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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Trident Gurgaon by day and by night

14 Feb 2011: Trident Gurgaon @ Delhi, India

Stepped into Trident Gurgaon, you would immediately comprehend why it was voted as Asia’s Leading Luxury Hotel at the World Travel Awards in 2010. Located at the central business district of Gurgaon (a part of the New Delhi National Capital Region), the hotel is only 10 kms from the airport and can be reached within 20 minute drive on a normal day traffic.

This award-winning hotel has seven acres of landscaped gardens, walkways, courtyards, reflection pools and fountains.

And an outdoor swimming pool that is heated during winter…

 I stayed in a Superior Room with a view of the gardens.

Trident Gurgaon at night has its charm in a different light…

I am in Delhi this week attending a conference. Delhi has changed so much since my last visit in 2007. It has rekindled my interest to see and explore the “New” Delhi…

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15 Feb 2011: Bukhara @ ITC Hotel Maurya Sheraton & Towers, New Delhi

Internationally acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in Asia, Bukhara have been serving cuisine of the Northwest Frontier Province (currently the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan) since 1977. President Clinton and other visiting heads of state, celebrities and royalty alike had been delighted by the succulent kebabs, grilled to perfection in the Bukhara’s open kitchen. All of its chefs underwent extensive training in the art of marinating and cooking in a tandoor, a traditional Indian clay oven that provided better retention of all juices and flavors. Bukhara does not take reservations; therefore, go early or be ready to wait in a queue.

Pic with Joni

Its rustic interior is another drawn-in attraction of this pricey restaurant – rough stone walls, dark-timble tables and we had to sit on small wooden stools. To encourage diners to savor the restaurant’s juicy kebabs with their hands, cutlery is withheld and aprons are provided.

Pic with Claire and Stephane

The menu was developed by the late Master Chef Mandanlal Jaiswal. Today, it is still followed religiously and meticulously. The appetizers were homemade cheese sauteed with fresh ginger, garlic, onion and tomato and meat samosas of spicy turnovers stuffed with minced lamb and spices. On the sides were freshly cut onions and chilled yogurt dressings.

  

  

  

Bukhara is heavy on meat and really isn’t a good place for vegetarians. I loved the murgh malai kebab, a boneless chicken marinated with cream cheese, malt vinegar, and green coriander. For red-meat lovers, don’t miss the signature sikandari raan, the tender leg of lamb marinated in herbs. The jumbo prawns were equally memorable.

  

  

Above all is Bukhara’s dal, its rich and creamy black lentils simmered overnight with tomatoes, ginger, and garlic. My colleague, Rohit, told me that this was the best in India and probably the top in the world too. See our happy faces?

  

Pic with Kim and Paula

The homemade ice cream had certainly sweetened many faces with its exotic concoction of saffron, pistachoi and nuts.
 
     Carolina, Yuan and Kim

Pic with Donna and Ed

What a wonderful night of great food and joyous fun…

Pic with Johann

Pic with Zorina and Jodi

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16 Feb 2011: Kingdom of Dreams @ Delhi, India

Want to live the beautiful and colourful Indian dreams? Most of us might have to seek solace at the Kingdom of Dreams, India’s first live entertainment, theatre and leisure destination. Spreading over 6 acres of land, this magical dreamland was first opened to the public on 18 September 2010.

 

As we stepped into the courtyard, we were spellbound by the huge structure with a crystal blue skyroof towering above us.

Our tired souls were greeted by the distinctive, loud music and colourful performances. The orchestra of dream-like lasers brightened the courtyard, as well as our weary spirits.  

Culture Gully

The Culture Gully is a lavish air-conditioned boulevard, filled with themed restaurants, street performances, artisans and handicraft stores. It has a 100,000 square feet artifical blue sky dome with “soft white clouds”. 

The boulevard showcased a kaleidoscope of India’s unique cultural diversity. Besides shopping and eating, you can indulge in other experiences such as palm reading and tea sipping. A memorable walk along this street will stimulate all your five senses and bring you closer to India’s rich culture, architecture, crafts and traditions.

I was attracted by this gigiantic Buddha painting at the centre of the Culture Gully. His calm expression was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle in the boulevard…

IIFA Buzz Cafe

Our reception was held at the IIFA Buzz Cafe.  Located on the first floor of Culture Gulley, this Bollywood-themed bar showcases Bollywood memorabilia, the IIFA ( International Indian Film Academy) Awards trophy and movie posters.

Culture Gully is a gourmet’s paradise with authentic Indian cuisine from various regions. The restaurant that I dined in has this magnificant mask at its entrance. I could not really recall a favourite dish from the restaurant but the local Kulfi ice cream was memorable.

Nautanki Mahal

Nautanki Mahal is an extravaganza, mega Indian cinema, staging electrifying on-stage spectacle of Bollywood-styled musical. We did not watch the musical but could not resist taking a photo of this enchanting carving of a Sleeping Buddha on the side wall… 

As the coach left the magical Kingdom of Dreams, my memory was strangely lingered on this still moment at a handicraft shop. How often we are, just like these busy shoppers, looking furiously and sometimes frantically for quick takeaway of worldly materials? And hoped that it could momentarily retain a little piece of this Kingdom of Dreams? 

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Basant Lok

17 Feb 2011: Basant Lok @ Delhi, India

We were at Basant Lok to do some market researches. Often addressed by the locals as “Priya” (after the name of the cinema), it has became increasingly popular shopping area for Delhiites living in the south-western parts of the city. Managed to capture moments of these street vendors setting up their stalls along Basant Lok…

In the last couple days, I had seen many animals “roaming” in the city – buffalos, cows, dogs, goat, monkeys and even an elephant (on a highway, no joke!). But look what I found along the road today? Make no mistake, it’s a wild boar!

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The Red Fort

18 Feb 2011: Red Fort @ Old Delhi, India

Today was a free and easy day. The six of us (Alan, BK, Jackie, Pornsiri, Warapan and me) drew out a “perfect” plan to visit several places of interest in Delhi. We hired a hotel car and left Trident Gurgaon at 9 am. However, executing the itinerary proved to be a tall order in this densely populated city and the impasse traffic conditions. It was nearly 10.30 am when we reached our first destination – the Red Fort

#1: Old Delhi – The Red Fort

The Red Fort (or Lal Qila in the local language) is a 17th century fort complex constructed along the River Yamuna. The complex is an irregular octagon, surrounded by a wall about 2.4 km in circumference and is built of red sandstones.

The fort was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan (the king  who also built the Taj Mahal) who transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi. It was completed a decade later in 1648 and it served as the capital of the Mughals until 1857, when Mughal emperor was exiled by the British Indian government. The British used it as a military camp until India gained independent in 1947. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

The fort has two main entrances. We entered the Red Fort through the Lahore Gate which faces the famed Chandni Chowk market.

Red Fort Main Gate

 

Chhatta Chowk

“Chhatta Chowk” means bazaar, which in the 17th century India was extremely unusual rare. Walking through the Lahori Gate, we immediately entered into this covered passage, flanked by arcaded shops on both sides. On each side, it contained 32 arched bays that served as shops selling silk, gold and silverwares, jewellery and gems.

Drum House

The Naubat Khana or Drum House stands at the entrance to the complex. In the days of glory, the musicians from the Drum House announced the arrival of the Emperor or other prominent royals at the court of the public audience. 

Hall of the Public Audience

The fort has the Diwan-i-Am, where the king would grant audience to the public and heard their grievances.

In the centre of the Hall stands a marble canopy covered by a “Bengal roof”, under which was placed the Emperor’s throne. Behind the canopy, the wall is decorated with beautiful panels inlaid with multi-coloured stones. 

Palace of Colours

The Rang Mahal or Palace of Colours is the water cooled apartment for the royal ladies. It is divided into six apartments by engrailed arches set on piers. Over the walls and ceilings of these apartments are embeded tiny pieces of mirrors which reflect light and creat a pictureque effect.

 

 

Hall of Private Audience

The Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of the Private Audience was used by the emperor for the reception of important guests such as kings, ambassadors and nobles in private and to deal with important affairs of the state. It was no surprise that the pavilion was clad completely in marble, the pillars are decorated with floral carvings and inlay work with many semi-precious stones.

Stream of Paradise

The imperial private apartments consist of pavilions that sits on a raised platform along the eastern edge of the fort overlooking the River Yamuna. Water is drawn from River Yamuna runs through the centre of each pavilion. This water channel is known as the Nahr-i-Behisht, or the “Stream of Paradise”, a design imitating the paradise as it is described in the Koran. Thus, a couplet repeatedly inscribed in the palace reads, “If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here”.

We spent a full hour at the Red Fort. In order to keep in time with plan, we agreed to skip the visit to Chandni Chowk market.

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Jama Masjid

18 Feb 2011: Jama Masjid @ Old Delhi, India

#2: Old Delhi – Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid is the country’s largest and best known mosque where thousands of Muslims offer prayers even today. Again, it was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal and completed in 1656.  It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, the Chawri Bazar Road. The flight of stairs and its large courtyard are marvels of its architecture.

Unfortunately, today was Friday and we (non-Muslims) were not allowed into the mosque at certain hours. “It’s prayer time for the Muslims now. You can come back at 1.30 pm”, the guard at the gate told us.

Not wanting to wait till 1.30 pm, we decided to move on to the next destination. Perhaps, these children sensed our disappointment and insisted on taking a picture with us at base of the stair.

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The Old Delhi Bazaars

18 Feb 2011: Old Delhi, India

#3: Old Delhi – Bazaars

For every door that closes, a window opens up another world to us. On the way back from Jama Masjid, we had to walk through these Old Delhi bazaars or markets. Look at the amazing sights which we found!

A local three-wheeler driver, waiting patiently to pick up a passenger…

Mutton sellers…

A rare sight of live poultry stalls…

A fish monger with his long knife…

Local snack and street food vendors…

An old man preparing a cup of traditional chai with milk (tea)

Freshly squeezed orange juice, any taker?

A hawker who sold only pineapples…

Dry good sellers…

Meena Bazaar

Meena Bazaar is the local market located next to the Gate No. 2 of the Jama Masjid Mosque.

Look! The amazing art of head balance…

The weather was hot. How about cold lemonade to squench the thirst?

A boy dispensing drinking water for thirsty customers.

Even the goats were sucking water from the leaking taps…

Oh, I really loved these colourful insightful bazaars!

#4: Akshardham Temple

The Akshardham Temple is an imposing and magnificant work of architecture located on the eastern banks of the River Yamuna. It was said that no steel has been used in the structure consisting of 12,000 tonnes of sandstones and white marble. The entry to the temple is free. No haversack, carrying bags or any electronic items such as camera and cell phone are allowed and all these items has to be deposited at the cloak room. The queue for security check was already unbelievably long when we reached there. It was 1.20 pm. So, we agreed to abandon the plan to enter into the Akshardham Temple and went straight to Connaught Place for lunch. Here’s a picture of the temple (limited view) taken at the entrance. 

With a full view, it would look like this…

#5: Connaught Place

Better known as CP, the Connaught Place is the heart of shopping in New Delhi.  This commercial hub of Delhi followed the Victorian-styled architecture, which was reproduction of the Royal Crescent in Bath, England. The glamour of CP attracts everyone for both their love for shopping and entertainment. The business shops varies from big car showrooms to even a small grocery store. The colorful crowd adds up to vibrant glory of this historic place.

For us, we were very focused speeding on fastfood to kill our hunger pangs. In record time, we left CP within 30 minutes…

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