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Friday, October 30, 2015

10 Yummy Amritsar Experiences the Foodie in you should not miss!

Thinking of delicious Punjabi food? Think Amritsar! Dreaming of hitting a street food trail in Punjab? Think of Amritsar again! Amritsar is one of those places in India that is a foodie’s absolute delight. When people think of Amritsar, they think of the Golden temple and the Wagah border, but when I think of Amritsar, I think of those mouth watering kulche, pind de chole, jalebi, kulfa and much more. It’s streets offer some of the best street food of India and is a must explore and taste for the food lover in you. From dhabas to the langar in the golden temple and from the iconic shops in the small alleys of Amritsar to the floating street vendors, this is one place where all kinds of foodies will find peace.

Below are 10 top food experiences from this holy city that you should experience on your next trip. As I am a vegetarian, these experiences are from a vegetarian’s perspective. If you are a meat eater, you will find an even better range as Amritsar is also one of the meat food capitals of India.

A Glass of Fresh Lassi in the Morning

Freshly made Lassi on the streets of Amritsar

Some people start their day with a cup of coffee. For some it is a cup of tea. When you are in Amritsar, it is a big glass of freshly made lassi. This sweet yoghurt drink is available almost everywhere in the city and available from as early as half past six in the morning. My favorite lassi moment was from the streets of Shastri market where I would drink a glass of fresh lassi every morning (my power charger) just before I went for my morning walk around the old corridor of Amritsar.

Puri Chana for Breakfast

Most of India associates Puri with Alu Gravy. In Amritsar, it is Puri served with Pind de Chole, onions and tangy radish. And this combo is like a traditional breakfast choice and one that you should not miss at any cost. Whether you are relishing them at the iconic Kanha Sweets, Goenkar Sweets or at any of the small thela walas on the streets of old city, you are bound to absolutely enjoy this iconic Amritsari breakfast.

True Ghee Experience at Kesar da Dhaba

True Ghee Experience at Kesar da Dhaba

If there is one dhaba that you have to visit in Amritsar, this has to be it. Kesar da Dhaba, located in the old city of Amritsar and not far away from the Golden temple is an iconic restaurant here. They do not use oil to cook the food. Instead, they use ghee. Their dal makhani, gulab jamun, lassi and kulches are to die for. But, let me warn you. Do not expect to feel hungry for a long time as the rich ghee food takes you to food heaven and keeps you there for a long while.

Langar at Golden Temple

The Golden Temple Langar on the Amritsar Food Trail

Another iconic eating joint of Amritsar. Called the Guru ka Langar or the community Kitchen, this place serves food to thousands daily. And did I say that food here is free of cost? People from all walks of life come here, sit on the floor and eat the delicious food cooked in the community kitchen. Food served here is simple and traditional, but its taste is top class. A must visit after offering your prayers at the Durbar Sahib (Golden Temple).

Gurdas Ram de Jalebi Wale

Jalabis in the making at Gurudas Ram de Jalebi Wale

The name says it all. A small and non-descript joint, this place whose history traces to 1956, dishes out some dreamy jalebis and gulab jamun. They only make these 2 desserts and make it right in front of you. Not set in the most enterprising atmosphere, but the food is as good as it can be. As it is located very close to Jallianwala Bagh and the Golden temple, it offers the perfect excuse to recover those lost calories and get closer to heaven.

Kaala Khatta at Ramkaran Cool Spot

Try out the Kaala Khatta from this iconic street vendor

Chuski le lo! Chuski le lo! These calls from my school days still ring loud in my head even today. The different colored Chuskis and the Kaala Khatta are two super popular summer drinks/sip ons. Ram Karan Cool-Spot, a popular name in Amritsar is a mobile vehicle that serves these treats on a tri cycle. Located in the posh residential area of Amritsar, Ram Karan has served his treats on destination weddings for Punjabis worldwide. I was lucky to discover this mobile cool-spot thanks to a Sardarji friend of mine. The Kaala Khatta here is legendary and one that I would always recommend.

A-One Kulfa

Yummylicious Kulfa dessert at Amritsar

Falooda, Rabri, Gond Kathira and Kulfi ice cream put together make the Kulfa. Created in a mighty big tin device, the A-One Kulfa on Queens road is the best place to enjoy this sweet treat. Open between 3 and 11 pm, if you having a craving for something sweet and if you wish to try something iconic, then the cold Kulfa definitely makes the cut.

Chungi de Kulche for your afternoon Kulche Lunch

Delicious Punjabi Food at Amritsar

A small dhaba that only locals know, Chungi de Kulche is one of the best places in town to enjoy your Kulche lunch. Much cheaper than the other dhabas, this place is known mainly for its Kulche. Go here for your Kulche craving!

Family Dinner at Brothers Dhaba

A name that every Amritsari family knows is Brothers Dhaba. Insanely popular during weekends, this place serves all the top food attractions of Amritsar. It’s dal makhani, chole, Kulche and Parantha are famous. I had one of my dinners there and was very happy with the quality of food served.

Bade Bhai ka Brothers Dhaba

With a name that makes you take notice, the Bade Bhai ka Brothers Dhaba is another Amritsari restaurant that commands great status for its tasty food. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, this Amritsari Dhaba chain offers great food value. Paranthas, Kulche, Chole, Paneer, Dal Makhani and much more are on offer here. I had Kulche, Chole and Lassi here for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of its branches is located close to Jallianwala Bagh and not too far away from the Golden Temple.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mountains of Possibility: Munnar Beckons

There’s more to explore in Kerala than just beaches, temples, and the backwaters. Experience tranquillity like never before in the lush hills of Munnar. Nestled along the Western Ghat range of mountains, this idyllic hill station in the Idukki district offers more than just a sightseeing experience. Its landscapes, dotted with green tea plantations and enveloped by mist, will keep you coming back for more.

The hill station offers you a breath-taking view of the surrounding hills and mountains as it’s situated at 5,200 feet above sea level. You can reach Munnar by taking a train to the Ernakulam and Aluva railway station. Or you can take a flight to Cochin International Airport, and after 2-3-hour drive you will find yourself in Munnar.

Tea plucking at Munnar

It was first discovered in the 1870’s by a British resident, John Daniel Munro, of the then Travancore Kingdom. He started the trend of cultivating plantations of coffee, tea, and other plants across the hills. Today, Munnar is the commercial centre of one of the country’s biggest tea estates, which are operated by the TATA industry.

Escape the summer heat and explore some sublime destinations across Munnar. For ideas and inspiration in Munnar, look up these Kerala tour packages.

Mattupetty Dam

A visit to the Mattupetty Dam will take you along scenic routes that will leave you enthralled. This site is 13 km away from Munnar and is located in a beautiful setting, against the backdrop of the hills. The dam provides water for some of the major hydroelectric projects in the town. You will also be able to visit the famous Indo-Swiss farm of Mattupetty. Hundreds of cattle are reared here as a part of the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project.

Eravikulam National Park


Nilgiri Tahr at Eravikulam National Park

For nature and wildlife lovers, this place is paradise on earth. It houses one of the most endangered species in the world, the Nilgiri Tahr. It’s spread over an extensive area of 97 sq. km. along the crest of the Western Ghats and is just 15 km away from Munnar. A ride through the evergreen tropical forests of this park will show you the natural habitat of animals like elephants, langur, marten, and more. You will also encounter several species of exotic birds like the black-and-orange flycatcher, white-bellied shortwing, Malabar laughing thrush, and others.

Anamudi


A classic Munnar landscape

The name ‘Anamudi’ means ‘elephant’s foreheads’ and true to its name, it's also home to the largest surviving population of Asian elephants. It’s also the highest peak in Munnar and South India. When you trek to the top of this glorious mountain, you will come across breath-taking sights. From rivers and valleys to encountering many species of wildlife, Anamudi has a lot to offer.

Devikulam Lake


Devikulam is a tranquil lake nestled amidst the green hills of Munnar. According to local legends, Goddess Sita bathed in the pristine waters of this lake during her stay in the nearby forests. And, that’s how this lake got its name - Devi, which means ‘Goddess’, and kulam which means ‘lake’ in the native language. It’s around 13 km south of Munnar and is situated in the quiet little hill station of Devikulam. It’s an ideal spot for an impromptu picnic and you can unwind while taking in the gorgeous landscape surrounding you.

Attukal Waterfalls


Picture book view of Munnar tea estatess

An exquisite sight to behold, this waterfall is a must-visit for all. It’s around 9 km away from Munnar and is situated in the middle of verdant hills. The site is an ideal spot for adventure activities like trekking, water rappelling, and rock climbing. The summit offers a picturesque and panoramic view of the surrounding region, which is bound to leave you mesmerised. You can also visit other waterfall sites like Lakkom, Thommankuthu, and Nyayamakad.

Where Should I Stay?


Wake up to a magnificent view of the hills each morning when you stay at Sterling Holidays’ Munnar resort, Munnar Terrace Greens. It’s located in the village of Chinnakanal and offers you the perfect escape from the daily hustle and bustle of urban life. The stylish, modern, and minimalistic interiors of the resort are sure to make your stay a pleasurable one. With multi-cuisine restaurants that cater to your needs and its own clubhouse with indoor and outdoor games, Munnar Terrace Garden has it all.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Offbeat Locations In Kerala You Should Be Visiting

Kerala, a small state located to the south west of India, is fondly known as God’s own country. You may have often heard this synonym being used for Kerala, rest assured it’s not without reason. Tall coconut trees swaying in the wind, leaving behind a rustle of whispers. White sandy beaches peaking glimpses from behind the curtain of the coconut trees, with occasional virgin beaches whose sands haven’t felt the touch of human feet. This postcard perfect picture is incomplete without the aroma of Karimeen and fresh Appams wafting through the air. Kerala is eternally beautiful, and there is never a wrong moment to book your flight tickets, but if you want to understand the true meaning of beauty, you have to visit it during the monsoon. The monsoon rains bring out Kerala’s beauty, inspiring every wanderer to become a poet or an artist. Tourist spots, there are many, but sometimes a place’s true essence and magic lies in the back alleys, the lesser known destinations. So for your hungry traveller’s soul, we have 5 perfect destinations in Kerala, that need to go on your to-do list.

1. Nelliyampathy

Nelliampathy

Located 60 kms from Palakkad, the closest hint of civilization near this forest is the Nemmara town. Being slightly hard to access is what makes this place worth every effort. You have to make your way through a rocky road; a road very much belonging to the forests, with trees at every bend. A skilled jeep driver is what you’ll need to manoeuvre through the hurdling obstacles. But once you brave it and clear that step, the sight waiting for you on the other end is worth every bit of the risk. Dense forest with chirping birds being the only sound to interrupt your thoughts, peace finds a new definition here. You’ll find small cottages located in the forest, which you can rent out. Heaven on earth? Yeah, probably.

2. Ponmudi

Fish market in Kerala, India

If Ponmudi sounds like a new name, that may be because you’ve heard of this place by its synonym the Golden Peak. If you haven’t, then let me tell you a little something about it. Located in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, Ponmudi is a hill station. At an altitude of 1100 m, it is part of the Western Ghats mountain range. Draped with a carpet of thick forest that runs till its foothills, this Golden Peak is blessed with beauty. The journey up the mountain, though tough, is beauty like you haven’t seen before. Your path may be of sharp bends and hairpin curves, with trees being your only companions. But it’s one of those places where the destination is so much more than the journey. The view from top of the peak is so spectacular, that even your wildest imagination won’t do justice to it. It’s not often you come across a sight where reality is better than imagination. In closing I’ll just say one thing, Ponmudi runs parallel to the Arabian sea.

3. Wayanad

Kerala Wildlife

Though Wayanad isn’t technically an offbeat destination, nor is it a lesser known place of Kerala, but I couldn’t help resist putting it on the list, simply because it’s elegant and beautiful. A Kerala list would be incomplete without the mention of Wayanad, and this is what earns it its privileged position on this list. Only state neighbouring both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, its popularity as a tourist spot has been steadily on the rise, with more and more Kerala tour packages including Wayanad in their itinerary . We’ve all harboured the dream of living in a treehouse, and some of the resorts in Wayanad help fulfill that dream. If that isn’t reason enough, their refreshing morning and evening trails through the forest act as the cherry on top of the delicious Wayanad cake.

4. Thenmala

Thenmala Deer park

Thenmala is a small forest town located in the Kollam district of Kerala, 72 kms from Trivandrum. But there’s one thing that separates it from all the other forests of Kerala, and the hint to that lies in its name. ‘Then’ means honey and ‘mala’ means hills, so when literally translated, Thenmala means honey hills. Recently converted into an eco-tourism destination, it is known for it’s top quality, yup you guessed it right, honey! Not just for the sweet toothed, Thenmala is also a perfect place for adventure junkies, with activities such as biking, trekking, mountaineering. To top it all, it even has a deer rehabilitation centre near by. Being a small town, Thenmala gives off the vibe of being cut off from the rest of the world and being content within it’s own bubble. This is what makes it a good, albeit a slightly unusual honeymoon destination, one that you won’t find on many Honeymoon packages. Boating along the Kallada river, with nothing but the trees and your loved one by your side. What more is needed?

5. Beypore

Green tea plantations in Munnar, Kerala, India

Located in the Kozhikode district of Kerala its history dates back to the time of Tipu Sultan. Beypore was an important port, which traded chiefly with the middle east and had direct route links to Mesopotamia. Being an important port means it has something else which is of importance to us. Beaches! In olden times it might have been an integral link of the maritime silk route, but today Beypore is known for it’s Beypore beach. Though you might think as much, the beach is not it’s biggest attraction. Its the 2 km long stone bridge that stretches till the horizon that attracts everyone. Standing at the edge of the bridge, with nothing but the sea surrounding you, as far as the eye can see. With the setting sun dipping beyond into the horizon. Need I say more?

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visit Britain the Shaandaar way!

Are you an ardent Bollywood lover? Do you also love to travel the world? Well, the new Bollywood release ‘Shaandaar’ featuring Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhat was shot in many exotic locations in the Great Britain. One look at the movie trailer and you feel like exploring those surreal locations of Britain. Be it the lush green countryside of Yorkshire, hay meadows and green pastures of Yorkshire Dales, North York Moor National Park, Castle Howard, turbulent waterfalls and much more, you feel like visiting those places. Well, the good news is that, you can actually live that romantic life from Shaandaar and create your own great memories in Great Britain for free. You heard me right! All you have to do is click on the video below, enrol in the competition, answer a short question, fill in your personal details and give yourself a chance to win 2 business class flight tickets to Great Britain and many other prizes.
 


Don’t miss out on this lovely opportunity to marry the Bollywood and Great Britain connection and spend your very own holiday in Great Britain!

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Monday, October 19, 2015

How would you surprise your fiance? #marhabasurprises

It is always heart warming to see brands go out of their way to bring joy to people’s lives. Recently, marhaba, a guest service based in Dubai ran a competition and selected 3 winners based on their personal stories and threw them a huge surprise at the Dubai airport. Each winner is from a different country and from a different walk of life. They were all pleasantly surprised when they landed at the Dubai airport. Watch how marhaba helped this fiance surprise her future husband through this short video below. 



This was Noreen surprising her fiancé Mark who lives in Egypt and who are about to marry in May. Both of them dentists from Europe, Noreen wanted to surprise Mark, who is the one who normally carries out the surprises. She asked if she can have a flash mob organized at the airport, but mainly wanted to be surrounded by her friends. And she requested for a saxophonist as her husband loves jazz. Mark is all smiles and full of surprise when marhaba lays out the red carpet and carries out the surprise.

Wouldn’t we love to be surprised by marhaba at the Dubai airport? Yes, but may be, we might have to wait for another competition of theirs! In case you are curious, marhaba offers airport meet and greet services in Dubai. They offer other services like Dubai sightseeing tours, baggage services, Airport Lounges, CityStop, Trade and Corporate Services and more.

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Copyright © 2009-2017 Sankara Subramanian C (www.beontheroad.com)
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