Monthly Archives: February 2012

World Book Fair, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi

The 20th World Book Fair 2012 has just started in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan from 25th Feb till 4th March 2012. I got to know about the Fair about a week before it was to start off. Hence was able to adjust my travel plans to ensure I could attend at least Day1.

The inauguration for the Book Fair was slated at 10.30am. We figured that most of the stalls wouldn’t be even up and functional if we went in early. So we set off from Gurgaon at around 12.30pm. By Metro, we took the Yellow Line (starting at Huda City Center) till Rajeev Chowk, and then shifted to the Blue Line that was headed to Vaishali/Noida City Center.

The entire trip took us an hour and a half, so it was around 2pm that we got out of the Metro Station at Pragati Maidan.

Pragati Maidan, which mean Field of Progress, was built in 1982 over an area of 150 acres. It hosts around 18 exhibition halls, several buildings, eateries and open performace spaces and compounds. It hosts around 70 national and international exhibitions each year. The most prominent of them are the India International Trade Fair, World Book Fair and the Auto Expo.

When one steps out of the Metro Station, one has to head to the back of the station to reach Gate No 10, which is the entrance to the Fair. We didn’t know that and enquired from some people who were standing outside the station. I guess they were there for another trade fair (travel related) and directed us outside the Main Gate towards Gate No 18.Β  The only good thing was that we weren’t the only ones that were confused… there were many more with us in that particular boat!!! πŸ˜‰

Chaat-wala near Pragati Maidan

Take your pick!

Supreme Court of India - view from the road

So we finally headed back to the Metro Station, towards the Book Fair. On the way we passed by the Supreme Court of India, and took the requisite photos.

View of Metro Station from Gate 10

Gate 10, with Metro Line overhead

The World Book Fair is organized biennially by the National Book Trust (NBT) at this venue.

The NBT Bus

The only flaw that I could make out with the Book Fair was that there was not a single board near the entrance that could guide people to the Halls of their choice. One had to go through almost all the halls to figure out what was where.

The ones we covered were:

  • Hall 12: Claims to be meant for Educational aids, CDs, Games and Miscellaneous. There was nothing related to the first 3 items… only the miscellaneous.
  • Hall 10: Books in regional languages. We were specifically looking for Telugu books. There was 1 stall, where was absolutely empty. There other shared space with Kannada books, and wasn’t what we were looking for. In fact from South India there were only 6 stalls – 1 Telugu, 3 Kannada, 1 Tamil, 1 Malayalam. Of course Malayalam Manorama opted to feature itself in Hall 1, rather than in the regional ones. Actually, given the diversity of Indian languages, I expected a lot more from this Hall.
  • Hall 6: This was where all the major English book sellers had their stalls. Om bookstore featured some new books, while had a book reading by author Ashok Banker. Penguin India had a huge series of books, formatted according to publisher, and The Penguin Car as the main highlight. There were books for all ages and types to get their fill.

    The Penguin Car

    Inside Hall 6

  • Hall 1: This hall featured mainly publishers, though some retailers where also there, such as Reliance Timeout and IBD. I must say that Reliance Timeout was giving some nice discounts.
  • Hall 7: This was the Theme Pavilion. However, we just saw this from outside… I was more keen on getting to Hall 6! The theme for this year is “POINT OF VIEW: An International Rights Exhibition of Books on Indian Cinema (Towards Hundred Years of Indian Cinema)”.
  • Hall 12: Science & Technology: This was another one we saw just from outside; didn’t step in for the simple reason that we weren’t interested!

There were other halls as well. Halls 1-6 were English book publishers. Halls 8-9 were books on Social Science and Humanities. Hall 11 was books in Hindi. Hall 14 was for books for Children and Educational Books.

In case of energy shortage, there are some nice food courts across the place. The one we went was the Pragati Food Court near Hall 12. It is a big hall with ample seating space, and the options for food are really nice. For those who want traditional food, there is Chole-Bature, biryanis, chaats and South Indian snacks. For the who prefer fast food, there is Pizza Hut and Subway.

Pragati Food Court

Lunch: Chole-Bature and Chole-Kulcha

The timings for the Fair at 11am to 8pm. Be sure to have a large book budget, and comfortable walking shoes when attending. Also make sure you have ample time to go through the various halls. There are also various programs organized on different themes. Be sure to check it on the NBT website before you attend. You are more likely to be able to attend the programs once you get the schedule from there!

The Fair is definitely a book-lover’s paradise.


Categories: Delhi, Rajasthan, NCR & UP | 2 Comments


Bangalore – Mysore – 1 day trip (17th Dec 2011)

Now its time to update all my older travels. So after a bit of a time delay, here goes:

This was another day-long trip that we made, this time with my parents.

We set off from home by taxi at around 7am. The fact that we travelled by car, rather than tour bus afforded us the luxury of stopping when we wanted… not to mention the benefit of leaving from home n reaching the highway directly, without an extended tour around the city! πŸ™‚

Our first stop on the way was the Kamat LokaRuchi restaurant for breakfast at around 9am. Since we were on our way to visit the temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari, Hubby and I were fasting as is our usual habit when visiting temples. However, my parents would not be able to stay without any sustenance for almost half the day. Hence, the stop for breakfast.

fresh hot jalebis..

mini-dosa, fresh and hot!

Breakfast Menu

While there are 2 more Kamat restaurants on the Mysore highway, and many more small restaurants and fast-food chains along the way, this particular Kamat hotel is better known for theΒ  quality of food served here. To our delight, they had introduced a buffet breakfast, costing a mere Rs. 80, unlimited food. The food was very tempting, and only our resolve to fast kept us away. My parents rave about the amazing breakfast even today, and it turned out to be the most memorable part of the trip, for them that is!!!

Next stop was the temple of Lord Ranganatha Swami at Srirangapatanam at 11am. The darshan of the Lord was quick, as there wasn’t too much of a crowd inside the temple. so, even after taking our time posing for photos along the way, we managed to get out of Srirangapatanam within 45 mins. πŸ™‚

Lord Ranganatha Swamy Temple entrance

We finally reached the temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari at around 12pm. The weather was pleasant, sunny but not hot. So it was a pleasant short walk from the taxi drop-off till the temple.

Idol of Mahishasura at the entrance

A brief history of the temple

view of the race-course from Chamundi Hills

We took the Rs 20 tickets, and had a comfortable entry into the temple. We were able to take our time within the temple and gaze on the Goddess in peace. We finally stepped out at 12.45pm, and made our way to the temple of Lord Mahabaleshwar (Shiva). After a brief visit, we made our way back to the car.

On the way down from the temple, we passed by a statue of a giant Nandi. The last trip we’d made by tour bus had just given us a glimpse of the statue. This time we decided to stop here.

The giant Nandi is a wonder to look upon. Behind it is a cave of Lord Shiva. The cave is really low. One has to ben over in half to get inside, and even more by the time you actually reach the Linga.

Giant Nandi

Shiva temple

We left soon after, and headed for lunch. The suggestion for a nice hotel was made by the driver. I don’t really remember which hotel it was, but the food was really good, and service fast. We headed out shortly and made for Cauvery, to do some shopping. Actually i hadn’t planned to shop, but bought a couple of saris anyway. πŸ™‚

The final stop in Mysore was the Mysore Palace. We spent most of the time outside taking photos. The inside of the palace was a mad rush, as some schools were taking their students on a tour. So the narrow confines of the palace stairways were quite uncomfortable.

The Mysore Palace

At around 5pm, we finally turned our vehicle back to Bangalore.

One the way back we stopped at Channapatanam, famous for its toys. My parents bought some souvenirs to take back home. We were undecided on what to buy, and skipped shopping instead.

Myriad colors inside the toy shop at Channapatanam

toys inside the shop

Dinner stop was Kamat LokaRuchi. We enjoyed a few light snacks, and then finally headed home.

Since it was a Saturday, the shortest route back home through the city would also be the most time-consuming. So we took a roundabout route through ORR, and finally got home at 11pm.

The memories we made during the day kept us smiling till the end. πŸ™‚

Categories: Karnataka, Mysore | 2 Comments

Dilli Haat & Sarojini Nagar Market

We’re back to spend a couple of weeks at Gurgaon. That basically used to mean weekends of travelling to tourist destinations nearby. However, in the last 1 year, that’s gotten a little limited. The focus is now day-trips around Delhi.

This weekend we decided to visit the Dilli Haat, since that has long since been on my to-visit list. While doing a bit of online research, hubby figured that if we went to the INA Dilli Haat, we could also visit Sarojini Nagar Market. That was obviously a great idea! πŸ˜€

There are 2 Dilli Haats: one at INA and the other at Pitam Pura. Dilli Haat basically refers to a marketplace. The Dilli Haat is a village-like ambience suited for modern needs. It is a place where handicrafts from different parts of India are displayed, while featuring displays of traditional folk arts and food stalls from different regions.

It helped that we were already on the Metro Yellow Line. We boarded at Gurgaon’s Huda City Center, and a few stops later got out at INA.

The INA Metro station was in itself a surprise. It is the only Metro station of its kind in Delhi. It features “Crafts of India”, a collection of 58 panels featuring rich handicrafts, textiles, paintings from across India. The idea is that since a lot of foreigners would be visiting the Dilli Haat, the Metro station can be utilised to further promote the Art and Crafts of India. The panels are spread out around all 3 entrances of the Metro station.

INA Metro Station - Gate 1

On stepping out of Gate 1, we had to turn right, and after taking a few steps, found ourselves on the steps of the Dilli Haat. The tickets to enter the Haat costs Rs. 20 for adults and Rs. 10 for children. It starts at around 10.30am and continues till 9pm. We weren’t sure if all the stalls would be up and running early in the morning, so we opted to reach by lunch time.

At the entrance, there are some artistically decorated stalls displaying handicrafts that are sold int the Haat.

The food stalls are located right at the end of the Haat, and stalls from various states are interspersed with each other.

The food we decided to try was Rajasthani, and offered a large variety of local Rajasthani fare, from Dal Bhati churma to makki ki rotisarson ka saag, to missi rotis and various parathas. Hubby opted for missi roti while I opted for makki ki roti with sarson ka saag.

Makki ki roti with Sarson ka saag

Missi Roti

With full stomachs, slowly made our way to the various shops. The prices for the stuff being sold is quite reasonable. Also they are bargainable. As long as you know the actual value of the stuff you are buying, you can bargain. Also the rates quoted are also reasonable, so most places you can simply pay the mentioned prices.

Folk dancers performing at the Haat

Cane-ware at the Haat

Wooden idols at the Haat

The different kinds of items that are sold in the Dilli Haat in Delhi include footwear made from camel skin, brass ware, sandalwood and rosewood carvings, handloom items, woolen and silk items, draperies, articles made from stone, ornaments and others. Every product is unique and is a fine example of the skills of the Indian craftsmen.

After slowly making our way back to the entrance gate, after finishing the requisite shopping and photos, we set off for Sarojini Market.

The market is around 2 km from the Metro station. One can easily reach here by taking an auto for Rs. 30. This is a standard fare, and if anyone charges more, just move to the next auto!

It’s a good idea to remember which gate one steps through, as one needs to remember it while coming out. It is quite easy to get confused and distracted inside the market. It is definitely a shopping haven.

Map of Sarojini Market

What we covered was only the North side and the west side of the market. In the North-west corner is the Babu Market. This was originally a cloth market, but now it hosts a whole lot of other shops including a dentist!

We slowly made our was to the West Market. This is primarily focused on clothes. And this section is best avoided on busy weekends! The crowds literally take you along, with you having to actually walk! Just kidding…. πŸ™‚
The clothes stalls are the most tempting. The designs are fresh and trendy, and the prices cheap. Not to mention the footwear shops. Currently there are a whole lot of sales going on. So I managed to get myself a pair of funky ankle boots for a mere Rs. 650! But I digress…

Which song/movie/actress do you like most? Choose your sari accordingly!

The sections we did not explore was the Subzi Mandi and the other half of Central Market. Central Market has a unique design, something like “][“. If the top horizontal like is considered “North”, then the south end would be Subzi mandi, and the rest would be Central Market. Central Market is famous for export items, furniture and spices.

Subzi is the common Hindi word for vegetables in North India. This Subzi market is famous for its fresh vegetables in South West Delhi. The vegetable vendors shout at the top of their voice to attract customers to their stalls. Some of these vendors get creative with the calls and rhyme them in a comic way. Subzi market is also the best place to get freshest fruits in South West Delhi at a reasonable price. Customers can bargain with vendors when buying large quantities of fruits or vegetables.

When going to Sarojini Nagar Market (better known as SN Market), it would need at least half-day to explore all the shops. Factor in shopping time, and you have a whole day’s shopping! It is better one goes early in the day, as some shops may not be very well-lit in the evenings.

Even though we didn’t manage to see the whole market, it was still a satisfying experience to visit the market.

Categories: Delhi, Rajasthan, NCR & UP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments