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A Travel Blog from India: January 2015

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Bye to "Journeys 2 Remember" & welcome to "Travel Twosome"

The time has finally come to bid good bye to blogspot. It has been three years since we started sharing our experiences and it has been an amazing journey so far. 

We realised that it will help us to move into our own domain. We started looking for the domain name and finally settled for "Travel Twosome" as "Journeys2remember" was not available. We travel together and this name was apt.

The efforts of last few months have paid off and we feel that we have a good website to work on....

Here is how the new website looks........

We have made the website "Photogenic":-) .........and more reader friendly.

We stop posting in "Journeys2Remember"and all future sharing of our experience will be in "Travel Twosome".

We thank you all for supported all these days and we expect the same patronage as we move in the new direction and continue journeying with us........


Sunday, 18 January 2015

12 Food Streets in India you should explore!

We all love to eat. As travellers we always love to explore local cuisine. Whether it is "Benne Dose in Davanagere" or Poha Jalebi in Bhopal or Momos in Mirik or Kashmiri Chai in Kashmir it has always been a gourmet experience for us. In fact we have gone in search of well known and iconic places wherever we have travelled. While some cities have some lovely stand alone restaurants, others do have streets lined with fabulous eating joints. When we started listing the "food streets" we surprised at the list. We present below the food streets you should not miss while travelling in India. 

1. Bengaluru - VV Puram, Mosque road, Avenue road and Church street

A typical menu in food Street
Naturally we are starting with Bengaluru, our home town. The city is a gourmet's paradise. We can easily identify food streets in three places - VV Puram, Mosque road, Church street and Nagarthpet/Avenue road. Go to food street in VV Puram for all types of South Indian food - Akki rotti (Rice roti), Idlis, Dosas - many varieties, Mandakki, Dabeli etc etc. Mosque road and surroundings is for you if you are looking for Non vegetarian food. Start with iconic Albert bakery for Kheema puffs and explore for Biryanis, Goshts, rolls etc This place is a must visit for non vegetarian lovers especially during Ramadan month. The Avenue road/Nagarthpet opens up in the evening. Savour the dosas and Idlis and other south India snacks. Lastly, Church street is for all those who yearn for continental stuff. Look out for rolls, coffee shop, dough nuts and ofcourse sip the authentic coffee in India coffee house!

2. Mumbai - Muhammad Ali road
Malpuas in Suleiman
This is a meat eater's delight. Start from Minara Masjid and enjoy the culinary delights as you explore the stalls on the street. The variety of kebabs, barbecues, curries is overwhelming. My Bambayya friend who is a hardcore non vegetarian says that he has to visit this place once a week, if not more! Being veggies we go by his experience. If brave enough, cross over to Bhendi Bazar for Bara Handi. End the meal with Firni and Malpuas from Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala.

3. Kolkata - Gol Park

A spread @ Mouchak
The Two KMs stretch from Gol Park to Dhakuria bridge is a paradise of Kathi rolls. But you will also get a taste of Kolkata biryani. Veggies can take a heart too. Mouchak serves Puri - Sabjee and Hing Kachoris, and of course Sondesh. Savour Pucchkas at small stalls of Pushkwalas near dhakuria bridge. What about fish? Yes, Benfish, the Bengal Fisheries department parks its van outside Dakshinapan serving mouth watering fish fingers etc.

4. Delhi - Paranthawale Galli

Parathas under preparation
Your trip to Delhi will not be complete without visiting the streets of Old Delhi. Crispy Parotas from Pandit Kanhaiyalal Dixit, hot jalebis from "Old and Famous jalebiwala", Golgappas from Balaji chaats, Kachoris, Biryani and muglai dishes around Jumma Masjid area in Bakra, Jawahar Hotel, Rabri-Falooda from Gianji's. You will be spoilt for choice.

5. Indore - Sarafa Bazar

Joshi's Dahi vada stall
Sarafa bazar is equivalent of Chartori Galli of Bhopal. A mecca for vegetarians. Dahi vada and Butta Khees at Joshi's, Chats at Vijay Chat. For more details check out this post in this blog.

Food streets of Indore

6. Bhopal - Chartori Galli

Kebab buns @ Chartori Galli
A narrow lane in Ibrahimpura in Bhopal. This is street food in true sense. A food street rich in Bhopali Mughlai flavours. A mecca for meat and fish lovers. Marinated meats & fishes are displayed in front of you & are made on request right in front of you. There is almost nothing that is made & stored. This is also the place to savour the famous "Kebab bun" of Bhopal. For vegetarians, you have samosas and heavenly Suleimani Chai!

7. Lucknow - Chowk and Aminabad

Kebabs @ Chowk
Chowk in Lucknow is a foodie's paradise, mostly non vegetarian. You start with delicate Gilouti Kebabs in iconic Tundey's and follow it up with Kakori Kebab of Aslam and wash it with Raja ki Thandai! Vegetarians may not get disappointed. You have Dixit Chaats for lovely snacks. Starters done, for Biryani head to Aminabad. Better pick up an auto rickshaw to Wahid ki Biryani. Chowk can consume your entire day, of course—beginning before breakfast with ‘makkhan’ and ending long after dinner with paan and Kashmiri chai. You can also check out Kulcha and Nihari in Rahim's. End it with tasty Kulfi in Prakash Kulfi. Thanks to my friends in Lucknow who helped me with this list.

8. Varanasi - Around Vishwanath temple

Baba thandai shop
The serpentine lanes of Varanasi around Vishvanath temple is a treasure trove of vegetarian delicacies. Savour Poori made in Desi ghee and Chole in Ram Bhandar, Drink lassi in Blue Lassi corner, savour the crispy samosa and malpuas in Raj Bandhu, Tikki Chole at Dina Chaat, Crispy Kachoris in Kachori galli, in winters try Nimis at Markandeya, bhang laced thandai at Baba Thandai and of course chai in Kullad and famous Banarasi pan at many stalls along the lanes!

9. Amritsar - Old city and Majithia road

Jalebis being prepared in Gurdas Ram
The streets around the Golden temple is where you get some authentic Punjabi dishes. Eat legendary Punjabi vegetarian meal - authentic Maa di Dhal - cooked in desi ghee in "Kesar da Dabha". If you have finished with dhal in Kesar, then head to "Bharawan Dabha" for that out of the world "Baingan da bartha" Once you finish them, wash it with a big glass of Lasssi at Amrisasr lassiwale near Regent cinema. Though the vegetarian joints are closeby and walkable, if you are looking for Amristari fish and Butter chicken then head to Majithia road and Lawrence road. Take an auto rickshaw and head to Surjit Food Plaza on Lawrence road for that authentic Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. To Beera's in Majithia road for Tandoori chicken and then walk down to Makhan Fish for that iconic Amrisari Fish.

10. Ahmedabad - Manek chowk

The fare @ Manek chowk
Like Sarafa Bazar in Indore, this is a vegetarian's paradise. Like Sarafa Bazar, the place which is a throbbing jewellery market during the day transforms into a Food bazar with numerous stalls which are set up in the evening. Savour chaats, Pav Bhaji, vegetarian biryanis. Of course there is a host of desserts starting with hot jalebis to Ice golas to Matka kulfis. Gujarati snacks like Fafda, Farsan and hot Jalebis can be savoured in famous Chandra Vilas. For Matka Kulfi head to Bastirams. 

11. Chennai - Mint street

A sweet and savoury shop in Mint street
We never knew about this till another friend in Chennai mentioned about it. Mint street is where you get best Rajasthani food in Chennai. Rajasthani food in Chennai, of all the places? Yes. This is the street where you can savour Gol gappas and Onion Kachoris in Kakada sweets and Maya chaats, hot and crispy Jalebis in Ajab Sweets, Kulfi at Maharaja Kulfi. Hot Badam milk at and the surprise -Murukku Sandwich at Murugan Sandwich!

12 Pondicherry - French Colony

La Maison Rose
We started with Bengaluru and we will end the list with another favourite of ours. French colony in Pondy is a gourmet and walker's delight. The cuisine here is French, continenetal or Creole. So many restaurants around and easy to walk. This is one place where one can spend days exploring the eateries. Coming to brass-tacks and since all the places are close by here is our list
  • Le Club, Rue Dumas 
  • Satsanga on Labourdanais Street
  • La Terrase on Subbaiah Street 
  • Randezvous
  • La Plancha, Rue Romain Rolland
  • La Maison Rose
  • Umami
  • Cafe Ole
  • Roof top restaurant facing the sea on The Promenade hotel
  • And lastly Appachi, the best Chettinad meals served on Plantain leaves
Incidentally we have been to all these streets except for Chowk in Lucknow, Muhammed Ali in Mumbai and Mint Street in Chennai. There may be still some more like the ones in Darjeeling or Gangtok or Madurai or Mangalore or Pushkar. You are most welcome to add to the list. We would love to explore them.

If you love to explore local food like we do, then you should look at the following posts in this blog.

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Skywatch Friday - A Church with a Garuda Gamba!

During Christmas holidays, we were in Vagamon in Kerala. We stayed in lovely Vanilla County which we had featured in 17 cool options to beat the heat in South India. We arrived for lunch from Kovalam. After a sumptuous Kerala lunch, our genial host Baby Mathew suggested that if we are not tired, we can visit the sunset point near Teekoy at Ellappara. 

We never say no to exploring new things and were game for it. Maju, the right hand man of Mr Mathew accompanies us for the drive to sunset point at Ellapara We leave the home stay and hit the highway. After few kilometres of drive on the highway we take a detour. This is a hill road and sheer climb to the highest point in Mavadi hills. Winding road through plantations and forest take us to the sunset point. We were in time to watch sun go down in the horizon.

As we prepared to leave, we notice the church - where we had parked the car - with a brass pillar in front. It looked like Garuda Gamba or the holy flag post which we normally find in front of Hindu temples in South India. We got curious and went closer to check. Yes, everything was same except for a "Holy cross" on the top of the post! It was unusual and surprise to us. Maju said churches in in Kerala uses such pillars for flag hoisting. 

Interesting indeed. Amalgamation of two religions, two traditions! Isn't this what we call India?

You can also read this post on this blog to know more about "Garuda Gamba"

Postscript - More about unexplored Vagamon in future posts on this blog. Keep tuned.

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Road Trip Vignettes - Jumbo Savari!

Road trips are always like this. You suddenly notice something interesting and get down. It can be anything. A lovely landscape or a small water fall or life in rural india. It gives you the freedom to enjoy the journey at your own pace. Many a time, we have noticed that journeys are more interesting than the actual destination itself. 

We call these as "memorable moments" on the road. When these vignettes are captured on the lens, they remain cherished memories forever. 

We were driving in Kerala in South India during Christmas weekend. We had left Kovalam and were driving towards Vagamon. Few minutes into the highway, we saw this sight. A jumbo in a truck! We had seen cattle, sheep etc being carried in a truck but this was a peculiar sight.

It looked a like a female but a big one. It must be a familiar sight for Keralites when these jumbos are transported from one temple to another. For us it was something unusual. 

The first thought which crossed our mind was whether the Jumbo was really enjoying the savari at all? We will never know! 

For other interesting vignettes of road trips, you may click on the link below.

Have you come across such moments during your trips? Do share it with us.

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

10 Travel resolutions for the New year!

The first week of new year has already gone by. Have you made any travel resolutions for the new year?  Here are some resolutions we would recommend that you add to whatever you have decided so far........

1) Go to a remote place

Verdant valley of Mechuka
Check out for a place where people have not been to. Like Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh, Harihareshwar in Maharashtra, Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradeh, Vagamon in Kerala or Baindoor in Karnataka. You would love the experience of exploring them with no crowd around.

2) Do something interesting

Kayaking in Goa
We all do "sightseeing" when we travel. Why don't you travel this time only to do something interesting. You can trek in Himalayas or Western Ghats. If you love beaches then beach treks are yours. You may also trek on railway track to one of the loveliest of waterfalls. You can ride a wave or go under it to check the lovely world under the ocean. You can join cycling trips or do jeep safaris.........the choice is limitless. But do something new this year. Some posts in this blog to help you plan.

Scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing in india

Five lovely treks in Karnataka!

Four beach treks in Karnataka you should do!

3) Check out history

A stone mantap in Hampi
We know you love beaches. We know you love forests. But why don't you check out our rich heritage. Make a resolution today to visit  at least one UNESCO World Heritage site this year. Whether it is Hampi or Thanajvur or Khajuraho or Agra fort, we will assure you that you will come out mesmerised.

4) Savour new cuisine

Gourmet's paradise!
Why not travel for food once? To Indore to savour Chaats or to Dharwad for its famous peda or to Karaikkudi for Chettinad chicken or Malpua in Pushkar......The diversity in Indian cuisine is astonishing. To make it easier, we will help you with this list.

A checklist for gourmets on travel in India

5) See a tiger!

Tiger in Dudhwa (Photo courtesy - Sameer Pandey)
We mean it. Go in search of Tiger. If you are lucky you will see the big cat. If not, you will comeback rich with experience. Why don't you explore unknown tiger reserves like Bhadra in Karnataka, Nagjhari in Maharashtra or Dudhwa in Uttar Pradesh......

6) Go on a road trip

A rain drenched road in Chikmagalur
Road trips are always fun. We love them. With roads in India getting better, it is time to get out and get some freedom. Drive to experience the monsoon in Western ghats or to savour the breathtaking landscape in Ladakh or explore the heritage sites in south India. You will be spoilt for choice. here are posts in this blog to help you plan.

7) Plan early

Always. It would better you create a travel calender for the year. With every company and government publishing holidays well in advance, it makes sense to plan your holidays in advance.

8) Do it on your own

We never go with an agency for our travel. We do it on our own. There is lot of fun in doing that. Planning is exciting. Try it once. 

9) Plan your trip when others don't!

We had to add this when we heard all our friends were going out in Christmas! We have seen and experienced heavy rush in all the places during the holidays. Try and avoid the public holidays if you can.

10) Read a good travel book

Pick up a Bill Bryson or Paul Theroux or Pico Iyer or the book above. We bet you will not put it down till you finish. Here is a list we love and hopefully it will help you.

A list of great travel books and travel movies!

Would you like to add any more to this list? You are welcome.

We once again wish you all a fabulous 2015! Be safe and keep travelling in 2015!

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Friday, 9 January 2015

Skywatch Friday - A Spectacle called Kalvari Mount!

Kalvari Mount!

We found this place when we were researching and talking to some of our friends while planning the route for 12 Road Trips to experience monsoon in western ghats. We have been to Thekkady but not beyond. In fact we did go to the lovely Idukki dam when were in Thekkady a decade ago. At that time no one mentioned about this beautiful spot.

When we saw the pictures of this place, we were stunned at the beautiful sight! We had seen similar sights in Red Hills, Ooty and in Kavaledurga, Tirthahalli. Thus, when we planned for our year end road trip to another unexplored gem known as Vagamon, it was a given thing that we will be driving to this place.

It was mid day when we reached the place. A narrow steep road - this is a really steep road at 45 degrees - leads you to the top of the hill. We were keeping our fingers crossed and praying that no vehicle come from the opposite direction. After half a KM of well laid concrete road, we were were faltered to deceive. The next one and half KMs is a mud track with many bad patches. Finally when we made it to the top, this is what we saw. Do we need to say that our jaws dropped at this gorgeous view?

We present here the 180 degrees view of this place. Please click on the pictures for enlarged and beautiful views. 

Kalvari Mount, Idukki, Kerala
Panoramic view from Kalveri Mount - Left side
Kalvari Mount, Idukki, Kerala
Panoramic view from Kalveri Mount - Right side

And now.....the 180 degree pan shot taken in iPhone 6 by Brinda........

Kalvari Mount, Idukki, Kerala
Isn't it stunning? These are the backwaters of Idukki dam in Idukki district of Kerala. It is part of Western ghat ranges in South India.

Where is it - This is located on Kattapana - Thodupuzha road. It is 12 KMs from Kattapana. Road condition is excellent. Good signage is there. One can do this as a comfortable day trip from Thekkady clubbing with Idukki dam.

Best time to go - Avoid monsoon unless you are trekking. It will not possible to drive to this place in monsoon unless you have a 4*4 and willing to take enormous risk. We feel it is not worth taking the rink by driving up. If you insist on going in monsoon, then walk. But be prepared for leeches. The best time to go is immediately after monsoon - September - when the hills are still green. 

Caution - The road to the hill top from the highway is very steep and require very good skill of driving in the hills. The road is also narrow. Driving in cars with low ground clearance is risky as the concrete road is only 500 metres after which it is a mud track with very bad patches. It would be better to hire a jeep in Kattapana or at the foot hill.

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Friday, 2 January 2015

Postcards from Tamil Nadu!

Wish you all a very happy and fabulous new year. May 2015 be the best year for you and your family!

We came out for a short road trip to the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. A drive to lovely beaches and hills in these two states. An added attraction was a stay in a Chettinad mansion beautifully restored by two French architects in Kothamangalam near Karaikkudi.

Few pictures from the two lovely states to begin the new year. click on them to see in enlarged size.

A windmill in a picturesque setting near Tamaraikulam 

Saratha Vilas, Chettinad mansion converted into a lovely hotel
Terracota horses near a Ayyanar temple
Panoramic view of boats anchored in Mandapam near Rameshwaram

We will follow up with detailed posts on this drive soon.

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