Friday, September 28, 2012

Ajmer & Pushkar

Next day morning at 9.00 am, we had train, Aravalli Express to Ajmer. Good that our hotel was nearby railway station. We got up at around 7.00 and refreshed ourselves. I ordered for 2 cups of tea. We checked out before 8.00 AM. We went to nearby Khandelwal bhojanalaya for morning breakfast. We had awesome Paneer paratha with a cup of tea. It was yummy yummy and the taste of it still linger to me. That was the best one I ever had it in my life. Paratha was well stuffed with grated paneer and lot of ghee on it. One was sufficient for both of us. 

We ran to railway at 8.40 and got into our train. One of the co-passenger was getting acquainted with my hubby we were enquiring about the Ajmer station. He asked my hubby about his residential place and the passenger was very excited listening “Mumbai” He asked him if he was a bollywood actor. For people from towns, Mumbai is about only bollywood. No doubt my hubby was looking dashing in that attire with his cooling glass. I couldn’t control laughing. Then he asked about opinion on me and the passenger said that I was looking like a Madrasi heroine (Mind it, all south indian’s are Madrasis). I was stunned. Since then, my hubby got an opportunity to keep me teasing. 

At around 11.20, we reached Ajmer. My husband was very keen on RTDC hotels only, on which I wasn’t. From the station, we enquired about Hotel Khadim with the station master. He suggested that the auto fare would take around 30-40 bucks only. When we stepped out, the autowala & taxiwala were offering to take us to Hotel Khadim for Rs.150 bucks. We bargained for 40 and reached Hotel Khadims. We asked them for arranging cab for day tour which was already at the lawn. We took Alto and decided to start our journey from Pushkar which is just 11 kms from Ajmer. 

Pushkar is surrounded by hills and one capture lot of beautiful scenery from your vehicle. This place is famous for 2 reasons. One is for religious and the other one is commercial; trading of horses, camels, cows and bulls. The Pushkar fair or Pushkar Mela attracts visitors from the world over for 5 days during Kartik ekadashi to Kartik poornima (October-November). During this time, pilgrims take holy dip in the lake. There is music in the air, dance, celebration and colourful shops spring up during the fair. Puppet shows, camel races go hand in hand with cattle auctions. Since, we went in February, we were not lucky enough. 

Pushkar Lake: It is believed taking holy bath in this lake will wash out all the sins.

Brahma Temple: It is the only temple in this world dedicated to Lord Brahma.Before entering this temple, the tourists are required to hand over there leather bags, belts and camera to the security at the door on a nominal charge. I wasn't able to capture any picture as the camera was deposited with the security at door.

We then started back to ajmer and halted at one of the hotel on the recommendation of the chauffeur. We filled our tummy with dal bati churma, but it wasn’t on par with the one that we had at Santosh Bhojanalya, Jaipur. 

Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra: One next spot was the Dargah and the entrance of it starts from Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra. It is so named as the construction took two and a half days (Adhai-din) to complete. Although in need of restoration, it's an exquisite piece of architecture, with soaring domes, pillars and a beautiful arched, largely built from pieces of Jain and Hindu temples. 

Dargah-Khwaza-Sahib: This Dargah is very popular among pilgrims India. The shrine is next only to Mecca or Medina for the Muslims of South Asia. The Dargah is at walking distance from Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra as no cabs and taxis are allowed on this route. Our chauffeur had warned us against pick-pocketer and duplicate items that are sold. Also, he had given me his mobile number that I left it in the cab. Actually, what had happened was we had left our luggage in the cab as we were planning to move Jodhpur by bus the same evening. We searched for the cab for almost an hour. My hubby had been using my mobile on roaming. So we neither had hotel Khadim number. I was panic as we were not able to find our cab. We immediately made an auto to the hotel and explained him the entire situation. The hotel staff were very helpful tracing the cab. I thought we had lost luggage, cash and mobile. Thanks to my husband on relying RTDC hotels.

Nasiya (Red) Temple: There wasn't much to explore in Ajmer except the Jain Temple. This is a masterpiece depicting Jain mythology legends that are in gold and silver plated. Very beautiful and must see by any tourists.

The Museum: Once a royal residence of Mughal Emperor is now an ruined  repository of the Mughal and Rajput armour and exquisite sculpture. This monument requires restoration work.

This was our last place. We asked driver to drop us at bus stop around 4.30 PM for our next journey by local bus to Jodhpur....Actually, we had our train scheduled to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur at 23:45. 

My blog contents is more of generic information, logistic to travel, and the places of interest. I am sure, the history of each of these religious places can be found in many website. RTDC official website is rich source of information for all the tourists. I have inserted relevant link for curious readers on the history of each of these places.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Healthy Daal-palak sabzi

One dish which I had always been missing is daal-palak sabzi made by my mother. I simply love this dish. This sabzi is not only protein rich also rich in iron.  The best combination is daal palak with paratha and rice. My hubby didn’t like this dish as I had no tomatoes at home. I mixed tomatoes ketchup and the dish turned out very bad.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 2 servings


1 bunch of palak, cleaned and washed
½ cup moong daal (Split green gram without skin)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 small onions finely chopped
3 big tomatoes finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp dhaniya jeera (cumin seeds-coriander) powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
Water as needed


  1. Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida
  2. When they crackle, add chopped onions, ginger garlic paste and fry it till golden brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and stir for few seconds.
  4. Wash moong daal and palak to the above mixture
  5. Add water to ensure that the daal is properly cooked rather than sticking at the base of the pan.
  6. Add chilli powder, dhaniya jeera powder, turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  7. Mix all the vegetables and close the pressure pan. Allow for 2-3 vessels.
  8. Serve hot with paratha.

Healthy Corn Palak Soup for Pregnant women

During first trimester of my pregnancy, I had lot of difficulty eating Palak. It helps in treating iron deficiency.  I and my sister in law together tried making tasty soup out of it. My sister in law doesn’t like boiled palak as it loses it colour and texture.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 2 servings


1 bunch of palak, cleaned and washed
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)                                                                                                                                             
1/4th cup sweet corn kernel, boiled
1 piece of green chillie
1 tbsp oil
1 cube grated cheese
salt to taste
Water as needed


  1. Wash palak and grind it in a mixer.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai pan and add cumin seeds and asafoetida
  3. When they crackle, add palak mixture & sweet corn kernels.
  4. Add salt to taste and boil for 5-10 minutes. Add water as needed.
  5. Garnish it with grated cheese and serve hot.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Healthy Moong daal


One of the healthy and tasty recipes I learned from my mother in law is moong daal. During festivals, lunch in my house comprises of channa, poori, kheer, & moong daal. Below is the recipes.

Preparation Time: 1 5 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Makes 4 servings


250 gms moong daal chilke wala
2 pieces of cinnamon
1/4 tsp mustard seeds (rai / sarson)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
4-5 pieces of green chillies
2  tbsp Coriander-cumin seeds(jeera-dhaniya) powder
1 tbsp oil
7-8 curry leaves
3 tbsp chopped coriander (dhania)
salt to taste
Water as needed


  1. Soak moong daal overnight in warm water.
  2. Remove the skin by running over cold water over the daal.
  3. Heat the oil in a kadai pan and add mustard seeds, cinnamon, curry leaves, green chillies, cumin seeds and asafoetida
  4. When they crackle, add the daal.
  5. Add turmeric, salt and keep stirring until the daal is cooked properly. This will take almost 20-25 minutes.
  6. Add water as needed (2-3 tbsp) and keep stirring.
  7. Switch off the flame and add dhaniya-jeera powder and stir well.
  8. Garnish it with coriander and serve hot.

Handy tips: This daal requires frequent stirring. So do not enclose this daal while cooking.

Friday, September 21, 2012



Our marriage was on 11th Feb 2012 and my husband had booked tickets for honeymoon destination, Rajasthan trip. He had been sitting for hours together to chalk out entire 13 days trip for different locations, accomodations, sightseeing places; and the first one being Jaipur.

We started from Mumbai Central in Duranto, 3 tier AC, side birth. The train was fast and we reached Jaipur at around 11.00 am. We got out of the station to see the pink city. Didn’t understand why was it so named? We got into station hotel and called up to couple of hotels. All of them were booked in advance. My husband was having tea. I came out gazing at the city for some acquaintance. I was soon surrounded by auto and taxi walla offering me getting into good hotels. I could see 3 hotels out there. I went back to my husband; described him about these. We took our back pack and went to SBI ATM. We enquired about Hotel Raya in and found out the rates were around Rs.2000/day. I was not happy with it although my husband was fine spending such a huge amount. We moved to other nearby hotels and didn’t like any. Finally, we checked in Hotel Aagaman for Rs.500/day. We were keen on hotels nearby railway station so that we don’t have to face trouble to get auto earlier morning when our trains were scheduled. He asked us for our ID proof and we were panic for a while. The room was warm, cosy & cleaned. We refreshed ourselves and went out to explore nearby places on the same day. We went to RTDC Tourism Information Centre at railway station platform no.1 to find out any daily sightseeing package. We found the deal attractive and booked for the next day tour. The station master was very friendly. From there we started towards Bapu bazaar on recommendation by a friend. One of the hand peddler offered to take us at Maharani Market for he claimed that the Rajasthan government had shut down Bapu market sometime back due to bomb blast in that place. The government has now made a market under single roof known as Maharani Market. We got into his trap and to our shock, we were cheated. I asked rates of Maharaja Blanket. The shop keeper quoted Rs.2000 which I felt was highly priced. I and my hubby had decided on shopping only at our last honeymoon destination coz we did not want to burden our back bags.

We then moved out of the so called Maharani Market. We enquired with the nearby paan-beedi shop about Bapu Market and the auto fare to reach there. We had good time window shopping at Bapu Market. My husband usually says “do your homework, before you start your journey” and I learned my lesson. They had awesome collections of artificial jewelleries made of Kundan and Meenakari work. I was also fascinated with block print kurtis but I didn’t like the straight cut. The Maharaja blanket was priced at Rs. 600 here. We had a plate of Pani-puri and started our journey back to hotel. It was chilled cold and I was missing my warm cloths. In the meantime, I found that my chappals will not last long. So we got into Bata sh0wroom to buy floaters. They are the best when you have to walk long distance. While moving back to our lodge, my hubby decided to buy some condom and then we had our dinner at nearby railway station.

My husband moved in to refresh himself. I looked him inside the bathroom. It was time to lure him. I took out my 6 piece maroon colour night wear. I opened his door and saw him in red baniyan and shorts; wondered such boring person can also wear red colours. It was our first night, I was excited. He slowly approached towards me. I allowed him to undress each piece of my night wear. He started counting and was amazed. First night is not a fairy tale. Don’t expect perfect night in real life when novices are indulged. Patience is the key for success.

On next day, we ran to the station master at around 8.45 am. We grabbed little breakfast from the station hotel which was really rotten. My husband was keen on eating little during journey. He was clear from the beginning not to eat more when we are on day tour. The RTDC guide was very friendly while describing the history behind each of the places.

Statue Circle: The full-length exquisitely carved statue of the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh.

B M Birla Planetarium: We are not able to see this place due to lack of time.

Central Museum: An outside view of this can be seen the picture.

Lakshmi-Narayan Temple & Moti Doongri: The temple is built in Marble a few years ago. Moti-Doongri is a privately owned hilltop fortress built like a castle. In the ancient times, it was occupied by Maharaja Madho Singh’s son. Still, the enchanting Palace belongs to the royal family. Today, it makes home for Rajmata Gayatri Devi and her son, Jagat Singh. However, the palace is not open for public.

Hawa Mahal: On the way to city palace, we came across Hawa Mahal. Now I knew it, it’s the old city which is known as Pink city due to the walls that are coloured in Pink. The five-storey monument was originally conceived with the aim of enabling ladies of the royal household, Rajput family, to watch the everyday life and royal processions of the city.

(Old City) Amber: Once a settlement of nobles, craftsmen and common folks, the city of amber is now in ruins. This place has several shops serially numbered, owned by craftsmen and traders.

Jantar Mantar: A stone observatory it is largest of Jai Singh’s five remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments, whose settings and shapes are scientifically designed, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.

City Palace: It is the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani & Mughal style. One can see the breathtaking carvings on grey-white marble, ornate with floral motifs in gold and coloured stones. My hubby in Maharani's swimming pool.

Amber Fort: A beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh (who is now known as SMS). The palace complex emerges dramatically from the placid waters of the Maotha Lake and is approachable only through a steep path. Tourists often ride only on small jeeps as buses cannot enter here. Though the fort is quite old, it is beautiful on the inside and boasts of various buildings of prominence like the 'Diwan-i-Aam', the 'Sheesh Mahal' and even the 'Sukh Mahal'. The Amber Fort has influences of Hindu, Mughal and Muslim architecture.

At this fort, Bol Bachchan shooting was going on. I was able to get a glimpse of Abhishek Bachchan.

Jaigarh: The fort is built with thick walls of red sandstone and is spread over a vast range of 3 kilometres in length, with a width of one kilometre. The fort houses the world's greatest cannon on wheels known as the 'Jaivana Cannon' and a huge palace complex, several temples, garden, reservoirs, granary and armoury. The Jaigarh Fort was built to secure Jaipur City and the Amber fort from warlords and rivals.

Nahargarh Fort: A sentinel to the Pink City is Nahargarh Fort, situated beyond the hills of Jaigarh. This fort was originally named Sudarshangarh Fort. Later, it was given a new name, Nahargarh which means 'abode of tigers'. Located in one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world, the Aravalli Hills, this fort gives you a breathtaking view of the scenic surroundings.

Monuments Entrance fee, Camera Charges to be paid by tourists at respective monument. For Amber fort walk is recommended. Charges for hiring Jeep to reach at Amber fort, is to be paid directly by the tourists. This costs around 400 to 600 bucks. My hubby was happy with my decision on staying at Hotel Aagaman.

This was last place of visit in Jaipur. At around 6.00 pm. We were back to the tourist centre. We met again the station master to book the day tour packages in all the other cities and for more information. He assured us on available of hotels and lodges in different cities, but for Jaisalmer, it was a different case as my hubby wanted to stay at Sam Dhani. He helped us booking hotel at Sam Dhani (will write more about it in another blog). We were enquiring more about such packages and RTDC hotels in different location. He helped us with a guide “Discover Rajasthan Get Carried away”. It was very helpful to us. I whole heartedly appreciate patience, dedication towards work and attitude of the station master. Rajasthani cuisine is one of the best options available for Vegetarians and I had been dyeing to have Dal baati churma. The station master suggested us Santosh Bhojanalay. 

At night, we searched for Santosh Bhojanalay for yummy yummy dal bati churma. We decided to try out only one plate and ordered for the same. The waiter might have thought of us as poor guys. It was best one I ever had in my entire life; mouth watering, delicious. We ordered for another one later.

We came back to your lodge. I was damn tired and fell asleep living my husband alone for planning next day.