my feet.
I clutch at my belongings when langurs & monkeys eye them greedily.
But nothing can take away the smile from my face.
After all, I'm home. In the Himalayas.

Departure From Landour

After checking out from Ivy Bank Guesthouse, we visited the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve before leaving for Delhi NCR. But that Nature Reserve needs a separate post. So, we will be back with that.

Have you been to Landour? What did you make of it?

Accommodation Review

Ivy Bank Guesthouse is located at the spot from where the ascent to Char Dukan begins. The guesthouse itself is quite unassuming but the scenery from its garden was fascinating.

The staff was quite accommodating too. Our room was well-furnished but quite old-fashioned. We would put this down as a budget hotel.

Jim Corbett Museum

On International Museum Day, we write about the smallest museum we have visited till date!

The Jim Corbett Museum is located in Kaladhungi, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Kaladhungi and Ramnagar are the towns that host the Corbett Tiger Reserve (read our blog post about the reserve here).

And Kaladhungi is the place where Edward James Corbett, better known as Jim Corbett, spent a significant part of his life; it was his winter home.

A bust of the Late Edward James Corbett

The Corbett Museum is essentially the erstwhile home of the Late Mr. Corbett – who is known as a conservationist. However, what came as a surprise to us was his multi-faceted aspect. To name a few, he served in the railways and in the army. He fought in both the world wars.

Mr. Corbett was a carpenter, a painter, a photographer, & an author. He had an affinity for nature as well as for the local villagers. He was a naturalist and worked for the betterment of the villagers, along with his sister.

Lastly, the Late Mr. Corbett was a skilled hunter.

With one of the many leopards

We became aware of Mr. Corbett’s contributions courtesy a visit to this Museum. The humble bungalow contains his belongings, letters, & photographs.

The proof of his carpentry lies in a chair & table set made by him that resides in the bungalow.

Carpentry by Mr. Corbett

A few of the letters are written by Mr. Corbett; the others, to him. These give a glimpse into the mind of this extraordinary man. E.g. he was so fond of the villagers in Kaladhungi that he distributed his land amongst them when he left India in 1947.

We enjoyed looking at the black & white photographs. Our jaws dropped multiple times seeing the sizes of the man-eating tigers & leopards hunted by the Late Mr. Corbett.

His skill was known across the subcontinent; he was frequently called upon to shoot a tiger/ leopard causing havoc.

Corbett House, now the Museum

The bungalow enjoys a heritage status & is absolutely delightful to look at. Straight out of a picture book! The Museum premises are green with gardens and large trees, and maintained fantastically well.

We ended our visit by shopping from the souvenir shop within the museum premises. All the books authored by the Late Mr. Corbett are available here for purchase.

As we began picking each of his books to buy, the kind lady at the counter pointed out the omnibus to us, which contained all his books in one volume!

We can’t wait to read this!

It must be the first time we completed a museum visit in 30 minutes!

Our Recommendation – Your visit to the Corbett Tiger Reserve is incomplete without a visit to the Jim Corbett Museum. There is a reason why the Tiger Reserve has been named in honour of this distinguished gentleman!

Photography – Allowed

Restroom – Available & in good condition

Dog Friendliness – We could not take Fluffy inside the Jim Corbett Museum but we could bring her into the garden area near the ticket booth.