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.

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

Ancient Ayurveda Woodash Soaps

The man of the house has been demanding bath soap for a couple of days now (as I use herb powder from Krya currently, I don’t keep a tab of the soap stock). I had come across the Ancient Ayurveda brand in Amazon once and decided to give the soaps from this brand, a try.

What the brand calims:

Organic Soaps & Herbal Soaps Are Usually Filled With Colorants Which Are Created With Various Toxic Based Sub Ingredients That Is Hidden In There Description.Our Soaps On The Other Hand, Is Absolutely Free From All Synthetic Coloring Agents And Micas. Our In House Distilled Absolutes Ranges From Volatile Floral Oils All The Way Up To Steam Distilled Herbal Undiluted Extracts.

Impressive facts:
Unlike all the soap brands that prints only the ingredients used in making the soap (that too not always the complete list), they have printed a paragraph of chemical and harmful ingredients that they have not used in making these soaps.

Ancient Ayurveda Oleoresin Soap are absolutely Child Labour Free. These are not tested on animals and is handcrafted, hand-wrapped and hand-packed with 100% recycled paper.

I don’t think it gets anymore ethical this this.

Eventhough there are many combos available, I bought a set of these four soaps : Saffron Goatsmilk , Ashwagandha , Sheabutter Vco & Gotukola Woodash Soap and also the Indian red sandal soap separately.

Shop from : Amazon.in. This is also available in amazon.com.

Price: Since there was an introductory offer when I purchased this, I got them for a total of 525Rs for the combo and Rs281 for the sandalwood soap.

My Review:

The brand is so natural that, they use soy ink and recycled paper for packaging. The products are vegan and pure and is rich in ayurvedic oils (tailas) and herbs.
They have a herbal smell which is very mild and not overpowering at all. The red sandalwood soap has a beige color and is a perfect sphere, unlike the other soaps that are rectangular/oval in shape.

The soaps appear smooth at first but once I started using one, I found that one side of the soap has a layer scrubby herb particles. So infact one side of the soap can be used as a cleanser and the other side as a body scrub, which is very convenient.

The soap doesn’t lather heavily which is expected in the absence of lathering agents like sulphates. Eventhough you keep the soap in a dry dish, you will notice that a wet layer is formed on it. This is the seeping of the ingredient oils to the surface of the soap.

The best way to utilize this is to swipe off this oil layer from the surface of the soap with your hand, and massage it directly on the skin. This will help break down the dirt, sebum and any light makeup. You can then lather the soap with water and cleanse your face again, which will help to remove all the residues from your face.

The soap doesn’t dry out the skin and is great as a winter skincare product.

Also the most impressive part is that the brand works in association with Prajwala, the largest anti-human-sex-trafficking-shelter based in India.

How to increase the longevity of the soap:

This being a completely natural and oil rich soap, the chances of it melting are high. This makes it not very travel friendly, unless you cover it with a plastic wrap. You have to refrigerate the soaps that are not currently being used. I initially kept them in my shelf which is dark and cool. Yet the soaps melted a bit and the oils seeped out of the paper wrap. Also you can cut the soap into halves and use one part at a time.

Incase you buy the red sandalwood soap, don’t expect the sandalwood fragrance from it (which was a bit disappointing). It has a very mild fragrance compared to the other soaps and the fragrance doesn’t last on your skin after bath.

Overall this is a great soap for kids and adults.

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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.

Day2 : A walk through the art, architecture and history

Yet another day in Jaipur and today we are walking back in history. The Hotel Vimal Heritage, provided us with a complimentary breakfast buffet by the pool side. The spread included parathas, fruits and granola. After a hearty breakfast, we booked an ola auto and headed for Amer Fort.

The auto driver was friendly and courteous (just like every other person we met in this amazing city) and on the way the he showed us the famous Raj Mandir theatre in MI Road and the JalMahal palace. Also I spotted the blue pottery center but decided to stop there when we return.

Amer Fort:

We reached the fort and at the entrance, along the road, what you see first is the Maota lake. But at this time of the year, the water level has really lowered. On our way in, a man approached us and introduced himself as a government authorized guide. We were not really sure of getting a guide, but my husband being so interested in history, thought it would be good idea to hire him. This turned out to be the best decision of the day.

You can reach the fortress in elephant back or by walk. Since it is just about 10 min walk and also they use young elephants for the ride, I would suggest you walk just like we did. He started narrating the history, as we walked up the roads leading to the fort. We didn’t even realise that 10 min flew by,while we listened to the stories of the past, about the ambitious kings who built this fortress over generations and about the wars that happened in this very ground.

We entered the palace courtyard through the Suraj Pol(Sun gate. On the opposite side of this gate is the Chand Pol(Moon Gate).

The courtyard was very crowded because the upcoming Kangana Ranaut movie, about Rani Lakshmi Bhai, was getting filmed here. So there were several men, all clad in white rajasthani costumes, roaming around with fake weapons.

From the guide, we also came to know that many many movies has been filmed in the premises of the fort, including the last year’s hit Bajirao Mastani.

When you are in the first landing of the fort, there is a small temple. Attached on top of the temple doors, is a small idol of Lord Ganesha. This idol is carved from a single piece of red coral and I don’t think a coral of this size, can be found anywhere in the world now. Trust me, you wouldn’t notice this unless you have an informed guide.

Ganesh Pol:

The entry to the palaces of the Rajas is via a huge ornate three storied gate called, The Ganesh Pol .

This structure is absolutely stunning with intricate floral paintings, with a painting of lord Ganesh at its centre.

Sheesh Mahal:

We passed another courtyard, to reach the next main attraction, Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace. As you can see, entry is not allowed inside the Mahal as renovation is going on. We could see artists working on the old paintings.

The king got this palace made for the queen, when she shared her wish to sleep under the stars. Queens were not allowed to sleep in the open. So the king (he is a romantic for sure), got this mahal made for her, so that it gives the effect of sleeping under the stars. The palace walls and ceilings has mirror mosaics and intricate precious stone designs. Our guide took out his mobile phone and waved the torch light, at the ceiling. We were spellbound by the beautiful reflection, these millions of tiny mirror pieces made.

If in the daylight it looks this stunning, I can only imagine how magical it would be, when the candle lights gets reflected on these million mirror pieces at night. Also the candle light reflection was a means to keep the room warm at night, in those times.

Here is a puzzle

Identify 7 designs in this flower.

Hint : Most of these are body parts of animals.

This Magic flower is from one of the pillars in the sheesh mahal, made of marble. You can identify lotus, fish tail, snake, scorpion, elephant trunk, a cob of corn and a lion’s tail. If a single flower holds such mysteries, imagine the jewels of craftsmanship hidden in this entire palace.

Sukh Niwas:

It is a hall used by kings and queens to relax, as the name suggests. There is a garden in front of the hall, shaped like the star mosaics in the sheesh mahal. Did I mention that our guide was an amazing photographer as well?

This hall has a channel that carries cold water for natural cooling effect. Elements like these, are what astounds us about the architecture. About how well these structures mingles with the nature. The rooms are constructed based on the direction of winds or rains, there will be copper pipes with holes which transmits water and create the effect of rain in courtyards, there will be rain water harvesting techniques and way to run it through the garden and then later recycled. The ancient architects were true artists and much ahead of us in terms of technology.

Inspite of not having motor vehicles or roads, these kings have made it possible to get colored mirrors, precious stones and marbles transported from across the globe. Imagine how much sweat and blood would have taken for getting a palace made.

OK back to the present. Here is a picture of the Kesar Kyaari(Saffron Garden) in the Maota lake(the one we saw from the road). It is said that the Raja tried growing saffron in this garden but it didn’t go well because of the hot climate.

Also from the topmost courtyard, we could see the only Mira-Krishna temple in the world, among the ruins of havelis in the old amer city.

Now let us talk about the most interesting part of the day : Shopping.

There are shops inside the Palace premises that sells rajai(cotton quilts), home decor items and clothes. We bought a beautiful royal blue quilt and silk cushion covers from here.

But mind you, these are not government emporium (eventhough the shop keepers claims so). The shops are given on lease to private vendors by the government. I suggest you don’t purchase anything from the palace, because now we are heading towards an exclusive and authentic shopping place in the old city.

The Best Place to Shop Authentic Rajasthani textiles, jewelry and everything else:

Our guide encouraged us to visit an emporium located a few minutes away from the fortress. To encourage local artisans and sell original products at very nominal rates, the government has provided free transportation to and from the emporium, which sounded great. So we got into a jeep and headed towards this emporium along with our guide.

We met an elderly man here who took us around the building. Each floor is literally a treasure trove. On the ground floor, he demonstrated the art of block printing using vegetable dyes and dyes made from semi precious stones. He showed us how the color changes from red to blue, when the dyed cloth is dipped in a salt solution. Then he took us to the jewelry section, where beautiful jewelry made of precious and semi precious stones set in silver were displayed. These jewelry comes with a gurantee and can be returned to the nearest Khadi shop in your city, and they assure a cash back.

I spend much time looking around, ogling at the huge precious stones and stunning strings of multicolored corals. Next we headed to the textile section. All the clothes sold here are dyed using natural colors and has hand block prints. From dupattas to intricate wall hangings, from saris to reversible jackets each piece is made by hand and is of high quality.

The next two floors had beautiful Rajasthani miniature paintings, camel leather footwears and a stunning display of the largest model of Taj Mahal in original marble, completely hand made. Another section showcased inlay work of semi precious stones, in small marble boxes. There is something for everyone here and this is a must visit place to enjoy the marvels, created by these gifted artisans.

We didn’t have the energy to walk anymore. So we were relieved to find a restaurant inside the same complex. We savoured on hot chole baturas and dal batti churma and was all set to explore more.

We took the free return trip, back to the fort gates. Our plan was to visit the nearby forts like Jaigarh and Nahargarh. But no Ola cabs were available and the local cabs and autos were quoting steep rates for less than 8km travel. So we waited for a while and got into a public a/c bus that was going in the direction we were heading to. The bus had a stop right at the foot of the road, leading to Jaigarh fort. But one elderly passenger suggested us to get down a little ahead near Jal Mahal, as it would be difficult to get transportation towards the fort gates from this stop. So we got down ahead as he suggested and saw him get down as well. He started following us for a while asking us to hire him as a guide. We didn’t see that coming! We ignored him and walked ahead.

We didn’t quite like the Jal Mahal area, as it was crowded with street vendors and not so nice public. We also didn’t want to go back to Jaigarh fort, unsure about getting cabs for returning to the hotel later in the evening. So we hired an auto to go to the shop I was most looking forward to visiting, The Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Center.

Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Center:

This store is easy to locate as it is the most colorful building, that stands out among the earthy hued buildings in Amer road. There are many blue pottery stores in Jaipur, but this one is the real deal.

The entrance is decorated with wall plates in various colors, but mostly blue and white. Mr Anil Doraya, a President award winner, for working towards reviving this art form and making it popular, welcomed us to his abode. He asked one of his students to give us an idea of the procedure of making these stunning pieces.

The ink blue color is imparted from cobalt oxide and the lighter blue shades, yellow, browns and greens are also derived from natural stones or plant dyes. The raw materials for the ceramic includes quartz, glass, rock salt, gum, sodium bicarbonate and fullers earth. He said that around 60-70% of the ceramic products breaks before it gets to the painting stage, which makes each piece very precious. Mr Anil Doraya has done much research and experimentation to discover more colors and shades that could be used in this art.

From small magnets to large pots and plates, from tiny buttons to soap dispensers and tea sets, this store will leave you in awe of the eye catching colours and patterns in everyday objects.

Bapu Bazar:

This is another famous shopping street near Johari bazar, where we stopped next, for a late evening walk. We were standing outside one shop and I noticed some unique block printed fabric inside. Unlike other vendors, who calls out from their shops forcing you to take a look, here there was even a board that said something like ‘only customers well informed of quality textiles are welcome’.


PC:Googleimages. A print similar to this was what I liked the most in their collection.

If you have heard of high end brands like Good Earth, Kilol and Jaypore, that sells very unique and stylish block printed attires for the modern woman, this shop is an affordable and equally good version of them. Incase you are interested, this is shop no: 106, called Jaipurwala (if I am not wrong), in one corner of the long row of shops in bapu bazar.

We promised to stop by again, another day incase we could spare some time, as the owner wanted us to take a look at their latest men’s clothing range, which would be available the next day. As stepped out of the shop, we were caught in the middle of a colorful and loud procession on the road by the Sikh community. We watched the festive displays and dancers for a while and returned back to our hotel in an Ola cab.

We got talking to the cab driver and told him about our plans to visit Agra. He quoted a much cheaper rate than the price we saw online and showed interest in taking us there. We took his number once we reached the hotel , incase we decided to accept his offer.

This was the most happening day of our travel, so far. We met some amazing people (we were so caught up talking to them about everything else, that we forgot to ask their names), had some scrumptious food and time travelled to the pages of some royal history.

PS: If you have a vehicle to travel around, you can plan to spend some time at Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts in the evening. The sunset from Nahargarh fort is highly recommended in many travel blogs.

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Day 1 : The grandeur of The Pink City

Travel in Style : Urby

I recently received a cutomised product that I was very much in need of, an elegant passport holder, from the brand called Urby.

Why you should check out this brand:

Incase you are someone who struggles to think of useful gifts for friends or family (especially for men), this site will spoil you for choices.

Check out the site : Urby

Urby is a direct-to-consumer, lifestyle and travel accessories brand. They design and manufacture essentials for an urban lifestyle using the most premium materials and finest craftsmanship.

About the brand:

I read about the brand and their story is quite interesting. We all know that premium brands always sells their products for atleast double the original price in India, as compared to USA or other foreign countries. Exactly why we all ask our aunts and uncles abroad to bring us laptops and other products. Sometimes even when we are ready to pay, we might have to compromise on the quality here. Urby was born to eliminate this gap, by selling directly to the customer, without any middlemen who just contributes to the price and nothing to the product.

What does the brand offer:

Premium quality products that are affordable. The products include travel accessories, wallets, pouches, passport holders, phone & watch cases, jewelry organizers etc. All their products come with a one-year, material and craftsmanship guarantee.

My take on the product :

The starting range of passport holders in the site is Rs 795, which I feel is quite reasonable for a premium quality product that can be used for a life time. The brand offers a wide range of colours and textures for their products. You can also get couples passport holders and kids variant with cute labels. There is also an option to customise with any text you want to get debossed in the product.

I received a white passport holder, customised with my name in gold letters. Here is the unboxing video.

The product comes in a drawstring cloth pouch, inside a black box with the brand name. There are 3 slots for cards, and another bigger one that can be used for currency or coins. There is a long side pocket on one side and one on the outer cover that will be useful to keep boarding pass or currency. The inside of the sleeves are lined with a velvet material. The passport slot is on the right side, and my passport fits snuggly in it.

Even with the cards and passport inside, the product is quite sleek and doesn’t bulge up. Also the sleeves are quite flexible and doesn’t create lines when bent. But I will have to use it for a while to give an honest opinion on its durability.

Incase you are someone who would leave this in your handbag with a million other things like pens without cap; I would strongly recommend you to go for darker colours. White for sure looks very nice, but might not stay white for long with me (:P). I made a tiny mark on it with a pen to find out if it can be wiped off with a wet tissue and I couldn’t.

What I liked the best about this brand is that, they have a wide range of lifestyle products that looks very high fashioned and classy, but are still affordable. And more importantly, these will make good gifts for your loved ones.

Also they offer free shipping and free returns.

Discount code just for my readers:

Urby is a direct to consumer brand with products at an amazing value. They don’t have a discount code box on the website. But for FOB readers, they have given this special offer.

Use the coupon code FLBEUTY17 to get 10% off on your Urby purchase.

You need to email this code to support@urby.in along with the names/links of products you would like to purchase. The support team will help you with the discount.

All natural and vegan deodorant

Sweating is the cooling mechanism of the body. It is a way of eliminating toxins. Think of the saunas and steam baths, in most variants of natural medicine or as a method for relaxation and improving health.Sweating improves circulation and kills harmful bacteria and virus. Taking steam from a small brass pot, followed by a medicinal coffee made by my grandma is till date, my most effective remedy for fever. Sweating cleanses pores, which is why taking a steam before applying face masks, improves its efficacy. Sweating is the way of excretion from the body’s largest glad, the skin.

Our skin has sweat glands all over the skin. So what happens if you put stoppers in all the pores, through which the body can release toxins? This is exactly what you do when you use anti antiperspirant sprays or deodorants. We use it because we think not sweating is the best solution for odourless underarms. Sweat doesn’t have odour,but the body odour comes from skin bacteria breaking down the sweat secretions. Also using chemical laden deodorants has many harmful effects on our health which includes darkening of skin and hormonal imbalance.

So the solution is not to clog the sweat glands, but to find a solution for the odour, while letting the body do its detoxification. So here is one product, that is all natural, vegan and can be used by all skin types.

Lavender & Grapefruit Natural Deodorant Cream

Brand: Burst Of Happyness

Product claims : A one of its kind natural deodorant cream which helps to eliminate body odour and inhibit bacterial growth.

Baking Soda has natural deodorizing qualities. Arrow Root Flour helps to absorb moisture. Jojoba oil has a non greasy texture which resembles human sebum and helps to soften the skin. Cocoa Butter is rich in vit E and offers great moisturizing benefits. Coconut Oil has anti bacterial properties. Sunflower oil is a light oil which is easily absorbed and it offers anti inflammatory properties. Essential oils make sure that your pits smell good all day long!

This deodorant cream contains no water, therefore doesn’t need ANY chemicals to preserve, emulsify, thicken, etc. . It is all natural and free from aggressive chemicals like parabens, aluminium compounds, which are linked to various health issues.

Ingredients:

Price: Rs 620

Packing: The deo cream comes in a small glass tub with a plastic lid. Can be easily carried in a small hand bag.

Texture: The product is not a fluffy cream, but has a dense formula. In hot regions, this might slightly melt as it is made of oils and butters. So it has to be refrigerated or stored in a cool place. My product has not changed its form as it is a pleasant climate here, and I usually scoop it out with a wooden spoon or using my fingers.Once it comes in contact with the skin, the product melts. On massaging, it turns slightly grainy because of the fine particles and gets easily absorbed into the skin.

Fragrance: It is a unisex fragrance and is the highlight of the product.

Buy from : BOH Site or from Amazon

My take on the product:

I don’t find any inconvenience to take out the product as it can be easily scooped out. The cream is not very smooth but on touch with the body, it melts and spreads easily on skin. It doesn’t feel sticky or oily on skin and gets easily absorbed in a few minutes.

The product has a pleasant fragrance. If you don’t like strong scents, this one is for you. The fragrance is imparted by essential oils and not by chemical perfumes. The notes of grapefruit mixed with lavender is a very calming scent that reminds me of bergamot fragrance. But because it is all natural, the fragrance fades after around 3-4 hours but the unpleasant odour is still kept at bay all day long. Incase you sweat profusely for long hours, I would suggest reapplying the product. I think I would love the fragrance of the rose variant more.

I also apply this cream on my pulse points for its fragrance, eventhough I wish it stayed longer. The cream is very moisturizing, thanks to the butters, oils and glycerin. So it will not dry out or stretch your skin, like the normal deodorants. Also it has not caused any irritation or discoloration on my skin. But it is always advisable to do a patch test before using it directly.

The arrow root powder and kaolin clay helps to absorb moisture from the skin and I think these ingredients are the culprits for giving the slightly grainy texture of the product when in the tub. The best part is that even though the quantity seems less, a very tiny amount is all you need for one time use. So I am sure that this small tub is going to last me long.


This is more than what you would need for one application.

Also this product can be doubled up as a body butter, as it effectively moisturizes dry patches on skin.

Overall this is a great alternative to toxic deodorants and can be used daily without disrupting the natural body processes. I would surely buy this again but mostly the another variant as I would like to try all the fragrances.

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Hearty, healthy , easy and super tasty breakfast recipes

Breakfast is a very important meal of the day. A nutritious breakfast can get us going all day without fatigue or hunger pangs. So here are some quick but nutrient rich breakfast and snack option for people on the go.

1. Overnight oats/ Oats porridge:

Not everyone is a fan of oats but trust me this is quite tasty.

Benefits of oats :

Whole Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants, Including Avenanthramides
Oats Contain a Powerful Soluble Fiber Called Beta-Glucan
They Can Lower Cholesterol Levels and Protect LDL Cholesterol From Damage.
Oats Can Improve Blood Sugar Control


Ingredients for the porridge
: You can add or subtract ingredients from this as per your choice and availability. This is to just give you an idea of all the options possible.

Milk or Greek Yogurt(not sour)
Rolled oats: This is preferrable as it is the least processed variant and is fiber rich and is more tasty. Since instant oats is available easily, you can use that as well.
Seeds like chia, flax, sunflower, melon ,pumpkin,sesame.
Dry fruits and nuts : dates, raisins, almond, peanuts, cashew, walnut etc.
Fresh fruits like banana, mango, berries etc.
Optional : cinnamon powder, vanilla extract for flavour.
If necessary : Cane Sugar/honey/coconut sugar

Preparation:
There are 2 options to prepare oats: Either cook it in milk or just add milk/yogurt to a cup of oats and leave it overnight in fridge. It becomes soft and creamy in the morning, no cooking involved. Add vanilla or cinnamon powder for extra flavour. Fruits like mango and strawberry can be added along with oats and kept overnight.
In a bowl layer banana pieces, oats mix and any other fruits of your choice. I added mango pieces. Dry roast seeds and nuts till they become crunchy. Break the walnutsto small pieces. Soak raisins in some water.
Now top the oats bowl with all these and dig in 🙂 This keeps you full for long and is a complete meal.

NOTE:
You can roast all seeds and nuts prior and store it in a jar for future use as well.

You will get these seeds in most of the normal provisional stores for as less as 20Rs for 100gms.Seeds are packed with dietary fibre, protein, good fats and antioxidants. They release energy slowly throughout the day.

Also if you like crunchy caramel oats, toast oats with cane sugar in a pan till it becomes crispy and store it along with nuts and seeds. This is your own home made muesli.

2. Oats pancake:

Far better and tastier than the maida pancakes and easier to make as well.

Ingredients :

Rolled oats,baking soda,milk.
Rest I leave it to you: any or all of the above ingredients for porridge can be used here as well.

Preparation:

Add the oats to a mixer jar and powder it. Need not be a very fine powder. Add milk to the powder in a bowl and whisk it with a spoon or spatula,to get a lump free smooth thick dough. It should be thicker than your dosa batter. Add a pinch or two of baking soda and keep it aside for 15-20min.

Once the dough has risen slightly(you will notice bubbles in it), add the other ingredients like seeds, nuts, choco chips, cinnamon powder etc as per your liking. Add half teaspoon of salt and incase you like the pancakes sweet, add 2 spoons of cane sugar or honey.

Pour a ladle full of batter to a hot tawa and flip it when one side is done. You can have this with peanut butter, jam, cut fruits sprinkled on top or honey drizzled on top.

3. Peanut carrot mix

This is an easy healthy snack that will satisfy you from the midday hunger pangs.

Ingredients:

Grated carrots, roasted peanut without skin, salt, lime juice

Preparation:

Add the peanuts and grated carrot to a mixer jar and crush it with two reverse pulse. We just need the peanuts and carrots to be crushed and not powdered or grinded. Transfer it to a bowl and add salt and lime extract for taste.

4. Banana peanut porridge

Ingredients:
Ripe banana, peanuts(soaked in water and dried), cardamom powder, honey

Preparation:
All you need to do is add the bananas and peanuts to a blender and blend it well till it becomes a porridge like consistency. Add cardamom powder and honey to taste.

5. Whole grain bread with sautéed baby potatoes, mushroom and coleslaw

You can boil and peel the baby potatoes on the previous night to save time in the morning. if the potatoes are fresh and clean, you don’t have to remove the peel.

Ingredients :

Whole grain bread ,gralic, button mushroom, baby potatoes, grated cabbage and carrot, yogurt(instead of mayo).

Preparation:

In a pan heat olive oil and add crushed/sliced garlic. Roast cut mushrooms and potatoes separately in the garlic oil till the potatoes turn brown and mushrooms are well cooked and glazed. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep this aside.

To grated cabbage and carrot add 2-3 spoons of plain greek side yogurt and add salt, pepper and a dash of lime to taste.

Have these with hot toast.

Hope you liked these recipes. Do try them out and let me know your feedback.

Simple Steps towards sustainable living

Read time: 5min

This is not a modern concept. For eg, our grandmas would have hardly gone to buy skin care things from store, but still they know all the tips and tricks using just kitchen ingredients.For eg. an oil massage before a bath (abhyanga) when followed religiously, will give you a healthy,resilient and glowing skin and can even cure the muscle pains and fatigue.This is the only anti ageing practice you need.Also they used to use wood ash and tamarind for cleaning utensils. They had no peeling skin or harmful chemical residue left on utensils.
But we prefer easy, less time consuming methods or preferably ready to use products that comes packaged.

One thing as consumers, we neglect to do is read the ingredient list of any product, be it your skincare product, food you buy from stores, washing powders, baby products, pet products…anything. We trust the advertisements, and our judging factors are the smell, flavour, cost, packaging of the product and if we are getting any free products when we buy them. In most cases, these factors hold a higher rank than whether we actually need the product?, whether it, in anyway harms us? or rather whether it is sustainable and aids to a healthy lifestyle?

Why should we use these natural products, when what we already use serves the purpose?

Right from the tooth paste we use, to the cosmetics and home care products, everything is just a mix of colours, fragrances, pertoleum by products, chemicals and preservatives. Our skin absorbs upto 60% of what we apply on it and these non-biodegradable chemicals, enters our blood stream or build up on our skin and can cause cancer,infections, fatigue, dizziness, irritate eyes, hormonal imbalance, respiratory problems and in the extreme cases even DNA damage.The fragrance you love the most about these products, are for masking the smell of concoction of chemicals that constitute the product.

Why is it that we have not heard about these ingredients or brands?

Because in our consumerist society advertisements, are the deciding factors for us and we don’t keep our eyes open. In India there are no strict rules or laws to maintain quality or to test toxicity of everyday products and we still rebound to instant noodles, brick powder mixed chili powder and cancerous baby powders eventhough some brands are caught red handed often. Fair and lovely still lures teenagers and there are barely any informed moms who could teach children to make better choices. We don’t have time to research on whether the products we consume are really the only things we consume with it. And later we wonder how that uncle, aunty or colleague who never drinks, smokes or eat outside, still fell sick.

Here are some image from web, that might help you understand how bad it is.


What is the difference between organic and natural?

Organic products have ingredients produced by organic methods defined by certifying bodies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under its Organic Food Products Act. But for a natural product there are no regulations on how the ingredients are grown. It is a more generic tag where the product is devoid of artificial color, flavour, preservatives, hormones etc. All organic products are natural, but not vice versa. So be careful when buying products tagged as natural, unless they are from trusted brands. There are many known brands in market that boasts of natural ingredients but have preservatives and chemicals in them. The parabens and synthetic preservatives used in these products increases the shelf life of the product. But it can disrupt the endocrine system of your body. Natural preservatives used in organic products have shorter shelf life, but these freshly made products are like food for your skin. Your skin and body will thank you for it.

Where to start : Right at home. Ditch all your non-natural products at home for a week and see what you can make use of, from kitchen or your garden to replace them. See the difference it makes to your skin and environment. Let me give you some examples.

1. Use few drops of essential oils like lemon grass, tea tree oil mixed in water for repelling insects and bugs.
2. Other fruity or floral essential oils in water for cleaning floors.
3. Aloevera gel or almond oil as moisturizer
4. Green gram powder or crushed hibiscus mix as shampoo
5. Chick pea flour as cleanser
6. Soap berry powder as detergent
7. Use charcoal powder and salt mixed with coconut oil for cleansing the teeth

But are these always practical in our busy lives or do they always seem appealing?

That’s why we have these natural and organic brands that sell pre-made packaged products made of pure ingredients, handmade in small batches and hence has a shorter shelf life compared to products with preservatives..These are available everywhere as these brands sell via websites, local organic stores, social media like Instagram and FB and via online platforms like Amazon and Nykaa.
If you go through my posts,you will see that I always include the link to shop or mention where you can buy the products from.

What lifestyle changes can help your quality of living and the environment?
Do you ever wonder where, all the used plastic tooth brushes and sanitary pads go. In landfills. They don’t degrade and they stay there for ever. So does, the chemical laden water that seeps into the ground from our kitchens and bathrooms, thereby polluting ground water.

Just know that for every product you use there are alternative natural ones. Including your home care products, baby care products, cosmetics like lipsticks (Read the review here)or for men may be things like shaving cream, hair gels, natural deodorants etc.

The water from using the natural detergents, shampoo and cleaners can be reused for watering the plants as these are totally safe and biodegradable. The natural detergents are very mild on skin and cleanses the utensils without leaving any grease or dirt and uses much less water than the heavy duty chemical gels.

Also using sustainable cotton clothes with natural dyes makes huge difference to your lifestyle as well as the environment.

Organic food helps to flush out toxins from your body over a period of time and promotes overall well being.

Using menstrual cups can bring a huge change in women’s well being as well as help the environment .(Read more here)

Busting myths:
1. Natural products are not appealing :Many of you might think natural products means ones that smells very herbal, like ayurvedic medicines or something that is of good quality and zero appeal. Let me just bust that bubble now. The concoction of essential oils used in many of the products I have used smells out of the world and even freshens up the room with natural fragrance. Take a look at the soaps below if you don’t believe me. Unlike hot processed industrial soaps, these are cold processed, which means there is no loss of nutrients or quality of natural ingredients. Also these are rich in natural butters, oils, clays,fruit and flower extracts.


PC:Giabathandbodyworks


PC:Juicychemistry

2. Organic products are super costly : This is another myth. When you buy a mass produced product from store, you don’t realize that the product itself costs only one fourth of it’s MRP and that you are actually paying for all the marketing and fancy packaging.But for an organic product to be made it involves steps like ethically sourcing quality ingredients, an artisan making fresh batch of products by hand and send with love.

Also you just need a pea size of the product compared to the normal variants. The products are very concentrated and pure that a little goes a long way.There are affordable natural skin care brands as well as high end ones.It depends on the ingredients in the products and the process of making them. But every customer makes a difference for these people unlike the mass producing, cosmetic tycoons.Almost everytime I buy a product, I get hand written notes on how much they appreciate us buying from them. You can consult the makers to have products curated for your needs. They even customize products for your liking.

This is not an overnight change you can bring about in life. Start by reading more on this and make informed choices in life.
Going forward,read the ingredients in all the products you buy and make a conscious choice.Many of these chemicals that are listed might be alien to you. But in this age of technology,the answers are just one click away. Search the ingredient name in web and read about it. Infact you just take your tooth paste/ shampoo or detergent at home and just read about all the ingredients in them. I am pretty sure, you will think twice about using them again.

If you feel this is a tedious process, the alternative is to read my blog posts :)Hope this post was informative.

How you can save your hair from years of chemical torture

I think it’s time for another hair care post, as many of you have been asking me solutions for hair fall issues and the like. Let us get straight into the problem. Choose the methods/ingredients from this post, as per your hair type and need. You can ask your doubts by posting comments here.

The most common hair related problems are dandruff, hairfall, frizziness or oiliness.

Reasons:

The above problems can be inter related. And the reasons can be many. Incase you have moved to a different city, most probably you will face a high rate of hair fall. This can be due to chlorinated or hard water, pollution, or even different climatic conditions.
Otherwise it could be because of your diet. You might not be drinking enough water, eating your greens or you might be taking too much caffeine or alcohol.
It can also be due to hormonal changes, illness, reaction of any product, stress or even because of your favourite chemical laden shampoo.

So how can you fix it?

There is no overnight fix for anything when it comes to natural skin and haircare. You have to be consistent and ready to invest time in yourself. Our goal is to get a healthy and balanced scalp and that + a healthy diet will give you solution for your hair problems.

The first step for a healthy scalp is getting rid of all your sulphate laden hair care products. DON’T EVER TOUCH THEM AGAIN.This includes products from The Body Shop and few SLS laden cleansers from Kama Ayurveda as well. The brand name doesn’t matter. Check the ingredients. Google will provide you more than enough resources on what to avoid.

Dandruff:

Tea tree oil is what you need. You can buy it from brands like soulflower, juicy chemistry, blend it raw beauty,Nykaa etc. I am talking about the essential oil and not any blend.Other alternatives are Frankincense and Peppermint essential oil. You can add few drops of one of these or all in your coconut hair oil or which ever hair oil you use and warm it up a little before applying on the scalp. You don’t have to keep it overnight. Just half and hour to an hour is more than enough.Do this regularly, atleast thrice every week in the beginning.You can also add a piece of camphor in the mix while warming the oil.

Please don’t soak your hair in oil. Applying more oil not only won’t give any added benefits but might cause break outs, incase you have oily skin. Use just enough to condition the hair and scalp.


If you need a hair oil suggestion, I would recommend the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil. for no sticky hair oils, try Kama Ayurveda Bringadi oil and Just herbs Japakusum oil.

Cleansing: You will get all the info you need from this post (6 types of hair cleansers are reviewed here). Natural hair cleansers are mild and will not dry out the hair and scalp. So no need of conditioners. But incase you feel you need something for your unruly hair, a few drops of pure almond oil (Not the bajaj variant which is just a mix)will do the magic. Just 2-3 drops at the ends while hair is still damp.

You can get pure food grade almond oil from mitti.se.

Home made hibiscus cleanser:
For those days, you don’t oil your hair you can make this hibiscus hair cleanser. Best prepared with red small hibiscus.
1.Pluck few hibiscus leaves and flowers
2.Clean it well in water
3.Crush it with your hand in water until it turns thick and sticky/ you can also use a mixer but using hands gives best results.
4.Sieve it so that you get the sticky pulp with no leaves or flower matter.
5. Use it on wet hair and gently massage for a light lather.
6. Wash it off with water.

Hair Drying :
Please towel dry the hair and do avoid electric dryers as much as possible. Also don’t rub your hair vigorously with towel. Just tie it up and leave for sometime and then leave it open to dry.

Hair mask for strong, smooth and shiny hair:

Let your imagination fly high. It is always best to buy pure ingredients and whip up a fresh mask. You can buy clays like kaolin, bentonite, pure aloe vera gel and essential oils and prepare your own masks.

1.Curd, egg white, lemon juice,honey, clay, aloe gel, tea tree oil, mashed ripe banana > You can mix aany of these ingredients to get very nourishing hair mask.
2. Another very interesting hair mask is using flax seed gel. You can buy flax seeds from any provisional store. Add 1 and half to 2 cups of water to a spoon of flaxseed in a bowl and keep it in low flame. Keep stirring untill you get a slight gel like sticky consistency. Let it cool and then strain the gel using a muslin cloth or strainer.
This gel is rich in omega 3 and can be stored in fridge. You can also use it as a styling gel. It gives shine and softness to hair and also promotes hair growth. It can be used as an alternative to aloevera gel in masks.

Now incase you want to just use a premade hair mask, you can try the ones from Krya and Juicy Chemistry.But why spend alot, when you can use a aloevera gel and tea tree oil mix.

Rinse:

Now if your hair loss is because of the bad quality of tap water, you can use a hair rinse at the end. This will help in washing off the residue from the scalp. Some options are :

1.Tea water(you can boil left over tea leaves from making tea in water and use it)
2.Rose water mixed with purified water(drinking water)/ you can boil rose petals in water and use
3.1 spoon apple cider vinegar in a cup of water
4.Neem water(Boil few neem leaves in water)

Water and Diet:

No one drinks enough water daily. Most of you just forget and might utmost drink just 1 litre or so in a day. There is no point in doing anything topically, unless you are well hydrated and eat a protein rich diet. So keep away from very oily and spicy food. Eat less salt and sugar. Eat sprouts and green leaves. Drink buttermilk instead of using curd. Eat curry leaves and amla. All this will help in hair growth.

Health issues:

Consult a doctor or dermatologist incase your hair fall is due to health conditions, skin issues like alopecia or reaction to any medicine. Don’t keep experimenting until it is too late.

Tips:

The transition to natural cleansers might weigh your hair down in the beginning. That is because it takes a while for also the chemical residues to get washed off and for your hair to get accustomed to the product. So don’t stop using the product in between and switch back. Use it for a while, and your hair will thank you.

Cover your hair when spending alot of time in sun or dust.
Use a wooden comb instead of plastic one to avoid air breakage due to static.
Avoid brushing your hair when wet. Use a comb with wide teeth if necessary.
Pleat your hair before going to bed.

Throw away your chemical bottles and let nature take its course in giving life back to your hair.Finally, be happy and don’t let stress and pollution take away your beautiful tresses.

Other hair care posts that might interest you:

Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes

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

My two favorite non-greasy, deep conditioning hair oils

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Cheesecake for the soul : Quick no bake recipe

Since I posted the cheese cake pic on my insta handle, many of you have been asking me for the recipe. This is one recipe the man of the house loves. This one barely takes any time and will for sure impress your guests.

This is a recipe that you can play around with and change to suit the flavour you love. You can add more textures and ingredients like fruits, nuts, preserves etc to make it more yummy.

So here is the recipe. Also on a side note, I am not someone who follows measurements. I just go by the feel and taste. So just adjust the quantities accordingly.

Ingredients you will need for the basic recipe:

Cream cheese : I had the salted variant. Unsalted will be the best.
Full cream
Sugar
Gelatin
For flavour you can use any of these : essence, thick fruit pulp, icecream, fresh fruit
Plain biscuit like Marie or glucose biscuit
Butter – Melt it so that it can be easily mixed

How to transform the ingredients to a cheesecake :

Basically you need to mix all the ingredients(except the biscuit powder) together and keep it in refrigerator to set. That’s all. But let me break it down for you.

1. Crush the biscuit in a mixer and make a crumbly powder
2. Add melted butter to the biscuit powder and mix well
3. Take a flat glass or steel tray in which you are going to set the cake. Butter the tray so that the cake doesn’t stick to it.
4. Now evenly spread the biscuit mix in the tray and keep it in the freezer till we whip up the filling.
5. In a bowl take the cream cheese slab and whip it well with a spatula, or any whipping tool to form a creamy consistency.
6. Add full cream(half the quantity of cream cheese) to loosen up the thick consistency.
7. I did not add sugar to this mix, since I used mango icecream which was already sweet. If you are using essence or fruit puree, now is the time to add powdered sugar and whip the mix again to a smooth consistency.
So basically you can add sugar+any essence of your choice/ fruit pulp + fruit chunks or just keep it plain and add a layer of fruit pulp on top once the cheese layer is set.
8. Mix gelatin/agar-agar with warm water and keep it on heat to melt it completely. You can use a double boiler or just directly keep it in low flame.
9. Now add this to the cream cheese mix and again mix well. Say for 1 block of cream cheese, I used around 3 spoons of gelatin powder. This is what makes the cheese cake wobble and you know, essentially look like cheese cake. So incase once you mix it and feel like it’s too runny, you can again add more gelatin solution to the mix. You can do it even after you refrigerate the mix and feel like it has not reached the right consistency.
10. Now take out the tray and pour the cheese mix on top of the biscuit layer evenly. Keep it in freezer for 15 min and the cake will be ready.

If you want to add another layer of say fruit pulp or fresh fruits, wait till the cheese layer is set. You can add gelatin mix to pure fruit pulp and spread it on top of cheese layer for that extra flavour.

Eventhough it looks like there are lot of steps, it will barely take you half an hour to make this. So do try it out and let me know how it turned out.