This year the Ganpati festival was celebrated from the 25th to 29th August, we celebrate it for only five days at my place. Sharing with you all some pics from the festivity at home. It is the most happy time of the year for me, and it is a blessing to be able to celebrate the festival with all the traditional fanfare even when residing out of our home country.
I make all the prasad or Naivedyam for the Bappa at home, it is always a happy feeling to give homemade prasad to all the guests, friends, and visitors who visit our home for Bappas darshan during the five days. Also, it is a tradition in my house to eat food in banana leaves after the first day stapna and puja of the Bappa, this mother’s efforts to keep her kids connected to the traditions observed during the festivals.
Wishing you all have a blessed year. Ganpati Bappa Morya 🙂
The beauty of nature in my surroundings always draws me towards it and distracts me, I have to stop and capture it in my camera.
During my recent trip to Budapest, this Ivy creeper was seen covering most part of one of the buildings in the Buda Castle area, (not sure if it was History Museum).
The ever bright afternoon sun was giving a fantastic shine and shadow effect over the leaves. (the pictures may not do justice to the beautiful scenery I saw, but I still had to frame it in my camera.) 🙂
For this week’s photo challenge: Textures, I have selected the photographs from my recent travel to Vienna.
Can you guess the picture seen below??
These pictures were clicked in the Palm House Schoenbrunn, Vienna.
The textures seen on this log of wood that was lying on the floor in one of the sections of the Palm house caught my eye and I had to click this beautiful image. The bark of the tree with areas covered with moss, the growing Mushroom, the dried and decayed part of the log, and the pebbles made it too fascinating to click and here I am sharing it with you all.
For this weekly photo challenge I found this picture that I had tried capturing in my iPhone camera, but was not very happy with the result as it was not very clear. I was trying to focus the Bee Hive that was formed on one of the young tree in my friend’s garden, but with the bees flying in all directions and me avoiding being stung, it was difficult to go more closer for better focus.
But I was happy clicking this picture as it sure is very fascinating to see the bees working on the hive and to see it grow this closely, a rare sight for city dwellers 🙂 .
My entry for this Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting.
The pictures are from the Kundala Dam Lake area in Munnar, Kerala, India. I found it to be a very beautiful spot that instantly charmed this city dweller who got drawn to this serene, peaceful place and felt the perfect nature’s paradise. I wished we could stay longer and explore the area, do the boating, but we could not. The boating was closed and we could not enjoy the water more. The extremely tall Nilgiri (Eucalyptus) trees all around, and the thick forest with different variety of trees some with colored leaves (we had visited Kerala in March month) reflecting in the water below, it was a very silent and soothing time for me, perfect escape from bustling madness and traffic chaos of the place where I live.
The Houseboat stay and ride through the backwaters in Alleppey in Kerala too was thoroughly enjoyed, calming and soothing with fantastic view all around, a must include.
I would highly recommend a tour of Kerala, rightfully called as Gods own Country, if you have not yet visited it.
This picture is from my most recent India visit, returned home just last week. This was clicked when visiting my dad’s village near the banks of the river Wainganga, around noon with the summer temperature being above 43+ deg C. The huge tree provided the must needed shade when we got down from the AC cars and took shelter under the tree. Most were unawares of the danger lurking around with the creepy crawling creatures moving nearby, my eyes caught this little fellow changing color and I quickly captured the picture.
(Can you all spot the Chameleon in the picture ?!) 🙂
For this weekly photo challenge I have decided to share some pictures from God’s Own Country 🙂 , yes our Kerala tour, capturing nature’s bounty of some of the dense fruits and flowers that were seen around the cities in Kerala, India.
The visit to Georgia in July 2016 introduced me to this dish- Khinkhali, a dish that I find to be a similar version of Momos that I am so very fond of eating and making in my kitchen.
The first lunch after landing in Tbilisi, Georgia in a restaurant in the busy Tbilisi Center, the menu card displayed this bigger version of dumplings that looked similar to momos. The guide told us it is called Khinkali and also informed us the way how we were supposed to eat it. It is a boiled dumpling with filling inside, a fried version could also be seen in the menu card. The inside filling could be of either Beef, lamb, chicken, potatoes or cheese etc. The menu card in the restaurant displayed the various Khinkali that were sold.
While visiting the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mtskheta, we stopped for lunch in the neighboring restaurant and I was able to see and click these amazing pictures of the Khinkali in making.
The Khinkali are shaped and kept on a board and are ready to be put into boiling water.
The hot Khinkali is then served to us and we hold at the folded top part and eat the rest of the khinkali and leave behind the top thick part on the plate. The filling is as per our choice and order.
I find it interesting to note that the mountainous regions are colder and one needs food that is easy to make, simple, and hot. The Nepal travel saw steaming hot momos being listed on the menu cards, the Georgian travel to the Mtshekta region saw the Khinkali in the process of making. This Georgian dish is famous throughout the country, and I would like to add here that it is similar to the steamed Momos, only the size is bigger and also the coating seems to be thicker. The potato and cheese filled Khinkali was too bland for my taste with only salt added , hence I could not relish them both.
Travelling to places makes us aware of not only the region, landscape and people but also the food habits and one finds a lot of similarities in food across far-flung regions with similar dishes but having the regional names. I find similarity of the Khinkali to the dumplings that one gets to see in a Chinese, or Tibetan or a Nepal menu. Do take every opportunity to travel, so that the foodies like me get to learn new recipes after each tour 🙂
I have tried making my version of the Khinkali yesterday and that will be my next post, so do return to check that out too 🙂 .
I have always been fascinated to click pictures of the road that lays ahead or passed by while I am sitting in the passenger seat of the moving vehicle. These pictures are from our Barbecue picnic outing with friends in the month of January 2017 to the Jabal Al Jais mountains in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. We have to crisscross through the mountains to reach to the point at the top until where the road is open for public use, construction is still seen in progress further up this point.
The Jais mountain is part of the Hajar mountain range bordering Oman. The tallest part of the Hajar mountain range lies in the neighboring Oman and the Jais mountain is the second largest of it that lies in the UAE.
This is the view from one of the mountain top that we had hiked to after parking the car at the end of the motor-able road that is open to public. The view is breathtakingly beautiful to see from here; the cotton candy clouds, the sun rays giving a golden glow, the blue clear skies and the chilling winter air that sends a shiver through us, it indeed was a beautiful long drive that is worth driving on.
You can check out my post on the Jabal Al Jais mountain here.
This picture is from my recent travel to India. While visiting the Ganpati temple in a city in Maharashtra, India, I stopped to chat with this smiling lady, a fruit and vegetable vendor. I requested her for permission to click her picture, and she smilingly agreed telling me that many stop and click her picture 🙂 .
The old lady is portraying the Maharashtrian look of a married woman, wearing the traditional nine-yard sari called ‘Navvari, the Maharashtrian jewelry-the Mangalsutra, the Motiychi Nath (Pearl nose pin), the green glass bangles called ‘Chuda’ with the gold Patli (bangles) and the red Kumkum (Vermilion) on her forehead. It felt wonderful to capture the warmth and happiness in her smiling face, the long journey of hardship of life seen in the somewhat tired eyes, yet the pride with which she wore her traditional attire. For me this was a graceful and elegant old lady, hence my choice of photograph for this WPC.
The UAE is a country that is a federation of seven kingdoms or Emirates. The capital is Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven Emirates, and the other six Emirates are-Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.
The first impression of the UAE as a tourist way long back was that it is a Desert country. Back then I had visited Dubai with little or absolutely no knowledge of the country (yes, how ignorant I was I to wonder now!!). It sure was a very different place as compared to now, none of today’s famous landmarks like the Burj Khalifa or the Dubai Mall or Atlantis, and not even the Metro, but still I had loved my visit. It was beautiful to visit this place where one could see people from so many countries living in harmony. The visit to Mall of the Emirates left me awestruck , never had seen a Ski slope inside a mall. The Desert Safari too was the most exciting and magical experience, a must do for visitors I would say. The thrill, and at the same time the scare, of the SUV ride climbing and coming down through the steep sand dunes was a first ever experience, the beauty of the Desert sands, the wilderness around and the camp in the center, it sure is something one should experience if you ever visit this country.
I am now a resident of this beautiful country and I sure love this place. The country, especially Dubai has seen tremendous growth, and I am witness to the ever growing change in this place, something new is always upcoming and we see constant development. The infrastructure, the public service transport, the civic facilities are top class, the greenery too is so evident and the seasonal flowers add so much color to the roads and surroundings during the harsh summer months. The pristine beaches, huge well-kept parks, are the best to enjoy family gatherings, barbecues, and also picnics with friends during the cooler months.
This country not only has the Desert sands, the beautiful beaches but also has magnificent mountains too. The landscape completely changes as we travel to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, the other smaller Emirates of the UAE. The car drive trips up the Jebel Hafeet Mountain are the best mountain rides I have had, and was keen to do the Jabal Al Jais mountain road drive since I came to know about couple months ago. I was looking up to go on as the weather became cooler, and finally in December 2016 I was able to go. The road was fairly recently opened and is still under developed in terms of tourist interest things, but one can simply enjoy the long drive.
I enjoyed this drive and if you looking out for a long drive experience and being in nature then you might too. The vegetation around would be only the Ghaf trees that is seen in these parts of the desert, we do spot mountain goats that are seen roaming around, some even very high at the top of some mountain. The road passed through the rugged, wind scared surface of the mountains that which gave it a beautiful and carved look. It was very cold at the top of the mountain, and by evenings the temperature dropped and was too cold for a single hoodie and jeans clad me. The heater of our SUV was our rescue. A word of caution, if you are driving in the December month be equipped with proper winter wear as the temperatures drop in the evenings at the top of Jais Mountains.
Driving to Ras Al Khaimah from Sharjah takes about a little more than an hour, depending on the traffic. As one drives on towards Ras Al Khaimah, the road passes through the desert surroundings and on entering the emirate we can see the mountains in the backdrop.
I have driven through the other mountainous regions-Kalba, Fujairah, but first time to this Jabal Jais and hence the excitement to know what lay in store ahead. The Jais mountain is part of the Hajar mountain range bordering Oman. The tallest part of the Hajar mountain range lies in the neighboring Oman and the Jais mountain is the second largest of it that lies in the UAE.
After entering Ras Al Khaimah, following the Google Maps App of the cellphone we were lead on to the road leading to the mountains. I did see proper sign boards guiding us to the Jais Mountains. We had selected the cafeteria at top of the Jais Mountains on the App. It was a cloudy and windy day and the late afternoon sun played hide and seek, it sure gave some spectacular view of the surroundings, a nature lover couldn’t ask for more.
We ate our homemade packed lunch amidst the flat ground that was surrounded by the mountain range from all side. This ground area is with toilet facility, a camping & barbecue site. It is a favorite recreation for people living in the UAE to go outdoors or camping in the winter /cooler climate. Long drives, barbecues, picnicking are some of the most sought out activities during the Nov to Feb months. I too had gone for long drive and camping to Musandam in Oman (Hajar Mountain range) a couple years back during the Eid break in October.
After lunch and clicking numerous pictures with the camera and also selfies in my cell phone, we continued on our drive uphill. The ride was smooth except for the occasional speed breakers with most drivers driving cautiously, and the sun helping to give us spectacular view and different shades of the mountains. It was a magical experience at times with lovely sun rays highlighting some parts of the mountain and same time making other part dark. Though I missed on the thrill of driving on this road, but was enjoying the view and clicking pictures sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV.
Nearing the top we did see stops for viewing the panorama and one could halt and park the car to soak in the view. The look below of the zigzag road around the mountains to reach to the top was spell-binding from the top. The humongous natural beauty reminded me how minuscule my existence in contrast to the surroundings. In spite of this, each one of us matter and are important on this face of the Earth, a thought that I absolutely love. The view was breathtaking, the wind was super cold, and the sun was at its best, disappearing and surfacing again and giving us the perfect picture moments.
The top most part is still not accessible, but we can drive to almost near it. There is space allotted to park, camp, as well as to view the mountain from the top part. We saw many families were seated around with bonfires, some using their barbecues, some even had set up tents, and many simply crowding near the cafeteria that was set up in a truck. It was serving hot Karak chai (hot tea), coffee, soft drinks, water, snacks, biscuits. It was well stocked on the basic supplies that a picnicker would need, even disposable plates and glasses. So even if the picnic party is short of any eatables or essentials the cafeteria guy seemed to have it all. The garbage pickup trucks were busy collecting the garbage and ensuring the place is clean. It is very difficult to see many folks litter around and spoil the natural habitat, I feel it is so very important to do our part to collect our own garbage when visiting such locations and help to protect the environment. It is upon us to preserve the natural habitats.
It was almost dusk and hence low visibility for the camera to get the best shot of the construction and development below that was seen from the top.
The sea was visible to the naked eye, but the camera picture does not show it very clear. For this I do plan to visit the place again, and also to wear my sneakers that I had completely forgotten as it was not a planned outing to the mountains. Do wear comfortable footwear if you love hiking, it could be a painful fall if one missed a step on deciding to climb the reachable mountain tops after parking the car. I did see many visitors climbing the smaller peaks of the mountains and getting the hiking experience, something that I missed as I was wearing fit flops. After enjoying piping hot cups of the Karak chai and coffee and cookies from the cafeteria and watching the lovely sunset colors on the horizon, we started our return drive downhill.
Do note the road has no electric poles and hence the zigzag drive downhill in darkness would be very risky. We started the drive before it was pitch dark.
I did read recent newspaper articles that stated people camping for the night at the top. It would be a very very cold night out at the top with temperatures dropping to very low in December-January months.
I loved sharing my experience of this long drive to the Jais mountain top. Hope you readers do find it interesting and get the joy of this drive on any of the days as long as the weather permits it.
My entry for this week’s photo challenge: Relax are a few photographs from my visit to the beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai, UAE.
I enjoy and always look forward to visiting the beach. Just standing on the beach in the sand near the waves that are lashing the feet, the feet sinking further into the sand with me completely engrossed looking out ahead at the vast stretches of the sea and the distant horizon, totally lost to the world around, the perfect moments that make me happy and totally relaxed. Dubai and also some other places in the UAE have amazing beaches and parks to visit to.
For this entry I have selected pictures from my visit to the open beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel, one of the most famous Dubai landmarks. It also has a long jogging track, a fantastic place to visit for walking or jogging on weekends or on any other day for that matter 🙂 if one stays nearby.
As I thought about the things that matter so much during this festive time, the November & December time of the year, so many things came to mind to post about without which it can never be this season of the year. Selecting just a couple of them for this post.
It will never be Diwali festivity without the oil Diyas, the floating candles, the fresh Marigold and Mango leaves garland to hang on the entrance door of the house, the rangolis, the Diwali faral/snacks etc. etc. and my list would go on and on 🙂 .
Maharashtrian Diwali Faral/snacks can never be complete without this goodie-Anarsa on the plate.
The winter season brings with it the seasons best fruits and vegetables, the holidays would not be complete without these fresh and sweet juicy Nagpur Oranges, the Nasik Guavas, and the Singadas. The taste of these delicious fruits is so badly missed every winter if I am not visiting India.
Finally, the December month brings to mind the memories of the house filled with divine & heavenly aroma of my homemade freshly baked cakes, the Christmas time would not be complete without the special Dry fruit soaked Cake.
For recipe of the Dried Cranberry & Blueberry Loaf click here. Do checkout ashus other cakes and muffin recipes in the archives.
Just writing this post makes me want to bake something right away , but I know I will have to wait as I have other plans for today :), it is the 45th UAE National day today here in the UAE 🙂 .
My entry for the WPC: Tiny dated November 11, 2016.
This beautiful picture is from my Nepal tour, took this out from my photo archives to share here.
We had just checked-in to our hotel in Nagarkot in Nepal and went out for a stroll in the evening, the sun was yet to set and we wanted to see around the neighborhood. This mother hen and her tiny chicks came walking along from somewhere, and the vast stretch of the road and dried leaves provided the chicks the perfect camouflage. It was a beautiful sight and I could not miss opening my camera to capture it 🙂 .