India tips – 2014/2015


For a list of AirBnB’s that we stayed in: https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/419493955
(we only included places we would stay in again! – there were many places we would never recommend as a couple!).
Gujarat:
I’ve put this at top as it is was the one spot, that not only did I love (we loved all of India), but it was also the only spot we felt we actually also had ‘roots’ to some degree ( Read our post reflecting about it ) –
  • Ahmedabad
    • MUST DO Restaurant: MG House. Phenomenal. It is where the pic in the above post is from. I think it was $20 each – 100% Gujarati style food which reminded me of my grandmother’s when I was kid.
  • Porbandar
    • This is where M. Gandhi was born. It is apparently where a lot of Ismailis who went to East Africa are from as well.
  • Ranivar
    • Not much here, but we went because Raheema’s family has connections there. There is a small JK there that we went to. Apparently this is one of the cities people went to be ‘processed’ to go to Pakistan or elsewhere during India’s partition, so that is why Ismailis are there.
  • Diu
    • Portuguese town like Goa, but in Gujarat. It is the only part of Gujarat that allows eating cow and drinking alcohol so it gets a bit annoying on the weekend. however, aside from that, it is an amazing town – I spent a couple of weeks there in 2006 when I was backpacking, and slept on roof tops etc (if you’re interested in that trip, here are those links: (http://thefunkstop.com/india-tips/ and http://thefunkstop.com/woke-up-this-morning/ ) – the Diu links still worked from when we went just recently in 2014, but not sure about the rest. (Flickr pics)
    • While around, we stumbled upon a JK there too on the way back from the beach (the my flag gave it away). super tiny jamat – super friendly.
Bombay:
In Bombay, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt. Great pricing, super awesome brunch. And convenient to get around (if there is such a think in Bombay…)

 

Pro-tip‘ — they do free shipping between their hotels within the country. We shipped a bunch of stuff from Bombay to Chennai with them. We also had items that we purchased in Gujarat, delivered to Chennai and they held it for us (3 weeks later).
In south Bombay near the Gateway to India arches (we did all of the below on the same day because we were staying in Bandra)
  • Taj Mahal Palace hotel (in colaba) — if you want a break from the ‘craziness’ — go to the pool side bar. Technically it is for residents, but no one usually checks and you can sit down for high tea. We went a couple times and only on the last day did they say that it was for hotel residents.
  • Bademiya – Behind Taj hotel — this is THE place for kababs. There are two spots. One which is a restaurant and then down the street is an outdoor street vendor place (facebook page) — the kababs are amazing and safe (but spicy!). We were told not to have the chutney though because it sits in the heat all day.
  • Thaker Bhojanalay Gujarati food – ( Facebook page) – this was one of my favorite places. Super low key / humble — been there since the 40s and won a bunch of awards too. — proper gujarati foods from our parts of gujarat (khatiawad)  – imagine going to all your aunt’s houses when you were 5 and before they started cooking with ‘health’ ingredients… amazing. unlimited veg thalis with puris.
Drinks:
  • Dome (for drinks and sunset) — kinda swanky on Marine Drive. great rooftop with a view – pricey drinks but we had fun.
  • AER – similar to Dome. great DJ the night we went.
Higher end restaurants:
  • Trishna – I think there are a couple of them. Seafood restaurants which are ranked well. We thought it was ok but everyone we were with really like it.
  • Papa Pancho da dhaba in Bandra West — a bit higher end (not crazy). Punjabi food (https://www.papapancho.com)
  • Krispy Kreme in Bandra (yes that’s right… they have gulab jamun and jalebi flavored donuts — seriously!)
Our blog post for Bombay: ‘Where have all the Cows gone

 

Other Random:
  • One of my favorite days was going to the park across from Victoria station and having a picnic (brought our own food). The park is packed with people playing sports — be aware of pickpockets (everywhere in india) — some group asked us to play cricket with them which was kinda fun. We were there originally to check out the Strand book store but I think it may have closed down.
  • Crawford Market near Colaba — nutty market where you can find pretty much anything. We found a bunch of IKEA stuff (pre-sent to IKEA of course…)
  • Aga Khan I mosoleum — he is buried in Hasanabad area – a large Ismaili area but very poor. Iranian quarter as well. If you can, ask the caretaker to show you the basement of the mosoleum where a number of other tombs are as well. Pretty interesting if you like that type of thing. Don’t go at night though because the area does not have much lighting.
Delhi:
you obviously gotta check out Humayun’s tomb. I think I kinda like it better than the Taj Mahal but mainly because when we went, there was no one else at Humayun’s tomb.
Behind Humayun’s tomb, there is a Sufi Shrine for a famous Christi Sufi (Nizammudin) — it is worth seeing just to see the atmosphere. Again, super packed and if there are prayers going on then maybe a bit nutty. If you’re adventurous, the food in the alley way on the way in is some of the best street food you can get (especially the skewers!)
We didn’t do much in Delhi, but there is a fairly good nightlife there.
Restaurant:
Agra
if you need a driver, let me know (we had a great driver from our AirBnB in Agra that drove us to Jaipur as well). If you go to Agra, try to go with enough time to go to Fatehpur Sikri (there is a mosque and old town next to each other).
(See AirBnb list at top for where we stayed).
Jaipur
We spent a few days here checking out the art, historical observatory, and drinking Lassi’s at the lassiwallas daily! Miniature painting has a big heritage here, and we took some classes which was fun. (See AirBnB list at top for where we stayed).
Pondicherry
This was a super cool town – the kind of place I’d imagine to take a 6 month break to write a book! The main area is called ‘White town’ where there are a lot great cafes and restaurants. It is minutes from the beach (which you can’t actually enter at this point, but great views).
Hotel: We stayed at http://www.gratitudeheritage.in (it was called something else at the time). We booked late, so were only able to get a room with two separate beds, but a really nice place and great location.
Restaurants:
  • La Pasta World (https://www.facebook.com/pg/lapastaworld/about/)  – freshly made pasta! After some time in India, you’ll want to try other foods and this definitely a spot to go to. The chef is Italian and has some heritage in the area because his mom grew up there. Very chill and basic place.
  • Cafe des Arts (https://www.facebook.com/Caf%C3%A9-des-Arts-155637583166/) – french place. Great coffee and pastries
  • Bucket Birihani — we saw this pic on the day we were leaving — brilliant idea and would love to know if it is good! If you try it, let us know!
**** More Info ****
If you’re interested, here are tips from Rahim’s trip in 2006 – a lot of the info seems valid still, but double check