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OYO Townhouse – Jaipur

Hello everyone!
With the winter sun and chills driving in slowly but steadily, hope y’all are doing well!
As you all know that Diksha and I were recently invited by OYO rooms for an experiential stay. It was basically on the launch of their 51st Townhouse in Jaipur.
OYO Townhouse is a brand-new category of neighborhood hotels that combine experience and value at a scale that has never been attempted before in the Indian hospitality landscape. This offering is targeted at Millennials, for whom price, convenience and a differentiated experience play an important role in determining choices.
The 40-room hotel, located in the heart of the Jaipur city in Lalkothi boasts of unique, minimalistic design with spacious rooms and two banquets that can hold a gathering of 150-200 guests, respectively.
Here are a few pictures for your reference:

Townhouses are designed to function as social hotspots that cater to city dwellers and a new generation of guests. Besides outstation guests, residents staying in these areas can use the property as an alternative workplace, experience a vast array of global cuisines and access the lounge and retail store with exclusive merchandise.
Diksha has her heart set in Jaipur since she spent the most part of her childhood here, so she literally looks for excuses to drop in, while I, on the other hand, was born and brought up in this beautiful pink city – so for me to stay in a hotel in my own city and then exploring it like a tourist was a great experience!
We checked in the hotel around 11:30 and loved the color scheme of white, grey and red that was used in the entire property, minimal decor yet perfect.

We quickly got ready to leave for the city tour. We skipped breakfast as we were already full, thanks to my mother for feeding us with heavy aaloo paranthas (Indian moms I tell you!!). Anyway, there were 2 more bloggers along with us who came down from Delhi & we were basically the first ones to set foot in this new hotel.
We first headed to Nahargarh Fort which stands on the edge of the Aravalli Hills, overlooking the city of Jaipur. The fort was originally named Sudarshangarh but it became known as Nahargarh, which means ‘abode of tigers’. After exploring the place and clicking a few pictures, we decided to have lunch at “Once upon a time”, a restaurant inside the fort. I feel more than exploring the places, we were keen on picking the best dishes from the menu, foodies that we all were! Here we tried Keema Baati, Lal Maans, gatte ki sabzi (all Rajasthani specialties) along with spinach and paneer koftas and lassis!

Post lunch, we decided to explore a few more picture worthy points up there and then headed to another beautiful monument, Jaigarh Fort.

It was 4:30 and Diksha & I were pretty tired to even step foot out of the car so we decided to stay back & sleep inside while the others went to check the monument! They got back in half an hour or so and by then I guess everyone one was dead tired and needed a caffeine fix. We went to Home Cafe by Mr. Beans to relax for a while and sip some coffee & soup.

Then we went to our hotel to take a much-needed nap before we headed out for dinner. We slept like a baby for an hour and it was then a tough task to pull ourselves out of the super comfy bed but then we had to. I took it upon myself to be the in-house tour guide to make sure none of my favorite places were missed out by our travelers from other cities! We got ready and headed to Bar Palladio & Shikaar Bagh for dinner. The group was divided, few chose to sit at Bar Palladio because of the beautiful interiors & feel while I was at Shikaar bagh with my set of friends as it was Saturday night, Diksha being Diksha, decided to hop between the two & enjoyed best of both the worlds!

After dinner, we went to HOP for a while to experience Jaipur’s night life and finally got back to the hotel and called it a night!

The second day was also our last day at OYO. After a long night, we woke up so late that the group had to leave for the City Palace without us. We joined them directly for lunch at “Baradari” which is a beautiful restaurant inside City Palace where traditional craftsmanship meets contemporary design. A decidedly modern, glass-enclosed seating area that blends seamlessly with the old palace structures, the place was packed even during the day time with a lot of foreigners. We ordered some Lal maans with baati(again!!) with a side of Quinoa salad; a spaghetti aglio olio and We also ordered an array of lip-smacking desserts, the best of which was the rose petal jam icecream that was accompanied with some apple jalebis! We then headed back to our hotel, slept for a while, woke up & packed our bags and bade adieu to the friendly and humble staff at OYO Townhouse.

It was a great experience and we thank OYO for calling us. We will soon visit again as two days weren’t enough to explore the beautiful city of Jaipur.

To book the OYO Townhouse, and know more about the friendly neighborhood hotels, go to http://www.oyotownhouse.com/

Till we write about our next Travel experience,
Love,
TwofoldChic

Posted in backpackers, Beautiful India, bestfriends, blog, blogger, bucketlist, Budget Travel, discoverearth, discoverer, exploringtheglobe, Fashion, Food, friends, girlslovetravel, globetrotter, Hiking, Hills, incredibleindia, indianblogger, influencer, insidertravel, Mountains, Nagaland, North East India, phoi, staycation, tourism, tourtheplanet, Travel, travelawesome, travelblogger, travelcommunity, traveldeeper, travelinfluencer, travelmemoirs, traveltips, traveltribe, Trekking, tripoto, visualtraveller, wanderlust

Nagaland – A Dollop of halcyon bliss

If you are someone who loves the rhythmic rain and vibrant green forest and wet lands then the valley of flowers is for you. The cotton-like clouds that surround the valley as you reach the top make this untouched seductress a valley much like heaven on earth.

26 years of existence seemed futile after I did my first proper trek last month. I felt so sorry for myself for not having done it earlier. Dzukou Valley trek marks the first of many more treks to come in my life!

While Shivani has trekked in the Himachal, I was oblivious of the incredible world of trekking and hiking. Now, when I’m asked what I like better- Mountains or beach – I do not know, and perhaps, never will. Both have a charm so different that it’s unfair to even ask to pick one! Coming back to the trek – let me share how we made it possible. PHOI came up with this Nagaland package right when I had planned my vacation. It was destined to happen. I decided that I’d cut short my stay at home by a week and accommodate this trip. And so, it began. As you may have guessed, it doesn’t take long to convince Shivani, after all, birds of the same feather flock together!!

PHOI teamed up with ChaloHoppo, who are a bunch of enthusiastic young folks determined to bridge the gap between the people of the world and Northeast India.

Indians, unfortunately, are most tempted to travel to Europe and South Africa and the US before they’ve even seen all of India. While there’s nothing wrong about it, they do not realize what beauty and thrills they are missing out on in their very own country. The thrills and the panorama that they seek abroad can very well be found in India! There is so much more to India that the regular tourist trails and which is why I’m even writing this blog!

North East India has a culture and heritage so different, you will want to immerse yourself in the stories of their people and want to learn all you possibly can about their history! Nagaland is not about historical sites as much as it is about their culture. North east is brimming with exotic hills and waterfalls and natural springs and rivers and valleys! You can’t just get enough of all the natural beauty! Shivani and I had never traveled to that side of India before and hence, we pounced upon the first opportunity that came our way. An opportunity to visit a land of rugged hills and tribes where ancient headhunting habits have collided in a train wreck against the Burmese identity, leaving modernity derailed.

A 4-day trip to Nagaland which included Kohima, Jakhama Village and Dzukou Valley.

For INR 7800 (ex flights) it seemed like a pretty fair deal, add to it the excitement of meeting new people, 40 of them! All of us took flights from our respective cities to Guwahati (a cheaper option. Alternative is to fly to Dimapur directly). We all assembled in Guwahati and embarked on our trip, that started with an overnight train journey to Dimapur. Our trip officially began on the morning of 14th June where we were greeted by the rain gods as soon as we stepped foot into Dimapur. It was surprisingly pleasant. We had a hearty breakfast near the railway station and scrambled in our sumos to get to Kohima, a mere 80kms away, but easily a 4 hours’ drive!

Once at the capital city Kohima, the tourists in us had taken form and we went about visiting the War Memorial – Kohima is steeped in history; one had vaguely remembered that the Japanese had tried to enter India through northeast during the WW-II, but we realized that the action took place right in the centre of Kohima town only after visiting the War Cemetery. All the soldiers of Indian Army who laid their lives defending Indian soil are remembered here, some of them as young as 17! We also visited the churches, the local markets et al. The local markets were full of men and women selling what is considered as exotic food up there – silk worms, snails, frogs, and even dogmeat! In a word, anything that could crawl, hop or walk seemed to have fulfilled the pallets of the local people.

I wasn’t too excited by the idea of eating these delicacies, but some of the people in our group did, and they sure loved it! I, however, stuck to the usual – chicken and pork – Shivani, mostly vegetarian options!

A little about Nagaland here – This enchanting state with natural beauty and ethnic diversity is populated by the Naga people of Mongoloid stock.  There are 16 major Naga tribes in this state, each having its own language and unique customs and traditions. The Nagas have always been brave warriors. Although most of them have now become Christians (90% of the state population is Christian), they still preserve the remnants of their early animist culture and ancient traditions. Baptists constitute more than 75% of the Christian population. Nagaland is known as “the only predominantly Baptist state in the world.

We loved how stylish people are in Nagaland. You will find people clad in the most fashionable clothes and shoes even in the local markets. We had the opportunity of seeing a fleet of beautifully dressed people who were headed to a day wedding. Once we were done with lunch and sight-seeing, we then headed to our camp in Jakhama Village. The camp was beautiful and we stayed in a tent after ages! The camp had tents everywhere, a very cozy common area where we would all eat, sing, dance, play… We spent the rest of the night around the intimacy of the fireplace in the common area, moonlight over our heads, dancing to the tunes played out by our talented fellow travelers on guitar.

The next morning, our trek was to begin. Our tents overlooked beautiful, lush green paddy fields and waking up to clear blue skies, little drops of rain and lush greenery around is the most beautiful feeling ever!

We were all up and excited by as early as 5 am. We huddled in our sumos to go to Viswema, the starting point of the trek. A note to be made here, since we were going to be trekking for hours, we had already bought food supplies that would last us through the trek. Nuts and biscuits and bananas are good options!

A raincoat is a mustttttttttttt! Cannot emphasize enough on its importance.

So, yes, after a 45 minutes’ drive on a steep road, we reached the base of Viswema trek. From then on, it was a steep climb of about an hour followed by 6kms of walking on along a plain surface lined with small bamboo plants in a circular path. The initial walk is through a thick forest with giant rhododendrons trees and the 6kms walk gives passing views of the narrow Dzukou stream and glimpses of what the valley promises. The trek is a moderate one but was slightly more difficult than moderate ones because of the rains and mud that had accumulated because of the incessant rains. Lots of people kept slipping into the mud, the bamboo shoots would always come to our rescue. The trek took about 6-7 hours to complete and once we had arrived, the views are something I will never forget in my life!

   

The picture-perfect Dzukou Valley is located at an altitude of more than 2000. Only lush green mountains for as far as the naked eye can see!

The waterfalls that we encountered on our way stole my heart. I would have totally bathed in the river too had it not been chilly, but I made sure to plonk my face in the rivers and waterfalls that we crossed and drink water from them directly! Little pleasures of life! 😊

On reaching the top of the valley, we reached our dormitory where we were to stay the night. There was no electricity at this place and we cooked our cuppa noodles on woodfire and had that for two of our meals! The other meal that we had was also simple cooked lemon rice. Once we had rested a bit, we went on to see the valley of flowers of the north east which was another trek, not half as long as the trek it took us to reach up there. Walking through the Dzukou Valley – with beautiful plains with lush greenery and the loveliest flowers growing on them, passing over the brisk passing streams of crystal clear water, getting lost in the melodies of the cooing birds, surrounded by thick forests – for tourists, it’s one of the best experiences that they are ever likely to have. The calmness, the complete silence, the serenity of the surroundings is a complete change from the noise, the hustle and bustle of an average Indian city….

The temperature dropped majorly as night came and the chills literally rattled our bones. We all were carrying our sleeping bags and were given one thin quilt each but it was just not enough!

The next day, we had our breakfasts and began the climb down to Viswema again. It had been raining through the night and we were very worried about trekking down because of the slippery mud, but it was easier than we had thought. It took us some 5 hours and we were back to the base from where we headed back to our camps in Jakhama Village. That night ended on a blurred note after one too many cups of rice wine and rice shots 😀

The next morning, we set out to explore the village – it’s beautiful churches, the vivid and bright painted houses- Most of which still have the buffalo horns and skulls before their houses, the memorials, the stream and the paddy fields. The village walk was beautiful! The locals were very nice and greeted us all with a lot of warmth and smiles. We learnt a lot about Nagas – who were called head-hunters as they hunted for skulls which they hung in their homes or on trees. The larger the number of skulls one owned, the higher would be his status in society. Later, the custom was limited to animal skulls.

We interacted with the locals and ate plums plucked fresh from the trees. It was a beautiful clear day. Life seemed to be simple, peaceful and happy there. With smiles on our faces and warmth in our heart, we returned to our camp where we packed our bags and bid goodbyes to friends made over the past few days.

The trip was coming to an end. With heavy hearts, we set back to Dimapur, from where we again took a train to Guwahati. It might have been a short 4-day trip, but the memories made will last a lifetime – even if it sounds like a cliché, it is true!

And well, we surely will visit Nagaland again hornbill festival, that’s a given!!

And oh, the other six sisters are yet to be explored…Such a short life and so many places to see! 😊

Even thinking about it gives me an adrenaline rush!

Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. I hope you guys plan a trip to the mystical lush lands of Nagaland soon enough. If you do, do hit up @chalohoppo. They’re your go to guys for exploring the north east!

 

Till then,

Love galore,

Twofoldchic

Posted in backpackers, Beautiful India, beautifulindia, bestfriends, blog, blogger, boutiqueresorts, bucketlist, discoverearth, discoverer, exploringtheglobe, Fashion, fashionblogger, fashiondaily, fashiongram, fashioninspiration, Food, friends, girlslovetravel, globetrotter, incredibleindia, indianblogger, indiandressing, influencer, insidertravel, lookbook, luxurystay, luxurytravel, ootd, staycation, tourism, tourtheplanet, traditional, Travel, travelawesome, travelblogger, travelcommunity, traveldeeper, travelinfluencer, travelmemoirs, traveltips, traveltribe, tripoto, Uncategorized, Uncategorized, wanderlust

Lebua Lucknow – A Heritage Hotel

A visit to the beautiful Lebua Hotel brought us to the city of Nawabs and Kebabs. What’s not to love about Lucknow? The rich heritage that goes back to pre-British era is one of its kind. The city has especially garnered attention for its exemplary adab and tehzeeb, along with its impeccable, scrumptious food! Many people visit Lucknow only to taste the kebabs of Tunday kebabi, the chicken masala of Dastarkhwan and the Awadhi biryani of Idris Biryani. Food aside, the Chikankari work of Lucknow is known to be the best in all of India.

But let’s leave all the food and shopping talk for a later time, and talk about the heritage hotel Shivani and I stayed in while in Lucknow. My first time in the city of Nawabs and kebabs, I felt as if I was in the beautiful Lucknow of the 20th century, such was the portrayal at Lebua.

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Lebua Lucknow is a Luxury Boutique property, located in central Lucknow and conceptualized as a sprawling traditional bungalow with a huge lush green lawn. It reflects and personifies the “Art Deco” architecture prevailing in the early 1900’s. Built in 1936, the haveli that is now the hotel was once home to a prosperous Lucknowi family. When time and tidings took the clan out of the city, the haveli fell into disuse. A few years ago, Lucknow-born expat Mohammed Abdullah and his interior decorator wife Nayab Bakshi bought the property and gave it a second life.

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The very minute we stepped foot in Lucknow, we were treated like royalty. A chauffeur driven pretty, yellow and white ambassador was sent to pick us up. We reached the resort to see a beautifully designed heritage property nestled between towering trees with bright flowers in full bloom. It was such a gorgeous first impression, and it only got better from there! Every nook and corner of the property exudes class. The long corridors lit with lamps, the wooden murals holding them mirrors and tinted glasses adorning the walls, the beautiful pink bougainvillea and orange flowers creeping up the walls make for the perfect rustic arrangement! With embroidered upholstery, vintage furniture and artwork on the walls, the rooms take you to a bygone Era where upon entrance you forget your 9 to 5 jobs and enter a world where you’re the queen, and Lebua staff leaves no stone unturned in treating you like one.

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Once we had had our tour of the property, we got in our rooms to find a rose petal bath awaiting us. Such Nawab like treatment I tell you! Shivani had a tough time getting out of it, this, I can tell you. She could’ve slept there in the rose petals all night if I let her! 😛

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Our suite was 201 – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
It opened up to a huge white balcony with bougainvillea here, there and everywhereeeee and we absolutely loved every bit of it.
More than the beautiful property itself, we were enchanted by how well the Lebua staff takes care of its guests!
To make sure their guests have an experience of a lifetime, they pay attention to the littlest of details and personalization, and it’s highly impressive. Our rooms had photo frames with our pictures in it and with personal hand-written notes for each of us. It melted us!

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Coming to the food, we had the honor of trying the exquisite lakhnawi food by their extremely talented head chef. We had excellent kebabs and awadhi biryani.. The mewe and mawa ke kebabs deserve a special mention in the veg section!
Their Italian restaurant, 1936, is every bit as special as the other in-house restaurants. I am not a big fan of Italian food but their homemade pasta again deserves a special mention. We had it thrice in our three days stay there!! It was that good!

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The Resort houses 4 dining experiences – Multi-cuisine, Italian, and traditional Indian fare, each one better than the previous. The first night of our stay there, a special candlelit dinner was arranged for the two of us in their beautiful gardens. It was accompanied with candles, flowers and butler service. The chef personally served his best delicacies to us and we can easily call it the best dinner in a long, long time!

Our stay there was full of amazing food, exemplary service and gorgeous views. We sat in our balcony for the sunrises and the courtyard for sunsets! We even got to witness an amazing wedding which was being held at the resort. Such a beautiful experience that was, being able to be a part of someone’s happy moments, and in a place like Lebua!

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Visionary CEO Deepak Ohri of lebua Hotels and Resorts was recently asked at The Columbian Business School conference about his vision for lebua as a brand.

According to Deepak, a strong emotional connect with their guests is the key metrics that drives and leads his vision. He percieves and develops concepts based on Fashion.
Faisal Nafees – General Manager India Operations, lebua group along with his team ensures that every guest experience at lebua meets Brand’s vision.

Shivani and I, as Fashion and Lifestyle bloggers instantly connected with the warmth and style. We experienced it throughout our stay right from our entry into the property until the last day of our stay!

It is a true kudos to lebua hotel standards for an exemplary experience led by a fashionista’s vision that shall stay with us forever.

If I ever get to visit Lucknow again, I would definitely go back to Lebua without any second thoughts!

Also, for all you people who do not have Lucknow on your radar, Lebua properties are there in Jaipur, Amer and even Bangkok and Newzealand! Also, there’s a brand new one opening in the lush forests of Corbett!

If there’s anything else, you’d like to know, please feel free to drop your questions in the comments section and we’ll make sure to answer them! 😊

Some more pictures of us at the property cos we couldn’t help ourselves 🙂

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Love and cheers,

TwofoldChic

Posted in bestfriends, birthdayletter, friends, friendship, openletter

An open letter to my best friend on her birthday!

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Hey Diksha,

I know you won’t be expecting this. Me writing something on the blog and posting before getting it proof-read by you. (Well, of course, it won’t go public before you actually read it as you will be the first one to read) 
So, task done!
*Correct the grammatical mistakes, if any, miss grammar-naziii*
But I am sure I have improved a lot tho, don’t you think so ? 😀 

Jokes apart.

I hope your birthday eve went super amazing with loads of cakes to cut, Wonder Woman I think probably a lot of us love your birthday more than you because it’s a day solely dedicated to you, and you can’t appreciate it more than we do. You are the apple of our eye. Please stop blushing.
I have been super corny ahead , so ya , control your emotions.
here I go-

I have been the luckiest to have such a lovely person like you in my life whom I can call my best friend without any second thought. I don’t know how I got so lucky that we ever crossed paths. I guess it was just destiny that decided the perfect moment or probably my cuteness to walk up to you and ask “will you be my best friend” in Grade IV. Duh! YES, It was me. Setting my own destiny there. You were like the perfect piece to my puzzle.
Ok, Stop laughing & keep reading –

We have had each other’s backs for years now and I wouldn’t have survived without you there. You know me better than probably I do and no distance can ruin the bond that we share. I love the way how we go right back to how we are no matter how long we’ve been apart and how easy it is to feel at home & safe with you by my side. 

You are my go-to for nearly any situation. I know you will always have a wise thing to say. If I happen to have a bad day, you listen to my problems and you reassure me that it will pass. You give me so much strength and you’ve taught me to make this my lifestyle. You’ve made me a stronger woman, a better me. You’ve taught me to be nice to everyone and to always be a better person. You have taught me “ignorance is bliss”.

Everywhere you go, you light up everyone’s day. You are thoughtful, compassionate, and your vibes are nothing but happiness. You’re pretty darn awesome miss Banjara and you make the job of ‘proud friend’ easy for me. You just know it pretty well how to set the mood right and enjoy every moment with full energy.

I love you for all that you are, for all of our memories, all of the fun times, all of the times we’ve supported each other, all of the times we’ve grown. We’ve really become a part of each other’s journey, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Here’s to another year of adventures. Here’s to travelling together and exploring pretty places. Here’s to me being messy and stubborn and you being slightly less messy and just as stubborn. Here’s to me being your best photographer and you being not even close to that. Here’s to making twofold a success and hitting our dream space. Here’s to from being tomboys to turning into women with substance. Here’s to another year of having you as my best friend. 

I love you. 

Stay Awesome. 

With Love,
– Shivani