Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

Travelling On Amchi Mumbai’s Lifeline

Travelling on Amchi Mumbai's LifelineFor most Mumbaikars travelling across the city for a number of reasons is a given. For this, many prefer the quickest and cheapest mode of travel- the local trains. Also known as Mumbai’s lifeline or backbone, the trains start from Churchgate (Western line) or CST (Central and Harbour lines) and ends at Dahanu (Western line), Kalyan/ Kasara/ Khopoli (Central line) or  Andheri/ Panvel (Harbour line). The map besides should help you understand how dense this network is.

Recently I remember watching a video where a stand up comedian mentioned that we Indians don’t believe in overcrowding but in adjusting. In retrospect that is true. Imagine after a lot of pushing you get on a train where every seat is full. On spotting a seat with 3 people a first instinct is to ask them to shift in such a way so as to make place for a fourth seater. In some cases we are even able to make place for a fifth person. Of course such a feat in a Virar local can be considered similar to winning an award.

Another way of adjusting is in making way for hawkers carrying wares which range from earrings to food items. While it can be fun indulging in this sort of ‘window shopping,’ especially while having nothing to do, it would be recommended to keep die hard shoppers away for fear of them turning bankrupt.

Of course we all do have our share of fights and arguments. At the same time, we also prefer to do other important work like, it is a common sight to see women tying their hair and applying make-up in the morning and cutting vegetables in the evening. A lot of college students like me tend to plug in our headphones/ earphones and catch a few minutes of precious sleep.

If you are not from Mumbai but end up visiting it sometime, do take a ride on the local. If you are living in Mumbai, well, just catch the train at a station nearest to you!

Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

Chocolate: The Sweetest Desire

On reading today’s daily prompt- desire, the thing which I crave the most came to my mind. I almost consider chocolate as my first love and decided to find out the origins of this sweet delight.

Apparently, chocolate wasn’t the sweet desert we think of today. It was invented by the Aztecs some 3100 years ago in Central America. Cacao was used to make a bitter ceremonial drink called xocolatl (from where the name chocolate is derived). Roasted cocoa beans were ground into a paste and then mixed with water, vanilla, chilli pepper and other spices.

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, this drink was brought to Europe where it became a Court favorite. With this, the production of the cocoa plant increased and so did the slave trade to grow these cocoa plants. The move to solidify chocolate started with the invention of the cocoa press machine by  Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828. Ever since, improvements in chocolate with respect to taste, texture, etc. has resulted in what it is today.

Which is your favorite chocolate?

Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

Get Fresh With Freshly Made Filter Coffee

There is nothing like waking up early in the morning to the aroma of freshly brewed filter coffee. To make the perfect blend, just follow the below steps:

  • Add coffee powder (or ground coffee beans) to the top part of the coffee filter.
  • After this, pour boiling water.
  • Wait till it drips into the container.
  • Add milk and sugar according to taste and enjoy your cup of coffee.

Tips:

  1. Always use fresh ingredients as much as possible.
  2. Clean the filter regularly and make sure it is dry while adding the coffee powder.
  3. There are many kinds of filters (Eg. paper, steel, etc.) as well as sizes (Eg. small, medium, etc.) you can choose from.
Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS WITH A PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE

Christmas is the time to spread cheer and there is no better way to do this than to bake a chocolate cake for your loved ones. Here is a recipe to bake that perfect cake.

Ingredients:

  • 200g plain chocolate (for the icing).
  • 225g plain flour
  • 350g sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 250ml milk
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 & ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 & ½ tsk soda bicarbonate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas.
  2. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins.
  3. Mix plain flour, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, milk, vegetable oil, baking powder and soda bicarbonate in to a large bowl. (Refer to the ingredients for quantities).
  4. Use a spoon or whisk to beat the mixture until smooth.
  5. Add boiling water to the mixture. (Pour the water little by little till smooth).
  6. Pour the batter into the sandwich tins and bake it for 25- 30 mins.
  7. Once the cake is ready keep it aside to cool.
  1. For the icing, heat the chocolate in a pan till it melts.
  2. Whisk the melted chocolate till it is smooth and creamy.
  3. Set it aside to cool.
  1. Apply a little bit of the chocolate icing on one the cake pieces with a knife.
  2. Place the other cake piece over it.
  3. Add the rest of the chocolate icing on top of the second piece.
  4. Add Christmas decorations like hollies, horse shoes and mini Santa Clauses to make it prettier.

So this year, start the season’s greetings with a yummy chocolate cake.

The Catchphrase Blog would also like to wish its readers a very Merry Christmas.

Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

PALACES IN KERALA

Kerala, also known as ‘God’s own country,’ is famous for its beaches, backwaters, lush greenery, etc. Among them, the palaces in Kerala are a sight of scenic beauty, just like the state. While choosing a few of them to write on in brief has been difficult, here are five of them I managed to select:

  1. Kilimanoor Palace

Kilimanoor Palace

Location: Kilimanoor, Trivandrum District.

Timings: 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.

Entry Fee: N/A

Kilimanoor Palace is the birth place of the renowned painter Raja Ravi Varma. The palace spread over 15 acres of land has two ponds, buildings, traditional residential structures and sacred groves. It also houses the studio of Raja Ravi Varma where he created most of his legendary works of art. The studio comprises of some of his reproduced works of art.

  1. Koyikkal Palace

Koyikkal Palace

Location: Nedumangadu, Thiruvananthapuram District.

Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Entry Fee: Adults= Rs. 10, Children= Rs. 5.

Koyikkal Palace is a two storey building. It was the official residence of the royal family of Perakatharvazhi. The palace now houses a folklore and numismatic museum. Its folklore museum is the first in Kerala. It exhibits artefacts like household utensils, axes, ploughs, bows & arrows, carts, etc. The numismatic museum contains coins from 2nd Century BC as well as seals, weights, etc.

  1. Krishnapuram Palace

Krishnapuram Palace

Location: Kayamkulam, Alappuzha district.

Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Mondays closed.

Entry Fee: Adults= Rs. 10, Children= Rs. 5.

Krishnapuram Palace has a typical Keralite architectural style with gabled roofs, dormer windows and narrow corridors. The palace is now a museum. It contains the largest mural, ‘Gajendra Moksham’ ever found in Kerala. Rare bronze statues, paintings and a Buddha Mandapam containing a statue of Buddha are other attractions which adorn the palace.

  1. Padmanabhapuram Palace

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Location: Thuckalay, Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu.

Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Entry Fee: Adults= Rs. 10, Children= Rs. 2.

Padmanabhapuram Palace, made in the 16th Century, is an entirely wooden palace. It is extremely popular for its rosewood and teakwood carvings. A number of these carvings are present on the ceilings of the palace. Apart from these, the king’s durbar with its shiny black flooring, temples, the queen mother’s palace, secret passageways, etc. are the structures worth looking at. Though the palace is situated in Tamil Nadu, it is maintained by the Government of Kerala.

  1. Hill Palace

Hill Palace

Location: Tripunithura, Kochi

Timings: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Mondays closed.

Entry Fee: Adults= Rs. 30, children (5 years- 12 years)= Rs. 10.

The Hill Palace was built in 1865. It is one of the biggest museums in Kerala. A number of the artefacts displayed here are from the royal family of Kochi. Apart from these, ancient weapons dating back to Stone Age as well as artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization can be seen. The complex also houses a deer park.

Which fascinating palaces have you been to recently?

 

Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

5 PALACES TO VISIT IN MAHARASHTRA

Maharashtra has been home to a number of monuments. Among these, the palaces of Maharashtra are proof of the great grandeur and rich history of the state.

  1. Jai Vilas Palace

Location: Jawhar

Timings: 10:00 am- 5:30 pm.

Entry Fees: N/A.

Jai Vilas Palace

Jai Vilas Palace (formerly known as Raj Bari) was built by Yashwant Rao Mukane. The entire palace is made up of pink stone (Syenite). The palace is surrounded by cashew nut plantations. It showcases the lifestyle and culture of the tribal kings in the Mukane family.

  1. Shaniwarwada Palace

Location: Pune

Timings: 8:00 am- 6:30 pm.

Entry Fees: Indians- Rs. 5, Foreigners- Rs. 125.

Shaniwarwada Palace

Shaniwarwada Palace was built in the 18th Century by the Peshwas during the tenure of Peshwa Baji Rao I. The palace is surrounded by 5 gates. A sixteen petal lotus-shaped fountain and huge garden is a major attraction of the palace.  Shaniwarwada palace is also said to be haunted by the ghost of Peshwa Narayanrao, the last Peshwa who was murdered.

  1. Soneri Mahal

Location: Aurangabad.

Timings: 9:00 am- 5:00 pm.

Entry Fees: Indians- Rs. 10, Foreigners- Rs. 100.

Soneri Mahal

Soneri Mahal is located in the campus of B.R. Ambedkar Marathwada University. It gets its name from the paintings made with pure gold, which once hung inside the palace. It was built by Paharsingh, a Bundelkhand chief. The palace is now a museum which houses various artefacts like paintings, sculptures, weapons, ancient pottery, etc.

  1. Aga Khan Palace

Location: Pune.

Timings: 9:00 am- 5:30 pm.

Entry Fees: Indians- Rs. 5, Foreigners- Rs. 100, Children- Rs. 2.

Aga Khan Palace

Aga Khan Palace is a picturesque place, built by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III. The palace is notable for its Italian arches, spacious lawns, memorials, etc. The palace was used as a jail for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi and secretary Mahadev Desai during the Quit India Movement.

  1. Sawantwadi Palace

Location: Sawantwadi, Sindhudurg.

Timings: 10:00 am- 6:00 pm.

Entry Fees: Indians: Adults- Rs. 25, Children (Below 12 years)- Rs. 10. Foreigners: Adults- Rs. 50, Children (Below 12 years)- Rs. 20.

Sawantwadi Palace

Sawantwadi Palace was built by Khem Sawant Bhonsle. The palace has now been converted into a museum which showcases photographs on the history of Sawantwadi, the palace durbar, paintings, lacquer ware goods and gifts presented to the royal family over time among others. There are also Ganjifa art (a traditional form of art) workshops held in the palace.

Which interesting palaces in Maharashtra have you visited lately?

Posted in Society, Lifestyle & Culture

5 POPULAR FORTS OF MAHARASHTRA

Maharashtra, being fringed with the Western Ghats has been blest with a number of forts. These forts situated on the peaks of mountains make for great trekking places and scenic views along with giving your history a brush up.

  1. Sinhagad Fort

Sinhagad Fort

Sinhagad Fort is located on a peak with the same name in the Bhuleshwar range (about 30 km from Pune. Formerly known as Kondhana Fort, the fort has been the site of many battles such as the Battle of Sinhagad, etc. The fort was mainly ruled over by the Marathas and Mughals (and later the British).

  1. Lohagad Fort

Lohagad Fort

Lohagad Fort is located close to Lonavala. The fort has been ruled by several dynasties like the Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Peshwas, Marathas, Mughals, etc. In 1670, it was used as a treasury for the Marathas.

  1. Shivneri Fort

Shivneri Fort

Shivneri Fort is located at Junnar in Pune district. It is known as the birth place of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire. The fort has been ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, Bahami kings, Marathas and Mughals among others.

  1. Raigad Fort

Raigad Fort

Raigad Fort is situated in Mahad in Raigad district in Maharashtra. It is known as the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Empire.

  1. Tikona Fort

Tikona Fort

Tikona Fort is a triangular shaped fort located in Maval in Pune district. The fort has been ruled by the Nizams, Marathas, Deshmukhs, Mughals, etc.

So the next time you get a weekend free, head to one of these forts for a dose of history.