Friday, February 15, 2013

Gangtok-Pelling-Darjeeling Part 1

Earlier this month on 4th Feb, we set out on a 8D/7N trip to Sikkim and Darjeeling. Starting our journey at 5 in the morning from Bangalore, changing flights at Delhi, we finally arrived in Bagdogra, West Bengal, at 1:45 pm after almost 9 hours. Our first destination was Gangtok in North Sikkim. The distance between Bagdogra and Gangtok was only 125 km, but the roads were so bad that it took us four hours to reach Gangtok. We had lunch at a small dhaba in Bagdogra and started our journey by road at 3pm. While the weather was warm in Bagdogra, the temperatures started to fall as we went up closer towards Gangtok. By the time we arrived in Gangtok at around 7 pm, the temperature was around 12 degrees. We checked into our rooms at Ttakshang Residency, had dinner, and called it an early night. Overnight, the temperatures dipped to 2 degrees but the hotel staff were very courteous and did everything to make our stay comfortable.

Next morning, covered in winter clothes, caps, gloves etc, we set out for local sightseeing.  The local tour guides offer a full-day sightseeing covering 10 points or 7 points. It is usually between 9 am and 5 pm. Our first stop was Rumtek Monastery which was a one-hour drive from Gangtok. Built in the 16th century, it is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Gangtok. You can read more about it here. The monastery is a steep walk of nearly a km from the parking lot. So wear comfortable shoes to make it easier to climb up the slopes.

After offering our prayers at the monastery, we set out to our next stop, the Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park. 
BanJhakri Falls

Spread over nearly two acres, this energy park makes most of the abundant water available to produce power and this power helps to light the entire park including the cafeteria. Enchanting gazebos and foot bridges make this an interesting place to visit. 

After lunch at the cafeteria at Banjhakri Falls, we set out for our next destination, Ganesh Tok. Perched on a hill top, Ganesh Tok has a little Ganesh Mandir and offers a panoramic view of the entire region. Here, there were stalls offering traditional Sikkimese outfits for the tourists to dress up in. We all enjoyed dressing up as the locals and took a lot of photos posing in them. 
My husband and me dressed in traditional Sikkim outfits

Our next stop was at Tashi View Point, a steep climb up, which gave a panoramic view of the mighty Kachenzdonga, the highest peak in India and the third highest in the world. 

There's one more prominent view point, called the Hanuman Tok, which is under the military control. Since the roads leading to it were bad, we decided to skip it. 

Later we visited the Gangtok Flower Show, a greenhouse which housed hundreds of beautiful orchids and other flowers. Orchid bulbs were available for sale too. 

There are other sights worth seeing in Gangtok, like the Ranka Monastery, Dro-dul Chorten, Institute of Tibetology, but since we were seeing all these places at a leisurely pace, we couldn't cover them all. 

We returned to our hotel rooms by early evening and after freshening up, we walked down to M.G. Road, the shopping hub of Gangtok.

M.G. Road of Gangtok was unlike any other M.G. Road I have come across in India. The paved road was closed to traffic, and  potted plants and benches were placed along the middle of the road where people could sit and relax. The street was so clean, it would not be wrong to call it the cleanest street in India. In fact, we felt as if we were inside a mall rather than on the roadside. The entire stretch is dotted with quaint little eateries, sweetmeat shops, gift stores and shops selling woollen clothes. It is a great place to spend an evening, enjoying the cool weather. 

1. Carry thermal wear as the Feb weather was a tad bit too cold for us, ranging between 12-2 degrees centigrade.
2. Roads are very bad, so those with motion sickness are advised to carry medicines to be comfortable during travel.
3. Wear proper walking shoes as these hill stations have lot of slopes and steep walks to be covered on foot.
4. Food is mainly vegetarian as the culture is predominantly Buddhist. But nonveg options are also available.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Onyx, agates, quartz and some Meenakari

Decided to revive my Etsy store and so made some new jewellery to put them up for sale in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Tibetan silver earrings with brown agate beads and green quartz beads

Agate earrings with enamel cut glass spacers

Traditional Indian earrings with German silver spacers and green quartz beads

....and finally a onyx beaded necklace with Meenakari spacer beads.....

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bangalore update and some new creations

Finally settled well in a rented house in a eastern suburb of Bangalore! Lovely weather here, very pleasant days and cool nights. Feels like heaven when compared to the hot October weather of Mumbai. Getting refreshed by the quiet and calm after living in noisy Mumbai for the last several years, but we do miss the fresh produce in vegetables and fruits which were aplenty in Mumbai.

New place, and some new creations....
After being inspired by the beautiful creations of my clients who buy supplies from me, I decided to make something myself. It had been a long time since I created something beautiful. Maybe all the packing, shifting, and unpacking had taken a toll on my creativity. Now, after settling down here, and breathing in the fresh air of Bangalore, I am getting creative again.

Agate tear drops and semicultured pearls make a  beautiful choker necklace
Going bronze with brown onyx beads and bronze findings

Going traditional with green onyx beads and German silver findings 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Que sera, sera!

In June of 2005, I first landed in Mumbai as a new bride, full of dreams for a new life ahead, a little sad, but happy too. Sad because I had to leave behind, my parents, sister, friends, and all that had been a part of my existence. I had to leave my world behind to build a new life together with the love of my life. On the other hand, I was happy, excited and eager to step into a new place, start living with new people, and explore new places. I think every girl who gets married goes through these emotions, feeling both sad and happy at the same time. Today, its deja vu for me!  After spending seven wonderful years in Mumbai, it is time to move with bag and baggage to Bangalore. Today, I am sure, my husband must be feeling the same way I did when I first moved to Mumbai.  He has to leave behind everything that he grew up with and move to a new place. We are both very excited about the change as we both had wanted it from a long time, but at the same time, it is saddening for us to leave our world behind, the world that we had created lovingly over the last few years. Que sera, sera!!

Saturday, September 01, 2012


Hi there! Remember me?? Sorry for being off the radar for the last couple of months. Been busy with my supplies store and also an impending relocation which will eventually happen later this month. So I have been busy finishing my pending orders as I want them done before we leave Mumbai. Also my supplies store has expanded so much that it takes up most of my time and so I hardly get any time to sit and complete my projects. But I am enjoying it all!!

Meanwhile, I also tried my hand on some jewellery making with Tibetan silver connectors. Tibetan silver is an alloy which may contain just traces of silver if at all.  It is so much fun learning something new when the outcome is so beautiful!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My new earrings

Just last week, someone ordered a few earrings telling me only that she wants something round and dangling. I wanted to try something new and since this was a last minute order, I had to do with the things I already had in stock. There was no time to go to the store to search for something new. So I decided to learn something new to make something different from my usual collection. This is what I came up with.

The first one is a beaded creation using brick stitch, something that I tried for the very first time. I used green striated agate beads as the focal pendants. For the second one I used Swarovski crystals and sand stone beads and wire wrapped them on large round hoops, in a zigzag to break the monotony. I loved you???

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Chilli chicken with gravy recipe

I love Chinese food, or rather I love Indo-Chinese food, and chilli chicken is one of my most favourite dishes in this cuisine. 
If you grew up in the 90's and early 2000's in Mangalore, then Hao Hao is one of the places you would have frequented for Chinese food and most often than not, you would have ordered that delicious plate of chilli chicken!!!

Ever since I moved to Mumbai, I missed that Hao Hao chilli chicken. No matter how many restaurants we tried, it was never as delicious as the chilli chicken of Hao Hao.

Finally I decided to make it myself. After searching online and discussing with my friends, I finally made it today and must I say, the chicken was as succulent and tasty as the HH one. 

For the dish, boneless chicken needs to be marinated in little vinegar and some salt for 10-15 minutes. Then make a batter of beaten egg, 2 tbsp of maida and cornflour each, some grated garlic and some salt to taste. Dip the marinated chicken pieces in this batter and deep fry on medium flame until golden brown. Dont overcook it as it may make the chicken pieces hard. Drain and keep aside.

Make a gravy of your choice. I made a simple gravy with all the sauces.
In the same oil used to fry the chicken pieces, add a tbsp of chopped garlic, onion slices, sliced capsicum and some slit green chillies. Fry on high heat to allow them to remain crunchy. Make a mixture of soya sauce, red chilli sauce, tomato sauce, and some vinegar. Add it to the pan and when it starts to bubble, add a mixture of cornflour and water. Allow the gravy to thicken and then add the fried chicken pieces. Mix well and then cook covered for a couple of minutes so that the chicken pieces can absorb the gravy. Adjust salt as per taste. Remember, the sauces have salt in them already. Serve hot.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Walnut halwa

Walnuts, known as Akhrot in Hindi, are very nutritious and one of the commonly available dry fruits here. You are read more on walnuts here.

I am not very fond of walnuts, but my husband loves them. I can eat them along with other dry fruits, but never walnuts alone. Last year, at a dinner party, we tasted a new dessert, walnut halwa. It was a cold winter night and the warm halwa tasted awesome!

Today, being my husband's birthday, I decided to make this halwa. I had a whole lot of walnuts in my kitchen and luckily this recipe calls for very few and common ingredients.

Ingredients: Walnuts 1 & 1/4 cup ground coarsely
                   Ghee 1/4 cup
                   Sugar 1/2 cup
                   Milk 1 cup
                   Cardamom powder 1 tsp

Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan and fry the coarsely ground walnut powder in it until lightly brown and the ghee starts to separate. Add the milk and cook the walnut mixture on medium flame, stirring occasionally, taking care to see that it does not get burnt. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add sugar. Mix well and cook on low flame and allow to thicken to desired consistency. Garnish as desired and serve hot.

Note: For the health conscious, the amount of ghee given in this recipe can be reduced slightly. I drained off the layer of ghee that appeared on top of the halwa.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March went marching away

The month of March went by so quickly, it amazes me! We had my family visiting us and days just flew by. My seven-month-old nephew filled our lives with so much laughter and happiness that we never knew how the time passed away so soon and ever since he's left, we have missed him so much! It is so amazing that a child's innocence makes you forget everything else in life and brings so much joy and happiness around him.

Another thing that gives happiness to me is my craft and I just love the shiny acrylic beads! So many colors and so many variations to combine them with, and when the bags are lined with matching satin fabric, it just adds to the beauty of these shiny little beads. How amazing when we can create so many different things with a little thought, a little patience, and a hunger to keep learning new stuff in life!

Btw, did I tell you my sister is an Etsian too? She has opened a shop on etsy for Indian fabrics and supplies.
Do check her shop out if interested. I wish her all the success in her new venture. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Something new...

I tried my hand at something new this time...but something to do with beads itself.
I made a Russian spiral bracelet.

Though it looks delicate and takes up a lot of time, it is an easy bead weaving method. Really enjoyed it!

I have used 8/0 and 11/0 seed beads for this bracelet.


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