Photo Story on Russel Market

The story of my close to a weird obsession with Russel Market. Read the complete blog on Russel Market here.

Russell Market, is one of Bangalore’s oldest markets and also the most comprehensive place to shop for everything fresh — vegetables, meat, flowers and fruit. It was started by the British in the early 1900s as the central grocery spot and hasn’t lost its color one bit, since then.
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Trailing the “Silk Route” with Bengaluru-by-Foot.

It’s been long that I had set my foot beyond the city limits and that didn’t quite go well with my itchy feet. I was desperately looking for some weekend treks on eventshigh.com and that’s when I found out about Nagarathpete Pettah Walk hosted by Bengaluru-by-foot. It wasn’t the first time I heard or read about them as I am constantly hunting for ways to explore more of this city. So with no second thought, I hit on ‘book’ option.

And hence the Saturday morning began on a happy note, all thanks to Mansoor Ali, the man who has been helping people like me to make some sense out of their weekends. An architect by profession and historian by choice, Mansoor holds heritage walks in Bengaluru every weekend. Mansoor was inspired by similar Heritage walks that he used to attend in Delhi. The agenda of this was to take a deeper look into the crumbling settlement of the silk dyers. Nagarathpete is predominantly occupied by the weaver, dyers, whole sellers, and testers of silk yarn.

This tiny hamlet in Bengaluru, majorly famous for the Karaga festival and the Dharamaraya Temple, bears more history to it than your eyes see, and I would have still been oblivious to if it wasn’t Mansoor.

He narrated the legends of the beheading of Sayed Muhib Shah and the tombless dargah, the tales of the martyrdom of thousands of Mysorain soldiers and of course the rise and fall of these tiny settlements who have survived the wrath of time.

We began our walk from the Baba Sharfuddin Dargah which took me by awe with its astoundingly intricate mirror work. Thanks to my habit of sleeping late, I missed out on the briefing of the history. Before this, I had never set for inside any Islamic religious place.

Baba Sharfuddin Dargah,
Mansoor briefing us on the history of Sufism and Islam.

As we blindly followed Mansoor into the narrow rustic lanes of Nagarathpete, I got into some small talks with my fellow visitor who also was an artist and played with organic colours to dye fabric. Even small talks can reveal so much about the way one thinks. We finally reached what was supposed to be the focal point of the walk, the unit of the silk yarn dyers.

A tiny room tucked in a corner of one of the many narrow lanes there, this was a typical two roomed house with around ten odd men working at different stages of the tiresome process of reeling and dying the silk yarn. The entrance was used for drying and sorting the coloured yarn, but the adjoining room was where the real work happened. The room wore a blanket of dense fumes that rose from the steaming hot baths where the yarn was dipped for dyeing. The sight was as spectacular as it was straining. Spending just five minutes in that room left me sweating and burning. Needless to mention the hardships these craftsmen are subjected to. Going forward we had a chance to visit the weavers who constantly work amidst the noisy mechanical looms.

We visited the famous Dharamaraya Swami Temple and a few more dargahs which have some really interesting legends attached to them.  And finally, the walk ended with a hearty meal and some catching up of facts from the past which I had missed at the beginning of the walk.

I am not a huge fan of the pub culture in Bangalore but these stories preserved in the bylanes of such hamlets are what give some solace to the explorer in me.

Hoping to explore more and share my stories with you soon.

Till then keep wandering 🙂

Of great food, art and even greater enthusiasm. Fort Kochi is all about the “Feels”

I have often read that travelling with your friends can either break it or make it. So when two female friends cum colleagues travel to a new land, what are the odds of the latter happening? 

It was 10:30 at night and we were still waiting for our bus to pick us up from Marathalli. All hell burst when the agent asked us to reach Madiwala by 11. That’s where the bus was supposed to leave from. Thanks to the excellent services of Uber, we were on time and successfully boarded our bus to Kochi. There began a journey which we two ladies will remember for years to come and probably feel as proud while narrating it to others. After all, no matter how small an adventure, the first ones are always special.

Day 1

After an overnight journey, leaving behind all the confusion and mishaps behind we woke up to the daylight in Edapally, which was the last stoppage and where we got our cab for Fort Kochi. Mr.Roy our driver was a really kind human and helped us find our pre-booked budget homestay successfully which wouldn’t have been possible without a local person help. Beautiful smiles and an undeniable inclination to help, this is what maybe pulls thousands of tourists and travellers to the state every year.

Since there wasn’t much to explore in our budget homestay. We without wasting a moment rushed to the washrooms to freshen up. And to our dismay, there was no water. And again Sophie our host kindly fetched us some water from the well in her backyard. We left from our rooms all dressed up totally unknown to what the scorching heat was gonna do to us. But what good is a budget trip without some crazy struggle?

We rented our bicycles from Arafat- Rent a bike on Princess StreetThis is a cozy cafe cum rental store for bikes and scooters. We hired two Lady Birds at Rs 100/- a day

Arafat – Rent a Bike Princess Street


In the hunt for a place that accepts cards, we finally reached Cafe Quissa. I must say the cafe culture in Fort Kochi is the rarest; or should I say the finest?  We had the best Pancakes of our lives and thus Quissa made a made a place in our food-loving hearts forever. But that isn’t all! The ambience itself was drool worthy.

Quissa Cafe, Fort Kochi
How I love the use of sewing machines stands as the base of the tables. I am truly a digger of creativity and Fort Kochi is my muse.
If only we could marry pancakes

We headed straight to Jew Town in Mattancherry where we visited the Jewish synagogue and shopped in the antiques. The place is way too remarkable to be accommodated in a small section of a blog post. You can read about Jew Town in details in my previous post. As the sun began to sink we made our way back towards Fort Kochi, hung around the beach for a while looking at the distant flickering lights of the harbours.

Fort Kochi Beach


Volleyball Tournament at Fort Kochi Beach

The sight around the beaches in Fort Kochi is downright spectacular. Christmas lights everywhere your eyes can see and vendors selling lip-smacking fish fry and Iddiapams. Tiny shacks trying to attract customers in their best efforts. You don’t really feel the humidity and heat amidst all that liveliness and chaos. 

As always services are welcoming and warm
Burger’s Street

After a satisfying meal with the final touch of a refreshing glass of lime soda we called it a day and were back to our den to give our backs some rest.

Day 2

Next day was spent in the backwaters of Aluva. Kerala Tourism Departments hold these day tours to backwaters on daily basis. All the packages are categories into three. Starting from Rs 400 for the most economic to Rs 900 for the full day package. Ours included a visit to the backwaters and the Chinese Fishing nets for Sunsets. It was heavenly to watch the sky being crimson by the setting sun at the mouth of the Arabian Sea. 

You can reach the reception centre of Kerala Tourism Dept. by taking a ferry from Fort Kochi boat jetty. A ticket to Ernakulam wouldn’t cost you more than Rs 8. 


Somewhere near Chittur Village, our stop for evening tea and snacks
As the name suggests Chinese Fishing Nets were introduced to Kochi by a Chinese explorer. This method of fishing is still in practice hundreds of years after their installation. When silhouetted against the setting sun they make a stunning view.

The day ended and we began hunting for Chicken Stew and Appams, our latest food crush. After going around and checking with some eight odd restaurants if they served any, we finally ended up eating at Fusion Bay. 

Day 3

The Final day had come and we would have to bid goodbye to this whole new world of colours cultures and throbbing exuberance. So we decided to end it at The Teapot Cafe followed by a visit to the Biennale 2017. And we’re glad we did so. The teapot is a tiny cafe on Princess Street. Step into the world of teapots. I mean literally! Remember me talking about the cafe culture some time back? This place has teapots in all shapes and sizes in the display. Never seen a place living up to their name to such an extent. 

The Teapot Cafe

They say travelling places liberates your soul and then there are some who believe travelling is the game of the escapists. Regardless I feel, it a way to feed your soul. And when it’s your first independent travel it has to be life changing. Doesn’t it? So was this trip to Fort Kochi.

Kochi gave us tanned faces and gallons of cheery memories that we both can equally share and cherish years after we have lost touch with each other. The memories of our rondom encounters with people will be ours even when we’re old stuck in the routines of our respective lives ahead. I believe that’s what travelling does to people. It binds you to your counterparts at a level that’s impossible to separate. 

The old school Mountain Railways of Ooty are a sure shot way to Adrenaline-surge

Been wanderlusting lately?

Probably the Nilagiri are the answer to your calling. What could a reckless traveller ask for other than a long weekend after all?

Ooty to Bangalore is what Mecca is to Islam. It is where I fell for the Nilgiris too. And it all happened on the toy train, the Nilgiri Mountain Railways. Now a UNESCO world heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railways first had their 19th-century vintage engines running in 1908. Over a century old, these trains still run on steam engines and issue the old card type tickets. Thanks to UNESCO this will remain unchanged for ages to come.

People use it to get to their work early in the morning, children use these to reach their schools. What is a once in a lifetime experience for many of us is a daily chore for the local commuters out there? The sights at the stations are subtly chaotic all round the year. This experience for a traveller is very exotic in itself as the engines and the track used in this railway are the few last ones remaining in the world.

 In an hour-long trip of 26 KMs from Ooty to Coonoor, these horary  X class locomotives which are is more than 50 years and the oldest more than 80 take you through the spectacular mountains of the Nilgiris through the Mettupalayam Station, Lovedale, Adderley, Hill Grove, Runnymede, Kateri Road, and finally Coonoor Station through 16 tunnels and across 250 bridges. When when you have the luxury of choosing your seats do make sure you pick one on the right side because the view is breathtakingly beautiful and if you are a shutterbug like me, you don’t  want to miss out on that gorgeousness. On your way, you will be witnessing the Western Ghats at their most beautiful self, starting from the grazing lands to the most exotic flora and fauna from the wilderness absolutely untouched by the wrath of tourism. If you are really looking forward to truly experiencing Ooty which itself holds a beautiful history, the toy train rides are strictly a ‘do not miss’.

Prior to 1820s anyone barely knew of Ooty. However, the fabulous tales of the “blue mountains” were in the air. Mr John Sullivan the Founder of British settlement in Udgamandalam was ordered y the authorities of the East India Company to verify the authenticity of the Nilgiris and thus was born the “Queen of the hill stations Ooty” and its whimsical mountain railways.

 A single ride from Ooty to Coonoor pretty much sums up the paradise for you. And trust me I can vouch for the best connection, only if you know what I mean. No wonder this got SRK dancing to the tunes of Chaiyaan Chaiyaan and we still haven’t got over it 🙂

Places in Bangalore that stay with you beyond Instagram

 

1. Mekkah Cafe: Start your day the Suleiman style with a flavoursome cup of Sulemani Chai teamed up with a coconut puff at Mecca Cafe in Johnson’s Market. Sheltered in a shabby archtop building on Hosur Road right before Audugodi, Mecca Cafe is s little hard to trace. However, once you find the place parking isn’t going to be an issue.

 

2. Disney Bakery: For the Chai diggers out there … There is another one in line. Disney Bakery is a Mecca for all the tea addicts dwelling in BTM. Ginger tea and samosas here are to die for. The place is flooded with people eagerly waiting for their glass of aromatic tea ranging from elichi, masala to lemon. Team your tea with a bun samosa or bun butter and you are done for the quarter of the day.

 

3. Airlines Hotel:Brunching under a giant banyan tree; pretty euphoric ain’t it? But that isn’t all Airlines Hotel is all about. One of the most iconic places in Bangalore Airline’s hotel serves mouth smacking dosas and the best Bourvita in the city.  Airlines Hotel was started in the year 1968. Back then a drive-in restaurant was a very alien concept in the city.

4. Koshy’s,  St Marks Road:  If you can get yourself out of bed early in the Sunday morning, head to Koshys in St Marks Road. It’s one of the iconic places in Bangalore and gives you the vintage feel with all the waiters (everyone past 40 years of age) dressed on bright shiny white uniforms and the place itself speaking volumes of its ancient establishment.

On Sunday mornings Koshy’s servers typical Kerala style Appams and mutton stews which are to die for. And on other days you can select anything from their menu and be assured of not going home disappointed. My personal favourites would be Tandoori Chicken, Chicken liver on toast and obviously the Tea.

Starting from the food to the crowd everything about this place is a total 10 on 10.


5. Blossoms Book Store: If you are among those who get a high from the smell of old worn out books. Then you have fond a place where you would want your grave to be. Blossoms is a three storied bookstore that shelves thousands of books new and old. If avenue road falls too far for you Blossoms is your go-to place for all your book cravings.

Blossoms Book House

6. Russel MarketKnown for being the hub of best perishables in the city Russell Market is the oldest market complex inaugurated in Bangalore dating back to 1927.  The wide variety of fruits and vegetables speak volumes of this yet underrated market.Street food lovers will dig this place for there is a plethora of budget-friendly options to choose from and not enough space in the tummy. The aromas of the Kababs and Biryani are enough to get any foodie weak at their knees. What got me hooked on the place was the caramel custard that I had in one of the shops. The idea is to not fill yourself up in a single shop and regret seeing another which for some undecipherable reason appears more tempting to your eyes than the previous one.

 

7. Potters Village: Potters Village is wholly occupied by a bunch of people who have still stuck to the ancient yet underrated art of pottery for their living. If not poverty this village manages in a dire state of austerity. These families have been taking over the legacy of  art manship over decades and been surviving with utmost conformity. Entire lane is a boulevard of pottery items of all shapes and sizes kept for drying. Some glazing with the moisture freshly out of the wheel and some totally ready to go into the furnaces. The shopkeepers if not welcoming, we’re not hostile either. Probably there is a constant influx of photography enthusiasts into the village owning up to their indifference.

Lost in Echo of the Urbans: Russell Market

Overshadowed by the spell of contemporary shopping alternatives, Shivajinagar, the traditional commercial hub of Bangalore City hides within a treasure chest for ‘F’ word junkies. And the ‘F’ word here is truckloads of FOOD.

Known for being the hub of best perishables in the city Russell Market is the oldest market complex inaugurated in Bangalore and dates back to 1927.  The plethora of varieties of fruits and vegetables speak volumes of this yet underrated market hidden in the pockets of Shivaji Nagar.

Step in and prepare to be awestruck by the neatly placed, brightly coloured and never-seen-before varieties of fruits. And if you are fond of dry-fruits, prepare to part with your cash at the very instant. They have a wide range of them, all the way from Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and where not in the world.

Looking for a place with a character? Well, Here you are!

As soon as you enter to your left will be the fruits and dry fruits section while the rest of the space is taken by florists.  On the other side of the complex is the market for veggies fresh from the farm. Dimly lit hall, shabbily dressed walls, welcoming faces and a lot of eatables- ripe and raw, processed unprocessed, live and dead. Yeah! Right next to the complex stands the huge Beef Market that makes the largest meat shop in the city. Be it any kind of fish or shrimp, name it and you have it. Beef Market witnesses it’s largest crowds early in the day on weekends when the meat lovers turn to it for their not so pious cravings.

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The street food lovers will dig this place for there is a plethora of budget-friendly options to choose from and not enough space in the tummy. The aromas of the Kababs and Biryani are enough to get any foodie weak at their knees.

 

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What got me hooked on the place was the caramel custard that I had in one of the shops. The idea is to not fill yourself up in a single shop and regret seeing another which for some undecipherable reason appears more tempting to your eyes than the previous one.

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Exploring this food heaven could be quite daunting if you are left by yourself, so make sure you tag your best foodie friend along to be able to make the best out of the experience. Trust me it’s an “experience” indeed.

 

Tipu Sultans Summer Palace: Abode of Happiness and Envy of Heaven

Harking back to the 1700 A.D stands in the heart of the city Bangalore, The Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan. Withstanding the wrath of time this bitsy palace of the king which he used to hold his affairs of state, enthralls you with its aesthetical architecture.

With an utterly humble built up (mostly of wood, mortar, stone and plaster) this palace appears to be a huge pavilion. However on the inside, its a complete two-storied building with an ample ventilation from all the sides. A fan of arches and Indo-Islamic architecture I instantly fell for the high rising pillars and the wooden deck. On the central base is an enclosed area which is now a museum that preserves the paintings of the palace and gives a few insights into Sultans life.

It is not hard to imagine the palace back when it was freshly built in the 1790s when the intricately crafted motifs were untouched and charmed the palace walls with their vibrancy.
But 200 years down the lane from then, you have really got to have an eye for details to be able to find them and-and be astounded that they are everywhere.

With only a meager amount of Rs. 15 and no extra charges for photos, it makes a perfect spot for a pre-wedding/portfolio shoot or an insta-meet . The worn down rustic look is a huge attraction for a photographer of an offbeat taste. Make sure you pick  a weekday to avoid fellow visitors in your frame. Same goes for the ones looking a spot for a pre wedding shoot in Bangalore.

Disconnect and let the Wild sink in at Coorg (Kodagu)

Give nature a chance and it shall heal everything! Wisely has someone said, “wilderness is a necessity”.

Bangaloreans are blessed to be living in a city so strategically placed not more than 500kms away from anything that one would need to answer their callings, be it mountains plains or beaches for that matter.

I personally am a mountain person. An incorrigible believer in the power of the mountains, I feel that climbing hills, soaking up the tranquility, letting the clouds brush across my skin is no less than the pilgrimage. If there could be a replacement for human love, it has got to be mountains only.

The western ghats lie at an arm’s reach from Bangalore and conceal the heavenly quaint little district of Kodagu. Coorg (Kodagu) is a cluster of some of Karnataka’s  most beautiful towns. A laid back town here is Madikeri.

To make the most out of Coorg you need two things; time and an unconquered urge to explore. Unearthing a hill station could be daunting but the beauty stuffed into every corner of this place keeps you hooked all the time.

EditKnown for Coffee plantations this place is much more than just a hill station. This place can leave you awestruck with its heavy dose of offbeat from the very moment you approach it.

My favorite travel season is the monsoon irrespective of the place I am going to. Rains coffee and hills; could there be a combination any more pristine 

There is a little piece of Twang in our very own Karnataka. Kushalnagar has a lot of activities for the adventure seekers. You can go rafting and fishing at Dubare.

If you are more like me who just wants to soak up the serenity of nature in the most sparsely explored locations then you must ditch the hotels and book yourself a room in a homestay in the hinterlands. Google maps could come handy in that case. Make your booking well in advance to save yourself from last moment harassment of not being able to find a place to stay 

We were lucky to chance upon Brookstone Villa on MakeMyTrip. Cocooned amidst the vast stretches of coffee estates in the outskirts of Madikeri, this resort is an absolute treat for the nature lovers.

An early morning walk to the neighborhood can treat you with some tranquil time with yourself. You might bump into a couple of coffee pickers and no one else. It’s wilderness at its most beautiful self till your eyes can see. The sun plays hide and seek with the clouds and the sky surprises you with drizzles in bright sunshine.

What a bliss would it be to feel the chilled stream flow under your feet tickling it all the way?

Unwinding is an art in itself. If done right, it can leave you with a whole new perspective towards life.

Coming up is a detailed post about places that are worth your time in Coorg.

Living Like a Local in Wayanad

 

A three-day stay at  Jincy’s in Wayanad has taught me a lot not just about this place but also the people and how close they embrace their rich culture. But what strum the chords of my mind the strongest is the ‘larger than life’ way of living. They do not exaggerate when they so proudly call Kerala “Gods Own Country” because there’s a little piece of God in everyone’s heart I met there. Say for instance this gentleman who was in the middle of his daily chore of fetching coconuts from the tree when he, with a welcoming smile, paused for my  picture.

Our drive from Bangalore began around 4:30 in the morning. Although most of the journey we were  fast asleep however the morning glory of the sun brought us some beautiful surprises along out way . As we drove trough the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, we chanced upon some beautiful deer and also a peacock.

As soon as we crossed the state borders, Pratish, Jinny’s husband introduced us to a tiny bridge that literally was built by the Britishers overnight. Thanks to Pratish that he let the bizarre facts coming in till we finally discovered a spectacular stream that flew by the road.  Not being able to withstand the rush of adrenaline we jumped into the water that very moment and caught quite a few glimpses of kids fishing and playing in the water. Although none of our mates was camera friendly.

A gang of village boys was trying to swim with a log of wood

After a pleasant drive alternating through the dense forests and infinity stretching paddy fields we finally reached Jincy’s. We had just begun to let the beauty of the house sink in when Aunty got us some freshly prepared  kashayam using krapooravalli (carom) leaves just plucked from her backyard. Let me tell you! They work magic on your sore throats in no time at all.

Jincy took me for a short walk through her garden and the plantations in her backyard. Boy! I was taken aback. There was no single spice they have missed on. Starting from pepper, cardamom, cinnamon to even vanilla and cocoa they have it all and right in their backyard. I even had a chance to taste some mulberry from the tree before the silkworms could.

The traditional built of houses in Kerala are quite a catch. The peculiar wooden hedge and the tiled roofs with a triangular arch are enough to make a Keralan house stand out distinctly.

We spent one evening rowing through the Kabini river on a snake boat. And this authentically absolute Kerala experience was topped with some drizzles only to add to the awesomeness quotient of that moment.  If your eyes are aching for something that they have never seen before, Wayanad is the place. Get over the tea estates I witnessed acres of the ginger farm. And trust me they were spectacular!

Kabini

We also had visited the Kalaphuza Reservoir which happens to be one of the largest earth dams in India. Surrounded by lush green patches of land around this place was a sheer delight and watching the sun go down behind the feral weeds that surrounded the reservoir was divine.

 

Talking about the food! Wayanad is the food heaven for every foodie especially the nonvegetarians. We began our day with chicken cooked on chulaah and ended it with lip-smacking fish curry every single day.

Such a bliss to watch your food being cooked in the traditional Indian style Chulaah

What more could one have asked for from a weekend get away? Living like a local is every traveller’s dream and I had it come true in the most scenic of the places in the country. I don’t know how to thank Jincy and Pratish enough for introducing us to this bucolic bliss. Kerala has definitely won over me but the countryside living is what has got me weak on my knees.