Friday, July 31, 2015

India Day Seven: Bangalore Palace and Our Last Day!

Our last day in India was lots of fun. Unfortunately Mom was sick and unable to go sightseeing with someone from the office (who will be called L in this) and me. Our first stop was the Hare Krishna Hill temple. Photos were not allowed in the temple complex, but it was a beautiful temple and you can find photos online.

I did, however, take lots of photos at the Bangalore Palace, which was built in the mid-19th century for the Maharaja of Mysore. It is a mix of Tudor, Edwardian and Victorian architecture and styles. 

We were given audio guides and were free to walk around the palace at our leisure. Most of the walls are painted a bright yellow, very different from any historical houses I've been to in Britain or France.

The first Maharaja to live in the palace

The first stop was the ballroom, which had some gothic elements (the arches) and some Tudor elements (the ceilings)

We walked up the staircase lined with official photos until we got to where the Maharaja held court.

He sat where the big mirror is
We got to see the Maharaja and Maharana's courts (they lived in separate quarters to keep with purdah). The audio guide had accounts from the current Maharaja and his family members about their childhoods at the palace. 

Maharaja's quarters
Maharaja's quarters 
Maharaja's quarters
Maharaja's quarters 
Maharaja's quarters (this was used to measure jockeys)
Maharaja's quarters
Cute puppy statue!
Maharana's quarters ("You can tell because of the feminine wallpaper" - audio guide)
Maharana's quarters
Maharana's quarters
Some hunting spoils
Elephant trunk vase. Why?
Random face drawn on a mattress in the Maharana's quarters
Maharana's quarters
Maharana's quarters
Maharana's quarters
Maharana's quarters
We looked into the office of the late Maharaja of Mysore. My favorite part of his office was the portrait (presumably of him) with the Ray Bans.

In front of the palace were some stray dogs and at least one kid being pulled away by their parents because they were reaching for the dogs. 

I could have spent hours walking through the palace and looking at all of the photos. It was fascinating to see the different architectural influences coming together in the building. 

Next we drove to Commercial St, which was recommended to me by a friend. It was very busy and very different to shopping here. The second you step into one of the stores, someone is offering you scarves to look at or asking me what I want. I didn't go into any of the shops knowing what I wanted, except some souvenirs. You are supposed to haggle on the prices, something that I cannot do so I relied on L to haggle for me. If I went shopping there again, I would go in with a specific list of things that I want (scarves, pillow cases, etc.) and I would have a better handle on the conversion rate between rupees and dollars.

After getting back to the hotel Mom (who was feeling better) had the signature facial at the hotel spa Jiva. It was perfect after a stressful week and before two very long flights.  

I will have one last post about India that will have some afterthoughts and other photos that were not included in previous posts. See you then!


(PS You guys should click HERE to sign up for theSkimm, a daily newsletter that helps me start my morning!)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

India Day Four: A South Indian Feast!

Hello! I'm sorry for not posting more recently but I got sick (again) and then we flew back to the US. Even though I didn't feel well for part of the trip, I have no regrets and I had an amazing adventure with my Mom. I have skipped day three because that was an office day followed by a plane trip from Delhi to Bangalore. Nothing really exciting happened that day!

On day four, however, we were treated to an amazing dinner at Dakshin at the ITC Windsor. The hotel itself is gorgeous with British charm and it is one of the oldest hotels in Bangalore. 

We walked towards the restaurant, excited to try some South Indian cuisine. Since going to India, I noticed that most Indian restaurants in the states have North Indian style food with curries, Tikka Masala and Naan. We were promised that South Indian cuisine would be very different. As one example, we would eat on a banana leaf with no silverware!

Once seated Mom and I were given jasmine either to wear as a bracelet or to put in our hair. I chose to put the flowers in my hair, which is the traditional way. This was perfect, as I would get an amazing whiff of the flowers throughout the meal.

Our table ordered the set menu, which had four courses. Mom and I chose the non-veg option, while my Mom's co-workers chose the vegetarian menu. The first course was a choice of four chutneys to be eaten with breads or the other courses. 
From the top: tomato, coriander, peanut and coconut
My Mom really liked the freshness of the coriander chutney, while I loved the coconut one (even though I don't normally like coconut). My least favorite was the peanut chutney just because I don't like the taste of peanuts. 

Next were two pancakes (dosas). One was sweet banana and the other was savory with tomatos and scallions. 

The darker one is the banana dosa
Next is where we got into the meats. First we got fried chicken in a red sauce that was really flavorful and quite spicy. We also were served a chicken curry that was good and close to what I would get in an Indian restaurant back home. My mom's co-workers then insisted that we had to try the lentil patty from the vegetarian menu. I had never tried anything with lentils in it and I was surprised to find that I really liked it. 

Lentil patty and chicken
Chicken curry
That was all part of the appetizer course of the meal if you can believe it!! We had a few more courses to go through!

For the main course four small bowls were placed around the edge of the banana leaf. Two of them were non-vegetarian and the other two were vegetarian. We were also given a Parotta to dip in the different sauces. The Parotta it is cooked on a pan and not in an oven like Naan bread (which can be found at most Indian restaurants in the States).

Left to right: veggies in a coconut soup, spring onions in a tomato sauce, a chicken curry and a lamb curry
My favorite (and Mom's) was the lamb because it was spicy and the lamb was perfectly cooked. I even used the Parotta to get all the sauce!

Then an Appam was placed on top of everything. An Appam is an Indian breadmade with a fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It was supposed to be dipped in the veggies and coconut soup bowl. It was like a french crêpe that was a little spongy. 

Then we had a curd rice (or yogurt rice), which was served cold. It was supposed to cleanse our palettes before dessert. I had a few tastes before deciding that the curd rice was not for me (or Mom). The texture was pasty and the flavor was somewhat bland.

Here is a photo of my finished plate. It was impossible to finish all of it! 

For dessert we had a sweetened coconut soup (I found a similar recipe HERE). It was cooling and satisfying after a spicy meal.  My favorite Indian dessert, however, is still Gulab Jamun

This was one of the most amazing meals that I have ever had. It was very different and it was in such a unique and exotic setting. I don't think anything will match up with this meal for a long time! One of my Mom's co-workers gave us a recommendation for a South Indian restaurant in NYC.  I also want to point out that while I have tried to remember the details of the meal, I've probably messed up on some of them. Sorry! The next post will be about our last day in Bangalore.

See you next time,