Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Srinagar : The Summer Capital of the Rulers

Srinagar… famous as the city of the Dal Lake is also the capital of the state. Situated at 1730 meters above the sea level, the uniqueness of this city are its lakes and the house boats and shikaras swinging on the water. The origin of Srinagar is said to be Srinagari founded by Emperor Ashok in 3rd century B.C. The great Buddhist scholar from China also has written about Srinagari, as a beautiful city in the northern most part of India.

A city of mixed cultures. The Hindus, the Muslims and the Buddhist cultures co-existed peacefully in the valley. The British made their impact in the valley by building the houseboats that swing on the Dal Lake even today and are a major attraction of the tourists coming to Srinagar. These varied cultures have given birth to one unique culture that is Kashmiri. Srinagar takes pride on that culture.

The beauty of Srinagar is changes daily. In spring when the flowers are in full bloom as if the whole valley is a bed of flowers while in peak winters the white snow just shows the green pine tree tops. As the leaves fall in autumn the whole of Srinagar wears a red - orange look which enhances its beauty.

The beautiful Mughal Gardens and long stretches of various lakes, gives the city a unique impact. Be it a ride in the Shikara, a stay at the houseboat, a visit to a temple or a mosque, the beautiful site of flowers beds, or ladies in Burkhas and men folk chatting over the Kahwa, Srinagar holds a beautiful surprise at every turn that leaves you enchanted.

Location: Situated in the north western part of this huge state, Srinagar has all the conducive elements to make it a picture perfect. Located in the heart of Kashmir valley and perched at the height of 1730, meters, Srinagar is surrounded by the beauty of Himalayas and nature.

Climate: Srinagar experiences all the climatic conditions. A beautiful spring and a pleasant summer, the crisp autumn and the chilly winter. Each weather comes with its own charm and is equally enjoyable.

Languages Spoken: Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, Dogri, English
Long Distance Code: +91-194
Importance:The summer capital of the sate and known as Paradise on earth.
Area: 105 sq.kms
Best Time To Visit: October To June

Srinagar Attractions :

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in Kashmir built originally by the Sultan Sikandar in 1400 A.D. Later it was added by his son. But the mosque was gutted down in fire not once but thrice and was rebuilt each time. But the massive original pillars made of pine wood were amazingly saved from fire and they still stand intact and look as good as new. The mosque is huge enough to accommodate 10,000 namazis at one time.

Hari Parbat Fort

The Hari Parbat fort on top of the Sharika Hills is an ancient Hindu holy site. The wall around the hill along with almond orchards, which bloom in spring, was built by the great Mughal emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. The fort above was added by the afghan governor Atta Mohammad Khan in the 18th century. Today it is occupied by the Indian military.

The Dal Lake

The most famous lake of the town is the Dal Lake. It is not only famous for its slow flow of waters but the beautiful shikaras those row down the Lake with virtually carrying the whole town inside it. It is located centrally in the town and has many shikaras which give rides to the tourists on the lake. The floating garden and the market here are the prime attractions. Virtually a whole garden is seen floating with various kinds of flowers from roses to lilies and lotus to marigold. Equally alluring is the market where one can buy almost everything. The attraction is that buying, selling and bargaining is done while sitting in the boats and paddling by oars at the same time! The ride in these shikaras can be relaxing and tiring both at the same time.

The Mughal Gardens

Srinagar has beautiful gardens. Gardens with step terraces, laden with flowers during spring and autumn, water fountains always sprinkling drops of water all around and the lush green surroundings with a carpet of soft grass beautiful trees, including the Chinar. The se gardens were actually developed by the Mughals who were attracted to this place during the long summers of the northern plains. They planted these gardens in a beautiful ambience with great weather. The gardens brought sweet smell of flowers and chirping of birds. What different than this would the Paradise be, they thought!

The smallest of all the Mughal gardens but also the most beautiful of all is the Chesmeshahi. Built at a height above the city, it gives magnificent views. Equally stupendous is its layout with just three terraces in addition to a natural spring of water enclosed in a stone pavilion.The Nishat Garden encircles the Dal Lake and is along the road. It was built by empress Noor Jehan's brother, Asaf Khan. Nishat Garden is the biggest of all. It has several terraces, a central water course and a beautiful site between the Dal Lake and the Zabarwan Hills.The majestic Shalimar Garden was planted by the emperor Jehangir himself. Jehangir is said to have loved Kashmir and Srinagar especially. The Shalimar Garden is full of beautiful Chinar trees and a series of water flowing stone pavilions. The bright flower beds when in full bloom give an exotic touch to the pretty garden.

Hazaratbal Mosque

This beautiful mosque built recently stands on the old site and is only one of its kinds in the valley of Srinagar. The earlier mosque was supposed to be 600 years old. It is an elegant structure of white marble with perfectly proportioned single dome fa├žade and a single minaret. It is a typical Kashmiri architecture with cone shaped dome and overlapping terraces and the building is only compared to the magnificent Taj Mahal of Agra. The importance of this mosque lies in the single hair of the Great Prophet Mohammed that is enshrined here. It is opened for public viewing only once a year in the month of July for a few days.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Festivals and Fairs of India

India has a large Jain community which celebrates the birth of the last, the 24th Teerthankar, Lord Mahavir. The Jains celebrate the birth anniversary of Mahavir, the founder of Jainism on a large scale. This religious event is largely observed by visiting sacred sites and worshipping the Teerthankars.

The Hindu New year is celebrated through out the country in nearly all the states with different names. People mainly cook and eat sweets and wear new clothes and wish each other on this occasion. They sing and dance and start with new ventures on this day.

RAMNAVAMI:The ninth day of the first month in the Hindu calendar is celebrated as the day of birth of the Hindu God, incarnation of Vishnu and the hero of the epic Ramayana, Lord Ram. The festival is celebrated all over the country with people fasting and worshipping the Lord for the whole day. Ramnavami is also celebrated as the Vasant Navratra and the celebration starts from the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra and lasts up to Ramnavami. On Ashthami or the eighth day, Durga is worshipped. Both Ram and Durga symbolize the victory of good over the evil.

RAKSHA BANDHAN:The first full moon falling in August celebrates the relations between a brother and a sister. On this day sisters tie a sacred thread called Rakhi on their brothers' wrists and pray for their well being while the brothers return the love by gifting them and promising to take care of the sisters for the rest of their lives. This full moon day is celebrated as Nariyal or the Coconut Pournima along the coastal areas of India. It is basically festival of the fishermen who pray the sea God seeking his permission to venture into the sea to fish, after rest of two months, which is the peak monsoon season. Sweets made of coconut are prepared and everyone enjoys. In South India, it is celebrated as Avani Avittam. The holy thread is changed and libation of water is offered to the ancestors and Rishis on this occasion.

KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI:Eighth day of the black half in the month of Shravan is celeb rated as the birthday of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. Legend says that the Lord was born in the midnight and it was raining heavily then. People all around the country celebrate this festival with equal fervour. They fast the whole day and rejoice the birth in the middle of the night by breaking the fast. Songs and dances are performed all around the temples of India and children make a small display of the birth scene of Lord Krishna.

Varanasi : The Holy City

Varanasi… one of the most ancient inhabited cities of the world is also the oldest living city of the world. Varanasi is considered to be India's religious and spiritual hub and derives its name from the tributaries of the Ganges, Varuna and Asi that it is located on. Its original name Kashi comes from Kasha meaning the place of sacred light. The other name Benares might have been either a corruption of Varanasi by the British or from the Pali version of the word Varanasi to Baranasi to Benares. Famous author Mark Twain after visiting the city in the 19th century wrote, "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

Varanasi is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centers of India. Legend says that it was the dwelling place of Lord Shiva and therefore the devotees believe that a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi washes all their sins and helps them attain salvation. People from all over India come here at least once in a lifetime so that they can purify themselves. The age old people come here in the last days of their lives to die on the Ghats of Varanasi. They believe that such death would relieve them of the vicious circle of rebirth and they would attain the eternal salvation or Moksha. Varanasi is an amazing spiritual power for all ages. The old come here to die while the infants are brought here by their parents to take the first holy dip in the Ganges and worship the reigning deity, Lord Shiva. The newlywed come for the blessings of the Gods and the widows come here to lead a life devoted to the same God.

Varanasi finds a mention in the epics of Mahabharata and the ancient Hindu scriptures. Although the history of the city is lost in its antiquity, it has been glorified and described in the Skanda Purana as Kashi, written nearly 5000 years ago. Kashi since then has been a centre of education and knowledge. While the city is important for the Hindus it also gained importance when Buddha preached his first sermon in Saranath, just 10 kms away from Varanasi.

By the time the Chinese scholars such as Fa Xian and Xian Zhuang had visited Varanasi and written about its advanced and developed culture, the city had already grown into prominence all over India and into its neighbouring countries as the city of Temples, as the city of education and the as the city of spiritual bliss. It was renowned as the flourishing centre of religion, education and commerce by the 3rd century A.D.

The prosperity of this city of temples became an inevitable bone of contention for the local rulers and also attracted the Muslim rulers of the north. From the 11th century onwards it was looted and stripped many a times till the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Hence although it an ancient city it hardly has any ancient temples and most of the present ones standing were rebuilt by various Hindu rulers in the 18th century.

After accession by the British during the Raj and later after the Independence, Varanasi still retained its identity and remained a prominent city. With time the paths of salvation might have changed and definitions of purity may have been redefined.But even today the city holds its unique charm with narrow by lanes and innumerous Ghats, with devotees performing their traditional rituals in the Ganges and the people flocking to this city to attain salvation.Apart from the mornings on the Ghats and rituals at the temples, Varanasi is famous for producing the most beautiful and ethnic silk saris those are world famous. The beetle leaf, the Benarasi paan from the city is equally famous for its pungent taste yet soft structure.Varanasi is a haunting city of dignified buildings, although many of them crumbling, glorified by myth and legend. An old eternal city sanctified by religion retaining its very special vitality.A visit to Varanasi is experience of some kind. For some its self discovery, for others its salvation while for some it's just an ancient city and few unlucky ones who carry back nothing but only worst of the memories from the city.

Location: Varanasi is strategically located on the Delhi - Kolkata route on the banks of the great River Ganges. Placed around 300 kms from the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, Varanasi is one of the most ancient inhabited civilizations on the earth. It is based on the banks of tributaries of the Ganges, the Varuna and Asi rivers and hence gets the name of Varanasi.

Other Name: Banaras
Languages Spoken: Hindi and English
Long Distance Code: +91-542
Importance: The oldest living city of the world on the banks of the mighty river Ganga
Area: 73.89 sq.km
Best Time To Visit: October To March

Varanasi Attractions:

Ghats of Varanasi

Varanasi has since ancient days been famous for its prime location on the great River Ganges and its temples. It is considered to be the prime abode of Lord Shiva. As the common belief goes a holy dip in the Ganges rescues a man from the circle of birth and rebirth. These Ghats are the stepped embankments on the River Ganges built by various Hindu rulers for their private use. Till date these embankments are used for the daily rituals of taking holy bath in the River or worshipping the Sun God and the River in the early morning. Visitors to the city do not miss out an opportunity to visit the Ghats, where one can actually experience the daily rituals of the Hindus of the city. Most of the Ghats were built and patronized by Maratha rulers like the Peshwas, the Holkars, the Scindias, the Gaekwads and the Bhonsles. Till date few of Ghats are owned by the local rulers of Varanasi.

All the Ghats are placed in the periphery of four to five km stretch on the bank of the River Ganges. These Ghats are best visited at dawn, before Sunrise. A boat ride on the River watching the sun rising and at the same time following the traditional rituals of the devotees is a picturesque sight. Sunset is another time to visit the Ghats when hymns are sung in the praise of The Almighty and the Ganges worshipping with lamps. By the time the sun dips down, men and women place small lamps on leaves and sail them in the river as an offering. Hundreds and thousands of lamps sail in the calm waters giving an impression of star lit sky. A beautiful mesmerizing site not to be missed.

The Dasashwamedh Ghat quite unspoilt and beautiful Ghat is the most famous Ghat of Varanasi. It offers a splendid view of the water front and has a mythological legend behind it. It is said that the Ghat is where Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses to bring back Lord Shiva after his banishment from the place. So it is considered to be the most pious of all the Ghats in Varanasi. The Manikarnika Ghat was once a pit dug by Lord Vishnu by his charka and filled it with his perspiration while performing various penances. While Lord Shiva watched him, his ear ring made of pearl fell in to the pit giving it the name of Manikarnika. Another Ghat is known as the Chakrapushkarni Ghat where Lord Vishnu lay is footprint. Other famous Ghats are the Manmandir Ghat, the Hanuman Ghat and the Kedar Ghat.

Temples of Varanasi

The Kashi Vishwanath temple:

The presiding deity of Varanasi is Lord Shiva and the temple is dedicated to the same. Also known as the golden temple owing to the golden top donated by the Maharaja of Lahore, Punjab in 1885 A.D. the structure of the temple is new. It was rebuilt in 1776 A.D. by Ahilyabai Holkar, the Maharani of Indore. Although the structure is around 250 year old, the idol, the Shiva Lingam is believed to be ancient. It is said that the idol was well preserved by the priest of the temple during the demolition of the temple by The Mughal king Aurangzeb in the 17th century. The temple is a major attraction of the devotees to Varanasi other than the Ghats.

The Bharat Mata Temple:

A unique temple and probably one of its kind in the whole of India, this temple is dedicated to the country, the mother land. The temple built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta and Durga Prasad Khatri was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1935 A.D. It houses a beautiful map of India carved out of marble.

The Durga Temple:

Dedicated to Goddess Durga, denoting the energy, this is one of the important temples of the city and is built in the Nagara style of Architecture in the 18th century.

The Alamgir Mosque:

This Islamic place of worship is placed just next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. It is said that the earlier structure of the Kashi Vishwanath stood right where the mosque stands today. The temple was demolished by the Mughal King Aurangzeb in the 17th century and built a mosque here naming it the Alamgir mosque. The Vishwanath temple was rebuilt later. The mosque is also known as the Gyanvapi mosque.


The most important pilgrimage centre for the Buddhists, Saranath is hardly 10 km from Varanasi. It is here that Lord Buddha preached his first sermon unfolding the four noble truths of life giving the eight fold path to Nirvana or enlightenment in 530 B.C. It was at Saranath that Lord Buddha preached the middle path which became the corner stone of the Buddhist religion. Saranath was called as Sarangnath earlier another name of Buddha in his previous births as the king of Antelopes. Sarangnath later came to be known as Saranath. Another reason is may be that the place where Buddha gave his first sermon was in a deer Park and hence the name of the lord of the deer, Sarangnath.

Saranath was made into one of the major Buddhist religious destinations after the great Mauryan emperor Ashok realized its historic importance. He built the magnificent Stupas and buildings patronizing the place. But today what we see of this place is just the ruins of which was described as the Turning of Wheel of Law, by the Chinese traveler Xian Zhuang in the 7th century.

The Dhamekh Stupa built in the 6th century is the only proper monument that stands today. It commemorates the spot where Buddha gave his first sermon to five disciples. Hardly anything of the magnificent Ashok pillar remains. But the inscription on it tells the monks to lead the path of religion without breaking the Sangha. The Archaeological Museum of Saranath however is probably one of the best and outstanding archaeological museums in the country. It displays the artifacts that were excavated from the ruins of Saranath. The most notable being the Lion Capital which once surmounted the Huge Ashok pillar with four back to back lions.

The Lion Capital, carved from one single block of rock, has been adopted as the national emblem by free India. The four back to back Lions have a four panel band which features Lion, Elephant, Horse and Bull. The Capital stands on an inverted Lotus flower which is symbolic to the seven lotus flowers which bloomed after Buddha's death. The Museums contains many other relics built during the Mauryan period dating back to the 3rd century B.C.

The other important place in Saranath is the temple built by the Mahabodhi society in 1931 which has the original relics of Lord Buddha in a silver casket. The interior of the temple are decorated with beautiful frescoes depicting the life of Buddha and also has a replica of 5th century statue of Buddha in Gold.

Ramnagar Fort

Around 16 kms from Varanasi on the stretch of the Bank across the river Ganges stands the magnificent Ramnagar Fort. This fort is still a royal residence of the Kings of Varanasi. The Durbar hall is converted into a museum displaying the royal artifacts like the Guns and ivory items. The fort is famous for the Ramlila it hosts during the Dusshera festival. Ramlila is the story of the epic hero Ram of Ramayana. It is enacted in the form of drama with songs. The staging of the story begins one month prior to Dusshera and ends on Dusshera by showing victory of Ram over the demon king Ravan.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mahabaleshwar : The Queen of Hill stations in Maharashtra

At an altitude of 1372 meters, nestled in the Sahyadri mountain ranges, is the queen of hill stations in the state of Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar. Although located in the Satara district, Mahabaleshwar is near to Pune. The beautiful mountain plateau is surrounded by the greenery all through and is famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and its great produce of Strawberries.

Infact the name comes from the temple of Lord Shiva, known as the strongest or with the greatest of strengths and power, which is Mahabaleshwar. The ambience is soothing and the jungles are still unexplored. One can engulf into many activities in wonderful serene environment still untouched by commercialization like the rest of the hill stations of India. One can go for horse riding, boating, fishing or just explore the marvels of nature.

There is no authentic recorded account of the early history of Mahabaleshwar. It has, however, been ascertained that a Jadav king of Devagiri visited it in the 13th century and built a small temple at the source of river Krishna. In the mid-16th century the Maratha family of Chandarao More, became rulers of Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar, during which period the temple of Old Mahabaleshwar was rebuilt. It was also looked after the by the legendary King of the Marathas, Shivaji. But the place came into prominence only when the British came here in the beginning of the 19th century and made it there summer getaway from the humid heat of Mumbai.

The deep gorges of Krishna and Koyna Rivers, the ever-gushing waterfalls and the stupendous views of the surroundings that include the magnificent ancient fort of Pratapgad are some of the major attractions of this hill station. The sister town, an another hill station named after the five rivers those are seen here, the Panchgani hill station is also an attraction for the visitors. But what allures the visitor, are the strawberry fields, which are considered to be the best in the country. The red beautiful fruit is seen all over the hill station and the visitors are allowed to experience the plucking of this beautiful fruit.

Mahabaleshwar has as many as 30 viewpoints, which offer a splendid view of different locations. It rains heavily in Mahabaleshwar and therefore other than during the monsoons the hill station is full of tourists, all through the year.

Location: Located at the distance of around 150 kms is the Queen of Hill stations in Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar.

Languages Spoken: Marathi, English and Hindi
Long Distance Code: +91-2168
Importance: Hill Station
Area: 145.04 sqkm
Best Time To Visit: October To June

Mahabaleshwar Attractions:

Venna Lake

One of the most beautiful spots in the region, Venna Lake offers a number of activities right from boating to fishing.There are many other specific points in the area offering great views of the surroundings such as the Lodwick point, the Arthur point, the Babington point and Kate's point. An excursion can be taken to the nearby magnificent fort of Pratapgad and the twin hill station of Panchgani.

Mahabaleshwar Temple

This is the temple, which gives this exotic hill station its name. Built in the Hemadpant style of architecture, the Mahabaleshwar temple settles down in the old part of the town. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva has a naturally formed shape of a Lingam, which is worshipped.

Lingamala Water falls

Like many others in the area, the Lingamala waterfalls are of utmost beauty. They offer an enthralling sight and are favourite with picnickers.

Wilson point or the sunrise point

As the name denotes this highest spot in Mahabaleshwar offers a great view of sunrise form the cliff, which seems clinging to the mountain.

Panchaganga Mandir

This ancient temple has been built to honour the five rivers which show a token presence in the area in forms of springs which are, Krishna, Venna, Koyna, Savitri and Gayatri. These five rivers are referred to as the Panch Ganga. The temple also offers a splendid view of the surroundings.

Mahabaleshwar Hotels:


Total Rooms : 20
Star Category : 3
The Panorama-isle our own pleasure island. A beautiful man-made little wonder, complete with a swimming pool and 20ft. waterfall cascading down to canal which gently winds it's way around. Our paddle boats will take you on a cruise around this enchanting isle, and through a tunnel that features ….. … guess what ? Truly it's going to be a most exotic experience to you.


Total Rooms : 78
Star Category : 3
You will not only feel pampared by our staff, but also enjoy the homely ambience of our rooms. Coming to SAJ is like entering paradise. Springs and water falls abound in the area offering lovely picnic spots. The winding rides through thick foliage are an experience. If one really wants to enjoy nature in all its placid glory, it is a must for every visitor to take leisurely walks along these sylvan paths. One can also ride on ponies' backs, savouring nature's virgin viridity.


Total Rooms : 78
Star Category : 0
Guest Satisfaction is always our top priority. Every effort is made to elevate your holiday experience at Mahabaleshwar. Indeed we are proud of our high service standards. And we'd like every guest to experience this special treatment. So, here is a guide to all our fantastic services that we provide.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cuisines of India

India is vast, touching the Mount Everest in the north to the Indian ocean in the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Arabian sea in the west. This vast country is a melting pot of many cultures and religions. As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India had pointed out; India is a mosaic. And truly it is. No other country on this planet may have such diversity in demography, culture, weather, religion, language and food.

It is said that every 10 kilometers in India, the dialect changes; so do the food habits and the eating culture. At t2india we are making a small effort to give you a glimpse on the Indian food culture. An amazing amalgamation of region mixed with religions which come out with mouth watering delicacies throughout this subcontinent.

With extensive immigration and intermingling through many millennia, the subcontinent has benefited from numerous food influences. The diverse climate in the region, ranging from deep tropical to alpine, has also helped considerably broaden the set of ingredients readily available to the many schools of cookery in India. In many cases, food has become a marker of religious and social identity, with varying taboos and preferences.

Although Indian food is synonymous to butter chicken and chicken curry, there is much more to it than these two. The variants of spices, vegetables and the time of cooking are the key ingredients of this wonderful cuisine. These spices, vegetables, meats and the style of the cooking are influenced by region, religion and generations of cooking instructions passed on from mothers to their daughters. The demography, the weather and the climatic conditions of the region are other factors to influence the cuisine.

Unlike in the other parts of the world, Indians prefer to eat more of rice or wheat made breads along with smaller portions of accompaniments of vegetables or meat or lentils. Lentils and vegetables are a must in every meal throughout India in some form or the other. Spices like turmeric, chilly pepper, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and many others are used at large throughout the country.

Another unique thing about Indian cuisine is that it has to be savoured using hands and fingers, preferably right hand instead of the cutlery used in other countries. Also Indian food used to be normally served sitting on the floor and not on table and chairs. But funnily enough though the eating habits may be same, no cuisine is same! The person from Kashmir may not have slightest of idea about the cuisine of Gujarat and even may not like eating it!

The Indian cuisine from whichever state it may be is most colourful cuisine. A complete laid table with various dishes may comprise of various colours. Red from the red chilly powder, yellow from the turmeric, orange with the exotic saffron, green from the fresh mint leaves and also white, with freshly grated coconut!

Religion has played a huge role in defining the types of cuisines in India. While the followers of Islam stay refrained from pork as per the religious dictum, the Hindus do not touch beef, as the cow / buffalo is sacred to the religion. Some fishes too like the shell fish and the jelly fish are not supposed to be eaten by certain religions. Many also refrain from milk and milk products having a Vegan diet. Some devout Hindu religious people also refrain from the foods with strong odours such as Onion, Garlic and egg plant. The Christians if are converted still stick to their previous religions dictums, but still most of them eat all kinds of meats and meat products. The Parsis are basically fish and meat eaters. The Jains follow strict vegan diet. The Buddhist followers too, try to refrain from meat depending on the Mahayana and Hinayana sect they follow. The Sikh followers traditionally follow the Hindu guidelines of eating.

India celebrates innumerous festivals and each festival is has its typical traditional meal, which is diligently cooked by the woman of the house. Most festivals have traditional dishes to be cooked and eaten and most of them are sweet meats associated with that festival which are purely home cooked. Also the normal meals taken on these days are vegetarian except for some regions where non vegetarian food is offered to the Gods as well.

Traditionally all the food is first essentially offered to God and then savoured. This offering can be anything from a total vegetarian meal to just a few sweetmeats or even some meat offerings. People staying in the coastal region are mostly fish eaters, also the ones who stay on the higher altitudes prefer eating meat. However in most parts of the country the priests are essentially vegetarian and refrain from eating any non vegetarian food. Although as per the constitution the caste system of India has been abolished, it is quite vehement in food habits.

The Mughals and the Europeans as well left a deep impact on the food habits and the style of cooking to the Indian cuisine. However Indian cuisine was always very spicy without the chilly but with the other spices such as the black pepper, cinnamon etc. Various oils are widely used for cooking, tampering, deep frying etc. Earlier most cooking was done in clarified butter, known as Ghee. But these days the health conscious have shifted to sunflower oil and its equals.

Indians have a delectable sweet tooth and enjoy sweet meats off and on. Sweets are taken in various forms. Some are dry some are juicy dipped in sugar syrup. Sweets are eaten during meals, as snacks and mostly offered to the Gods (naivedya) and distributed among the devotees as Prasad. The sweets are made out of dairy products, various flours and lentils mixed with sugar and jaggery. Some are baked, others are deep fried, while some are roasted and even some are eaten raw.

An Indian culinary journey is vast and intricate but delicious and intriguing at the same time. The various colours, odours and types of preparation may mesmerize you. A vegetable like potato is cooked in various styles and ways all over India, so much so that one taste cannot match the other and it can take months to repeat the same preparation of the same vegetable!

So let us take the journey to the culinary world of India. From North to South and specific to a region, let us see how the dishes change its style and various ingredients.

FIFA 2010 World Cup Schedule

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Dooars : The Doors of Natural Beauty

Dooars is an unmatched area located in the north of the state of West Bengal, full of natural beauty and lengthy stretches of forests and greenery. The Dooars famous for its luxurious tea plantations and the wild life sanctuaries nearby, is actually a stretch of virgin forests with a natural network of the River Teesta with its innumerous tributaries. The eastern Himalayas forming the wonderful backdrop, this place is full of verdant forests having many wild and rare animals. Its proximity to the more known locations such as Cooch Bihar, Siliguri and Sikkim is also the advantage of this place.

The Dooars valley is specially noted for its wild life sanctuaries more famous being the Jaldapara wild life sanctuary and the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Originally known as the doors to Bhutan, this beautiful countryside is flourishing today due its unparallel natural beauty.

The drive seems to be as if the road cutting through the forests giving one an experience of a lifetime. The wild life sanctuaries have an array of wild life, ranging from the royal Bengal tiger to the small Red Panda and from various species of birds to the great Indian Bison and also various species of deer.

Long Distance Code: +91-353
Importance: Famous for the Jaldapara Sanctuary
Best Time To Visit: October To May

Dooars Attractions:

Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary

Jaldapara is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Dooars with an area of approx 217 sq.kms. it is located at Alipurduar subdivision in Jalpaiguri District. Jaldapara is covered mostly with tall grasses & a wide variety of green vegetation, which makes Jaldapara a heaven for many endangered spices. River Torsha flows through the sanctuary. Malangi is also an important river flows near by.

The Tea Gardens

The tea country is vast parkland of man made landscape, silver-barked and slim elevated trees stand evenly spaced out over trimmed tea bushes throwing a light shade over them. The Tea story of the region dates back to 1835 through the initiative of the British Governor General, Lord Bentinck and today Darjeeling & Dooars tea is famous around the world for its flavor and is acknowledged as "The Champagne of Teas". The stunning view of the tea garden along with the mountains and the foothill forests of the Eastern Himalayas from our exclusive private bungalow are enchanting. Enjoy a tour of the garden along with the factory and discover the charming character, rich culture and history with the friendly people of the tea estates of the region. Our tea garden tours include the unique experience of staying in a Private Bungalow and explore the life style of the tea industry.

Garumara National Park

50Kms from Siliguri, Garumara national park is a magnificent diverse forest of Himalayan trees and tall elephant grass. Located in the flood plains of "Murti" and "Jaldhaka" rivers, this 80 sq. kms forest and was declared as national park in 1992. This national park is also a well known corridor for migration of the Asiatic Elephant and there are 21 great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros residing in this park along with almost 50 different types of mammals, 300 species of birds, 20 types of Reptiles and thirty different types of amphibians. Garumara is also connected with a Tondu Reserve Forest and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary.

Rocky Island:

Rocky Island is an upcoming destination in Dooars. Murti River flows through the destination. The place is surrounded by hills and ideal for land base adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing & rappelling. Tented accommodation & a river bath are added attractions of Rocky Island.

Jayanti & Buxa Tiger Reserve

At the eastern most end of Dooars valley there is Buxa Tiger Reserve the second largest tiger reserve in West Bengal. It is having an area of 350 sq.kms. with a core area of about 330 sq.kms. within this 315 sq.kms. is a sanctuary out of which about 115 sq.kms. area has been declared as national park.

Dooars Hotels:

Total Rooms : 72
Star Category : 0
Located at Chalsa Hill overlooking the Dooars Valley, Sinclairs Retreat offers the ideal break from the stresses of a fast-paced urban life. The getaway to relieve oneself from mental and physical pressure. You may enjoy it as a tranquil retreat or a base for exploring the natural attractions of the Dooars; or a convenient access point for adventurous treks, climbs and water-sports; or a venue for the many restorative nature-based therapies available here. You could just sample all of these to get a feel of nature and blend with it.