Chennai- Dharamsala – Chennai in 24hrs ❤️

When I look back on this 24hrs round trip Chennai to Dharamsala and back that I did on 1st December of 2014, loads of memories flash in front of my eyes!

First, how the hell did I even do it! But they say “where there is a will there is a way” so when my mother was going through her treatment a friend of mine recommended that I meet a Tibetan doctor in Dharamshala. I didn’t even blink an eyelid and packed my bags to take the next flight to Dharamsala. 6am flight to Delhi, 11am flight from delhi to Kangra, 2pm we were in the cab towards Dharamsala. My sister who stays in mumbai was a little worried about me going to an unknown place alone and insisted she would join me.

They say when your intentions are right and your heart is pure and above all if you are going to do something good for your parents, you will be guided on every step you take. That’s exactly what happened to us, we found a very good car and driver who is an ex-armyman who was our guide and driver for the next 24hrs. As we started chatting we told him our purpose of visit and also that we are going to be around only for 24hrs. The moment he understood that it was our first trip and that too a very short one, he insisted that we do a small tour of this beautiful hill station.

First he took us to a very small dabba after checking our food preferences to enjoy the best ever mutton curry, steamed rice and Radish salad. I must admit I have never ever in my entire life tasted a mutton dish like that, it had very basic masala and that is what enhanced the flavour and taste of the mutton. The mutton pieces were huge but tender and juicy. Secret of the meat, they graze on the Himalayan mountains and have fresh Himalayan grass and herbs. This lunch was such a perfect welcome Dharamsala.

Next the driver stopped the car on every beautiful view point on our ride uphill, he let us take pictures and kept explaining about the significance of each place.

We reached our hotel around 5pm. Since it was December the driver told us if we wanted to see a few more places we just had to drop our bags and continue our sight seeing else it would get dark and we might not be able to see much and so we just went with the experts suggetion. He showed us a few more places before sunset and we also got to witness the beautiful sunset.

It was dinner time and knowing me I wanted to try every local food there and so we headed to McLeod Ganj, boy oh boy the place was brimming with people, food, light and music. We walked through the streets looking around and finally settled at Tibetan kitchen to have a hot Bowl of tukpa and momos. Walked through the streets just enjoying the vibe before we called it a day.

We had an early morning appointment with the doctor and the driver picked us up from the hotel and we were in time for our appointment. Again we experienced something very special at the doctor’s place, although we had spoken to someone about the appointment we were not sure if we could go in on time, since there was a very long queue that went in circles and we found people from all around the world who had come to meet the doctor, when I saw the queue my heart sank, since we had a flight to take at 2pm. I walked in with lots of gratitude and prayers in my heart NMRK! The moment I met the person at the counter and handed him my moms urine sample, they just let me in without any questions asked. The doctor came out checked the urine sample ( thats how they do their diagnosis) and immediately called me inside for a discussion, I couldn’t believe that all this was really happening. Another 20mins of discussion, medicines and we were out in 30mins. Our driver couldn’t believe what happened because he has never ever seen someone come out in 30 Mins, he said we were blessed and lucky.

But guess what, I think everything has a purpose in life and we had a bigger purpose and hence all that 30mins appointment happened for us. Since we were done with our purpose of visit the driver told us, that he can show us a few more places as it was 9am and our flight was at 2pm. So we hopped into the car and started wondering around, as a matter of fact he asked us if we wanted to visit the Dalai Lama temple/ office in McLeod Ganj, but he told us that Dalai Lama might not be there since he does not do too much public appearances. We agreed and we started our journey towards the temple( well I have no pictures of that place since photography is not allowed) we went in, it was quite and did not find too much movement of people, but there too much security checks. We left our hand bags and started walking towards the temple and we could hear faint voices and saw a few people around, we climbed up the stairs and oh my god whom do I see in front of my eyes, tears started rolling from my eyes for a minute I thought I was dreaming ” Dalai Lama” looked at us showed his hand in blessing gesture and smiled. That day I understood the purpose of this trip and why this 24hrs of my trip worked out the way it did! We took our flight back to Delhi and than to Chennai and was back home the next day!

My heart was full of gratitude to everyone who made me do this trip first my mother, the doctor, our driver, Dalai Lama and the entire universe came together to conspire this trip! Name’s of the actors who conspired this trip: My mother – Hemalata Uchil Dr. Yeshi Dhonen ( he was the personal physician of Dalai Lama from 1960 to 1980) Driver – Rajkumar My sister – Neeta Uchil. Above all faith in my prayers ( NMRK) and the intention of finding the best medication for my mother. They say if you take care of your parents with all your heart that is the biggest gratitude one can pay to them. My mother, the universe and my karma gave me an opportunity to pay my debt of gratitude to my mother! I could ask for nothing more!

Nothing comes easy, it is true the most beautiful place was the most toughest for us! Welcome to Leh Ladakh ❤️

This vacation has been in the planning for the longest time and finally after 3yrs of short drives, vacations and staycations we had to make this trip to the ever charming Leh Ladakh!

Khardungla pass

We landed on 30th June afternoon with bad weather in Delhi ( transit) risking the terrain of leh airport, It is not an easy terrain to fly. With lots of gratitude to all our pilots who landed us safe.

Our itinerary was made in such a away that we had enough time for acclimatization since this height could give altitude sickness. Soon after we landed the sickness hit me and I was wondering why ever did I choose this location for a vacation. I have seen beautiful pictures and videos of Leh Ladakh but not heard anyone warn about the altitude sickness. I had mild irritating head ache nausea and just too lethargic. I was advised to take rest and drink lot of warm water. When I Still was not feeling good I popped a paracetamol and slept for a while now that made me feel better towards evening.

Our first day pretty much was all about taking care of ourselves. Next day 1st July we had decided again to go slow with minimal activity. So we had breakfast and just strolling around when a good soul suggested we visit the Hall of fame leh. It was a few metres of walk from our place and do we agreed without knowing much what the place had in store for us. And I cannot be more thankful to the person who suggested this place, since this one gave me goose bumps and made me love my country and my jawans even more. This is a war memorial with so many stories.

In the evening we set out to enjoy the city of leh. We did the Shanti stupa, the Leh palace and my most favourite leh market. Loved the colours in the market, the old met the new be is fruits, vegetables, grocery, restaurant, clothes of accessories you could find everything in this market traditional and modern. I picked up some fresh apricots since it is the season for apricots.

The next day was the beautiful Sangam were the indus met zanskar river. Sometimes you wonder how nature is so beautiful by itself the mixing of the 2 colors of the river was serene and peaceful! Did you know that during summer people do rafting here and during winter when the water turns to ice, they ice trek on this same river. So what would you like to do? Our next destination for the day was the cool magnetic hill, so our car was totally switched off and no we were not on a slop, but yet we moved, kinda exciting. The gurudwara pathar sahib is another monument to just find peace. Don’t miss the tea and prashad there it’s yummy!

The most significant day of our trip was doing the worlds highest motorable road the one and only Khardungla pass. We had our own altitude sickness challenges to handle but boy when we reached the peak it was like magic. It was such a proud moment for us to know that our country has the highest motorable road in the damn whole world yay!

After the movie 3 idiots the pangong Lake gained more popularity and why not it is so surreal. Surrounded by mountains it’s hard to say we could find a huge mass of water with shades of color that changes from blue, green, grey, brown to red, it is one of the highest altitude lake in the world with salty water that freezes during winter. Mind blowing right!!!

On our way back from pangong Lake we had to stop by the changa la pass another one of the highest! We stopped by for lunch and had a hot bowl of authentic ladakhi thukpa! We also stopped by a few more random places for some good photo shoots.

Whenever we visit a new place or country the first thing that I look for is Local home cooked food. Before we left to leh I started my search for good home cooked leh traditional food. Since we are non vegetarians I was surprised to know that traditionally people of leh Ladakh eat according to the weather and season. So in winter it’s meat and non vegetarian and in summer it’s mostly vegetarian, from June to September they get to grow vegetables and fruits and get to eat it too. Other time of the year it is cold and snow. So after doing some search on google found gyapthago heritage home. Got speaking to Jimmy and visited his House for a soulful all vegeterian dinner cooked by his mother.
We were greeted by butter tea that is made using Fresh cows milk butter from their own farm. This place is more of a farm to table concept since everything that was cooked for dinner came from their farm including wheat and barley.
The barley soup with fresh vegetables and leh local peas was warm and had a creamy consistency.
The veg momos were made using wheat flour and we had the steamed and fried momos that was served with cold salad.
The khamir the local wheat bread with Home made curd sure was a delicacy.
The local pasta is made fresh, pasta is made with fresh grounded wheat and turnip sauce.
We finished this most amazing meal with the local sweet of apricot soaked in water.
Must say that ended my search for Local Leh Ladakh food.

Discovered Namza that serves authentic/ traditional leh Ladakh food and what excited me even more is the farm to table concept. The place has beautiful ambience, outdoor seating will be lovely in the evening.
We started our lunch with mutton Za-thuk this is a soup that is made using nettle leaves, dried cheese and local herbs, available in veg, chicken and mutton option, we loved the flavour of nettle leaves and dried cheese with little chunks of mutton. I personally love the flavour of mountain mutton.
The chicken momo also known as mok mok was average nothing to write home about.
The yarkhadi pulao is a chefs special and I am glad we tried it. The meal come with pulao made of paneer, green peas, Carrots and fried onions loaded with ghee. We were warned it would be heavy, it was but we just loved the flavour, this meal comes with a clear soup and 3 momos or mok mok. Available in veg, chicken and mutton. We opted for the veg option.
The most famous home grown fruit of Leh Ladakh is apricot and the season has just started. We enjoyed a tall glass of homemade apricot juice.
Like us if you are keen on trying local food, this place is a must visit.

Had a very happy lunch after we descended down the khardungla pass at Dontang. This place has beautiful seating and the most comfort food. The ladhaki thukpa was my favourite. We had fresh lime soda, potato in honey chilli, chicken clear soup and chicken momos / mok mok.
The service was polite and every thing we had was made fresh to order. Few vegetables are used from their garden. Definately a try when in leh.

We had hired a private chauffeur driven ertiga for 5days that cost us 25k which I thought was pretty reasonable and we could go around according to our own convenience.

Leh Ladakh is a very beautiful Indian union territory that is a must visit, but with all precautions and understanding the terrain. It could get very warm and dry in summer on few days that’s what we experienced and it is not easy to handle that weather. If you are a person who likes to see greenery around you please don’t expect anything like that around. Winters could be very harsh so please check before you go. You can fly or drive.

Bangalore Days at Taj Yeshwantpur!

Calm in Between the Chaos

I would call this stay at Taj Yeshwantpur home away from home!

After 15 days of being away from home we decided to take a short break to visit family in Bangalore.  Since this was an impromptu decision we had to book our stay one hour before we reached Bangalore. The best ever decision we made for a last minute booking at Taj Yeshwantpur!

We cannot stop talking about the impeccable hospitality that we received from each and every person at Taj from Rajeev Khanna to Ajay Sawe to Anshu Ukey, Dinesh Verma to Sundar to chef Jose, Aditya and Amrik. You have created that space in our hearts forever.

Our room was beautiful with the most precious view of Bangalore City! The service was such that even before we think of what we wanted it was at our door. This 327 rooms hotel is definitely a pride to the city and Taj hotels!

Conjee was my favourite
Waffles with Nutella
Wheat poori
The tasting tiffin!

Bangalore if you are thinking of any place to celebrate your New Year just check in here and have the time of your life with friends, family and loved ones!

At the pool side!

Kove for the love of Coimbatore/ Kovai❤️

The Manchester of South India is weaving a new Coimbatore. My first visit to this little city was in 1998 when I married a young man from here. Our reception was held at the most iconic Annapoorna, I was told this was one place where many of the coimbatorians get hitched!

Mandatory

Our visits to this city continued over years and stories about how my husband and his friends use to hang around Annapoorna was something I got used to hearing often and at times the stories kept on repeating as friends who are all around the world kept coming to Coimbatore for their vacation. By now it had become a household name for me who came from Mumbai. The morning coffee and breakfast was a ritual everytime we came to Coimbatore from Chennai. We hosted and attended many weddings over the years!

Few years back when we saw the place closed for renovation, we were a little disheartened but at the same time excited and waiting for it to open. Little did we know that the wait was totally worth it. My heart swelled with Pride and happiness to what I witnessed today!

Coimbatore you have arrived should I say more! The structure, the food, the ambience, the service and the warmth was class apart!

Would I have ever thought of me seated in a vegetarian restaurant and enjoying the most amazing cocktail along with my family few years ago in Coimbatore???and today I was right here in this place enjoying Nannari Negroni & Jalapeno Mojito, really what – a – what -a !!!

Nannari Negroni
Jalapeno mojito

And wait, vegetarian did I say? Let me correct myself progressive vegetarian restaurant, because most of the dishes that we experienced today are specially curated for kove and kove alone by Gourmet Sage Hospitality Solutions who also are the principal consultant for this project.

We started our meal with Tortellini soup and Singhada makkai shorba. From Italy to North India the soups were spot on with the right flavour, taste and presentation.

Singhada makkai shorba
Tortellini soup

The brocolli Thai cold salad sure was a pleasant twist to the salad experience. The Asian fusion to the south indian curry leaves the cream cheese Rangoon to the karuvepillai baby corn the journey kept the flavours intact.

Karuvepillai baby corn
Cream cheese Rangoon
Brocolli Thai salad

The yam urandai kuzhambu ( yam balls) in South Indian gravy served with ghee rice was as good as the Nasi Goreng that was our main course.

Nasi Goreng
Yam urandai
Yam urandai kuzhambu

The mocktail shoots definitely intersting not only for the eyes but the palate too!

Mocktail shoots

The finale for this meal sure had to be exceptional. The nanari Sorbet was a refreshing palate cleaners and the best friend to someone who is vegan! The lucky Irishman was my favourite since I love Bailey’s!

Nannari sorbet
The Irishman

Kove at ikon, Annapoorna is definitely a place to visit for the sheer experience of something very very special, it is an experience not to be missed along with family and friends! A place to make memories thinking of the old, cherishing and embracing the new! And raising a toast with cheers to new beginning!

Homemade Konkan food in Chennai ❤️

My hands are trembling with joy when I am writing this Blog. This is the food I grew up eating and have been wanting to have it in Chennai. Specially now during lockdown since I couldn’t travel to Mumbai or Goa due to the pandemic.

Deepika and me have been having discussion about konkan food and we started the discussion last year when lockdown was announced. Have been following up with him every other week and he kept telling me soon. Finally the dream is a reality.

Konkan food ( Goan and Konkan) has its own unique flavour of spices, coconut and kokam. The Flavours are very comforting and not too rich. The sol kadhi has its own soul and it’s the best! We ordered the fish thali and the chicken thali.

The fish thali had bangda/ mackerel rava fry, prawn curry with kokam, kismur ( typical goan salad made using dry fish), kosambir ( veg salad), steamed rice and sol kadhi ( spicy kokam juice in coconut milk) it is a digestive. Like south indians have curd rice end of the meal people from the konkan region have a small portion of steamed rice with sol kadhi.

The chicken thali has malvani chicken curry with either rice bakri ( rice chapati/ roti) or vadi ( rice puri) kosambir ( veg salad) and sol kadhi. Packed with Flavours right from the Konkan region.

A must must try meal it has its own charm and this one will definitely not disappoint you. If you have had Konkan food before go for this, if you haven’t tried Konkan food before you have to experience this Flavours. Very limited uncomplicated menu. Btw they buy their produce fresh everyday. Available for delivery in Chennai , call +91 9930503526 order!

Every life has a story. This is ours at The story, Yercaud!

On a beautiful Friday afternoon we entered the story to write our story for the next two days!

View watching

Our story started from Chennai on a early Friday morning with a bunch of like minded fun people. We did a quick pit Stop at murugan idly. A little about murugan idly, the food was good, rest rooms are worse. A humble suggestion for murugan idly, many of them stop for your food more to use the wash room, hence please keep it clean. After that stop we straight headed to Yercaud. The weather was stunning, the drive was a breeze.

The story in front of our eyes had a mesmerizing effect on us, the vibes and aura were inviting. This resort is relatively new in Yercaud. Must say it was love at first sight for us, the view from the resort is stunning too!

The reception
The room

A little about Yercaud, Yercaud is a hill station town in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It lies in the Shevaroy Hills, known for their orange groves, and coffee, fruit and spice plantations. Yercaud Lake has a boathouse, and is surrounded by gardens and woods. On the lake’s eastern shore, Anna Park has local plants and a Japanese garden with bonsai. It is a 365 kms from Chennai 195kms from Coimbatore 205 kms from Bangalore and 30kms from salem.

Misty morning
Yercaud hills
Servarayan temple

We did visit a few places in and around Yercaud, but tried to spend as much time as possible at The story. They have a bonfire at night with music, the food is very good and made fresh to order, they do inform you to order food in advance. The complimentary breakfast is quite a big spread with south Indian breakfast delicacies. The staff are extremely polite and are ay your service all time with a smile in their face. Special thanks to Ravi, Saravana, John, Bobby and Namita for the excellent hospitality.

Breakfast
Filter coffee

To know more about The story https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/H9mDZ address is Berry Garden Phase – III, Pagoda Point Road, Yercaud Hills, Salem, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu 636601

The Story