Insta shopping : 6 desi brands redefining Indian fashion

Indian textiles is rich in beautiful printing and weaving techniques like block/screen prints, ajrakh, kalamkari, tie and die, ikkat and many more. Many of these has influence from other cultures and geographies. But mostly when we think about these, we tend to lean towards ethnic wear like salwars and saris. But here is a list of popular Insta desi brands, that has redefined Indian fashion while staying strong to the roots.

Some tips to keep in mind before you ‘insta shop’:

  1. Make sure the brand is authentic : Check out the reviews in google or see if they have a website. Look out for customer ratings or comments under the product. Many instagram sellers just posts the pics from other sellers and sells bad quality products. So be careful.
  2. Chat with the brand people : All these brands are run by women entepreneurs themselves and they are always happy to reply to your doubts and needs. So if you want customizations done or if you are not sure of what to get, or need to know about the return policy, you can always reach out to them.
  3. Look out for a sale : Especially for clothing and jewelry, I eye my favorites and wait till a sale comes around the corner, to purchase them. You save a lot (really alot) and wouldn’t even have to pay the shipping charge most of the time.
  4. Buy from ethical brands: I am always looking out for brands that not only claims to be ethical in production but that sources their raw materials ethically as well. Many brands works in empowering women in rural areas. And it feels good to know that when you buy from them, you are also encouraging their efforts.
  5. Be respectful: Many of these brands are owned woman entepreneurs, passionate about their art and work. These clothes are not like the mass produced ones you buy from big brands, but are lovingly handcrafted. Many of them even made from natural fibres and dyes, handprinted painstakingly to achieve the precision.
  6. Payment: Almost all the brands I have bought from accepts only bank transfer, with a few exceptions who accepts paytm as well. So netbanking is the best mode of payment and make sure you correctly add the bank details of the seller, to avoid any issues with payment.

Iam not a fashion blogger, and these are mostly mobile clicks from my travel. Some of you might be familiar with these pics, as I have posted all these pics in my Insta handle.

What makes these labels special is that, these are all founded by strong passionate women, who thinks out of the box and paves their own path.

The Khadi cult

Oh this is my favourite of the lot.  This label is owned by Priyanshi Jariwala, aka theroundwoman, who is super cute and friendly.

 The Khadi Cult endorses the idea of being a ” KHADI- VADI” but in a voguish way.

You can also purchase from their website. I love the latest prints in their summer collection. Incase you like a print, you can get it customized in any design you want as well.

Udaipur shopping : In the wonderland of wooden curios

Who knew that prints in Khadi could be so cool and quirky.

Vipoojitha

Do you spot the mini white elephants?

This is a home based clothing brand by, Pooja based in Kerala. The clothes are simple, beautiful and very comfortable. Also super affordable. I usually ask her for fabrics in stock and get them customized.

Matching matching

Rivaaj Clothing

A Jaipur based brand that sells beautiful block printed dresses.

They are rightly priced, compared to many of the mediocre but highly expensive brands out there in the market today, especially for handblock prints. But customizations are not available.

 

 Okhai.org

Okhai is an initiative by Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) for empoweing rural and semi-urban women and rural artisans across India.

Mix and match

 Okhai’s mission is to encourage women from less privileged backgrounds to acquire new skills; to give them the self-confidence and self-esteem required to earn by their own industry and initiative; and to enable them to carry this newly discovered skill and confidence into the wider world.

Their website has a huge collection of apparels for men, women and also homedecor items and accesories. All their attires are made for the modern women, with strong roots in tradition. Their kurtas are smart, flared, elegant and perfect with pockets.

Mogra Designs

I never thought I could afford one of their pieces but then again, they had a huge sale before they took a break last year.

The fabric is soft and the dress is very light, flared and comfortable. The the best things is it has pockets.

Margazhi Designs

I am not a sari lover and I don’t think I will ever get the draping right, but I couldn’t resist buying this piece from Margazhi designs.

The beautiful owner Madhulika, wears them with such elegance and poise. It’s a madurai cotton sari and Iam planning to turn it into a dress later.

If you love saris, especially traditional woven ones, this is the handle to follow.

© Copyright 2018 flavoursofbeauty.com. All rights reserved.

This has been the most requested post and many of you has been asking about my attires posted in Insta. Do subscribe and comment below and let me know if this post was interesting. Depending on that I will make a post on more brands.

Cool tips for the summer

Summer is my favourite season. Nature is bright and colorful and it brings delicious seasonal fruits like mangoes, jackfruit and the clothes come out crisp and warm after drying. On the downside, it is extremely humid and our skin is prone to damage easily during summers.

You know the usual drill of keeping hydrated and applying sunscreen. So here are some other tips to come out of this summer all refreshed :

1. Make the regular water interesting

Noone has to force us to keep hydrated in summer because we feel thirsty all the time. But you can make it much tastier and refreshing by adding a spring of mint, basil seeds or a dash of lime to a bottle of water. This will make it interesting for kids as well.

Refreshing hydration

Easy Fruit Punch:

Cut some seasonal fruits like watermelon and pineapple into thin tiny pieces. Soak some poppy/basil seeds in water and let it puff up. You can add this to your regular lime juice or to a mix of lime and pineapple juice and it will taste sooo good.

A great welcome drink for guests

2. Face mist to hydrate and protect your skin

A spritz of cool face mist helps in calming irritated and sensitive skin and protects it from sun damage.

Steam distilled rose, lavender, aloe, vetiver, orange blossom waters can be refrigerated and sprayed on skin frequently throughout the day to wake up and cool tired/hot skin.

3. Use natural deodorant instead of anti perspirants

We tend to sweat a lot during summers and everyone usually opts for anti perspirants. The ingredients in it like aluminium compounds, clogs the pores of sweat glands and prevents sweating. This is quite harmful, as sweating is a natural cooling mechanism and it is a way of eliminating toxins from the body.

A little goes a long way

4. Multi purpose natural skincare

It is better to keep skincare simple and basic on summers. Aloevera gel is a versatile skincare product that can be used as a moisturizer, face mask, hair conditioner and after sun gel to prevent sunburn.

Click on image for the post

Avoid claybased masks that dehydrate and heat up the skin.

5. Eat your water and drink your food

Include more seasonal fruits in your diet, especially the ones with high water content. Also have light and easy to digest home made smoothies, salads and soups including more vegetables in the diet.

Eat the greens

6. Wear clothes made of natural fibres

Clothes made of cotton, linen, jute etc are apt for summer and will let your skin breathe underneath.

Hope you liked the post. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more lifestyle feeds.

A complete guide to India’s truly natural skincare brands – 1

Many of you must be interested in switching to natural/organic skincare and beauty products, but could be hesitant. One reason is that, the popular ones we all know of are mostly luxury brands (like Forest Essentials & Kama Ayurveda), which are obviously very expensive. Also sometimes people blindly buys products from brands claiming to be natural/organic, when in reality they might just have a very small percentage of natural ingredients and thereby end up having a bad experience. Sometimes even the most popular brands we know hides majority of their ingredients under the name ‘base’, eg: Biotique.

Handmade natural skincare products are safe and are multitasking ones. For eg: a handmade soap made with natural ingredients can be used as a hair, body and face cleanser.  Would you dare to use your shampoo as a face cleanser otherwise?

There are many Indian natural skincare brands that sells quality products at affordable prices. These brands are transparent about the ingredients used and gives all the ingredient info in the label. Here is the list of few such natural Indian skincare brands, that I have already introduced you through the different posts.

1. Juicy Chemistry

The first time I tried JC products was three years back when they had just the fb handle and some amazing products. Now they have grown to be a very popular organic certified brand with a store in Coimbatore and products extensively available through online sites.

The brand is started by a husband wife duo, Pritesh and Megha Asher. The products are pure and made of high quality ingredients and has 0% chemicals/preservatives. All their products smell amazing because of the exquisite combination of essential oils. So eventhough you might feel this is not very pocket friendly, let me tell you, it is worth the price.

Products I recommend:  Body scrubs, body butters, soaps, face mists.

Read my reviews :

Juicy Chemistry citrus and sage foot scrub

Decadent body scrubs for all skin types

Juicy Chemistry Rose Sandalwood Mask

Juicy Chemistry Hazelnut & Vanilla Latte Soap

My favorites and not so favorites from Juicy Chemistry

Spicy Apple Pie anyone???

Juicy Chemistry : Choco-Vanila Body Butter – Now discontinued

2. Gia bath and body works

This is the first natural skincare brand I tried. I wouldn’t call all products completely natural as some of them contains fragrances and safe food colors. The brand is run by Gayatri based on Mumbai. She takes into account customer suggestions and even customizes perfumes. Her soaps are a work of art and looks edible. The fragrances are so good that your bathroom will smell amazing.

Products I recommend: Chocolate creme silk soap, cup cake soaps, oats based face cleansers in various flavours.

Read my reviews :

Pomegranate facial cleanser from Gia 

Daily cleansing method for soft and glowing skin

A divine chocolate soap you will fall in love with

Butter Cream Whipped Soaps

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Mintensity Foot soak
3. Zofla

This is one of my recent finds. I have used just one product from this brand, which is the rose water face mist. Unlike many commonly available brands like Dabur that sells chemical solution in the name of rose water (check out the ingredient list next time you feel like buying this : Aqua, Fragrance, Rose Oil, Propylene Glycol, Propyl Paraben, Methyl Paraben, Bronopol.), this rose water is made by steam distillation of organic Kannauj rose petals.

The product comes in a plastic spray bottle and can be just sprayed on to your skin for a boost of hydration, freshness and can be also used to mix your face packs or to calm skin inflammations. I bought this from amazon and it costs only 160Rs for 100ml.
4. Greenberry Organics

Started by a Mom-son duo, this brand is the first ECOCERT certified brand in India. I have used their most popular product, MUDASH 3 In 1 Face Mask, Scrub and Cleanser. The particles are a bit too gritty and hence suitable best as a body scrub. The brand also offers many more skin, body and hair care products.

Read myreview : Best Skincare Finds : Multitasking products for all skin types

5. Blend It Raw Apothecary

Incase you wish to whip up your own skincare recipes or if you are an essential oil junkie, this is the best brand to buy all the flower powders, clays, oils, face mists and what not. I would always recommend getting the ingredients and making products like face mask, scrub, lipbalms, body butters on your own; because then you really know what goes into the product and also these are much cost effective but equally good. The brand is the brain child of my fellow blogger and skincare enthusiast Aarushi, based in Delhi.

Read my review : Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes
6. Krya

With roots strongly based on Ayurveda, Krya adhers strictly to the age old textual methods of product preparation. This is a lifestyle brand and apart from skin and hair care products, this brand has baby care and home care products as well that are 100% herbal, vegan & cruelty-free.

Preethi Sukumaran, one of the founders, always finds time to respond to customer queries. She prescribes a holistic approach where she suggests changes to lifestyle and food habits. She also posts videos in the Krya blog addressing the lifestyle issues of urban life and ayurvedic way of living.

Products I recommend: Hair oil and hair wash powder, hair color, detergent.

Read my review: 

Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

All natural and safe home care products
7. Burst of Happyness

Baed on Pune and run by Shreya Sharan Pawar, this brand was started as a result of her quest to find remedy to the allergies brought about by chemical based skincare products. The brand offers vegan soaps, shampoo bars, serums and many more body care products.

Product I recommend: Natural deodorants in lavender and rose scents.

Read my review: All natural and vegan deodorant
8. Cape Of Good Hope

Manisha creates beautiful art in soaps. Her soaps looks so pretty and smells amazing as well. The last product she sent me was a geode soap customized with ingredients that are harmonious with my zodiac. She also customizes products based on customer needs.

Products I recommend: Let Manisha know your skin concerns and leave the rest to her. My favorites are the Rose wine scrub and Green tea soap.

Read my reviews:

CGH Pepper soap review and a little surprise

Take time to smell the roses

Teas Please from Cape of Good soap

Cape of Good Soap : Rosewood and Mint soap

9. Junaili

Can a product so simple and pure that it is a raw material in itself, be as effective as the skin care concoctions with many exotic ingredients?

Junaili carries the purity of the Uttarakhand mountains and mist. This himalayan apothecary run by a family, uses just one raw material : Apricot.

The cold pressed apricot oil is customized into hair, face and body oils and the kernals are processed into scrubs.

Read my review: http://flavoursofbeauty.com/junaili-apricot-body-scrub-simple-and-pure/
10. Ancient Ayurveda

This Kerala based brand works with Prajwala, the world’s largest anti-human-trafficking shelter based in India, to empower women. Wood ash soaps are their specialty and these soaps oozes of ayurvedic tailas. The soaps are so soft and melts easily.

Read my review: Ancient Ayurveda Woodash Soaps

11. Amara Organix

This Chennai based brand is by the lovely lady, Mehar. You name it and they have it, a wide range of skin care, bath and body products and exotic soaps that caters to all kinds of skin care needs.

Recommended: Handmade soaps,  Brightening Face mask

Read my review: Moisturizers and face masks curated for summers : Introducing The Skin Pantry and Amara Organix

Hope you liked this post. I have not included any luxury brands in this feature. I will be consolidating more products and introduce you to more authentic brands in the upcoming posts.

Comment below about your favorite natural skincare brands and the recommended products.

An evening at the Pushkar festival

Pushkar fest is one of the largest livestock fares in the world and we couldn’t complete our Rajasthan trip without visiting this colorful cultural mela.

This was our last day at Jaipur and we were planning to explore Amrapali showroom at MI road, before heading to Pushkar via Ajmer. While bidding adieu, the owner of the Vimal heritage, a very sweet and beautiful lady, asked us to check out Chameli bazar instead. According to her, while Amrapali is exhorbitant in pricing, this one on the other hand has many affordable alternatives.

by the beautiful indoor pool area

Chameliwala market

An arch saying ‘Chameliwala market’ and a small lane leading inside, is the entrance to the silver abode. This can be easily missed eventhough it is on the roadside. Since it was early, most of the shops were closed. here mostly wholesale sales takes place and so window shoppers are ignored, unlike at the Johari bazar. An array of tiny shops, displaying gorgeous handcrafted silver jewelry peeped at us through the glass windows. I went inside one of the shops called Rathi Silvers. This one had all kinds of silver pieces from tribal to enamel works, contemporary pieces to traditional jhumkas. I bought a pair of beautiful studs with blue enamel work.

Blue enamel silver studs

The people in Jaipur are ery helpful and homely. An old man, one of the staff at the shop phoned his friend in Kerala and had us talk to him, when he came to know that we are Keralites.

On the way back, we stopped at the lassiwala shop at MI road, but found it no match for the thick creamy gulab flavoured lassi we had at Johari bazaar.

We had arranged for a cab to take us to Ajmer, followed by Pushkar and finally drop us back at Ajmer railway station, from where we would travel to Udaipur.

Ajmer

Since we were passing Ajmer, we decided to stop at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, which is a shrine of the sufi saint  Moinuddin Chisti. It was listed as one of the top must visit places around. The lane leading to the shrine was packed with locals and tourists. No vehicles were allowed there so we had to park at the beginning of the road. Providing parking lot itself is a big business here and every other house has a paid garage for public parking. We need to bargain with the owners or else they will just quote 300-500 Rs for parking.

The Ajmer dargah

We started to the dargah by walk and we were followed by many auto drivers offering to take us till the shrine at “just” Rs 200. The shrine is just around 5min walk and you don’t need to hire a vehicle. I was wearing a dress that didn’t cover my ankle. I was offered a shawl for free at the entrance of the dargah, to cover my legs till the ankle. Also you will be expected to cover your head in certain areas inside.

Unlike the dargah in Bhuland Darwaza, this one was over crowded, noisy and buzzing with street vendors, guides and the homeless. It didnot have the peaceful and serene atmosphere I expected, which was disappointing. It might have been a holy place once, but now it’s more or less a bait to attract tourists. We didn’t spend much time inside at all and left in around 10min.

Pushkar

Pushkar fest : The fest happens every year in November, for a week around the full moon day. People from all parts of Rajasthan gather here to trade livestock as well as to take part in competitions which includes moustache competition, camel race and the voice of Pushkar (Pushkar’s version of American Idol) to name a few. Also this is considered as a very holy time and people come to visit the famous Brahma temple (the only one in the world) and to take a dip in the Pushkar lake to wash away all sins.

Waiting for the next safari

We reached Pushkar by around 4 pm and we left the cab and driver at the public parking ground. As we walked towards the mela ground, we could see the men, women and children clad in traditional Rajasthani attire getting down from buses and carts, heading to the mela. The evening sun was warm and we could see small tents scattered throughout the desert. On either side of the road, temporary stables were erected for horses and camels. From pure white albino horses to black stallions, the variety of breeds brought here are remarkable.

These beauties…

There were huge bulls and different breeds of cows brought for competitions as well as for sale from different parts of north India.

Mr Stubborn

There are many shops around that displays metal accessories with colorful pompoms and threads. But once you approach these, you will realize that these are the fineries for camels.

The camel jewery store

One can also shop for ornate daggers and swords here as well.

Dagger shop

There were two major mela grounds : one, Carnivalesque with many rides like the giant wheel, hot air balloons, giant swings, and the other ground is where the competitions and camel safari takes place.

Loud and colorful

Maha Aarti

We headed towards the ghat ofthe holy lake which is surrounded by temples on almost all sides.

Mandap

Devotees were climbing down the many stairs towards the river bank, where the evening aarthi was taking place.

devotees gathered for the maha aarti

The loud beaming voice of the pandit chating mantras in tune, hundreds of diyas lighted along the steps leading to the water, sweet fragrance of dhoop and agarbattis and the golden rays of setting sun gave us the most picturisque welcome.

The serene Pushkar

There are many shops selling decor items, agarbattis and funky attires along the roads leading to the ghat. We spotted a buepottery store here as well. Since my brother had asked for a blue bottery coffee mug (after we left the blue pottery store in Jaipur), we decided to buy it from here. To our surprise we found many new designs at cheaper rate.

Spotted this naughty one dressed up as Lord Shiva

Back in the ground, the voice of Pushkar had already started. A stage was set on one end of the ground. The competitors sang peppy Bollywood movie songs and the crowd cheered and applauded for the best ones.

My man was very interested in camel ride and felt that the single ride around the ground was too short. While we were enjoying the music, we could see the hot air balloon getting inflated at the other end of the ground. It would go up a few inches and will get pulled down and this would go on every few minutes. Initially we thought they were struggling to get it to rise, but later found out that this is all the hot air balloon fun one can experience for a few ten bucks.

There are quite a number of temporary shacks, setup as eateries, selling local delicacies.

Never say no to Jalebis

We tried the dal batti churma in one eatery close to the mela ground. After dinner we headed back to Ajmer railway station and spent the most boring 3 hours of the entire trip, in the  waiting room of the station. But the next day held the promise of a new city, the city of lakes.

NOTE: We missed all the competitions, as they happen in the mornings mostly.

The festivities are at its peak on the full moon day. So incase you are planning to spend just one day at the fest, plan it for then.

For safaris, camel rides or even shopping, the locals will quote double or triple the actual cost most of the time, as they can easily identify a tourist. So polish your bargaining skills and keep them handy.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Do let me know in the comments below.

Also check out:

Day 1 : The grandeur of The Pink City

Day2 : A walk through the art, architecture and history

Day3 : The Majestic Taj

Relax, shop and enjoy the colors of the city of lake

Yummy and healthy salad and shake

The recipes I am going to give you takes less than 5 min preparation time and are very delicious and healthy. These also make for impressive light eat for guests.

Strawberry lettuce salad with delicious strawberry dressing.

Ingredients: Spinach/lettuce, strawberry, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, paneer/feta cheese, salt and pepper.

The quantities can be based on your need. I used one bunch of iceberg lettuce, around 10 or more strawberries and 250 g paneer cut inti small cubes.

Sauté the paneer cubes in butter for about 2min in light flame. It should still be soft and shouldn’t change colour much. If you have feta cheese, just crumble it into small pieces.

For the dressing: In a mixer, blend the strawberries/ready made strawberry puree with 2 tablespoon olive oil, 3 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoon honey, salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust the ingredients to get a slightly sweet, thick dressing.

I used this fruit pulp for making the dressing instead of using strawberries. I find these ready made all natural fruit pulps very versatile. You can use these to make shakes, juices, jams, cheese cakes to name a few. There is no added sugar or preservatives in this.

Setting the salad: 

Cut the bigger leafs and place them on a bowl. On top of this you can place bite-able strawberry and paneer pieces.  Don’t add the dressing until the time you serve it. Drizzle it on top of the salad and give a good mix. Taste it to make sure the taste of the dressing comes through. Add more if needed and voila the salad is ready. You can also add juveniles of almond to garnish.

All natural super thick shake

Ingredients: Ripe guava, strawberries(strawberry pulp/ mango pulp), rock salt, milk/yogurt

Preparation: Just blend all the ingredients and add little milk/yogurt to looses the shake and bring it to the required consistency. Adding a pinch of rock salt really brings out the flavours. You can also add some paprika for a hot after taste.

Hope you liked these recipes. Comment below your favourite recipes.

Relax, shop and enjoy the colors of the city of lake

From Jaipur, I took you to Agra and now I am taking you to Udaipur . We had stopped at the Pushkar fest for a day, but that story is for another day. I found the atmosphere of Udaipur very relaxing and slow paced, like in Hampi. Udaipur’s culture is strongly connected to the beautiful ghats and water bodies of the place .  We stayed for 3 and a half days here and rather than hustling around to visit all tourist attractions, we spent these last days of our 1 week trip, relaxing in the serene atmosphere.

We reached Udaipur early in the morning via train, after attending the Pushkar fest the previous night. The train was mostly occupied by locals who wore traditional Rajasthani attires.  It was great to see this cultural shift from Jaipur.  We were really tired and had missed a good night’s sleep. So we directly headed to Thamla Haveli, where we had booked our stay for the next 3 days. The haveli is an old but well maintained 3 storied building on the banks of Lake Pichola. But we were really disappointed when we saw the room. It was very small and cold,  with no ventilation and no opening for sunlight.  But we being too tired from the continuous travel,  just crashed in the bed and had a good sleep for the next 2 hours. Later we talked to the manager and luckily there was this one room available, with a lake view.  It was love at first sight.

It was spacious and beautiful with an ornate window, opening directly to the lake giving a great view of the Gangaur Ghat. The window area had a cozy cushion seating and an awesome view of the lake. The ambiance was accentuated by the tunes of traditional folk music from the opposite ghat. While tourists came from far and wide, to visit the ghat and enjoy boat rides, we could enjoy the beauty of the lake 24*7 for free.
This turned out to be my favourite spot for the days to come.

We had skipped breakfast, so we decided to have lunch in the open rooftop dining area of the building. Almost all the eateries around the ghat are rooftop ones, to take maximum advantage of the lake view. The food was delicious and filling.

The best thing about this hotel was every major attraction is at a walkable distance and we didn’t spend anything on transportation.

The most beautiful aspect of Udaipur (through my eyes), is that it is beaming with art and music in every nook and corner.

Apart from the streets with every shop displaying miniature art and colorful embroidered fabrics, every common house has beautiful doors and windows of the bygones and the street walls are decorated with detailed paintings.

Now let me list down some places we visited over the course of our stay. On many days, we spent most of the evenings in the Ghat or just at the hotel, relaxing and taking in the beautiful view of boats in lake Pichola.

Bagore ki haveli:

This is a must visit place. It is located on the banks lake Pichola in Gangaur Ghat, which is just at a 10min walk from our hotel.

This restored haveli museum holds rooms that displays settings of the rooms of royalties. One room is full of puppets in colorful silk traditional clothes, in a courtroom setting.

Another one displays the entertainment room of kids with the real board games made of wood and ivory. The doors are adorned by stunning colored glass work.

Dharohar Dance Show:

Apart from the museum, what I enjoyed most is the cultural show at Bagore ki haveli, late in the evening. It was amazing, better than any performance we saw at Chokhi Dhani(read here) . The show is from 7pm to 8pm everyday and the ticket is just a nominal 60Rs for Indians.

You should reach the place early to get the ticket, as there is going to be a long queue. We were directed to a courtyard of the haveli, known as the Neem Chowk. There is a big Neem tree in the center of the courtyard and hence the name. This small open terrace was lit with terracotta diyas and had benches and cushion seating on the floor  on all three sides, so that the audience gets a very close view of the performance. You need to take a separate pass for filming or taking photos.

The show started with an introduction given by a beautiful lady, in both Hindi and English. This was followed by drum beats and instrumental folk music. Then one dance followed the next with puppet shows and a folk drama in between. The dancers were clad in very festive traditional ghagras ornate with embroidery and mirror work. The reflection of the diya lights against the golden laces and ornaments added to the ambiance. The traditional folk dances included:

> Gavri Dance, which was more of a dance drama. It depicted a fight between Goddess Amba and Demon Bhiamwal

> Terah Taal Dance, where dancers played a musical instrument tied to their feet and hands.

> Ghumar Dance, where dancers performed in circles.

And the highlight of the show and the show stopper was the Bhavai Dance. The dancer was over 70 years of age and she came in gracefully, carrying a clay pot on her head. On regular intervals, she would move towards a corner where a member of their team would add consequently smaller clay pots on top of the existing one. And as the dance progressed, the number of clay pots reached around 10 and the lady danced beautifully, while balancing all these pots effortlessly and handsfree. Towards the climax, she started dancing on the edge of a metal plate and later on a bed of sharp glass pieces. The audience sat breathlessly and applauded wildly once the performance was over.

This show under a moonlit sky, is the perfect way to imbibe the colorful culture of Rajasthan.

We didnot take the camera pass here, so I don’t have any pics of the performance.

City Palace:

We walked to the palace around 10 in the morning, before it started getting too crowded. It was just 10min walk from the haveli. We hired a guide here and he explained the history of Udaipur and the stories of various royals of the place.

The palace displays all the precious artifacts of the royal family and the palace grounds are great for a walk, after.


Ravanahatha player of Gangaur Ghat :

The lake front opposite to Thamla Haveli, is called Gangaur Ghat. In the evenings, the Ghat is a popular spot for tourists as well as the young crowd, as it provides a picturesque view of the lake, colored by orange waves. We sat on the steps leading to the lake, feeding pigeons and listening to the alluring folk music from the Ravanahatha.

Ravanahatha is an ancient stringed instrument and you can find men in traditional Rajasthani attire, playing this in popular tourist spots. He was playing the same tune over and over again, and it blended in with the whole serene setting. The man was also selling CDs of his songs. You will also find locals selling handmade beaded jewelry and other curios here.

Sunset point at Karni Mata Temple:

Another great spot for getting a panoramic view of the city, is to visit the Karni Mata Temple at Machla Hills. There is a rope way leading to the hill and since the temple is at its highest point, we could enjoy the beauty of lake Pichola and the city soaked in the evening light.

The construction work was going on in the temple. So we didn’t go in. We just spent the evening there till the moon came up and changed shades of the city.

Shopping:

All the lanes near Gangaur Ghat has rows of small shops selling miniature paintings, hand painted jewelry, colorful clothes and home decor items. But two major shopping places nearby are ‘Hathi Pol’ and ‘Bada Bazaar’. These are located at a walkable distance from our stay and you will find traditional rajasthani clothes, leheriya and bandhini fabrics, Juttis, bags etc.

One of the wholesale shops here, Leheriya Bandhej, sells lehengas, traditional bandhani dupattas, and chanderi kurti materials at steal away prices.  Another store next to this is Apsara (if I remember correctly) which has much more options.They only sell these in sets of three and hence makes great gifting option.

On our way back from hathipol, I came across an old shop called Ashok Delights, displaying a variety of colorful window hangings. I just walked in to take a look at them and found them very old and dusty. But to my surprise, the shop turned out to be a treasure trove of wooden curios, some even antique. The owner of the shop was very friendly and interactive.

From small tricky puzzle boxes to intricately painted miniature hanging gods to even cute wooden carved earrings and wooden flats called methiyadi; this shop reminded me of the wizard shops in diagon alley from Harry potter. You could spend a whole day exploring the items that are loosely stacked till the roof of this old family owned shop.

The next great find was a small shop displaying handpainted meenakari earrings and miniature paintings. The owner of the shop is a famous miniature artist and he takes painting classes to interested tourists. He will give you a sketch of the miniature painting of your choice, on a silk cloth and will teach you how to do the painting using natural plant based colors and tiny handmade brushes.

We also bought camel leather bound diaries made of handmade paper. These comes in many colors and embossed patterns.

Cafes and eateries:

Unlike Jaipur, every lane in Udaipur has atleast one cafe or eatery. It’s all mostly small family run businesses and mostly serves pizzas, sandwiches and beverages.

We opted Cafe Satori for dinner. This is a small cozy cafe run by a lady and her son. We ordered coffee and pizza. The food took quite a while to be served, and we spent the time reading books available here. The cafes around the ghat are not cheap but the food tastes homemade. The owner lady was interactive and friendly. After dinner we all sat together and chit-chatted for sometime.

I had my eyes on Cafe Edelweiss right from the time I read rave reviews on this German eatery, in Zomato. So the next day’s breakfast had to be here. This is also a bakery and had some chocolate brownies and pastries on display. We tried tea and pancakes from here. The crowd is mostly foreigners and the food was alright.

For a light dinner we opted for  smoothies from Cafe Greenwood.  Owned by a young couple, the place is small but nice.

Our best and most affordable find was Lotus cafe. Hidden in a quaint corner, this is an eatery with no frills. The service is great and the food is very tasty. And the best part is that this is the most pocket friendly restaurant, we came across here.

We left Udaipur with colorful memories and I hope I could share some of them with you. Do comment below if you liked the post and follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more content.

You might also be interested in:

Day 1 : The grandeur of The Pink City
Day2 : A walk through the art, architecture and history
Day3 : The Majestic Taj

All natural and safe home care products

These days more and more consumers are shifting towards home grown or organic produce in food and chemical free skin care products. Ironically the organic skincare products claim to have better quality and purity of natural ingredients than the ones we consume. Anyway its a good thing that people are getting themselves informed of the importance of reading ingredient list of products and avoiding the toxic ones.

But how many of us do the same for our home care products, the ones that you are most exposed to than even your skin care products.
For eg, many of us ends up with dry parched skin after cleaning the utensils with dishwash gels and soaps. Some may even face allergies, redness and peeling of skin. Similarly we end up seeing soap residues in machine washed clothes, but tend to scrape it off or just ignore it. We don’t really care that these come in contact with our skin. Afterall the better they smell, the more we like them.

What about the fragrant floor cleaners that promises to kill 99.9% harmful microbes? Ever wondered if your baby who crawls over and often licks this floor, is safe? Are we atleast aware of the unimaginable harm we are doing to the soil, water bodies and thereby the organisms living in them, by using these chemical laden products?

Why are chemical home care products bad:

The commonly available home care products in our market are a mix of strong acids, petroleum by products, ammonia,foaming agents, Chlorine, bleach, surfactants, synthetic colorants and fragrance. These chemicals are very strong as they have to dissolve and break down the fats and oils in the surface being cleaned. For eg, many of these products will have labels that reads toxic, inflammable, keep away from children, visit doctor if it comes in contact with eyes etc. When we are using them on a daily basis over a period of time, our body is being constantly exposed to the fumes and residues left by these cleaning agents, which inturn can cause issues like irritation, headaches, allergies to even hormonal imbalance and cancer. It is said that even if you clean the plates in hot water after cleaning them with these chemical gels, you can’t get rid of the residue and there by you are constantly ingesting it. These toxins also gets absorbed via our skin, and thereby they directly enter the bloodstream without getting filtered out in liver.

So when you have alternative products that are completely natural, safe and bio degradable; why would you continue to use these chemicals. Let me introduce you to few such brands and products.

Why should you switch to natural cleaners:

1. Let me state the obvious reason first, it is safe. Natural cleaners are made of natural ingredients which are 100% safe.
2. There are no added synthetic colorants or fragrance that can cause irritation, skin dryness or allergies. Also the natural essential oils and ingredients impart a very refreshing natural fragrance.
3. They are bio-degradable and therefore environmental friendly. The left over grey water after cleaning, can be even used to water the plants as these are completely natural. It will not pollute the ground water or harm the organisms.
4. They have no synthetic fillers or foaming agents. Hence they foam less, clean more and thereby uses only less amount of water for washing clothes and utensils.
5. They don’t leave any harmful synthetic residue in clothes, floor or utensils.
6. Many of these products comes in recycled paper packaging, which inturn helps in reducing plastic pollution.
7. Many of the natural brands works with women self help groups that aims to employee and empower women across the country. Buying from such brands helps to contribute to a greater cause.
8. Cruelty free and Vegan
9. Naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

What are some of the natural home care products available in the market:

If you do a little bit of research (or simply search in google) you will be able to find organic stores in most of the places. They will stock up many varieties of cleaning products from different brands. Also most of these are available in online stores in Amazon and Big basket.

Indian Natural Home Care Brands and Products:

Natural dish wash products comes in a variety of forms like gel, powder, soap bar etc.

1. Common oxen

I bought this dish wash gel from my local store, but you can also find it online here. What I love about this one is that, it smells amazing. The natural fragrance of orange and lime essential oils in this gel makes you want to keep smelling it(I am not exaggerating).

Ingredients: Saponified Oils of Coconut, Palm and Rice Bran. Essential Oils of Orange and Lime. Baking Soda and Jaggery

Another products from this brand is Swish Wash laundry powder. It is a white powder that can be used for both machine and handwash.

In addition to mentioning what is in it, this brand has taken it a step further by what is not in it.

Reminds me of the Ancient Ayurveda wood ash soap’s label which was similar.

2. Wild Ideas:

I bought this dish wash soap from the brand Wild Ideas. They also have many other products which you can find in sites like Amazon

Ingredients:
Soap Berries, Sikakai, Citrus, Tamarind, Bitter Albizia, and Wood Ash.

The product is produced by women self help groups.

I have also tried laundry powder from this brand. You can make out the soap berry pieces in the mix, which is the natural foaming agent.

It comes with a cotton cloth pouch with a string attached to it’s mouth. The powder has to be put in the pouch and tied. This can be left in washing machines or a bucket of water along with the clothes and washed normally.

Krya:

Krya is one of the most authentic ayurveda based skin and haircare brand in market. You can read my product reviews from this brand, here. In addition to these, they also has home care products. I have tried their detergent powder for clothes which is similar to the one by Wild Ideas. Just that, I found this powder much finer.

These powders smells like areetha and shikakai but it is not noticeable in clothes after wash. Also these are much gentler on the fabrics than strong chemical detergents.

BON Organics:

This is a certified organic Indian brand that has a wide variety of skin care, bath, pet care and home care products. I love their orange cinnamon hand wash liquid, which has a sweet and warm natural fragrance. This is the empty bottle that I plan to reuse by filling in liquid soap.

Here is the impressive ingredient list of this hand wash, which will make you think why you wash your hands with cheap, toxic chemicals.

Ingredients: Ingredients: Saponified Almond oil, Jojoba oil, Organic corn oil, Organic Caster oil, Organic Coconut oil, Organic Neem oil Vitamin E, Glycerine, Shea butter, Essential oil of orange, cinnamon, mint, organic Lemon oil , Aloe Vera gel, & Demineralised water.

Another product I have tried from them is the liquid laundry that comes in a white can. It was very gentle but effective on clothes.

Here is a pic of my BON Organics haul from their site.

Other brands that I know of (but not tried), that sells natural home care products are Rustic Art and Mittise

Herbal Strategi Naturedrop:

This is one brand that I recently started seeing in all super markets. It comes in a green plastic bottle, and claims to be 100% natural. I have used this but Iam not very sure if this is completely natural, as the brand has not mentioned the ingredient list anywhere in the label or online.

It just says : This liquid dish wash contains several herbal ingredients, including non-ionic cocoa, water, coconut-based surfactants, soap nut and lemon oils.

I don’t recommend this as I don’t have full information on the product.

So I hope this post was useful to you and that you will make a conscious decision, next time you buy home care products.

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Skincare, fashion, home decor and more

Christmas is over and I am all set to welcome 2018. But before we bid adieu to 2017, let me list out some of my favorite finds of this year.

Favorite color of the year:

Every year there will be one particular color I get obsessed about, and this time it was Cerulean blue for the first half of the year and Indigo for the second half of the year.

The Blue Guitar Project is something I took up this year(eventhough I didn’t completely finish it). So I turned this old guitar into a cerulean blue decor piece, and it now adorns this cozy corner.

The book shelf is upcycled from a wooden protective frame that came with an an online order of furniture.

Favorite Skin Care Finds:

I came across many new organic and natural skin care products and brands this year. Some of them are Gravitale, Junaili, JivaVrksa, Organistick and Burst of Happyness.

But this year I found out that whipping up skincare products myself is much more effective, fun and affordable. You can check out : Skin care recipes

So my favourite skincare finds are aloevera gel and tea tree oil. Make sure you buy pure aloe vera gel and not the one with added colour, fragrance and preservatives available in local stores. These are the two ingredients that can be used for almost all skin problems including dandruff, acne and dryness of skin and hair. These are the basic ingredients you need for silky soft hair and clear face.

You can buy them from Blenditrawapothecary or from Juicy Chemistry

Favorite Organic Food Store:

It is without doubt Happy Healthy Me Organics.

Check out my skin care and food recipes using ingredients from HHM store:
Super tasty breakfast recipes

Multi-mask with easy DIY anti-ageing and black head removing masks

Favorite Fashion Finds:

This has been the year when casual dresses made a come back to my wardrobe and also I have made an effort to buy only from Indian brands that sells sustainable fashion. You might have come across some of the dresses in my travel posts and many more on my Instagram handle. The block prints, Kalamkari, Ajrakh, Ikkat prints and natural dyes like Indigo and Madder has been on trend this year and I hope more and more Indian brands move to sustainable and ethical fashion.

My favorite fashion find of the year is The Khadi Cult. I love them for their quirky and original Indian prints on Khadi. But the most comfortable attire I caught hold of, is this Indigo block printed dress from Mogra designs.

It is so light weight and comfortable and has pockets which is super cool. So here are my attires from Khadi cult and Mogra designs.

Favorite Food Finds:

If you are my Insta follower, you will already know that I love exploring new cuisines and eateries.

The favorite food find of this year has to be malai lassi, specifically from Johari Bazaar of Jaipur. You can read more about it here.

I am not a fan of cold desserts but surprisingly the Italian Gelato store here in Bangalore Milano, converted me. The flavors are all natural and authentic. Eventhough the flavors keeps changing based on seasonal products, my favourite remains Pista. I despise the green colored pista flavors in ice creams and pastries but this one here tastes like roasted pista nuts.

Favorite Home Decor Find:

These handpainted wooden plates from Trove India and the hand made blue pottery magnets from Jaipur holds this position. Aren’t they really beautiful?

Favorite Jewelry Finds:

I am not a fan of anything bling and only prefer to wear small earrings. But this changed after I came across some stunning Afghani glass jewelry pieces. Here is one of my favorites, which was featured in July favorites post.

You can see tow other stunning pieces in this blog post: February Favorites

Favorite shopping site:

You are in for a surprise here. All the above favorites of this year has been bought from different Insta pages I came across over the year. So my favorite online shopping place currently is Instagram and incase you are interested to know the pages to follow, I can write a separate post on that. Let me know in the comments below.

Now let me add one more category, which is the Life changing product of the year:

This is something that I hope, all you ladies out there will give a try. It is the menstrual cup. This product will change your life for good, trust me. And this is the best thing you can do for the environment as well. So do read this post on Menstrual Cups and let this be what changes your life in 2018.

Hope you all liked this post. Do subscribe for timely updates and follow us on Instagram for a variety of content.

Day3 : The Majestic Taj

Blue and white

I took you through the colorful palaces and history of Jaipur in the last two travelogues. I am sure many of you would have already planned your Jaipur trip. And incase you would like to include visiting one of the Seven Wonders Of The World in your schedule, this post is for you.

Agra is about 238km from Jaipur, and having come this far, we couldn’t just leave without visiting the Taj Mahal. We asked our hotel owner to arrange a cab with a driver, for a one day trip to Agra and back.

We started at around 6am from Hotel Vimal Heritage on Monday. The morning was cool and pleasant. Our cab driver reached on time and we started our journey, excited to visit this grand structure.

There were barely any vehicles on the road, since it was early morning and the road mostly had farmlands on either side. We got passing glimpses of peacocks on the fences of the farms. The driver stopped at a road side restaurant, Motel Gangaur, for breakfast. It is the only building in the area and is brick red in colour). A part of the building is turned into a curio shop. If you see this hotel and you are extremely hungry, KEEP GOING. The prices are over the roof and the service is bad(Rs100 for a bowl of curd that comes with single paratha of Rs 150). We realized that car drivers usually stop at hotels that offers them commission or free meals if they bring them customers.

Our plan for the day was to go to Fatehpur Sikri first, then visit Taj and the Agra Fort. But our driver suggested that we will stop at Fatehpur Sikri on our way back and that it is better to stop at Agra Fort first.

Agra Fort:

We continued the journey and reached Agra Fort at around 11am. We hired a guide here and from him we came to know that only 25% of the fort is opened to public. The rest of the Fort is occupied by the Indian Army. Agra Fort is a UNESCO world heritage and is made of red sandstone.

I chose to wear this extremely light, cotton, hand block printed indigo dress with pockets.

Parts of the fort are made of marble with gem stone inlay work. But the sad part is that most of these has been looted and we only get to see the empty designs, which were once adorned by gold and semi precious stones. The fort is not as well maintained as the palaces and forts we visited in Jaipur.

You can make out the semi precious stones and the empty designs from which the stones were taken off.

The garden, The Anguri Bagh, is similar to the one in Amer fort with geometrically arranged patterns. Also this was once the venue for the famous Meena bazaar, the private markets organized for the queens and maids.

The ceiling in this picture looks very ornate right. But the sad part is that this is the empty designs left after the gold inlay work has been melted and looted off by British armies.

This fort also has a Sheesh Mahal or Mirror palace like the one we visited in Jaipur, but not open to the public.

At the top of the fort, we have the Musamman Burj, which is an octagonal tower with a courtyard facing the Taj Mahal. You can make out the domes of the Taj in the fog.

In the meeting area,there are two benches : one made of white marble for Shah Jahan and another made of black marble (onyx) for his son Aurangzeb.

Story Time:
Shah Jahan was kept on house arrest in this tower by Aurangzeb(not a bad deal considering how beautiful his chamber is, with an awesome view of Taj Mahal), and later he died here. One story is that, Auragzeb assassinated all his siblings for his greed for the throne. Shah Jahan wished to get another Taj constructed in black marble for himself, next to the white one and this posed a threat to the already deprecating wealth of the empire. Hence his son kept him under house arrest.

And according to another story (which according to our guide, is the true story), Aurangzeb kept Shajhan imprisoned, so that he will not have any more offsprings from his other wives and thereby pose a threat to his throne.



Here is something interesting
: In this arch you can see stars, that depict Christianity; lotus, that depicts Hinduism and the typical Mughal motif.

Taj Mahal

We got down at the parking lot available for Taj visitors. There were many electric autos waiting to take people to Taj. You will be surrounded by people claiming as guides offering to help you. They were quoting steep charges, so we decided to not hire any. We got into an electric auto and came to know that Taj is closed to public till around 1.30pm. So we were dropped off at the Khadi emporium in the premise. The products made and sold here includes mosquito repellent bed sheets made of natural bamboo fiber and banana fiber saris. We didn’t have plans to buy any of these and resumed towards Taj. On the way another guide approached us who quoted a reasonable price(I think it was 200 or 250 Rs), so we hired him.

We were baffled to see the humongous crowd and the long queue for the entry, even on a Monday. Our guide, took us to another entry gate at the back side of the Taj where the crowd was less. But the waiting time for security check was too long and it was another hour before we entered the compound. Now what can I say, I have never noticed the tiny humans in any of the online pictures of Taj and therefore never contemplated that the structure is so colossal. And let me tell you, hiring a guide is a good idea because we wouldn’t have known about this view and taken this video otherwise.

You have to leave your slippers outside in a counter and enter barefooted or wear the socks sold here to enter the tomb. We decided to go barefooted. It was sunny but not very hot. We followed the queue while taking in the beauty of the garden and the mausoleum. Apart from the floral motifs with precious stone inlay work, what showcases the craftsman ship at that era, are the verses of Quran framing each arch.

Eventhough it looks like painted calligraphy, each letter is carved out of black marble, and inlaid in white marble, even the smallest dot. The perfection of the craftsmanship is mind blowing. Also the size of the letters are bigger towards the top and what looks like parallel lines, are actually extending outwards. So when a person looks at it from the bottom, it gives the illusion of the letters being the same size as at the top as in the bottom, framed by parallel lines.

Laid inside the chamber, are the false coffins of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. The original coffins are at a lower level and is not open to public.

There was an old man inside the chamber who showed us the reflections from the precious stone inlay work, using a pen torch. He also called out our names loudly, to demonstrate the echo. The lattice work in single marble slabs are intricate and exquisite.

By the time we got out of the Taj premises, we were starving. But our guide wanted to take us to the famous Agra petha shop, before letting us go. So once you are walking out, you will see many small shops with people calling out to you for buying mini Taj replicas and Agra pethas. They sell the pethas for as less as 100Rs per box. But our guide said that these are not authentic and are made from bottle gourds/cucumber.

He took us to this very small shop in a corner where the shop keeper seemed quite uninterested in us. A boy in the shop started cutting out small pieces of the different flavored pethas from plain ones to mango, rose, butterscotch and even paan flavored ones for us to taste. The owner claimed that these were authentic and organic made from ash gourd and was priced at around 300-450 Rs per box depending on the flavor. We took a box of plain pethas which had rose water syrup.
Unlike the pethas I have tried in South India, which is too sweet with crusty sugar coating, these were mildly sweet and drenched in slightly sticky syrup.

Next we walked around looking for the restaurants we had short listed with the help of Zomato. But as it turns out most of these were closed by now and we had to settle for the first veg restaurant we saw around.

Buland Darwaza :

After our late lunch, we were not too sure that we can make it to the famous Fatehpur Sikri and Bhuland Darwaza on our way back to Jaipur. We reached the parking lot available in Fatehpur Sikri, at around 4.30pm and we knew that the ticket counter closes at 5pm. The autowalas around started quoting steep fares for just 1km and so we avoided them and started walking towards the place. Now when you do that, we prepared to have the guides and auto drivers follow and stalk you throughout negotiating for prices. Finally we caved and got into one auto that quoted the least and already 2 men claiming to be guides were sitting with the driver in front. One of the guys, who was a local with red betal covered mouth, offered to show us around. We asked him about the tickets and he said he will take care of it.

The auto took us till the steps of Buland Darwaza and left. There was no ticket counter around and we followed this guy inside through the gigantic gateway. Buland Darwaza is the highest gateway(42 steps leading to this 40m structure) in the world and is the main entrance to the palace. Passing the gateway we came to a courtyard with the tomb of Salim Chisti at its center, made of white marble.

Behind this, there is a courtyard full of tombstones.

The ‘so called’ guide took us to a silk shawl seller sitting next to the tomb, who wanted us to buy the shawls to place over the tomb so that our wishes comes true. We courteously dismissed the offer as these plain clothes were priced at Rs 1500 and above. People also tie strings at the latticed walls of the tomb for their wishes to come true. We did not go inside the tomb chambers. Instead we sat on the steps and listened to the beautiful sufi songs sung by a group of musicians, in the courtyard colored by the setting sun.

As it was getting late, we expressed our concern to the guide in getting tickets to visit the palace areas, but he again assured that he will take care of it and took us next to a house near the entrance of the gate where his family sold curios made of marble. We just looked around and didn’t buy anything. When we came out, he said that’s all there is to see and asked for his fee. Since we had already done our research on the area, we argued that he didn’t take us to the palace areas and other structures around. He then apologetically admitted that the ticket counter is already closed and we realized that he was trying to fool us by just taking us here and calling it a day. We payed him just half of what we had agreed on and returned back to the parking lot in an auto. So if you are planning to visit Fatehpur Sikri, reach here before 4 and visit the palace grounds first and then come to Buland Darwaza. Don’t let these fake guides fool you.

We started our journey back, tired but happy to have visited the Taj. The last thing on our check list was to try the famous Laal Maas from Jaipur. We had shortlisted two restaurants and finalized ‘The Spice Court’, as per the suggestion of our driver. He dropped us in front of this courtyard garden restaurant and we were lucky to get seats without having prior reservation.

The Laal Maas or the spicy red lamb curry was worth the wait. The lamb was cooked to perfection, that it almost melted in the mouth. The gravy was red but not too spicy and was the perfect accompaniment for hot rotis.

By the time we finished the dinner it was around 10.30pm and we had to wait for another 1 hour before we got an Ola Auto. All the autos we booked were beig canceled by the drivers after 15-20min. But finally we got one and reached back at the hotel nearing midnight. We crashed in the bed, hoping to wake up completely rested the next day.

Things to remember:

1. Incase you go with your hotel to make travel arrangements for you(Jaipur to Agra), make sure you directly approach the head of staff or in our case the owner herself. Because incase you ask a receptionist to arrange a cab(as we did at first), they will usually hire someone who will give them commission and the driver will quote a higher amount to cover this.
2. There are a lot of dhabas on the way to Agra. So ask your driver to stop at one of these, rather than going with his suggestion of restaurant.
3. Always stick to the plan and don’t let your drive decide where to stop first.
4. Don’t hire a guide at Fatehpur Sikri.
5. Do bargain with the auto walas before hiring any as they will come around for nominal rate if you stick to your price.
6. Don’t buy Agra pethas from the street vendors. Buy only from authentic shops.
7. Don’t hire a guide whose rate is more than 250Rs. They quote from Rs 1000 and will try to fool you. But will come around if you just walk away.
8. Travel light and always carry skincare wipes and water for quick refreshment.
9. Don’t forget sunscreen.
10. Have an itinerary planned out after reading travel blogs and videos. Having a preplanned list of things to do and restaurants to try always helps.

You might also be interested in:

Day 1 : The grandeur of The Pink City
Day2 : A walk through the art, architecture and history

A Hundred Hands : Bangalore Edition

The 8th edition of the Annual Handmade Collective, A Hundred Hands is here in Bangalore. It is a colourful and fun bazaar, where you get to see and buy handmade products from artisans across India.

A Hundred Hands is a nonprofit trust whose mission is to help those directly involved in the creation of handmade art, crafts, and homemade foods, earn a fair and sustainable livelihood from their work.

Sisters Dr Sonia Dhawan and Mala Dhawan started this initiative from their home around 2008, to encourage local artisans and to provide a platform to sell their products directly to customers. Now this has grown to be so popular that it happens in different cities across India every year, showcasing the work of currently a hundred member artisans and NGOs.

Where in Bangalore : At the United Theological College in Miller’s Road.
When : 29th-3rd Dec
Next stops : 7th to 10th Dec in Fort Cochin, 15th to 17th Dec in Coimbatore.
Entry Fee : Rs 50/person

What to carry : Carry a cloth or paper bag to carry home all the goodies you buy from here. No need to carry cash as most of the stalls accepts card. Parking is available if you are an early bird.

A glimpse of the expo :

Incase you have been to Sunday Soul Sante, let me tell you this is a much bigger and pocket friendly bazaar, where you get to see amazing art. Also you get to interact with these artists and know first hand on the process and effort it takes to make these unique art works.

For example, this piece of art took 3 years to get completed.

These small sparrows perching on the branch, is made from banyan tree leaf.

Kantha work meets modern cuts, in this smart jacket.

Bought a fruit basket with lid from this stall. They also have air tight casseroles that keeps the food warm.

Thangka paintings.

A stall from Varnam Craft Collective, showcasing the Channapatna toy craft

Colourful and cute patch worked quilts and cushion covers.

Rajasthani juttis

Clay pottery

Yards and yards of beautiful Pochampalli, Ikkat and Ajrakh prints on silk, is heaven for designers and cloth lovers. Also there are crop tops, pallazoes and dresses for modern woman made from cotton and khadi with natural dyed block prints from brands like Funky Fusion

This beautiful stole is from the Gurunanak Phulkari House, all the way from Punjab.

So hope you all take home some great memories and beautiful handmade pieces by these artisans.