How to reach : The way to experience real India is to be away from the chaotic tourist towns and pages of the usual guide books. This real India : inspires and humbles, is artistic yet genuine, simultaneously incredible and heartbreaking and surely takes a little effort to find. One such place is the quaint little town of Pithoragarh. It is located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and is a seven hours tortuous journey from Nainital, passing through the picturesque hills of Almora.
The typical ‘Indian’ tourist, who once wanted to visit every place given in a travel guide, is now evolving. It is not about ticking off things in a list anymore, but to find a place where you can get some much needed “me” time and places like Pithoragarh are perfect for that.
Here is a glimpse of this beautiful town followed by snapshots of two of the must see places :
Kamakshya Temple : Sun-kissed peaks and a panoramic view of the entire city is what you get from here. The temple has a unique history and was set up by a soldier of the Indian Army and it is still being looked after by his family.
On The Rocks Cafe : This mountain cafe surprised us as we did not expect such quirky decor in a small town eatery. Loved gorging on the delectable chinese food with views of the valley.
So this was part one of our Pithoragarh itineary, more to come in the second part! Remember it is only when you go off the beaten path that you encounter such uninterrupted views of Nature. Cherish every bit of it.
My favorite way to get to know a culture is by getting lost in the markets of the locals. It is the best way to see how people really live, how they eat and interact, and in what they place value. Goa has two such markets, which are held once every week : Anjuna Flea Market and Saturday Night Market at Baga. While the former has more of authentic Goan stuff (new and old), the latter is an amalgamation of people and crafts from all over the country.
This post covers our experience at the Saturday Night Market, which is a panoply of myriad forms of craft, food and music. There were umpteen stalls selling Tibetan jewellery, jute/straw handbags, Goan spices, Tribal silver ornaments, Beachwear, wooden decor and a whole lot of other stuff. For food lovers, the fare ranged from Tibetan momos and Chinese to authentic Goan delicacies and yes lots and lots of alcohol.
Take shopping as an experience of finding a great product from a treasure trove and you will be enchanted. I loved rummaging through the stuff to find that one perfect piece to carry home as a souvenir. And more than shopping, it was a great way to discover Goa and its people beyond beaches.
Travel Tip : The market is usually very crowded so for commuting prefer two-wheeler over four-wheeler.
I never tire of the hills. The wide open spaces and star-filled skies inspire me, define me. In the mountains, there’s always something to learn, and I feel like I am capable of so much more than I imagined. This was me reminiscing about my trip to Nainital, here’s the link. Then we did another blogpost on The Naini Retreat , a great place to stay in Nainital.
About the property : This post is about Shervani Hilltop, a boutique hotel located in Mallital. The wooden interiors, manicured lawns and lush green surroundings give an old world charm to the place. If you want to escape the crowd and have some time to yourself, it is an excellent option. You get a panoramic view of the mountains from any place in the property, but the Naini Lake isn’t visible from the hotel.
Dining options : Coming to the dining options, there’s the Courtyard bar which serves cocktails and mock tails and a restaurant for all day dining. Both these places have been done up in Victorian style and are very much in sync with the overall decor of the place. Though the view and the food options at The Naini Retreat are much better.
Recommendation : For people who are visiting Nainital for the first time, Naini Retreat is a better option as it is a beautiful heritage property located close to the Naini Lake and the Mall Road. For those seeking tranquility and an escape from the mundane city life, Shervani Hilltop is a good choice.
Travel Tip : Get your bookings done online as pricing is lower than what you will get at the hotel and this applies to almost all the good hotels in Nainital.
If you remember our very first blogpost on Nainital , we did mention about covering the best places to stay as there are no renowned hotel chains in Nainital. The three best hotels to stay are : The Naini Retreat, Shervani Hilltop, The Manu Maharani. Here we are reviewing our favourite out of the lot, The Naini Retreat –
About the property : Historically referred to as the residence of the Maharaja of Pilibhit, The Naini Retreat Hotel is among the best heritage hotels located in Nainital near the lake. The hotel is situated on the picturesque Ayarpatta Slopes, providing a breathtaking view of the Naini Lake at an altitude of 1,995 meters. The hotel embodies an old-world charm along with visible impressions of contemporary luxury.
Dining options : Coming to the food , there are 3 options : Lake View, which is their multi cuisine restaurant serving Indian and International delicacies. It is the perfect place to enjoy you meal with a panoramic view of the lake. Next is Stella Bar, which offers choices of the cocktails and mocktails. And then there is Garden Cafe and Grill for a quick breakfast, brunch or a dinner.
Recommendation : It definitely is the best place to stay in Nainital as it excels on all the prime parameters : location, food and luxury. Coming to the pricing, it was at a lower rate per day than both Shervani Hilltop and The Manu Maharani. Valley view rooms at The Manu Maharani were priced at fourteen thousand rupees approx, which is exorbitantly high compared to the facilities offered. Overall, a highly recommended place for your stay in Nainital.
Travel Tip : Call the hotel for exact directions as the route given by GPS isn’t appropriate for four wheelers.
The artificial lake in Auli is perched at an astounding elevation and is one of the world’s highest man made lakes. It was created to help in providing artificial snow on the ski slopes in event of scanty rainfall. This also helps in extending the skiing season in Auli. The lake is located right next to Clifftop Club and we did cover some of its pictures in our very first blogpost on Auli.
The snow-clad mountains, skiing slopes and azure-blue water make for the most amazing scenery. The fact that it is a man- made lake does not dampen the magic and beauty of the place in any manner. Nature truly holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.
The rope way connecting Joshimath to Auli is 4 kms long and offers magnificent views of the Himalayan landscape. If you really want to have a rendezvous with nature, the chair lift is the best available option. It starts from near the ITBP base camp and goes up till the lake. The fact that the chair lift is completely open and runs just a few feet above the ground adds to the thrill.
How to reach : A good traveler takes only memories and leaves no tracks. The same cannot be said about Nainital, a popular hill station located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Nainital is ensconced around an emerald lake surrounded by lush green mountains, but the amount of trash being emptied into the lake is ruining the beauty of this serene place. If we keep throwing garbage like this, there will be no mountains. All we will have are mountains of garbage.
Places to visit/Staying options : The place is great for a small rejuvenating break from the routine. Almost all the good hotels in Nainital offer a panoramic view of the mountains and the lake. The three best hotels to stay are : The Naini Retreat, Shervani Hilltop, The Manu Maharani. One can choose to just relax and enjoy the surroundings. For the more touristy ones, there are several options like : boating in the Naini lake, shopping and eating at the Mall Road or Tibetan market, Naina Devi Temple, Cable car ride to the snow view point and visiting the zoo.
Every blogpost that urges travellers to switch to eco friendly alternative counts. Every less plastic bottle used and disposed counts. Every voice discouraging their usage counts. Everything we do as individuals counts. Every responsible travel choice counts.
There aren’t any renowned hotel chains in Nainital, we would be covering the best hotels to stay in Nainital in subsequent blogposts. Here are the pictures from our trip :
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into Nainital, do like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for more such stuff ❤️❤️
We have done a series of blogposts about Auli – capturing the landscape in both its pre and post snow glory. Head over to the travel category and click on Auli to check all the previous posts. We mentioned about the lodging and boarding options in Auli in the very first blogpost. Uttarakhand government’s GMVNL guest house is a reasonable option and has basic facilities. For luxury seekers, Clifftop Club is the best available option.
About the property : It is located at more than 10000 feet above sea level (second highest resort in the world), making you feel literally at the top of the world. The view from the resort is something that you cannot understand virtually. You need to witness, breathe, experience and feel for yourself. The best part is that Clifftop is located right at the skiing slopes, adding to the thrill.
Dining options : The resort is entirely made of wood, which now has turned rustic owing to the vagaries of the weather. Accommodation choices are either the standard rooms or the suites. There is a single restaurant serving limited but delectable food. It would be unfair to expect multiple dining options at this height and terrain. The main activity is skiing, though I would say it is to soak in the beauty of the place 😃.
Coming to the pricing, it is between ten thousand to fourteen thousand during the peak snow season. The pricing is high compared to the amenities offered but, once you witness the challenges of running the resort in such daunting conditions, it feels justified. Also remember to check the weather prediction before making a booking as snow has become a rare commodity.
Travel Tip – The best way to reach the property is either by your own vehicle or via cable car from Joshimath.
Nature is so totally awesome. It deserves our adoration, our reverence, our applause. Take care of the world around you. Celebrate its resplendence, never take it for granted ❤️❤️
Head over to the first part of this blogpost here. This post has pictures of the same location after the snowfall, where in everything was engulfed in white. The very fact of snow is such an amazement. There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special. Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
These are some photographs from our travels in and around Auli, you can have a look at our previous blogposts on Auli here. These pictures were taken before the snowfall happened, after which the entire area seemed like a white paradise. In Auli, there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, and snow is exhilarating.
Witnessing your first snowfall is a magical feeling and Auli is a place where Mother Nature rules supreme in all her glory. All good things may not be free, but all the best things of life are definitely free.
We gave you a glimpse of the glitterati and the literati attending the Jaipur Literature Festival , here are the links to the two blogposts – Part 1 and Part 2. Apart from the sessions at Diggi Palace, A musical night is held every day during the five days of the festival. These happen at Hotel Clarks Amer and the entry charges this year were 600 rupees per person per day. Among the lineup of performers, day one had a performance by Kailasa – Kailash Kher’s music band. It was a great musical fiesta but again like the main event at Diggi Palace, there was too much crowd which was not commensurate with the seating arrangements made at the venue.
Since most people were interested in attending Kailash Kher’s performance, tickets for day one were sold beyond the capacity of the venue. Barring the mismanagement, it was an awesome show. Kailasa is a great band with some very talented artists. Also there was a panoply of mouthwatering delicacies prepared by the Clarks Amer catering team, though there were very limited options for vegetarians 😒.
The summer season is here and so is the wedding season, the latter calls for endless shopping trips to prep for various events like mehandi, sangeet, wedding, reception etc. A wedding exhibition/fair gives you the option of having everything under one roof. There are numerous boutiques/labels, which take part in these events to showcase their collection. It is also the perfect place to shop for accessories like clutches, footwear, hair adornments, jewelry due to the sheer variety and competitive pricing.
Shimmer is a wedding and lifestyle exhibition, which took place at the Birla Auditorium in Jaipur. There were some amazing stores selling all wedding related stuff. Here’s a look at the pictures from the exhibition –
Here we are with the second set of pictures from the Jaipur Literature Festival – 2018. You can have a look at the first part of this blogpost here. This year’s festival had a centrally located bazaar which had handicrafts, jewellery, apparel etc from various parts of the country. The mode of payment for any product or food item was completely cashless in the entire festival, giving an impetus to digital India.
There was a book store by Full Circle , which had books of all the authors who were participating in the festival. There was a Penguin store selling some quirky books based articles : Think rustic, gilded memo blocks, handmade paper, thread-stitched notebooks, souvenir maps and stationery that is kitschy, vibrant and just plain cool. Such stuff motivates you to write more and type less.
Coming to the food part, there was the special Diggi chai, samosas, kachoris, gol gappas etc. There were food stalls from Subway, Burger Farm, Chayyos, Fat Lulu’s, Fumo Attico and a whole lot of other stuff to try.
Here are the pictures :
Hope you enjoyed our coverage of the Jaipur Literature Festival – 2018, we will soon be doing a collection of memories from the previous editions of the fest ❤️❤️
About the property : ITC Maurya needs no introduction. Located in the preeminent diplomatic enclave, it hosts almost all the foreign dignitaries who visit India. Inspired by the grand Mauryan dynasty, this luxury hotel expresses the refined courtliness and majesty resembling this mighty empire. It also reflects the many intriguing facets of the Mauryas and is a tribute to the dynasty. ITC Maurya houses a priceless and exquisite collection of art by Krishen Khanna, M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Yusuf Arakkal, A R Ramachandran and more.
Dining options : The hotel houses some of the country’s most popular dining destinations like – Bukhara and Dum-Pukht. Unfortunately, both these restaurants were completely reserved for the evening so we did not get a chance to savour the delicacies. Leaving that for the next time 😊
We were there for a weekend getaway as we did not have time for a proper vacation. The aim was to clear our minds and to simply pamper ourselves. The hotel is absolutely flawless when it comes to hospitality and it is a perfect choice for public officials or businessmen who visit Delhi, but not an ideal destination for a staycation or a rejuvenating holiday.
Recommendation : There are a plenty of resorts/hotels available in the similar price range, which are better suited for recreational purposes. ITC Maurya is definitely a premier hotel of the country, but it is important to have a clarity about our requirements before selecting a place. There’s not an iota of doubt on the facilities offered, but it is located in a such a prime part of Delhi that you can’t expect sprawling gardens or infinity pools.
Here are some pictures from our visit –
The key to life is to make it fun, to a raise a glass to the everyday and to make small moments the most memorable. Do like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram 🙂
Jaipur Literature Festival is undoubtedly the most prolific and the most diversified literary event in the world. I still remember the first edition of the fest in 2008, there were barely a hundred book enthusiasts who attended the fest. Within ten years, the festival has grown by leaps and bounds. The five days of the festival are like immersing in an ocean of books wherein you get a chance to witness so many talented authors and hear their words of wisdom.
There is one thing that I would definitely want to convey to the festival organisers. Over the years, JLF has become more of a glamour parade for people. There is no denying that there’s a great lineup of authors and it requires meticulous planning on the part of the organisers. But the audience attending the festival should have some understanding or appreciation of these literary geniuses.
The festival gives you the option of either a free registration or a delegate registration worth 22000 rupees. There should be something for people who have a serious interest in literature and are okay paying a moderate amount for it, so that they at least get a seat and hassle-free access to the sessions.