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A Vegetarian’s Guide to Visit China

I am a vegetarian who does not mind eating eggs. While in China I found it was extremely difficult to find good vegetarian food. Non-Veg food is an integral part of Chinese Cuisine Vegetarians in China are an endangered species which is on the verge of extinction. If I order a tofu curry in India, it will surely be a vegetarian dish. In China it is just as likely to contain shrimps or meat. I thought it will be good to share my experience with fellow Vegetarian travelers.

How to say?

When in China, you can say: “Wo chi sù” which means “I eat vegetarian”, or still better to have it written on a paper in Chinese script. This generally means Buddhist vegetarian, which means you also won’t get any garlic or onions. These dishes often contain imitation meats made from soya, or gluten, and are often described as the real thing.

Or if you are tech savvy and believe in travelling with a Cell Phone always it’s always good to have a handy app installed. One of the apps which I used is Vegetarian in China. It lists down various vegetarian restaurants in China.

** Waiters are called fu yay and Water is Shwey

Temple Restaurants

One of the safest options is to eat at the Buddhist Temples, many of them run a small restaurant serving simple vegetarian cuisine. The quality can vary amongst various temples but it’s a great option if you are in China and are not sure what food you can count on not to contain meat.img_20160712_205832216

Buy your own fruits

During my visit I felt the quality of fruits is pretty good in China and you can buy variety of fruits from a departmental store and relish them whenever you want. The fruits taste a bit different from those we get in India but I quite liked it.

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Chinese fruits – Image credit Google images

Carry Indian Food (Ghar ka Khana)

Although I believe in eating the local food during my travels, but I have seen many Indians who carry Maggie noodle packets, pickle, paranthas, theplas, khakharas and what not. You also might carry such stuff and feel like home when away from home.

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Khakhara – Image Credit Google images

Your dear Chinese friend

I personally used this trick. I always tried to have a Chinese speaking person (friend) along while going to dine. He explained the vegetarian requirements to the Waiters in Mandarin and I ended up eating some lip smacking custom made Vegetarian Chinese Delicacies.

I hope you enjoyed reading the story. Please share it with your vegetarian friends. Cheers !!

Love – Like – Share

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

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Falling in Love with Chinese Tea – Nanjing, China

Imagine the feeling when a road side Romeo gets to date the prettiest girl in town, I felt the same when my CEO asked me to accompany him to China for a week’s tour. Ahan !! Yatripundit ki pehli videsh yatra aur who bhi company ke kharche par (yatripundit’s 1st foreign trip and that too on company’s expenses), I could not have asked for it. Although, the country was China and the city was Nanjing, which isn’t a famous city as Beijing or Shanghai. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to the core.chinese-tea-image-courtesy-google-images

Passport – Check

Visa – Check

Flight Tickets – Check

Hotel Bookings – Check

Shopping – Check

Preparation to execute the tasks – Check

Checked in the hotel Crystal blue bay on a Sunday evening after changing flights at Delhi and Hong Kong (so ideally my 1st foreign landing was in Hong Kong). I always felt New Delhi airport was massive and beautiful but only till I Saw HK airport. It was Monstrous. This magnificent modern world wonder faces sea on one side and mountains on the other. It had trains running from 1 terminal to another, massive shopping areas, giant busses which had driver cabins on both ends, more than 150 airline offices. Since, our preceding flight got a bit delayed, we had to rush across the terminals and check-in gates but a huge thanks to the Airport staff for their support and helping us in boarding the Dragon Air flight to Nanjing, China.

Okay!! Coming back to Hotel Crystal blue bay, Nanjing. It’s a beautiful property in the city. Marvel flooring and off white color walls and pillars with Golden and Chandeliers was a perfect match. It also houses a games room, swimming pool, 2 restaurants (a Chinese and a continental). Rooms were spacious and had all comforts. There is a huge park besides and open area besides the hotel and evenings are pleasant. You will spot people practicing dance in small groups, skate boarding, chatting or just lazing around. There was a shopping mall on the other side of the hotel.

The only discomfort for a Non- Mandarin (Language in China) speaking person is even the front desk official were not able to converse in English.

Nanjing is a beautiful city with wide roads, brilliant infrastructure, designated market places, shopping malls, community centers, restaurants (Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, continental and 1 or 2 Indian as well) parks and brilliant public transport.  Public transport includes battery operated buses, rickshaw and metro rails.

The main city area is crowded and I discovered this while I visited Fuzimiao – A temple located in southern Nanjing City on banks of the Qinhuai River. Within the area are cultural attractions, arts, shopping, and entertainment. There is a market area surrounding the temple and you are expected to demonstrate the best of your bargaining skills with the shopkeepers. Usually shop keepers can speak English as this is a tourist area. I bought some souvenirs from this place including Chinese green tea, small umbrella, sunglasses and shawls. It’s always better be accompanied by a Chinese speaking mate, helps in finalizing the best stuffs in best rates. It’s been 3 months since I am back in India and I still treat myself with aromatic Chinese green tea often.

The Chinese tea is the easiest to cook. Just put some tea leaves in boiling water and leave to brew for a couple of minutes with lid closed. Your Chinese green tea is ready to be cherished.

I also recommend you to go for boating in Quihuai River.

Overall it was a great experience to visit Nanjing and I wish to explore more during my next visit to this beautiful Chinese city.

In my next post I will share Dos and Donts when in China which will be followed by A Vegetarian’s guide for visiting China.

-Lots of Love

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

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Mulshi Surroundings – An Unexplored Hill

Needless to mention, Mulshi have been a second home for Punekars for years. We just can’t have enough of Mulshi for it’s alluring beauty. While some can afford a stay at Malhar Machi which is a five star resort on a serene hill near Mulshi dam, others prefer a short roadtrip that won’t take more than six hours(start to start). Just like we did. 😉 Those who can afford a stay in Malhar machi resort MUST NOT continue reading and the ones who can’t — MUST read through.. 🙂

 

Saturday monsoon, Pune weather, yatri pandit friends from Hyderabad and Mumbai and a car. What else do you need to plan a short road trip? We left from my place for Mulshi dam around 3 in the afternoon, we were just quarter way through and decided to detour from the usual crowded Mulshi to an unknown hill.

The decision shaped up perfectly, as we drove uphill through the clouds and drizzle to discover a small restaurant (name unknown) besides the road.

By then it already started drizzling, and we just couldn’t wait to get out of the car and behold the panoramic landscape which has the calm and alluring Mulshi lake, that lays in the middle of mighty mountains and clouds. The sound from a small pious stream flowing downhill was definitely a synonym to serenity.

Taking a deep breath we all must have felt, “we couldn’t have asked for more.”

The garma garam chai, pakode and omlette was a perfect icing on the cake.

Getting our tummies filled, we decided to walk and explore the place around. There was a Shiva temple right opposite the restaurant. We kept walking around the area to discover that the village’s name is Samvade. The place is beautiful and calm to the extremes. A must visit getaway from Pune during monsoon. To be honest, one can get used to this place! And, so did I.

Total distance traveled – 90 Kms

Duration (start to start) – 6 hours

Cost – 500 for snacks, fuel extra.

– Abhimanyu@yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

 

 

 

Saarr Some Idli and Filter Kaapi Pleeeeej !! – Yercaud

What vadapav is to Maharastra, Idli is to Tamil Nadu !!…

I was in Bangalore for an official tour and could not miss the opportunity to go on a day’s road trip to a not so famous hill station called Yercaud. It’s in Salem district about 4 hour’s drive from Bangalore. This hilly town is located in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats.

We were a group of 4 school time friends who successfully hijacked one of our friend’s sister’s car for this trip.

Planned to leave Bangalore at 4 am but left 2 hours early as our excitement overpowered sleep.

4 Friends out of which 2 could driver, 1 hatchback, unlimited kickass music and Infinite chats is all what you need on a road trip. The roads were smooth and we easily cruised at approx. 80 Kmph.

Bhookh (hunger) alert !! If you are a person who cannot sustain hunger at all and fear that you might die anytime when you are hungry, please eat something/ pack some snacks before you are traveling in Karnataka highways during night. Because you will not find any 24*7 food courts/ tapris or anything till the dawn breaks.

Uphill journey from Salem to Yercaud is picturesque and there a about 20 Hairpin bends till you reach your destination.

The pleasant morning sun welcomed us with wide open arms when we reached Yercaud on time, sleep deprived and declared dead of hunger. My hungry eyes located a café (don’t remember the name) right on the Yercaud circle and we barged in. Café served lip smacking idli sambhar with 2 varieties of chutneys on a fresh banana leaf. The idlis were so soft that they melted in mouth before even before chewing. Yearcaud has many Coffee estates and nothing beats the taste of hot brewing filter coffee aka Kaapi after those priceless idlis.

We were all fresh and there was no trace of sleep deprivation in our eyes. 1st we went to The Servaroyan Temple situated atop Servaroyan hill, the temple is a narrow, cool and dark cave having the God Servarayan and the Goddess Kaveri inside.

The hilly roads are surrounded by aromatic coffee estates, some of them are even a century old.

There is a Pagoda point to see and also a beautiful lake to boat on.

Best time to visit – Monsoons and winters i.e July to January

Road trips are about journey and not about destination, but when you reside in Bangalore and have visited Nandi hills for infinite times Yercaud is definitely an option to be on top of the list.

Picture Courtesy – Sangeet Khandait

– Abhimanyu @yatripandit

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Bamnoli – Peace lovers Paradise

Are you a peace lover? Do you live in big and loud cities like Pune or Mumbai? Are you fed up of visiting Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar for umpteen times? Do you want to reconnect with Natures lap? Does our job not allow you to take long leaves?

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If your answer is a “yes” to the questions above then come along to Bamnoli – Tranquility at its best.

Bamnoli is a small town located in the valley of Kaas plateau in Satara district of Maharashtra.

It’s about a 3 hour’s drive from Pune and about 5 hour’s from Mumbai.

This serene village has nothing much to offer is you are looking for exotic resorts, beaches or white water rafting. Neither it has some adrenaline pumping mountain adventure sports nor does it offer under water stuffs as scuba diving. But if you are looking to relax lying down beside a beautiful lake and getting mesmerized by the infinite stars in the sky – Bamnoli is the Place !!!

There are no hotels and zero commercialization of this lovely place.  The village is a like a close knit family of around 50-60 odd houses.

There is a homestay available which is owned by Mr. Ravindra who can be reached on 09421208734. The best part is only BSNL network works in Bamnoli. Ravindra also has a canteen which serves delicious Marathi cuisine right beside the stay.

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The lake is just a stone’s throw away from the stay and the only commercial attraction is boat club. You can get a family boat to cruise across the lake to an old temple and back.

Many biker’s gangs can be easily spotted camping on the lake side. The nights are usually cold and the air to breath is eternally pure.

It is surely a great retreat away from hush bush of town
Peace love travel

— Abhimanyu @yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media.

Pink City Jaipur

“A city of colors, the city charms its admirers and visitors with it confluence of terrains, colors, and cultural heritage”

Palaces and forts has always excited curious minds and explorers, I always wanted to explore history and mystery of India and one of the best thing (apart from awesome food !) about getting married to a Rajasthani girl is you get to visit this amazing place at least once in a year. If you think one have to be born in royal family to feel like a King or one has to be a princesses to  get the feel royalty of Queen then you should visit Jaipur to prove it wrong.

So if you haven’t explored this awesome city,  pack you bags and hop on!

Me and my wife were travelling to Kota in Haduti region of Rajasthan to attend a marriage ceremony. We were left with 3 days after the marriage and we had our flight back to Hyderabad from Jaipur and as Lao Tzu has said “A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”

Day 1

We left for Jaipur from Kota around 6:30 AM and reached Jaipur at 11:30 AM. I had some Redfox Hotel reward points left from my previous business trip. We checked in and tossed our luggage in our room and left for Johri Bazzar for awesome Lassi and Dahi Bada at  LMB.

LMB, is a well-known restaurant and sweet shop amoung local people in Jaipur Established in 1954 it is most known for its restaurant and mithai shop (sweet shop), which are a popular tourist attraction, serving traditional sweets like paneer ghewar, and the sweet lassi, apart from snacks, like samosa, chaat and Aloo tikki.

Next thing on our list was Pride of Asia Rajmandir cinema opened on 1 June 1976 designed by architect W.M. Namjoshi in Art Moderne style. It has a meringue-shaped auditorium which is metaphor of design and architecture. The main attraction of Rajmandir is at the beginning of the movie when curtains are up.

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We watched Neerja movie, after which we had some street side food at Panch Batti Square.

Since we were already tired we went back to hotel room and crashed.

Day 2

Next day morning we wake up @ 8 AM had breakfast and left for site seeing. A cab which was arranged by Hotel was waiting for us in the parking lobby.

Our first pit stop was Amber Fort 

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One of the principal tourist attractions in Jaipur, located high on a hill. Amber Fort Was Built By  Raja Man Singh I. Amber Fort is known for its artistic style, blending both Hindu and Rajput elements. With its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks the Maota Lake, at its forefront.

Main attractions at Amber Fort is ‘Sheesh Mahal’, ‘Diwan-i-Aam’ and ‘Sukh Mahal’.

Don’t miss the royal elephant ride while you are at it!

While coming back from Amber we saw most serene sight amidst the chaos of Jaipur the beautiful Jal Mahal it appears to float in the centre of Sagar Lake.

 

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constructed from pink sandstone and follows the classical Rajput symmetrical style which is found throughout of Rajasthan.

Madho Singh, who constructed the Jal Mahal in 1750, simply wished it to be a lodge for himself and his entourage during his duck hunting parties. Madho’s son Madho Singh II greatly enhanced the Jal Palace during the 18th century interior of the palace adding the courtyard grounds and much of the exterior as seen today.

After spending some time with scenic beauty of Jal Mahal we left for Royal Residence The City Palace of Jaipur

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Right in the centre of the Old City the palace has been enlarged and adapted over the centuries. Outer wall was built by Jai Singh. There are buildings from different eras, some dating from the early 20th century are a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Palace reflects Rajput, Mughal and European architectural styles although the palace was designed to Vaastushastra treatise, walls and gates are ornately designed to Mughal style, with various murals, lattice and mirrors adorning them from sides.

A complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings, the impressive gates adheres to
the royal heritage of the City Palace.

Awe-inspired by City Palace we left for our last stop of the day, Albert Hall 

“…That’s why we have the Museum, Matty, to remind us of how we came, and why to start fresh, and begin a new place from what we had learned and carried from the old.”
― Lois Lowry, Messenger

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Completed in 1887 by the architect Samuel Swinton Jacob

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The foundation stone of Albert Hall was laid during the visit of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward

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Indo-Saracenic architecture and stone ornamentation, became a source of reference for varied classical Indian styles of design from Mughal to Rajput. Even the corridors were decorated with murals in a variety of styles including the Ramayan, reproducing paintings from illustrations in the Persian Razmnama prepared for Emperor Akbar. European, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek and Babylonian civilizations were portrayed in the other murals to enable the people of the region to compare and contrast them with their own and develop their knowledge of history and art.

Albert Hall became a centre for imparting knowledge of history of civilizations, inspiring artisans to improve their skills, and preserving & developing traditional Indian arts, crafts, architectural forms.

Albert Hall has one of my favourite architecture of any building in India.

After spending Quite and peaceful evening in Albert Hall museum we came back to Hotel had King Size Dinner and crashed on to our bed.

Day 3

We had our afternoon flight back to Hyderabad. We had very little time left we quickly went to Govind Dev Ji Temple and from there we left for Airport, promising each other that we will come here more often to witness gallantry of our royal past and amazing hospitality of our wonderful present.

 

-Utkarsh@YatriPandit

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Bastar – The land of whispering Mountains – Chhattisgarh

My parents live in Raipur with my younger brother. I had quit my job in Parker and still had 18 days to join TACO in Pune and trust me the best time you have in your corporate life is the layover between two jobs. No phone calls to attend, no emails to check upon, no reports to publish. The best utilization of this blissful period is to go on a trip. It had been a long time since I went on a trip with my lovely family.

So, to en-cash this opportunity we decided to explore Bastar in our Ford Eco sport. Bags packed, camera charged, hotel booked and Pendrive loaded with good music.

Bastar is tribal and cultural capital of Chhattisgarh and a home to many waterfalls, mountains and dense evergreen forest. Jagdalpur is approximately 300kms from Raipur and Chhattisgarh government has done wonders in maintaining the highways.

After a couple of pit stops to recharge our appetite we reached Jagdalpur hotel by 4pm (8 hours). After rest and freshening up in a couple of hours we left to see the Massive Chitrakote Falls aka Niagra falls of India. The beautiful waterfall is about 40 kms from Jagdalpur city and is located on Indravati River. The height of the fall is about 30 meters and it is the widest waterfall of India. The lights made the falls look even more mesmerizing and it was truly a sight to watch.

Next morning, we left for Kanger Valley National Park – One of the densest forests of India. Spread over an area of approximately 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) consisting mainly of hilly terrain, the park derives its name from the Kanger River, which flows throughout its length. Trust me I have never seen a forest so green in the month of May when it’s the peak time of summers in India.

My father works for Central Government and hence he could get us a booking in forest resort located right in the middle of Kanger Valley.

The major attractions are:

  • Tirathgarh waterfalls – Tirathgarh Waterfalls can be termed as “Milky Fall” because of the white colour of the water as it descends down the rocky slope giving an impression as if milk is falling. You can have a bath with small fishes around you in the clear water of this magnificent water fall. The water flowing through the various streams and crossing numerous paths along the way in a zigzag manner and finally ending up in the falls is a treat to watch. Besides the natural beauty associated with this place, Tirathgarh Falls is also an important religious place featuring a temple which is dedicated to Shiva Parvati.
  • Kotumsar caves – These Natural caves are about 35 meters below ground level and around 1371 meters long. You can witness the stalactite and stalagmite formations. There is lack of oxygen when going deep into the caves. In view of which, for safety reasons, entry beyond certain points has been restricted. The cave is closed from 15 June to 31 October during rainy season. The caves are pitch dark and the fishes found here are naturally adapted to be blind as they cannot see even if had eyes.

Baster is called the land of Whispering Mountains because when you are here you will continuously hear a whispering sound created by amalgamation of sounds made by bats, frogs, snakes, crickets, spiders.

Visit Credible Chhattisgarh and experience a divine connection with soil, soul and nature.

This post was shared on Chhattisgarh Tourism Board’s  FB Page

–Abhimanyu@yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media.