Craftsmen’s Village, Gandhinagar Gujrat : The Craftsmen’s Village, Gandhinagar Gujarat is one of the best places to be for every diehard shopper just like me! The place is famous for labour-intensive works like manufacturing of Bandhani sarees and wooden printing blocks carved with beautiful patterns for the purpose of hand-printing on cloth. I took back half a dozen bandhani sarees for myself and a couple of blocks for my friends.
As mentioned I have a fascination for culture and history, and whenever I travel to any destination, I make it a point to include some sort of historical visit that gives me an insight into the culture and heritage of the locals. While I love hanging out with friends, this holiday to Gandhinagar was a special one for me because I was traveling with my sister. She too, is a history buff and she suggested that we must visit Adalaj. I love budget travel and hence, coaxed my sister into an auto ride to Adalaj instead of an air-conditioned cab. A short drive away from Gandhinagar, Adalaj is famous for its stepwell. Locally known as Adalaj ni Vav, this stepwell has a very unique architectural design.
Local lore says that this well was built by a Muslim king for a Hindu Queen. This king has invaded and killed the ruling Vaghela king and tried to woo his widow who was very beautiful. She laid down the condition that she would marry him only after the construction of the stepwell was complete. And when he reminded her of her promise to marry him, she jumped into the waters of the well and ended her life.
Stepwells were initially built for collecting rainwater. Rain water harvesting over 6 centuries ago! This stepwell lay in a very busy trading route and was frequented by travelers and traders who needed rest and respite from the burning heat during the day. Adalaj stepwell has exquisite architecture, made of sandstone and has a depth of 5 stories. Its upper walls are octagonal in shape and the pillars are carved with very delicate designs, and being a passionate photographer I was immensely delighted to click some very beautiful photographs of this structure. Adalaj blends Islamic, Jain and Hindu architecture so magnificently that I couldn’t help being mesmerized with each detail I spotted! You can easily notice a drop in the temperature as you enter, it being a few degrees cooler inside due to the water. We went to one of the local eateries to grab a bite after that and then decided to indulge ourselves in some street shopping at the local bazaars. One of our most awaited activities!
Gujarati Thali, Gandhinagar Gujrat : Being a completely foodie myself, I have craved for a sumptuous Gujarati thali all my life. But my happiness and appetite knew no bounds when I ordered this generously served Gujarati Thali when in Gandhinagar Gujarat. As much as the food was tempting it was delicious and lip-smacking to bits! I’d never forget the taste of the curry, gravy and the dry veggies! Simply awesome!!
A visit to the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Gandhinagar was one of my most awaited visits on our itinerary. This is not exactly a tourist spot where you can simply walk in, so I took a prior appointment and requested an entry for my sister and myself. Being a fashion designer, this place held special importance for me. This is one of the best institutes in India to learn anything related to textiles and was set up in 1986 directly under the Indian Ministry of Textiles. Some of the most prolific fashion designers in India who have made a mark nationally as well as internationally are alumni of this Institute.
The NIFT campus is vast but all the elements seem to come together in harmony. With tall trees and landscaped gardens, this college has a truly verdant campus that gets your creative juices flowing. Bustling with students, this place is thrumming with energy! The buildings though massive are sleek and built in contemporary designs. We were taken to the auditorium, and I was fascinated by some of the labs where the students practiced. In some departments, the students work is displayed too and I got the opportunity to witness some truly fabulous work.
With so many departments and so many students, I think this is one of the most well- organized colleges of India. After the visit to NIFT, my sister and I were keen on street shopping and decided to explore some of the popular areas of Gandhinagar which were known to be shopping hubs. Gujarat produces some of the best cotton in the world and top of our shopping list were purchasing some vibrant cotton fabrics. Bustling and busy, there were so many shops selling everything from clothing to jewelry and all sorts of fashion accessories. Needless to say, we girls did spend a lot of time shopping. Being avidly interested in photography, I couldn’t resist capturing the energy and color that was all around me!
Gandhinagar has some beautiful landscaped gardens, and after the high shopping activity that it had, we decided to spend some time relaxing in the charming greenery. Ideal to replenish our energies for an evening of eating some delectable local Gujarati cuisine!
My vacation in Indore was quite fruitful with a visit to a nature park. Being a fashion designer by profession, I have always drawn inspiration from nature whose vibrancy, patterns and textures have always fascinated me. For nature lovers like me, Indroda nature Park is certainly a must visit! While I like history too, this park is a treasure trove of natural history! It was at this very site that the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs was found and this is the only exclusive dinosaur museum in the entire nation.
Both my sister and I had an early breakfast and made a beeline to this park. Although this park is open until evening, I preferred to visit it in the morning. Around 9 a.m. the sun was not shining too brightly so we both could explore Indroda without a hindrance. After paying the entrance fee, on entering, we were greeted by life size statues of dinosaurs. We were told that the eggs here date back to over 65 million years ago! There were information boards near each exhibit which described each dinosaur, which period it lived in and its characteristics; all written very simply and we could understand it easily.
We spent close to an hour just around the fossil exhibits, and one of the most eye- catching displays is the real skeleton of a massive Blue Whale. Blue whales are regarded as the largest mammals in the world and to see the skeleton as awesome as it was mind- boggling! The zoo at Indroda is very well maintained and we saw endangered Blackbucks, Nilgai, porcupines, tortoises, cobras and other such species. There were special enclosures for a host of colorful birds too. In fact, Indroda Nature Park is ideal for teaching kids about evolution and natural history as all exhibits have been depicted in a very easy to understand and fascinating manner.
The walk around this vast park had certainly whetted our appetites. After spending a leisurely and very informative morning at this park, we took a break to enjoy some peace and quiet at the botanical garden here. Foodie that I am, I suggested skipping the regular restaurant; so we headed off for lunch around 1 o’ clock to savor the delicious dishes of an authentic Gujarati Thali!
Blackbuck National Park, Gandhinagar Gujrat : My wildlife photography skills were best put to use once I stepped into the Blackbuck National Park, Gandhinagar Gujarat. Although it is small, the park has so much to offer! Just what it is known for, the park majorly features black bucks along with other wild animals like hyenas, wild boars, jungle cats and Indian wolves as well. From a distance, I’ve got too many great shots!
After the hectic wedding season where we fashion designers were working overtime, I was all geared up for a short holiday. My sister too, had a few days off from college and both of us decided to hop on to the next available train and head to Gujarat. My sister and I, both enjoy traveling together but ever since we got busy with our own schedules; such holidays have been few and far in between. We love street shopping, history and sampling local street food. While I am more of a nature lover and camping sort, my sister likes a little bit of luxury. I love budget travel, usually in trains and buses where I can savor the vistas while travelling to my destination. My sister knowing this had very considerately agreed to train travel to Gujarat.
A quick search for trains on the IRCTC website and 19106 Hw Adi Mail had seats available. This train has a 10 to 15 minute stop at Jaipur railway station at 4.10 a.m. Not the most convenient of times but we had the advantage of reaching Gandhinagar at around 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon. This gave us half a day to explore the city on the first day itself. On boarding the train, we found our third AC berths and settled in. With ample time on hand, both of us caught up on some much needed sleep.
The Hw Adi Mail operates seven days a week and covers the distance from Jaipur to Gandhinagar is around 11 hours, less than half a day! I woke up in time for lunch. Although there is no pantry car, we fixed our lunch from the catering that was available and over a fresh and piping hot meals; my sister and I had a long chat with each other, catching up on the happenings of each other’s lives. We also sketched out a rough itinerary for our stay at Gandhinagar. By the time we knew it, it was already 3 o’ clock and we began to gather up all our things to get off the train. With a bit of bargaining, we got a delightful auto ride to our hotel! No sooner did we check in that we were all set to discover the capital of vibrant Gujarat!
At times when I am just not in the mood to create something for my boutique, click photographs of nearby places or chilling out with my besties, I make sure that I enjoy learning cooking or experimenting with food in my own way.
So, after learning the easy-looking recipe of Khaman Dhokla, I decided to try it in the kitchen. A couple of attempts through and the result was extravagant. Everybody loved it – Maa, Papa, and my two lovely sisters too kept munching on Dhokla till late night. You too can try it:-
For the batter:
250 gms (1 and ½ cup) Bengal gram flour or Besan
½ cup curd or yoghurt
½ cup water
½ tsp. baking soda
For seasoning (to be mixed with batter):
1 tbsp. oil
Pinch of turmeric
1-2 green chillies
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. citric acid or lemon juice
1 packet Eno
Salt to taste
- Mix ½ cup curd with ½ cup of water
- Add Besan to the mixture and keep stirring well without leaving any room for lumps. The batter should be of consistency of idli atta.
- Slowly add little water and keep stirring before adding a pinch of baking soda. Let the batter ferment for an hour.
- Use pressure cooker for steaming – pour water and place a plate over it. The plate can be used to steam the batter.
- Just before pouring the batter onto the plate, add citric acid, oil, salt, green chilli, sugar and turmeric powder.
- Add a pinch of Eno powder before getting it to steam.
- Cover the plate with lid and let it steam for at least 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid within 5-7 minutes to see the condition of the batter. Insert toothpick right through it to know how much more time it would need.
- Let the batter remain on high flame for next 2-3 minutes and switch off the gas to let it cool down.
- Get the batter out. In a bowl, mix 3 tsp. of water and 1 tsp. of oil. Pour the mixture all over the batter.
- For seasoning, heat little oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and finely chopped green chillies. Let it all pop for a minute and quickly allow it to pour on the semi-readied Dhokla.
Handle it gently, cut through when cool, and garnish with grated coconut. Serve the Khaman Dhokla with tamarind or green chutney.
Amar Sagar Jain Temple : Jain Temple Jaisalmer are situated inside the Sonar Quila are a must visit site. There are seven Jain temples most of them are similar and built in the style of famous Dilawar temple- Mount Abu. These were constructed in the 12th & 15th CE. The walls of temple are engraved with human and animal figures. All the temples are painted with yellow sand stones.
I remember watching this belly dancing episode on TV with women who were dancing in the sand and they were so graceful it was almost as if the sand dunes were playing a melody for them! Awesome to see! I was so inspired that I told myself the next “Saachi Agarwal special” will be sand dunes and the one that came highly recommended was Sam Sand Dunes. Oopsie I forgot to introduce myself, hey you! I’m a 24 year old vivacious fashion designer whose love for travel cannot be expressed in words. Outings, train travel, street shopping, camping and photography give me the larger than life feeling! It’s what provides food to my soul! While I was watching this episode on T.V I was reminded of my native Jaisalmer. The rigid yellow sandstones, forts, my childhood memories, rich heritage, culture and history of the place and a hoard of other naughty things I did as a child and adolescent.
The next step was to check with buddies and we decided to schedule our next hang out with friends to the Sam Sand Dunes, Jaisalmer. Belly dancing, camping, train travel, photography, meditation, relaxing yoga aasanas, all became part of our agenda. Sam sand dunes are 42 kms away from Jaisalmer and we hired a jeep and a camel too to go on our safari. Our first look on Sam sand dunes was love at first sight! A mesmerizing and magnificent stretch of dunes from the camel back was overwhelming.
The ride on the camel though the crests and troughs was a unique experience on its own. There was romance and solitude while we were travelling through the beauty of the desert. Strangely all of us were rather quiet, most of us just breathing in the beauty that was surrounding us. The earthy look, Rajasthani folk music and camping including some weird belly dancing moves were times we will always remember. It was a breathtaking experience overall. In spite of all the mad things we did, we also got time for thoughtful insight and contemplation.