Category Archives: India

Revisiting Jaisalmer

I first learned about the city of Jaisalmer from my boss back in 2006 or so. He told me he was taking his nephew on a trip to India and one thing they were doing was going on a camel trek through the desert. I remember thinking how cool that sounded and the idea always stuck with me that Jaisalmer was definitely a place I’d like to visit.

Fast-forward to 2013 when I finally made it to this very cool and unique town in northwestern Rajasthan, near the border of Pakistan. I fell in love with the walled, fortress city, perched on top of a hill, with its tiny, winding, cobblestone streets . And, what an experience enjoying my first sunset camel trek through the Thar Desert at Sam Sand Dunes. Coupled with staying in the beautiful palace hotel called Suryagarh and then the ultra-luxurious desert camp called The Serai, it was a trip for the books.

I wasn’t quite sure how my second visit this time around in 2019 was going to top my last visit. I guess I wasn’t looking for it to top it per se, but just have the chance to see and explore more. And that mission was definitely accomplished on this trip.

It was nice to have a pretty vivid recollection of what to expect and what I’d like to see and do this time around. I knew that on this trip I’d like to stay somewhere different (we went with the new, modern Marriott Jaisalmer) and I also knew that I’d wanted to experience a more unique camel trek (Sam Sand Dunes is super touristy and busy) so we had a private high tea experience in the Khuri Dunes. We also had the chance to explore a bit more and visited the very cool site of Bada Bagh (which should not be missed) and Gadisar Lake and went back to Patwan Haveli and the Jain Temple. A full couple days of gorgeous architecture, amazing artwork and of course, some shopping! Here are some pictures:

Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer

Oh, and I forgot to mention that on the day we were checking out from the hotel, there was a HUGE wedding happening that evening. It was amazing to see all the vivid color decorations and how they transformed the courtyard into what looked like was going to be an awesome party. Wish we could have been wedding crashers!

Hope if you ever visit Rajasthan, that you make sure to add Jaisalmer to your list. It’s a lovely place and I might just have to go back for a third time 🙂

Jaipur- An Instagrammer’s Paradise

This was actually my second visit to Jaipur, however, I don’t really recall anything from my first visit when I was 7 years old. I’m so glad I decided to make a return trip because Jaipur is truly remarkable with its stunning forts and palaces, gorgeous architecture and amazing art; that’s why it really is an “Instagrammer’s paradise.” If it were up to me, I could have stayed for another week and just taken a million pictures while exploring!

We spent three days in Jaipur on this trip with a healthy mix of sightseeing and shopping; two of the best things to do while in Jaipur. Here’s a breakdown of our trip:

Our sightseeing included The City Palace, Jaigarh Fort, Nahagarh Fort, Hawa Mahal,
Amer Fort and Patrika Gate. Just look at these amazing and beautiful spots, truly breathtaking.

City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
View From Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
View From Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Ride To Top of Amer Fort
Ride To Top of Amer Fort
Beautiful Amer Fort
Beautiful Amer Fort
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur

For shopping, we spent most of our time in the Johri Bazaar, Babu Bazaar and shopping right outside of the Hawa Mahal.

Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Jeweler in Jaipur
Market Jeweler in Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Block Printing
Famous Rajasthani Block Printing
Selling Turbans on top of the Market!
Selling Turbans on top of the Market!

We stayed at the Taj Jai Mahal Palace, which has some stunning interior décor (and I kind of wanted to just move in). We enjoyed so much like the life size chess game set up outside and the horse drawn carriage rides available to the guests.

Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Coolest Lifesize Chess Game Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur

As far as restaurants, I only have one recommendation this time around, which is Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (better known as LMB). Because we were busy sightseeing and shopping each day (and since we had pretty large breakfasts at the hotel each morning), we didn’t really scope out any of the restaurant scene, which I was a little bummed about. With that being said, LMB is right in the heart of it all and so incredibly good, that it’ll just have to be my one recommendation for Jaipur 🙂

Best Chole Bature at LMB Jaipur
Best Chole Bature at LMB Jaipur
Raj Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Raj Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Dessert Mawa Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Dessert Mawa Kachori at LMB Jaipur

Hopefully this helps give you some insight on some of the wonderful things to see, do and eat in Jaipur. Like I said, I could’ve stayed much longer on this trip. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Thanks for a memorable trip Jaipur…until next time!

Incredible India- 2019

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; India, while nearly impossible to capture through words or photographs, is a place that can only be experienced.

Right on the heels of my return from another wonderful trip to the Motherland, I’m recovering from jet lag and trying to get back into the swing of things here at home in Chicago. It’s always a bit of a brutal reentry, especially after leaving 90 degrees and sun, in exchange for 25 degrees and gloom. But, I guess that’s reality!

On this two week trip, I spent one week at my home base in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, enjoying time with my family and cousins and then one week traveling through two cities in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer and Jaipur. It’s no secret by now that I’m completely obsessed with Rajasthan. Maybe because it’s the land of royal palaces, stunning artwork and architecture, detailed craftsmanship and vibrant colors set against the desert backdrop. Whatever the reason, I absolutely love it.

I’m planning on writing separate posts to share about each of the cities I visited and some of the awesome highlights, but thought I’d share a few pictures (trust me, there are MANY). One thing I’ve come to realize is that I really do love telling a story through my adventures. It was so humbling to receive SO many compliments on Instagram about my photos and videos and experiencing India through my lens. If nothing else, I find joy in sharing what I can with others.

Enjoy these photos and stay tuned for more in-depth posts coming soon. I’m barely back home and I already miss India!

Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Love the Colorful Rajasthani Puppets
Love the Colorful Rajasthani Puppets
Streets of Jaislamer
Streets of Jaislamer
Gorgeous Patwa Haveli Jaisalmer
Gorgeous Patwa Haveli Jaisalmer
Always Shopping in India!
Always Shopping in India!
Who Photobombed Who in the Desert?
Who Photobombed Who in the Desert?
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort Jaipur
More From the Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
Chole Bature from Laxmi Mishtan Bandar in Jaipur
Chole Bature from Laxmi Mishtan Bandar in Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort
View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
Sunset in Ahmedabad
Sunset in Ahmedabad
Sev Puri from Swati Snacks Ahmedabad
Sev Puri from Swati Snacks Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Being a Tourist at Adalaj Stepwell
Being a Tourist at Adalaj Stepwell

Incredible India!

First of all, my sincerest apologies. I totally fell off the blog bandwagon and for some reason, I’ve had a bit of a hard time getting back on. But, I’m back, and promise not to be gone for so long again.

Part of the reason I was MIA was because I took an unbelievable trip to India for three weeks. It was one of the first times I can remember that it was truly just a trip to hang out and enjoy the Motherland.  And, I have to say it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. I literally did not want to come back home. My trip ended up being the perfect mix of spending time with my parents at their new flat in Ahmedabad, visiting with extended family and traveling to Goa and a few cities in Rajasthan. I shopped, laughed, ate and continued to learn about my culture and heritage on this unbelievable trip.

I have SO much to share, so I thought I’d at least start with some of my favorite pictures from my trip. Most all of these have already been posted on Instagram (vegtourist), but I’ve thrown in a few others just to mix it up. Enjoy and stay tuned for so much more.

At The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

At The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

View From The At The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

View From The At The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

Fresh, Organic Produce In The Market

Fresh, Organic Produce In The Market

Stunning Sunset In Goa

Stunning Sunset In Goa

Beautiful All-Marble Jain Temple In Ranakpur

Beautiful All-Marble Jain Temple In Ranakpur

Favorite Street Food Of Sev Puri

Favorite Street Food Of Sev Puri

On The Boat Ride To The Taj Lake Palace

On The Boat Ride To The Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace

Breakfast Spread At Taj Lake Palace

Breakfast Spread At Taj Lake Palace

Traditional Rajasthani Dance

Traditional Rajasthani Dance

Loved The Architecture In The Palaces

Loved The Architecture In The Palaces

Market Shopping Pretty Much Everyday

Market Shopping Pretty Much Everyday

Celebrating The Kite Festival Uttrayan In Ahmedabad

Celebrating The Kite Festival Uttrayan In Ahmedabad

I’m already ready to plan my next trip back. Who is coming with me this time?

Love At First Sip

It should be apparent by now that food and drink items that I LOVE are pretty much “laced with drugs” in my world. This is one of those stories where I was literally blown away. I no joke wish I could have this particular item on a daily basis. I crave it frequently and how sad that the only time I have ever had it is in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India?

What I am talking about is the cold coffee at Shambhu’s Coffee Bar.

Shambhu's Coffee Bar - Ahmedabad, India

Shambhu’s Coffee Bar – Ahmedabad, India

My cousin Heman is the one to blame for this. We were spending the day together just driving around the city when all of a sudden, he gets this idea, as if it were zapped into his brain from above and stops the car. He turns to me and says, “do you want to try something really good that I think you will love? Arpit and Sunny (our cousins from Philadelphia) absolutely love this place. Sunny literally came here every day on his two week trip when he visited last year.” Um, ok. Who says no to that kind of question and statement, especially when it is backed by such empirical evidence that my other US born and raised cousins love it? I’m so in, this MUST be good!

We pull up to this very non-descript street corner and Heman tells me to just wait in the car and he will quickly run in. Clearly this corner is the place to be. There are a few food shops I see, but what is most striking is the number of people just sitting outside enjoying their food and drinks.

Outside of Shambhu's Coffee

Outside of Shambhu’s Coffee

It was probably easier for Heman to just run in by himself, rather than have to navigate me through all the people and then be awkwardly gawked at by the crowds outside. I don’t know what it is about us American born Indians. It must have something to do with our mannerisms or the way we look because we stand out like sore thumbs in a crowd of native Indians, even when we dress the same. What is so astonishing is how all the people just stare at you like you are from outer space or something. Ok, I digress….

Heman returns with two little cold coffee drinks (that are in the same plastic cup packaging like McDonald’s orange juice) and two little 4 inch pizzas (the pizza’s are from Jashuben pizza which you can also read about on another post). I’m a little nervous about drinking this coffee because I try to stay away from dairy while traveling to places like India…you never know how your stomach will react to it. More so, since this milk hasn’t been boiled, who knows what the ramifications will be (and we all know what ramifications I’m talking about here. Ammodium AD anyone)? But, I look up again to see that Shambu’s looks more like a legit coffee chain, rather than some random street vendor who got the milk from god knows where. I take my chances. And what happens? I fall in love (and no Ammodium AD needed:)).

Enjoying Shambhu's Cold Coffee

Enjoying Shambhu’s Cold Coffee

This coffee is f*&%^#@ amazing!!!! That is the only way to describe it. It is cold and creamy with just the right sweetness and is just seriously good. It has a great coffee flavor but is not strong or bitter. It is more along the lines in texture and creaminess of the refrigerated Starbucks frappucino found in grocery stores here in the US. It is not at all like the iced coffee from Starbucks that we are accustomed to which tends to be really strong and bitter. All I know is that I slurped that thing down pretty quickly (well, maybe not as fast as Heman as you can see from the picture!!)

We were only in Ahmedabad for a few more days and EVERY single day I thought about Shambu’s and how I could possible finagle bribing someone to take me there for my new addiction. Sadly, it never worked out so I departed Ahmedabad with only the memory of my new found love. As we traveled throughout other parts of India for the next two weeks, my eyes were keenly peeled for any signs of Shambhu. We were never reunited again 🙁 Only until next time I’m in Ahmedabad shall I be reacquainted with something that was literally love at first sip.

BTW, I looked it up and it turns out Shambu’s is only in Ahmedabad.