Top ten countries, which are more affordable to Indians now

Outbound travel from India never looked so interesting with the local currency doing well. It has an impact on flight tickets, hotel prices, local transportation and meals. Basically, it has made travelling to many foreign countries more affordable to Indians in last 12 months. 

 

We donned our analytical hat and did some number crunching to come up with the list of exciting places for Indians and the impact of appreciating INR on your travel budget. Read on, to believe how far rupee will take you now.

 

1.) SOUTH AFRICA ( Local currency ZAR)

Impact :- From the peak of 5.8 INR/ ZAR in last 12 months, it is currently at 5.18, which means discount of 10.7%.

Travel For :- South Africa is a large, diverse and incredibly beautiful country. It varies from the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, with the vast Karoo semi-desert across its heart and one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park, in the northeast. To top it all off, South Africa also has the continent’s best food, best wine, and best service. It is fast displacing many countries and regions as a preferable destination for honeymoon, wildlife enthusiasts, history buffs, culture vultures, foodies, beach bums, outdoor suckers, adrenaline junkies and the list goes on and on.

 

Need more convincing. Read this !

The-Winelands

 


 

2.) CROATIA  ( Local currency HRK)

Impact :- From the peak of 11.08 INR/ HRK in last 12 months, it is currently at 8.87, which means discount of 19.9%.

Travel For :- Croatia is an upcoming destination and no longer a low-key alternative to Spain, Greece or Italy. It caters to beach bums, outdoor suckers, history buffs, adrenaline junkies, foodies, and culture vultures alike.Quite literally, there’s something for everyone!  If you like touring vineyards, dining in artsy cafes, swimming in clear water, trekking in national parks, exploring medieval towns, watching beautiful people, dwelling on history behind city walls, climbing up on forts, sailing in the Adriatic sea, then this is the place for you.

 

Need more convincing. Read this !

Plitvice National Park

 


 

3.) TURKEY  ( Local currency TRY)

Impact :- From the peak of 28.86 INR/ TRY in last 12 months, it is currently at 24.18, which means discount of 16.2%.

Travel For :-  Turkey is a historical land and literally a bridge between East and West. Travel to Turkey for its food, scenery from beaches to mountains and the great city of Istanbul. It  appeals to you like no other city. It is a melting pot of culture, has an extremely rich history and literally lies between two continents. In Turkey, mosques coexist with churches, temples with roman theatres, Classical music concerts with football matches and dervish ceremonies with gypsy festivals. Cruise on Turkish riviera is an experience in itself.

 

Check out this trip to get a flavour of Turkey

Hagia Sophia Istanbul

 


 

4.) NEW ZEALAND ( Local currency NZD)

Impact :- From the peak of 53.05 INR/ NZD in last 12 months, it is currently at 47.18, which means discount of 11.1%.

Travel For :-  Dubbed as the “Adventure capital of the world”, a “place fit for the Queen”, and “heaven for thrill seekers” seem to be synonymous with the beautiful town of Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown is surrounded by the majestic mountain ranges and is nestled on the shore of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. This lakeside settlement packs a punch in the form of world-class wines, excellent accommodations, art galleries, lively cafes and the most extensive bouquet of exhilarating adventure activities.  Just imagine this is just one city. Newzealand is great for outdoor suckers and adrenaline junkies.

 

Check out this trip to get a flavour of New Zealand 

Queenstown

 


 

5.) EUROPE  ( Local currency EURO)

Impact :- From the peak of 84.47 INR/ EUR in last 12 months, it is currently at 65.7, which means discount of 22.2%.

Travel For :-  Euro can take you to Italy, Spain, Greece and other countries which are part of European Union. It gives you lot of options to plan your trip to any famed destination in Europe. Go for island hopping to Greece or a road trip to Spain or a cultural and food trail to Italy. Travel to Iceland for one of the most dramatic natural spectacles on the planet or to Germany for city escape or Christmas markets. Options are plenty.

 

In a mood of a road trip, Check out our recommendations. 

 


 

6.) SWITZERLAND  ( Local currency SWF)

Impact :- From the peak of 72.07 INR/ SWF in last 12 months, it is currently at 63.9, which means discount of 11.3%.

Travel For :-  Nestled between Germany, Austria, France and Italy, Switzerland has the best of all worlds. Add to it a heavy dose of chocolate, cowbells, serious shopping, major music festivals, fabulous art collections, palace hotels, state-of-the-art spas, and some of the finest gastronomy in the world.  Switzerland is all about epic journeys and sublime experiences.  You can take cheesemaking classes or stroll around the villages or ride a cogwheel train, take a ski or snowboarding lessons or just relax in one of the natural thermal spas. No matter how many times you have been to Switzerland, it never disappoints you.

 

Switzerland- Beauty all around

 


 

7.) AUSTRALIA  ( Local currency AUD)

Impact :- From the peak of 72.07 INR/ AND in last 12 months, it is currently at 63.9, which means discount of 11.3%.

Travel For :-  Australia is stunning, naturally beautiful and  a land of fascinating native creatures such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats. It has the idlest cities in the world read Melbourne, Sydney, extraordinary gourmet/wine scene and a great party/barbecue culture on the beach. You will experience a new laid back attitude to life. People travel to Australia for The Great Barrier Reef (largest coral reef system in the world),  drive on The Great Ocean Road ( coastal drive), white sandy beaches, Australian outback and lot of adventure activities.

 

Uluru National park

 


 

8.) RUSSIA   (Local currency RBL)

Impact :- From the peak of 1.78 INR/ RBL in last 12 months, it is currently at 1.05, which means discount of 41%.

Travel For :-  Russia is world’s largest country and will appeal to history buff and outdoor sucker alike. Russia is a land of snow and harsh winters, epic train rides and vodka fuelled nightlife, blooming meadows and mighty rivers.Russia has the largest river in Europe, the Volga; the world’s largest lake, the Caspian Sea; the world’s deepest freshwater lake, the Baikal; and Europe’s highest peak, Elbrus. There are countless natural, historical and cultural attractions in Russia. It really is a ‘must see’ destination!

It is a hospitable country with amazingly artistic people.

 

Russia

 


 

9.) INDONESIA  (Local currency IDR)

Impact :- From the peak of .005 INR/ IDR in last 12 months, it is currently at .0047, which means discount of 10.7%.

Travel For :-  Number one reason has to be Bali. It is an exotic cocktail for the body, mind and spirit, with a heady combination of beach (perfect for surfing), verdant rain forests (perfect for wildlife), volcanic mountains (perfect for hiking), rice terraces (perfect for idyllic stroll) and vibrant nightlife (perfect for losing yourself). Indonesia is also home to vast array of indigenous and exotic animals ( read komodo dragons, orangutans). Travel to Indonesia for cool white sands/azure water, untouched land of Sumatra and vibrant capital city of Jakarta. One of the best places to experience Asian Hospitality.

 

If going to Bali, consider staying here. 

 

 


 

10.) BRAZIL   (Local currency BRL)

Impact :- From the peak of 27.54 INR/ BRL in last 12 months, it is currently at 19.34, which means discount of 30%.

Travel For :-  Brazil is more then a beach destination. Favourites are Rio, the Iguaçu Falls, the Amazon river and rainforest of Pantanal. City-hoppers will love Brasilia for its futuristic architecture, São Paulo for some of South America’s finest food, Salvador da Bahia for Afro-Brazilian culture, and Olinda or Ouro Preto for colonial treasures.

 

Brazil-Rio-by-night1

 

 

Share your Airbnb experience and Belong Anywhere !

CONTEST ALERT: Six entries stand chance to win Airbnb vouchers worth Rs 25,000 each!

Happy Tripping brings you another contest to get you current holiday pay for your next in partnership with Airbnb. All you need to do is share your Airbnb experience and you could be one of the six lucky winners who goes off on another holiday. Log your Airbnb experience with photographs taken by you on happy-tripping.com. It can be a weekend getaway, a weeklong escape or an annual vacation. You could have travelled anywhere-across India or even overseas. The only caveat—you need to have stayed at an Airbnb property.

 

Four steps to participate in the contest:

  • Log a trip on happy-tripping.com and publish it by 27th March 2015.
  • Add the hyperlink of the Airbnb property you stayed at.
  • Share it on Twitter and/or Facebook with @Airbnb_in @happytripping
  • Add your referral code while sharing the trip available on the Airbnb Invite friends page . If anybody registers with your referral code , both of you get Rs 1500 credit. Win win situation for all!

There will be six winning entries chosen by the team of Happy Tripping and Airbnb. Each winner will get Airbnb vouchers worth INR 25,000. Judges decision will be final and will be communicated here and on Facebook.

 

How the contest works:

  • 5 prizes will be based on content and inspirational value:

–  WOW factor—does it inspire people to travel?

–  Detailing & research—is it actionable?

  • 1 popular choice prize: Most popular (by the number of likes on happy-tripping.com)
  • The trip can be to any place and for any duration, but has to include an Airbnb stay.
  • Choose any one of our templates—blog or a photo-essay.
  • The contest is open for Indian Residents only.
  • Check out the following examples:

 

Timelines (Subject to change depending on circumstances):

  • 26th February 2015: Contest opens
  • 27th March 2015  : 4th April: Entries close
  • 31st March 2015:  6th April: Winners to be announced

 

Stop dreaming, sign up now and log your trip. And “Belong Anywhere”! 

 

Hint :- Check out the winners of last contest here

 

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Property Review : Taj Exotica, Maldives

Statutory warning :- This place is best suited to those who like their ‘me’ time and are happy doing nothing.

 

Maldives is a postcard perfect destination that beckons every water baby and luxe traveller with its white powdered sand and more luminous cyan-blue water than anywhere else on earth.  It is also distinguished for having the lowest natural highest point, hence the risk of inundation and extinction. Both these factors appeal to tourists like nothing else. 

 

Taj Exotica has undoubtedly become the best place to experience Asian hospitality, with all the major brands having presence in the island. I chose to stay in Taj exotica as it is the brand I love and admire. From “no menu card” breakfast to swing in middle of the sea to the spa therapy, everything has been designed for a discerning traveller, who has done and seen it all. You just can’t complain.

 

CIMG2228

 

THE SETTING

The location is perfect. The water was 83 degrees and the sun did not stop shining. Been so close to Male is fantastic for an easy transfer, but the downside is the plane noise if the winds in the wrong direction. The lagoon is one of the other best features ,you will never be bored of the pristine turquoise waters ! Beach is very well maintained .

We stayed in the over water Lagoon villas ( which is the lowest category ) but it has direct access to the water for swimming and snorkelling and the views are magnificent.

 

Lagoon villa . Source : Tajholidays.com
Lagoon villa . Source : Tajholidays.com

 

 THE SERVICE

From the time we arrived till we left , our every need was anticipated and taken care of . The extra touch of a bulgari hand towel and bottle of evian in the boat sets the mood early on.  We were assigned a personal butler who was quite efficient and resolved whatever issues we had. The butler completed the check in directly in the room and fresh coconut water was waiting for us in our room upon arrival.

 

Brilliant at personal touches –  rose petals, cake, champagne, personal greetings etc, greetings and a smile from all passing staff made the small differences that makes it one of the best resorts in world.

 

Since the resort is spread over a large area the Prompt buggy service with the friendly young driver was a boon. House keeping service was excellent as well . Our room was Cleaned discreetly several times per day. They took the time to learn our names, our preferences and made our stay truly memorable and comfortable .

 

On checkout we were given an album that had the picture taken on arrival as well as goodbye/ thank you note signed by the staff. Even as we were leaving , staff come out to jetty to wave us off..attention to detail to the very end.

 


THE FOOD

For vegetarians with an Indian/Asian palette ,  the culinary experience at the Taj is perfect.

All you can eat a la carte breakfast is truly amazing. We ordered mango lassi, mashed potatoes, dosa, Bhurji pav , pancakes ..all in one meal .The chef went out of his way to accommodate all our demands during breakfast inspite of the a la carte menu being so extensive. A satisfied tummy makes people happy  , Taj knows that very well.

CIMG2292

 

I would recommend having a dinner at the deep end for a really special evening. Complimentary samplers before every meal are so tasty, that there is hardly any room for the main course. With the inventive fare at the deep end, and the asian food at 24 degrees, you could eat here for a couple of weeks and not be bored. Non vegetarians and westerners not to worry. You will have enough and more options!

CIMG2267


 

THE FACILITIES ON OFFER

The spa and gym were great. We tried the Dev Nidra ( sleep like gods) , a couples massage fit for the gods and definitely recommend it. The setting of the spa room is amazing and they time the massage such that after the massage , you can enjoy a drink as the sun goes down in the ocean facing bathtub .

CIMG2216

 

While waiting for the spa , we tried the free Ayurvedic consulting . The doctors are very learned and share basic tips which can enhance your well being . The dive center is superb. I am glad they no longer charge for snorkel gear. It really encourages guests to try their hand at trying to see fish . The property has one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives. This makes for amazingly picturesque views, but there is little coral/reef . But the corals are a short boat ride away and the dive centre organises regular trips ( even if you are the only one , as in my case ) .


 

Other facilities offered :

  • Butler services
  • Room is equipped with Indoor and outdoor bath robes, Slippers and flip flops, Umbrellas , Rain coats,Lovely Molton Brown bathroom products .Nespresso  coffee
  • Water sports selection very vast and includes :
  • Jet skis were great fun and a good way to see the sting rays and sharks close up.
  • Wake boarding was so tranquil, couldn’t have asked for purer water.
  • Ray and shark feeding
  • Beautiful sunsets and sunset cruise available.
  • Venues for romantic dinners, tree top dining and ocean pavilion were a winner with us. Very special and memorable.
  • The complimentary ocean facing morning yoga session.

 


 

WHAT STOLE THE SHOW?

The resort is a quick and luxurious getaway. I love the fact that it is a very relaxed holiday and there is no checklist of sightseeing to do. You can truly relax and be one with nature.

Sunset


 

Now that you are convinced, lets bring you up to speed with the practicalities. Know more about Taj Exotica, Maldives


Getting there 

The property is located on Emboodhu Finolhu Island, in the middle of one of the largest natural lagoons in the world. The resort is only 15 minutes by luxury speedboat, available 24 hours, from Malé International Airport.

 

Hole in your wallet

Expect to pay around $1,000 per night for the lagoon villa.  Secret. Go on 1st April, rates get halved and doesn’t make too much of a difference in terms of weather.

 

Internet / Television

There is a TV in each room and Wi-Fi signal is strong in your rooms and reception. 

 

What else

– Choose the overwater villas. Go for the odd number villas which face away from Male (Villa number 431 is the best and most private).

– Airport is 15 minutes away. We were never bothered by air traffic, but know it exists.

– This is a true beach holiday without much sight seeing activity. Be prepared to relax and participate in water sports.

– Everything is imported and priced accordingly.


The author of this article only profiles properties he has visited and where he would like to go again, without blinking an eye or changing anything about it.  Author paid for himself, during the visit. Any property is reviewed on five parameters, which are:

  • Setting :- The property needs to have its own personality.
  • Service: I like being looked after,  without the staff being intrusive.
  • Food: Has to be sumptuous, even if there are limited options.
  • Facilities: No minimum requirement but should have basic comforts that should add to the character of the place.
  • USP: There has to be one unique quality, which makes it different than the other offerings out there.

HT Interviews: Mickey Desai of Blackbuck Lodge, Velavadar

In our second of the HT Interviews series, we interviewed Mickey Desai of Blackbuck Lodge, Velavadar. This is a luxury lodge set along the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park. When we think wildlife in India we all tend to gravitate towards the big cats, especially the Royal Bengal Tiger. But what about the Blackbucks of India? There are so many long weekends in 2015, maybe this can feature as one of the plans. If you’re wondering what makes this national park special apart from the blackbucks? Quoting from the website: “This is the only tropical grassland in India to be given the status of a national park.”

 

Tell us a little about yourself. 
I did my schooling in St. Xavier’s School and finished my graduation from Gujarat University St. Xavier’s College. I love travelling and go extensively to Africa, almost every year for the last 7-8 years. It’s part work, part holiday. I travel to lodges there to see what works there, and whether it will work here. I make notes, observe. You see the topography is so similar and so are the climatic conditions, it helps me learn and make my offering better.

 

mickey desai
Image Credit: Mickey Desai

 

Tell me something about your childhood, a story, a nugget…
Both my parents have been very keen wildlife enthusiasts therefore since my childhood, along with my two brothers, I’ve been exposed to nature and wildlife. As children we visited the various national parks and therefore developed a passion for being close to nature.

We travelled mostly in India. Once on a fishing trip, I was waist deep in water, fishing calmly. This was near Gir. I didn’t realise there were crocodiles in the river. I spotted him in time and backtracked quickly onto the land, I was a good 8 feet away from the bank so…

 

What made you start the BlackBuck Lodge? Was it always a dream to run a resort or was it something that you chanced upon?
My passion for travel and wildlife has continued and made me start a travel agency, and subsequently lead to me setting up a wildlife resort at a convenient location in Gujarat. By doing this I could not only develop a business enterprise but also create an opportunity to continue my keen interest in wildlife. I visit once in ten days and try to spend weekends there. We have experienced professionals who run it, but need to visit to keep a tight, well-oiled ship!

 

Why a luxury resort?
Gujarat has no lodges that were offering luxury. Everybody just wants to make do, but I believe that after a safari, the guests need to come back to comfort… a nice bedroom, bathroom with running hot and cold water. They need the luxury, they need the perfect ambience and perfect amenities. We go down to the very last detail… like very careful about our linen and we even ensure a fine selection of tea in every room. At the same time, to keep the front-end looking superb we have a well-equipped service area, with efficient laundry machines, dishwashers and sterilisers. We have it all!

 

What made you choose this location… and why the blackbuck?
While scouting for a suitable location for my resort, my choice narrowed down to Lion Park at Gir and Velavadar. Out of these two, I found Gir over-populated with hotels, resorts and lodges. Against that, Velavadar National Park had nothing in the form of a decent hotel or lodge. I belong to Dhandhuka which is located in the Bhal region of Gujarat and my family owns farmland and property there. Dhandhuka is only 50 Kms away from Velavadar, so I decided to set up a resort here.

 

How come you weren’t tempted to set up in a tiger sanctuary? Or was that never an option?
Forget tigers and lions, there is a huge section of people, Indian and international travellers who are keen birders. We have around 375 species of birds at Velevadar, our property is a paradise for birding. There are also many people who are interested in wolfs and hyenas. And there are the blackbucks, we are after all in a blackbuck sanctuary. Increasingly besides tigers and lions, there is a whole lot of wildlife that people are interested in now, which is good.

 

That’s nice. It’s great that people are thinking about wildlife beyond the big cats. Were there ever tigers here? 
Actually there must have been. It is presumed, not proven yet, that around 100 years ago there were tigers in Surat. But don’t see them anymore!

 

What were the roadblocks when you started building this resort? Any interesting stories/challenges about setting this up?
When I bought land at Velavadar this area was totally barren, farming was difficult which resulted in villages in and around Velavadar being very backward and farmers remained marginal. It was also difficult to find a building contractor to take up our construction work because the location was isolated and without basic facility. I persevered and got the job going. At this stage, the Government of Gujarat encouraged and helped us a great deal. I could successfully complete and commission my project because good support from Dist. Collectors’ Office in Bhavanagar, and various other departments. Finally I am thankful to the Almighty that I have been able to set up this luxury wildlife resort in a backward area of Gujarat and put Velavadar and Blackbuck on the international map.

 

Now, tell me about your most interesting guests… something they did or said… they could be your favourite or they could be guests who still give you nightmares…
Since starting operations, we have had very well travelled and Internationally acclaimed wildlife experts who has stayed in the best safari lodges in the World. We have had excellent reviews from these guests and it’s a matter of great satisfaction that they have compared our resort with some of the top lodges in Africa.

Though once we did have a guest from England who said this is perfect lion territory after a morning safari and asked, “Can we see lions in the evening?” I had to explain that the only places to see lions in the world are Africa and Gir.

Mr. Amitabh Bachchan was our honoured guest for three nights in the beginning of 2014 and he tweeted: “The Blackbuck Lodge at Velavadar is indeed a sanctuary for tourist”

 

What advice would you give to future guests? When to come, what to expect etc?
Our cottages, dining area and library are very comfortable and air conditioned. Guests coming in during winter can have safari rides for the whole day. In winter, there is a huge congregation of the Harrier birds. Those arriving during summer can do safaris early morning and late evening. In summers, the mornings and evenings are pleasant. During monsoon the whole area becomes lush green with Jhinjhva grass. This is the time of year when the very rare Lesser Floricans visit Velavadar and it is a pleasure to watch these birds jump out of the green grass.

We have walking safaris which are a big hit. These are within the property and outside too with experienced naturalists.

 

I understand that all seasons have their speciality but what would the best season? Or what is your favourite season?
Monsoons are a great time. Mid-August is when the landscape changes completely. The parks are closed but the Lesser Floricans are here and they are very rare birds. We have 150 acres within the property that is left wild and natural, so the Floricans are all around in our property itself. You don’t have to walk too far to see them.

 

What about sustainability and being eco-friendly… given your location it is crucial. How do you address that?  
Yes, we are always trying to be environmentally friendly and it comes at a huge cost. We use only biodegradable detergents. Our manure is all organic: cow dung, cow urine, neem oil, tobacco dust. We strip down the packaging of products in the city itself and then bring them here. All unused items, plastics, bottles, etc are sent to the city every fortnight. We have two to three composting pits and we grow our own vegetables. Guests can go choose the vegetable they wish to eat and a dish will be cooked with that!

 

Talking about food, it’s our pet topic. Any speciality dishes that your chef is known for? 
In non-vegetarian definitely try the Roast Chicken with brown sauce. For vegetarians the chef makes a good lasagna or pasta. We also serve the traditional Kathiyawadi cuisine from this region. We have our own bakery and bake our own breads–banana bread, whole wheat bread and muffins, etc.

 

So what next? For you? For your resort?
I have plans to start a resort 40Kms from Udaipur on way to Kumbhalgarh. Land has already been purchased at what I think is an interesting location. I also plan to set up a resort in the Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Looking at creating a high-end luxury resort, cost around Rs. 25000-30000 per night.

 

And parting words?
If you’re game, so are we!

 

For more details check out The Blackbuck Lodge.

 

blackbuck collage
Image Credit: Dhritiman Mukherjee, Melwyn Patel, Blackbuck Lodge

 

 

 

The Best Restaurants in Goa (Curated by Homestay Hosts)

It’s the fag end of season in Goa, but before the ‘lovely beaches and soft sand’ holidays evaporate into the blistering heat we thought we’d put together a list of best restaurants in Goa. There are so many options and it’s tough to find the best, especially when you just have a weekend to satiate your eager tongue… it can be a confusing decision. Presenting our list of the Best Restaurants in Goa. This is not just any other list. It’s ‘different’! This list has been specially put together by the hosts of our favourite homestays–they are locals from Goa, and should know it best! If you are headed to Goa, stay at one of these homestays and definitely check out their recommendations for food. Happy chomping folks!

 

Olaulim Backyards

Image Credit: Olaulim Backyards
Image Credit: Olaulim Backyards

 

Q. Tell us a little about the homestay that you run.
Olaulim Backyards is  a small homestay with four eco-friendly cottages situated in a quiet Goan village away from the busy coastal area. We have a large water body called Manos in front of our property where we go kayaking, canoeing and fishing; it is also lovely to swim in it. Besides this, one can cycle around, go for nature/ village walks, bird-watching walks and we have also a swimming pool.

 

Q. What are the best places you would recommend for local Goan food either around your homestay or anywhere in Goa?
We offer authentic home cooked Goan food, besides us one can have a lovely meal at a small local restaurant called Bao in Aldona, also Viva Panjim serves excellent Goan food in Fontainhas. In Bao, I would have fish thali, served at lunch time…

 

Q. What are the best places for global cuisine? (not Indian or Italian)
Authentic Italian cuisine in peaceful beautiful location: Oltremarino in Ozram (Little Vagator), Thai cuisine: Thai n Wok in Panjim near Marriott, Japanese: Sakana in Vagator.

 

Q. Any unique restaurant that you’ve come across?
Unique places would be the homes of my friends: nothing like home cooked food!

 

Q. What would you suggest for vegetarians when they visit Goa?
For vegetarians I would suggest Venite in Fontainhas, they have quite many good veg option, also Black Sheep Bistro in Panjim, but please note that are not exclusively vegetarian restaurants.

 

Q. We, at Happy Tripping, have a sweet tooth… so the best place to end a meal, the place with the best dessert!
The best dessert you would get in Chocolatti in Candolim.

 

Capella

Image Credit: bhavani
Image Credit: bhavani

 

Q. Tell us a little about the homestay that you run…
Capella Homestay, North Goa is a boutique guesthouse situated on a forested hill in the sleepy village of Parra. Our homestay offers visitors the opportunity of experiencing life with a local family, but with the privacy and level of comfort afforded by the best boutique hotels. It’s a great choice for birdwatchers, nature lovers and anyone looking for a relaxed holiday in tranquil surroundings, yet quite close to the happening beaches in North Goa.

 

Q. What are the best places you would recommend for local Goan food either around your homestay or anywhere in Goa?
The best place is a small family-run restaurant in Nerul called Bhatti VillageIt’s run by Merciana and Patrick D’Souza and is actually set in their house. Recently it’s become very popular. You get Catholic Goan food here, but not much choice for vegetarians. I would recommend the pork roast, sorpotel… or anything. Everything is good.

 

Q. What are the best places for global cuisine?
Bomras is eclectic Burmese… the chef’s twist on Burmese. It’s really different. Sublime is great food that is a mix of Continental, Asian, Lebanese… truly global. Chris (the chef) is just very talented!
Ciao Bella in Assagao, sweet little Italian restaurants. Gunpowder in Assagao for appams and all… Lots of choice for vegetarians too. All Kerala food.

 

Q. Any unique restaurant that you’ve come across? 
At Go with the Flow you climb up a tower and then have a meal overlooking the sea. It’s the best location for a meal.

 

Q. What would you suggest for vegetarians when they visit Goa?
For Hindu vegetarian, the best place is Mum’s KitchenSaraswat Brahmin vegetarian fare.

 

Q. And the best place to end a meal, the place with the best dessert!
Hmmm… Oh yes, the best place is this small little ice-cream shop run by an Italian–it has the best gelato in Goa. CreamChoc Gelato Italiano, opposite the Lady of Health Church in Anjuna… It’s really new so it might not even be on Facebook.

 

 

Vivenda Dos Palhacos

IMG_0941
Image Credit: bhavani

Q. Tell us a little about the homestay that you run.
My sister Charlotte and I (Simon) run Vivenda Dos Palhacos, which is an eight room boutique heritage homestay in Majorda, South Goa. About one Km inland from Goa’s longest and best beach. We were amazingly lucky to be voted one of the top 100 hotels in the world by Tatler UK the other year.

 

Q. What are the best places you would recommend for local Goan food either around your homestay or anywhere in Goa?
The one and only Zeebop By The Sea in Utorda. It is 5 mins away and I must go there three times a week. I never get bored of the food or the view. The staff are excellent too and my treat is a Tandoori King Crab.

 

Q. What are the best places for global cuisine?
The Italian Sunday Brunch at the Park Hyatt is excellent otherwise I have to go up North to my two favourite restaurants: Go with the Flow on Baga Beach and Bomras in Candolim.

 

Q. Any unique restaurant that you’ve come across?
I have been meaning to try Le Roi Arthur near Mapsa-run by a French Couple in their house which needs to be booked in advance.
And… the best place to end a meal, the place with the best dessert!
Our own Chocolate Samosas at Vivenda Dos Palhacos always go down very well!

 

 

The debate about where to eat may have just gotten tougher, or you might see this as helping you make your choices. Either ways with around 17 restaurants and cafes to choose from, you’ll be licking your fingers for a long time! Bon Appetit!


 

Have a story-

 

Top 5 Drives Out of Mumbai

Road trips always make the journey the hero and not the destination. Often, as we zip from one location to another we miss sinking into the entire flavour of the place, we are still jet-lagged for our city when the trip is already done. When you drive, take a train, or trek, you slow down the journey. You let the new city creep up on you, slowly, right before your eyes. And you can drink it in with all your senses. Winter is here, the skies are clear and afternoon sun not as harsh. This is the best time to head out on that long drive. If you live in Mumbai, then heading out of the city is all about finally using the 4th gear, and getting your foot of the clutch!

Here are some of my favourite drives out of Mumbai. 

 

Mumbai to Nasik (Click on the drive heading for the Google Map)
This is one of the best drives not only because of the smooth road, but also thanks to the changing landscape. You go from baobab trees of concrete to relatively open greens with trees lined all the way to the highway and then, before you realise it, the landscape changes. From a denser cover that we are used to outside the cities and towns, if not for farms, it turns into grassy meadows, undulating hills and the landscape announces ‘wine country’ in the most spectacular way. There are no trees or few trees close to the highway and you look far into the distance and see mountains, pastures and herds of cows and sheep grazing. This change in the natural vegetation always amazes me, and I stick to the window to try and notice when exactly it happens.

 

Every wicket fence like this makes me think of another country, it just doesn't feel like the india i know!
Every wicket fence like this makes me think of another country, it just doesn’t feel like the india i know!

 

Mumbai to Bordi
A few months ago my husband and I took off on an impromptu holiday–Bordi it was! We weren’t sure how this road would be but we needn’t have worried. it is a quality road, lined with a sea of green, hills, valleys and tiny streams bubbling down the hills. There are many signboards that invite you to check out heritage forts on the way– one of them being the Vasai fort, to some others whose names i cannot remember! The road from Dahanu to Bordi is by the sea. It doesn’t have the pomp of the ECR (Chennai to Pondicherry) but it has this simple beauty about it that can never be underestimated. You’ll see a typical Konkan coastal scene, with empty beaches and endless stretches of sand, grey skies and that even greyer Arabian Sea.

 

the road by the beach dahanu to bordi
The road by the beach from Dahanu to Bordi

 

Pit Stop: Kamat’s comes up a good hour into the highway and that can be quite a long wait if you have a hungry tummy, but their misal pav is really good… If you go on a long weekend beware, the crowds are crazy here. If you don’t know what misal pav is then read about it here.

 

Mumbai to Goa
This is a notorious highway. It has blind bends, people speeding and a lot of accidents. You can choose to drive down at one stretch and reach Goa in 12 – 14 hours, depending on the traffic. Or take pitstops on the way and break the journey. I have done with thrice, with pit-stops every time. Why? Less strain and you let the experience linger… it’s not one fast dash down to Goa but a slow and leisurely drive with you stopping to smell the roses on the way… Oh and the roses are just some more pristine beaches, lovely sunsets, soft sand .. .. .. fill in those blanks!

 

I’ve always returned to Mumbai via Kolhapur and that is also a great way to get back, though its mostly an expressway… which tends to be rather sterile in experience. But you also get to drive by the still-lovely Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

 

as we lingered longer, we stayed close to this gorgeous beach...
As we lingered longer, we stayed close to this gorgeous beach and there were many like this as we drove to Goa.

 

Mumbai to Karnala Fort (Panvel)
If you aren’t up to the entire stretch all the way to Goa then get a sampler on this drive. It manages to mix a trek with a drive…  the best of both worlds did someone just say?

 

IMG_8129
Highways and roadsigns- a jodi made in heaven. Every highway I’ve passed has a sign that had me in splits. This one definitely takes the cake! “No Horne Please”

 

Mumbai to Alibaug & Kashid
You start off with the Goa route, and then turn away and go towards Alibaug. This might be a longer drive than taking the ferry to Alibaug but it’s a peaceful road. It is almost as if the minute get out of the traffic of Mumbai the road settles down, and the holiday begins. You meander along with gentle turns, smooth tar surfaces and savour your way into Alibaug or rather Kashid (who stays at Alibaug anymore!)

 

the light at the end of the tunnel is always home!
I’ve always loved coming back to Mumbai from Pune. The light at the end of the tunnel is home!

 

The Mumbai to Malshej Ghat drive is one I have heard a lot about, but not really done this. It’s on my list and I hope to drive down that road very soon! 2015 is the year of long weekends, so make that plan, get a great play-list together and take those wheels for a spin on the next long weekend. You’ll discover more about yourself and the road. It’s calling out to you!

 


 

Have a story-

 


First Published at merrytogoaround.com

All Images: Bhavani

 

Of Losses Restored–A Story from Rwanda

Five months pregnant with her second child, Rehema held her toddler first born still, careful not to move, breathe, show any form of life as they lay amongst dead bodies. That morning the killers had struck Rehema’s village, her husband had been dragged out and killed. Paralysed with fear, Rehema held Asma close, lest they be found, tortured and killed too.

 

Alpanadi, my sister-in-law, begun to tell me Rehema’s story just a few minutes ago, when amused that Rehema, her Rwandan cook, had made Bengali styled moong dal, shukto and payesh, I’d exclaimed, “Really? You taught her all that?”

 

Alpanadi shook her head, “No, my mother-in-law taught her all the Bengali recipes. Rehema has been with us since the time we came to Rwanda—both as our cook and house-keeper.” With that she started to tell me about Rehema’s life…

 

 

Hutus’ hatred against the Tutsis brimmed over in April 1994 and they tore upon the minority tribes likes beasts, bringing about one of history’s worst genocide. Tutsis had been killed like flies…their women and children raped and tortured in ghastly ways. After her husband was killed before her eyes, Rehema had clung to her daughter and played dead. They had not been found and thus, almost miraculously, Rehema escaped the brutalities of that 1994 summer with both her daughters, one a toddler, and the other, yet to be born.

 

When my sister-in-law and her family moved to Rwanda in 1995, somebody recommended Rehema to them for household chores. That’s how she entered their lives and has been with them ever since. As the country limped back to normalcy, so did she. Asma was enrolled into a government school and was proving to be a bright child, topping her class year after year. But, the excessive brutalities she’d witnessed as a toddler in 1994 had left their imprint on her–doctors said, she had a weak heart. In 2002, Asma attended a Gacaca court hearing of the genocide cases and she came face-to-face with her father’s killer. The man admitted to the judge that he was responsible for her father’s death and that proved to be too much for her already weak heart and within a day Asma succumbed. Rehema lost one more family member and relived the harsh brutalities of 1994. She was left with only her 8 year-old Asiya, her second born. Almost every home in Rwanda has such heart-wrenching tales of how the 1994 atrocities changed their lives.

 

Kigali Genocide Memorial
Images from the Kigali Genocide Memorial. An all-inclusive effort, involving people across age-groups, communities for continued peace in Rwanda; a stained glass at the Kigali Genocide Memorial depicting the genocide horrors Image Credit: Deepa Dutta Chaudhuri

 

 

The previous morning my husband and I had gone for a run and found, to our pleasant surprise, that the streets of Kigali did not have any stray/street dogs. A remarkable difference from India, we’d mentioned this to our cousins. The reason was far from what we expected. After the genocide, thousands of dogs, rendered homeless during the massacre and unable to find food, had slowly turned man-eaters. They had started scavenging on the dead bodies they found lying around. That meant all the street dogs had to be killed. It was a chilling truth, one that drove home the point that every corner of Rwanda echoed its brutal past.

 

Yet, as we went around Kigali and even outside it, there were unmistakable signs of resurrection, rebuilding. Rwanda, a nation that had been battered only 20 years ago, seemed determined to leave its traumatic past behind and walk toward a brighter horizon. We saw schools, public utilities, government-built market places, good roads, reliable infrastructure, fertile fields, children frolicking around… we saw people going about their everyday business with their beautiful smiles. Rwanda had struggled to make peace with its past, but today, is surging forward with an eye only on the future. Mithi, our niece, told us that Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the third easiest economy to do business in. A large number of women are the driving force in rebuilding the country. And education is compulsory.

 

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Kigali a far cry from the horrors that took place 20 years ago. Today it carries the nation’s dreams on its shoulders. Image Credit: Deepa Dutta Chaudhuri

 

As I sat at the breakfast table that morning pondering over Alpanadi’s account of Rehema’s and Rwanda’s intertwined journey, I could hear the clanging of utensils in the kitchen, the ladles in the pans—the sounds of Rehema at her daily chores. Rehema hurried into the dining room to take away our empty breakfast plates. I stared at her, almost searching, for some answer. Did she live with her pain every day? She saw me looking and smiled at me—an innocent, sincere African smile that warms your heart. I tried smiling too, but looked away as tears started welling in my eyes.

 

As if to read my thoughts, Alpanadi told me, “Asiya, Rehema’s younger daughter, is pursuing her Masters in Social Sciences currently. She wants to join the administration once she completes her course.”

 

I nodded, and smiled back at her… finally, Rehema’s past had been relegated to where it belonged, the past.

Rehema today more than 20 years after her life changed forever!
Rehema today, more than 20 years after her life changed forever!

 


 

How to get Happy Tripping to Rwanda! 

 

Best time to go to Volcanoes National Park: Dry months of Dec-Jan & June-Sept

 

Getting There:
a) By Air: Fly down to Kigali International Airport, and drive from Kigali to Virunga
b) By Road: Kigali to Virunga is about 180 kms and is about a 3 hour drive
c) By Train: No train services

 

Permits for Gorilla Safari:
Book your permit at the RDB Tourism & Conservation Reservation Office via email to reservation@rwandatourism.com; or via phone 252576514

 

HT. Do. Not. Miss.
To go for the Gorilla safari at the Volcanoes National Park, trekking the Virunga Mountains. The safari includes a trek through the lush mountain slopes of the Virugna volcanoes and past thick bamboo forest that house the mountain gorillas. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

P.S. Do not forget to take your Polio and Yellow Fever Vaccinations one month prior to your Rwanda travel!

 


 

Have a story-

 

 


 

Deepa & Jayanta

 

 

 

 

 

Deepa Dutta Chaudhuri
Writer, blogger and one half of the warring couple of Wheels on Our Feet. And a newbie marathon runner!

Books on Mumbai: City Adrift by Naresh Fernandes

Second Take — Mumbai

 

Mumbai is a great leveller. Mostly because of a singular ability to uniformly sandpaper its residents down with commuting, grime and pollution till they are just automatons marching from work to home, unseeing and in a last ditch effort at preservation of sanity, unfeeling. But despite having become part-automaton in the 8 years I’ve lived here, I love this city. For its sea, the lingo, for the many communities who have made it their home and for the sheer variety of landscape. Most of all, I love it for its history. A palimpsest filled with colourful characters, colonial rule, gods, calamities and the BMC.

 

Unfortunately Mumbai is one of those cities, where those that love it, often do not know it (looking at you Gregory Roberts) and those that know it, seldom love it. Naresh Fernandes is a rare author who possesses both love and knowledge of the city in spades. Last year Aleph, the publishing house released his pocket biography of the city – City Adrift. In the book as he narrates the story of Mumbai, Fernandes peels off the layers of dust and uncovers the stories behind the familiar places we have all passed by. Here are 4 stories I never knew about Mumbai till I read City Adrift.

 

JJ:

jj school (1)
Image Credit: J. J. School of Arts

 

J.J. Flyover. J.J. School of Arts. J.J. Hospital. I had crossed all these a hundred times and never wondered about the man behind the building. JJ is Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy. A poor Parsi who made an enormous fortune in Mumbai, most of it through trade in opium. Unlike the Ambanis and Adanis of today, Jeejeebhoy’s wealth was matched by “jaw-droppingly munificent public philanthropy.” In 1822, Jeejeebhoy spent Rs. 3000 to pay off loans taken by several people who had been jailed for their inability to do so. He then paid for the Mahim Causeway between Bandra and Mahim that consolidated the island’s links with the mainland. According to Fernandes, he spent Rs. 2.5 million in his lifetime on charity. Today, we know him best by the institutions he helped found, J.J. School of Arts and J.J. Hospital. Alas, it seems that the act of public philanthropy died with him. Today the city’s billionaires would rather concentrate on building hideous 27 floor houses for a four-member family to occupy.

 

Town Hall/Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Fort:

 

Image Credit: Bhavani
Image Credit: Bhavani

 

“On November 1, 1858, Bombay’s official Oriental climbed the steps of the Town Hall (now Asiatic Society) to read the proclamation issued by Queen Victoria, taking over charge of India from the East India company.”

 

Stark white with Doric columns that are impossible to miss, the Asiatic Society of Mumbai is more famous for the steps that lead into it. It has featured in movies like Pyaasa, Gaman and Tezaab. Poor students who don’t get any privacy to study in their cramped dwellings make their way here during exam time to study in peace. And, as I discovered after reading City Adrift, it is here that Queen Victoria officially announced her takeover of the country from the East India Co. Oh, and the society also contains one of the only two original editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

 

Antop Hill/Wadala East:

Chinese Cemetary at Antop Hill
Image Credit: Times of India

 

Many real estate developers are now attempting to rebrand the less than posh origins of Wadala East by calling it ‘New Cuffe Parade’. But did you know that Antop Hill in Wadala East was the final resting place of minority communities who made Mumbai their home? Fernandes explains how the area houses graveyards of Armenians, Chinese, Baha’is and members of the Prarthna Samaj, “The Maharashtrian sibling of the Brahmo Samaj reform movement started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy”. A look at the gravestones is a potent (if a bit macabre) reminder of the true cosmopolitan nature of the city.

 

Bhendi Bazaar:

 

Image Credit: Saifee Bhurani Upliftment Trust
Image Credit: Saifee Bhurani Upliftment Trust

 

Not named after okra, Bhendi Bazaar in South Mumbai is home to the only homegrown gharana that Mumbai has produced. In 1870, three brothers from, Bijnaur, UP came to the city and set up base here. Their popularity gave rise to the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana characterised by “slow, open-throated singing and an improvisational technique that used only a limited number of notes”. Good to know.

 

Even though it gets a bad rap, Mumbai is not so bad. The next time a long holiday seems like a distant dream, maybe you could look up these places and travel more in time and less in space?

 


 

Have a story-

 


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Kalpana Nair

An Associate Producer with the digital platform Film Companion, Kalpana is addicted to movies and can no longer tell if she is in one or watching one or writing about one. She blogs at www.ladymiddlebrow.wordpress.com and tweets @kalpananair.

And The Winners of the Happy Tripping & Rare Contest Are…

It was a great contest that got so many of you on board, logging your trips and telling us your experiences. Choosing the winners was not an easy task and when we totalled the scores given by our three judges—Dilip, Chhavi and Supriya—we realised how very close it was.

 

So to all the participants:
Thank you for participating and joining us on this journey. It might be disappointing that your name is not in the top three, but fret not, there is another contest launching in a few days time, and you can try your luck in that. Watch this space to know more.

 

To the judges:
We value your time and effort. You took the time to read each entry and even give your comments on them, along with the marks. Our heartfelt thanks to you for helping us make this a very fair and un-biased judgement.

 

To the winners:
The top entry is… (drum roll) Sriparna Ghosh!

 

Congratulations for her winning entry on Zanskar. Read it here. Dilip felt it was heartfelt and realistic, though Supriya docked a few points as the costs should have been covered. But anyway no worries as she was the unanimous winner!

 

The First and Second Runners up was a close call, and ultimately the popularity of those posts were also taken into account.

 

Urja Ketkar is the First Runner Up for her tale on food and wine at Nashik. Read more here. The judges liked her tale, though Dilip felt it ‘could have been a little less gushing.’ We at Happy Tripping are sure glad to have a foodie on board.

 

Ankita Shreeram takes us to Paris, drops by London, Bath and other points of interest in Great Britain. Read her winning entry here. Two judges really liked her article, and Dilip said, “I liked the air of the novice, it comes through and it works well.”

 

The scores are given below.

 

winners of rare.001

 

Once again thank you all for joining us on this contest. There are more contests coming up, bag full of stories and trips of funs! Happy Tripping everyone.

In Search of Pune’s Legendary Food Havens

I don’t know when eating local food became an integral part of my travel experience. Growing up across North India my diet consisted of Punjab-U.P. influenced rajma-chawal, kadhi, paneer, stuffed parathas, yellow dal, bhujia subzis, occasional puris, and the staple whole-wheat rotis. I never explored beyond the obvious representatives of regional Indian cuisines. For me, South Indian food was dosa and idli, Gujarati food was dhokla and Bengali cuisine was all about fish curry and rice. Similarly, until my mid-20s, I associated Maharashtrian food with only bhel-puri and pani-puri.

 

It was only when I moved to Pune, years later, that I learnt about some authentic and delectable regional dishes. By that time I had already been travelling for several years and had developed an interest in exploring local food. I decided to ask Pune Food Trails for help to answer questions, both in my mind and stomach. Where did the common man of Pune eat? Where was the Pune of the Marathas and the Peshwas? Where were those old eateries with tattered roofs serving simple local food at out-dated prices?

 

I started with my highway-favourite Maharashtrian snack, Misal-Pav. I had eaten this in various forms on my road trips across the state, but it was only when I ate one at Shri Krishna Bhuvan in Budhwar Peth that I learnt of its layered taste and textures and knew what I had been missing!

 

1. krishna bhavan

 

Misal, literally meaning mixture, has no fixed recipe. However, Krishna Bhuvan, like most other traditional eating joints, serves it with a layer of poha at bottom, topped with mildly-spiced boiled potato, sprouted moth beans, sev (farsan), garnished with chopped coriander and onions, and accompanied by the trademark reddish-orange gravy, called sample (pronounced as s-aam-ple). This is slurped up with plain slices of bread. It was a huge leap from the misal-pav I’d eaten previously, and also a lot tastier and fortunately, not as spicy.

 

The exact history of misal is unknown, but I am told by locals that it originated as a breakfast food for the hardworking common man. It is prepared using leftovers and when accompanied by bread or pav, makes a filling, high-carb meal. Shri Krishna Bhuvan, specialising only in a handful of breakfast/snack items, belongs to an era when all the restaurants in Pune would shut in the afternoon for a siesta, but with changing times, they’ve adapted and are now open till 7:30 pm in evening. If you’re heading there on a weekend, be prepared to wait in a long queue to get a table.

 

Talking of changing times, one would not want to miss the exact opposite presented at the legendary Poona Guest House—a dormitory styled guesthouse cum restaurant standing strong for over 80 years. It is one of those local haunts with crumbling façades, a narrow staircase and oodles of old-world charm, still serving authentic Maharashtrian cuisine at rock bottom prices. Poona Guest House was one of the typical ‘addas’ of yesteryear theatre and film artists including Dev Anand, Lalita Pawar, Bal Gandharva and Sulochana. Started by late producer-actor-director, Shri Nana Sarpotdar, and now run by his family members, the food at Poona Guesthouse has not lost its taste or charm.

 

Here, I got introduced to some more local dishes of Maharashtra like, Puran Poli—a flatbread stuffed with jaggery sweetened filling, Thalipeeth—a multigrain pancake (roasted or fried) served with white butter, green chilli chutney and garlic-peanut chutney, Sol Kadhi—a pink coloured drink made of kokum and coconut milk.

 

Poona Guest House

 

While walking through the by-lanes of the old city, it’s almost impossible to miss the various ‘Sweet Home’ hoardings. I rolled my eyes and huffed at these typical city centre replicas, but went into one such New Sweet Home anyway. I came out satiated after trying out some more local delicacies like Matar Karanji—a savoury version of North Indian Gujhia, Gulkand Laddu—sweet balls made of dried rose petals and the quintessentially Maharashtrian Sabudana Khichdi—a savoury dish made of tapioca pearls.

 

 

At New Sweet Home

 

As if all these delicacies had not been enough for a day, I tested the boundaries of my stomach by trying out a pure Puneri phenomenon—a Mastani. More than the drink, I was intrigued by its name and found its original 80-year-old home in Gujjar Cold Drink House, Budhwar Peth. Surrounded by lottery shops, in midst of Pune’s red-light area, stands a no-frills joint, with community tables, vintage advertisements, kitschy-gaudy decorations, efficient staff and over 50 flavours of Mastani—I knew, to my delight, I had found one of the quirkiest corners of Pune.

 

Gujjar Cold Drink House

 

History goes that the Gujjars were the first ones to make ice creams in Pune, some 80-85 years ago. They started mixing ice-cream with cream, milk and seasonal fruit flavours to create a drink to quench thirst in summers. The drink was called a ‘cold drink’ until 30-35 years back, when due to its popularity, people started calling it ‘Mast’—as in enjoyable, which later got modified to Mastani. Now, a Mastani, is commonly available across Pune with relatively newer brands like Sujata opening several outlets across the city. But it’s at Gujjar Cold Drink House that the story began!

 

All these meanderings through the old town had left me wanting for more, only now I wanted to find the Parsi gems in Pune. If you’re wondering why I’m drifting to Parsi food while talking about authentic Puneri dishes, I simply feel if an eatery in Pune has been serving really good food and at very low prices for over 136 years, it’s as Puneri as it gets.

 

The first stop—Dorabjee & Sons. Ask for directions to Dorabjee in Camp and in all probability you will be led to a very modern food and grocery mart with a restaurant on the upper level serving ‘authentic’ Dorabjee biryani. Skip that. Take the left turn around the corner and look for the original establishment near Sarbatwalla Chowk. Like most Parsi joints, it remains family-run and is very easy on pockets. I tried Salli Chicken with roti, their popular Mutton Dum Biryani and then topped all that with a really thick and creamy Malai Kulfi. Burrrppp. Need I say more?

 

Dorabjee & Sons

 

One cannot talk about the Parsi contribution to the city of Pune without mentioning Kayani Bakery. A friend told me that at Kayani, people jostle in order to get to the counter and place the order—at any time of the day. Ah, it was a myth I thought and decided to see it for myself. Not only was it crowded, it also took me a good 10 minutes to reach the counter and order their famous shrewsbury biscuits. Kayani is not simply a bakery; it’s a little wonderland with biscuits like shrewsbury, ginger, chocolate, and cakes like mawa, madeira, sponge with chocolate icing and several fresh out-of-oven breads. Started in 1955 by an immigrant Irani family, Kayani has become a household name in Pune. I later learnt that they make about 250 kilos of shrewsbury biscuits everyday and it’s almost always sold out by the end of the day!

 

Image Credit: Joe Zachs
Image Credit: Joe Zachs

 

Once a sleepy small town for retired people, today Pune is a thriving cosmopolitan city with students from different parts of the country, an expanding IT infrastructure and a growing expat community. This has led to many modern restaurants offering global cuisine in posh areas like Koregaon Park and Boat Club Road. Yet what is not lost are these traditional joints in the by-lanes of the old city giving a little peep into the food, architecture and pace of another era. It is at these joints that I discovered the flavours and variety of Pune’s traditional food offerings. It is at these joints that I found the common man of Pune eating, resting and sharing his stories.

 

If you thought my discovery of Puneri food was over, guess what, the list is far from complete unless I explore the legendary fare at Vaishali or gobble some sandwiches and macaroons at the 50 year old Marz-o-Rin—the pioneers in Pune’s fast food scene or chill at Cafe Good Luck, that’s been serving delicious affordable food for 75 years! That calls for another visit and I will happily loosen my belt one more notch to accommodate those local treats.

 


 

Get Happy Tripping Eating at Pune!
Best time: All year round.

 

Getting there:
a) By Air: Well-connected by air to all major airports in India and some in Europe and USA.
b) By Road: Just a 3 hrs (167 kms) drive from Mumbai via a picturesque Express Highway.
c) By Train: It is a major railhead and connected to other cities of India. It also has several daily Mumbai-Pune trains.
d) By Bus: Also well-connected to Mumbai by comfortable buses all throughout the day. Journey time 4- 5 hours.

 

HT Do. Not. Miss.
Take heritage walk through Shaniwarwada in old Pune! And don’t forget to visit all the food joints mentioned above.

 


 

Have a story-

 

 


Richa Gupta

 

 

 

 

 

Richa Gupta
A former fashion business manager in New Delhi, is now a travel writer based in Mumbai. Her passion for offbeat and responsible traveling made her take the leap. On her travels, Richa likes to engage with locals, their lifestyles and tries to bring forth their issues through her blog Travel and Stories.

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