Foodie that I am, I can’t keep my hungry tongue and fiddly diddly toes in the gym for long. I need to have my cheats occasionally. On one of these cheat days, I decided to visit and eat out at The Star Lounge, Big Pitcher, Bangalore and I ate till I found myself in a situation of can’t-move-open-the-damn-buttons-of-the-pants.
Big Pitcher has some 5 floors, each one quite unique ranging from pubs to hukkah place to nice romantic rooftop dining. Do you love to Dine in Style? Looking for a Premium Dine-Out for a Romantic evening with Candle Light Dinner, under the Moon Light with fresh air brushing across you as you enjoy Bangalore’s best Sizzlers, Grill and Steak – then you must check out Big Pitcher’s very own Roof Top Restaurant – STAR LOUNGE! Here, the music is soft, food classy, ambience romantic and your experience wonderful!
I loved how the place was lit up and how the aroma of sizzlers consumed me as soon as I stepped in. The candlelit tables and wine and light music make for the perfect setting, however if you are a beer person, you’d be delighted because they serve some lip-smacking beers from their own brewery! I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the Head Chef and having some uhhh-mazingggg recipes concocted for me!
My friend and I started off with some Nachos (excellent when paired with beer!!) – crisp and yum! Once I start eating, there is no break so I followed up them Nachos with some Grilled Prawns and I tell you I could have had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They were so juicy and grilled to perfection! I had some Chicken Ghee Roast, some Malai Mutton Chops (I had had them for the first time, and they were an in-house favourite). I am salivating as I write about it. Who knows I might just go there for the prawns and malai mutton chops tonight!! *wink*
The Chef was kind enough to make me some Thai Chicken Curry which was soooooooooooooooooo good that I got a separate portion packed as well! At this point, I was already full but how could I leave without trying the sizzler, and so to justify my visit to a place that serves absolutely delish sizzlers, I ate some sizzler too! No regrets there *giggle* Since desserts go to the heart and not the tummy, followed all that up with some Chocolate dessert – Naked Chocolate Fantasy and Double Baked Caramel Cheesecake, each as good as the other!
So, ultimately, I ate to my heart’s content and I convinced my heart that since everything is grilled, it’s all good! 😀 But honestly, brilliant ambience, brilliant beer and brilliant food! Would definitely recommend it to you all! 😊 Here are few pictures of the food to give you an idea and make you salivate 😛 Enjoy! Till the next time, tadaaaaaa!
If you, too, wish to truly understand the meaning of numinous beauty and if you, too, believe in the magic of nature then read on, for this trip took me to places which can and which will unleash the wayfarer in you!
It’s time we Indians got over the overrated Shimla and headed out
to the more beautiful places of Himachal! Shimla at one point, yes, was
undeniably beautiful, but now all that remains of a once ‘Summer capital of
India’ is commercialized streets with cramped houses and hotels.
Kasol, Tosh and Kheerganga had been on my list for almost two
years and I’m so glad I could make it there in 2019, finally!!
I had been meaning to do Kalga and Pulga too, but hell, I’m going
back there, so no regrets! 😊
This trip was part of the ‘TravelWithBanjara’
series that came second in line to the Meghalaya trip (which reminds me that I
haven’t written about Meghalaya yet!)
How I went about it!
I chose some 15 of my followers to join me on this little escapade to the hills and we got Bummlers as our Travel partner. It costed us 14k all inclusive of transfers, stay and meals from and back to Delhi!
The people who joined me were all my followers and while some might find it weird, I find it absolutely normal and in fact a healthy way of meeting new people who share a similar passion for traveling and have stories to tell! 😊
While I got the people to join in on my trip, the logistics and
bookings were taken care of by Bummlers. We had a traveler to ourselves for the
trip that took us from Delhi to Kasol and then back to Delhi. The traffic sure
did kill us and what would have normally taken 12-14 hours one way took us
close to 18-19 hours because well, dilli ki garmi had everyone swarming to the
hills and what better than Himachal that is home to over 15 hill stations!! Having said that, every moment outside of Delhi,
and inside of HP was like looking into a painting which made the terribly long
Day 1 – Overnight journey to Kasol from Delhi
Day 2 – Reach Kasol in the morning, check into
campsite(tents) by the River Parvati. Trek to Chalal Village
Day 3 – Drive to Barshaini from Kasol. Trek to
Kheerganga (15km). Stay in Kheerganga camps
Day 4 – Trek down to Barshaini. Trek up/Drive up
to Tosh village (5km). Stay in Tosh campsite
Day 5 – Trek down to Barshaini. Drive back to
Best Time to Visit?
Himachal has a pleasant weather throughout the year. The
best time to visit Kasol, Tosh and Kheerganga is from April until October since
in winters the whole village is covered in snow and becomes quite hidden.
However, if you want to enjoy the snow, you can opt for November to February.
What to carry on treks?
If you are reading this blog and you haven’t been on many
or any treks before, and you plan to go on one sometime in your life, then this
section will be useful for you! 😊
Nowadays most of us no longer live much closer to nature
and are used to the obvious availability of certain things in life. Hence, it
is very important to understand and appreciate that when you are hiking or
trekking a mountain, some obvious things may not be around you when you find
yourself in a tricky situation. Here’s my must-carry-items’ list:
Trekking Bag – You CANNOT carry a
trolley bag on treks, guys, understand
Best Quality Hiking Shoes (some
treks are okay with general sports shoes too, but make sure your shoes have
good grip, especially in monsoon season)
Backpack / Rucksack (For some
one-day treks when you don’t want to carry a whole donkey on your back :P)
Thermals – Top and Bottom (IT can
get really cold in the hills! Keep some brandy handy too :P)
Moisturizer and Sunscree
UV Protected Sun Glasses
Good jacket to protect from cold
Toilet Paper (plenty, since when
you stay in tents, washrooms are usually make-shift and only one per 30-40
3-4 Pair of socks
Dry Fruits, Chocolates and Energy
bars (They keep you fueled for long spells of the trek where you do not have
Water bottle (please refrain from
using disposable plastic ones
Medicines: If you are under any
medications, please carry enough to last for the whole trip
SENSE OF FUN AND GOOD HUMOR 😉 😀
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the
actual trip and how it was! 😊
Kasol – Mini Israel
Imagine staying in tents put up right next to the serene
Parvati river, waking up to the gushing sound of the river in full flow, sun
shining through the trees and ricocheting off the rocks of the river making
your skin glisten as you go and perch yourself on those rocks to enjoy the
music that the river and the trees so melodiously deliver. Now add to it some
music that other fellow travelers are playing on the guitar as they smoke
you-know-what! What a different high, whoa!
On your trek to Chalal, expect to see many tourists
especially from Israel, some of whom have settled in the nestling hills of the
We learnt a thing or two about how Kasol used to be a
truly untouched remote area until 20 years back(this makes me sad for what we
saw was already a pretty urbanized version of Village Kasol), how Cannabis
cultivation and export is the only form of livelihood for the locals and how
they worship deities from their folklore.
Kasol was all about cafes, the flowing river, bonfire and
music for us 😊
Cafes to visit – Evergreen Café, Moondance Café
Kheerganga – Stairway to Heaven
Imagine vast green grasslands with little white flowers
springing out of those grass beds, vast 3D mountains, where you could see
green hillocks in the foreground, and endless silhouettes of gigantic hills in
the background followed by snow capped mountains further beyond those
Can you imagine what a sun rising from among these hills or
a sun setting into those hills would look like? No, you can’t. I can’t even
begin to put it into words. MAGIC is what it can be best described as.
Don’t get me started on the moon in the hills, I might just
drop a tear in the memory of its beauty!
The trek to Kheerganga encompasses everything- walking through rivers, waterfalls, holding on to dear life on narrow walkways, apple orchards – you name it. If you’re a regular hiker, then this one is a dream to do. One of the most beautiful treks, so picturesque that you feel an impulse to reach for your camera or pinch yourself hard to make sure it’s real. The amazing landscapes, waterfalls and the alpine meadows are bound to make you stop and feel it and soak it in! Trek from Barshaini to Kheer Ganga is 15km. Agreed that 15kms is a lot of climb but heaven awaits you at the end of it. All your tiredness will be washed away with a sight of the unending view of the glaciers and mystical hot springs of Kheerganga. 10 minutes into the pool and you’ll be tripping because of the Sulphur fumes. Do not be surprised if you hear Dholak and groups singing and beating some Shiv Natraj Music. It is a one of a kind experience!
At Kheerganga, we ate, ate and ate, witnessed the most beautiful
sunrise and sunset, petted and became home to fluffy dogs, watched beautiful
white horses graze the grass, took a dip in the hot water springs, sat on
infinity swings, sat around bonfire singing and sipping on hot tea and slurping
down hot Maggie, and engaged in the super intriguing stories of locals! 😊
I would have loved to extend a day at Kheerganga! Probably next time! 😊
Tosh – Save
your HASHtags for later, coz brownies are here babbay!
5kms ahead of Barshaini, lies the charming village of
Tosh. Tosh, the last village in Parvati
valley, is well-hidden amongst tall pine forests and is located
alongside the Parvati river. Alongside the village is the Tosh River, which
begins at the Tosh Glacier.
Tosh is a preferred destination for lazy hippies. Unlike Kheer Ganga, Tosh is much populated and not surrounded by thick meadows. Trekking trail passes through ranches and unorganized plantation of Marijuana. Accommodation and food options are in surplus in Tosh and are in much better shape than what we find in Kheer Ganga. The tents we stayed in offered an excellent, mesmerizing view of the Parvati valley and we had nothing to complain about!
There is nothing
much to do in Tosh than to explore the surroundings. With
every step you take there will an upsurge in love for this place. Such
breathtaking views it provides of the beautiful Parvati Valley. In addition, as
Tosh is becoming quite popular among the backpackers, many trance and
psychedelic parties are being organized here.
We trekked up further to reach Pink Floyd Café just in time to catch glimpses of the sun melting away behind the hills. We tried the much talked about ahem ahem, brownie there. Hah! Oh my! What an experience! Shall not forget it 😀
That was my trip for you guys! We headed back to
barshaini and back to Delhi the next day with heavy hearts but with hope of
returning sooner this time around! 😊
Hope this blog leaves you a little more enthused about
planning a trip to the beauty that these places are! 😊
Do follow my updates on Instagram to be a part of the
#TravelWithBanjara trips! Bali is up next! 😉
Till the next time then! Do drop in your questions, your
comments, your feedback below and I’d be happy to address them!
A visit to this beautiful property got me to Jaisalmer, also known as “The Golden City”, a place where I have wanted to go since long. This beautiful town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone and is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort which is believed to be one of the “Living Forts” in the world. One look at the city and you would be mesmerized by its alluring and picturesque beauty. Truly a spectacular sight to behold! Jaisalmer is named after Rawal Jaisal, a Bhati ruler who founded the city in 1156 AD. Jaisalmer means the Hill Fort of Jaisal. It is a world heritage site and lies in the heart of The Great Indian Desert “Thar Desert.”
But hey! Let’s leave all the city talk for a later time, and talk about the property I stayed in while in Jaisalmer. Kanak Jaisalmer is a Luxury Boutique property nestled in the heart of the desert and conceptualized over a vast landscape for a great camping experience amidst the sun-drenched sands with an amazing amalgamation of architectural aesthetics, modern amenities, cultural activities, and authentic cuisines. The fact that Kanak is located away from the chaos of the city; it offers the inhabitants a rejuvenating escapade and oasis of charm while preserving the culture of Rajasthan.
The very minute I stepped foot in Jaisalmer, I realized it was going to be an experience worth telling and guess what, I wasn’t disappointed. It was a very beautiful 45-minute drive from the station to the property, all thanks to Padam Ji , the man who escorted me through the city. I reached Kanak amidst the failing first light of the sun while still being surrounded by the dark but was left awestruck by the serene view. Blown away by its calmness, the first impression left a mark which cannot be described in words, and it only got better from there! I was brought back to the fancy and deluxe amenities when I was escorted to my super luxurious Tent (Jaisalmer Tent) which beautifully stood there to match the color palette of the city. Each element of the tent was intricately designed in tandem with the rich cultural heritage and integrated it with lifestyle of Jaisalmer to ensure that the experience is authentic and true to the essence of this place.
The tents look traditional and modern at the same time. Each tent comes with a desert view and with only 10 tents in the property; you can be rest assured that privacy is of utmost importance here so you can enjoy the company of your partner or your family here.
They have 3 categories of tents- Jaisalmer Tent, Jodhpur Tent and Jaipur Tent! All the tents are created to match the colour palette of the city it is named after & is designed in such a way to give you an authentic experience. Jaipur tent is the suite category as it comes with an exclusive front porch and a private plunge pool. Sharing a few pictures of this category from my stay:
Coming to the food- The first night of my stay there, a special cultural evening was arranged followed by dinner at Paakhi (in-house restaurant). A beautiful bonfire sparked in the centre, around which sat plump seating arrangements for us on one side, and on the other, folk musicians and dancers to offer a first-hand experience of the deeply rooted history and widely practiced traditions of the state accompanied by scrumptious meals and wine which was only highlighted by the Rajasthani folk music, dance and the august company of the other guests with whom the conversation flowed easily! I can easily call it the best dinner in a long, long time!
Not to miss: Breakfast and lunch were superb too- a great introduction to the local cuisine. I also had the honour of trying their special “Laal Maas” that was cooked by the owner himself- Mr. Bhanu, it was delicious delicious delicious!
While in conversation with Mr.Bhanu, he spoke of his desire to create a unique experience for his guests and while it is still early days (this was Kanak’s first season), him and his team have really created something special. The hospitality is top notch – staff makes sure that if you want something, you get it.
And if this isn’t enough, the boutique property offers a range of signature experiences, each better than the one before. They take immense pride in their history and culture and make sure that their guests get the real taste of the golden city, while staying at their property. The experiences are carefully handpicked and created to leave a lasting impression of the flavours of Rajasthan on the guest’s mind and heart. I got to experience few of their many signature experiences like:
Jeep Safari: If you are in Jaisalmer, you cant just miss this! An amazing amount of golden sunshine over the unending vast sands of the desert for as far as your eyes can see lets you experience the thrill of the Jeep Safari in Jaisalmer. At Kanak, they make sure the guests experience the exact thrill. They took me for the Desert Safari in an open jeep, and with the desert winds getting caught in my hair, I knew I was experiencing the raw Rajasthan! A few snippets from the same:
Camel Safari & Desert Festival: Desert Festival of Jaisalmer is the most awaited and famous cultural and colourful event of Rajasthan. Camel races, Turban-tying and Mr. Desert competitions are organized. It is held in the month of February every year. The festival showcases Rajasthani folk songs and dance and it is very attractive to foreign tourists. This is the best time to visit Jaisalmer and I was happy to reach the city around the same time. I was escorted to the festival by kanak and they made sure I get to experience the “camel safari” too. They be the best! Words cant do justice to the fun I did during the festival, hence, pictures-
High Tea at Khaba Fort ! The visit to Khaba Fort was part of Experiential Stay from Kanak Jaisalmer. The history and stories associated with this fort are interesting and that makes the visit very worthy. Once a native place of the Paliwal Brahmins, Khaba fort is said to be deserted overnight under mysterious circumstances. The ruins of some of those deserted villages are visible from Khaba Fort. On arrival at Khaba, to my surprise, was a beautiful high-tea set curated by kanak secailyl for its guests that brought a huge smile on my face.
The kanak staff told me as to why Paliwal Brahmins left the Kuldhara villages. The story is:
A minister or Dewan of the kingdom saw the young daughter of the village chief. Bewitched by her beauty he desired to marry her. The girl’s father refused to give his daughter in marriage to him. This angered the minister and forced the village chief for marrying off his daughter. He gave a deadline for marriage after which he would forcefully enter the village and take his daughter. The chiefs of all 84 villages met that night. To safeguard their pride and honor they decided to leave the villages in the dark of the night.
Here are a few pictures from my visit to this fort and around:
Last but not the least, Sun-Downer at Kanak! Fine drinks under the canopy of marmalade skies are as exhilarating as it is serene. Though the sun-downer was without a sun, thanks to the weather! I still had a wonderful time and managed to click few amazing pictures.
It was an enriching experience and I enjoyed every bit of it!
Few of their other signature experiences constitute of Parasailing, Quad Biking, Dinner on dunes. I hope to enjoy those in my next visit, which is not far, I can sense it!
Staying at Kanak is definitely an experience one cannot afford to miss! My stay there was full of amazing food, exemplary service and gorgeous views. The pictures do no justice to the real beauty of the property and the well curated experiences. You have to see it to believe it. If I ever get to visit Jaisalmer again, I would definitely go back to Kanak without any second thoughts! If there’s anything else that you’d like to know, please feel free to drop your questions in the comments section and I will make sure to answer them!
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.
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.
I’m someone who often wears sarees with belts and jackets, dresses layered with shirts, boots with suits and what not; mainly because I love experimenting and creating new looks. However, this festive season, I wanted to do the regular – no twists and turns – a saree as a saree, a suit as a suit!
I got myself this eye-swinger, head-turner Anarkali from Craftsvilla and I have loved it since the moment it arrived! The soft silk fabric, the neutral classy tones, the gorgeous floral dupatta, the way it falls on my body and looks like it was tailored especially for me – all make for a combination that I look for in an outfit!
This Anarkali can be worn for Durga Puja, Diwali, Wedding functions and so on and so forth!
For the ethnic soul who like it chic and elegant, this is perfect for you if you have a lot of responsibilities at the wedding. It’s comfortable enough to move around in, and stylish enough to make a statement!
If you are a woman who isn’t shy of the limelight, the evergreen Anarkali is the obvious choice. Elegant and suave, this outfit is easily the star of the evening at any party.
I wore this with my rose gold metallic heels, tassel earrings in the same tone as the dress and some very basic makeup. I think it worked pretty well for me!
I hope you enjoy this look and create some supercool festive looks yourself! 😊 Also, do not forget to look up Craftsvilla for their amazing festive range!
I grew up in a household where even though Saree wasn’t a mandate for the women to wear, I saw my mom wear sarees every day, out of choice, and out of love for the six yards!
She has a wardrobe, sorry, multiple wardrobes full of different types and colors of sarees and my sister and I would spend one too many afternoons enamored by the silkiness of mom’s sarees, clumsily draping it over our 10-year-old bodies and running around the house casually, tripping sometimes, learning how to be graceful and poised other times.
Maybe it got ingrained in me, for the love of saree only grew as time passed. I love the everyday plain chiffon sarees (refer to Sushmita Sen in Main hoon na) as much as I love the typical banarasi silk sarees (Refer to Rekha – the ethereal goddess)! I don’t get too many chances to wear saree, but I don’t leave one opportunity to wear it! All the ethnic days in office – be it Diwali or Onam or Pongal or whatever- I am always dressed in a saree! And what’s best is that I find it completely effortless. I can walk around in a saree, without even a pin to secure it, and still walk around like a boss, at complete ease with it!
Handloom sarees, especially, have me mesmerized. The kind of rich embroidery and detailing all done by human hand, it blows my mind!
I have always been fascinated by how every state of India has a different draping style and a different saree fabric to call its own. Just silk sarees have a thousand varieties, among the notable few are Banarasi silk, Kanjeevaram silk and Assam silk! Leheriya and Bandhej, Phulkari, Bomkai, Chanderi, Kalamkari, Paithani, Patola– All these just blow my mind!
There’s another type of embroidery that I love on sarees. It goes by the name ‘ Kantha’ and I was introduced to it when my mom bought me the-most-exquisite-dupatta that I own till date.
I fell in love with it that day and I jumped with joy the day Aditri Looms and Crafts approached me to wear their sarees. As luck would have it, they were Kantha Sarees, each a masterpiece!
A little background here – Kantha, or the running stitch, is an indigenous household craft that was pioneered by the women in rural West Bengal. Interestingly, this seemingly complex weave is based on the simplest stitch of embroidery. Traditionally, any good news, such as pregnancy or wedding announcement, in a Bengali village would be met with women beginning to make a Kantha to celebrate. From embroidered quilts to keep warm during the winter to weaving the initials of their husbands on their respective handkerchiefs to collecting scrap fabric and weaving it together, the forms and types of Kantha are many.
The Kantha weave is meant to tell a story, in that one is unlikely to find two similar pieces of original Kantha. The traditional form of kantha embroidery was completed on soft dhotis and saris with a simple running stitch along the edges. Kantha still continues to be a symbol of immense cultural and social significance in Bengali society; not only does it continue to be a means of livelihood for many women, but Kantha pieces are also passed down from generation to generation as treasured heirlooms.
Given the history of Kantha, I didn’t want to be a disappointment in trying to completely take away the feel of the saree by draping it in a modern style. But having said that, I did want to try something new to show that the Kantha heritage might go back ages, but the modern-day woman can very well wear it today and rock it nonetheless!
Here is what I tried with three of Aditri’s beautiful sarees:
For the first saree, I paired it with a top that had a statement neck and draped it seedha palla style. I belted the saree at the waist, added a few bangles and a septum ring and I was done! It’s my most favorite style of all!
For the second saree, I styled it two ways. One, the normal styling of the saree that we see every day- just added a good pair of earrings and a nose ring to take it up a notch; and second with a contrasting blazer and a top bun – which if you ask me, is Power Dressing done right
For the third saree which was a beautiful orangish-rust saree, with a white embroidery, I wore it with a white shirt with flared sleeves for a slightly dramatic look!
I hope you guys like all the looks that I created, and maybe, just maybe, you fall a little bit in love with the saree too! If you do, my purpose for this blog post is met!
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.
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.
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.
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! 😛
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!
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!
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!
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 🙂
Have you ever stayed in a place so beautiful where you found it hard to distinguish between dreams and reality?
We did, and very recently so.
If the thought of waking up to a beautiful sunrise in your private terrace, with your feet dipped in your private Jacuzzi, with the view of an endless desert with black bucks and peacocks prancing around, and bougainvillea dancing to the music of the desert winds stirs anything in you, then you know Mihirgarh is for you!
Mihirgarh Fort, once a dream conceived and nurtured beautifully by Siddharth and Rashmi Rohet, now stands tall and beautiful in the middle of the Thar Desert as if the desert winds and sands sculpted its very towers themselves. ‘The Fort of the Sun’ is every bit an architect’s delight and a traveller’s paradise. Every inch of the palace exudes luxury and uniqueness.
Shivani and I visited Mihirgarh at a fairly pleasant time of the year, January, so the desert was very welcoming! Every minute since we stepped foot into the beautiful sand castle was spent soaking in the lap of luxury. The fortress boasts of nine suites, each one bigger than 1700 square feet and splendid in its own way. The suites are named Alishan and Shandar – the names come from the fine Marwari Stallions from the Rohet Stables, and at this point it would be wise to tell you all that they have the absolute best collection of Marwari horses in India, whom we got to meet later at Rohetgarh. Such handsome horses, we were crushing on them!
Back to the property, each of these suites treasure private Jacuzzis, plunge pools, private terraces and exquisite private courtyards. They are built aesthetically with so much precision, that you can see the Rohet family’s ethereal taste in the smallest of details. For instance, their love for horses comes to life in intricate designs of the lamps and even curtain holders and door knobs.
The aesthetics are classy and subtle, with white and beige forming the basics everywhere – rich in its own way without going bold with the colors, it leaves a soothing impact on you! The majestic mud painted walls, infinity pool overlooking the desert landscape, intricately carved designs in and out, and delectable cuisines to choose from weave such a beautiful picture, it’s hard to resist going there.
The rooms look traditional and modern at the same time. Each room has TVs, coffee stations and mini bars to suit your requirements, while the fireplace and high wooden beds and décor give you a time-honoured traditional touch.With only nine suites, you can rest assured that privacy is of utmost importance here so you can enjoy the company of your partner or your family here. Hospitality is top notch – Smiling turban clad jodhpuri staff make sure that if you want something and you get it.The common areas are as grand as regal as the suites, with peacocks painted on one wall and color coordinated cushions making for an ornate pool lounge. High Tea in the fountain garden is extraordinary- orange and pink flowers lavishly adorning the walls around, birds chirping by and the water fountain are the only sounds to be heard. Dinner by the infinity pool is as beautiful as you see the horses running around while the sun gently sinks in.
And if that wasn’t enough, the boutique hotel offers a range of signature experiences, each better than the one before. The Rohet family takes immense pride in their history and culture and make sure that their guests get the real taste of Rajasthan, while staying at any of their properties. The experiences are carefully handpicked and created to leave a lasting impression of the flavors of Rajasthan on the guest’s mind and heart.
We got to experience two of their many signature experiences, namely, Shikar Dinner and Village Safari.
As the clock struck 7, we got a call saying that our ride for the Shikar dinner was ready. Little did we know what lay ahead of us. We came out to see a camel cart with beautiful bedding and cushions waiting for us. We got in it, lay down and started our ride towards the era where hunting was a major sport and was celebrated with a good dinner and folk music in the wide expanse of the desert under the stars.
The ride was the best part of the trip. Living in polluted cities, I had forgotten what it felt like to just lie down under the canopy of the stars in complete darkness and enjoy that, just that moment. We rode on and on, a quiet night with only the sound of the camel hooves, spotting constellations over our heads, with the only other light present coming from a lantern. Writing about it makes me want to go back NOW!
We reached the desert where the dinner was hosted. A beautiful bonfire sparked in the centre, around which sat plump seating arrangements for us on one side, and on the other, folk musicians and dancers. We were treated to some amazing barbeque dinner and wine which was only highlighted by the Rajasthani folk music and dance and the august company of the other guests with whom the conversation flowed easily! We even danced along with the dancers and learnt some ghoomar from them!
The Rohet family firmly believes that the people make a place what it is, which is why to give you a feel of the real, rural rajasthan, they take you on a village safari where you can see what life is for people out there, visit their homes, interact with them. The people are so warm and welcoming that it makes for a beautiful, beautiful experience.
We visited the Bishnoi village in an open jeep, and with the desert winds getting caught in our hair, the black bucks running along our jeep, we knew we were experiencing the raw Rajasthan! We learnt that Bishnois are considered as the first environmentalists of India. They live in mud houses which are caked with cow dung to make them cooler during the summers. Till date, they live without electricity, and with pride. They make papads and other stuff for a living.
The Bishnoi women are beautiful in their Rajasthani poshaks. They wear beautiful antique jewelry, one of the noticeable ones among them is the moon shaped nose ring that they wear upon getting married. The size varies depending on how long one has been married, so the eldest ones would have real big nose rings. It’s a family tradition they have been living by till date. The bishnoi men are warm and always up for a good conversation.
On our way back from the Bishnoi village, we also visited another village where we got to witness the Opium ceremony. Extremely fascinating I must say! We entered a beautiful old house with blue walls where several men sat down with their big colourful turbans and beedis and introduced us to opium, which is otherwise banned in India, but is a daily ritual in western parts of Rajasthan. It has many medicinal properties. The opium ceremony is performed by the elderly men of the household who grind the dried opium, mix it with some water and then strain and filter it through a funnel. What’s interesting is the way it is consumed. The right way to consume it is not from a spoon or glass, but from another person’s cupped hand, thrice.
It was an enriching experience and we enjoyed every bit of it!
Few of their other signature experiences constitute of Bird watching, Royal picnic and culinary workshops. I hope to enjoy those in my next visit, which is not far, I can sense it!
Staying at Mihirgarh is definitely an experience one cannot afford to miss. If my word isn’t enough, maybe going through the list of awards they have received will change your mind!
It has been called ‘The world’s most extraordinary hotel’ by Lonely Planet. Some other noteable awards conferred on Mihirgarh are ‘The world’s best boutique hotel’ and ‘The world’s best romantic hotel’ by World Boutique Awards; ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Luxury Destination’ and ‘Best Hideaway Hotel Southwest Asia’ by World Luxury Awards. They have won some more awards by Tripadvisor and Tattler.
We had the privilege of staying at another one of their properties, Rohetgarh, which is the Rohet family’s ancestral home, and now, also a heritage hotel, one of the finest in India!
Our suite at Rohetgarh, was a duplex, with beautiful wall paintings, and the best part was the balcony which opened up to the view of the Lake, on the banks of which the property is situated. Sprawling lawns and manicured gardens, which invite a multitude of birds and dancing peacocks, herald your entry into this oasis where the bird song is the only sound you will hear. A superb swimming pool with four charming pavilions entices you for a refreshing dip. Dinners hosted here are often accompanied with an enchanting musical night which will have you clapping, tapping your feet, and ultimately dancing!
We also learnt that we weren’t the only ones finding the tranquility of the property beyond compare. The peace and tranquility of the environs have drawn writers from around the world. Rohet Garh has had the honour of hosting some of the most respected names in the literary world. Bruce Chatwin and William Dalrymple practically lived at Rohet Garh for four to five months working on their respective books, The Song-lines and The City of Djinns.
Morning scenes in the courtyard of Rohetgarh
This trip to Mihirgarh and Rohetgarh was every bit as royal as it seems to be in this article, or maybe even more. We would recommend it to every single soul in the world reading this! It’s not just the place, but the people and the experiences that make it such an unforgettable memory.
The pictures do no justice to the real beauty of the properties. You have to see it to believe it.
Hoping we inspire some of you to take this trip that you know in your hearts you want to do!
Having lived a chunk of my childhood in Kochi, I had been dying to go back to the place, as a traveler this time, to revisit old memories. I must have been only 8 when I lived there, but I still have vivid memories of how the place looked like. The sea, the backwaters, the marine drive. The palm trees and coconut trees lining the roads that had recently seen some drizzling. The winds that brought along the sweet smell of jasmine flowers stationed in the braids and buns of the local women. The Appam and Mutton, the fried pomfret, and the Prawn curry that could make even Vegans salivate. The Chinese fishing nets and the docks with ferries roped together. The hidden beaches where I collected shells of all shapes and sizes, and where I ran along the waves for as long as my legs would carry me. The long walks on the quiet and serene roads, holding papa’s hand, going to the phonebooth to make calls with mom, because mobiles were unheard of back then. Learning Malayam because there was no other option, making the best mallu friends ever. These memories could last a lifetime, sure, but I wanted to go back to the place I fell so madly, deeply and irrevocably in love with! A place that gave me my first beaches, that made me realize I was made for the sea, a place that gave me friends I would go on to write letters to for years after I had moved from Kerala.
And so, I did.
I planned a backpacking trip with the most random people through a social networking site, and I would count this as one of the best decisions I made, for I made the most invaluable memories with such brilliant people, whom I’d now like to call friends 😊
So, this community, called Photographers of India, goes to trips within India every 45 days, and this was my first trip with them. You must reach out to them if you’re looking for a chilled out, no fuss, fun and only fun trip! They shall not disappoint, trust me!
So, I booked my flights and hopped on to an early morning flight to Kochi, to be met with the most awesome people at Zostel, Kochi Fort. Getting down from the aircraft, a wave of nostalgia hit me, as I realized I was finally in Cochin, after a long spell of 17 years!
I, along with a couple of other travelers who had landed around the same time got on to the local bus headed towards Fort Kochi. 1.5 hours later we got to the Zostel.
I was amazed by the way the Zostel had been set up. After having lived in college hostels, this hostel would look like a party to you!
It was very artistic and damn clean!
I met the fellow travelers and was delighted out and out. Each person so different from the other! One, a travel blogger, another one a doctor. One, a photographer, another a fashion designer. We had people from all walks of life almost, and it was indeed wonderful to meet all these kickass people!
I immediately connected with most of the people and we set out to have lunch at this local dhaba like place in Mattancherry. The food was incredible, lovingly served and so modestly priced!! We ate to our heart’s content, went back to the Zostel and chilled out some more before we set out to Marine Drive and Spice Market on the Ferry ride.
The Ferry ride, again, bought back beautiful memories. We reached the Marine drive well in time to behold the sight of a mesmerizing sunset. We binged on some icecreams and faloodas, burgers and chowmein, and then before we knew it, 2 hours had already passed by!
We set out on the ride back to the Zostel to find an amazing surprise awaiting us. We saw, on the terrace, some drums and drummers, in Hope of enchanting us with their trippy music, and enchanted we were! What lay ahead was a night full of amazing live music, lots of dancing, food and drinks, and of course bonds to be created that would go a long way 😊
This was my Kochi trip in short. The next morning we headed out to Allepey, which was again a dreamy, dreamy place. Watch out for the next post to hear about my experiences in Allepey 😊
To random plans- where you just decide, pack & leave.
Well, this is how Pushkar Mela happened:
For me, being from Jaipur (Rajasthan), Pushkar has always been like a stone’s throw away. Not literally, but you get the idea!
Situated 150 kms southwest of Jaipur, it is like the smoothest and the most convenient getaway destination for us.
So, one such Friday night, me and my friend Pratibha finalized our plan and left the next day for Pushkar after finishing our jobs.
We left around 4pm from Jaipur & the next thing you know, we were sipping coffee at the good onsite restaurant of Hotel Radhika Palace right next to the lake.
And oh! how lit was the lake!
Lake Pushkar was said to be created when Brahma dropped a lotus flower there, and it’s the site of the only Brahma Temple in India because his wife Savitri cursed him after he married a local girl, Gaytri, for religious religions.
According to mythology, all the 330 gods and goddesses of Hinduism assembled at Pushkar Lake on the day of Purnima (full moon night) to consecrate the lake. This is how the lake came to be deemed as sacred. This is the reason that at this time during the fair, pilgrims throng in large numbers to take a sacred bath, as it is believed to cleanse sins and possess healing properties.
This Shot is by @banjaaratheindiantraveller
Owing to the suddenness of our plan, we weren’t able to get any rooms in any of the good properties we had been eyeing, it was such a disappointment. But high that ur spirits were, we could stay in a lodge and still be happy to attend the Pushkar fair! 😀
Anyhow, I suggest if you ever plan to visit the Pushkar Camel Fair (which I think you MUST, at least once in your life) and wish to stay in a good property with a good view, get your bookings done way in advance.
Anyways, we then finally stayed in the Hotel Satyam Palace for the night which was quite a decent and peaceful place with slides & swings that can let the kid inside you dance out of joy.
Here’s how- (the hotel morning) OH ME, THE HAPPY KID!
After breakfast, we went off to explore the Pushkar fair and the majorly famous Pushkar market .
The Pushkar Fair, also known as the Pushkar Camel Fair, or Pushkar Mela, is a colorful and vibrant display of unique exhibitions, exciting competitions and fascinating events. This annual camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar between the months of October and November, draws a large number of crowds. Besides, this fair is renowned for being one of the world’s largest cattle fairs. The main purpose of the mela is to serve as a cattle fair, a place where locals from the surrounding towns and villages get their cattle – camels, horses, cows – for trading.
Shot by @banjaaratheindiantraveller
Apart from camels & horses, there are of course giant Ferris wheels.
A mela is incomplete without those fun rides, isn’t it ?
I have a major fear of them rides but my friend took me on that giant wheel and trust me, I prayed to every god I could think of while I was on that ride!
How can something so scary look so beautiful? 😛
The Scary Giant!
View from the top!
About The Pushkar Market :
What could appeal to a girl more than streets lined up with vibrant, colorful clothes and bags and jewelry? Every inch of these streets were wired in hues of brights pinks and reds and yellows, and I couldn’t have loved it better. Talk about seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses- quite literally!
I loved them narrow lanes covered with dream catchers, silver jewellery, bead necklaces, leather bags, traditional clothes, colorful dupattas, fancy umbrellas, printed textiles and what not!!! Clearly, tassels and glasswork ruled the charts.
Being a boho vibes lover, i picked up some antique silver jewelry, along with some rajasthani jutis, and a couple of good old scarfs!
For people outside of Rajasthan, this fair would be a dream come true! You’d find the rich heritage of Rajasthan in all of the beautiful prints being sold!
LOOK HOW –
A hippie foreigner was selling these cool badges!
Buying my fav. *silverjewellery* and yes, the aunties be ogling at my legs!
If only I had more time, I would have shopped like crazy but we had to return back to Jaipur!
But then, it was a fun trip. While in Pushkar, you can also visit the Savitri Temple, Man Mahal, Varaha Temple and the Apteshwar Mahadev Temple. Other attractions around the fair include camel safaris and hot air balloon expeditions for a bird’s eye view of the fair.
Here’s one with my photgrapher & travel partner:
Hope you guys loved reading my blog.
I know I got too late in posting it!
Diksha could have almost killed me had she not been traveling to Kerala.
Yes, I missed being a part of that trip due to my own stupid calculations & regret it the most after hearing all the stories from Diks!
We’ll soon be posting a blog on her backpacking trip to Kerela.