• India,  Karnataka,  Travel

    Christmas Eve at Wonderful Western Hills, Sakleshpur

    In our last holiday trip of 2018, we were returning after a wonderful weekend stay at Attihalli, Sakleshpur. Our hearts still yearned for some more time in the hills. My husband happened to notice a rickety signboard, Western Hills, beside a dusty path that disappeared into the hills. It looked interesting, so we followed our instinct. It was 24th December. I didn’t expect to find rooms for six people. However, Hemanth, who manages the place offered us a spacious dorm-type of a room overlooking the coffee plantation. We got the room for 3000 rupees for six people, which fit our Christmas budget quite well. The small property makes for a…

  • India,  Orissa,  Travel

    7 Best Street Foods In Bhubaneswar, Orissa

    Earthy, simple, and full of flavors – Oriya cuisine offers a range of hearty dishes. Oriyas love their meals accompanied by plenty of veggies, fish or mutton, and something crispy, like fried potatoes and Karela chips. We also adore our snacks – sweet and savory. Growing up in Bhubaneswar, I remember evenings were spent in informal gatherings where people would eat snacks, chat and just while away time (called ‘katti kariba‘ in Oriya). During the festival of Raja, all Oriya families prepare special sweets called Pithas. And, many of these Pithas are available in select outlets, such as at Ekamra Haat. Pithas are different types of sweet rice flour cakes, flavored with saunf…

  • India,  Jammu and Kashmir,  Travel

    A Short Autumn Trip to Kashmir: Pahalgam and Apple Orchards

    Part 1 in a series of posts on Kashmir. The extraordinary, almost unearthly beauty of the Kashmir valley made it a strange conflict to cover. In the morning, the window of my houseboat on the Dal Lake would be open, and as I lay in bed I could see the reed cutters and fishermen. The shikara canoes would be in the foreground; behind were the bridges and waterways, the willows and poplars, and the orchards of apricots and almonds. There were children paddling in the shallows and girls carrying brush-wood bundles on their heads. Beyond stretched the old Mughal watergardens and, above them, the mulberry trees of the silk farmers. Crowning all…