Bhai Dooj Festival : Hindu Ritual for Sister & Brother

Bhai Dooj. is one of the major festivals of India, it is also spelt as Bhaidooj, Bhaiduj or Bhai Duj. ‘Bhai’ means brother and ‘Dooj’ means two days after new moon, this festival is celebrated between brothers and sisters other than Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of their love. On this auspicious day, sisters put Tilak on their brother’s forehead and pray for their long life.  In return, brother promises their sisters to stand by their side in all hardships of life. This is the most awaited festivals in India. Every year this festival comes two days after Diwali in Karthik month.

According to the custom and rituals sister applying tika on the forehead of the sister, giving him eatables and in return receive gifted, the women and children sit around and hear the story.

India is a country of varied cultures, customs and traditions. The festival of Bhaiya Dooj is known by various names in different regions and has its own regional name that signifies different ceremonial celebrated connotations.

  • Bhai Phota is celebrated in the state of West Bengal on the Dvitya i.e. on the second day after the Kali Puja
  • Bhai Tika / Bhai Teeka is celebrated in Nepal on the fifth and the final day of the popular Festival of Light called ‘Tihar’ or ‘Panchak Yama’  it is also known as ‘Bhai Tihar’ and it is a part of Tihar celebrations in the Himalaya Kingdom.
  • Bhathru Dwithiya is also known popular name for Bhai Dooj, it falls on the fifth and last day of Diwali festival. ‘Dwitheya Day’ meaning, second day after new moon. Sisters pray for their brothers long life.
  • Bhatri Ditya is just another name of the famous Hindu festival of Bhaiyya Dooj, This festival is celebrated to strengthen the beautiful bond shared between a brother and a sister, it is also considered a part of Diwali celebrations at many parts of India.
  • Bhai Bij, Bhaubeej or Bhav Bij amongst the Marathi speaking community in the states of Maharashtra and Goa. As like Bhaidooj festival celebrations in rest of India, Bhai Bij, Bhaubeej or Bhav Bij falls on the last day of five-day-long Diwali festival, here also in western India in Bhaubeej festival sisters pray for their brothers long and happy life as they perform tika ceremony.
  • Yamadwitheya is from the legend of god Yama Raja (the Hindu mythological god of Death)himself and it is one of the most commonly told story of Bhai Dooj. Here, the story told as after Yama Raaj long separation from his sister Yamuna or Yami. On the Dwitheya or the Dooj or the second day of the new moon When Yami met his brother Yama (also know as Dharam Raj) and welcomed whole heartedly, applied red tilak on his brother’s forehead and treated him a special meal. Yamaraj was overwhelmed receiving the warm welcome from his sister and he announced that whosoever receives a red tika from his sister on the day of ‘Dooj’ will not be hurled to hell.  Since that day Bhai Dooj is also known as Yamadwitheya.

In 2010, Bhai Dooj festival is celebrated on 7th November (Sunday)

Toshali Travel and Tours offers budget festival Holiday packages and arranges exclusive accommodation for Bhai Dooj festival on demand, click on Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognized and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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“Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” : A Tribute to ‘Bharat Ratna’ Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri

‘Bharat Ratna’ Lal Bahadur Shrivastava Shastri (2 October 1904 – 11 January 1966), he shares his birthday with the Mahatma on October 2. He was the second Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a significant figure in the Indian independence movement.

'Bharat Ratna' Lal Bahadur Shrivastava Shastri (2 October 1904 - 11 January 1966)
'Bharat Ratna' Lal Bahadur Shrivastava Shastri (2 October 1904 - 11 January 1966)

A staunch Gandhian he discontinued the use of his surmane as it indicated his caste. he was born in Mughalsarai and moving to Varanasi in persual of higher education. A 1915, speech of Gandhiji converted him into a lifelong Gandhian. He spend some 9 years in prison for participating in the freedom struggle. His values never ditched him. During one of his prison terms his daughter fell ill. He was released for 15 days from teh prison. She died and a stoic Shastri performed her funeral rites and returned to prison, before time. And when his son’s illness was not cured withing the stipulated parole time he returned to prison..

In prison he got acquinted  with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries and social reformers and translated the autobiography of Marie Curie to Hindi.

After independence, he was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary in Uttar Pradesh. Then He became Minister of Police and Transport. He was the first to appoint women conductors and ordered that Police use jets of water instead of lathis to disperse unruly crowds.

In 1951, he became the General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee and played an important role in the landslide successes of the Congress Party in the General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.

In 1951, Nehru nominated him to the Rajya Sabha. He served as the Minister of Railways and Transport in the Central Cabinet from 1951 to 1956. In 1956, he offered his resignation after a railway accident at Mahbubnagar and three months later, he resigned accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for a railway accident at Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu that resulted in 144 deaths. His unprecedented gesture was greatly appreciated by the citizens.

In 1957 he was appointed as the Minister for Transport and Communications, and then as the Minister of Commerce and Industry. In 1961, he became Minister for Home. Chacha Nehru died in office on 27 May 1964. Then Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was instrumental in making and installing Shastri as Prime Minister on 9 June. He pushed through the Green Revolution which led to India becoming a food-surplus nation, although he did not live to see it.

During the 22-day war with Pakistan, Lal Bahadur Shastri created the slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”). He was instrumental in promoting the White Revolution.

The problem for Shastri’s administration was Pakistan. Laying claim to half of the Kutch peninsula, Pakistan sent incursion forces in August 1965,  leading to the Indo-Pak war. The Indo-Pak war ended on 23 September 1965 with a United Nations-mandated ceasefire. After the declaration of ceasefire, Shastri and Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent (former USSR) organised by Kosygin. On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration. The next day Shastri died, supposedly of a heart attack at 1:32 AM, and now he rest at Vijay Ghat, Delhi

He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, and his memorial “Vijay Ghat” in Delhi will forever remind Indians and humanity how this unassuming man personified ‘where there is a will there is a way’. His life would be a lesson for generations to come.

History has not forgotten this giant…… Jai Hind !!

Toshali Resotrts Pay Tribute and Celebrates the 106th Birth anniversary of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri on 2nd October’2010 (Saturday) and invites you for a Weekend Getaway at Toshali Sands, Puri India. For Reservation and travel booking contact your travel consultant

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Bateshwar Fair : The Colourful Annual Cattle Festival

Bateshwar fair, popularly known as Bhateshwar Mela is a large fair held at Bateshwar, an important cultural and spiritual center situated 70km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Large number of devotes come here from far region to worship Bateshwar Mahadev (Lord Shiva) the presiding deity.

108 temples at Bateshwar - Photo courtesy
108 temples at Bateshwar - Photo courtesy

Here at Bhateswar, you will find temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon. It is a place of great religious importance to the Hindus. The Most striking feature of Bateshwar is its towering cliffs of clay and its impressive row of 108 white temples strung along with the slow flowing Yamuna River.

Every year the annual cattle fair is held at the banks of Yamuna River in the ‘Kartik’ month of Hindu calendar i.e in the month of November. The livestock fair has a very colorful ambience at Bhateshwar Mela. Thousands of cattle mainly Elephants, Camels Cows, Bullocks, Buffalos, Goats come here from different part of India assemble at this fair or mela adorned in beautiful rags and colors.

Annual Cattle Festival - Photo courtesy
Annual Cattle Festival - Photo courtesy

A wide variety of wild and domestic birds and pets are also available here for sale. Owners and buyers indulge in serious business combined with the gaiety of a market place. Various regional folk based cultural programs are organized here to entertain the tourist coming in from different countries of the world and states of India

In 2010,  Bateshwar Fair is celebrated on 12-26 November.

Toshali Travel and Tours offers budget festival Holiday packages and arranges to be at the Bateshwar Mela – the annual cattle festival And customized your accommodation on demand. Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognized and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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Ayudha Mela : The festival of triumph

Ayudha Puja is a local festival celebrated in the month of September/ October in Uttar Pradesh. Ayudha is the birth place of Lord Rama according to the Hindu Mythology so people worship Lord Rama on this day. Mythology also states that Ram was exiled by his father in the jungle and in the process he lost his birthright to be the King.

On this day people clean their instrument and then worship their instrument that they use for their earning. Worship of weapons and tools depict the respect towards the tools which helps in earning. Auto drivers clean and decorate their autos while shopkeepers do the same for their shops and worship Goddess Lakshmi. In modern time, people also worship their vehicles and cooking vessels on this day.

The principal goddesses worshiped during the Ayudha puja are Saraswathi(the Goddess of wisdom, arts and literature), Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Parvathi (the divine mother), apart from various types of equipment. Many People mark this festival by visiting temple of Lord Rama and Sita, Pooja depicts the celebration of Victory of good over evil, which also has a vast social bearing on the people of Uttar Pradesh. Different regions follow different traditions for celebrating this festival. Ayudha Puja is the regional festival and celebrated in every nook and corner of Uttar Pradesh. On the ninth day of the Dasara festival, weapons and tools are worshiped. It is an integral part of the Dussehra festival celebration- festival of triumph.

In 2010, Ayudha Puja festival is celebrated on October 16.

Toshali Travel and Tours  offers budget festival Holiday packages and can customized your accommodation on demand. Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognised and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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Aranmula Vallamkali – The Snake Boat Race Festival in Kerala

Aranmula Vallamkali also known as Aranmula Uthrittathi Boat Race, it is the annual snake boat water sports festival celebrated inAranmula village situated on the banks of Pamba River, in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala in the month of September during Onam festival. Vallamkali refers to boat race competition held during the last two days of the festival.

Snake Boat Race in Kerala - Photo courtesy Kerala Tourism
Snake Boat Race in Kerala - Photo courtesy Kerala Tourism

In this competition the participants, are trained to row these boats, they compete not merely for winning the competition but to celebrate the anniversary of the Shri Krishna idol installation , who is the main deity at the Aranmula  Parthasarathy Temple .

This annual festival attracts tourists from all over the world.  Here you will find snake boats in this colorful carnival called Palliyodams.  The structure of the boats resembles snakes that are 100 feet in length with its front tapering and the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft.  During this race 39 to 41 of such boats participate that can easily accommodate 120 people including oarsmen, singers and helmsmen.

Apart from this the famous boat race, other rituals including offering prayers to Lord Krishna early in the morning on the day of the boat race.  At this tome all boats assemble near the temple to seek blessing of Lord.  After the Morning prayers other rituals, the race starts from the afternoon, with groups of men and singers all shouting and singing in a rhythmic manner.

Tourist attractions in Aranmula :

  • Aranmula Kannadi – Aranmula is famous for Aranmula Mirror or Aranmula Kannadi – the world only hand-made mirrors made entirely from metals, without using glass.
  • Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple – Sree Parthasarathi Temple at Aranmula is place where Lord Krishna Temples in Kerala.
  • Chengannur Mahadeva Temple – Chengannur Mahadevar Kshetram is one of the oldest Lord Shiva Temples in Kerala.
  • Other religious attraction Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Thiruvarppu Krishna Temple and Trichambaram Sree Krishna Temple.

In 2011 this festival will celebrated on the end of Onam festival. Toshali Travel and Tours  offers budget festival Holiday packages and arranges, to be at nature “Gods own Country”. And customized your accommodation on demand. Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognised and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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Anant Chaturdashi : The last day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav

Anant Chaturthi also known as Anant Chaturdashi is the last day of the Ganesh festival” celebrated in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andra Pradesh. This day follows the immersion of the idols of the beloved lord.

Anant Chaturdashi Festival
Anant Chaturdashi Festival

On the day of Anant Chaturdashi, the idols of Lord Ganesha installed at home and various “Mandapas” (display place) are taken to a pond, lake, river or a sea in great procession with slogan: “Ganpati Bappa Morya, Agle Baras to jaldi aa” (“Father Ganpati, come again next year”). On this day, people travel to the water front with the idols, big and small, dancing and singing in large procession. The 10 day long festival comes to an end after the immersion ceremony is over.

During ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad and Ganesha Stotra from the Narada Purnana are chanted. The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents.

On Anant Chaturdasi, Lord Ananta Padmanabha is worshipped and Ananta Vrat is observed. The Vrat is an observance is followed for 14 consecutive years for marital bliss, happiness and prosperity. This vow is observed by married couple. By performing Anant Chaturdasi puja, it is believed that a person is relieved of all sins committed during his lifetime.

Anant Chaturdashi in 2011 is on Thursday, the 1st of September. Toshali Resorts, welcomes all to be the part of “Anant Chaturthi” Festival experiencing – exclusive arrangement is been done every year for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Hoilday Package Reservation write to

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Green Delhi… Breath life to the place we stay!

Delhi is synonymous with wide roads and lush greenery. Reportedly Emperor Akbar ordered all roads to be lined with ‘Sheesham’ trees. The Imperial Capital Committee, decided to plant mainly evergreen trees in its new capital.

Delhi has some 42 types of ‘native’ trees. The commonest tree is the Mesquite (Prosopis Juliflora), called ‘Vilaiti or Angrezi Keekar’. It was introduced around 1915 from the Central Americas.

Emperor Shah Jahan offered special rent-free tenures to proprietors around Sadhaura Kalan, northwest of Mori Gate.

Today Jamun trees are found on Rajpath, India Gate and some Luyten’s avenues. Delhi’s numerous gardens, like the Mughal Gardens, Lodhi Gardens, Zoological Park, Buddha Jayanti Park, Delhi Golf Club, Nehru Park, etc boast of over 250 species of trees.

Population pressure has seen depletion in the green cover. Government initiatives including Bhagidari scheme and a revamped industrial policy countered the situation. The strategy was to:

•       Motivate citizens to generate minimum waste
•       Recycle horticulture waste.
•       Minimising use of polythene bags.
•       Panting trees.
•       Celebrating festivals in an eco friendly manner.
•       Educating citizens about re-use and recycling.

The situation has improved 2005 onwards.

According to the State of the Forest survey 2009 Delhi (8.29%) comes third behind Lakshwadeep (12.50%) and Chandigarh (9.65%) in the percentage of area under forest cover.

Delhi has a geographical area 1,483.01 sq km. Of this 123 sq km is under tree cover. Delhi’s tree cover has increased to 176.58 sq km till 2005. It rose by 16 sq km from 107 sq km to 123 sq km during the 2007-2009 periods mainly due to the government’s plantation drive.

The forest cover comprises 6.76 sq km very dense forest, 49.84 sq km moderately dense forest, and 119.98 sq km open forest.

New Delhi district is the greenest having the highest forest cover at 46.60 % of geographical area, followed by South Delhi (31.46 %) and South-West Delhi (10.08 %).

Asola-Bhatti is the only forest sanctuary in the capital spread over 1,991 hectares.

Greatest threats to the green cover are:

•       Delhi ridge has seen shrinking in size due to mining and quarrying activities, especially in the south-central Ridge.

•       At 1,615 units, Delhi has the highest per capita consumption of electricity in the country.

•       Apart from the production levels of 785 MGD in 2009, the average shortfall in water is about 200 MGD (million gallons per day) but the percentage of unaccounted for water is 35-40 per cent, reflecting problems in management of resources.

•       As against 8 private cars per 1,000 persons across India, Delhi has 85 even as the city has seen an exponential growth in the number of vehicles from 30.5 lakh in 1998-99 to 63.0 lakh in 2008-09.

Delhi introduces itself through nature and heritage walks along its lush greenery dotted with heritage sites and place of Delhi delicacies. Toshali Holidays arranges, to be with the nature “Walks in Green Delhi”. And customized your accommodation on demand. These walks reveal a side of the mega polis little known – a human side, a human face that needs all nurturing and care that we can afford – to preserve it for posterity.

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Dev Deepavali : Light Festival of Gods in Varanasi, India

Dev Deepavali is celebrated on the fifteenth day of Diwali. It is a tribute to river Ganga at Varanasi. It is held on Kartik Poornima. The month of Kartik (October – November) has celestial significance. The Ghats of Varanasi sparkle with earthen lamps, lighted amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. Belief is that on the day of Dev Deepavali, Gods come down to bathe in the Ganges. This festival coincides with the Jain festival and Guru Nanak Jayanti.

The Uttar Pradesh Tourism department organizes Ganga Mahotsav around this period. Devotees start assembling from the day of the Prabodhini Ekadasi. Celebration is usually held on the Dasaswamedh Ghat. Reputed artists perform to lend a creative touch to the festivities.

The ‘Ganga-Aarti’ is an important event in the evening. Almost all Ghats organize their own ceremony. Huge lamps are set ablaze and the priest holds forth the lamp as the multitude chants the hymns. As evening sets in the magical reflection of the thousands of flickering lamps lends a heavenly touch to the ancient city.

Dev Deepavali Festival Celebration is on November 21’2010

Toshali Travel and Tours  offers budget festival holiday packages and arranges, to be at “Dev Deepavali Festival” at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. And customized your accommodation on demand, book your package reservation at with Toshali Travel and Tours. Toshali  is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognised and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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Karva Chauth Festival : Married women seeking long life of their husbands and marital bliss

Karva Chauth sees married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and long life of their husbands. The fast is observed on the fourth day after the full moon, in the month of Kartik.

Karva means diya and chauth means ‘fourth’ in Hindi. Women prepare by buying cosmetics, jewelry and puja items. They fast through the day. In the evening, a women-only ceremony is held. Women dress in fineries sit in a circle with their puja thalis. The story of Karva Chauth is narrated and the song is sung around an idol of Gaur Mata or Parvati.

Once the moon is visible, the fasting woman view its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or cloth. Water is offered to the moon for its blessings. She then views her husband’s face in the same manner.

On this occasion of Vrat (Fast) a Kalash (small container) is filled with either milk or water. In that Kalash Pancha Ratna (Five different pieces of  different metals (gold, silver, copper, brass and iron) then this kalash is  presented to  Brahmin and also it was exchanged with other married women. After it women offer prayers to Shree Lord Ganesh : “Let the offerings of this Karva  bring life to my husband and may my Saubhagaya be everlasting “and express such desire that ‘May my death precede that of my husband so that I can enter the chitaa (funeral pyre) as a bride (not as a widow).

According to legends this narrative was took place between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva told its significance.

Queen Veervati was misled into breaking her fast and the king, died. The Goddess instructed her to repeat the Karva Chauth fast and Lord Yama was forced to restored the King’s life. In another variant of the Goddess Parvati gave back the life of the King.

In Mahabharata, i.e Dwapar Yuga, Draupadi is said to have observed this fast on the advice of Lord Krishna.  In another legend there was a woman named Karva, who was deeply devoted to her husband. While bathing at a river, her husband was caught by a crocodile. On Karva’s prayer Yama revived and blessed them with long life.

In 2010 this festival falls on 26 Oct, Tuesday. Toshali Holidays welcomes all to be the part of Karva Chauth Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. Book your package at . For more details on customized festival package contact travel planner to

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The Taste of Delhi: A Unique Food Culture

Delhi, is an epicureans’ paradise. The diverse range of cuisines makes Delhi a gourmet’s delight. Delhi offers a mixture of North Indian,  Mughlai, Punjabi cuisine and mouth watering street fare. Where else would you find a street named after flatbreads? Parathewali Gali. By the way if you are down there try the Papad Paratha.

Food of Delhi (Photo courtesy Delhi Tourism)
Food of Delhi (Photo courtesy Delhi Tourism)

Street food is the mark of any city – Sitaram Diwanchand’s chole Bhatures, Kuremal’s Kulfis since 1908, Moth Kachori of Multani Dhanda, Jain Sa’ab’s kachoris, Pakorimal Doodhwala’s Milk and Lassi, Bade Mian’s Kheer, Kinari Bazar’s Khurchan, Kulle chaat of Chawri Bazaar, Daulat Ki Chaat, Japani Samosa, Fruit Sandwiches at Jain Coffee House, Giani’s Faluda, Keema Samosa, Sutli Kababs etc. Ghantewala’s Sohan Halwa has been tickling taste buds since 1709. The royal elephant reportedly refused to budge without his daily dose of Ghantewala’s sweets and he used to shake his head to ring the bell tied to his neck to demand sweets. So the halwai got the name Ghantewala.

The place to seek variety in Mughlai food is in the Old city area – Karim’s and Al Jawahar are famous but many an unsung Kababchi or Biryani Wala will surprise you.

Delhi has a big migrant population from all over India. Earlier eateries at state houses served their regional delicacies. Sarvana Bhavan is particularly well known for Andhra cuisine. In CR Park at South Delhi area cuisine from Bengal dominates with cutlets, rolls and sweets having a field day with the varieties of fish on offer. In fact all the state houses have eateries – little known but tasty fare. Regional cuisine is finding its foothold slowly – in restaurants like Brown Sahib and the Gunpowder.

If you are willing to seek out, Delhi has a lot to offer on the culinary trail. For example the Afghani food joint in Lajpat Nagar or the Russian place – Bline, Korean food at Sun and Moon or the Gung in Green park, or excellent Continental fare in the Metropolis restaurant.

Chandni Chowk is a different dimension all together. “No ads, no frills, great food – great prices” says the nameless milk cake shop of Kucha Ghasi Ram. Kashmiri Kebabchi opposite to the Shan Masjid and Bade Mian’s are famous and  few gems in this treasure chest of good food.

Commenting on delicious dishes like Biryani is a bit difficult. It is a touchy subject and diehard Lucknavis will pay little heed to Dilli’s fare and Hyderabad is and Kolkattans will swear by their fare but a trip at Hazi Noor Mohammed near Turkman gate or Babbu Bhai near Matka Pir might convert a few. Similarly Lucknow’s ‘Kakori Kebabs’ has a competitor in Dilli’s Gola Kabab of Mian Sahib near Jama Masjid.

Another, landmark “Delhi Haat” Near INA Market and Netaji Subhas Place, showcases India’s rich handicrafts and regional food heritage from all the Indian states. It’s a must visit for handicraft and culinary buffs.

Writing about a diverse and well researched subject like Delhi’s food at best is a difficult task. Eminent food critics have dedicated entire blogs on the subject but only few desperate writers would be able  to condense Saadi Dilli’s food in such a short span. It is only my fascination for food and lack of a meaningful ‘Adda’ that I am accustomed to have made a lazy fellow like me to amble across to some of these heavenly eating joints. The experience of describing a Gola Kabab dissolve in your mouth would strain my modest vocabulary and perhaps offend the non carnivorous type. But I would like to hear it from you – your experience, be it an obscure Kachori Wala or a Kulfi Wala – you know the place to tell me all about it – so I might log some more food travel miles.

What are you thinking…. simply post your comment, if you feel we have left any food of your choice and any food courts in Delhi. Lets us know your Food experience, while you are in Delhi. For Delhi Darshan and day tour, please leave a message at

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