Tamil Nadu in India

You’d be hard-pushed to find a more diverse, vibrant destination than Tamil Nadu, India’s most south-easterly state. Like a microcosm of India as a whole, Tamil Nadu has a bit of everything: ancient temples, palatial mansions, ocean views, mountaintop hotels and a rich, cultural history.

 

Think of the city of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) as the New Orleans of India. Lovingly referred to as ‘Pondy’, it was sporadically under French rule from the 1600s until 1954, and today its colonial French architecture still stands tall. In the old ‘French’ part of town, the buildings are painted in bright colours – yellow, orange, pink and red – and dressed in vivid pink bougainvillea.

 

Hotels like Palais de Mahé, with its grand, yellow-toned colonnades so reminiscent of French colonialist architecture, reflect the cultural depth of the city. Pondy is known for its laid-back, bohemian-chic vibes, with people still speaking French and signs still partly in the language. Even the local accent has a French twang. The quiet streets make it perfect for exploring via pushbike, and a guided tour is a must. For a more bustling atmosphere, make sure you head into the new part of town.

 

The state capital of Chennai is where old and new collide. It has vigour, vitality and is jam-packed with some of the most beautiful and elaborate Hindu temples on Earth. For example, you have to witness the overwhelmingly ornate Kapaleeshwarar Temple on the outskirts of the city, and if you can make it farther out, the monuments at Mahabalipuram date back as far as 1AD and constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in town and it’s time to take in the dazzling city lights of this vibrant city.

 

Dine at a rooftop restaurant, letting a cooling breeze wash over you as you eat, and be sure to finish with a cocktail overlooking the city – you can’t beat the pool bar at The Park hotel. If you are looking for accommodation in and around Chennai Tourism India has a very helpful search engine Hotel Cloud.

 

If you’re looking for a holiday that involves culture, adventure and incredible landscapes, then Tamil Nadu is one you shouldn’t overlook. Situated in South India, but still incredibly close to Asia, this is a truly unique area, filled with incredible monuments and temples, history and culture. It’s a place to experience wanderlust, to find yourself and appreciate a part of the world entirely different to your own.

 

Food Travel: Romania’s National Cuisine

Romanian traditional dishes consistently ooze a homemade feel; hearty, rich and with a strong spotlight on flavor. Planning to visit Romania?  Below is a list of dishes you should try out.

Storceag

You’ll have to travel east to the Danube Delta to taste this delicious soup. Try a bowl of storceag, a typical dish made in the village of Sfântu Gheorghe after hours of bird watching and taking boat trips on the delta’s many winding canals. The main ingredient of storceag is sturgeon, with potatoes and root vegetables boiled together. Nearing the end of its cooking process receives a dressing of egg yolk and sour cream, plus a drip of lemon and this is a fisherman’s soup. This is a dish to be enjoyed by a group of people, commonly cooked outdoors in a kettle over an open fire.

Bulz

The staple dish of Romanian cuisine is bulz, a delicious way to eat polenta or mămălig. Bulz has become a popular dish that is served in most restaurants typically a shepherd’s food. The shepherds use fresh polenta to make it which is then formed into balls and stuffed with brânză de burduf. This soft sheep-milk cheese is another product usually made by shepherds on the mountains, which is matured in a sheep’s stomach or in pine bark. The formed polenta balls are grilled on hot charcoal. Bulz is usually baked in the oven in a thick bottom casserole when ordered in restaurants.

Mici

This dish’s name simply means “little ones” and is also called mititei. They are seasoned with garlic, thyme, savory, pepper, caraway seeds, and more and made from a combination of minced pork, beef, and lamb meat. They are similar to small sausage.  The mixture of broth and sodium bicarbonate that is added, leaving them plump and juicy is what is distinctive about it from other similar dishes found around the Balkans. Mici is grilled outdoors and especially popular at festivals and barbecues. Mici is frequently splashed with water while they cook and a cloud of white smoke infused with heavy aromas is released.

 

 

A Trip to India

 

When India is the topic for travel, one would usually Taj Mahal as the destination to visit. With a vast number of visitors each year, there are certain places in India that are also worth the visit.

Ajanta Caves

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ajanta Caves are unusual and completely impressive. The caves consist a series of 29 hand-carved chambers that have been cut out of a solid rock face. It is almost 76 meters above the confined Waghora stream in Ajanta, around 300 miles east of Mumbai. Over a period spanning from 2AD to around 6BC, the Buddhist monks carefully chiseled the caves out of the rock. Each of the caves unlatches into a large hall sheltered from floor to ceiling with extraordinarily detailed paintings depicting the Jataka stories which are more recollective of palaces than caves, which tell of Buddha’s earlier lives. The ceilings are not spared as it is also beautifully enhanced with geometrical and floral patterns.

The Ancient Stepwells

A counter action to a grave shortage of water outside of the annual monsoon seasons the reason why the Ancient Stepwells of India were built. Extensive, stepped wells were built all over the wilted northern regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat as far back as 550 AD to conserve the abundant rainfall during the monsoons. One can witness a really excellent example at Adalaj Vav, about 12 miles north of Ahmedabad although the majority of these majestic structures have fallen into ruin. A full five stories deep and has been beautifully maintained for this step well. You can witness intricate carvings in a mixture of Islamic and Hindu styles as you travel down the series of ornately carved stairs.

City Palace, Jaipur

The grand home of several generations of Indian royalty is a must-visit attraction for every visitor to Jaipur, settled in the heart of the Old Town. The inside of the palace has seen several inclusions and changes over the years and was originally built in the 1700s. Those architecture lovers will appreciate the opportunity to witness an excellent blending of Rajastani and Mogul architectural styles. To enhance your visit, you can wander around at your own pace with the aid of an audio guide or opt to hire a local guide who has all the necessary expertise of the place. There is a textile museum that displays remarkable examples of royal finery and a very fascinating armory museum right inside the elegantly decorated palace.