Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being Local - 1

A young monk at Hemis Monastery who was shy enough to pose for a picture. Ultimately agreed to pose for a photo persuaded by his senior in the picture behind.

Since I have been travelling quite a lot and taking pictures of locals, I decided to start a series named 'Being Local', where I can post the different characters who I feel is interesting enough to have a mention.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nirmal - Home for Toy and Art Industry

Nirmal is situated in the Adilabad district of the newly formed state of Telengana.

It is merely 218 kms from Hyderabad and yet there are not many people who knows that Nirmal is famous for Toys and Paintings. Staying in Hyderabad for almost about 7 years now, I recently came to know the specialty and had started growing interest to visit the place - primarily to visit the Toys workshop.

Upon reaching there and talking to various people in the Hotel where we stayed, we came to know that there is a single store accompanied by the workshop. Read from a old Hindu article that after Independence when the artisans were undergoing a bad phase, Government came to their rescue and formed a society called The Nirmal Toys and Arts Industries Cooperative Society Ltd. in 1955.

Visitors come here to purchase but most of these toys are sold in different parts of the country and even exported abroad. This is a small scale industry which has high potential to be popularized. The toys are made up of a unique tender wood called 'Poniki Wood'. The price of the toys also seemed to be moderate enough.



Small Video of the Workshop:


It is sad that the Government has not promoted this place for Tourism. If a single store can make a place famous, it definitely has a lot of potential which can be explored to make this into a large scale industry. There are also other attractions (mainly Waterfalls, sanctuaries, temples etc.) which can be centered from Nirmal.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Long Drive to Bidar from Hyderabad

I was pretty excited as this was the first long drive with my son. Prior to this, I had only gone to Vikarabad which was a mere 70 km from Hyderabad. Bidar, about 115 km from Hyderabad is famous for the historical significance. It was ruled by the Bahmani kings and hence remains of the kingdom still exists here. One of the main attractions being Bidar Fort.

The road to Zaheerabad is moderate, some places it is pretty good while in other places it is not that great. Entry from Zaheerabad to Bidar was closed and hence we had to take the bypass which was not very pleasing though.

Gumbaz Darwaza

Gumbaz Darwaza: The place fort complex could be entered from the city through two main gates on the south eastern side by a zig-zag passage and well protected gateways. The Sharza Darwaza and Gumbaz Darwaza are main entrance gates to palace complex.

 Tarkash Mahal

Entering the fort area, one can see the beautifully decorated garden with Tarkash Mahal and Solah Khamba Mosque. Tarkash Mahal is said to be built for a Turkish wife of one of the Bahmani kings. Entry to the Mahal is now restricted for public.

Solah Khamba Mosque

Solah Khamba Mosque is said to the oldest Islamic building in Bidar and one of the largest mosques in India. As the name states it is derived from the sixteen pillars (or Khamba) in the middle portion of the Prayer Hall. Entry to this is also restricted to the public now.

Old Fort entrance

Diwan-I-am and Diwan-I-Khass are present inside the Old Fort entrance.

Leaving Bidar Fort, other areas of attraction in Bidar includes Jharani Narasimha Cave Temple, Nanak Jhira Sahib, Bahamani Tombs etc

Specialty of Jharani Narasimha Cave Temple is that in order to view the idol of Lord Narasimha, you will have to go through waist deep cave water for about 300 hundred meters.There are lots of stories connected with the temple.

Nanak Jhira Sahib

Nanak Jhira Sahib is a historical Sikh shrine. This is very popular and hundreds of devotees come here every year during Guru Nanak Jayanti. The Gurudwara stands beside a sweet water fountain carrying stories of how Guru Nanak gave relief to the people of Bidar who were suffering from the scarcity of water. A small Amrit–Kund is constructed in white marble and this accumulates the water flowing from this fountain.

Closed Tomb Besides Gurudwara

After spending around an hour or so, we started our way back as it was almost getting dark and also started to drizzle.

Below is a wonderful documentary from Karnataka Tourism about Bidar.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Egg Paneer

Thanks to my wife for this recipe. One day morning she woke up with an idea in mind to prepare something new and ultimately came up with the one below. Believe me or not this tasted wonderful, though the preparation is not very common.

  1. Paneer - 1 Packet
  2. Onion - 1 Big
  3. Tomato Ketchup
  4. Corn Flour - 3-4 tb Spoon
  5. Egg 2 pc.
  6. Black Pepper
  7. Jeera Dust
  8. Ginger Garlic paste
  9. Turmeric
  10. Salt 
  11. Sugar
  12. Sunflower Oil
  1. Finely chop the Onion.
  2. Pour small amount of oil and fry with chopped onions with a spoon of sugar.
  3. Add Tomato Ketchup once the onions are fried.
  4. Add small portion of Ginger Garlic paste, Turmeric and Jeera Dust. 
  5. Stir and fry for some time in low heat till it becomes sticky.
  6. Pour the Gravy in another vessel.
  7. Cut the Paneer into small pieces.
  8. Crack 2 eggs on top.
  9. Add 3-4 Tablespoon Corn flour to the mix.
  10. Add Black pepper and Salt according to your taste.
  11. Stir it and mix it thoroughly.
  12. Pour Sunflower Oil in a Non-Sticky Pan and add the Paneer mix.
  13. Fry it for around 5 mins. Constantly stir to avoid sticking.
  14. Pour the Gravy on top of the cooked Paneer.
  15. Pour 1 cup water and boil it for around 2 mins in medium heat.
And your Egg Paneer is ready. You can serve it with both Rice or Rooti.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tajpur - An alternative to Digha

Courtesy Sourav, everyone knows that Dada (Short form 'Da') in bengali means elder brother. But have you heard about the acronym DiPuDa. No, you will not get that in any dictionary. This is common among travel freak Bengali's. Digha, Puri and Darjeeling (acronymed as DiPuDa) are 3 famous and most visited destination among any bengalis for a short break. Digha being the most nearest beach is always an attraction. Due to rush of the mass, it always remains crowded. Loners and peace lovers started searching for other serene beaches nearby.

Tajpur, around 170 kms from Kolkata and about 13 kms from Digha is a serene beach with its unspoiled beauty of nature. This is also the land of red crabs. With few beach huts offering fresh sea food, Tajpur Beach does not have much for the fancy tourists.

Pic Story follows...

Early Morning on the way to Tajpur

The Serene Beach

Mandarmani Beach from Tajpur

The Waves

And Again

Pani Pani Stall in Digha

There are few resorts near to the beach like Sabuj Saikat, Tajpur Beach Resort, Palm Village Resort, Blue Lagoon, Tajpur Nature Camp etc. I stayed in Sabuj Saikat and would recommend this. Nice and peaceful atmosphere with funky LED lighting during the night. They will offer you a food package 500 Rs (Inclusive of Lunch, Evening snacks, Dinner and Breakfast) which will taste as if it is a home cooked food. Evening snacks of Chicken Pakoda and French Fries with Tea in a wonderful lit garden was just awesome and needed for a serene place like Tajpur.

If you are willing to visit this place, it is preferable to bring your own vehicle as this is far from the highway and communication to this place would be difficult in case you want to visit nearby beaches like Digha or Mandarmani.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is Summer Really Fun?

National Geographic March issue was themed as "Summer is Fun". But question is Is Summer Really Fun?

I kind of do not agree with the entire theme due to the Scorching Heat and disturbing Sweat. The entire fun of travelling places is ruined by the heat waves and makes one feel tired more than they are supposed to be. But when it comes to taking a break in the Hills or going to a calm and quite area relaxing in the Pool and doing nothing it is great.

Even if you are not feeling like travelling to places over a weekend, spending the entire day in the Resorts makes more sense than staying at home with lots of power cuts. Resorts are a good business during the Summer and offer attractive packages as well to attract the crowd.

My Favorite obviously would be the Pool with all the water-slides and Rain Dance. Of the entire lot present in Hyderabad, I favour Alankrita due to eco-friendly environment with lots of shade to get relief from the heat and the multi-cusine restaurants. One can have a refreshing Aurvedic Kerala message. Resorts like Leonia or Pragati offer a variety of watersports as well.

Wave Pool at Mount Opera

India being a country with diverse climates, has places where weather is pleasant even in the summers. Those become the top destination for travelers during this time of the year. Kashmir being one of the most common places. I would say Sikkim comes next in the list. There are other places like Arunachal Pradesh and places of Uttarakhand etc as well.

Me @ Kardungla Pass
Overall, I would say "Summer is Fun" statement is situation. What do you think?

Please feel free to post your views.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Barbecuing in Hyderabad

Have been to several Barbecues in Hyderabad like Bar-B-Q Nation, 36 Chhattees, Sigree, Sizzling Grillz, The Great Indian Kabab factory etc, but after I visited AB's - Absolute Barbecues, I can definitely say that this is the best in the lot.

Thankfully I was on time to avoid the rush and got a direct entry with no waitlist. :) The staff provided me with a sofa near the corner of the floor and explained the different varieties. Observed that there were quite a few new items which was different from other places. There was a WISH GRILL which offered different varieties of meat like Quail, Rabbit, Emu, Octopus etc. You can have this cooked as per your wish and hence the term. We preferred to keep the Wish grill for our next visit and went ahead with the rest of the stuff.

Among the veg starters, I liked the Mexican Grilled Veg the most, followed by American Cheesy Potato. Singapuri Tangdi was good but a bit spicy. Hotel staff informed us that normally the food is medium spicy and if we wish we can order for less spicy ones as well. They were kind enough to offer my wife another less spicy piece. My favorite in Non-Veg was the Grilled Fish.

Had lots of Prawn and Hariyali Chicken as well, but frankly I did not like the Hariyali chicken that much compared to the other items. I would rather suggest the authorities to have a different variety of chicken instead, but that is again my personal opinion.

For Spice lovers, there is AWESOME TWOSOME - Spicy Chilli and Garlic sauce which you can spray over the baked prawns or chicken to spice up your taste with lots of ufff... and aaahs...

After the starters, we were so full that we did not head towards the main course. I took a little bit of soup while my wife choose to refrain from that too. There is a live ice-cream counter which serves with you custom mix. Among the sweets I love Firni the most. There was another item called Indrani which is uncommon in the lot. There were also a variety of truffles along with Gulab Jamun.

There is a bar counter at the corner though we restricted ourselves with the complimentary mocktails. We ordered for Aam Paana but the staff mentioned that this is not that good. They suggested to the other choices. We went ahead with Virgin Mojito and another drink (don't recollect the name). Pint Beer is also served as complimentary drink.

Loved the table decors too especially the quotes on the paper mats.

With the wish to taste the WISH GRILL signing off for now...
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