The journey of a lifetime starts with a simple idea, a simple thought. When I started the Blogging Marathon in Jan 2011, as an activity to keep me motivated, to blog regularly, has turned into a full-time event that happens every month. We also have a month-long Mega Marathon. So when we were approaching the 25th Edition, we thought we could meet in person to celebrate the milestone.
The first meet that happened to celebrate was at Ahmadabad, which was hosted by Vaishali. We had three days packed with nonstop fun and activities. You can read about all that in our BM 25th Edition Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.
Since this happened and the group has become even closer, including the family members, we naturally planned for yet another meeting for the 50th Edition. We hosted the BM#50 Edition in Madras. We just couldn't stop talking about it and planning further. BM#50 Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
The idea was to conduct this in an international scene so that all our members across the globe can join us. I am hoping we might achieve that for the 100th Edition.
We initially thought of having this in Bombay, however since Vaishali said she could arrange the meet in Delhi, we finalized on it. We first had more than 15 BM members signing up for this meet. Finally, along with me, it was Vaishali, Veena, Gayathri, Archana, Ritu, PJ, Sowmya Ramanujam, Pradnya, and Preeti who made it for this meet. Preeti joined us later as I completely forgot she was from Delhi.
As before we had dress codes for each day, which meant this time, we were expected to carry 5 different colours. When I packed two 7+ kg baggage, my parents were shocked. I told them we have a dress code. And they all gave looks.
This is my second trip to Delhi, I had previously visited with Hubby Dear, who ensured I ate all the delicious food from the joints he used to visit. I was so looking forward to yet another food Adventure
I have met many of my BM friends before, I was meeting Sowmya, Ritu, and Preeti for the first time. Though it didn't feel we were meeting for the first time at all. Sowmya is a chatterbox. Ritu appears very silent, however, once she opens up, there is no stopping and she is such a fast walker. Preeti, the youngest of the lot, turned out to be the surprise pack. She is such a sweet little girl, full of energy, enthusiasm, and exuberant.
From the BM#50 we have been having side trips, when others visited Madras, they made a trip to Mahabalipuram. So for Delhi, a side trip to Agra was also planned. The idea was to visit Mathura and Vrindavan.
So we had planned a 5-day tour. We left Madras on the 15th morning for Delhi. Veena, Gayathri, and her daughter Sruti joined me for the onward journey.
I will be covering Day 1 and Day 2 in today's post. I had shared everyday pictures on my Instagram as it happened.
Day 1 - Landing in Delhi and visiting Vrindavan, Mathura, Dress Code - Shades of was brown, gray and black
We had plans to meet everybody at the Delhi Airport, to leave straight to Agra, halting en route to Vrindavan and Mathura.
Ritu was coming by train and she already met Vaishali and Preeti. Since I had already seen pictures of Preeti and Ritu, I had no problem guessing, the rest of them had fun trying to guess. Sowmya came next and it was fun seeing her guess who is who. Finally, PJ came with Sid and we sent Ritu and Sowmya to receive her. The shock and the dazed look that PJ had, was unbelievable.
Preeti had got us Rajma Chawal and salads. I was very keen on tasting these traditional dishes in Delhi. After everybody assembled, we left for Agra, the traffic was insane and we were still on the highways.
One standard request to Gayathri was to bring along a sinful dark chocolate cake. She had got two and with dark chocolate ganache all packed. She frosted in the bus and we literally hogged it down.
Preeti had brought so many tidbits that were enjoyed by all. This one was a gulkand pan mithais, orange mithai, imlis etc
On the way, we passed through the famous Pakora Shop in Sarojini Nagar and we were like stop right now! We rushed to pack some pakoras and so excited to munch on those. The onion pakora was so different. A whole onion is sliced through, stuffed with masala, and then dipped in besan batter before deep frying. The rest were almost regular but loaded with chat masala and something very spicy.
We finally reached Vrindavan at about 8 pm or so. The pathway to salvation is really tough and it literally proved here. We were taken on a road that can't be called a road, a very narrow gali, with everybody on the path, including dogs, cows, people on bikes, and what not! In the mayhem that followed, the group got divided and we got lost. I was lucky that I had Vaishali with me. Imagine being on my own without any sense of the place. We finally reached the temple and it was just nearing 8.30 pm and the final Aarti was about to be given. I think some VIP was attending, which was the reason for the slight delay in the doors being closed. We somehow managed to get in and have Darshan.
We came out finally and breathed! We saw all around, so many Milk sweet stalls, filled with all pedas, rabdis and so much more. We stopped to savour a peda and moved on. Then came the shops with dresses for Lord Krishna. This was the first time I came to know that they have idols of Lord Krishna at home, who is bathed and changed clothes on daily basis. I thought I must read this fascinating tale.
Some of the pictures you see below are of Pani Puri wala, Aloo tikki, Lassi Wala, and the Peda Wala.
We only managed to visit Vrindavan and then went on to meet Vaishali's cousin who lived there. She was meeting the family after many years and they were so keen on receiving us. I must have tasted one of the best Kachoris at their place. The best part was that the Kachories were homemade, served with Aloo Ki Raitha. He told us that that was the Mathura Special Kachori Aloo Ki Raitha. They served us some fruits, nuts, and then Pindi Chole Batura. The time was 11 in the night and none of us felt strange indulging in those so late.
Kachori Aloo Ki Raitha, Pindi Chole Bhature
This is how the Kachori is eaten, crushed in the middle, pour the aloo ki raitha over it and dig in! We even voice recorded his recipe. Finally reached our villa at about 12. 30 am.
All of us were so exhausted and wanted to wake up late. However, Vaishali being a strict Princi, wanted us to 'Rise and Shine' to catch the sunrise at the Taj. We woke up at 6.30 and we managed to catch the sun rising.
Day 2 - Visiting Agra at Sun Rise, Dress code Shades of Green
I finally had a glimpse of the Taj! It is a sight to behold and you become breathless at the sheer beauty of the monument. Even with the whole world glides by you, you are wonderstruck with the poetic beauty and can keep gazing at it endlessly! We had hired a guide and he ensured we got updated on all minute information we had to know.
The above picture is the Royal Gate, which leads to the Taj. When you stand straight on the line in the center of the Gate, you get an optical illusion, as we approach the Taj from this gate, the main mausoleum appears to be moving further away from you. Refer the picture
Once in five years, the Taj is cleaned with Multani Mitti and washed off. The right Tower was under this process. The clean tower was so beautiful! I had clicked so many pictures and couldn't decide which ones to share. Some of the prominent ones were the rainwater harvesting system, the peepal tree
It was nearly 10.30 when we finally left the place.
We met Vaishali's cousin who took us to the famous Devi Ram Sweet Stall to enjoy the famous Kachoris. We had Kachori, Badai with Aloo ka Jhool, Kaddu ki subzi, Malai Samosa, Jalebi, and Lassi
Kaddu ki subzi
I went behind the kitchen to catch some cooking in action. I recorded the Jalebi making and some Badai as well.
We went shopping for the famous Agra Petha and Gajak.
These cupcakes were baked by Vaishali's Niece. It is paan infused Eggless cupcakes. We left Agra around 12.30 or so and reached Delhi around 4 or so. We had to stop in between for some food
Pradnya and her son were waiting for us at the villa us. After a quick refreshment, we booked a cab to take the Metro. Both Uber and Ola were on strike and we had to book taxis. We went to Spice Market where so many different spices, spice blends were on display. We picked up Onion powder, Garlic powder, Red pepper powder, and some dried rose petals. The rest was something available locally as well.
Our next destination was the Dili Haat. We saw a Chai wala and Vaishali requested him to pose for us. It was a hilarious sight, the person was standing straight with about 3 to 4 ladies clicking his picture. He must have thought we lost our marbles!
We proceeded to Dili Haat and walked around.
We walked around to check out the shops. There were some very pretty antique shops selling bronze metal dolls. We saw some Shakarkandi ki chaat, popcorn, and salted peanuts around.
We finally came back to the rooms quite late and all of us were so hungry! We spent the time on the terrace and totally exhausted. Again the plan for the next day was to leave early. We don't know how we managed to sleep late and wake up early. We must have slept only for a couple of hours daily.
We had planned for a Foodie tour around the Chawri bazar and Chandni chowk, followed by a visit to Connaught Place.
Come back tomorrow to read about the Foodie adventure we had, exploring the Chat on the streets of Delhi
Finally, a glimpse of the Ladies in Green