Monday 14 December 2009

Solo travelling - now for women

Solo travelling has redefined the meaning of freedom and independence, and has become an aid to discovering your inner self. Find out why more and more women are joining the solitary bandwagon.

Meet Rhea. She is a typical 24-year-old conventional Indian girl. She has lived a very sheltered life. She wasn’t given the freedom most teenagers usually get such as going out at night with friends. To even hear of any rebellious act, be it smoking or leaving home, would scandalise her gentle-thinking mind. She has never disobeyed her parents; she had always been the perfect daughter.

But…deep inside her heart a desire to escape and break free was beginning to consume her heart and mind each passing day. She would daydream about adventures and experiences she’d only read about. Exploring new places, meeting different people, walking on an endless road, emptying her mind of all fear, anxiety and tension, discovering herself - sampling a taste of freedom that she didn’t know existed. But she never had enough courage to translate her wish into reality. Until one day, she decided to do what most Indian women would never even dream of – travel alone.

Just do it
I know what you’re thinking: ‘She isn’t the kind of girl to set foot alone in a country like ours?’ But it’s true. Today, several Indian women today have travelled on their own and many are working on doing the same. Travelling solo is fast becoming a trend among urban working women; some do it just to get away from all the stress, some for the thrill and some simply prefer being by themselves rather than amongst a rat-pack.

Although there are many people who want to go solo, but there are many fears that cloud this desire and melt their courage. But it is conquering these fears that mark the beginning to the adventure. Setting out alone might seem difficult, especially dealing with the opposition you face from friends and family stating how unsafe and nonsensical the idea is. Ritu, CEO of Silversmith India, says, “The first time I decided to travel to Pondicherry alone, my friends’ reaction was ‘why would you want to go alone? It’s very unsafe, plus it’s simply boring!’. I actually had a hard time convincing them what it feels like to enjoy some alone time.”

Of course, travelling solo is not only for those who want to defy societal norms or escape pressures at the workplace. It is also for people who want to rediscover themselves. There are times in life you simply want to be surrounded by new people and travelling solo is a great way to make new friends. The only thing that is important is whether you want to do this or not. It’s all about the first step. The day you take the first step, the others will automatically form, and then there’s no looking back.

The benefits

A trip alone is the road to liberating your soul; it redefines being independent. An experience like no other, it will change your life forever. When you’re alone, you don’t need to wait for someone before you start your exploration; there is no one to tell you where to go or what to do; you do as you feel; you make your own choices. Besides, being alone is a wonderful way to find some inner peace and do all those things you ‘never had time for’. Read a book, listen to music, dance or simply indulge in a coffee and dessert—because there are times when life should be only about you.

Solo essentials
a) Your sole companion
Agreed you’re planning a solo trip, but you do need a companion, albeit a silent one, who’s there with you, but yet inconspicuous despite its presence. Pick up the latest volume of Lonely Planet India or an Outlook Traveller Getaways guide, a traveller’s bible and every tourist’s prized possession. High-end, mid-range or budget hotels; eateries, places to visit and how to get there, it works as the perfect guide.

b) Be prepared to expect the unexpected.
There may be times you’ve planned everything about your trip to the T and yet some expected situations come forth. Shruti, a PR executive, cites an example, “I’d set out to visit a beautiful tree house in Munnar and booked it three weeks in advance. But when I finally reached the hotel, the gentlemen who took my booking abruptly says “I’m sorry ma’am, but the tree house is currently occupied by a couple and will only be available tomorrow night.” I was aghast, I angrily reminded him about my booking and the fact that I had cross-checked its availability before leaving, but he just said sorry. I was lucky to find another place thanks to a friend, otherwise my trip would’ve been a disaster!”

c) Do not rely only on the internet
Check and cross check your bus/ train/ air tickets and timings and hotel reservations. “I was aboard the Kanyakumari express to Ernakulam and according to the Indian railway website I should arrive at the station within 24 hours. But just at the end of 24 hours in the general sleeper class, on an unconfirmed ticket, I find out that my destination is yet 12 hours away! Ever since this goof-up I also advise people to cross check any reservation made via the internet with the company directly,” says Nishrin, a counsellor.

Published in Rouge (now iDiva), Mumbai Edition, dated October 11, 2008

Friday 11 December 2009

Madonna’s village retreats in India

During Madonna’s recent visit to India, little did people know of her secret getaway to the villages of Rohet and Luni, near Jodhpur. Rohet Garh and Fort Chanwa Luni, Madonna’s village retreats, qualify as some of the most luxurious places to stay within the environment of a village.

Ever wondered why many of us want to become celebrities? The glamour, fame, recognition, brands they own, the fast cars they drive, their faces in every newspaper and on magazine covers, the money they make, the love of the people who idolise them—their lives are nothing less than extraordinary. That’s precisely the reason why we show such elevated interest in their lives; to us, our lives are too ordinary. But even celebrities nurture the desire of living an ordinary life (well, maybe just a little bit), because they pay a heavy price for their fame and name—their privacy.

Their personal lives, much like ours, are something they prefer to keep guarded. They seek isolation from the crowds every now and then, and where better than a rural location for that? A balance between revelling in luxury and simultaneously being able to explore the true, unseen culture of a destination or the way the villagers live is now becoming a reality. Enter Rohet and Luni, relatively unknown villages located on the outskirts of Jodhpur city in Rajasthan, where relics of the past have been converted into modern luxury mansions. On her recent visit to India, Madonna was one of the many celebrities who chose Rohet Garh and Fort Chanwa Luni as her secret getaways.

A stay in Rohet Garh means experiencing all things royal. So at your arrival, when there are several turbaned men and women waiting outside the gate with folk dancers and musicians performing amid grand fanfare, don’t look around—all this fuss is being made specially to welcome you. What else can make you feel like royalty more than a procession-like welcome?

If you thought that the desert is all Rohet village has in the name of nature, think again. As you enter the premises, peacocks let their feathers out and gleefully prance around adding to the vibrancy of the ambiance. The 34 personally-decorated rooms are replete with colourful traditionally-designed frescoes on the walls, bed-sheets and cushion covers bearing Rajasthani prints and modern bathrooms; some rooms even have personal swings! The restaurant here serves mouth-watering Rajasthani delicacies made by chefs who’ve been specially trained by the late Thakurani Sahiba, who has authored Cuisine of Rohet Garh and Quick and Easy Rajasthani Cuisine; the former, in fact, was published due to popular demand from visiting guests. The property also houses modern luxurious amenities such as a swimming pool, a lounge area, sprawling lawns, serene verandahs, spacious pavilions and terraces to unwind at.

This luxurious property has existed since time immemorial and holds historic relevance. My curiosity led the kind hosts to take me to their room at the property and through a visual representation that puts together pieces of an era gone by, depicting the story of this ancestral home. It was conferred upon the first amongst their kin, Thakur Dalpat Singh I, in 1622 AD for the courage and bravery he embodied in the many military campaigns under the banner of the Rathores. Through generations, this home has been a loyal bystander to the family in its good and bad times, and now it’s the face of Rohet’s rich culture and lives to tell its story.

However, Madonna is not the only person of her stature to have discovered Rohet Garh. Literary stalwarts Bruce Chatwin and William Dalrymple practically lived at Rohet Garh for several months at a stretch working on their respective books, The Songlines and The City of Djinns. Patrick French, Simon Winchester and Jeffery Morehouse have also explored this hidden retreat.

Be warned though, with the intriguingly diverse activities that you can indulge in at Rohet Garh, you may not want to return home. Royal picnics are only the beginning of the pampering programme. You could even opt for watching up to 200 different species of birds while sitting by the many lakes around Rohet, or head out to the wilderness camp where seven luxurious teakwood tents are laid out in the midst of the sandy wilderness. You could even avail of Madonna’s personal choice—the extensive tailor-made equestrian programme that ranges from a full day’s riding to a six days’/six nights’ riding safari surveying the various areas around Rohet. But if true village life raises your curiosity, then take a village safari, where you can glimpse into the simple lives the locals lead and witness their traditional customs and ceremonies.

Tall, colossal iron gates mark your entry into this ancient fortress. The sheer size and build of this architectural marvel is vividly reminiscent of scenes from Bollywood epics centred on historic themes. Largely untouched by the mechanisms of renovation, Fort Chanwa has been a popular location for film and television shoots. Carved out of the red sandstone that Jodhpur is known for, the fort is replete with ornate lattice work friezes, intricate jharokas, courtyards, towers, waterwheels, stables, passages and rooftops with panoramic views.

Many of the 31 uniquely decorated rooms are placed in secret pavilions that appear as if out of nowhere, and, along with the unexpected stairways located around, lend a touch of mystery. Elegant four-poster beds, long flowing curtains, Rajasthani paintings made by local artisans, quaint lamps and ethnic furnishings speak of a bygone era. The one thing that you must not miss is an interesting creation preserved from the olden days—the water purifier. A retro ‘Aquaguard’ system, it’s made of stone and looks more like a maze. Water used to be poured from one end and would get filtered of any impurities or dirt via the various turns it would take, after which it would reach the other end where a bucket was kept to be filled.

You can relax in the blue waters of the large swimming pool and have the kind staff serve you your favourite drink. For people with more refined tastes, there’s golf, horseback riding and camel safaris, whereas for the quintessential traveller a day out meeting and interacting with the villagers and tribals will prove to be more exciting. The village safari here will give you the opportunity to meet people from different communities such as Bishnois, weavers (called Prajapats), who will demonstrate weaving charpoys in their homes, and potters (called Moilas). Some locals also introduce you to the many customs and traditions followed here. I was specially intrigued by the opium consuming tradition. According to the villagers, opium is consumed (in extremely mild concentrations) at any and every celebration; it’s to mark a happy occasion.

To truly enjoy an authentic Rajasthani meal, guests here are served in typical rural style with traditional ceremonies arranged before the meal, followed by local entertainment and folk dances, usually in the evening. Although the now famous black buck was popularised in a negative way by Salman Khan’s hunting escapade, guests are taken for sightings of black buck, chinkara and blue bull antelopes in open jeeps.


Rohet Garh
C/o Rohet House, PWD Road,
Jodhpur - 324 001
Rajasthan, India
For further details, call 02912431161, visit or email /

Fort Chanwa Luni
VPO: Luni, Dist. Jodhpur
Rajasthan, India
For further details, call 02931284216 or visit

Published in Andpersand magazine, January, 2009 issue.

On the road - from Mumbai to Delhi

When you look at the map, it seems daunting at first. So many states to cross; so many kilometres to cover. That’s before you realise that people sometimes zip from Mumbai to Delhi in a matter of 24 hours. But you would try to do this drive in a day only if you weren’t looking for a holiday. If, like us, you’re planning on stopping at places en route and soaking in the beauty of the journey and not just the destination, then this is a drive worth doing over, five, six or even seven days.

Starting off
We set off one bright, sunny morning, having strapped ourselves comfortably in an Innova. It was a good start: the weather was pleasant, we had peppy music and had thoughtfully stacked up on food and drinks. Driving through Maharashtra was wonderful. The roads lay wrapped in miles of greenery, occasionally separated by calm rivers. We took a detour to Daman, where we stopped for a bite and spent some time lazily lying on Devka Beach.

Further on, the roads in Gujarat were lined by factories; at some places, there were fields on one side and power plants on the other, providing a distinct contrast. The drive went fine till we reached Surat, from where construction work for a new highway was going on up to Vadodara. This stretch was replete with rough patches, heavy traffic, diversions and narrow lanes. We took 7 hrs to complete a drive that should have taken just three. When we reached Vadodara, we were so relieved that we hit the bed without even bothering to eat.

Dream road
We explored Vadodara the next day and then off we were on the road again. If the Surat-Vadodara stretch was a nightmare, what followed seemed like something aimed to make amends. The Mahatma Gandhi Expressway, or the National Expressway 1, between Vadodara and Ahmedabad, was a dream road on which we practically flew in less than an hour. This expressway has been planned so well that the dividers have foliage standing tall at 5 to 6 feet, so that while driving at night, headlights do not distract drivers on either side. There’s one thing to remember, however, before hitting this road: carry food and water, and take a restroom break. There isn’t much you’re going to find on this stretch till you reach Ahmedabad.

The final stretch
We drove on to Udaipur, a long journey that didn’t seem tough because of the fabulous roads. Cornfields and rice plantations on either side of the road added a green touch, and the delicious food at the dhabas lifted our spirits. Stone mountains lined the road as we drove into Udaipur, where we checked into a heritage property.

The next day, we set off from Udaipur to Delhi. It was an exhausting drive, but the roadside vistas made it easier. All around us were barren mountains, tiny temples, black-faced langurs, and camel carts loaded with fruits and vegetables. We had our run in with absurd truckers and that perennial bane of anyone driving in India: cattle that refuse to heed to horns or logic. First, a trucker cut us sharply at a toll booth and then mocked us like a teeny brat. Soon after, a cow ran madly in front of our car, forcing us to turn sharply. And then there was a donkey who insisted on standing in the middle of the road, quite unaffected by the swirling, honking traffic around it.

Thus, with much incident, we reached Delhi, where after a day’s rest, we headed back to Mumbai. This time, we halted at Ajmer the first night and at Ahmedabad the next, so that the journey would be more comfortable. We also used our relaxed itinerary to discover dhabas in Rajasthan that serve authentic, delicious dal-baati-churma, and thus feeling pampered and rested, returned home.

An excerpt from Outlook Traveller Getaways' latest book 'Driving Holidays in India'.

Monday 13 July 2009

Rafting in Coorg - The river less traversed

It was early August and monsoon was in full swing. The landscape was covered in lush green with a veil of thick mist descending from the mountains and dew drops formed on flowers as they bloomed. As the rain danced on the windshield, I hummed to soulful melodies by Jack Johnson en route to Prithvi’s Homestay in Madikeri.

Feeling refreshed in dry clothes after a brief dance in the rain, I replenished my energy vault with a cup of local filter coffee and a plate of idlis (steamed rice cakes), courtesy of my kind hosts. Out of sheer curiosity about a river rafting experience down south—since it’s synonymous with northern India—this was the first thing on my agenda. So I packed my gear—a towel, change of clothes, floaters, shorts and a headband—and set out for Dubare, the starting point.

Starting out
The first thing you do before getting on the raft is sign a form taking full responsibility for your actions, but don’t be afraid. The only thing it states is that if you topple over the raft, bang into a rock or drown, it’s entirely your risk; see, nothing to worry about! It seemed straight out of a courtroom drama, where you swear on the holy Bhagwad Geeta that you shall speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. Well, an encouraging start eh? Luckily the adrenaline rush seeking adventure took over my wobbly thoughts and I headed towards the raft with two other people. Once we were seated in our raft, our river scout imparted safety tips and guidelines to follow. And thus began my tryst with the Cauvery River.

We all settled in our respective positions: me in the front with another person, and a middle-aged couple behind us. Our beginning was slow and serene. The tiny bit of fear inside me had completely vanished, now I thought, “It was so silly to worry; this is so simple, not like I’m in the water!” Just then, as if someone were reading my thoughts, our guide smirked, “You all need to take a dip in the water so that you get a feel of it.” And one by one, each of us were neck down in the freezing river. I must admit, it felt pretty good…of course, we had our life jackets on.

The key to river rafting is balance. It’s a challenge to balance your body in an inflated raft on a turbulent river and manage to propel yourself further by rowing. So as we found our minds drifting away absorbed in the plethoric landscape, our guide brought us back to reality with his excited shriek, “Hold on!”, indicating an upcoming rapid. The first rapid rose three metres in the air engulfing our raft with chilling water as it descended.

The thrill was so great that even the freezing cold water that splashed on our faces seemed invigorating. Suddenly, the excitement rushed through my body like a current. I couldn’t wait to experience the next rapid. Our arms were already tired and we were soaking wet and the sun was our only respite. As the river had simmered down, we tried to get our raft back on track after losing our direction whilst battling the rapid. The next rapid approached and got us back to our oars after a few minutes of rest. It proved to be higher and even more stimulating than before. Before the next mighty rapid a stopover for a steaming hot cup of Coorg’s local coffee was just the need of the hour.

The two hours that we rode on the endless Cauvery was too little for me. I had never experienced an adventure like this before. At the end of our journey, the five of us on the raft had become rather friendly. So, while bidding each other goodbye, the kind middle-aged gentleman let out a little observation. Laughingly, he said, “When we sat in our raft, did you guys see the board that read: Beware of crocodiles?” Stunned, we all looked at each other, but within a few seconds we burst out laughing too. If he had blurted this out before we began, we would have probably missed the thrill of a lifetime!

If in Madikeri, do stay at Prithvi’s Homestay. It is comfortable, clean, very reasonable and the view is outstanding. You can even rent a car at the homestay. For more information on accommodation, contact Mr Nanda from the Nisarga Tourism and Trekking Information Center on (08272) 229806 or email:

Published in Rouge (now iDiva), Mumbai Edition, dated January 10, 2009

Friday 10 July 2009

Mcleodganj - Little Lhasa

If there’s something I have learnt as a traveller, it’s this: Never judge a place at night-time. I arrived at Mcleodganj a few hours after sunset, so my first impression led me to think of it as a small, cramped place owing to the very narrow lanes covered with buildings and people alike. To top that most hotels were packed and finding a room was getting increasingly difficult after trying the fifth one! Come morning and it was almost as though I was in another place altogether. I went to the balcony of my room to feel the cool breeze when my eyes chose to widen and my jaw unwillingly dropped. Let me explain. When people like me who’ve lived a city life for eternity witness a phenomenon called mountains, this I believe is a normal side-effect. But this was no ordinary mountain range. In the midst of two regular peaks was one innocent milky white snow-covered peak rising high up to touch the sky and look down at us mere mortals. This awestruck behaviour continued for a good one hour after which the great Indian belly began to complain about avoidance.

Imbibe the spirit

Often it has been said that a destination can be judged by the people that reside in it. The locals here were not only cheerful and friendly, but also passionate and united for their cause (freedom of Tibet). The undying spirit of the people in spreading awareness about their cause and their continuous struggle for freedom is applaudable. The Tsuglagkhang Complex (located at the end of the Temple Road) that contains the Dalai Lama's residence, a monastery, temple and museum is testament to this unity. Steeped in Tibetan culture, every corner of this complex is resonant with depictions of Tibet’s history and its struggle for freedom. A tall shiny gold statue of Sakyamuni Buddha resides calmly in the heart of the temple surrounded by pillars adorning colourful thangkas with prayer wheels on the outside. The complex also houses a café and bookshop for visitors.

Food bazaar
Momos are a Tibetan speciality, but not everyone gets them right. Snow Lion Restaurant, located at Jogibara Road, opposite the temple, serves some of the best momos in town, among a host of other Tibetan specialties. Try the steamed momos with either a vegetable or chicken filling, you won’t be disappointed. While here, also try the banana and chocolate crepe or ask for a slice of the chocolate cake, not only is it delicious, but the portion they serve is very generous! If Tibetan cuisine doesn’t appease your taste buds, head to Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen, located adjacent to Snow Lion, and sample their Medallion Chicken, various kinds of pastas or the fried bacon strips they serve with breakfast. Along with lip-smacking food, this restaurant has a warm ambiance with film posters sprawled on their chrome coloured walls. This is the best place to enjoy an outdoor breakfast as they open their rooftop space in the morning, where you can view the snowy Dhauladhar mountains. Ashok Restaurant, located down Jogibara Road of the main street also has a good rooftop view and serves tasty Indian food.

Coffee haven
Mcleodganj is a coffee lover’s paradise. It’s replete with coffee shops, most of which offer indoor and outdoor settings and serve good quality coffee and numerous accompaniments. Moonpeak Espresso and Mandala lie on the Temple Road, whereas Coffee Talk is close to the Tsuglagkhang complex, and First Cup Café is located en route from Dharamsala to Mcleodganj. But what delights coffee lover the most is the large quantity of coffee (and even some desserts) they serve. Most of the coffee shops here use big mugs, just like the ones made popular on the television sitcom Friends. It gets better. The prices attached to these big mugs are very small. On an average, you can get a big mug of regular coffee for Rs. 40. Some of these cafes even have a significant collection of books that customers can read while enjoying their coffee.

If you enjoy street shopping, the market displays some of the best jewellery replete with exotic gems and stones. But there’s a catch, the shopkeepers certainly don’t bargain. However, don’t be too disappointed, as there are a couple of shops that offer reasonable rates on curios, junk jewellery and clothes. You can also pick up souvenirs such as Tibetan thangkas, prayer flags, varieties of tea, T-shirts adorning the Tibetan flag, wall hangings, statues of Lord Buddha, carpets and curios.

McLeodganj isn’t a touristy place, but if you’re hoping to find yourself in a place that is cosy, content and lively, then it doesn’t get better than this.

Monday 11 May 2009

A local's guide to Jodhpur

Born and brought up in Mumbai, my roots lie in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. As a child, most of my summer vacations were spent here, but as I grew up the visits became infrequent. My recent visit was after a five-year hiatus. In the midst of these years, when I became a writer, I was often asked my colleagues and friends about things to see or where to eat authentic Rajasthani food in Jodhpur. It felt odd to list down places in a city that was more like home for me and I realised how I’d taken it for granted.

A sudden urge to rediscover my homeland drove me to explore Jodhpur like never before. As I headed to my house in Jodhpur from the station, I opened my eyes to the unnoticed beauty that lay around me; the usual cows strolling on the roads, the white-washed homes, the shimmering red laterite stone buildings, the enticing aroma of freshly prepared kachoris (deep fried small fluffed bread of wheat flour.), bandhini saris in vivid hues adorning street shops and most of all people driving on their own will, cutting lanes, going in opposite directions on the wrong side of the roads, and surprisingly no one seemed to care enough to object! Although the city lacked adequate traffic signals, a pleasant surprise came in the form of a traffic policewoman, daring to do what is commonly a man’s job in a city as orthodox as Jodhpur.

As I set out to explore my native town, I not only visited the typical tourist spots, but also places my family visited frequently and that can’t be found in guidebooks.

Things to see
Tourist or no tourist, the Mehrangarh Fort, also called citadel of the sun, is a must visit for all. The sheer size of this colossal fortress, ancient architecture, quaint stairways, narrow archways and intricately carved windows give you the feel of walking in time, in an era gone by. Spread over 12 floors, the fort also houses a museum that narrates the story of Jodhpur’s glorious past. Stunning period rooms such as the Phul Mahal and Moti Mahal have been retained in the fort. The museum in the fort showcases a unique variety of antique palanquins, elephant howdahs, weapons like canons, swords, daggers, knives, spears, guns, war armour, decorative cradles, cosmetic chests with items made from ivory, miniature paintings and turbans. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the famous indigo-tinted homes that give Jodhpur the title of ‘blue city’ from the highest floor in the fort.

Jaswant Thada
Built in translucent marble that shimmers in sunlight, Jaswant Thada is the resting place of the former Maharajas of Jodhpur. The word thada literally means cremation ground and Maharaj Jaswant Singh’s wife laid the foundation of Jaswant Thada after her husband’s death. The temple inside the premises contains the remains of the entire dynasty of kings that followed after Maharaj Rao Sihaji, while the cenotaphs of their sons and guardians are placed outside the temple. This place not only has historic relevance, but it also emanates calm and peace. Situated far above atop a hill, it houses a garden that is ideal for people to come and sit in silence while reliving the past.

Kailana Lake
Cradled in a desert land, the last thing you expect in Jodhpur is a water body. Kailana Lake is a serene stretch of water surrounded by a jagged terrain hidden from the main city making it a quick getaway to sit and relax as time passes you by. Boating is a common activity here.

Things to eat
Rajasthan is known for its grandeur; everything here is done on a grand scale, and hospitality holds the top position. The food here is endowed with richness in quality and taste. So if you’re in Jodhpur, you better not miss the lip-smacking makhanya lassi (lassi topped with a large spoon of rabdi). The best place to savour makhanya lassi is at Mishrilals located in Ghantaghar (clock tower), for Rs 15 only. The thick, rich lassi served with a generous helping of rabdi—freshly made every day with pure cow’s milk extracted the traditional way—can make a sufficient meal for many.

The mirchi vada is another scrumptious delight, only found in Jodhpur. Made with an unusually large chilli (the seeds are removed) dipped in a batter of gram flour and deep fried to perfection, the mirchi vada is a popular tea-time snack here. Chaudhary’s in Sardarpura offer the best mirchi vadas in the city and they cost a measly Rs 5 per piece; all the more reason to gorge on them!

Whenever I missed my home town, I’d always ask anyone visiting it to being back the delicious kachoris. Khatri Misthan at Jaljok Chauraha (Rs 8 per piece) makes the most perfect pyaz ki kachori. The flawless crisp and just the right amount of spiciness in the onion filling, I could eat almost three at one go! And if I wanted something sweet, I’d ask for the mava kachori from Rawat’s in Ghantaghar (Rs 12 per piece) made with a delicious filling of khoya, cardamom, nutmeg and sugar, dipped in sugar syrup, or the yummy gulab jamuns from Chaturbhuj, Pungalpada, Sarafa bazaar (Rs 110-150 per kg) that can last for almost one month in the fridge.

Shopping galore
Rajasthan is known for its colourful traditional garments, especially for its bandhni, lehariya and block prints. Aanchal saris at Sojati Gate has an array of bandhni and lehariya salwar kameez’ and saris to choose from at very reasonable rates. It even has a unique collection of colourful turbans for the men. In Ghantaghar, you will find several shops selling various block print patterns on kurtas and salwar kameez’. You can also buy lac earrings in Ghantaghar.

Published in Rouge, Mumbai Edition, dated September 13, 2008