The raucous city life is strenuous on your nerves. Escaping into the wildlife sounds like a good idea. Doesn’t it? But traveling into the wildlife shouldn’t be bereft of luxury. This is what Singinawa Jungle Lodge provides you with. As my Indigo Airlines flight touched down at the Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal, I was filled with nervous excitement at the thought of spending a few days in luxury. With 110 acres of deep forested land adjoining the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Singinawa takes you into tiger heartland. Huge cottages are lined up right next to lush green forests as you combine luxury with relaxation. You can take a trip into the wilderness with jeeps and trained naturalists to view the plethora of flora and fauna. You might just be able to spot a deer or the tigers who roam these massive jungles.
Built of stone and slate, the 12 cottages offer you a disconnect from the hustle of the city. With technology being far away from, the only thing that disturbs you might be an occasional wild animal. But the luxury never stops as you’re surrounded by top rate hospitality and amenities. The two jungle bungalows are surrounded by Sal trees and offer an unparalleled experience. You can even order food from your own kitchen with a personalized butler service.
What to do?
Although the Jungle Safari is one of the most important activities to do out there, it is not the only one. The safaris usually are from 3-5 hours and allow you to visualize the best of wildlife in the most relaxed manner. These quaint villages deep inside the reservation are agrarian societies untouched by interference of technology. The lodge also provides for some relief to the frayed senses.
The Jungle through the six senses provides for a rejuvenating experience as the overused senses get back to normalcy. The Aromatic and Fragrant trail lets you breathe in the aroma of flowers like wild Roses, Jasmine and Frangipani. A walk through the organic garden is much recommended. Tired after a whole day of wandering around the forests, take a session at The Meadow spa and let your body relax.
Tourism is a double edged sword in India. Although it brings in a lot of money and employment for locals, but over exploitation of the natural beauty leads to disturbance in the local ecosystem. Specially in an ecosystem as fragile as that of the forests, unregulated and irresponsible tourism can cause unmitigated destruction of the wildlife. This is where Singinawa Jungle Lodge stands out. Their motto of ecologically responsible tourism means that the natural habitat of the forest area is preserved. Not only this, their promotion of local artisans and villagers leads them to lead a better life.
This ecologically responsible resort allows you to rejuvenate yourself and plunge back into the grind of your daily life. Do try out this place when coming to the central part of India.
Honeymooners are besotted with the picturesque islands of Maldives. We, as a couple weren’t different. Right from the moment we landed in the capital city of Male, we fell in love with the islands. But our love extended to more than what met the eye. Running a food and travel blog simultaneously means we fall in love with the local food. But there couldn’t have been a better match made in heaven. The staple of Maldivian cuisine is Fish and Bengalis cannot let go of that fact, at all. The amount of fish that this place serves and the similarity to Indian food is what made us totally fall in love with it.
The famed breakfast of North India is found in every small roadside cafe in Maldives. The crunchy wheat pastry is filled with a spicy mix of fish that is unlike any other Samosa I had ever tasted. Vegetables specially potato are the common ingredient in India while West Bengal also has a range of Mutton samosas. But the Fish samosa served here will be remembered for long. An exception to the normal is that it is not served with a chutney.
Mas Huni and Roshi
Mas Huni and Roshi is one of the staple breakfasts of Maldivian food. Mas Huni is basically mashed tuna along with coconut, onions, lime juice and chili. Roshi on the other hand is a pancake made of wheat. The spicy, tangy and slightly sweet flavours on the umami of the meat is a true Maldivian breakfast.
Smoked tuna fish balls are combined with the above mentioned spices followed by cooking in a coconut and wheat encrusted crust. This is later fried to make something similar to our fish pakodas.
Breadfruit, Taro and Sweet Potato
I have been talking too much about fish and little else. The island also has a thriving vegetarian food with the sweet root vegetables being consumed either in the form of curries or fried up as chips.
These sweet spring rolls are composed of a wheat exterior while the filling is made up of honey, water and coconut. This sweet dish is something to definitely try out. These spring rolls are then fried and cut up.
End your Maldivian meal with thinly sliced betel nuts, betel leaves, lime paste and cloves or Paan as we know it in India. Tell us about what you tried in Maldives.
Featured pic Image Credits: Visit Maldives
Our first trip to Malaysia and our first stop on the road in Penang. The story behind the formation of Penang is a heart wrenching tale of imperialistic ambition and Western European trickery. Located in the straights of Malacca, this small island acted as a stop for the traders of the 16th century. The island was a part of the Kedah Sultanate. The story follows a similar pattern as a cunning opportunist Brit landed on the island, Captain Francis Light.
The usual trickery continued as the simple thinking King of Kedah, offered the island of Penang in return for protection against neighbours. The first order of business by Captain Light was to stamp his authority all over the island. The ominous Union Jack was hoisted and named the island” The Prince of Wales island”. Soon after realising his trickery, the Sultan tried to capture back his land but the British wasn’t going to give in so easily. A treaty was signed for a paltry sum as Penang came under the British colonial rule. The settlement was known as George Town after King George III.
British elements in Penang
Our first post centres about a trip around George Town. After a quick breakfast at the Hard Rock Hotel where we were staying, we headed out. The tour started out at Captain Light’s initial fortified position, Fort Cornwallis. The medieval era fortress is reminiscent of the British architecture combined with South East Asian elements. The star shaped fort still houses the huge brass cannons of yester years. Before rifling was introduced in guns, the length of the barrel of the cannon determined its range. This led to the gargantuan sized cannons, Seri Rambal being a classic example.
The Baroque Edwardian era Town Hall is our next destination. Built out of white stone, the Town Hall stands erect against the majestic backdrop of Penang’s skyline. A cenotaph stands across the road to commemorate the dead of the World War I. Being situated bang right in the middle of a shipping route, Penang’s culture and its inhabitants have been influenced from all over the world. Captain Light’s original home still stands to this day. The Christian convents have taken over and converted it into a girl’s school, Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus.
Indians were one of the first traders to start trading here after the establishment of British East India company’s rule here. The Little India market transports you back to the modern bazaars of India. There is Bollywood music blaring out from the speakers while hawkers try to make you buy stuff that you don’t require, albeit at throwaway prices. There are a few restaurants serving South Indian food as their ingredients are pretty easily available in the region. The Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the oldest marks of Hindu influences over the island. The morning and evening Puja(prayers) is something that you should check out.
But if you seriously want to understand how rich these traders were, you have to see their mansions. Just like the forts of Rajasthan, these opulent homes have been recreated and open to the public. Although I will only be giving you a sneak peek into these, I’ll be covering them in detail in my later posts. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion takes us into the home of a prominent Baba from the Chinese settlements. The intriguing quality of this museum is the admixture of cultures you find. There are Chinese wood panels, English floors and Scottish iron works. Although Jodhpur’s blue houses may have enticed you, but it pales in front of the majestic blue of the Blue Mansion: Fatt Tze mansion.
Do explore Penang for the multicultural mixing of cultures and specially the mansions. We had booked our stay in Penang with Traveloka and they made your journey seamlessly easy.
All images are courtesy of Tourism Malaysia.
Most people who enjoy a good Indian meal outside have heard of Sanjeev Kapoor’s flagship restaurant chain, The Yellow Chilli. If we haven’t visited one already, it’s on the “soon” list we keep tucked away in our minds for the next time ghar-ki-daal just isn’t cutting it. My wait for the next such occasion was cut short when The Yellow Chilli launched its 2nd outlet in Mumbai. The Salt & Sandals team was lucky to be part of the grand launch, and boy, our taste-buds sure were thanking us after!
AN INNOVATIVE SPIN ON INDIAN CUISINE
The restaurant has a contemporary ambiance made warm by the hand-painted Mumbai skyline and Dadar station signs adorning the walls. We were still marveling at that when Padma Shri chef Sanjeev Kapoor walked in to greet the crowd. The most well-known face of Indian cuisine was perfectly at home in his fine-dining restaurant, and charmed the audience with his wit and repertoire.
Only his food could supersede his charm! Servers kept an array of bite sized appetizers coming. From Misal Bruschetta to Curried Lemongrass Paneer, the food offered both familiarity and a little something new for the taste buds. It’s the kind of creativity that makes you feel warm and welcomed. Take their Kolhapuri Mini Pizza for instance. Its flavor beautifully juxtaposes the Kolhapuri masala on a mini pizza bread. Not what you’d except in an everyday pizza, but not so far-out so as to become unsavory.
Even the cocktails came with a punch, with Kokum Mojito reminding us of the globalization in culinary world.
DIVING INTO THE MAINS
The Yellow Chilli main course menu at Dadar offers an exciting range with some regional influence as well. Mumbai’s favorites like Solkadhi, Kothimbir Wadi, Kolambi Masalafry, Mutton Rasa etc sit proudly amidst the signature dishes of restaurant.
Sanjeev Kapoor’s signature dishes on the menu include Hare Masaley ka Bhuna Paneer, Shabnam Ke Moti, and Lalla Mussa Dal etc in the vegetarian section. The non-vegetarian section also hosts the favorites like Lawrence Road Tandoori Murg, Puran Singh Da Tariwala Murgh, Raan Buzzaki, Galouti Kabab, and Dum Ghosht Biryani etc.
The delectable dessert spread will also leave you spoilt for choice, with the likes of Gulab-e-Gulkund, Cappucino Coffee Cake, and Butterscotch Lava etc. adorning the menu. They also have Motichoor Trifle which simply blew my mind.
TO SUM IT UP…
The Yellow Chilli offers delicious and innovative Indian cuisine, along with a fine-dining experience that won’t blow a hole in your pocket. This restaurant gets a tick from us in all boxes, and we highly recommend you visit them soon!