Tips & Advice

    Traveling is the best and most fun thing to do in India, but it may turn into a frightening experience if not done right. Every trip has its demands considering the geography of the traveling location. Hence, it is crucial to get down to a plan before setting out with back packs to an entirely different place.

    Before laying off on vacation, there are certain necessary travel arrangements one must make. Be it hiking in the snow-capped Himalayas or paddling through the curvy roads of Ladakh, every trip is distinctive and requires much attention. Check out this space and discover some interesting travel information around various Indian destinations that would help you plan a dream holiday in whatever region you are. Get the most out of a long vacation and a weekend trip with these easy and legit tips!

    5 Destinations for Food Lovers in India

    5 Destinations for Food Lovers in India

    We admit that food is a very important aspect of travel. And occasionally, it becomes the only reason to explore a place. In a country such as ours where we’re spoilt with choices across the different courses of a meal, with varying spices and authentic traditional mixes, it only makes sense to explore a destination for the sheer joy of stumbling upon its local cuisines. Here are some delights for food lovers across the country.

     

    GO NORTH- Amritsar, Punjab

     

    The smooth butter chicken with naan. Photo Joshua Rappeneker
    The smooth butter chicken with naan. Photo Joshua Rappeneker.

    The thought of rajma chawal, butter chicken with freshly baked tandoori roti and cooling taste of chaas as an accompaniment makes my mouth water. Punjab has great food from the highway dhabas to the casual restaurants to the generous langar served at the Golden Temple. In all honesty, nothing comes close to the hospitality and generosity of the locals here. A fine example is the langar at the Golden Temple, which caters to approximately 75,000 visitors every day!

    Definitely try: The sweet lassi, aloo ke paranthe (with homemade white butter) and makki di roti and sarson da saag (when in season).

    Travel to the haven of rajma chawal by booking your Travelyaari bus tickets now.

     

    SWEET EAST- Kolkata, West Bengal

     

    A common display of the local sweet meats in Kolkata
    A common display of the local sweet meats in Kolkata. Photo by Steve Browne & John Verkleir.

    Bangla is considered to be one of the sweetest languages in the country. This could possibly be credited to the high amount of sweets in a Bengali’s diet! Kolkata is the home to melt-in-the-mouth sweets like the shondesh (sweetened cottage cheese), mishti doi (sweet curd), rosogolla, chomchom and pitha (made of rice flour). Sweets are available at local sweet marts which have been running for generations. The common ones are K. C. Das, VIP Sweets and Gangaur, amongst others.

    Fish is a dominant part of every Bengali’s meal. Kolkata sees a wide preparation of freshwater river fish. Unlike Goan cuisine, the fish curry in Kolkata is rich in oil and masala, deliberately prepared to go well with the steamed rice. Hilsa or ilish is considered to be an exclusive fish, cooked during a special occasion. Even though it comes with many bones, it is probably the tastiest fish available in the country. It is also said to be prepared in 108 different ways!

    Definitely try: Shorshe ilish, channar dal, begun bhaja (fried eggplant) and kheer kodom (sweet).

    Delight yourself by travelling to Kolkata with Travelyaari here.

     

    SPICE UP SOUTH- Alleppey, Kerala

     

    A Chettinad meal in Kerala. Photo by Sonja Pieper
    A Chettinad meal in Kerala. Photo by Sonja Pieper.

    Food in Kerala is spicy, wholesome and everything-coconut. As a selective non-vegetarian, I tend to focus much on my vegetarian options. Appam with stew always make a first appearance in my order, followed by avial (coconut-based mixed vegetables) and the subtle but sweet payasam to end my meal. Non-vegetarians travelling to Kerala also have a plethora of choices. The staple diet here is fish and rice, where fish is prepared as prawn fry and in a number of curries mixed with tamarind, coconut to chilly.

    The banana and tapioca chips available here are just as popular as the main course. Fried in coconut oil, these chips make a convenient (although unhealthy) snack for any time of the day.

    Definitely try: The seafood fry, sadya (if you’re travelling around the local festivals) and the spiced buttermilk.

    Explore beautiful Kerala by booking your tickets here, exclusively by Travelyaari.

     

    SOUTH CENTRAL- Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

     

    Don’t forget to save space for the wholesome Hyderabadi biryani.
    Don’t forget to save space for the wholesome Hyderabadi biryani. Photo by Montager.

    If you ever thought that you could have enough of biryani, you haven’t been to the city of Hyderabad! In one of my visits to this city, I had this delicious flavoured mixed rice for my three meals in a day!

    Needless to say, this city is biased to non-vegetarians and the choices for vegetarians are limited. From a variety of kebabs, Hyderabadi biryani, paya, khoorma and talawa gosht, Hyderabad specialises in meat preparations. The old city serves the truest and the best of this cuisine though it may not be the most tourist-friendly part of the city.

    Definitely try: Haleem (during Ramzan), nahari and kheer.

    Exclusively book tickets to Hyderabad on Travelyaari.

     

    WESTERN FLAVOURS-Panaji, Goa

     

    A typical Konkani Thali. Photo by Amrita Das.
    A typical Konkani Thali. Photo by Amrita Das.

    The Goan capital sees some tough competition. With most of the travellers drifting towards the beaches of Baga or Palolem, very few have actually explored the tastes within Panjim. However, it continues to be a favourite amongst locals.

    Around the landmark Immaculate Conception Church (better known as Panjim Church) there are a number of restaurants that serve scrumptious Goan cuisine. The most popular is perhaps Ritz Classic, followed by the equally wonderful Viva Panjim. Goan cuisine is primarily spicy and garnished with the necessary flavour of coconut and kokum. The cuisine is usually incomplete without fish, since Goa trades well in the choicest of seafood. Of course, there is the customary chicken xacuti and assad pork roast for all those who wish to escape the fury of fish. For vegetarians, there are multiple options as well. From solachi kadi, which is a spicy curry made in combination of coconut and kokum; bhaji which is a semi-dry preparation of saag with mild spices and tur dal cooked in a number of ways, there is much to choose from.

    Definitely try: The Goan prawn curry and bebinca, their layered dessert pudding.

    Find your bus tickets to Goa on Travelyaari.

    ***

    What are your favourite food-focussed destinations?

    ***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Perpetually bitten by the travel bug, Amrita has travelled across twenty states in India and Nepal, Switzerland, Italy and Paris. She shares her experiences best through writing, photography and blogging. She engages in all types of outdoor adventure, explores the local way of life, listens to stories strangers tell her and is a firm believer of serendipity and constant change. She blogs at www.travellingidesofmarch.com and tweets at @Amrita_dass.

     

    017 – The year of long weekends and happiness

    2017 – The year of long weekends and happiness

    Finally, 2016 is slowly fading away and making space for 2017. It seems really exciting for all those of you who have been waiting to fit in your travel plans in your crazy work schedules. Team Travelyaari prediction for you is – 2017 is going to be a dream year for all traveling souls. Last year has been a bit of a damp squib for us because all our major holidays coincided with some weekend or the other. While Diwali happened on Sunday, one of the biggest festivals in December, Christmas is going to fall on Sunday as well. Not to miss Labour Day that fell on a weekend as well, killing all hopes of those who were wanting to spend their long weekends traveling to their favorite destination.

    But worry not dear ones as next year is going to be the redemption of a sort and your patience shall be rewarded with at least one long weekend and much more every month. Sounds incredible? Hold your breath while we start counting.

    February

    24th February 2017 – Monday – Mahashivratri: This auspicious festival falls on Monday, giving you time from Saturday to Monday for traveling to your favorite destination. Whether it’s Mandi Shivratri Festival in Himachal Pradesh, a trip to Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain or a short trip to a weekend destination near your city, make the most of this long weekend as much as you can because you never know what future unfolds for you.

    March

     

    13th March 2017 – Monday – Holi: This time, the festival of colours will be even more vibrant because you get the option to celebrate this joyful festival either at home or some other place. Plan a trip with your family and friends to an outskirt location and if you want to experience particular kind of Holi celebration, here are some suggestions of some really special places that witness Best Holi Celebration in India

    April

    14th April 2017 – Friday – Good Friday/Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti: Another long weekend that you can use to travel to your favorite destination and thankfully, most of these destinations are just a bus ride away.   Running out of ideas, we can suggest some excellent long weekend destinations here

    May

    1st May 2017 – May Day: Mayday falls on Monday, giving you another long weekend and a holiday on that dreadful Monday. Go on a weekend bus ride on Friday evening and come back on Monday night. Bus tickets are the easiest to book online, and you can go impromptu on booking the best of the buses from your mobile phone

    Adventurous enough? Come back to town on Tuesday morning and head straight to the office. Check out some incredible journeys you can plan on the bus.

    June to September

    Eid falls on 26th June, Janmashtami falls on 14th August, and Ganesh Chaturthi falls on 25th August. All these auspicious days fall on Monday, giving you one long weekend for all three months.

    The month of October is like heaven for your extended travel plans. It starts with Gandhi Jayanti being on Monday and the weather being absolutely pleasant for you, giving you so many options to explore. With few other leaves, you can make long travel plans in the second half of October. 14th October is on Saturday, and Dhanteras is on 15th October (Monday). Diwali is on the 18th October, and Bhaiduj is on the 20th. So if you take a leave each on on 16th and 19th, you can plan a fantastic 10-day bonanza trip.

    December

    Friday, 1st December being Eid-e-Milad, gives you another long weekend to plan a short, long weekend trip. Also, Christmas falling on a Monday gives you a choice of spending your fag end of your yearly festivities somewhere outside. If you stay in Delhi, then there are many places to visit around Delhi for your long weekends and holiday plans.

    Mumbaikars can choose from these best places to visit during winters around Mumbai. Those living in South can consider some striking camping and trekking scenes at the sun-kissed mountains in the western ghats.

    So rejoice and block your dates already because more than one reasons are giving us hope that 2017 will make everything better and better.

     

     

    A Little Planning for Your Awesome Trip!

    A Little Planning for Your Awesome Trip!

    Travelyaari-Journal

    Be it a short trip, an extended holiday or a complete all out globetrotting whatever is your agenda

    Trust us, once you get started,conversations, the late hour online research, frantic calls to your dear ones, getting a grip and making some sense out of the trip – the whole ecosystem of planning could be more than fun than you ever imagined. There is more to it. We have made a candid list and have put it here in this blog; once you read it you would agree in the end that a little bit of planning does make some sense.

     

    Helps you to choose your destination: The hardest part about any trip that you want to plan is to decide where you want to go and what type of holiday or travel experience you want.Here is where planning helps. A little research may clear the air and help you choose the destination and travel options that you long for, and most importantly which suits your needs and preferences.

     

    Ensures you effectively spend your time: Some people may not have the luxury of an extended holiday and for them planning in advance helps maximize their vacation time. The hard fact is that buying tickets, booking hotels/accommodations, finding local transports and organizing tours can be time-consuming for them. A little planning in bits and pieces can help those with the paucity of time.

     

    Elevates your Travel Experience by knowing more about the destination: A bit research about the various places that you are visiting makes you more prepared and can elevate your entire travel experience significantly. Knowing in advance by turning into a researcher and understanding the local weather, culture, language, history, food, environment, etc. may leave you enlightened and rewarded.

     

    Planning helps you spend your penny wisely:Money Matters! More so when you travel. Any travel can be a real money sponge, especially if you are planning for an overseas tour. Let’s face it;once on the road, manage and spends wisely.

     

    Prepares you to mitigate or minimize risk:There is always an element of danger in any form of Travel. Hence it is preferable to check out potential health problems, security issues (if any), and terrorism related problems or any other dangers before stepping into the region. Though it is good to be adventurous at times, one should never put their life and health at risk.

     

    Remember,an informed traveler is a smart traveler. Planning makes you informed and it doesn’t have to be a herculean task. In fact, planning is more fun than one can imagine. It adds more zeal and makes you enthusiastically welcome the trip.

    Explore the Mysteries of the Deep at the Top 8 Scuba Diving Destinations in India

    Explore the Mysteries of the Deep at the Top 8 Scuba Diving Destinations in India

    Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (wow that is quite a mouthful) diving, or Scuba Diving as it more popularly known is one of the world’s most popular recreational sports, and is catching on in a big way in India. With over 8000kms of coastline, India’s underwater ecosystem is an unexplored universe begging to be discovered. From colourful coral reefs and crustaceans to shoals of snapper fish, and the occasional reef shark lurking around, the sights you’ll encounter are as diverse as India’s geographical features and cultures.

     

    Your typical adventure-hungry Indian traveler is always on the lookout for their next adrenaline rush, and exploring life under water provides just the right dose of thrills combined with an exciting experience that you won’t soon forget. Scuba diving can also be pursued to professional levels for exciting careers as a Scuba Diving Trainer, Shipwreck exploration and Deep Sea Rescue Operations. It definitely beats a desk job!

     

    Diving schools are now mushrooming all over the Indian coast at incredible dive locations, so you’re kind of spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a dive school that suits your needs (from beginner’s courses and snorkeling to professional certification) and budget.

     

    Whether you’re just curious to see what life is like in the seas, or you want to make a livelihood from your love of the seas, these scuba diving hot spots around the country will have you going back for more!

     

    1) Goa:

     

    The Grande Island off of the coast of Goa offers some spectacular diving sites which are home to barracuda, snappers as well as some spectacular wrecks of World War 2 ships. The Jetty and Sail are some of the popular dive sites here. The aquatic residents of Goa are comparable to those in the Maldives.

    Although the Arabian sea has fewer corals than the Red Sea, the marine life here will still amaze you with its vivid colonies of bat-fish, angelfish, tunas, morays, tangs and sea bulls, among shellfish, turtles and sea cucumbers! Explore old wreckages teeming with sea life off the Konkan coast for an experience you’ll never forget.

     

    Check out Bogmalo beach and St. George Island for more dive sites. Some operators also offer river and lake diving (freshwater dives).

     

    Best time: October to May

     

    Look out for: bottlenose dolphins, shipwrecks and galleons

     

    Visibility: up to 15 meters

     

     

     

    2) Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu:

     

    For fascinating sights of corals ranging from man-made reefs to pristine natural reefs, head to this French inspired coastal town. Aquatic life here is blessed with numerous species of fish too, such as parrot fish, bannerfish and even sea snakes.Be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins and sea turtles too!

     

    Head to Temple Reef, a man made reef constructed from trees and rocks, to reverse the effects of trawler fishing. It is now home to over 45 species of sea life including mantis shrimps and moray eels! Another great spot is Aravind’s wall, home to pretty corals and sea kraits. Come embark on this underwater treasure trail with us.

     

    Best time: Feb-April and Sep-Nov, (However, diving is available all year round),

     

    Look out for: triggerfish, angelfish and crustaceans

     

    Visibility: up to 30 meters

     

     

     

    3) Dwarka, Gujarat:

     

    Legend has it that the city of Dwarka was rebuilt six times and was submerged after the death of the Hindu deity Krishna. Located in the Gulf of Kutch, the Beyt Beach on the Dwarka coast is home to whale sharks, dolphins and turtles.

     

    The flora here is just as assorted, with dive sites that are dotted with sea anemones and sea fans. If you’re patient enough to wait for the tide to ebb, you can even spot sea horses and octopus. The Beyt beach also offers an amazing surfing experience. A scuba vacation at Dwarka can be made complete with visits to its historical temples and plenty of shopping.

     

    Bets time: October to March

     

    Look out for: Underwater remains of the ancient Dwarka city

     

    Visibility: Up to 20 meters

     

     

     

    4) Andaman Islands:

     

    This group of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal makes for nothing short of spectacular white sandy beaches and clear waters perfect for spotting sea inhabitants. Havelock Island boasts of ‘The Wall’, 10 meters below the surface and over 800 species of small fish, crustaceans, dolphins and turtles, amidst purple coral reefs.

     

    Explore this warm tropical paradise under water with us.

     

    Best time: All year round! The best time to visit would be October-April (Although people have been known to take advantage of the lower rates during the off-season)

     

    Look out for: Scorpionfish, stingray, nudibranch

     

    Visibility: Up to 40 meters

     

     

     

    5) Lakshadweep Islands:

     

    This set of 36 almost virgin islands is a paradise of silver beaches, shady palms, gentle breeze, hermit crabs and seabirds. The destination to head to is Bangaram, a pristine island, for an unforgettable scuba diving experience. At the Princess Royal, dive at a two hundred year old battle ship. For a surreal experience, dive at Manta Point, home to manta rays, whale shark and colourful reef. Agatti and Kadmat are other islands to explore under water.

     

    Best time: May to November, Manta Point is best from September to December

     

    Look out for:

     

    Visibility: Up to 30 meters

     

     

     

    6) Kovalam, Kerala:

     

    What can be better than diving in God’s Own Country? Varkala, Kovalam, and Alappuzha beaches offer the best of Kerala’s underwater life. From tiny starfish to whale sharks, the underwater ecosystem will definitely thrill you. While you’re at Kovalam or Varkala, you can try a host of other activities such as parasailing and wind surfing!

     

    Best time: November to February

     

    Look out for: Green mussel reef, multipurpose artificial reef

     

    Visibility: Up to 10 meters

     

     

     

    7) Puri, Orissa:

     

    This quiet town with historical and religious prominence, is lined with golden sunny beaches that are perfect for unwinding and jump starting your life. A relatively obscure beach, that is highlighted once a year during the Puri Sun & Surf Festival. the Ramchandi Beach has dives facilitated by the Kalinga Divers. This beach is also a great for water and wind surfing and kayaking.

     

    Best time: November to February

     

    Look out for: Bio-luminiscent aquatic life

     

    Visibility: Up to 10 meters

     

     

     

    8) Tarkarli, Maharashtra:

     


     

    This is the only place in Maharahstra where scuba diving is possible. Here, you’ll see coral reefs, cephalopods, starfish, dolphins and dozens of varieties of sea plants. While you’re here you can enjoy tasty fish curry and Solkadi at Malvan. In addition, you can avail fun activities such as snorkelling, boating and white water rafting.

     

    Best time: October to March

     

    Look out for: Bio-luminiscent aquatic life

     

    Visibility: up to 10 meters

     

     

     

    *Scuba: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

     

    For fun dives, knowledge of swimming isn’t really needed, but it’s a bonus if you can swim.

    Never pick a living souvenir from the water.

    If you find trash while diving, do your bit and bring it back with you.

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