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April 2014

The Tiger Trail

A Filmy


Excitement and pleasure at Ramoji Film City

Lumbini A sanctified trip to the birthplace of the Buddha

`50, AED 7, $5

Through the sanctuaries with Rathika Ramasamy


Rainforests with orang-utans, elephants and much more

Kinnnaur Savour the sweet mountain air


28 cover story

Big cat on the prowl A Safari Through Tiger Reserves

Cover photo: The portrait of thee Ambeutara Tigress taken at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India Photo: Rathika Ramasamy


42 A Filmy World

Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad

48 Between Heaven and Earth

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

52 On a Safari in Corbett Park Uttarakhand

60 A Lofty Witness to Man’s Frailty



Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand


56 Land of the Enlightened Lumbini, Nepal

64 Made in El Carmen, Used Worldwide El Salvador

68 The World Less Conquered Sumatra, Indonesia

72 A Tribute to Mountains & its People International Mountain Museum, Nepal

76 Mediterranean Way of Life



MSC Cruises


88 Through the Looking Glass Aranmula Metal Mirror

90 Racing Bulls of Kakkoor

Bullock Race Festival

Flavors 80

Rare Recipes for Palate Tokyo Bay, Cochin

84 Century-old Parantha Fare Chandni Chowk, Delhi


Quirky Foods

Indian Tea

Regulars Travel News 10 Unique Festival 13 Thus Spake the Shot 16 The Big Picture 18 My Shot 20


Floral Fantasy 26 Travel Tip 94 Travel Kit 95 Strange Travellers 98

Volume 2 Issue 4 | April 2014 Founder & editor Ravi Deecee Executive Editor Ratheema Ravi DC MEDIA - OPERATIONS

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contributors Rathika Ramasamy is India’s first woman wildlife photographer and one of the world’s top 10 wildlife photgraphers

Suresh Joseph is a driving enthusiast who holds 8 solo driving records in India. He has authored two books and is a Consultant and Mentor based in Cochin, Kerala

Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a travel columnist and the bestselling author of Coming Up On the Show and Between The Headlines, two novels on the Indian broadcast news industry

Richi Mohanty works as a User Interface Designer in Bangalore. She is an avid traveller who loves meeting new people and experiencing various cultures

Renuka C Sekhar is a Bangalore based fashion designer and travel writer. Being a travel maniac she loves to explore new places and meet new people

Jenny Thingshung is a food writer and journalist based in Nagaland. She is also an ardent travel buff, who specialises mainly on the diverse cuisines of the North East


travel & flavors April 2014

letter from the editor


hile travel makes you worldly wise, wildlife safaris help you to come closer to the reality that the human world is less significant as compared to the animal world on earth. Numerous species of animals as well as birds in the wild are clear objects of wonder to us humans and we tend to think whether the earth belongs to humans or animals. If you spend more time in the wild, observing the animal kingdom, you will know the fact that man has no right over animals which have the instinct to live in harmony with nature. We lack this instinct and have to learn the ways from our surroundings. Wildlife safaris provide us opportunities to ponder and understand how unnatural the existence of man is on the earth. Every trip into the forest humbles you further and also accentuates the reality that these beautiful creatures in the wild are an asset. Although people need to learn a lot from the wildlife experience, everybody doesn’t get chances to know about the wonderful world of animals. No doubt, wildlife safaris are strenuous and require plenty of time, enthusiasm and support from the authorities concerned. Wildlife sanctuaries are the right places for an enthusiast to venture into because there are guidelines and regulations to ensure the safety of visitors. Famous wildlife photographer Rathika Ramasamy takes a strenuous journey through four tiger reserves in the country capturing tigers frame after frame so as to make our readers acquaint with these beasts. Photographing them in their natural habitat is a challenging job. She also provides a vivid account of her encounters with the beasts in these sanctuaries. Read the cover story ‘The big cat on the prowl’ along with the stunning photographs of the animal. ‘The world less conquered’ takes a sneak peek into the forest life in the island of Sumatra, western Indonesia, which is home to volcanoes and rain forests with Orangutans and elephants. Watching these animals could be a joy forever. One can come closer to the Sumatra Orangutans in the Bukit Lawang jungle and visit the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, which is now one of the largest conservation projects in the world. Orphaned Orang-utans are brought here and they are taught how to live in the wild again. For foodies, Paranthe Wali Gali in Chandni Chowk is a heaven on the earth as it serves the yummiest, traditional vegetarian paranthas along with six different side dishes. The platter consists of varieties of parantha that include kaju, badam, matar, mix parantha, rabri, khoya parantha, parat parantha, papad parantha etc. Readers, you are treated to a new look Travel & flavours from this issue onwards with an innovative lay-out and fresh contents. We hope all our readers would be very much pleased with these changes.

Mail Box

Urban City scapes of the streets of Havana

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Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Beauty of Havana portrayed wonderfully

Reconnecting with nature

The cover story in your previous issue, ‘Grand Old Havana’ was excellent. I have also been to Havana during the 80s. It reminded me of the quality time I spent there. The author, Shwetha Ganesh Kumar, has portrayed the beauty of Old Havana quite beautifully. Nikhil Malhotra, Nagpur

I was quite happy to identify myself with Amit Kishor Subedi’s love towards the villages. Since I have not been to Dhampus, it has already taken a place in my heart for the next destination. Thank you Amit Kishor Subedi for bringing out such a wonderful article. Anwar Saleem, Hyderabad

Manali’s soothing air

Jim’s story seemed incomplete!

As the author said, Manali’s charm is nothing short of magical and once you come here, you’d be reluctant to leave. We had a wonderful pilgrimage to this beatiful place. The journey itself was soothing with fresh air and lush green mountains. Kudos to author Suresh Joseph for bringing in such a wonderful article! Siddarth Shankar, Varanasi

Renuka C Sekhar’s travel to explore the world of Thai Silk was quite fascinating. I wish the author had provided more information about Jim Thompson in the article. Any way it led me to find more about him. As the author described, Jim Thompson was a legend. Lathika Krishnan, Dubai

Travel News

Food and Hotel Asia EXPO Singapore: The 19th edition of Food and Hotel Asia (FHA) will take place at Singapore Expo from April 8 to 11. The FHA will bring to the market a myriad of food and hospitality products from around the world. The latest edition of the FHA will have a dedicated space of 95,000 sqm exhibition

area to serve around 45,000 trade visitors from over 90 countries/ regions. An estimated 2,800 exhibitors from 70 countries/regions are expected to participate in the event. An impressive 54 group pavilions are also expected. There will be culinary competitions and insightful conferences that complement the

Goa Travel Mart


2nd - 4th April, 2014

Goa: The Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) to be held from April 2 to 4 in Goa will promote travel, tourism, hospitality, leisure and other related industries in the country and outside. The three-day event will feature over 125 international buyers from

US, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia and Poland. Around 1,500 tour operators are expected to participate in the mart. Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium near Goa University, Taleigao, Goa, will be the venue.

Global Aerospace Summit Abu Dhabi: The Global Aerospace Summit will be held at St Regis Hotel, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, from April 7 to 8. The Global Aerospace Summit 2014 is a strategic forum for senior international industry leaders in aviation, aerospace, defence and space. The event is expected to attract 1,000 global C-level executives,

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April 2014

making it one of the most important industry forums. The event will have executives attending from more than 52 countries, including emerging markets such as Russia, China, India, Eastern Europe and South America. Mubadala Development Company will host the event being organised by Streamline Marketing Group.

International Boat Show Shanghai: The International Boat Show will take place at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre from April 10 to 13 in China. Last year there were 34,822 visitors from 51 countries including exhibitors from Italy, Australia, US, Spain, Taiwan and UK. There were nearly 550 boats on display, among which were around 60 new launches which released to the world for the first time. The number is expected to go high at this year’s event.

International Travel and Tourism Market

World Travel Market Latin America

The Hague: International Travel and Tourism Market (ITTM) which will be held from April 15 to 20 in The Hague, The Netherlands, offers travel and tourism businesses a platform for brand exposure, investment opportunity, networking, cross-marketing and trade exchange. More than 2,500 visitors and 500 participants are expected.

Sao Paulo (Brazil): World Travel Market (WTM) Latin America, the leading global B2B event for the Latin American travel industry will take place at Transamerica Expo Center in SĂŁo Paulo from April 23 to 25. Last year there were 17,000 industry professionals from more than 60 countries. A dedicated Travel Technology Region

introduced for the first time will include some of the biggest names in the travel technology industry including Google and Tripadvisor. The visitors will be able to acquaint with the exciting new Google Glass as well as other new wearable technology devices that are planned to be released in the near future.

April 2014 travel & flavors


Travel News

Golf Business Forum

Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism meet Bonito:The Eco tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) by the International Ecotourism Society is a unique annual event with focus on the advancement of sustainability goals for the tourism industry. The ESTC will take place in Bonito, Brazil, from April

27 to 30. With a focus on promoting ecotourism’s role in sustainable development, it will bring together 600 professionals from around the world. The travel meet is a new initiative that aims at bringing forth a new trend in Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism

Abu Dhabi: The latest edition of one of the most anticipated gatherings in the golf business calendar, Golf Business Forum 2014 will be held at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa from April 28 to 30. The forum will have specialists with expert knowledge and insight debating topics, including the role of next generation digital technology within the golf industry, the influence of data analytics on performance and changing customer behaviour. Delegates will also be presented with the very latest trends and research findings relating to the global golf development, along with interactive debates including industry powerbrokers and innovators.

April Events Calendar 2014 DATE


April 1-14 April 2-3 April 5 April 6 April 6-13 April 8 April 11-13 April 13 April 13-15 April 14-16 April 17-21 April 19 to May 11 April 24-27 April 20 April 22–24 April 25-May 4 April 26 April 30 April30

Tulip Festival Gangaur Festival Naghol Land Diving Kanamara Matsuri Semana Santa Ram Navami Coachella Baisakhi Songkran Sisters’ Meal Festival Byron Bay Bluesfest Feria de San Marcos Moogfest Easter Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival King’s Day (Koningsdag) Walpurgisnacht Queen’s Day

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April 2014

Srinagar, Kashmir, India Rajasthan, India Pentecost Island, Vanuatu Kawasaki, Japan Antigua, Guatemala India Indio, California, US Punjab, India Chiang Mai, Thailand Shīdòng, China Byron Bay, Australia Expoplaza, Aguascalientes, Mexico Asheville, North Carolina, US Global Alcoy, Spain New Orleans, Louisiana, US Amsterdam, Netherlands Brocken, Harz Mountains, Germany Amsterdam, Netherlands

Easter Eggs

Germany / Unique Festival

Walking with ‘witches’ It’s not a Harry Potter recreation but a traditional festival in Germany that takes you to Harz only to witness ‘witches’ and ‘devils’ walking around the town at night Walpurgisnacht When: April 12 Where: Germany


he pagan festival of Walpurgisnacht may seem hair-raising to those not familiar with the zaniest of European traditions but in all accounts, it is a night of revelry and merry-making recalling the tradition followed by the people of Germany many centuries ago when witch-hunting was quite fashionable. Walpurgisnacht or ‘the night of the witches’ takes its name from Saint Walburga whose feast is on the first of May. Although variants of the festival can be seen in other parts of Europe like Finland, Czech Republic and Sweden, the German version is dating back to the PreChristian times. The legend has it that it is on this night that witches and warlocks ride on their broomsticks to places with remnants of Pagan sacrifices in the Harz Mountains. The 1,142 m high peak is often misty and foggy adding to the creepy atmosphere associated with the festival. During the ancient times, frightened citizens used to hang crosses and herbs on their doors, ring church bells or crack whips to prevent witches or warlocks from getting at them. But all that’s in the past. Today, the people living in and around Harz wait for the ‘witching hour’ so as to party with their family and friends. You can see ‘witches’ and ‘devils’ walking around the town. People from other parts of the country book their stay at the local motels and hotels in advance and show off the creepiest of the costumes they rent. It would be a fun to party in a witch costume with a wand in hand. In the town of Thale, you could stop at Walpurgishalle Museum that would give you all the information you need on sacrifices, rituals and pagan altars. Bonfires with people dancing around them, the fireworks at the end of the festival and all make the Walpurgisnacht a festival not to be missed. You could catch the countryside fairs with their own addition of stomach churning and spine chilling rides on the way as well!

Unique Festival / Thailand

Water bombs everywhere! Songkran is actually an excuse for Thai people to cool down in the peak of summer. Considered as a Buddhist festival, it has now evolved into a water splashing event Songkran When: April 12 Where: Thailand


o one is spared from getting wet during Songkran, a three-day Thai festival. It marks the beginning of the Lunar year. It’s an auspicious day among the Thai Buddhists, when they bath the images of the Buddha and seek blessing of their elders by pouring scented water gently on their hands. Afterwards, they start splashing water freely at each other. They even make sand replicas of Buddhist stupas in front of the monasteries. Birds and fishes are also set free as part of the celebration. There is no excuse for anyone from getting wet on these three days of the festival. What was once a religious ritual has now turned out to be a fun water fight. Water balloons are thrown at unsuspecting tourists and pedestrians. High powered water

guns are fired at vehicles. The festival is best witnessed in the city of Chiang Mai. The old city here is the centre of all the festivities. For the festival, the moat around the legendary town is dried out and then filled with fresh water. Temporary water pumps are erected near the moat for using it in the water fight. Thousands of people gather in the town hurling bucket loads of water at each other. One of the most admirable features of the festival is the setting free of fishes and birds which are best watched in the island of Phuket. The colourful parade showcasing huge Buddha floats and painted elephants makes the festival even more attractive. It is also time for the tourists to try out the best Thai cuisine as lots of local delicacies are served as part of the festival.

Quick Festivals

A fair for the sake of all Feria de san marcos When: April 19- May 11 Where: Aguascalientes, Mexico


are for a dash of flamenco or perhaps a rough entertainer with bullfights and cockfights? Then pack up and come to Aguascalientes, Mexico, where you can catch all these and much more at the country’s largest annual state fair. Once considered nothing more than a plain livestock and an agrarian show by the locals, today it’s become a much bigger event with exhibitions, flamenco performances, beauty pageants, concerts, a national poetry award, cultural events, food and wine and, of course, cockfights and bullfights for those who’re bored of the usual gala.

Freedom celebration festival of moors & Christians When: April 22–24 Where: Alcoy, Spain


he festival of Moors and Christians, better known as the Fiesta de Moros y Christianos, celebrates the Reconquista, an important moment in history when the region in and around Alcoy in Spain was liberated from the Muslim rule in the 13th century. The best part of the festival takes place in the form of a costume parade of where hundreds of people put on elaborate costumes representing Muslim and Christian soldiers, slaves, guild groups, town criers etc of that period. Even better, if you’re lucky, you could get the chance to witness a mock battle.

Wooing with dyed rice! Sister’s meal festival When: April14-16 Where: Shīdòng, China


ou would think you’ve seen it all when it comes to wooing a partner, but then you haven’t been to the Sister’s Meal Festival that takes place in Shīdòng, China. It’s a festival where young men and women come to find their life partners, not through dating but through the medium of sticky rice. The eligible Miao women dress in exquisite embroidery and wear silver jewellery while men come serenading them, literally and present a parcel of dyed rice to the ladies whom they have fallen for. The women hand back the parcels which have unspoken messages. Two chopsticks, for example, indicate acceptance of proposal while a chili is downright rejection. April 2014 travel & flavors


Thus spake the shot / Vagamon

Sky riders of Vagamon Text & Photo: Ajesh Madhav


aragliding is the kind of adventure sport that the majority of us would rather like to watch from a distance as it is certainly not prescribed for the fainthearted. But for those who have a heart of steel and a determination to showcase their skills in the reckless sport, the 6th International Paragliding

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Festival was a golden opportunity. The festival held at Vagamon in Kottayam district, Kerala, gave the daredevils a chance to indulge in their favourite event. It’s not the kind of takeoff you would ever want to attempt but once you try your hand at it, the excitement would have overwhelmed you. Organised jointly by

the Adventure Sports and Sustainable Tourism Academy and the Kerala Tourism from February 22 to March 2, the nine-day event was indeed a huge crowd puller. Vagamon is a popular tourist spot with plenty attractions like hillocks and waterfalls. It is serene and certainly is a true beauty. The sleepy hill station does come alive

during the paragliding festival. The adventure sports do not end with paragliding if you’re into off-road racing, mountain cycling, paramotoring and adventure photography. With so many curious onlookers and daredevils afoot, this is the right time for you to visit the place and catch the invaders of the sky in action.

The Big Picture / Iceland

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April 2014

Jack Frost’s wonders


unique view of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in an afternoon in September. This large lake is situated close to one of the glaciers in southeast Iceland, on the edge of VatnajĂśkull National Park. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered one of the natural wonders of Iceland. The picture was taken by Moyan Brenn who is a professional photographer based in Rome, Italy. He has contributed to several media organisations, including Wikipedia and Lonely Planet.

April 2014 travel & flavors


MY SHOT Territorial Pride: Two lions in the Bannerghatta National Park in Karnataka. While one stares at the visitor when he clicked his camera, the other growls during a safari through the park in last October. Unlike the wild animals in zoos, those in their natural habitat, especially lions, look terrific. Arun Thampi Freelance photographer

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Cultural landmark: The Rajesk Art Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is an icon of the city. Known for its rich heritage and culture, the city attracts a number of tourists every year. Chloe L Tyler Photography and graphics student

Common man’s chariot: A taxi waiting for customers in the night near the landmark Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. Taxis are one of the transportation modes for the common man, particularly office-goers, in several parts of the metropolis and it is a hallmark of the financial capital of the country. Jees John HR professional and freelance photographer

April 2014 travel & flavors


Facelift: A Kathakali artiste with makeup prior to a performance. Elaborate makeup and costumes are required for performing this classical art form which is synonymous with Kerala’s culture and tradition. Once the makeup is done, the artiste transforms himself and is ready to present the character. Kavisan K Travel photographer

greenland: Calmly flowing Korapuzha River at Kannoor, a rural area near Koyilandi in Kozhikode district, Kerala. The confluence of two streamsAgalapuzha and Punnoorpuzha, with its banks full of coconut trees swaying in the wind is a nice spectacle to see, away from the busy city. Shinoy Baby Police officer


Camel march: A herd of camels with their owners travelling through the desert in Abu Dhabi as the sun rises. It was a fantastic photographic moment during the Al Dhafra Camel Festival held in last December. Immanuel Abraham Mathew Freelance photographer

Send us your pictures and tell us the stories behind them Please note that the entries for the ‘My Shot’ segment must stick to the following guidelines if the pictures are to be published Profile photo along with personal details to be sent along with the entries Photos being featured have to be alteast 2 MB in size A clean description of the photo must be sent along with the entries


April 2014 travel & flavors


Go Green / Eco-travel

Eco-travel in vogue Love travelling? Are you a wanderer at heart? Then Eco Travel is something, which is going to awaken your senses, and make you more eco-friendly Jasneet Kaur


veryone knows that travelling has scores of consequences on Mother Nature, but still we can’t get away from travelling. Why? A unanimous chorus would echo, ‘we love it’. But just imagine, if global warming touches the zenith, increasing the CO2 (Carbon Di-oxide) levels in the atmosphere, what would the repercussions be? Would the hill stations we die to experience, be as enchanting and serene as before? Would the snow-capped mountains, that make us skip a beat, still continue to do so? Of course, no prizes for guessing. And hence, the need for ‘Eco-friendly Travel’ comes to the forefront. This doesn’t mean you have to stop travelling, this simply

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means, travelling in an eco- friendly manner. Travelling has its own charm, but for experiencing that excitement of travelling, it’s the environment that has to pay a huge price. And here, Eco-Tourism comes into the fray. Eco Tourism is an eco-friendly alternative to commercial travel. It is basically a subset of Sustainable Tourism which includes environmental, social and economic aspects of tourism. ‘Carbon Offsetting’ and ‘Green Tags’ are some of the innovative ways that help in making your travel eco-friendly. While travelling, a hefty amount of carbon emissions are produced via different activities, which ultimately degrade the environment.

But being an eco-friendly traveller, you can make up, the amount of carbon emitted, on your part, by buying ‘Green Tags’. This money will be dedicated to support Green Energy Initiatives, hence ultimately offsetting the carbon emitted. This can happen while you are travelling in a flight. This new trend is still emerging, and has not come into the limelight yet. But there are a few websites, that support, the calculation of theamount of carbon emitted, and providing ways to offset those emissions. According to National Geographic, some nations like Norway, Brazil and Kenya, have welcomed eco-tourism with open hearts, while some are still catching on this new

trend. Well India is also among the countries that have embraced ecotourism in full swing. Now that is another feather on the cap of achievements. According to National Geographic, India is a colourful country with a plenty of things on the palate for the travellers, be it, its exotic cultures, snow laden mountains, or enchanting beaches. Kerala, ‘God’s Own Country’, is gradually coming in the gamut of eco-friendly destinations. So, being an ecotourist, by travelling in an eco-friendly manner, has scores of benefits for you, for us, and also for the environment we live in. Hence let’s formulate such alternatives to niche a better and brighter environment to live in.


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Floral Fantasy / Yunnan, China

It’s all about yellow

You will love the place if you like this particular colour because the canola fields in Yunnan, China, are nothing but the golden yellow which is mesmerizingly beautiful Lakshmi Narayanan


he small, yellow canola flowers welcome spring in Luoping, the scenic countryside in Yunnan, China. The four petals of the flower are equally shaped, which make it more beautiful and one plant carries many of them. When hundreds of thousands such small plants join, it looks like a yellow carpet rolled out in a vast area. The very sight would make you wonder because you happen to see such a splendid floral beauty for the first time. It is not just you but all may

wonder how beautiful the earth is! It is one of the prettiest sights you’d find in Luoping. Acres of farmland covered in the golden yellow rapeseed flowers stretch as far as your eyes can go, all the way into the horizon. Tourists are thronging the countryside, especially during spring. Take a long walk through the canola fields, arrange a photo session and explore the area further along with a night stay in one of the village resorts. No doubt, it will be a nice

experience. The canola flowers also known as the rapeseed flowers which are quite popular in the region are used for the production of cooking oil. The area is one of the best honeymoon destinations for the people here as it is believed there would be love, romance and prosperity if couples spend their honeymoon here. The canola fields are located near the point where Yunnan meets Guizhou and Guangxi, about 240 km east of Kunming.

When to visit

The best time to visit Luoping for this visual fiesta is FebruaryMarch.

Where to stay

Boarding houses and more expensive starrated hotels are available

April 2014 travel & flavors


Cover story / Tiger trail

Big Cat

on the prowl Photos & Text Rathika Ramasamy

April 2014 travel & flavors


Tiger trail

“TIGER, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” The Tyger, William Blake

The symmetry of a tiger incites fear and admiration at the same time and the more you watch, the more you get excited with the beast. Photographing them in their natural habitat is a challenging job as it needs lots of time, courage, patience and above all enthusiasm. Famous wildlife photographer, Rathika Ramasamy takes a strenuous journey through four tiger reserves in the country capturing tigers frame after frame


y passion for wildlife has taken me to some of the most fascinating national parks and tiger reserves in the country. You may be a wildlife enthusiast and frequent sanctuaries but there is no guarantee that you often encounter the giant cat there. It is endurance and luck which gift you wonderful moments of spotting a tiger. Every journey inside the forest is a pleasure for me. Far from the madding crowd, it often gives rare chances to experience the simple, unpolluted wildlife on its own. Be it the colourful birds or the majestic tigers, I enjoy photographing them. But it’s the rugged beauty of a tiger that compels me more than anything else to venture into the forest. The beauty of the beast is such that a description of the animal sauntering through the jungle and its look will not be satisfying so only a firsthand experience can make you say, ‘Vow!’ Everything about the tiger- right from its walk,

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the way it hunts, lazy gazing and mating- is surreal and somehow more regal than any animal that I have seen in my journey as a wildlife photographer. This could be one reason that visitors at any park flock to the spot where tigers are spotted. It could be quite irritating for the tiger,

Everything about the tiger- right from its walk, the way it hunts, lazy gazing and mating- is surreal and somehow more regal than any animal that I have seen in my journey as a wildlife photographer

I think but often our desire to ogle this striped wonder, a beast more dangerous than any and perhaps one of the most compelling creatures ever created by the god, overrides its own desire for privacy. Each safari has given me a different kind of encounter with tigers and I find that they have enhanced my experience as a wildlife photographer.

Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

It was with a beating heart that I finally set foot in Kanha National Park. Ever since my hope of catching a sight of one of the big cats was foiled on a school trip to the Periyar wildlife sanctuary, I had always nursed a desire to catch the elusive cat in action. Elephants, I could see in plenty but never a tiger. With the heaviness of my dreams weighing down on me, I entered the park. The well-maintained park shattered the images of a dry forest in me. Beautiful meadows and sal trees make it a haven for tourists, wildlife photographers and the tiger enthusiasts.

The author during a shoot

Tiger trail

No two tigers can have the same pattern of stripes on their body, which may be as many as 100.

Kanha National Park, one of the biggest national parks in Madhya Pradesh, has got an interesting connection with my childhood. Like other children, I too dreamed to be with Mowgli, the central character of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel ‘Jungle Book’. I am sure almost everyone will have fond memories of Mowgli and his adventures in the forest. It is said that Rudyard Kipling was inspired to write the novel by this very jungle which is rich with its flora and fauna. Perhaps, the most precious animal of Kanha is the Central Indian Barasingha, the swamp deer which is also the state animal. It is also found to be the home to several bird species. Kanha Tiger Reserve consists of sal forests, bamboo forests, meadows and ravines which provide a perfect

Kanha Titbits

The beautiful meadows and Sal trees are strangely reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling’s novel, ‘Jungle Book’, Spanning over an area of 1,945 sq km at an altitude of 600-900 km above ground level, the park is one of the few places in the world which can offer a sight of the rare Barasingha or swamp deer. Black buck,

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The author’s first tiger sighting at Kanha National Park

environment for many animals and birds to thrive. Shravan Tal, a lake in the central part of the park, has gifted my camera lenses many amazing pictures of water birds and their activities. The lake acts as the Sambhars and Chitals can also be commonly sighted in the park. Barasingha is, however, the flagship animal of the Park. A critically endangered species, the deer would have turned extinct years ago had it not been for the vigorous efforts adopted by the Park in conserving them. Birds such as Black Ibis, Bee-eaters, Cattle Egret, Drongos, woodpecker, fly catcher and over 300

lifeline of Kanha National Park. Shravan Tal gave me the best opportunity to watch a tiger in the wild. It was my first experience and was one of the highlights of my wildlife safari in the species. Tour packages can be easily availed from Jabalpur, Nagpur and Delhi. Starting from two nights and three days, jeeps can be easily arranged for a pick up from the Railway Station of the above mentioned states and into the National Park. Apart from that, the strict conservation measures adopted to conserve the rare flaura and fauna

country. The great cat was on the banks of the lake, swishing its tail, utterly relaxed, unmindful of the intrusion to its privacy. Although several wonderful pictures are there in my collection, the Shravan Tal picture found exclusively within the park transform this park into a haven for wildlife. Jeep safari is the best way to observe wildlife in the Kanha National Park. Only a limited number of vehicles are allowed to enter the Kisli, Kanha, Mukki and Sarhi zone in different shifts. The park closes down for monsoon from July to mid-October.

does bring a smile on my face.

Jim Corbett National Park,Uttarakhand

If you ask me about my favourite National Park, I would obviously point to Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Named after the wellknown hunter-turnedconservationist Jim Corbett, it is one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen in my life. Rivers, including sRamganga, tributaries like Sonanadi, Mandal, Kosi and Palain, and vast grasslands all add to the enchanting beauty of the forest. For both photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, Jim Corbett National Park is the ultimate tiger haven. The rich wildlife includes more than 600 species of birds, including the fish eagle, vulture and

the resident bird, brown fish owl, a very popular bird for professional photographers. Owing to your preference, you can choose summer for tiger and elephant photography and the winter season is the best for sighting birds. Another feature which makes the park closer to my heart is that it is the only forest in India where you can stay in the heart of the jungle, closest to nature. Dhikala Forest Rest House built hundreds of years ago is the best place to stay and experience wildlife and nature, and you shouldn’t miss the stay here. Plenty of deer can be seen as you enter the forest from the Dhangarhi gate to Dhikala. Driving further, you will come across the Ramganga river flowing alongside for some distance. I could also spot

gharial and crocodiles resting on the banks of the river. It is a wildlife photographer’s dream

by its magnificence, it was oblivious that there was fear in my gaze. My favourite zones in the park are Bijarani and

The rich wildlife includes more than 600 species of birds, including the fish eagle, vulture and the brown fish owl, a very popular bird for professional photographers to sight and photograph a tiger in its natural habitat. I was lucky to spot the tiger several times in Corbett and my favourite picture is that of a tiger cooling near a pond with its kill, just a few feet away from me. Though I was spellbound

Dhikala. I have sighted the tiger mostly in these zones, where the best pictures of the big cat literally walked into my lenses. During my last trip, I was fortunate to capture a tiger and deer in the same frame. The view of sunset across the

Corbett National Park immediately after a downpour

April 2014 travel & flavors


Tiger trail

A Telia cub at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Tiger trail

Corbett Titbits

The park was originally named Hailey National Park, after Governor Hailey, but was renamed Ramaganga National Park after Independence and again into Corbett Park after the famous hunter James E Corbett. Board the Corbett link Express which leaves Delhi at night and reaches Ramnagar

railway station, almost 2 km away from the main facility, in the early hours of dawn. Corbett National Park offers the opportunity to immerse the soul into the picturesque glory of the jungle. Apart from a chance to observe and photograph the myriad flaura and fauna, two hour elephant rides are a never-miss at Dhikala, Khinnanauli, Gairal and

Jhirna Gates early in the morning and the evening. Jeep Safaris inside the park is the best way of viewing the wildlife. However, tours in the Dhikala zone, where you have the most chance of seeing a tiger, are allowed only for those staying inside the park in the forest rest houses. The visitors are provided an opportunity to learn about the life of Jim

Corbett in a museum, formerly his home. The important zones, Dhikala and Bijrani, remain closed from June-November as the roads turn deplorable in the monsoon season and repair works are completed only by November. Dhikala and Gairal are the most sought after guest houses in the park.

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Every male tiger has its own territory in the forest which they mark in different ways like with their urine, by leaving scratches on trees or with its unique smell. A relatively small park with a good density of tigers and cubs, I visited Tadoba Tiger Reserve during a summer. I was able to spot two tigers together, a male and a female, during their mating season in one of my visits. I named the tigress Teliya. During one of my morning safaris, I was able to spot three cubs of Teliya playing on the road. Without disturbing them, I took their photos. One even graced me with a look into the

Female Telia cubs when they are seven months old at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve , Maharashtra

camera while the others were quite busy with their play. I waited for the mother to come out, but she didn’t turn up. My disappointment was soon washed away when I saw a male tiger

coming out of the bushes to cross the road. My naturalist whispered to me that it was Wagda, the father of the cubs and the biggest male Tiger in the park. Wagda majestically walked

past our jeep while the cubs lay cautious. I was extremely lucky to be able to capture the rare scene of a male tiger with its cubs. On yet another occasion, a second tigress named

The offspring of tigers and lions that interbreed are called ligers or tigons.

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A pleasant summer morning at Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Tiger trail

Tigers are good swimmers and can often be seen cooling off in ponds and lakes.

Ambeutara walked into the frame of my camera. Ambeutara was with her three cubs near a water body surrounded by bushes. I learn that she rules over the Kolsa area of Tadoba, but is shy and elusive. I was also lucky to get the cubs of Panderpani, another tiger playing in the pond. In a click, I was able to frame the Panderpani cub and deer, the predator and the prey in the same frame.

During one of my morning safaris, I was able to spot three cubs of Teliya playing on the road. Without disturbing them, I took their photos

A growling tiger at Corbett National Park

Tadoba Titbits

Tadoba- Andhari Tiger Reserve, set up in 1995 with an area of 627 sq km, is home to a wide variety of trees and plants. Tigers, Panthers, Hyena, Barking Deer and Sambar are just a few of the many species that rule the sanctuary situated in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. The park houses approximately 55-60 tigers. In a bid to avoid

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the overcrowding of tourists, the reserve is divided into three zones: Mohurli, Tadoba and Kolsa. Each of these gates can be approached easily from Nagpur. Tadoba Reserve has a tiger count of nearly 75 grown tigers and more than 20 cubs. An innovative idea of protecting the forestry with the help of the tribal men has been brought to fruition, in which patrolling parties

April 2014

have been created for the sole purpose of curtailing the illegal poaching rampant in the Park. Several eco development and awareness programs are organized in the Reserve around the year. Flight passengers can alight at Nagpur airport. Rail travel is an alternate option, with Chandrapur being the nearest railway station. Male and female tigers, named T6, and T41, at Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Pandharpauni Cub at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve , Maharashtra

Tiger trail

The superstitions surrounding the tiger like the mythical magic powers of a tiger claw have led to merciless hunting and the subsequent endangerment of the majestic cat.

Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is one of the most visited parks by tourists as well as wildlife enthusiasts in India. Spread over 392.5 sq km, it was named the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary back in 1955.

In 1973, it was renamed the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger. There are many beautiful lakes in the Ranthambore National Park including the Padam Talab, the largest of all lakes in the park, Raj Bagh Talab and Milak Talab. One remarkable thing about the park is that I enjoy going through its

The oldest and most photographed tiger at the park, Machli also called the Lady of the Lake gifted me enough moments to photograph her while she was cooling off in the water body which lasted almost one hour

Ranthambore Titbits

Tigers with diurnal habits are a specialty of the park compared with most of the other tigers which nurture nocturnal habits. Nearly 300 species of birds have been documented in the Ranthambore National Park. .A wide variety of Flora such as Banyan, Dhok, Babul and Neem can be seen in the Park. Bakaula region in

Ranthambore boasts of an abundance of wildlife as most of its area is covered with thick forests,.It is known for its cool atmosphere. Along with the beauty of the forest, legends and names have been attributed to almost every single Bengal Tiger in Ranthambore. Tourists have often exclaimed more than once of the tiger, which as the guide remarks, loves to pose

different scenic routes during winter as well as summer. The oldest and most photographed tiger at the park, Machli also called the Lady of the Lake gifted me enough moments to photograph her while she was cooling off in the water body. During my previous visits, I had spotted Machli many times but nothing as majestic as this one. Machli blessed my camera with a sharp look while cooling off in the water body wagging his tail in the water. Lady luck accompanied me on another trip where I was able to sight tigers mating in the park. I learn that it was T6 and T41, the male and the female tiger respectively. It

for them. Safaris can be organized inside the Park divided into either morning or evening trips. The timings of the trip vary from season to season. A 20 seater canter or a 6 seater jeep are most commonly used for Safaris inside the Ranthambore National Park. Sawai Madhopur is the nearest town to the park. The town is easily accessible from

provided me a rare picture in my photo archives. As I look back upon my many encounters with tigers in the wild, I tend to reflect on the sheer magnetism of the big cat on more than one occasion. It’s no wonder that the tiger is one of the most important animals of our country, being the national animal and all. Sadly, when I come to know that a large number of poachers are waiting to hunt down tigers, it is with a pang that I realise the natural habitat of this regal animal is fast dwindling and they will face the threat of extinction unless their conservation in our country catches some steam quickly.

Delhi, Jaipur, Kota and Mumbai. Wildlife packages, consisting of tours to Ranthambore, Kanha and Corbett National Parks can be easily availed. The only drawback of these packages is the difficulty it poses to tourists due to time constraints, as these tours often extend in length up to a year The park remains open every year from October to mid June.

A tiger with its kill at Bijarani zone, Corbett National Park

exclusive / ramoji film city

A filmy world A filmy world consisting of 2000 acres of land having everything for filmmaking is called Ramoji Film City, the largest in the world. Now a tourist attraction, the film city rolls out real and reel things before the curious visitors Jose Jacob

Photo Credit: Ramoji Film City

ramoji film city


or a country which breathes movies and worships its heroes and heroines, the film city is the greatest tribute. Everything inside the city has a filmy touch, be it the fabulous shows or the thematic buildings. Designed and created by world-class professionals and experts, it holds the Guinness record for the largest film city in the world. The city houses almost every movie location like exquisite gardens, railway stations, airports, jail etc. Even better, it houses theme parks, a variety of thematic restaurants and everything you need for a complete family vacation. Located at an hour’s drive from Hyderabad city, the place reinvents the word ‘entertainment’ to the millions of visitors. Although the Ramoji Film City is catering to a wide variety of tourists, it is a perfect place to unwind with your family. Eureka is the place where one begins the tour. A huge crowd had already gathered in front of the gates waiting for the entry. Various mascots entertained the visitors. The gates slowly opened and a number of artistes appeared performing a welcome Visitors watching the opening ceremony at Eureka song and dance programme in front of an awestruck crowd. The grandness of the Eureka was slowly revealed in front of the visitors as the dancers ushered all in. Eureka has a rare mix of Mughal, Mauryan and the Wild West, with a huge statue of Chanakya on one side and cowboy stables on the other. A medieval Meena Bazaar

The city houses almost every movie location like exquisite gardens, railway stations, airports, jail etc replica can also be seen here. The Wild West town organizes a thrilling action packed shows. Skilled actors stage a live action sequence giving the viewers a taste of movies in real life. Eureka also houses a number of amusement rides for the children and the elders alike. Special rides such as dashing cars, bungee trampoline, rangers, break dance, and twisters are some of the favourites here.

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The entrance of Borasura den

The Indian film industry produces the largest number of films in the world with almost a thousand films being produced annually

Fundustan is an attraction which is a must visit if you are looking for a play area for children. Dedicated for children, this place is shaped under its mascot Dadajin. Featured as an elderly uncle, this mascot welcomes the children as they enter this fun zone. Fundustan boasts of a number of exciting rides for the little ones. The main specialty here is the wide variety of entertainments it offers to the children. The colourful paintings and rides together create a great ambience for the children

Movie Magic. True to its name the place takes visitors through a magical ride of cinema. Here the moviemaking process is elaborately explained from start to end. Visitors get to experience how a film shapes up from a simple story on a paper to the silver screen. ‘Action’ is a major attraction here. In a 25-minute presentation, the secrets behind filmmaking are unraveled. People get to know closely exclusive cinematic experiences such as special-effects, dubbing and also the famous green

world through some of the greatest films which was shot there. The streets inside the Movie magic are also special. Don’t be surprised if you run into your favourite Hollywood super star amidst the crowd. The life like statues of many of stars like Bruce Lee, Charlie Chaplin and Sylvester Stallone in their renowned characters can be found here. With its specially designed streets and vintage cars, it gives away the feeling that one is actually in a movie. The Ramoji tower adorned with a replica of

the Statue of Liberty on one side could be seen from FilmiDuniya, set in the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills replica, had many curious visitors waiting outside for the next show. Bitten by the curiosity, I also decided to try it out. The viewers can enjoy the real tremors and acoustic effects of an earthquake here. It turned out to be a fun experience. My driver Sreenivas emerged panting as he explained that there was a Jr. NTR shoot progressing in the nearby area. Sreenivas was a diehard

Fundustan is an attraction which is a must visit if you are looking for a play area for children. Dedicated for children, this place is shaped under its mascot Dadajin to enjoy themselves. Fundustan opens the door to yet another exciting experience called Borasura: Sorcerer’s Den. A unique version of the scary house, Borasura is a great example of the magical craftsmanship and specialeffects which take visitors to one of the best fun filled horror rides of their lifetime. After experiencing the fun rides of Eureka, Fundustan and Borasura, I was taken to the Ramoji

screen chromo shots which are used extensively in the action sequences and periodic films. Getting to know the secrets behind our superheroes was a great experience. The FilmiDuniya is yet another specialty of the Movie magic. FilmiDuniya is actually a joyride through the different time zones and cities around the globe. The show ‘Around the World in Eight Minutes’ takes the viewers to the major cities around the

A vintage bus carrying visitors through the Princess street

April 2014 travel & flavors


Ramoji film city

Ramoji Film Cty has everything that a filmmaker requires. He would just need to walk in with a script and walk out with a complete film in hand!

fan of NT Rama Rao Jr. popularly known as the Jr. NTR. Excited by the chance to witness some real filmy action, I decided to check the spot. To our bad luck we arrived there when he was leaving. We could just get a glance of him as he took off in an SUV. To ease our disappointment we

decided to drive around a bit to explore the different shooting sets in the city. Our first stop was at the renowned Mahabharata set, which happens to be the very spot where one of the longest and popular serials in Indian television was shot. The set is now preserved, and is a popular place. Apart from the fully

closed studio floors for films and serials, the film city offers various locations usually used in films. One can see a South Indian town, a jail, a railway station, an airport and a wide array of multipurpose buildings all created for the films. One street among these strikes the viewers due to its sheer beauty, it’s known

as the Princess street. The street has some of the most charming sets of houses and has a large number of films to its credit. It was almost afternoon and my tummy was yearning for some food. Sreenivas noticing my hungry face asked politely if we could get some lunch. Upon my nod we zoomed into

Photo Credit: Jose Jacob A vintage car parked inside Movie Magic

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The Superstar restaurant. As the name suggests, the restaurant is a tribute to all the nations’ favourite Superstars. Set in a black and white tone, the restaurant is a great place to dine for a movie buff. The walls are adorned with the black and white portraits of film stars. It’s truly an amazing

in various hues and shades. The display area has around 20 panels that depict information relating to butterflies and is informative for visitors. Since I had to leave the studio in the evening, I decided to go to the first one. The first one was the Japanese garden. The Japanese

Here the movie making process is explained from start to end. Visitors get to experience how a film shapes up from a story on a paper to the silver screen feeling to share my lunch spot with Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi. Even the table tops, plates and saucers are specially designed to complete your cinematic dining experience. After a fulfilling lunch, I decided to check out some of the gardens in the film city. The Bonsai Park, Vaman meaning dwarf is a true delight. You can imagine yourself to be a giant as you walk among the bonsai plants. The display including around 86 Genera, 132 species with their scientific as well as English names is truly worth the visit. The Butterfly Park, sprawling across nearly 7,200 square feet hosts a wide variety of butterflies and has a laboratory featuring plenty of exotic species of butterflies

Stay at Ramoji Film City

style of construction of walls and pagodas were quiet interesting. I moved on to the Animal garden. The name is due to the plants carefully cut to maintain the shape of an animal. It had several animals such as elephants intricately shaped from plants. The place had a real monkey playing around a green elephant, which was interesting to watch. It was evening already and I just had time for just one more place, so I went to the Leg garden. The Leg garden has the statue of a resting person’s legs protruding from a lush green grass lawn while his upper part of the body came out a little later from the other side. It was slowly getting dark, so I decided to get back to the hotel. The day was well spent watching a variety of sights.

The film city promises a comfortable stay with various options for the visitors. There are mainly two categories to choose from. Sitara is the most opulent option available here. This star hotel takes care of all your needs in a royal style. It has got 154 premium air-conditioned rooms, 8 theme rooms and 4 royal suites alongside dining at one of the finest multi-cuisine restaurants.This is followed by Tara with a 126-room capacity having three star facilities.

The interiors of the Superstar restaurant

Photo Credit: Ramoji Rao Film City The fully lit Pagoda inside the Japanese garden

How to reach

Hyderabad is well connected to all the major cities in the country through an extensive road, rail and air transport network. Ramoji Film City can be reached through an hour-long drive from Hyderabad city. It is well-connected by a steady stream of public and private buses. Regular buses operated by the state transport corporation connect Ramoji Film City to the city.

April 2014 travel & flavors


A Driving Experience / Kinnaur

Between Heaven and Earth Surrounded by majestic mountains, the Kinnaur valley in Himachal Pradesh comprising some pristine villages could be the vantage point of your Himalayan holiday Suresh Joseph


took the first HRTC bus of the day at 6.15 am for the 250-km ride from Shimla to Reckong Peo. There were numerous stoppages on the 11-hour route for tea and meals and, of course, to pick up passengers. The Rampur HRTC bus stand should surely rank among the best locations for a bus stand in the country. Overlooking the Sutlej river and with tall mountains on the other side, the bus stand is a picture post card beauty. The vantage seat in the bus offered me lovely views of the mountains, rivers, trees and above all, ever smiling people. Without exception the road condition was bad. The villages in Reckong Peo face the majesty of the snow clad mountains of which the Kinner Kailash is regarded as one of the mythical homes of Lord Shiva. The mountain at an altitude of 6,400 metres is not to be confused with Mt. Kailas in Tibet. By the side of the mountain is an 80-foot high rock formation that resembles a ‘Shivalinga’. It reportedly changes colour during the day. A 7/8-day trek from Peo covers the ‘parikrama’ at the base of the mountain. There are nine major mountains in the range, of which Shilla is the tallest at 7,025 metres. The locals believe that spirits of the dead of Kinnaur reside in the peak of Raldang. The magnificent sights on the way to Rogi village from Kalpa confirm the great natural beauty of the place. It makes one believe in the local legend that the area with all its charms fell from the heavens as a gift from the God. The bus journey is exhilarating as the road is trickily carved out of sheer rock faces. The village is pristine with apricot trees in full bloom and apples getting ready for the new fruiting in August. The walk back made me appreciate the glorious views of the mountains, the orchards, the greenery and the peculiar rock formation and even designs on them. The deep gorges can make your head spin. In fact, the ‘suicide point’ is a favourite among visitors to appreciate the precipitous rock faces. Along the way, the simple village folk wish you and a few of them even stopped to enquire if I liked

On the way to Chitkul are a few quaint villages.The first of them is Batseri which is set on the left bank of the Baspa River April 2014 travel & flavors



Kothi is an amazing village. Its location in the arms of the snow clad mountains makes for a land that comes only in fairy tales

Village women

An aerial view of Kinnaur

what I saw. Sangla was colder than Kalpa even though Kalpa is supposed to be the coldest place in Kinnaur along with Chitkul. Sangla village is on the banks of the Baspa river and is the main market in the area. The youngster at the wheel of the hired cab, Lokesh, was of the opinion that Kinnaur is

blessed in every way except the condition of the roads. I tended to agree with his observation but not so much with the manner in which he negotiated them. On the way to Chitkul are a few quaint villages. The first of them is Batseri which is set on the left bank of the river. The surrounding of the village

is used by camp organisers who set up trekking trips of varying difficulties. The village is reputed to have a huge prayer wheel housed in a shelter. The village of Rakcham is at an altitude of 3,115 metres. The village has got its name from two words- rak and cham- the former meaning rock and the latter bridge. The local belief is that the river waters corroded a stone dam, thereby creating a natural bridge at the spot. Chitkul is the last inhabited village in the valley and is at an altitude of 3,450 metres. Vast snow fields, rocky terrain and high mountains separate the village from Tibet. The village also has a flour mill housed in a shelter, the wheel of which is turned by the waters of a channelised perennial stream. Cold winds make the place extremely harsh. Watching a lady washing woolen clothes in a running stream almost turned my

blood cold. The people in the villages have Tibetan features and the food is predominantly of that region. The ride back to Sangla affords panoramic views of the Sangla valley. September/October would be the right time to appreciate the beauty of the 95-km long valley for the valley would then be green and the Baspa river in full flow. The Baspa river flows north-west against the normal north-south flow of other rivers. The river that rises in the hills of Uttaranchal meets with the Sutlej river at Karcham. The Kamru Fort in Sangla was the original seat of the rulers of Bushair. I was not prepared for the steep climb to the Fort; the entrance to the climb is guarded by the image of the Buddha. Summoning my reserves of will power and woefully inadequate lung capacity, I made it up to the Fort only to be told that it would open only

Exercise caution while going for a drive around Kinnaur as the roads, cut out of mountains are treacherous and have often been dubbed ‘Free fall Free Way’.

Kalpa, which provides one of the most fantastic views of Mount Kailash, came into prominence after a visit by British Governor General Lord Dalhousie in 19th century.

late evening. The views of Sangla and the surrounding areas were lovely. Moreover, like most places in this lovely region of Kinnaur, the air is clean and almost aromatic here. I had heard about the beauty of Kothi village, which had to be explored on foot. It was a long walk despite the short cuts through the forest. But it was worth every minute of it. Kothi is an amazing village. Its location in the arms of the snow clad mountains makes for a land that comes in only fairy tales. When you see such places you start believing in concepts like paradise, bliss, God like people, etc. The mountains seem like they bestow special attention on the village. The traditional construction in the village uses slates, stones and wood. But concrete and tin sheeting

are gaining importance in the new generation buildings. The temple dedicated to Chanadika Devi is quaint and well maintained. A gold image of the Goddess is enshrined in the sanctum. A couple of girls, watching me using the digital camera liberally, asked me to photograph them, which I did. They were extremely pleased with the result and moved away as quietly as they had come. This was in stark contrast to my experience near Rogi village where I asked four small kids to pose for a photograph. After I had taken a couple of them, the oldest among them approached me with the demand, “Uncle, paisa do.� Perhaps, more visitors go to Rogi than to Kothi village and even kids have realised the commercial prospects of such visits. A view of the mountain

Getting There


Himachal Pradesh

Shimla can be easily reached from Delhi by train, bus or air travel. For those who can afford it, renting a car or jeep to reach Reckong Peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur, is the best way. Another option would be to use one of the buses plying regularly to different parts of Kinnaur. HRTC (Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation) has several buses plying on the route which connects Shimla and Reckong Peo. Exercise caution in the drive as the roads are not in their best condition and long suspension bridges may add to the blocks that are very common in the rainy and winter season.

Getting Around

The major villages and towns in the area are connected by bus service, jeeps and shared taxis, private ones available for the right pay. Rampur, Sangla, Sarahan, Reckong Peo and Kalpa are the main places where you can expect decent accommodation and transport.


Reckong Peo is the administrative centre of Kinnaur and has earned name as an important transport hub, but its importance is lies in its function as an avenue for entry into Kalpa, or Tabo in Spiti which requires a permit

April 2014 travel & flavors


travel blog / corbett national park

On a safari in Corbett Park The Corbett National Park has caught the imagination of many with its diverse wildlife and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Today, this 520-square kilometre park is the home to the PROJECT TIGER Richi Mohanty


here was stillness in the air, a silence which enveloped us with only the sound of the forest all around. The creak of the cricket and the chirp of birds were the only sounds heard along with our footsteps on the dry grass and leaves. As we moved forward on our trail, we could hear the deer and the chatter of monkeys. We moved further, in a tight huddle with a guide and six followers, exploring smaller details of the jungle. Suddenly, a bark tears through the air, leaving us all frozen on the spot. Our guide smells a nearby tree trunk and declares the tiger is out on prowl, and has visited this spot. We catch a glimpse of the

claw mark on the trunk. Our hearts beat faster and the breathing gets heavier as our guide asks us to hurry but as calmly as possible towards the exit. And we do‌ When I think of Jim Corbett, this is the story that comes to my mind first, not how we reached the National Park or where we stayed but the

eventful morning we had just before we left, the morning that left us excited and scared. The one event left us thinking, we humans are just a part of the grand nature where we are as afraid as the prey itself. A visit to such nature centric places is a good reminder to us city dwellers who live amidst dogs and pigeons

The resort was beautiful with two tree houses and a small narrow lane leading up to the entrance. The rooms were on one side of the resort while the rest had some cottages and huge open fields

that we are not the centre of the life force, instead just one part of the big cycle in operation. In the year 1934, the park was converted into a sanctuary and the protection was given to it. Later, after consultation with Major Jim Corbett, the boundaries of the sanctuary were demarcated. The Corbett National Park consists of 520 square kilometres and has been the home to the PROJECT TIGER. We started from Delhi as a large group of 25 people and boarded the train to Ramnagar, headquarters to the Corbett National Park. The journey only lasted a couple of hours and we arrived in the evening to go to the resort we had booked. We got into jeeps

corbett national park

The park, originally named Hailey National Park, after Governor Hailey, was renamed Ramaganga National Park after Independence and again into Corbett National Park in memory of the famous hunter James E Corbett

to travel from the railway station to the forest resort located in the perimeters of the park. The resort was beautiful with two tree houses and a small narrow lane leading to the entrance. The rooms were on one side of the resort and the other had some cottages and huge open fields. On the first night, I went for a small walk towards the open field with some small fences around. As I walked away from the rooms behind me, I spotted four silhouettes of dogs. I walked on confidently till I heard the howl. I froze initially and then moved at a snail’s pace towards them and when I could finally see more details, I realised that they were jackals looking straight at me. They were still howling and suddenly a jeep entered from the

back gate, facing me and drove the jackals away. The trip had started with an unexpected adventure making a chill run down my spine and still leaving me gasping for more. It was very cold as it was the month of February and we cuddled up around the bonfire in the field. While the fire danced in front of our eyes, the hoot of the owls and the crickets’ creak set up the background score for the night. The next morning, we boarded the jeeps for a safari into the park. The safari was quite thrilling as we caught glimpses of elephants and a raccoon which ran right across the safari path while we drove. Other than that, we saw the regular ensemble of chattering groups of monkeys, some deer and birds. We did catch one nightingale

perched high above preparing for the long day ahead. We marched forward hoping to glimpse a tiger, the most revered animal of the jungle, but alas we did have the luck. The rest of the day was uneventful with us walking around the resort, climbing up to the tree house for great view and meeting a few more jackals. Next day, late in the morning, we were to leave for Delhi and one resort person offered to give us one last chance into the forest and this time on foot. So just the six of us got up very early to get a morning walk into the forest and rest of the story you already know. The Corbett story would have been incomplete if we would not have gone for the nature walk. I would suggest if you are a small group, you

Getting There

Board the Corbett link Express which leaves Delhi at night and reaches the Ramnagar railway station, almost 2 km away from the main facility, in the early hours of dawn.

What To Do Corbett National Park


Corbett National Park offers you the opportunity to immerse the soul into the picturesque glory of the jungle. Apart from a chance to observe and photograph the myriad flaura and fauna, two hour elephant rides are a nevermiss at Dhikala, Khinnanauli, Gairal and Jhirna Gates early in the morning and the evening. Jeep Safaris inside the park is the best

Gray Langur at Corbett Park

should sign up for the nature walks they already have in the timetable which we had not got by chance. The thrill on foot is so much more than when you are in a jeep. With the thrill in our hearts still beating loud enough for others to hear, we left the National Park.

way of viewing the wildlife. However, tours in the Dhikala zone, where you have the most chance of seeing a tiger, are allowed only for those staying inside the park in the forest rest houses

What To See

The visitors are provided an opportunity to learn about the life of Jim Corbett in a museum, formerly his home

Useful Info

The important zones, Dhikala and Bijrani, remain closed from JuneNovember due to the poor condition of roads in the monsoon season.

exploring the past / lumbini

Land of the enlightened The word ‘Lumbini’ brings to my mind the image of Lord Buddha who was born in this beautiful village which is now known as the Mecca of Buddhism Savithri S Iyer


eing a person who prefers to curl up with a book or revel in the scenic splendour of nature rather than partying hard with friends, it was the kind of holiday that the doctor ordered. Lumbini is known world over as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It has a place in history as one of the holiest destinations for the followers of Buddhism. It is believed that nearly 400,000 devotees and tourists visit Lumbini annually. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also a dream destination for archaeology buffs. The site is one of the four great pilgrimage destinations in the Buddhist faith that include Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. The Buddha is believed to have lived here until the age of 29 after which according to records he left home in search of religious

salvation. The site includes a number of temples and holy sites like the Puskarini or Holy Pond where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip before his birth as well as the remains of the Kapilavastu Palace. During the times of the Buddha, the place was located between Kapilavastu and Devadaha and today, a pillar marks the spot where Asoka visited Lumbini. The holy site of Lumbini is bordered with a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built. The area is separated into two zones. The eastern zone consists of the Theravidin monasteries while the western zone consists of the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. The site also houses several ancient monasteries where you can actually sit down, close your eyes and feel the inner peace. It was quite an experience for a person

like me who has always failed at meditation. But the atmosphere in Lumbini and around the ruined walls of the ancient monasteries there seemed to be magical. You can also spot an ancient bathing pond and a sacred Bodhi tree, not the one where the Buddha attained enlightenment! There’s an Asoka pillar as well. It’s not surprising that there’s an Asokan representation here, the great Indian Emperor is credited with spreading Buddhism world over after all. You can see plenty of monks and pilgrims sitting around these spots, deep in prayer. Their devotion and piety is so powerful that I was rooted to the spot, watching a monk chanting hymns, with a faraway look in his eyes. It looked as if an earthquake wouldn’t shake him from the spot. I moved away from there and was at the Mayadevi Temple which

seems to have some kind of an otherworldly charm. The Sacred Garden and the Mayadevi Temple are the icing on the cake for all those who hope to see relics associated with Buddhism. The spot where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to the Buddha is marked by a pillar that was erected by Emperor Asoka in 249 BC when he visited the site. The inscription on the Asokan Pillar identifies the Sacred Garden as the spot where the Buddha was born. Recent excavations at the Mayadevi Temple have revealed a marker stone that shows the exact spot where Prince Siddartha Gautama who went on to become the Buddha was born. It’s a common sight that monks sit in meditation around the temple and garden premises. Tourists are told prior to entering the sacred premises that the sanctity of the place has to be

An excavation by archaeologists at the Mayadevi Temple in 1995 revealed a singular panel depicting Prince Siddhartha in his chamber with Princess Yasodhara.

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The sacred pond of Puskarni is where Queen Mayadevi took a bath before giving birth to the Buddha. The infant Buddha was also given his first purification bath there.

maintained. If you’re looking to spend some quality time with monument hunting, then Lumbini offers you that too. Just north of the Sacred Garden are the monastic zones which consist of temples and monasteries built by different countries, each depicting different sects of Buddhism. The Myanmar Temple or the Lokamani Cula Pagoda which is a shiny gold and white structure resembling the Shwe-dagon Pagoda in Yangon while the China Temple built by the Buddhist Association of China is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. The International Gautami Nuns Temple is a replica of the Swayambhu Stupa in Kathmandu. The Japan Peace Stupa built by Nippon Jon Kyohoji, Japan,

is a 41-m statue with four different statues of the Buddha set in the stupa’s dome, each facing different directions. You could also catch the World Peace Pagoda located outside the main compound of the Sacred Garden. The 62 archaeological sites scattered around Lumbini bear

A walk through the villages surrounding Lumbini, an interaction with the local people, a bit of shopping at the local handicraft stores and also a glimpse of the traditional rituals of the region would make it a wholesome trip

The Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha

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significance to the life and enlightenment of the Buddha. The tour includes sites like Tilaurakot identified by archaeologists as the capital of Kapilavastu, Kudan where King Suddhodhan met Lord Buddha for the first time after returning from his enlightenment, Gothihawa, Niglihawa,

Devdaha and Sagarhawa, all of which have some significance with the life and times of the Buddha. The pick of my trip besides the striking monasteries and the Sacred Garden was the Lumbini Museum on the Lumbini Development Trust campus that has Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terracotta pieces and stone as well as metal sculptures in its collection. Opposite to the Lumbini Museum is Lumbini International Research Institute which provides research facilities for studying Buddhism and contains nearly 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture. Approximately 27 km west of Lumbini in Tilaurakot is the Kapilavastu Museum which has artifacts dating back to the 7th century BC

The pick of my trip besides the striking monasteries and the Sacred Garden was the Lumbini Museum on the Lumbini Development Trust campus and 4th century AD. If you think you’re done with the history overdose, then the Lumbini Village tour is another plus in your trip. A walk through the villages surrounding Lumbini, an interaction with the local people, a bit of shopping at the local handicraft stores and also a glimpse of the traditional rituals of the region would make it a wholesome trip. Visitors can also get a chance to visit the local temples and mosques, and also to take part in cultural ceremonies of the region. Wetland areas, lakes and even plenty of birdwatching locations will attract you if you are a nature-loving

Pilgrims praying at the Sacred Garden


Be sure to check out the World Peace Pagoda, constructed by Japanese Buddhists, depicts the Buddha in the posture he is postulated to have been in his birth.

The Mayadevi temple, situated on the birth site of the Buddha, houses a sandstone carving of the birth of Buddha and the sacred Puskarni Pond beside it is definitely worth a visit.

• Myanmar Golden Temple

The spellbinding Myanmar Golden Temple and the famed Ashoka Pillar which marks

person. Despite its historical significance, Lumbini remained neglected for centuries and remained so until 1895 when a German archaeologist, Fuhrer, discovered the Asokan pillar while wandering around the Churia range. Further excavations unearthed numerous artifacts and Lumbini turned into the cynosure of the world. I was left wonderstruck by the world renowned heritage site. What makes Lumbini so unique is that you would have a great time interacting with the locals, reveling in the beauty of nature and reflecting on the sanctified aura of the place.

Ashoka’s visit to Lumbini whereas Lumbini Crane Sanctuary offers you a chance to glimpse the elusive Sarus crane. •

Threefox restaurant offers a palette of Tibetan, Indian and Western food for those with a craving to satisfy their taste buds.

If you have a few days to spare, Panditarama International Meditation Centre offers you a chance to meditate during the day and attend Dhamma talks in the evening.

April 2014 travel & flavors


Road to sanctity / Kedarnath

A lofty witness to man’s frailty

Kedarnath Temple is one of the best places to get away from the tedium of daily life. Steeped in history, it is a perfect place to delve into a religious journey, where myth and history seem to be interconnected Karnika E Yashwant


midst the tediousness of my day to day life, my mind goes back to those days when I could enjoy a leisurely inspection of Indian temples. Some time back, I made one such trip with a small group, desperate for relief from everyday concerns of running a

business. As we drove past the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range, one of the twelve ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva greeted me out of the mist. It was like a homecoming for me. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst

the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. Just the majestic sight of this temple calmed my spirit. My group first came upon Gaurikund (14 km), the trekking base to Kedarnath. The pilgrimage begins from Rishikesh, about 14 miles from Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand

middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks, loomed the Kedarnath temple. It represents the indomitable human spirit untouched by time in its majesty. At the temple door, I came upon a huge stone idol of the sacred Nandi Bull adorning the courtyard. The inner walls of

As we drove past the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range, one of the twelve ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva greeted me out of the mist. It was like a homecoming for me and pilgrims need to trek 14 km uphill from Gaurikund to reach the shrine. The road to Triyuginarayan is a five km trek from Sonprayag, the venue of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. I saw the eternal flame in front of the temple, which is said to have been a witness to the marriage. Then, standing in the

the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisite Kedarnath temple is said to be more than a thousand years old. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The present temple, built

The Kedarnath temple was one of the worst-hit in the flash floods that rocked Uttarakhand in 2013. More than 1000 devotees were presumed dead in the floods.

April 2014 travel & flavors



According to legends, Adi Sankaracharya attained Moksha at the Kedarnath temple. The Shiva lingam at the temple is of an unusual pyramidal shape

Shaiva sadhu (holy man) standing in front of the Lord Siva temple in Kedarnath


in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya lies adjacent to the site of an ancient temple built by Pandavas. The temple has a conical lingam, the main idol, a statue of Nandi the celestial bull, a ‘garbha grab’ for worship and a ‘mandap’ for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. Legend has it that when the Pandavas sought penance following the Kurukshethra war, they came in search of Lord Shiva. Arriving at this site, they found that Shiva had y taken the form of a bull. Bhim, the strongest of the Pandavas, went after Shiva who dived deep into the ground. Only Shiva’s tail was left in Bhim’s hand. This spot is known as Kedarnath and the rest of Shiva’s body emerged at four other places in Garhwal – Tunganath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath. These five Kedars are worshipped as Panch Kedars. The entire area is utterly enchanting and unmatched in scenic beauty. During winters, the shrine is submerged in snow and hence is closed. The ideal time to visit is between May to October. In 2013, flash

floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in northern India devastated the sacred land closing down one of India’s most important Hindu pilgrimages, the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand, the state worst hit by a natural disaster that was waiting to happen owing to deforestation, urbanization, and irresponsible tourism. According to government estimates, at least 5,000 people were killed in the deluge although the death toll could be more than double the official figure. At least 100,000 people including 26,500 pilgrims were rescued by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and other rescue teams despite the inclement weather. This pilgrimage has humbled me. Man is not equal to God, and must always put the spiritual above the material. The Kedarnath Temple has shown to me that only stones will eventually be the only witnesses to man’s frailty. Thus, one day, I will find myself going back to where I first started the journey to myself.


Getting There

The Kedarnath temple can be reached on foot from Gauri Kund, which is connected to Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Kumaon and Garhwal hill stations by roads. Pilgrims have to ascend the road from Gauri Kund to Kedarnath on foot. Pilgrims have the option of hiring a mule or a doli.

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Pilgrims walking through the last stretch of 14km to Kedarnath

trippin with shweta / El salvador

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Made in El Carmen,

used worldwide The Apaneca-Llamatepec mountain range is not just a great place for a trek. It is home to the El Carmen Coffee Plantation which produces one of the best coffee in the world Shweta Ganesh Kumar


so es. This is it,” the driver says in Spanish as he swerves off the highway to the right, onto a dirt road. We sit up, shaking off the sleepiness gifted to us by the winding mountain roads. We’ve been rocked from side to side for the better part of two hours, as we drove down from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. The car rattles and jumps over the embedded rocks on the road. On both sides are tall mountainous shrubs and coniferous trees. As the car bumps onward, the right side suddenly opens up to a grassy field, beyond which a trekking path snakes up through a hillock covered with shrubs of coffee. On the left side, a massive wrought-iron gate which is guarded by a middleaged Salvadoran gentleman with a hat. Alongside the gate is a red wall, from which the invisible but potent fragrance of ground coffee rises and hangs heavily in the air. We are on the grounds of

the El Carmen Coffee Plantation and Mill – home to some of the best coffee produced in and imported from, this Central American nation. Nestled high up on the Apaneca – Llamatepec mountain range, at a height of 1,300 metres above the sea level, this place is as fresh as a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The massive gates yawn open and we jump out to a puff of chilly air that washes over us like cold water, waking up our senses. Our accommodation for the weekend is well-worth waking up for. We are staying at La Casona, the plantation house built more than a hundred years ago and maintained in its original form, merely updated for those human comforts that most of us can no longer live without- like running hot water or electricity, be it of the lowest voltage. The man with the hat, the caretaker of the plantation house, leads us down a tiled corridor to our rooms at the very end of the house. Ancestors and present family members

April 2014 travel & flavors


el salvador

Kopi Luwak, one of the most expensive coffee in the world, is manufactured by feeding the coffee beans to Asian palm civets, which excretes the beans unable to digest it.

alike, eye us from the ornately framed photographs hung on the walls and placed on the tops of the heavy chests of drawers in the corners of the house. We walk past curios and artefacts the family has lovingly collected

of its owners past and present. The room has two hefty wooden beds and a window that opens out into a lush, green garden with fruit-bearing trees of many kinds. As we press our nose to the slightly frosty glass, a breeze

We carefully pluck a couple and pop one each in our mouth. It tastes like a kind of watermelon. And just a couple of chomps lead us to the bean. Here at El Carmen, the cherries are handpicked from across the world. Though we are the only guests here, the house is far from empty. It throbs with the souls

makes the tree closest to us shudder in delight. A ripe orange makes a soft landing on the cushy grass below. A local woman with coffee beans

The famed EL Salvador coffee

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We traipse out of the gates for a tour of the coffee factory and the mill that was founded in 1930 by Don Augustin Alfaro Moran. Our guide, lanky and nervous, is waiting for us, dressed in a trademark white T-shirt with the El Carmen logo emblazoned in the front. The tour starts. Our guide is meticulous. He wants to start from the beginning. He takes us to a cluster of coffee plants bordering the mountain. “Go ahead. Pluck a cherry,� he says pointing at the fleshy red cherries on the bushes.

We carefully pluck a couple and pop one each in our mouth. It tastes like a kind of watermelon. And just a couple of chomps lead us to the bean. Here at El Carmen, the cherries are handpicked. Our guide walks us over to the cement ditches where the cherries are doused with water. This is where the chaff gets separated from the rest. The bad-quality cherries float on top while the good quality cherries sink to the bottom from where a gush of water takes them into the machines

that take off the flesh and the skin to get to the real treasure – the beans. We clamber up steep steel steps to look at rotating drums and other machinery that separate the pulp from the bean and organise them according to size. Much later in the process, the beans are ready for drying. We slowly picked our way down to the open cemented tracts where carpets of coffee beans were laid out for drying. Like performing the steps of an ancient dance, the workers of the mill slowly tread over these carpets, raking them, as they go, making sure the beans are evenly dried. We tramped in and out of warehouses with massive machinery taking breathers after making sure the beans were put through the processes of hulling, polishing and grading. The smell of coffee was tantalizingly heavy in the air. But we were still a few processes away from that one perfect cup. Our guide led us into a room with a conveyor belt running through the middle. This was where nimble-fingered women removed defective beans based on criterion from international coffee boards. A painstaking process that left me humbled by the amount of work that went into that cup that made waking-up so much easier. But we were not done yet. There was still one more step between the cup and the lip. We were led into the roasting room

that reached out and embraced us in a coffee-flavoured haze. This is where the beans underwent the final transformation. Inhaling as much as we possibly could, we followed our guide out into the garden, where he had set up an indigenous coffee filter, common in the Ataco region. Deftly he went through the steps of making a cup of coffee and handed my husband and me a steaming pot of black coffee. Just one sip warmed us from the inside out. And why wouldn’t it? It wasn’t only about the flavour but about the number of hands that had worked on it to make sure that you got this sip with its perfect taste.

Just one sip warmed us from the inside out. And why wouldn’t it? It wasn’t only about the flavour but about the number of hands that had worked on it to make sure that you got this sip with its perfect taste

Packed coffee beans

Don’t Miss Out •

Various adventure activities such as zip line and high ropes are offered at the El Carmen coffee estate. Don’t miss the Monumento Al Divino Salvador Del Mundo, a dedication to San Salvador’s patron saint. Be sure to check out the

beautiful Teatro Presidente theatre in San Salvador. San Salvador is also famous for its museums like Museo de Arte Marte and Museo David J Guzman. Make sure you don’t miss out on the famous Salvadoran Pupusas available in the restaurants.

Salvadoran Pupusa meal

April 2014 travel & flavors


Renuka’s travels / sumatra

Sumatra is an island of stunning beauty and is home to volcanoes and jungles with Orangutans and elephants. Watching these animals could be a joy forever Renuka C Sekhar


walk through the dense rain forests was just a dream till I reached Sumatra, a fantastic travel destination where we encounter the nature with Orangutans, bath in the tepid waters and visit remote islands where Stone Age indigenous people are still alive in isolation. And more than anything, “I was travelling alone” and I couldn’t help but thank the eco-tourism industry which has made it easier for casual nature lovers like me to experience jungle landscapes without a pith helmet and Pedang sword. Whoever heard I was going to Indonesia, especially Sumatra, were of the same opinion, “A land always beaten by tsunamis, a land of active volcanoes and

frequent earthquakes, is there anything left to see?” Moreover, adding fuel to the fire, one of my friends who visited Indonesia a couple of months back brought me a travelogue where I read about Indonesia: “Smiles, Blackberry phones and cigarettes! Young and old, inside, outside, upstairs and downstairs, they all seem to be smoking. There’s tobacco advertising everywhere, on billboards and posters. It’s like stepping back into the 80s! And the cuisine includes salads that appear to have small pieces of red pepper and green beans, thick hot curry sauces, rice, eggs, fish chillies and more chillies.” “Oh great, I was waiting for a spicy trip,” I thought, as I was already excited and was waiting

A woman came to see me, smiling. It was then that I came to the realisation that there was no malice in their curiosity-I seemed to be something of a minor celebrity here, only much less attractive 68 travel & flavors

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The world less conquered


Sumatra, although blessed with a very diverse natural forest, witness the highest rate of deforestation in the world with the lowlands on the east side facing the imminent threat of extinction

I thought, as I was already excited and was waiting for an adventurous break like this. The first part of my journey began at Samosir in Lake Toba from where I took a boat to get to the mainland at Parapat. From Parapat, I went on a five-hour trip in a packed and extremely smoky bus to Medan through the winding roads of Balaikota. I made it with no trouble at all unless I could count my chances for future lung cancer. There were a few Muslim girls in the bus with head scarf covering their hair and wearing designer jeans and lots of bling. Their thickly lined eyes gazed at me and the ladies going for work stepped over them as they crouched into the side door and sat on the wood. Medan wasn’t that cosy with its half-dirt and halfcement roads. It was a land

and allure. I assumed I would see monkeys the whole time but that wasn’t exactly true. I could also see chickens, pigs and cows wandering about the roads. However, I got very excited to see the jungle up close in all its glory finally. It was dark when we got there, Bukit Lawang is a small village nestled on the river bank with traditional bamboo logs men and small huts. The lake water here is the cleanest I have ever seen in Indonesia and delightfully warm. My hotel Jungle Inn sits just across the river from the Gunung Leuser National Park that

An orang-utan family

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often beaten up by natural disasters. Women and children wearing T-shirts and jeans and with baskets on their heads sold dry cookies and bottles of water and giggled at me as I was waiting for my guide, to the final destination Bukit Lawang. A group of young boys passing by were staring and laughing at me. I could only smile back. I found myself sweating profusely. A woman came to see me, smiling. It was then that I came to the realisation that there was no malice in their curiosity– I seemed to be something of a minor celebrity here, only much less attractive. We hired a motorbike to Bukit Lawang. The countryside was beautiful, lined with palm trees and rubber plantations but I never had a very good chance to see Tourists on an elephant safari in the forest the jungle in all its thickness

April 2014

rehabilitates Orangutans. We took our morning coffee in the river bank cafe listening to the gibbons squawking and observing the small black moneys swinging through the trees and watching a hive of activity going on- local Batak people perching on rocks in the river brush teeth and young boys jump off rocks stark naked into the river. Bukit Lawang is the starting point of jungle trekking, and I was thrilled to see my first group of Orangutans in trees with only 15 minutes into the trek. I rushed out, with camera in hand, to get a better look. But

my guide warned, never stand under a tree with an Orangutan on it as they have the habit of urinating at any given point. There were also gibbons, macaques, Thomas Monkeys, elephants, jungle turtles and many other wild animals. I came out of the thick jungle and entered the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which is now one of the largest conservation projects in the world. Orphaned Orangutans are

The last part of my journey was through the Batak village where I found smiling, charming, hospitable and friendly people who took me through their simple, sweet village life

journey was through the Batak village where I found smiling, charming, hospitable and friendly people who took me through their simple, sweet village life. I enjoyed walking through the paddy field and buffalo farms, and was excited when I could catch fish in a plastic bag, for my lunch in one of the villagers’ house. I was enticed by the rich taste of spicy “Batak pepper”, but was embarrassed when my guide explained to me that their best meals are made of pork with some unusual ingredients such as dog meat or blood, however they are also ‘halal’ to my surprise. More than the taste of their dishes, the natural beauty of that unique island and its people satisfied an intrepid traveller like me who has love for travel and adventure. I was back with peace and tranquillity, and my heart was beating green.

Indonesian traditional cuisine

The author on her journey in the forest


brought here and they are taught how to live in the wild again. They spend about six months in the rehabilitation programme and are then released. It was interesting to spend some time there, watching them close up and observing them at play with each other. The last part of my

The Sumatran landscape is accentuated with jungles, volcanoes and lakes. Make sure you pay a visit to Gunung Leuser National Park, where you have the most chance of sighting a Sumatran Orangutan.

Prepare to lose yourself from the worries of the world with a visit to the Lake Toba, a gigantic crater lake, complete with an island Pulau Samosir in the middle of the lake.

Make sure you don’t miss out on an exploration into the Gua caves, Gunung Sibayak volcanoes and Muara Jambi temple sites.

Those on the quest for different flavors, try out the Waroeng Spesifik Sambal restaurant which is a haven for spice lovers, Rama Café, One-One seafood restaurant and Ikan Bakar Pak Agus seafood restaurant.

Around 73,000 years ago, the super volcano Toba erupted almost wiping out the entire humankind and depositing almost a six inch layer of ash on the Indian subcontinent.

April 2014 travel & flavors


roof of the world / nepal

A tribute to mountains & its people The International Mountain Museum dedicated to the mountains of Nepal and its people as well as conquerors is worth visiting for all nature lovers Amit Kishor Subedi

Sherpas are a tribe indigenous to the mountainous regions of Nepal. They have invariably distinguished themselves as expert mountaineers.


iving in the world without knowing about it is like visiting the best library on the earth without ever reading a single book in your life. Hunger for knowledge of multiple issues and objects forms a part of our social dynamic, but because of the lack of time and finance, it seems to run past us. Museums are the solution to feel the experience and expand our horizon of knowledge about specific fields. Mountains are loved by almost everyone because they are sacred, hypnotic and an example of the wholesomeness of the mother earth. Simplicity of the mountains, its people and their culture is envied by outsiders. When we meet these people, we can easily judge them because they are part of the nature. They live like the mountain, changing the nature’s harshness into bliss. Nepal which is home to at least eight highest peaks out of 10, is acknowledged as one of the mountainous nations in the world. These peaks not just satiate people’s dormant quest for beauty but also serve as an invaluable source of water for millions of people, especially of North India and Nepal. The flora and fauna of the mountainous region immensely contributes to the ecological balance. So if you can’t spend time in the mountain, then the

International Mountain Museum makes you know about almost everything about the mountain. The International

which was opened on February 5, 2004 and spread over 12.5 acres of land, has models of famous peaks, mannequins of

When we meet these people, we can easily judge them because they are part of the nature. They live like the mountain, changing the nature’s harshness into bliss Mountain Museum lies on the banks of Seti River at the foothill of Mt. Fishtails in the beautiful city of Pokhra. The museum

renowned mountaineers, and exhibits of culture and lifestyle of the people of the region, and flora and fauna including geology. A

tall six facets rock climbing wall welcomes you to the entrance of the museum. A replica of Mt. Fishtail has been erected at the gate of the main building for everyone to scale and models of Nepali houses and huts constructed on the premises. The museum has three exhibition hallsHall of Mountain People, Hall of World Mountains and Hall of Mountain Activities. Hall of Mountain People contains habitants of the mountain people and artifacts which exhibit their culture and lifestyle. The representations of Nepal, Japan, Slovenia, and Taiwan can be seen

The International Mountain Museum

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here. The adjoining hall with video conducts daily three shows- movies and documentaries on the mountain. Hall of World Mountains introduces 14 highest peaks (above 8,000 m) in the world in a chronological order and

including the first lady climber Junko Tabei. After seeing all these mountaineering kits, a visitor can weigh how difficult it is to scale mountains. One will get shocked at seeing the display of garbage collected

One will get shocked at seeing the display of garbage collected from Mount Everest, from 2001 to 2003, so as to create awareness about degradation of mountain ecology the historical as well as geographical background of these mountains. The rock samples of these mountains are also an attraction here. There are mannequins of five prominent figures who have contributed in Himalayan studies, including Sir Edmund Hilary, the first conqueror of the Everest. Hall of Mountain Activities displays professional mountaineering kits used by various climbers,

from Mount Everest, from 2001 to 2003, so as to create awareness about degradation of mountain ecology. There is one section which displays dead mountain animals like snow leopard, small moths etc. As praying is a part of the mountain people, a room has been built in the Buddhist monastery style which is open for all to meditate and pray. There is also a library in the museum which is dedicated to mountain studies.

Five greatest expeditions to Mount Everest The 1924 Mallory Expedition Famed British explorer and mountaineer, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made an ill fated attempt to climb Mount Everest. Debate rages as to whether they actually did make it to the summit before they died. The First Successful Ascent Nearly 29 years after the failed Mallory expedition, Sir Edmund Hillary and

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The artificial Mt Fishtail

Mannequins of Rai people

Tenzing Norgay finally made the first confirmed ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, creating history. The legendary climb is the stuff of all legends today First Solo Ascent In 1980, veteran climber, Reinhold Messner after a previous successful climb with no bottled oxygen made a second successful conquest of the great mountain again without the use of bottled oxygen The Everest Disaster The year 1996 will go down in history

as a tragic one for Everest trekking. Fifteen people died, eight on a single day in what remains to this day one of the worst disasters at the tallest peak in the world Fastest Ascent Ever There are all sorts of climbing records in the book, but in 2004, years after the first successful conquest of Mount Everest, Pemba Dorjie,set the bar rather high for future climbers when he became the fastest person to ascent the peak in eight hours and ten minutes

cruise journey / msc cruises

Mediterranean way of life With the most modern fleet to its credit, MSC Cruise is proud of Italian style, exceptional comfort, warm hospitality and strong environmental credentials. Sail with this cruise liner to experience the real joy of a voyage T&F Team


editerranean Shipping Company (MSC) Cruises’ commitment to safeguarding the marine ecosystem as well as protecting the health and safety of its passengers and staff has been lauded and numerous awards have been conferred on MSC. Last year, MSC Cruises’ carried over 1.5 million guests to various locations through its 12 ships comprising its ultra-modern fleet with presence in 45 countries. MSC Cruises’ is one of the first signatories of the Venice Blue Flag Agreement to reduce emissions in the Venice Lagoon, and has signed agreements with the Port authorities of both Civitavecchia and Genoa, limiting sulphur emissions to levels below the legally required minimum. Taking the

ideals of Corporate Social Responsibility still further, MSC Cruises’ launched a partnership with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, in 2009. The Get on Board for Children project helps disadvantaged children and adolescents in 126 vulnerable urban communities in Brazil to receive proper education. To date, the partnership has raised two million euros. MSC Cruises’ has received The ‘6 Golden Pearls’ for environmental care, ISO 14001 certification for environmental

management, ISO 22000 for food safety, OHSAS 18001 for occupational health and safety, Green Planet Award for eco-friendly facilities and the CIAL award for aluminum recycling. The quality of the company’s catering, both onshore and on board, has been recognised through ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification.

Interior design

MSC Cruises’ are an art aficionado’s dream place. The interiors of the cruises have the kind of designs that you very well appreciate. Be it the

MSC Cruises’ are an art aficionado’s dream place. The interiors of the cruises are having the designs that you very well appreciate

sweeping Swarovski staircase or the walnutpaneled coffeebar or the plush thousandseated theatres, you can experience the unparalleled elegance in every MSC Cruise. A world-championship motorcycle in the sports bar and a glittering Swarovski chandelier in the lounge are the other attractions awaiting you on board every MSC Cruise.

Cabins and suites

On board MSC Cruises’, cabins provide peaceful and comfortable stay. You can choose outside cabins or cabins with private balconies or new super family cabins which can accommodate six people. All the suites offer additional space to relax with a sitting area, a private balcony along with an interactive TV and mini bar. The personalised comfort onboard MSC

April 2014 travel & flavors


msc cruises

MSC Opera at Stavanger, Norway

MSC Yacht Club ensures even minute things like providing a pillow menu, good night chocolates, Egyptian cotton sheets and complimentary robe and slippers.


Casino, Trenteet Quarante, night clubs, bowling alley, multi-screen sports bar, 4D cinema, aqua park, dazzling circus

duty free stores on MSC Cruises’. Brands such as Polo, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and much more are available in the boutiques section to shop like a prince or princess. You can find the MSC logo shop, a great place for wonderful souvenirs of your cruise holiday and gift items emblazoned with the stylish nautical

On board MSC Cruises’, cabins provide peaceful and comfortable stay. You can choose outside cabins or cabins with private balconies or new super family cabins which can accommodate six people extravaganza, ice show, state-of-the-art sports consoles... the list of fun and entertainment on board MSC cruises is much more than you thought it to be. You can shop till you drop at the

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April 2014

emblem of MSC Cruises’.

Spa and fitness

The luxury MSC Aurea Spa on board MSC Cruises’ offers a variety of treatments, including Balinese massage, sauna

and whirlpool, make-up sessions, comprehensive beauty treatments, therapeutic aromatherapy, Thai sports or hot stone massages, yoga, pilates stretching, aerobics and Latin American dancing courses. Dedicated jogging tracks, squash court and instructors will ensure that you remain in shape.

Cruise to Maputo and Portuguese Island

Set to depart from Durban on April 14, 2014 on a four-day cruise, the ship has got ports of calls at Maputo and Portuguese Island. The MSC Opera cruise ship certainly lives up to her name - classic, grand and opulent. A true sense of grandeur and spaciousness prevails on MSC Opera, one of MSC Cruise’s most welcoming liners. Many of the staterooms on MSC Opera feature private balconies and all are roomy and comfortable. The Italian style is a hallmark on all of MSC Cruises’ stately ships. The public areas are enhanced with a sweeping marble reception and

magnificent open spaces with glass walls in order to best exploit the fabulous ocean views. Luxuries await you aboard MSC Opera: enjoy an espresso at the coffee bar or indulge in a typical handmade Italian treat at the ice cream bar. Take Italian lessons, stop by the Internet Café or catch up with news back home and make use of the Wi-Fi spots in select areas of the ship. Spend quality time with the kids in the minigolf course or learn some fitness lesson at the health club. An elegant sevencourse dinner followed by an outstanding entertainment awaits you in the splendid 713-seated Teatro dell’ Opera theatre. There are eight bars, each is different in themes, wine and food selection. Futuristic Byblos Disco and Montecario Casino offer ample entertainment on board. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets at the earliest at

exploring flavors / cochin

Rare recipes for palate

Photo Credit: Jose Jacob

Tokyo Bay is the only restaurant in Kerala that serves a variety of standard Japanese dishes. You can also get your favourite dish cooked by a chef at your table here Tony William

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April 2014


here are Chinese restaurants in almost every part of the country but what about Japanese restaurants? The answer, of course is, “not many.” Well, there is one in the God’s Own Country, called Tokyo Bay which is located on the seventh floor of Hotel Presidency, Ernakulam.

and established it as a PanAsian restaurant with Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese dishes,” says Sidney Samuel, Director-Operations, Tokyo Bay. “The response is pretty good,” says Sidney. Guests are enjoying the whole ambience of

Customers seem to be enjoying the ambience of the restaurant which was built in the typical Japanese architectural style and the interior decor brings the real feel of a hotel in Japan

Japan., Sidney adds. “The Tatami room is a favourite among families who prefer privacy. It is ideal for corporate lunch/dinners and team meetings. Like the traditional Japanese dining room, the Tatami room at Tokyo Bay has sliding doors and movable partition walls. The seating is low, like that of a typical Tatami room. The Japanese believe that dining is a ritual and they don’t use footwear inside a Tatami,” says Marina.

Healthy food habits

Sidney and Marina are all praise for the Japanese food. “Japanese people have the highest life expectancy in the world and the credit goes to the healthy food habits they have,” says Marina. “Their food habits are something which we can adopt and imbibe. Normally, they have their meals early. The cooking process is not

How was a Japanese the restaurant which is built in restaurant opened in Kochi? You the typical Japanese architectural may ask. Especially when there style and the interior décor brings are not many resident Japanese the typical feel of a restaurant in in the state and Keralites may not relish Japanese cuisine, which is known for its lowcalorie content. Hence the demand for it is always low. In fact there are only very few Japanese restaurants in India in spite of the Japanese community numbering over 50,000 members living across the country. Tokyo Bay was a novel venture by the Baby Marine group based in Kochi, one of the leading seafood exporters in India having a long association of over 45 years with Japan through their exports and trade activities. Naturally, the owners of Baby Marine have developed a taste for Japanese flavor. “The promoters were keen on introducing authentic Japanese cuisine to the people of Kerala,” says Marina Sidney, Restaurant Manager, Tokyo Bay. “Though it was an authentic Tori Katsu curry with Gohan-fried chicken escalope served with steamed sticky rice Japanese restaurant for two years, we recently revamped

April 2014 travel & flavors



Why does Sushi always look so delicious? Sushi masters believe that you don’t just eat with your mouth, but also with your eyes. So they take care of garnishing each item quite artfully.

very elaborate, unlike our Indian cuisine. Even the meat is cut or sliced in such a way that it takes very less time to cook. A regular well done beef steak takes about 20-24 minutes to cook, however, a Japanese steak is cooked in about 6-8 minutes. The focus is on having a complete balanced diet in every meal, she adds. “Japanese pay a great deal of attention to the food presentation. They believe in the concept of “eating with the eyes”. For them, the beauty of food presentation is as important as its taste. There is a lot of misconception about Japanese cuisine.

‘Tatami room’ in Tokyo Bay

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April 2014

People think it is all about raw fish, which isn’t true. Raw fish is only used in Sushi and Sashimi, which are known as the “Jewels in the Crown” of the Japanese Cuisine. Japanese meal is not only about the Sushi or Sashimi alone. Like any other cuisine, they have food ranging from very healthy salads, soups, barbeque grills and hot plate grills to deep fried and steamed items,” she points out.

Rare dishes

Ever heard of fried ice cream? Move on to Tokyo Bay to enjoy this delicacy. “The ice cream is fried in hot oil and the inside is still frozen when it is served to you. Similarly, we have Mongolian Hot Pots where we put live charcoal in the centre chamber to keep the soup hot in the pot. Another popular dish is the Standing Fish where we make the fish stand in the plate for you,” she adds. Ice Kachang, a popular dessert of Singapore

Negima-chicken skewer with chunks of chicken along with leeks basted with Yakitori sauce

and Malaysia, is another dish which Tokyo Bay plans to introduce.

Cook at the Table

Tokyo Bay has introduced a unique concept called Cook at the Table to the food lovers in the state where the chef comes to your table to cook the fish for you. “We have portable Iwatani burners used for cooking at the table. A lot of guests prefer this as it is very exciting to see the food cooked in front of you,” says Marina.

Try this dishes Tori Katsu curry with Gohan: A signature dish of Japan, Tori Katsu curry with Gohan (rice) has got fried chicken escalope in a Japanese curry, served with steamed sticky rice. It has got a flavor of curry powders and tomato ketchups.

Negima: Negima or chicken skewer has got some chunk pieces of chicken along with leeks. On top is Yakitori sauce, a form of soya sauce. Salads-Warm Chicken Teriyaki Salad: It is a Japanese traditional Grilled Chicken Salad with Warm Teriyaki Sauce. Sushi Platter: Raw Seafood combined and rolled with Japanese Vinegared Rice and Seaweed Sheet. Sushi platter might not appeal to all as raw fish is used.


Tokyo Bay, 7th Floor, The Presidency Hotel, Near North Over Bridge, Ernakulam, Kerala


Lunch- 12.30pm to 3.00pm Dinner- 7.00pm to 10.30pm

culinary tales / delhi

Century-old parantha fare For foodies, Paranthe Wali Gali is the most favoured place in Chandni Chowk as it serves the yummiest paranthas along with six different side dishes Jenny Thingshung Just a walk away from the Chandni Chowk metro station, there is Paranthe Wali Gali in one of the bylanes of the famous Chandni Chowk Market. Wali Gali is nowhere near up-market areas, but is well known as the oldest parantha eatery in the area. With a history dating back to the Mughal period, the alley originally called Dariba Khurd became a famous gourmet

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place when a migrant worker started a small shop serving paranthas on leaf plates along with water in clay pots called kullars in the 1870s. Initially, the parantha shop was a single establishment but later subsequent to a family feud, the shop was divided. Until the recent past, the Gali had over 10 to 12 parantha selling shops, but today there are only a couple of them.

April 2014

Pundit Gaya Prasad Shiv Chandra and Pundit Babu Ram Devi Dayal are direct descendants of the original owners. Gaya Prasad boasts of serving some famous personalities such as India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and freedom Carrot and radish pickle fighters during the preindependence period. The eatery has proudly

displayed its association with these leaders with framed photographs. The Gali serves one of the best traditional vegetarian paranthas in the area. The platter consists of varieties of paranthas that include exotic fillings like kaju, badam, matar, mix parantha, rabri, khoya parantha, parat parantha, spicy mirch, mint, cheese roll, banana, bitter gourd, papad parantha etc. The paranthas are rolled out on a large marble slab and are filled with the chosen stuffing, and then fried in ghee on a coal stove. It is said to be just the way it was when the shop started. The stuffed parantha comes with six different side dishes: potato and beans curry, potato methi mix, banana sauce, sweet pumpkin, mint chutney and mounds of colourful

Veg mix parantha

Lassi served in earthen pots

Lip-Smackers !

The Gali serves one of the best traditional vegetarian paranthas in the area. The platter consists of varieties of paranthas that include exotic fillings carrot and radish pickles. I finally got my seat and was served soft and crispy parantha. It tasted wonderfully yummy and delicious. I especially loved mint/ pudina parantha and cheese roll parantha. They go really well with mint chutney and banana sauce. Mix parantha wasn’t too bad either. Parantha apart, lassi, the only drink they served here, gets a big thumps up. This is the best lassi I have ever tasted. The eatery is always crowded with dozens customers. Families, bachelors, travelers and first timers like me come here to have the special delicacy. Most of them are regulars. And they swear by its unique serving. Despite the crowd and the noise, people always come back to the Gali for more of those lip-smacking savories.

Chandini Chowk known to all as the home of the scrumptious, all-too-famous Delhi Jalebis never disappoints. Amalgamating a mouth watering combo, a hot Jalebi with a spread of cool, sweet Rabri always leave you wanting more (Don’t forget to try out the samosa along with it.

Nothing can beat the heat than a sweet Kulfi on a hot summer day in Delhi. Armed with different flavors like pomegranate, mango, orange and custard apple, the city has discovered its scorching summer savior in a couch, air conditioner and myriad colored ices

The ever popular chaat, easily available in the streets of Delhi is believed to have its origins in Uttar Pradesh.Consisting of a unique blend of chickpeas, chilli and other spices along with a dash of tamarind sauce and yoghurt, chaat is without doubt a must try

quirky foods / tea

Soul stirring teas A cup of hot tea in the morning and at the workplace will make your day great. Since there are a large variety of teas, you can choose the right one depending on the time and your mood Vaishakh E Hari


ntroduced by the British, tea as a drink has grown in importance to the level of a national drink in the country. Right from the early morning pick-me-up to the schizophreniastimulated Indian work atmosphere, tea plays an important role in keeping tempers in check and brains stimulated. The tea frenzy has risen to such an extent that indigenous or any brand of tea is drunk faster than it is brewed. While some well-meaning healers disclaim the drink for causing obesity and heart problems, the indignant tea lovers protest against the infringement on their right to stay awake by

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sipping their favourite tea. The indigenous brands like Darjeeling tea, Assam tea and Nilgiri tea are famous internationally for their elegance, aroma, smoothness and flavor. You will be pleased if you look at the advantages of drinking tea. Two to three cups a day would even help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack owing to the presence of rich antioxidant in the leaves. Tea brewing, especially milk tea, is an art that need not be the same in all places, so you may not get the same type of tea throughout the country. Local influence could be a

April 2014

discerning factor while brewing milk tea in many places. Masala tea is yet another brand gaining prominence in India and abroad. Among the urban youth, cardamom tea has already become a favourite drink, opening avenues for other spices to enter the lucrative field of tension-relieving drinks. Then comes the fruit flavored teas like lemon tea and orange tea which can provide relief from the hot weather. The neutralflavored Green Tea is the newest competitor in the market now, with its antioxidant, cleaning effect in the body. Tea lovers keep watching out for your favorite drink.

The indigenous brands like Darjeeling tea, Assam tea and Nilgiri tea are famous internationally for their elegance, aroma, smoothness and flavor

Tender tea leaves

heritage / aranmula

Through the looking glass Aranmula Kannadi is not just a mirror for you but a unique piece of indigenous craft known to only a couple of families in Aranmula which is famous for two things- boat race and its own mirror Tony William


t takes nearly three to four days for S Aravind and his colleagues to make one Aranmula Kannadi (mirror) which is famous worldwide owing to the unique way of its manufacturing. The mirror has got a Geographical Indication tag (GI) in 2004. Aravind belongs to Thikkinampallil family, one of the five families in Aranmula, which still keep the secret of the mirror production.

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Aranmula, a village in Pathanamthitta district, about 130 km from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is well known for the Parthasarathy temple. The boat race held as part of the temple festival every year, in the river Pampa which is flowing down by the temple is quite popular as Aranmula Kannadi, a mirror that is believed to bring prosperity to every home. Indigenous craft The process of

April 2014

making this mirror is manual and no machine is involved in it. Besides skills, dedication as well as maximum attention is required from the start to the end of the production. Because of these and other factors, the number of mirrors manufactured by them is very limited. He and his colleagues produce 50 polished and unpolished mirrors of varied size in a month. “The process starts with collecting the special

A finished Aranmula metal mirror

mud from the paddy field in Aranmula,” says Aravind, the chief artisan.” “The molten copper and tin in a certain ratio are poured into the baked pancake-shaped mixture of clay, mud and jute fibre. Only the clay collected from the paddy field adjacent to Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is suitable for making the mirror. The ratio of molten copper and tin is kept secret and if the ratio isn’t correct, it will not have the reflective property.” Like others in the region, Aravind is also worried about the proposed airport in Aranmula as it is likely to destroy the paddy field here draining forever their resource for the special mud. Even after taking utmost care during the production, mistakes occur resulting in a faulty mirror. The glass has to be fixed on a wax base before placing it in the brass frame. The art works/designs on the brass frame and polishing of the glass later are much timeconsuming. “Special care has to be taken to avoid any scratches on the glass. A single scratch will spoil

An artisan drawing the design on the metal frame

the mirror and there will be no buyers,” he says.

Mirror sans mercury

Since they don’t use mercury in the process (mercury is often used in glass-making for its reflective property), the image is just like the one you see in the reflection on water, points out Aravind. Aranmula Kannadi is a front surface reflection mirror, which eliminates secondary reflection and therefore the best for real reflection. “On an ordinary mirror, if you place your finger, there will be a gap between your finger and the glass but on the Aranmula Kannadi, you will not find this gap,” claims Aravind. The brass frames come in the shape of conch, sun, lotus, valkannadi etc. Some are specially designed on demand and they might cost more. Though the metal is durable, it isn’t unbreakable, he adds. It is good to keep the mirror away from direct sunlight and dust.

The first Aranmula Kannadi

A blacksmith pouring out the secret alloy of the metal mirror

The history of the Aranmula Kannadi is closely related to Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple.

Around 1,000 years ago, artisans from Sankarankovil in Tirunelveli who came here for the work of Aranmula Temple made the first Aranmula mirror when they chanced upon the reflection on the metal which had a certain ratio of copper and tin. Like the snake boat, the mirror is also very much associated with the temple. On auspicious occasions in the temple, an Aranmula Mirror and a Chundan Vallam are a must, says Aravind. Earlier, there was no frame for the Aranmula Kannadi. The mirror was just fixed on cotton. It has been only some 50 years since it got its bronze metal frame. Aranmula Kannadi has been given as a gift to the Dalai Lama, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee and many others. The British Museum in London has a 45-cm tall Aranmula Kannadi in its collection.

Buy Aranmula Metal Mirror

Aiswarya Handicrafts Mangalappallill Building, Kizhakkenada Near Pachajanyam Auditorium, Mallappuzhassery, Aranmula Ph: +91 9447705036 Or log on to to purchase online

April 2014 travel & flavors


rare revelries / Kakkoor bull race

Racing bulls of Kakkoor Bullock race festivals have not vanished from our culture yet. Some places in the country hold such events regularly retaining the essence of the harvest festival. The Kakkoor Kalavayal festival in Kerala is one such EVENT T&F Team


akkoor Kalavayal, the agricultural festival of the Thirumarady panchayath near Piravam, Ernakulam in Kerala, has taken place since 1890. It was started during the reign of King Sri Moolam Thirunal who introduced modern agriculture practices with irrigational facilities and ploughing methods,” says Binoy Kallattukuzhi, Vice Chairman of the Kakkoor

Kalavayal festival. The Thirumarady Panchayath is an agricultural village in Ernakulam district in the central Kerala. Kalavayal literally means cattle market. Legend has it that the Edapara Bhagavathy of Edapara Temple in Thirumarady and the Ambassery Bhagavathy of Ambassery Temple in Kakkoor, both believed to be sisters, meet each other on the occasion. “It is the time when the paddy

harvest is just over here. The event had its beginning as a cattle market for farmers to buy and sell bullocks for agricultural purposes,” says Binoy. One event which grabs our attention during the festival is the Maramadi or Kannuputtu (bullock race) which takes place on the last day in the paddy field of the Thirumarady panchayath. “Teams from Kottarakara, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram along

Getting the bullocks ready for the race is interesting. A team of four members is needed for preparing it at the starting point

with many regional teams participate in this event. Teams from Palakkad, Pollachi, Trichy, other parts of Tamil Nadu and many regional teams participate in the bullock cart race on the road. Bullocks are specially prepared for the Maramadi,� says Binoy.

Preparing the race field

Photo Credit: Jose Jacob

A scene from the bull race

The paddy field is prepared by ploughing for the bullock race after the harvest. Water level in the field is maintained by pumping water from the adjacent stream. Bullocks are led to the field by their owners after taking the blessings of the land. The rider takes his place on a wooden plough platform before the start of the race to the other end of the field. The fastest one wins the trophy. One race takes place at a time and the racing time is recorded. Hence, the timing is crucial here. Getting the bullocks ready for the race is interesting. A team of four members is needed for preparing it at the starting point. Bullocks are tied to the traditional plough platform made of wood

with minimum weight, which carries the rider. Two persons will be on either side of bullocks and one person stand in the front facing the bullocks just to keep them at the starting line. The moment the flag is waved, the person in the front makes a quick exist by jumping to the sides in the mud water. With loud voices, those on both sides make the bullocks run, with ropes in their hands.

The moment the flag is waved, the person in the front makes a quick exist by jumping to the sides, in the mud water They run along with the bullocks till the finishing line (red flag) while the fourth, usually a man of small size, clings to the wooden platform. With mud water splashing all around

kakkoor bull race

and amidst shouts from the crowd encouraging their favourite team, the bullocks race to the finishing line. The bullocks are tamed and collected by another person outside the finishing line. The lack of scientific measures to record the race time, chances of bullocks running towards the crowd and photographers who stay dangerously close to the race track, make the otherwise interesting and colourful event a dangerous game. You wonder why there are no barricades restricting onlookers who often come close to the field, driving the bulls go crazy. Earlier, the court had restricted the bullock race following allegations that the animals were tortured. As part of ensuring that no cruelty towards the cattle is made, the riders are to undergo the breath- analyser test before the race. “We ensure that no one causes any harm to animals. The event is held according to the rules set by the Revenue Divisional

Mud race for men at the Kakkoor Kalavayal festival

Officer (RDO),” claims Binoy. The bullock race in the paddy field has been classified into three, says Manikayan, a rider. “In the Champion or Professional section, only the top three teams- previous race winners- compete. The number of riders in this race is three. In the Junior and Sub Junior sections, there will be only two riders- one on the left side and the other on the plough,” he adds.

Other events

Mud race competition with around 15 bikers, mud race running for men, flower show, dog show, agricultural seminars, class on goat farming by a veterinary surgeon and class on agricultural loan were the other events in the five-day festival. But the bullock race in the paddy field is the most exciting event of the festival. “Mud bike race and other popular events were introduced just four or five years back so as to add more colour to the event and attract more youth,” says Binoy.


The Kakkoor Kalavayal festival is usually held in the Malayalam month Kumbham (February-March).

Paddy field being prepared for the bull race Photo Credits: Jose Jacob


At the Kakkoor paddy field near Piravom, Kerala.

Travel tip / flying phobia

Getting rid of flying phobia

Flying makes most people a bit nervous but a high level of anxiety creates great distress to a passenger even causing the person to avoid aeroplane Cane Jason


ear of flying can influence many aspects of our lives, so it is important to find a solution to overcome it. Although planes are believed to be the safest means of transport, a lot of people are quite scared of it and try avoiding it at all costs. Flying becomes a necessity for anyone in modern times. Therefore, it is recommended that one seek help and solve the problem as soon as possible. Here is a list of tips that can help make your trip enjoyable. Training your mind: As you get closer the flight date, it’s good to try to train your mind to visualise the success of the trip. It could help in making the trip better.

Be on time at the airport: It is important to reach the airport on time. The last minute rush along with the fear of missing the flight can be stressful. Therefore, it is advisable to leave home early to get time to relax. Look for distractions: A good way to reduce anxiety is to look for distractions like some good music. Carry a good selection of music to listen to during the flight, especially during takeoff and landing. It is also good to have a good book or some good movies or clips to watch in the flight. Try not to take window seat: If you have a fear of flying, then it’s best that

you forgo the window seat, especially if you’re the kind of person who wants to monitor what’s happening outside. The more you monitor, the more it increases the anxiety level. Avoid negative thoughts: It is true that air accidents happen, but if we consider the thousands of flights that take place every day then it’s quite minimal. This is something to keep in mind whenever negative thoughts creep in . If there is turbulence, breathe deeply: Aircraft can tremble while crossing areas of instability. So it is always advisable to keep your seatbelt fastened during the flight. If the turbulence produces

anxiety, try to sit between the wings of the plane, which is the most stable place. Staying calm is always the most sensible attitude. Avoid excesses: Eating and drinking in excess can be harmful. A glass of wine helps you relax, but too much alcohol can lead to negative thoughts. It is detrimental when it comes to long flights. Wear comfortable clothes: Finally, comfort is very important while making a trip by plane. Choose light and comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and does not hinder blood circulation. It is also good to get up from time to time if the flight is very long so that your blood circulation does not get hindered.

Trekking / Travel Kit

Pack it right Nothing provides more physical warmup or an adrenaline rush than a trek over a difficult terrain. The adventure has its risks, mind you. Here are a few equipments that would help in the love for adventure that drives you to enjoy the beautiful sunrise from a peak or a wondrous view that transcends you higher than the rest of the world Vaisakh E Hari Waterproof trekking boots: Along with a pair of regular shoes and woolen socks, a broken-down pair of hiking boots that allows for good physical support and comfort is indispensable.

Waterproof trekking boots

Camping equipment: Tents that can be easily set up are available on the market. Most of them come with a manual, making an overnight trek a lot easier. Sleeping bag: Often, the trek takes you to heights where the nights get a little chilly. A sleeping bag becomes a necessity then, with an inflatable sleeping pad making a nice, cozy addition.

Sunglasses: Be sure to pack a dark, UV protected glass for bright days along with a sun block and sun hat. First aid: Absolutely necessary as slips and falls are common in a trek. Make sure you account for the slight breathing problems in the cold climate and high altitudes. Camera: You don’t bring one to a trek that promises marvelous scenery, you have no one but yourself to blame.

Warm jacket: Essential at high altitudes in the morning and night. Rain jacket: Seriously, you don’t want to be caught in the midst of a downpour in your cozy warm sweaters. Better to be safe than sorry. Warm jacket

Sleeping bag

Water bottle: It is essential to keep oneself hydrated on long treks. A thermos bottle can make a nice addition to the same. Trekking Poles: Most commonly seen in movies where the protagonist climbs a mountain to save his lady love, this piece of equipment is not absolutely necessary but easily purchasable at low rates at the same time.

April 2014 travel & flavors


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Strange Travellers

Sailing alone around the globe Sailing alone around the world in a small boat at the age of 16 is not a small feat. It needs determination, courage and a passion for sailing. Meet Laura Dekker, the world’s youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly T&F Team Photo Courtesy: Laura Dekker posing for a picture with her sail boat Guppy in the background


othing could stop this 16-year-old girl in her endeavours in the sea. The high seas, strong winds or other dangers at sea didn’t dampen her spirit during her voyage around the world in a 38/12 ft boat named Guppy. Laura Dekker started her expedition from St Maarten in the Caribbean islands on January 20, 2011. You will be stunned when you learn that she had plans for this expedition at the age of 14. But the court in Netherlands refused to grant her permission to embark on this expedition

stating that she was too young to look after herself at sea. It was in July 2010 that she could convince the court and get the permission. She had to struggle against storms in the high seas. Dangerous reefs and threat of pirates and possible collisions with cargo ships posed challenges during her sail. In the midst of all these, she did her school work as well. She slept on a damp bed and ate rice and pasta with cookies and pancakes as an occasional treat. During the journey,

she stopped in the Canary Islands, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora and Australia where she celebrated her 16th birthday with her father and friends. It seems that she was more frightened by the Dutch authorities than the violent sea and the prolonged loneliness. She recalls dealing with the authorities as a traumatic experience. Laura was born at sea in a sailboat near New Zealand to Dick Dekker and Babs Muller during their sevenyear voyage in the boat. She holds three citizenships-

Dutch, German and New Zealand. Her father is a Dutch while her mother is a German and by birth she is a citizen of New Zealand. Laura was just six when she had her first solo sail. She covered more than 27,000 nautical miles when she completed her journey on January 21, 2012 at the St Maarten yacht club. Based on her adventures, she has written a book titled, ‘A girl, A dream’ in German. Laura now lives in New Zealand doing yacht deliveries and giving presentations on her experiences while pursuing her Captain’s licence.

In an attempt similar to that of Laura Dekker, Jessica Watson, an Australian completed a 210day solo voyage at the age of 16. Similarly, Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old American, tried to circumnavigate the world but was unable to complete the journey.

98 travel & flavors

April 2014

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