Sunday, August 11, 2013

Darbargadh Palace - Morbi

Darbargadh Palace
Near Machhu river and Jhulta Pul (hanging bridge),
Morbi 363641,

We had a lovely trip to Morbi this weekend. We had the whole resort to ourselves, and it was an amazing experience.

I know some people have complained about the dust and cleanlines, but given that we went here during the monsoons, everything was washed clean.

Some visitors, have complained about general cleanliness and maintenance. But you have to remember that this is a 100+ year old palace. There will be construction issues. To see how much they have actually improved the rooms. Walk up to the 2nd floor and peep into some of the rooms that are still to be renovated and you will realise how far this property has come.

The service was excellent and I have hardly seen a cleaner kitchen.

The only recommendation I have for this place is to have brighter lights in the rooms (or at least one bright light per room) the yellow light is very atmospheric, but given that there is not much else to do in Morbi, I would visit the Darbargadh palace to relax and read or write or do other creative stuff and I would love to have brighter light for it.

The food is absolutely excellent and we had the most amazing shahi tukda, laal maas, pepper chicken, soups etc etc. The range of food is so large, that it was too much for us, so after the first meal, we insisted that they reduce the number of items served to us, because it was so difficult to manage portion control with such great food.

Room Tip : “There is no lift, so if you don't want to climb, opt for the Vijayba Mahal on the ground floor or maximum first floor, rather than Mayurdhwaj Mahal on the second floor.”

Rating : 4 / 5

Value : 4 / 5
Location : 4 / 5
Sleep Quality : 5 / 5
Rooms : 5 / 5
Cleanliness : 3 / 5
Service : 5 / 5

Saturday, August 3, 2013

United States of Ahmedabad

Very interesting documentary style video on youtube about the attitude of Gujaratis/Ahmdavadis regarding USA - living there, working there, studying there, their food habits etc

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

EME Dakshinamurthi Mandir / Temple - Baroda

The EME Temple / Dakshinamurthy Temple, was built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) Corps of the Indian Army in the 1960's.

The entire temple is built out of aluminum waste and features modern geodesic architecture. The main deity in this temple is Dakshinamurthy - Shiva as supreme teacher. It is run by the Indian Army Authorities, and incorporates holy symbols of all the main religions of India since the army do not have separate places of worship for different faiths.

The 4 Semi -Elliptical Entrances of the temple are reminiscent of Jain Temples.
The Dome comes from Islamic Architecture.
The Tower is modelled on the Bell towers of Christian churches.
The Golden Taper above the dome represents Buddhism.

The Kalash on top of the tower symbolizes Hinduism.

The main deity in this temple is Dakshinamurthy - Shiva as supreme teacher. The idol faces the South and is believed to impart his teachings to the world, facing that direction.  Shiva is seen in human form with his foot pressing down on a demon which symbolises the distractions that keep a student from focussing and concentrating on his studies or work.

There are a few smaller shrines around the main temple dedicated to Ganesh, Radha Krishna, Ram Sita Laxman Hanuman and Sai Baba. There is also a cave modeled on the Amarnath Gufa which has a shivling made of ice.

There is a banyan grove of 5 trees called Panchavati. The trees have grown in such a manner, that it is difficult to say where one ends and the other begins.

The garden around the temple is green and has 106 statues ranging from the 6th to the 16th century. My favourite was the beautifully carved statue of Suryadev in all his glory on his chariot drawn by multiple horses.

There is a beautiful statue of Buddha at the other end of the garden. And if you cross the road after the Buddha, you will arrive at the simple Gurudwara.

For Visitors:
The EME Temple is open from 6:30am-8:30pm to outsiders.
You need to carry an identity document of some kind and register with the army authority at the gate before going in.
You need to take off your shoes when walking around the garden too, so be aware.

Note : Photography is prohibited in this Army Area, the pictured above is sourced via google/Flickr

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pure Drinks - Real Fruit Sorbets

I met the husband-wife couple behind Pure Drinks at their stall at a recent exhibition at Rajpath Club.

They sell frozen blended fresh fruits. While they have labelled their products as sorbets, they can be used to make fresh fruit juice, fruit sodas or milkshake or even as toppings for ice-creams. The sorbets are 100% pure and natural with no added flavours.

They can't be used in tarts because once they melt, the consistency is completely liquid.

Most of their products have added sugar, but they also have some sugarless options. They also promised me that if I order in advance, they can make me sorbets in whichever flavour they offer without any added sugar.

They offer over 50+ varieties depending on the season. The Sorbets are sold in 1/2kg and 1 kg bottles. Fast selling variants like Faalsa are sold in 5kg bottles too. They don't just offer simple flavours, but also a gamut of combinations like Kiwi Pina (Kiwi + Pineapple), Kiwi Heart (Kiwi + Apple), Herbal amla, Muskiwi (Musk melon + kiwi) among others.

The product is frozen and they say that as long as you keep it frozen, it can last for a year. When you want to use, just take it out of the freezer, scoop as much as required and return the jar to the freezer.

They can be contacted at
Pure Drinks
B 1004 Prernasikhar Apartment
B/s Bodakdev Fire Station
Judges Bungalow Road

Phone: 079 2685 7082, 97129 78724

Email : and

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Flying in India with Pets

I've seen the question asked on multiple forums online and instead of repeating myself every time, I decided to put down our experiences with flying with our cat, here in one place, so its easy to find for anyone looking for this information.

We fly our pet when we relocate and that happens almost every year or so. I would not recommend flying pets just for a holiday, because the stress that the pre to post flight procedures forces on them isn't worth it. Once you read the rest of my post, you will realise why I say that it is a stressful process for you and your pet. Its not as simple as packing your pet in a suitcase and heading out to catch a flight.

In India : We've flown our cat in 2011 by Jet Airways from Delhi to Guwahati and by Spice Jet in 2012 from Guwahati to Ahmedabad via Kolkatta. (they are the only 2 domestic airlines in India that have facility for carrying pets, and that too on not all their aircraft)

Basically, you need to inform the airlines at least a week in advance that you plan to travel with a pet and check that there is space and capability to carry the pet on that particular flight (they aren't allowed to carry more than 2 pets at a time).

You may be busy with packing up your house, but this is more important to close, you do not want any last minute surprises. Certain breeds of dogs and cats aren't accepted for flight travel. Mostly snub nosed pets - because they have higher difficulty breathing in extreme conditions.

You need to have the carrier yourself, which fits IATA norms (tall enough for your pet to stand in and turn around, an absorbent mat and safety features)

(I heavily recommend reading : Dubai Kennels & Cattery article on travel boxes)

I also recommend getting your pet used to the box at least a week before traveling, so they aren't freaked out on the day of travel. Let them sleep in the box (leaving it open), feed them a couple of treats when they are in there, so the thought of the box/carrier doesn't add additional stress on them.

Feed your pet and water him/her at least 2 hours before leaving home, so the food digests and lowers the chance of them throwing up during turbulence or due to fright at the strangeness of the experience.

You need to check in at least 3 hours before your flight (to give yourself and the airlines enough time to complete their checks and requirements) with an up-to-date vaccination certificate and a letter from the vet (less than a week old) that the pet is fit to fly. Always carry at least 2-3 copies of these documents and keep the originals with you, it saves stress and last minute running around for copies.

Also its easier if 2 humans accompany the pet, so the running around (if any) within the airport is easily managed. One stays in one location talking in a low murmur and keeping the pet calm and the other rushes around the airport meeting the right people and finishing the formalities.

At the airport, they might need you to take your pet out of the carrier, so that they can screen your carrier. They weigh the cat + carrier and charge a flat excess baggage rate per kilo for transportation (experience on these 2 trips, someone mentioned that Jet airways is now charging a flat fee of 5000/-Rs)

I didn't have to take her out at either Cairo or Dubai airports, but in Cairo we had to go 5 hours before to the cargo village to check her in. Procedures differ. Try and find out as much in advance as you can. even if it means driving to the airport a week in advance, to talk to someone who handles pet freight with your carrier.

In Delhi, Jet has a scanner that scans larger luggage, away from the normal screening, so its less crowded, but yeah it is scary for a cat to be taken out in a strange location and I normally add a few more long tattoos to my already scarred back. At the airport, I'm the one who holds her, because hubby just isn't confident that he can hold on to her once her self defense mechanisms start kicking in. The airlines in India don't understand that cats unlike dogs don't do well in open spaces.

In Egypt, I have heard of so many cases of cats running out of their carriers when someone opened them "by mistake" or the carrier broke due to bad handling. Obviously most aren't found again, so yes I'm paranoid. I prefer to exhibit fullblown OCD when traveling with our cat. This is the one occasion when I don't care what people think of me and just do what I think I need to do, to make sure that she travels safely

Once all the checking is done, I attach 2 -3 baggage ties to each other and reseal her carrier by looping it through the grills in front of the carrier and the side - this is an additional lock because of a fear in my mind, that seeing a cage that can be opened easily, someone along the way, might want to open the cage to take a closer look at her and our cat is very fast at slipping out and running away especially with someone who isn't used to her lightning reflexes and self defense mechanisms.

Even if we come across as paranoid, irritating or OCD, I always double and triple check at every stage that she has been loaded (I ask the air hostesses, I ask them to reconfirm with the pilot, I reconfirm that the airconditioning has been turned on in that pet hold etc) until we reach our destination. I talk to the guy with the walkie talkie outside the aircraft when we come out, the guy at the baggage carousel etc, until our cat is brought back to us and back in our hands.

Being a cat, I talk to her and calm her down, but I resist strongly the instinct to open her carrier or even give her water until we have finally arrived to our new house and I've double checked that all windows and doors are tightly shut. No matter how pitifully she mews.

I always carry her foodbowls and a familiar toy, that I give her as soon as we reach home, so she realises that this is her new home.

On our longer journeys (Cairo-Dubai 2009 + Dubai-Delhi 2010 both by Emirates) I put a used banyan/undershirt of my husbands on top of her mat, so she could get his smell during the trip and that gave her extra comfort during this new scary experience.

Also, in all my research and chats with other pet owners, vets and pet care centers - the consensus is that you should not sedate your pet if he/she is traveling as luggage/cargo. Your pet needs to be awake and alert, so they can maintain their balance and not get hurt if there is turbulence. Also there is higher risk of them choking on their vomit if they are sedated. So while your pet may be subjected to discomfort by not being sedated, it is safer for them in the long run.

However if your pet is traveling in the cabin with you (allowed in US & Europe, it the pets soft carrier can fit under the seat), it makes definite sense to sedate them, so they don't meow or bark their heads off in flight and hassle every other passenger on the flight.

Hope this information helps prepare you for flying with your pet.

The only other advice I would give : is try and keep yourself calm, because our pets pick up on our stress levels very easily and just us being stressed can stress them out too.

For more details on each airlines policies, click on the following links for:
Jet Airways
Spice Jet

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Jambughoda Palace - A Home For Nature Lovers

Jambughoda Palace - A Home For Nature Lovers
District Panchmahal,
Jambughoda 389390,

We spent the night here on our way back from Champaner towards Ahmedabad via Sankheda, thinking it would be a lovely place to rest in the midst of wildlife, greenery and a Royal setting to boot.

While this is the location of the Palace of the local king, the rooms available for rent are in what used to be a guest house. Rooms are extremely basic, with decent airconditioning. Cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired (I understand leaves and dust in a nature setting, I don't accept, weeks worth of peeled off paint on the floor)

Also, if you can't sleep in a room with creepie crawlies - spiders, lizards, etc etc, then this is definitely not the place for you.

The food here is excellent. Personally, I'd just stop here for a meal, rather than staying over and drive to Baroda or Ahmedabad for the night.

Rating : 3 / 5

Value : 4 / 5
Location :  3 / 5
Sleep Quality : 3 / 5
Rooms : 2 / 5
Cleanliness : 2 / 5
Service : 3 / 5

Friday, May 31, 2013

Video of the Ravivari Bazaar / Sunday Market

This is a lovely video shot by Yash Pandya and Rachit Patel of the Market that happens every Sunday under Ellis Bridge. The video captures and encapsulates a day at this market.

Its a short 4.11minute video and definitely worth a watch.