Gone Fishing Cottages, Tirthan Valley

Gone Fishing Cottages, it is what the word getaway was aptly made for. Located in beautiful  Deori village of Tirthan valley, by a gushing stream is small cluster of wooden cottages designed and conceptualized with love to every detail. Golden marigold bloom everywhere, an in-house café and a hammock right in the middle of courtyard was my glimpse of the property.   

Perfect for anyone who wants a tranquil getaway and enjoy a far away feeling (from the busy world) be it with your family, friends or go solo (like me). From lazy afternoons spent having juicy local fruits, soaking in winter sun by a water stream (or in it) that is just few steps away from the cottage, to nights spent on private deck having perfectly grilled trout and heap of mashed potatoes, my stay at Gone fishing cottages was a mountain fantasy come true.  

The beautiful property is enveloped by step farming fields and blooming orchards on one side, while on the other side, a thick forest of tall cedar and pine trees rests. Gone fishing cottages is both private and welcoming with its incredible host (mother hen- Dimple) She runs the place making sure every little detail from crisp curtains to aromatic toiletries (which she makes employing local women) delicious dishes on menu to surprise desserts.

 This family-run homestay comes with a whole lot of grandeur and warm hospitality – If you love dogs, there are five of them, if you love books, they are racks full of them in the cottage, and if you like nature well take a walk and you are surrounded by best of panoramic views.  

Its cottages, with their bare stone walls and rustic, wooden furniture add to your experience of wilderness living. The rooms are spacious with hint of coziness and pool of natural light flowing in, in mornings and long glass doors that open to your own little private balcony. You can book the entire cottage that comes with 2/3 rooms each or a room in one. The cottage comes with a kitchenette, table with high stools and living space where you can spend lounging around or you could spend hours gazing at the stars at the private deck right outside the cottage. The hosts not only love nature but are also conscious about it, you will notice multiple recycled things all over the property – utilisation of empty alcohol bottles as light shades, twine-entwined lamps, soap stands out of pipes and more.

Whether you’re working from home, a bird watcher, group of friends or two people in love – if you are looking to spend time in nature, I assure your experience at Gone fishing cottages will be nothing short of a rejuvenation.  

Know more: http://gonefishingcottages.com/

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Kaftan vibe with Nadima Saqib

I love traveling, well that’s quite obvious but what i love more is Traveling in style. In my recent travel to Ahmedabad, i stayed at a beautiful century old property where every corner had a story.

To much the vibe of the place i chose 5he beautiful Nadima Saqib ,cotton crush kaftan. The kaftan has intricate dori work details on neck and slightly puffed sleeves with mire dori work in slits.

Long and flowy, breathable in the humid Ahmedabad weather, i lounged around the property literally getting lost in a by gone era. A place where Mahatma Gandhi himself stayed.

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Mahabalipuram


Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its exuberant group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel Coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas-temples in the form of chariots, mandapas – cave sanctuaries, giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. It is so fascinating to see structures so old, surviving innumerable natural and man-made calamities and still have power to leave you impressed.

Calcutta Bungalow

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Kolkata, the first capital of British India is a place where you can still breathe the bygone era vividly. The architecture, people, street food and cabins (now known as cafes), museums and Bazaars clearly show how you can find beauty even amidst chaos

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Calcutta Bungalow, a 90-year-old Majumdar bari (townhouse) restored and tucked in a quiet neighborhood. It is a heritage bed & breakfast with six rooms. Every corner of this three storied building boasts a mix of colonial and local architecture.  Away from the maddening chaos of the city, this is a perfect place to stay, that offers an old-world charm along with urban amenities to make your stay a comfortable one.

The intimate property has a small open courtyard and rooms that are named after old neighborhoods like Sahibpara, Darzipara, Mochipara, Potuapara (artists’ colony), Boipara (about books and publishing), Dorjipara (tailors’ hub), Jatrapara (famous for traditional theatre). The rooms dedicate a tale about the places they are named after.  Just like the rest of the bungalow the rooms too are a perfect amalgamation of vintage and modern and equipped with modern day luxuries like air conditioning, television with Netflix, WiFi an attached bathroom and comfortable bed. The place also boasts a reception, recreation room, terrace and a dining hall.

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The dining room, called Notunbazar (named after new market), a common meal space for guests has loudspeakers as ceiling lamps and books that any intellect would like to borrow. While the breakfast is included in the stay, you will have to inform them in advance for dinner or order in, the staff is warm and helpful and lay down your meal for you if you wish to have it in common room, instead of your room.

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Sailana food festival, The Park

Royal cuisines are always a treat, they are extravagant, flavorful and a taste of food that has been passed on by generations of zaikedaz. Just as such is a royal cuisine of ‘Sailana’, a food festival curated by the park this December. Being hosted in ‘Aish’ the specialty Indian restaurant at The Park Hyderabad adds further charm and feel to the experience.

The food festival included delicious kebabs and aroma-filled gravies. According to what I read and heard, Sailana, a princely state located in Malwa of Madhya Pradesh, was famous for its hospitality and cuisine that included dishes laced with exotic spices, rose petals and sandalwood powder. The recipes as part of the culinary world of Sailana are over a century old. Influenced by Maharaja Digvijay Singh’s book, The Park, Hyderabad offers this well curated menu for the two-week festival.

From the array of dishes, I tried over the bloggers table, they were few that really stood. ‘Be Masale ka Gosht’ it was great way to start the meal and instantly won my heart, the dish is mutton slow cooked in yogurt and ghee without any spices,‘Luft-e-Dariya’ a prawn appetizer was spicy and crispy and Gosht Asafjahi a bhunna mutton enriched with nuts and spices paired with crisp naan.

In mains Machhi Ki Biryani, the one served in a big deg with a fish right in between is one you should definitely try. Murgh Irani, Gosht Asafjahi, paired with naan or kulcha made for flavorsome options

There are more options, a lot of which include vegetarian options like Harey channe ke kebab, Karela Nafees (even bitter guard haters will like it) Gooler kebab made of wild fiigs, Aloo La-Jawab, Zarda Pulao, Sailana Daal and its non-vegetarian counterpart offered Raan Mussalam, Maans ka Soola yet another mutton dish tempered with cloves, Murgh Kebab Gorkhar – whole chicken roasted in whole spices and Machhi Kebab Sailana that has a tangy twist.

Desserts were something I was really looking forward to, with names like Laisun Ki Kheer, Gosht Ka Halwa and Hare Chane Ka Halwa i was intrigued and well it was met with complete satisfaction. The kheer was delicious, but I loved the halwa, unlike its name, the flavor of meat was very subtle and it was very unique.

Till December 9th
Price for two: Rs.2,000.

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Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Jaipur is one of my favorite cities in India, it is a perfect mix of heritage, modern royalty and some of the best hotels. I can keep coming back to city and still have so much to look forward for. This time my stay was extended by ‘The Clarks Amer’ that represents exactly the same. The grandeur perfectly in sync with contemporary architecture, hosting leisure travelers and business delegates alike.

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Room with a view at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

I experienced the warmth of their hospitality right when I reached Jaipur. Chauffeur along with a hotel staff member came to pick me up, as I reached way early in the morning, they pleasantly stopped for a quick cup of tea at Tapri on request, and i finally felt i was in Jaipur.

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Scrumptious breakfast in room at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

On welcome I was swiftly checked in to my suite, very tastefully-furnished and spacious with a living area, dining table that can easily accommodate 4 to 5 people and a separate area leading to washroom and bedroom that has glass a window giving a slight peek of Hawa mahal amidst trees and also overlooking pool, with all necessary amenities of a star hotel. While I dozed off catching up on my sleep from all the hectic travel, the chef was kind enough to send in a late breakfast right to my room and I was so delighted to see hot kachoris, kadi and jalebi. I savored every bit of it, and this is exactly what a first breakfast in Jaipur should be like.

Clark Amer is equipped with some of the finest restaurant in town, staying or not, these are must visit when in Jaipur. Each is special in its own way and I was glad I was staying here for three days, and got ample of time do devour at each restaurant and also explore the city.

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Rajasthani Thali at Durbar, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Durbar- The all day dining restaurant serving North Indian and Continental cuisines, i had my very first meal here and it was an elaborate Rajasthani thali, it included laal maans, dal baati and even ker sangri among other dishes. The venue is designed for enjoying a delicious feast with friends and family.

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Some Asian food at taBLU, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Coffee Martini, at rooftop taBLU, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

taBLU- The most happening place in Clarks Amer (apart from Lobby during the day, which is always buzzing with exited guests), is a rooftop restaurant that offers breathtaking views accompanied with great drinks and good music. Their LIT is something I would definitely recommend apart from the coffee martins. The place often sees live performance and keep hosting famous bands. It is a perfect place to visit for drinks and if you are staying inhouse, then there is nothing better than this, post a long touristy day, the mere fact that your room is right below is relaxing.

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Mughlai Thali with a view at Dhola Maru, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Dhola Maru- Is the specialty restaurant that serves Mughlai, Rajasthani and North Indian located on top floor this restaurant too has perks of twinkling city lights, a view that adds to the royal and romantic ambiance. The hospitality throughout my stay has been incredibly warm, but it was this place that brought out the best of it. They have some of the most experienced, humblest and welcoming staff. The thali I had was a gastronomical treat, it included Nihari Gosht, Nargisi Kofta, Paneer Makhni, Tava Veg Lazeez, Lassuni Dal, Kache Gosht ki Biryani, Purani Raita an Malpua for dessert.

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Half n Half Pizza at Zolocrust, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Pasta with home grown veggies at Zolocrust, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Zolocrust – Probably the first restaurant you will spot when you enter the hotel, the place is filled with light aromas of coffee and freshly baked breads during the day. It is a 24×7 live bakery and pizzeria, but what makes it special is that every service here, even beyond cooking is all take care by the chefs themselves. From serving to clearing tables, not using plastic to offering vegan options, the place definitely has set its standard very high. They offer some really good desserts, apart from pizzas, pasta and shakes that I highly recommended.

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Post spa lounging at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

‘Clarks Amer’ happens to the first 5-star hotel in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, and while you may be busy exploring heritage outside, they also happen to have the oldest working lift in the city. They have a beautiful pool, take a dip or just lounge around, or even better take a spa treatment just like I did. While I had a lot to explore, I went for a quick foot massage but they do offer full body massages, because what’s a holiday without a quick spa treatment.

Located on the prestigious JLN Marg, Clarks Amer is just a 5-minute drive from the Jaipur International Airport and a 15-minute drive from major city attractions such as City Palace, Birla Mandir, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. They are perfectly equipped for large events, conferences and weddings, but with my experience I will suggest you to make your booking way in advance, so it’s not sold out, which it tends to most of the times.

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The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa

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Pushkar, “the rose garden of Rajasthan” is where traditional meets travel in the desert state. Because Pushkar is a spiritual place for so many, you can’t help but feel it’s calming, colorful, tranquil, and timeless ambiance. You can get lost in the winding alleyways while you shop endlessly for souvenirs and even bump into a stray camel or two. 

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With a driving distance of less than 3 hours from Jaipur, Pushkar is coming up as a preferred destination for weekend getaway, corporate events and social gathering. Pushkar is the extension of the popular domestic and international tourist route of Golden Triange; that connects 3 historic cities – Delhi, Jaipur & Agra.

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Place to stay: The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is ideally located to experience the various cultural and historical offerings of the Holy City of Pushkar.  It is one of the first internationally branded upscale resort in the city. An oasis of rejuvenating & revitalising comfort in the ancient and vibrant city of Pushkar, Westin Pushkar surrounded by the picturesque Aravallis, is an immaculate wellness and leisure gateway that offers everything from serene natural elements and beautiful sunsets to rejuvenating therapies and food for the soul. With spacious guestrooms featuring private pools, innovative dining options and state-of-the-art wellness facilities, leave feeling better than when you first arrive. 

 

The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is ideally located to experience the various cultural and historical offerings of this vibrant city, including the annual Camel Fair, which attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. The resort is a short drive from the Holy Lake as well as the famous Brahma Temple which dates back to the 14th Century. You can experience uplifting downtime in a picturesque setting, within a driving distance from Jaipur. Indulge in a rejuvenating break surrounded by Frangipani trees, water features and sprawling gardens. Careful attention is paid to ensure each visit leaves you exceptionally well rested, well-nourished and well cared for. With spacious guestrooms featuring private pools, innovative dining options and state-of-the-art wellness facilities, leave feeling better than when you first arrive. 

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Accommodation: Each of the 98 guest rooms and villas are thoughtfully designed to leave you feeling cared for by providing revitalizing comfort, with 44 villas / suites featuring private pool and each room having a 4-fixture bathroom. The signature Westin Heavenly Bed ensures restful nights and blissful mornings while other amenities like Heavenly Bath and White Tea by Westin scented amenities ensure you have a rejuvenating stay.  

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Eat & Drink Well: The dining options are designed to offer a diverse, gourmet experience. With four food and beverage outlets at the resort don’t worry about the calories. PANORAMA, the specialty restaurant and rooftop lounge serve barbecues and grills. SEASONAL TASTES, the signature all day dining restaurant offers an innovative combination of Indian and international cuisine with live kitchens creating an interactive dining experience. Nourish yourself with the season’s fresh ingredients and herbs from the kitchen garden of the hotel.

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MIX, the Bar with a wide range of tempting cocktails, offers ample choices to suit your mood. For those who prefer to settle down in their Heavenly Bed and order in, in-room dining menu that offers delectable selections around the clock. You can also relish a refreshing menu of light bites and drinks served at SPLASH, the poolside bar. 


Fitness & Free Time: With over 1,000 square meters of dedicated wellness space, re-energize and rejuvenate during your stay with the Westin WORKOUT fitness studio or the signature Heavenly Spa by Westin that has selection of treatment rooms and a spa menu featuring the best of international and local therapies all designed to relax and replenish body and spirit. At ‘Splash’ take refreshing laps in the scenic pool while enjoying a wide selection of food & beverage offerings 

Thoughtful Extras: They offer services like Concierge, Kids Club that let you rejuvenate while the children enjoy themselves under constant supervision of the inhouse staff. Recreation center including a mini theatre with reclining seats that allows to unwind and have leisure time. Replay, a recreation center with indoor games that can be enjoyed by both adults and teenagers alike.  A Gift Shop, Business Centre and parking facilities are also on offer.  

How to reach: Pushkar is 158 kms from the Jaipur International Airport, 53 kms from the Kishangarh Airport and is also connected by rail to Ajmer Junction. 

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Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Ariel view of Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala, Goa is sister property of the one in Sindhudurg and a collection of 4 luxury vacation villas in Goa, for exclusive holidays. Set in a tropical garden with a free form jungle swimming pool in their midst, the villas are a blend of architecture, design and service to excite your senses. Their villas in Goa sit in complete harmony with the local landscape. Each luxury villa has a stunning tree top living pavilion, a private plunge jet pool, 2 large bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a kitchen and a complimentary car and driver.

Lounge area in the villa at coco shambhala, Goa

Jet pool at coco shambhala, Goa

In the jet pool area, the architect has used his penchant for relaxing and sensual spaces. By day, this tranquil space is a shady haven cooled by a ceiling fan whirring softly overhead and by night, a richly cloistered space with artistically lit pillars, flickering candles and dappled reflected light on the walls.

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Work space with a view at coco shambhala, Goa

The bedrooms at Coco Shambhala, Goa are designed to provide natural light and boast of vintage Indo-Portuguese furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a television set, Wi-Fi and an i-pod docking station. Some of these come with open air shower area.

Local thali at coco shambhala, Goa

Breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Food: I was amazed with the most with Malvani meal i was served here, apart from which they bring to you the tastiest breakfast, lunches, and dinners right to the villa and set it all up for you. A lot of evo friendly cutlery has been used and all their food ingredients are sourced locally.

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Relax: I spent most of my time within the property until late evenings, relaxing in my villa, spending day by the beautiful free form pool, surrounded by so much natural beauty, what is even more special about this resort is that that both properties offer a range of Balinese and western massages in collaboration with Forest Essentials.

Free form pool at Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala has a bespoke tropical vibe that help you leave the stresses of modern life behind. This is a hidden slice of paradise and a perfect getaway for those who want to enjoy Goa, for its natural

For more visit- http://www.cocoshambhala.com

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

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Aerial view of Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Goa has for long known as to be the party capital of India, but there is so much more to it. The exotic landscape, virgin beaches, water sports and luxury indulgences. Named as one of the best beach villas by a leading magazine ‘Coco Shambhala’ as personally experienced is a tropical paradise with best of hospitality, amenities and privacy.

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Open air villa at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Mezze  platter served with Goan poe  bread and wine overlooking monsoon rain at coco shambhala, Sindhudurg 

Coco Shambhala has two properties, one in Goa and the other tucked away on the border of Maharashtra in a small town- Sindhudurg luckily i had my fair chance to experience a stay in both in leisure. Set in a tropical garden, barely 200 meters off the beach, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg has villas designed as inclusive, barefoot retreats, each with their own infinity pool looking out to the sea. Coco Shambhala is a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

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Room with a view at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Monsoon getaway at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

There is a lot i love about this place, but what tops it is privacy that nurtures a sense of balance, much needed in the hectic lives of today in combination with ample of nature all around us. Each villa has a stunning sea facing living area, 2 large bedrooms also facing out to the sea, a well-stocked bar in the living pavilion and its own infinity pool where i spent my day and night, sunrise and sunsets, floating in he pool under rain and stars giving me some of the most breathtaking moments of my life so far.

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Spacious lounging area in villa at coco shamabhala, sindhudurg

read, eat, play all at the luxury of your privacy at coco Shambhala, Sindhhudurg

The villas are spacious and are spaces designed for dining and lounging. It works beautifully for quiet reading, intimate and family dinners alike and group bonding over games all at luxury of your villa, while providing a sweeping vista of the sea just below, and the tempting turquoise waters of the infinity pool in front. The bedrooms are designed to provide natural light, just as the entire villa with stunning sea views and boast of artfully designed coconut wood furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a luxury bedroom.

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A taste of Malwani cuisine at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

The kitchen team prepares everything ahead of your arrival; Their head chef got in touch with us, post our booking confirmed to discuss our culinary preferences and make tailor menus based on your feedback. Their complimentary car and driver are at hand, to not only take you around but also, run errands for you. We were also provided with free usage of the pre-programmed cell phone in each villa to contact anyone on the Coco Shambhala team for any assistance.

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Missal Pav  for breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Their menus showcase the best of Goan cuisine, fresh local produce and sea food. From the mezze platter that’s served with Goan poe bread on welcome (which i have repeatedly ordered every evening) to the delectable spread of Malwani cuisine everything left me craving for more. They also had carefully curated an alluring collection of wines, single malts and craft beers, in the comfort of our (each) own villa. Their Director of Cuisine, Shagun Mehra, crafts new menus each season, which are further tailored to your preferences and palate.

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg is a destination in itself, calm beaches, water sports in the season and if you fancy being a little more energetic and can tear yourself away from the sun lounger the hotel offers option to venture out and visit local villages. After a full day of exploring, the one place we desperately wanted to get back to is the ocean followed by a sun downer at the privacy of our villa.

Infinity pool that overlooks beach and endless ocean, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

For more visit- www.cocoshambhala.com

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Naladhera, A mountain retreat

The Chalets Naldhera, Shimla

View from my cottage at Chakets Naldehra

Naldehra is located at distance of 22 km away from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. Situated 2,044 meters above sea level, it is known for one of the best and oldest 18 hole golf course in the country. Historical facts state that this hill station was discovered by Lord Curzon, a Viceroy of the erstwhile British Raj. Impressed by its beautiful natural surroundings, he decided to make a golf course in this hill station. He also gave his daughter Alexendra Naldehra as her second name.

My log hut at Chalets Naldehra

Where I Stayed : The Chalets Naldehra

Chalets Naldehra is a quiet, secluded and stunning property which is located conveniently away from Shimla. It has one of the most attractive settings, with spectacular views from each corner of the property, beautiful landscaped lawns, gardens ideal for an intimate garden ceremony with a forest backdrop. The charming log huts with forest spread across it is a photographer’s dream and makes for a incredible mountain retreat.

The balcony that offer a beautiful view of  mountains, sunsets, sunrise and clouds clouds that turn fog and embraces you in a hug

The Chalets Naldehra is the first property built in India with the internationally recognized expertise that has come to be associated with Scandinavian log homes. The chalets have been built with technology and wood imported from Finland. These fir logs have been specially treated in a high-tech plant and been given a finish that is enduring, warm and welcoming.

Room with a view at Chalets Naldhera

Rooms: I was welcomed to experience a stay in their ‘Log chalets’ that come under their premium segment. These have a drawing/dining room, a bedroom and a parvis with sloping ceilings , I literally had a debate with my dad on who would take over it, as we both loved it equally. Its almost serene how the log huts blend in naturally with the surrounding forest, welcoming the moments of peace. Indoors are spacious, with a countryside feel yet equipped with modern day amenities and our favorite part was definitely the fire place, where we enjoyed your evenings of endless bonding over wine and hot gulab jamuns. Our wake up routine in mornings would be a welcome serenade of birdsong  as nature and its counterparts greet us in our balcony while we sip our coffee. On our second day we went for a walk on a track that begun from the property (much closer from our room itself) a short one but so mesmerizing that one can immerse himself in the grandeur of pristine, old growth, high country forest. On request they organised our morning tea amidst the nature, an experience that will forever be marked in my memory.

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Morning tea amidst nature at the Chalets Naldhera

Coffee with a view from my balcony at Chalets Naldhera

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While they have 2 restaurants, i preferred all my meals outdoors, breathing in every moment  i was there

Food at the revolving restaurant at Chalets Naldhera where for company you have moving clouds, endless mountains and obviously good food

 

Restaurant– Yet another spectacular part of the hotel is the ‘360° Top of the World’ revolving restaurant with huge windows that unfold vistas of the valleys and forests. The revolving restaurant can at a time accommodate up to 24 people and buzzes with Mozart throughout your meal. The food offered at Chalets Naldehra includes, Chinese, continental and Indian.They also offer meals at the shared lawns and an experience not to be missed is the evening tea in gardens with the sight of mesmerizing sunset.

Heated indoor pool at Chalets Naldhera

Pool: They have a pool so gorgeous that can give a modern-day infinity pool a miss. The heated leisure pool of the Chalets has been imported from Australia and placed in a large glass plant-packed hall that seems to bring indoors all the charms of the surrounding woods – it’s almost as if you are swimming with the cedars. Under a starlit sky or on a warm sunny afternoon or for that matter while the monsoon rain patters on the clear-glass roof or when snowflakes swirl, you can take a long leisurely swim or just lounge by the poolside soaking in bliss.

Post spa at Chalets Naldhera

Spa- The spa offers Ayurvedic therapies and massages, sauna, Jacuzzi pool, steam room, hot and cold showers are available. After all what is a retreat without a tranquil massage.

They also have a bar where you pour yourself a strong drink or have a cup of coffee, activity room, croquet green, putting green and library and other facilities. In keeping with the mystique of The Chalets Naldehra, every unit has been given a name that either belongs to the region or has been named after an explorer or adventurer of the region. For example, The Gerard Chalet – named after the brothers Gerard, who were amongst the earliest travelers and mappers of the tract. They also have conference hall that makes it an incredible venue for conferences, so maybe you should take your next team meeting or conference right amidst the hills.

What to do: Naldehra is dotted with several attractions which include temples, lakes, hot water springs, scenic beauty and golf course. Mahunag Temple is one of the most prominent attractions, from which the place has derived its name. Also, a visit to Shimla can be a day’s outing where you can indulge in some famous cafes, stroll around mall road and visit famous structures that belonged from the British era.
Book: www.chaletsnaldehra.com

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Staycation at Trident Hyderabad

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I have been focusing a lot on my travel side of blogs lately, when i am in town i work on my full-time job that helps me set my next travel goals, amidst all this when i got an invite for a staycation from Trident Hyderabad, i just obliged happily  

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Trident Hyderabad is a business hotel, part of The Oberoi Group located right in the heart of formidable global tech capital. A quintessential business hotel, thanks to its contemporary finishes, club floors with a dedicated lounge, and prime location in Hitec City.  From the lobby that is welcoming, staircase with grand chandelier to the rooms the architecture is modern fused with contemporary art; all while fulfilling that expected 5-star flair. We were mesmerized by the expanse of the property and how simple, yet artistic and modern the architecture was.

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Room: We were allotted the ‘Premier Suite’ one of the best at the hotel, that is perfect for work and relaxation. As soon as we entered there was cozy living room with a work desk and ceiling to floor glass window. The bedroom, spacious and contemporary had a walk-in closet and the bath area with a double vanity counter, bathtub, shower area, robes, toiletries, and everything required to ensure that you feel pampered at any given time of the day.  The comfort was so intense that overslept and ordered a lavish breakfast in bed, because for me its not a relaxing holiday until you get a good 10 hours sleep followed by breakfast in bed.

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The pool was our favorite part to unwind, the pleasant weather outdoors just added to the whole feel. From taking a long dip, lounging post breakfast to enjoying our cocktails and quick bites with twinkling skyline to accompany us during evenings, it was just splendid.  

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Restaurants 

Tuscany is an award-winning Italian restaurant that is focused on fresh seasonal produce, reinventing menu and hosting most interesting food festivals expanding the taste of Italy to guests in finest way possible. The risotto and pizza are my staple favorites here. I love Italian and food festivals like ‘Fiesta Fungi’ that bought a line of dishes all using mushrooms was this year’s favorite. With finest of wines, soulful dishes Tuscany is my favorite in-house restaurant at Trident Hyderabad, also it is open only for dinner only making it a great place for special diner dates.  

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Amara is a multi-cuisine buffet restaurant at the Trident Hyderabad that offers Mediterranean, Asian and European cuisines. The restaurant is functional all through the day from 7 am to 11 pm and also serves a la-carte. While Sunday buffet are extravagant the spread on weekdays are also lavish. We picked a seat by the long window glass that has a view of cyber towers and let world pass by as we savored everything from salads to desserts.  

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Kanak, I feel is heart of this uber luxury business hotel that offers Indian specialty. From a bar at entrance that offers you best of world class spirits to santoor players adding dreamy music to the ambiance the visit here is more of an experience that speaks luxury with every detail.  I was glad to be a part of ‘Lazzat-E-Rampur aur Awadh’ curated by guest Chef Rehman who is known for his expertise in this cuisine all over India. The food was a gastronomical journey of rich flavors, age old recipes in company of talented chefs including in house  Chef Dharmender Lamba, who shared stories and memories that made for an evening to cherish. The menu included dishes like Murgh Tikka Mirza Hasnu,  Chapli Kebab, Nasheela Jhinga in starters, Changezi Murgh, Yakhni Gosht Pulao, Nawabi Baigan Bharta, Anannas ke Boti, Taar Khorma in main course and star of the evening were desserts Ande ka Halwa, which was surprisingly good (i tried something like this for first time) and Chukander-e-Afroz made from beetroot served along with  Gur Ki Yaquiti. 

Ninety-Six, the lounge is open from 1 pm to wee hours of 4 am. Be at an after-meeting drink or just late-night cheer, it is a very soothing place that offers range of single malts, cocktails, beer and wine. The bartender can whip up some really fascinating cocktails just tel him what you prefer and leave the rest on the specialist.   

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Our experience has been a combination of excellent service, great food and warm people that would always bring us back. What truly touches your heart are the little things, the attention to details, in everything they do that sets them a class apart. 

Book : Trident Hyderabad 

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Ayana Fort Kochi

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Kerala has attracted travelers, explorers and traders from all over the world for centuries, drawn to this slice of tropical South India by spices, Fort Cochin (Kochi) is the one of the best place in Kerala for a rich multicultural experience.

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The fort Kochi area has its own quaint charm, It is buzzing with tourists, but each at their own pace – this part of the city has a ‘homestay’ in every corner! I chose to stay at  ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ for a lot of reason the main being its prime location. One of the biggest delights of Fort Cochin is just wandering and exploring the atmospheric old streets, the mosque, the synagogue, temples and churches, the colourful houses and shops in Jew town and the picturesque Chinese fishing nets and soaking up Cochin’s colourful history.

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Boutique hotels are on rise in India, they are the perfect combination of creativity and luxury, without missing out on comfort, the rooms are spacious and inviting; it is affordable yet high class. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a luxury boutique hotel with  16-rooms that showcases an ideal marriage of history with modern luxurious comfort. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a 200-year old courthouse that has been meticulously restored and then renovated to its rightful glory. The hotel and its surroundings take you on a trip down memory to centuries old history. This element of old and new, existing side by side is evident in each area of the hotel.

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With large public spaces, the property lends itself well to showcase art and the Ayana team endeavors to make the hotel a platform to build awareness towards Indian contemporary artists. The hotel’s monochromatic black and white palate lends itself to the striking artwork showcased throughout the property.  Ayana’s commitment to promoting Indian artists is clearly visible as you walk through the hotel, currently they house paintings from established artists such as Amitabh Sengupta and Dhiraj Choudhary, as well as many budding artists, displayed all over the property.

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Luxury Suite: I wasn’t expecting a big room considering the fact that it was a boutique hotel, but to my delight i stepped into a spacious room which was a welcome surprise. The interiors of my room, just like the rest of the hotel was tastefully done and looked elegant and classy. The team has paid minute attention to each aspect of the interiors. Perfect blend of designs and striking colors define Ayana Fort Kochi rooms. The checkered floors have been created using traditional Indian cement tile and give a sense of colonial charm to the entire property.

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The room has a theme of black and white that created a soothing contrast and in addition to it was a splash of blue to add some color. It had a queen size bed with comfortable mattress and soft pillows, a sofa with round table and lounge chair facing television, just beside the huge glass doors that led to a cute and compact balcony that overlooked the street below and also gave a view of port with ships leaving and arriving.

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Food: Ayana places a high priority on food and offers fresh local produce and authentic flavors. One can feast their senses at a stunning restaurant, ‘The Old Court’, overlooking a private garden. It offers a sundry menu based on organic vegetables and only the freshest local catch. The rooftop café has been designed in an Art Deco style and is filled with the exotic fragrance of the Raat Ki Rani tree, growing wild across the area. It was too hot and Humid for me to have a meal here so i choose the old court for my meals or ordered in room. From south Indian to Italian there is nothing they miss out on, however i would suggest you to go local, enjoy the appam with stew, masala dosa, prawn curry, fish and eat your heart out, because once you are back home you will be craving every bit  of it.

Experiences &  Activities: The hotel is equipped with a roof top pool and a fitness suite –that offer mesmerizing views of the sun and sea.  From attending a rooftop yoga class to sculpting the body with strenuous work out at the gymnasium or just cooling off at the roof top pool, Ayana provides for all modern-day luxuries in a very historic setting. In keeping with the luxury component, Ayana is one of the few hotels in Fort Kochi offering a full-service gym.

The hotel also offers curated activities and guided tours for guests based on their preferences and choices. I enrolled myself for an evening of  Kathakali, Kalaripayattu a traditional dance performance and a Backwater tour which is a mandatory thing to do when in Kerala.  They also offer a spice tour and a fishing tour.

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Must Do, Must visit – Fort Kochi

The Jew Town area of Fort Cochin has many traveler orientated restaurants and cafes with mixed menu of all the Indian, Chinese and Western traveler favorites and you can also buy fresh seafood and street food along the shore by the Chinese fishing nets.

Pepper House Cafe serves light lunches, drink and snacks in the cute courtyard setting of the waterfront heritage property. It includes a gallery, art studios and event spaces. i love the store, that stocks some really made in India brands for clothes, quirky jewelry, books, bags and even perfumes.

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Pepper House, Fort Kochi

Qissa Cafe a cafe walking distance from any touristy spot in Fort Kochi  and whips some really good french toasts and coffee, i spent hours here, people watching, reading books and reordering iced coffee. They also like many places here promote local artist and talent and you can always buy something as a souvinear to take home.

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Kashi Art Café  is one of the most popular place for coffee, breakfast or lunch served in their courtyard surrounded by art work from local artists.

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Try: Because of the abundant supply of spices and medicinal plants Kerala is the home of Ayurveda, an ancient, natural healing science that has been practiced in India for over 5000 years. Fort Kochi is a perfect place to try a relaxing Ayurvedic massage at a spa or hotel. I skipped the luxury and went for a local center- Ayurville a walking distance form my hotel and a traditional ayurvedic session, they have oils that are made in house, you can choose depending on your concern or skin type. If you don’t concentrate on the ambiance, this place is great for a traditional massage and will leave you relaxed and lighter. I could feel it with the strokes on my back, pressure on the scalp and not to forget the stretches of arms and legs. it was a great experience and i am so glad i visited this place. If you plan to visit, make sure you take a prior appointment, they also offer long term therapies where you can go for several sessions depending on your concern.

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Watch a Kathakali Dance – Kerala’s famous traditional dance form dates back to the 17th century and is as enchanting as it is unique. The colourful, elaborate make up and costumes and incredible facial expressions provide a fascinating experience, although its probably better to opt for a touristy performance as traditionally the performance can last for many hours and can be hard to follow at first. The Kerala Kathakali Center has nightly performances where you also see the make up being applied and get a demonstration of the different, subtle but fascinating movements and facial expressions.

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Chinese Fishing Nets – On the shore at the tip of Fort Cochin these huge spider like cantilever contraptions are the iconic emblem of Cochin. These impressive nets are a legacy from Chinese traders from 1400 and require at least 4 people to operate.  The Chinese fishing nets are at their most photogenic at sunset and, even though modern fishing methods and a lack of fish here have made these nets mostly redundant, you can still see them in operation and even try it yourself (they will ask for money of course!)

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Pardesi Synagogue and Jew Town – The small but enchantingly beautiful over 400 year old Jewish synagogue in Fort Cochin features a small exhibition of paintings describing the role the Jews played in Cochin and beautiful chandeliers and tiling. The synagogue is right in the middle of Jew town and the bustling, colourful old port area, one of the most atmospheric parts of Fort Cochin, many of the old spice warehouses are now shops catering to tourists selling spices, antiques, nick nacks, colourful shawls and handicrafts but it’s still a nice place to wander and a great place to shop for souvenirs.

To read all about my stay at the beautiful Ayana Fort Kochi, click here

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Westin Hyderabad- A Wellness Staycation

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A warm welcome at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Planning to get away for a relaxing break that is good for your mind, body and soul- without the cost and efforts of jetting off abroad? Then a ‘Staycation’ at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace is just the luxurious break you need.

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Heavenly bed at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Sleep Well – Their rooms bring together a composed refuel of the body and mind, the Sleep Well program helps you replenish overnight and leaves you well rested for the next day. Their heavenly bed under the sleep well program provides restorative sleep at its truest. The award winning Heavenly Bed is uniquely designed with plush, pillow-top construction for a relaxed sleep.

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Room at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

With the exciting Hyderabad city skyline in the background, I enjoyed a complete relaxing 2 days.  The Taipei carpets, lotus headboards, and full menu of activities and services that helped me meet my travel goals at comfort of my city. Whether its productivity, fitness, relaxation, or simply wellness of being, everything is available right at the hotel premises. I however preferred soak in the monsoon showers and views of the bustling technology district from the privacy of my balcony accompanied with pakoda’s and masala chai (thanks to the Chef Rajiv, who made this special arrangement possible)

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A special masala chai at privacy of my balcony at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Eat Well- Westin offers a very unique Culinary experience, their Eat Well program is a mélange of a healthy lifestyle with nutritious foods, energizing juices and smoothies that keep the guests maintain their best. My breakfast options were super healthy and super tasty, from gluten free muffins to exotic mix of smoothies and juices they had it all. it was just a great way to give my body a break and perfect detox.

 

While i opted for a healthy breakfast, i planned to take a culinary trip around the world without leaving the hotel. The Westin Hyderabad Mind space offers unique dining experiences that will delight even the most discriminating palettes. From traditional Indian dishes of the Northwest frontier, to the vibrant flavours of Italy, their restaurants, cafes and lounges showcase the best of global cuisine in inspiring settings. I chose to relax and unwind at Casbah their Mediterranean offering.

Casbah is situated at the elevate lounge of the Westin Hyderabad Mindspace it offers mouthwatering Mediterranean finger food but what i love is the middle eastern ambiance with low seating and arched wall surroundings that gives a feeling of living the experience.  The dishes you must try are the Mezze Platter, Soya Chap, Chicken Souvlaki and Grilled Prawns all cooked to perfection with mouthwatering taste, that will leave you wanting more. The fact that it is open till 2 am in just a bonus.

Another option i tried was the ‘Seasonal Taste’ which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed an enlightening (because i had a really good conversation on food over wine with Chef Rajiv who educated us on so many things)  which included a lot of local fare along with international options. They offer nutritious super foods as well as endless selections of desserts.

Feel Well- Designed to awaken the senses, The Feel Well program offers rejuvenating spa experiences along with services catering to therapeutic massages, cleansing facials and invigorating body treatments. When staying at Westin, a visit to spa achieves complete harmony of body and mind with their signature Heavenly Spa treatment, restores balance and promotes a foundation of wellness that lasts beyond your stay. It’s a sanctuary of wellness, where every touch, sound and scent are carefully designed to revitalize your body and calm your mind. They have specially designed rooms for different treatments. The expert masseuse makes sure of an unforgettable experience right from welcoming you; soaking your feet for a cleanse, once you are settled on your massage bed, after declaring your area of concern, you are just transformed into the Zen mode throughout the treatment. Reliving each muscle of stress and pain, you can feel each cell in your body ease its way into relaxing. The Heavenly spa treatment is a complete experience of mind body and soul that includes massage and stretches. Post your therapy you will be lead to steam room, to let the oil absorb and of course detox. You can choose to go for a normal shower, or just lay back in the Jacuzzi. The treatments winds up with a warm cup of herbal tree and chocolate truffle in soothing ambiance at their post spa lounge area while you share your feedback and have some more me time post your treatment. Heavenly indeed!

Move Well – With a motivation to provide guests a well-designed fitness program, move well offers specially designed workout routines with gear lending facilities and local running maps. Their world-class fitness studios offer active state-of -the-art equipment and all the essentials to power your performance.  The also have In Room workout facility provided to the guests on booking offers a treadmill or a stationary bike at the privacy of the guest

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Gym at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

While i experienced these three wellness aspects, they also have ‘Work Well’ that connects, convenes and collaborates with thoughtfully designed work spaces at the hotel. The program streamlines work experience with rent-able by the hour designed to facilitate along with organised and efficient work stations keeping meeting spaces open and clear. Apart from this ‘Play Well’  initiative brings into focus extended breakfast hours, local activity guide, the guests can explore their surroundings and embark on adventures much like the Westin brand, Westin Hyderabad also promotes wellness in every element of a guest’s stay including the heavenly bed, heavenly spa, Westin workout designated gear which guests can borrow, and the specialty menu with powerful nutrients to energize and fuel the day.

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Seasonal Taste at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

All in all Westin Hyderabad Mindspace  is the perfect place for a ‘Staycation in Hyderabad’, where you can not only focus on wellness, but be rest assured to be pampered to the fullest! The property is also ideal for events, intimate business meetings and extravagant gala functions.

Location: Building No: 15, Raheja IT Park, Hitec City, Madhapur, Hyderabad. Ph:67676767

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Dum Pukht Begum’s at ITC Kohenur  

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ITC Hotels are synonymous to the term responsible Luxury, with launch of their latest gem ITC Kohenur it has wooed its guests (and me) with artistic charm at every corner.  The moment you step in, the grandeur of the place engulfs you. The more you explore the more you realize how Kohenur dint just gets its name from the famous Kohinoor diamond found in Hyderabad but finds inspiration for its interiors from different legacies and aspects of the royal city of Nizams.

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Dum Pukht Begum’s

The restaurant offers a regal dining experience, one that needs to be enjoyed in complete leisure, from indulging in delightful aromas emanated from the dish to its flavors that’s spark your taste buds. Set in a beautiful setting, Dum Pukht offers a unique culinary experience that is inspired from the kitchens of begums. The food here is delicately spiced yet packed with flavors. There are two aspects to the Dum style of cooking: Bhunao and Dum or ‘roasting’ and ‘maturing’ of a prepared dish. Herbs and spices play their own unique role in Dum style of cooking by lending their characteristic flavors and aroma to the dish. The slow-cooking of Dum Pukht , pushes the spices, meat and vegetables used to give the maximum flavor and cook gradually in its juices.

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Appetizers at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

During my review chef had an exquisite line-up prepared all we had to do was sit back and savor it all. Our meal began with the welcome drink ‘Jamun-E-Sahi’ which was a jamun juice with hint of lemon and chilies. In appetizers I really enjoyed the ‘Dudiya Kebab’ that melts in the mouth just like its non-vegetarian counterpart ‘Galauti Kebab’ For the ones who are fond of lamb must try the ‘Kakori Kebab’ cooked to perfection with flavors of cloves and cinnamon.

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The appetizing dishes at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

I enjoyed the assortment of breads, especially the sheermal with dishes like ‘Qasar-E-Pukhtan’ paneer simmered in tomato gravy, ‘Murgh Khushk Purdah’ another aromatic dish that has succulent pieces of chicken. The mandatory try is the ‘Dum Pukht Biryani’, the showstopper dish which is mutton biryani served with curd chutney, raita and mirchi ka salan.

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Biryani at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad (p.c  Saloni- salt to taste)

Wrapping up the meal we were presented with ‘Khwaish-E-Shereen’ , an assorted platter of desserts that includes Khubani ka Meetha, Badami Kheer &  Gulab Jamun.

 

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Desserts at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

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