A Small Step By You Can Help Our Mountains Breathe Again

Our majestic mountains are in trouble as tourism is picking up. Tourism is important for the local economy but sustainable tourism is the need of the hour. As more people troop into the hills with the idea of having a good time and enjoying the weather the important thing they forget is to respect the place that has welcomed them to their home.

Parts of North Sikkim especially Lachung has a no plastic bottle policy, they strictly enforce it with regular checks in vehicles. They also have a no open defecation policy in place and I actually witnessed a local person pull up a tourist who was urinating near a waterfall with a toilet accessible right there. Change happens only when people own it and this was especially noticeable in North Sikkim.

However, they need the support of everyone who visits Lachung as there are still plastic wrappers and other plastic bottles that are negligently thrown out and mar the beautiful and spectacular mountains. This holds true for other mountain areas as well as hill stations that are currently groaning with the influx of tourists and their limited resources.

Organisations that closely work with the mountains such as India Hikes have instituted programs such as Green Trails wherein trekkers go with the mandate to collect trash on their way and bring it back to base where it is then sent for recycling. Companies that believe in sustainable tourism such as F5Escapes encourage their travelers to use their own bottles and refill them at intervals instead of buying water bottles on the way which is then discarded.

Same goes for chips and other such snacks that are junk foods in anycase. A better alternative would be to carry nuts from home or eat healthier snacks such as fruits they are much better for the environment as well as for your health. It is not possible to completely eliminate your footprint but it is definitely possible to reduce it and give back to the people who open up their homes and businesses to you each year as people from the cities flock to the hills every summer.

Another small change all of us can routinely do is to carry a small trash bag when traveling so that we are not littering. At the end of the day, it can be emptied in a trash can. Sikkim like many Northeast states has bamboo trash receptacles at intervals which can be used. If you think that a small plastic wrapper is not going to make a difference or that one more bottle being thrown on the way does not matter take a look around. In the same way every wrapper you pick up or don’t litter and every plastic bottle you don’t use, helps.

The hills need you to come and explore but they also need you to respect them and ensure that you don’t harm them. Sustainable tourism is the answer and we all have to do our part in it.

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

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5 Sunday Brunch Options In Bangalore To Try With The Family

Sunday’s are my no cooking day mainly because I don’t want to spend Sunday washing dishes.  But Sunday meals have to be special as the whole family is at home and Sunday brunches are a good way to spend quality time with each other while having fun.

I am listing here my top 5 favorite Sunday brunch nonveg dishes which have recently blown me away and made me want to go for more.

 

Teriyaki Chicken in Panipuri 

Teriyaki chicken in panipuri is a dish born at the Fusion union festival that Flechazo is hosting. I went to Flechazo with some good friends recently and had an absolutely brilliant time. Flechazo Whitefield had a food shot counter complete with a conveyer belt with bite-sized options. Of these, I tried the teriyaki chicken in pani puri shells, the momos and mocktails.

 

Eggs Benedict

I love an eggs benedict as much as the next guy. The runny yolk on the bread sloshed with hollandaise sauce is absolute yum. Pair it up with some cold coffee and my Sunday is made. Lazy Suzy in Indira Nagar is a good option to go to for eggs benedict.

Biriyani

Biriyani and Sunday could almost be synonyms in India. Biriyani’s are perfect for that lazy Sunday as long as you don’t have to make it and it is available in the buffet. Biriyani, a good raita with maybe a papad is heaven. I usually like the Kerala or Thalassery biriyani because well my roots lie there but I also liked the dum biriyani at Flechazo.

Cheesecake

Mango cheesecake or blueberry cheesecake is bae and if it comes in bite-sized portions then nothing like it. In a Sunday buffet, I would like to try different desserts without having to end up over indulging. Some restaurants do this well I like Onesta and Flechazo for this.

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Rissoto

I am partial to rice so give me well made risotto anyday. Many restaurants in Bangalore are perfecting the risotto my personal favorites are Toscano or Smoke House Deli. I could also go for Dhansak at Red Fork in Indira Nagar.

Images taken at Flechazo Whitefield during the Food Union festival.

 

Places To Stay in Bekal

I am writing this post because of the what we now call as ‘The Bekal Incident’. We had planned a budget road trip along coastal Karnataka between 25th December to 2 January from Bekal to Goa. This is of course a crazy time to travel because every single soul is traveling during this period.

We had pre booked most of our stays and had plans to stay at a budget hotel in Bekal through a popular travel site. Needless to say there was a major screw as we reached Bekal and found out while eating egg pakodas at the beach (which were yum).

We reached Bekal after a full days drive and called the hotel that we had booked only to realise that they had cancelled the booking and the travel website and neither the hotel contacted us to tell us the booking is cancelled. We parked at Bekal beach and decided to call the travel site which was the least helpful and we ended up loosing almost two hours just being put on wait with that annoying instrumental music.

We then decided to search and call hotels ourselves since Bekal has limited staying options we widen our search till Kannur but since it was peak tourist season it was hopeless. Finally we found room at the Taj Vivanta with a pricey tag which was basically the budget for our entire trip. However they gave us a discount and an upgrade to a villa once we reached the resort and we ended up celebrating Christmas in style. The next day however was a different story as I spent the day eating curd rice and bed ridden.

These hotels and resorts are the ones that are good places to stay in Bekal should you decide to travel there and see the Bekal fort (of Tu Hi Re, Bombay fame) among other attractions.

Chandralayam

chandralayam

Chandralayam is a home stay in Bekal with coconut trees and tranquility as their charm.

Geetanjali

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Geetanjali is a heritage home which is true to the architecture of ancestral homes in Kerala.

Thalatoor Heritage Home Stay

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Thalatoor is slightly away from Bekal and is a heritage property.

Vivanta By Taj

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We found this property absolutely delightful, the house boat architecture with water and canals running near the resort adds to the charm. The beach is walking distance from the resort and has some select water sports. The villas at the resort have a central courtyard theme with an outdoor swing, bath tub and big bay window overlooking greenery.

Lalit Hotel

swimming-pool

Pictures credited to Trip Advisor.

 

 

 

Beyond Dal Batti Churma What Food To Eat In Rajasthan

Dal Bati Churma is almost synonymous with food in Rajasthan but my last trip to Rajasthan that spanned 2000 kms and 9 days was a gastronomic revelation. Rajasthani staple food I found to be quite simple and easy on the stomach and apt for the climate. We ate a lot of millets, gram flour, lentils, buttermilk and milk based products,meats and a few other vegetables that are indigenous to Rajasthan. Rajasthan being largely covered by the dessert has very few vegetable and green varieties and this reflects in the food.

 

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The winter crop of mustard in all its glory!

Breakfast in Rajasthan is mostly options like fafda, pyas kachori, methi pakodas which is fried gram flour balls with fenugreek leaves. In Jaisalmer we also saw Sindhi cuisine influences with dal pakwan and a few other interesting breakfast options. The dessert offered interesting snacks and breakfast options throughout the journey be it at a resort, a camp, a haveli or a street vendor. Biting into a methi pakoda and a fried chilly with chai on the old dessert morning was amazing.

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Yummy street food and snacks in Rajasthan
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Pyas Kachori which is quite famous in Rajasthan
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Dal Pakwan which is unique in Jaisalmer and shares its roots from across the border.

Rajasthan has quite a strong history with food, we glimpsed on this at a haveli inside the Jaisalmer fort. The kitchen and was right on top of the haveli, it looked like a constant in the palaces and havelis of Rajasthan where the kitchens were right on top of the 3-4 story buildings in some cases with the dining area adjoining it. This is a mere observation and I could be wrong.

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Dining area adjoining the kitchen in a haveli 

Note the large tiffin carriers kept in the corner which probably the men carried on long journey’s or to work. The seating was on the floor with the men and the elders being served first (which is not my jam )

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More on traditional dining

Some amazing restaurents we found on our journey across Rajasthan were Millets of Mewar in Udaipur which had a very relaxed atmosphere and had a very pleasing menu of authentic millet preparations from Mewar, Hari Ghar in Udaipur where we gorged on some amazing non vegetarian dishes, Good Hall restaurant in Barmer with mind blowing and truly yummy food. Since we are talking about amazing food one more place I can’t but mention is the home cooked meals we shared with our hosts in Siana Camps and Safari which found us in aristrocratic company in untouched rural Rajasthan.

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A vegetarian thali at Millets of Mewar (Udaipur)

Rajasthan also offers some very local delicacies such as pyas kachori, mirchi bada which is a delightful combination of mirchi, spicy potato mash which is batter fried. Another local delicacy from Jaisalmer which is not widely known is a sweet called Gotuwa which is a ladoo preparation made by one sweet shop in the inner fort area of Jaisalmer.

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Gotuwa a sweet popular in Jaisalmer
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A spicy breakfast of mirchi bada in Jodhpur

Food ofcourse is amazing in Rajasthan but the ambience, the hospitality and the settings from as different as jungle lodges to havelis, backpackers getaways to palaces to roadside pitstops, dessert camps to sparkling lakes makes one appreciate the nuances of the local cuisine and adds the magic.

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Breakfast at Kankarwa Haveli next to the Lake Palace Udaipur