The Sahastralinga Talav, a museum and a conversation

Whenever I visit centuries-old monuments, the one thing that never fails to amaze me is how they were built without machinery of any sort to aid them. I am also struck by how the planners and builders of those times made optimum use of available resources in the absence of technology as we know it today.

A visit to the Sahastralinga Talav at Patan underscored these beliefs of mine. Located a kilometre away from Rani ni Vav, the Talav was one of the many artificial tanks built in Gujarat by Siddharaj Jaisinh (1093-1143 CE), a king from the Solanki Dynasty.

It was past noon when I arrived at the Sahastralinga Talav, after visiting the queen of stepwells. There was no one else at the site apart from a goat-herd and his frisky goats. Even though it was December and winter, it was quite hot and the sunlight very harsh. Due to this, I was initially reluctant to explore further. But I’m glad I did as I would not have missed out on exploring a real treasure.

Sahastralinga Talav, Patan, Solanki Dynasty, Gujarat, Water harvesting and water management system Continue reading

Rani ni Vav: The queen of stepwells

Rani ni Vav, Rani ki Vav, Queen's stepwell, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Incredible India, Gujarat, PatanIt is around 10.30 in the morning when I enter the Rani ni Vav (or the Queen’s Stepwell) complex at Patan. It’s a sunny with bright blue and cloudless skies.

I take this as an auspicious sign for I have been rather unlucky when it comes to viewing stepwells. Be it at Hampi, Champaner or Lonar, the wells were full of water when I visited these places and I could not see the step-like feature of the wells. So keenly aware I am of my ‘luck’ with stepwells that I cannot help asking the person selling entry tickets to the monument, if there is water in the stepwell. I get the reassuring reply that the water supply dried up a long time back and the step well is dry.

So it is with a spring in my steps and a smile on my face that I enter the complex. Manicured lawns and well laid out pathways welcome me, and I pass a photo shoot and coy couples hiding behind bushes on my way to the Rani ni Vav, which is a short walk from the entrance.

Soon the stepwell is visible or rather a fenced off rise and depression is visible and it is only when I am almost upon it that I see steps descending into the stepwell. I have picked up a booklet from the ticket office on the Rani ni Vav and settle down on the topmost step to read and familiarise myself with the history of the stepwell.

Rani ni Vav, Rani ki Vav, Queen's stepwell, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Incredible India, Gujarat, Patan Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Rockville Deli

I received an Asus ZenFone 4 for review about 10 days back and I have been testing out its various features, especially the camera. All pictures in this post (except one) have been taken with the phone camera.


It was dusk when I got out of Vashi Railway Station on Wednesday last week. The  weather as perfect as it can get in my part of the world — not warm, not cold, a slight breeze and a flaming sunset to match. There was a sense of unhurriedness as people made their way out of the station and I was no different.

I was on my way to Rockville Deli to join other Navi Mumbai Foodies for a meal there with the purpose of reviewing it. According to the information sent to me beforehand, Rockville Deli was “melting pot of global cuisine served in an innovative and alfresco dining”. I’m always intrigued by multi-cuisine restaurants, and couldn’t wait to see what Rockville had to offer.

I was a little early so had the time for a leisurely stroll to the Deli, which was just a short walk away. I passed food stalls with tempting aromas and much as I was tempted to try them out, it was towards Rockville that I quickened my steps towards.

Rockville Deli Vashi, Navi Mumbai Foodies, Restaurant Review, Continue reading

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2015

I received an Asus ZenFone 4 for review just a couple of days before the before the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival began giving me the perfect opportunity to test out the phone camera, something that is very important for me in a smart phone. Enjoy reading my KGAF post, but do let me know what you think of the photographs too.


 

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2015, KGAF 2015, Mumbai, Iconic Arts FestivalWhen I ended my post on the 2014 edition of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) last year, it was with mixed feelings. Though I had liked the installation / visual art on display, I hadn’t particularly enjoyed the way the events (or rather the heritage walks I had participated in) had been organised and conducted. I was upset enough to write a post on all that was wrong with the way the heritage walks were organised.

The KGAF 2014 had also ended with uncertainty about the 2015 edition of the festival. A Kala Ghoda resident had filed a case complaining about the inconvenience and nuisance caused by the KGAF and the Bombay High Court was considering shifting the venue elsewhere.

Over the last one year, I followed the news on all developments pertaining to the KGAF and read the arguments and the counter arguments, the demands made and the compromises offered… till one day, I saw the announcement for the KGAF 2015. At Rampart Row. And to be held as usual from the first Saturday of February.

That was on 7th February and I visited the KGAF on that very day. And then again on the 8th. Then the 10th, the 12th and finally on the 13th. I went alone and with friends, attended programmes and also met up more friends. Want to see what I did at the KGAF 2015? Read on…

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2015, KGAF 2015, Mumbai, Iconic Arts Festival

These colourful ladders were not part of any installation. I just saw them lined up and had to take a photo. Never say no to colour !

Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Macchiato

Remember to take pictures of the food before you eat. Remember to take pictures of the food before that first bite. Remember to take pictures of the food and not just the restaurant. Remember, remember… These words played in a loop in my mind as I travelled from my workplace to Macchiato at Belapur in Navi Mumbai, on Friday evening last week. This reminder is important as I’m headed to Macchiato to review it. Yes, review.

Regular readers of this blog might be surprised to see a restaurant review here as in the almost 5 years of its existence, I have never shown even a passing interest towards writing about food. Though I enjoy good food and take pleasure in eating a well-prepared meal, blogging about it never occurred to me. So when Pooja of We Are Navi Mumbai contacted me be part of a restaurant reviewing initiative by select bloggers, after my initial surprise and thinking it over, I said yes.

Macchiato was the first restaurant reviewed under this initiative. According to the restaurant’s website, it is a “casual dinning [sic] restaurant, where we intend to serve authentic Indo-Italian food within the budget of the Middle Class.” Since I like Italian cuisine, this was the perfect beginning to this new adventure of mine. The lit up entrance of Macchiato gave me the perfect welcome too !

Navi Mumbai Foodies, Macchiato Belapur, We Are Navi Mumbai, Italian Cuisine Continue reading

My “now” song: Aao balma

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

That day, I was bored and trawling YouTube for some interesting music to listen to, when a suggestion popped up. It was a Coke Studio India session featuring A.R. Rahman and Ustad Ghulam Mustafa. Now, I had not been particularly impressed with Coke Studio India till then. Sure there had been one or two good sessions, but nothing really spectacular like Coke Studio Pakistan has been (some of which I have shared in this series).

I clicked on the link and the music began to the familiar strains of Raga Yaman and then a young boy started to sing, followed by three other men before the chorus joined in to sing Aao, Aao Aao Balma… Three generations of Ghulam Mustafa family singing together. So far so good, I told myself. Nice, but nothing spectacular.

And then at exactly 1.52 minutes something happened. The guitar or rather Prasanna’s guitar came in and the magic began.

Continue reading