Mountains have always given me a high. I realized this early on when I stood on top of a mountain after completing a trek as a young girl and wind blew chills around me. I feel my worries and myself melt away at the summit.
In a welcome bid to encourage trekking and developing local ecosystems, Karnataka Government started the initiative of MyEcotrip. The site features bird sanctuaries, jungle lodges and also seven select trails around Bangalore.
We went for the Malikadurga trek which we had to pay a small amount for booking the trip. Since this is a first one of kind initiative and run by the government we really didnt know what to expect. We reached quite early around 5 am at Malikadurga, the sun was still somewhere around Malaysia or probably on his way. The GPS map abruptly ended at a location at a dirt road confusing us quite a bit. But being the investigative souls we are we turned our car to the dirt road and drove into the darkness.
We reached the foot of the rocky hill and an old man, he guided us the spot where he said we could park our cars. The first faint rays of the sun were starting to come in and I could see the sky take on multiple hues as it was still undecided whether it is night or day. We laced up our shoes and started on the path, two forest officials looked at our tickets and flagged us through, they asked us to look for the white arrow marks.
The path up the mountain was well marked to our delight and made the trek so much more interesting and easy to do. We were one of the first to reach the trail and followed the rocky path up the mountain. Some places were sheer rock face which one had to climb using hands. As we went up the mountain we could also see the lake which is said to be shaped like South Africa, well I had other thoughts which I refrain from putting down on how it looked.
At the top of Malikadurga lies a fort which is now in ruins and a temple which the villagers go to worship. They also go to the temple to celebrate major festivals but otherwise, the temple is looked after but you will not find people around the temple. We also saw a tent propped up right at the top of the mountain and my was I jealous. Night trekking is being phased out in the area and the government is trying to regulate treks and trekking routes while giving back to the local economy and engaging the villagers around.
We walked around the wall of the fort and though it is in ruins it gives glimpses of what once was and that is definitely a thrill. There were many frangipani trees in full bloom in the fort and even a water tank built for the fort when it was inhabited.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Ahmedabad is dear to me and complex to me, I spent my formative years in Ahmedabad and that kind of explains my love for colors and food which are quite opposite of what my born and bought up Malayalee husband identifies with.
I did my primary schooling in Ahmedabad (in the 1990’s) and a lot of what the city showed me was a yin and yang. While it showed how to stand up for one’s rights it also showed the extent to which male preference oppressed an entire gender. It taught peace and coexistence with animals while being torn apart by religion during the riots in the early 90’s.
From mandir to masjid is thus an apt name for the heritage walk conducted by the Gujrat tourism in Ahmedabad. The walk took us through the fabric around which modern-day Amdavad is built. The walk starts at 8 am from Swaminarayan Mandir in old Ahmedabad. As a child growing up in the 90’s whose school was in the ‘Muslim area’ as the area beyond the bridge was called I finally got a more holistic idea of my city Ahmedabad as I saw both communities coexisting like they have for centuries.
Ahmedabad was founded by Ahmed Shah on the banks of Karnavati river which is now long lost. The walk allows a peak into structures that house lifestyles and the requirements of the bygone era which have in many parts prevailed. The walk takes us through pols or community living houses and courtyards, the wooden structures with wood which was once imported from Burma and oles which are market areas where these communities converge. A planned city with roads and sewers that were built to last and which survived the devastating earthquake where modern structures succumbed.
The old city area which is made up of pols and oles in close quarters while separating the different communities also unites them in a unique way. The narrow passages and secret roads that connected one to the other is still a thriving way of life. Ahmedabad both old and modern areas have a legacy of cohabiting with all animal and plant life. This is one city where monkeys, peacocks, squirrels, and birds perch on balconies no matter how crowded the city. Chabutara’s or bird feeders are important structures in pols and continue to make their appearances in modern Gujrati’s households as well. In fact houses in old Ahmedabad where made keeping these tiny visitors in mind by leaving cubby holes and feeding trays.
Parts of the walk took us beneath Fernandes bridge which was one of the first bridges built in Ahmedabad. Present day Fernandes bridge is known as a popular book market the roads beneath the bridge where knowledge flows once a river flowed. Though I can romanticize the city there are things I wish worked better here such as the lack of cleanliness in these narrow lanes and open defecation.
The two-hour walk however ended on a high note for me as I got to gorge on a yummy Gujarati breakfast as Chandravillas with a steaming cup of tea.
All pictures are owned by Traveling Noodles and should not be reused without permission.
This article has been running on my mind since we came back from Rajasthan last December. It has been a year since but the earthy smell, the golden mustard fields can’t be done justice to if just written in superlatives. I am still scared if my words can do justice to the feeling, the taste, the conversation or the history that enveloped us in Siana.
We reached Siana Adventure Camp towards the end of our Rajasthan road trip. We had started from Jaisalmer through the desert roads, took a break at Balmer and had the yummiest food ever with a simple dish of sev and tomato and bhakri. Another couple of hours on the road took us through rural Rajasthan to arrive at these huge gates in a village. The gates led up to a haveli and behind the haveli, there were stone cottages. We were welcomed by the owners of Siana Adventure camp who are the erstwhile Thakur’s of the village and trace their ancestry to the royal family.
After an action-packed and on the go sort of a trip across Rajasthan it was welcoming to relax with good home food and stories that spanned eras. I believe their hospitality made all the difference to our trip because we didn’t go on the night safari or camping or horse riding that they offer. We chose to relax and walk through the yellow mustard fields and photograph parrots and peacocks as they perched on trees and troubled the horses in the stable.
In the evening we sat around a bonfire in the garden with their Great Dane for company and had some amazing starters and conversations that spanned from Rajasthani history, women who have broken barriers, sports, tourism and everything else that a group of strangers who have just met can converse about. We later sat around looking at the starlit night as we got a good view of the stars with such little light pollution in the village.
Next day morning we ate breakfast in the garden and I am quite embarrased considering how much food I wolfed down as the food was made with fresh ingredients straight from the farm with a flavour that you can find only in an Indian village. We later went on a tour of Siana and the jungle and the mountains nearby with the owner himself. Wherever the jeep went it was interesting to note how the villagers offered salutations, it gave a very surreal feeling even though I knew that the reverence is for the Thakur and not really for us but well borrowed moments. We also gave lifts to a few school children on their way to school and I could observe the ease of local interactions and a very old school way of life.
Siana was a much needed break towards the end of our Rajasthan sojourn before we embarked towards Ahmedabad. If you are planning a trip to Gujrat or Rajasthan and old world charm and Indian villages and way of life interest you then I would recommend checking Siana out.