24 June 2017

Where To Stay In Bir, Himachal Pradesh: Don't Look Beyond Colonel's Resort!

A heaven amidst hills, a heaven in a place not heard of by many- that is Colonel’s Resort in Bir, Himachal Pradesh for me. When words fall short to describe a place, when you’re missing the place to an unimaginable extent after being back for more than a month, when a resort tells you how your stay at a place is all about how it makes you ‘feel’.



A resort in the main town of Bir, Colonel’s Resort is run by Colonel and his wife. They have two dogs, Dash and Frisky, and these are the four beings that will take your experience here to a whole new level. The credit of course also goes to their sweetest and most humble staff, who are always there to take care of your needs and ever-so-smilingly.


20 June 2017

8 Delicious Places In Amritsar You Cannot Miss Eating At!

I have been to the Golden City a total of three times in my life, and the last two times were over a span of 25 days. A visit to the Golden Temple took me to Amritsar but my love for food took me to 10-11 places in the first visit itself (which was for about 20 hours in Amritsar).

A problem that I faced was to narrow down on 3-4 meals from the best places in Amritsar. I researched a lot, read so many blogs, spoke to so many people, and made a list of 12 places that I aimed at going to and making the most of my trip. I could do 11, but missed out on a chaat place sadly. 

When I visit a new city/town, I make it a point to be thorough with my research, but a research on Amritsar is of no use if you don't spend at least a week eating your way through the city. It's only then that you can maybe come close to doing justice to the food.

I have still attempted to make a list of places that you should blindly go to when in Amritsar. And considering how most people only go for the Golden Temple visit and have a thing for going to Wagah Border too, they're not left with much time to explore the city. So for that short span of stay where they go out to eat, they have a hard time in deciding where it should be. Hopefully, this list should help you with that.

I went to each one of these places and tried their food over 2 different occasions, so I'm very sure the consistency is great too and the food will be just as awesome every single time. So here are the best places in Amritsar to eat at, in no particular order.


1. Kanha Sweets

The shop that’s famous for its crisp and light pooris, served with chhole and kalonji. Kalonji is an aloo ki subji that’s sweet and tangy, and this was the first time I had kalonji somewhere. Try having all three things together or have separate bites with chhole and kalonji respectively. 

You’re not allowed to share your plate of poori here because the subji is served endlessly. 

School kids, locals, tourists- I saw everyone at Kanha Sweets. And it really should be your first stop in Amritsar!! The pooris are so thin and light, and the chhole nothing like you get in the cities. It's almost unreal.

18 June 2017

Dineout Cocktail Festival: Cocktails for 200 bucks!

What comes to your mind when you think of a lovely meal out, a night out with your girls, a chiller weekend scene at a bar, molecular gastronomy, happy hours, and so on. I’m sure at least on one of these, specially the last one, the word ‘drinks’ would definitely come to your mind. For us Delhiites, no evening, no outing, no celebration is complete without drinks, and for a lot of us that would mean cocktails. Now imagine these fancy cocktails coming to you at a price like never before. Crazy right? Crazy is what Dineout is doing. Dineout brings to us Dineout Cocktail Festival's South Delhi chapter!


To celebrate the cocktail drinking and partying culture of our city, Dineout is organising this very interesting festival that is spread across 8 days. 11 hand-picked bars and pubs in South Delhi will have exclusive cocktails available priced at only 200 bucks. This deal is only available via the Dineout app, and that should be reason enough for you to download the app right away and tick bars off your bucket list now!!

All we see these days is restaurants, bars and pubs coming up with quirky, attractive, delicious cocktails. Some will have ingredients you will have never heard of in a cocktail, and some will stick to the basics yet surprise you. Indian spices, aromatic herbs, a popsicle becoming a cocktail, a kickass balance of different flavour profiles- the list of possibilities for a cocktail are endless now, and Delhi has quite simply becoming raging as a city when it comes to cocktails now. Make the most of this festival and go try all the yummy cocktails!

Festival dates: 14th-21st June
List of participating restaurants and pubs: https://bnc.lt/6ZXm/Zaz2uPzuQD

Connect with me on:
Twitter: @sahibagursahane
Instagram: @thetastingfork
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetastingfork 
Snapchat: @thetastingfork

13 June 2017

Travel: Experience Paragliding in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Experienced paragliding for the first time in my life two weeks back in Bir Billing, in the Kangra region of Himachal Pradesh. Paragliding is an experience like no other, it’s a feeling that cannot be described in words, that overwhelms you, that stuns you, that leaves you awestruck and you almost choke with tears (I went all the way and shed multiple of them). It’s thrilling, it’s adventurous, it’s beautiful, it’s uplifting (both literally and as a person), it opens your mind to newer ways of travel, it is definitely one of those things that need to be on your bucket list, and then ticked off it ASAP!!



Mamagoto's super impressive Hawker's menu!

Mamagoto has recently come out with a Hawker’s menu. The name is expressive enough to tell you what the menu will consist of and what the rationale behind keeping this name is- street food that you get across Thailand, which is essentially sold at hawker carts.

The menu has a few Korean dishes as well as dishes typically Oriental and closer to what the Indian palate is used to eating. They’ve gone a little experimental in this menu too, with options like Thai Betel Puchka and a Chicken Curry which is served with rice noodle nests. Looks so attractive on the menu!

The New Chinese Menu at Setz, DLF Emporio

A restaurant that has been synonymous with DLF Emporio, Setz has built a great name for itself, considering how it has stood the test of time and remained its patrons’ frequented place all throughout. I remember when they first opened some 8 years ago, I celebrated a lot of my special occasions there, and it still holds true for a lot of important events my friends celebrate. They have recently launched a new Chinese menu which is quite vast, doesn’t restrict itself to only appetizers or gravies, but goes the whole nine yards and does everything new from soups, dimsums, stir-fry starters, fried starters, noodles, rice, curries and gravies, and ends with so many brilliant desserts! They’ve also brought about a couple of cocktails in this menu, and the cocktails are damn yum!

7 June 2017

Travel to Palampur and stay at RS Sarovar Portico

Palampur- The City Beautiful, that’s how Palampur is named when you geotag it. Completely justified by the geotag is such for this city and not for any other. I had been planning this trip for 3 months, but I never thought I would stay in Palampur for more than 1 night. By the end of my Palampur trip (which was 2 nights and 3 days at RS Sarovar Portico), I felt I should have stayed here for 2 extra nights.

Within the first 24 hours of reaching Palampur, I witnessed all seasons here- summers, monsoons and winters. Thankfully, no autumn. Palampur is very unpredictable when it comes to rainfall. It can rain anytime, so don’t go as per the forecast. Carry an umbrella with you at all times here. And this makes the sky for a very stunning view. With of course the hills to fill your heart with joy because they’re there everywhere you look.



How to reach Palampur:

Bus: I took this option. There is an overnight bus that leaves from ISBT Bus Stand operated by Himachal Tourism. There are 4 Himachal Tourism buses that leave in a day for Palampur, starting from 6 45PM to 10 55PM. I took the one that leaves at 10 45. You can book the tickets online on hrctc.gov.in. The journey from Delhi to Palampur by bus is for around 10 hours, and the buses are very comfortable. The cost of the ticket is 1300 for one way. Going by bus is the best option because it’s not tiresome and you don’t have to change modes of transportation if you take a direct bus.
Train: The train leaves you till Pathankot and from there you can take a private taxi or bus
Air: Flights to and fro Dharamsala also operate. From there, you either take a private taxi or a bus

Being done with how to reach brings me to ‘where to stay’. I researched a lot for a place to stay at in Palampur. There were normal 3 star hotels which were decent, there were homestays, lavish guest houses, and 2-3 good hotels with a star rating above 3. So there’s something for eveyr kind of traveller in Palampur when it comes to stay, but the options under each of these categories aren’t as many. Palampur is a very small city anyway, so of course the accommodation choices cannot be as widespread as Delhi or Mumbai. Also because it hasn’t been commercialised like other hill stations yet.

Where to stay: 

After a lot of research, I narrowed down to RS Sarovar Portico Palampur. In the heart of the city, with everything within walking distance, or even if you take an auto rickshaw nothing is beyond 10 minutes away. The hotel is a 4-star property with such luxurious plush comfortable rooms, and a view to kill for! It is I think the best hotel to stay at in Palampur if you’re looking for both luxury and comfort. 



Rooms:

The rooms are fully equipped with all the amenities. A king-sized bed with fluffy pillows, a TV, a study table, 2 chairs on the side with a table, a big cupboard to store all your stuff, and great lighting in the room! Lighting is one of those things that not many hotels get right- sometimes it’s too less, sometimes not in the right places, etc. but the lighting in the room was too good. Our room was done up in a deep shade of red with nudes to complement it. There was a huge glass window, about the size of the wall, which served as our favourite place to chill and look at the stunning view. The view is that of the Dhauladhar mountain range. We could see the Dhauladhar range, the city, the roads, everything from our room. The day it rained like crazy, I can never forget that moment of my trip. Sitting next to the window, looking at clouds all filled with water, the entire sky black, the downpour of water mixed with a hailstorm, it was all just too too beautiful to explain in words. The washroom too was very nice, with marbled flooring and walls, and a nice separate area for bath with all the toiletries.



The property:

The hotel has a very big entrance and a lobby with a front desk and a huge sitting area for guests who are waiting or visiting to get functions organised here. Royal sofas deep blue in colour, washrooms on the same level, and the rooms on all the levels above. The second floor has the hotel’s restaurant where the buffet is served. There’s also a play area or a gaming room right next to it. The floors above that and on the same floor as well have rooms of various categories. A fitness centre on the same floor to take care of the health and fitness aspect, fitted with all the machinery and gym equipments. The top floor of the hotel has a revolving restaurant called Cloud 7, where the lunch and dinner buffet is laid. This restaurant gives you a view of the entire city.



Restaurants:

The hotel has two restaurants, one on the second floor, The Terrace, with both an outdoor and indoor seating, and one on the 7th floor called Cloud 7, which is a revolving restaurant and gives you a view of the entire city. The concept of Cloud 7 is that each side of the restaurant has something- the entrance with the lift, the main course counter, the salads and dips counter and the dessert counter, and the 4th side which is the kitchen. Only where the tables are laid is what revolves. You will actually be looking at one thing in the town when you start your meal, and by the time you reach dessert, you see that spot coming again. So much fun!



Dinner at Cloud 7 comprised of green salad, pickles, make your own papdi chaat counter, some more salads with different kinds of dips to mix the veggies with. These were the weak points of the meal, but the main course was phenomenal! Pakode with kadhi, Kashmiri aloo, Pahadi Chicken, a mushroom subji, a mutton dish, roasted potatoes, grilled veggies, Paneer Kadhai, and biryani. Every dish was finger-licking good. Food that will make you long for more, food that will fill your stomach but you will still ask for more to satiate your soul. The paneer and kadhi pakoda were to die for, and the Chicken Pahadi was just what a guest in the hotel needs to taste to know how the local food of Palampur tastes like. Dessert was another weak point, but the main course made up for everything so brilliantly!


Breakfast at RS Sarovar Portico can just not be missed! The breakfast spread at The Terrace consists of a variety of things- cereals, fresh juices and milk, Indian like poori bhaji, South Indian- idli, vada, utthapam, and dosa on order everyday, paranthe of different stuffing, fresh fruits, donuts, pastries, muffins, croissants, various breads, sausages, boiled eggs, eggs on order. A moment here to appreciate the sweet chef preparing eggs. Brilliant eggs! Scrambled eggs so soft and runny, just how I like it and just how they’re supposed to be too. A fluffy omelette which is very moist in the centre. Poori Bhaji that made me have 2 pooris. Sausages cooked so well- juicy like there’s nothing better than them! One day they were just pan seared and one day tossed in onions. Incredible sausages!




So a breakfast buffet basically means you can eat all you want, yes we know that, but you can also sample all you want. So of course, how will we leave the dosa counter behind. Fresh crisp dosas with a stuffing of aloo, uthappam on another day, idli too, and chutneys to go with. The sambhar could be better, but the other stuff was so good that this doesn’t stay in people’s memory for longer than a minute. Also, you get all this with a view that's breathtaking! Imagine checking in to the hotel at noon, and coming for breakfast the next morning, welcomed by a view of the Dhauladhar range that looks like a 3D picture, no exaggeration. Stunning!

They have a 24 hour in-room dining, and it is amazing if you stick to the safe options. On one of the nights I ordered a coffee and they said they can’t bring cappuccino because it will get cold, but can do the normal coffee. The coffee that came was really average. Asked the person taking my order what dessert would they have to go with the coffee and they said Chocolate Brownie. It tasted like cardboard. But on the day I missed the buffet breakfast, I ordered breakfast in the room. Chicken Club Sandwich, Chichen Sandwich and Cold Coffee. What delicious sandwiches! So so filling, stuffed with chicken, such good flavours, crisp bread of the club sandwich and grilled of the other one. Soul satisfying stuff! The cold coffee was made as per our specifications, and that too was superb! The perfect fix to start the day!





Service and staff:

RS Sarovar tells you why the best people and best staff you will meet is at the hidden gems of India like Palampur. People so pure at heart, people not sweet because it’s their job but genuinely sweet by nature. Always ready to help, always ready to assist in every way possible, and doing this ever-so-willingly. Apart from all the warmth the staff here emits all the time, they guide you very well with the things to do in Palampur too. They will insist and tell you to go elsewhere if you’re making a bad choice and choosing something else.

The front desk manager, Mr. Rohit, the General Manager of the hotel, Mr. Rohit Verma, the lady escorting us to our table at breakfast everyday, the lady at the front desk, a special mention to these four people. Forgetting the names of the two ladies, but they’re very very kind, very helpful people.

In a jist:

RS Sarovar Portico needs to be your ONLY choice when visiting Palampur because of its excellent location, the luxury and comfort of the hotel, affordable room rates, great great food at their restaurants, and the super sweet staff that makes your stay even more amazing.

Make your reservations on the hotel's website or any of the travel aggregator websites.
Contact: +91-8739055555 , +91-8542855555

Connect with me on:
Twitter: @sahibagursahane
Instagram: @thetastingfork
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetastingfork 
Snapchat: @thetastingfork