2014 – Year in Review

We can’t believe 2014 is almost over! It’s been a crazy journey for our team this past year – from conceptualizing a modern fun travel company to launching Javian Travels to our first handful of bookings!

Here’s our ‘Year In Review’:

Javian Timeline - New Page (6).png

Thank you for joining us on this journey. We look forward to sharing many more updates with all of you in 2015!

-Javian Team

The Family-size Masala Dosa at R. K. Dosa Camp

When I learned about the family dosa at RK Dosa Camp in Bangalore, I knew I had to go eat there on my next visit to India. How can I claim to be a masala dosa lover if I haven’t tried a 6-feet version of it?!

(For those who’re not familiar with dosa – it’s a fermented crepe made from rice batter and black lentils. It is a staple dish in South Indian states – and absolutely fantastic. The masala refers to the stir fried potato mixture served on the side) 

The opportunity to visit came when we traveled to my husband’s parents home in Bangalore last month. Seeing how hyped I was, my husband and his parents agreed to come with me to this dosa spot (a spot neither their friends or they had previously heard of).

The location was only a 15 minutes drive from the famous Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore city, but if we had not seen the location on Zomato (the Yelp equivalent in India), we would never have guessed that it existed.

Walking up to it, this food canteen looked like the perfect neighborhood spot. There were no frills such as dining rooms, drink menu, or air conditioning – their goal was to make dosas and by the number of locals around – I could tell they did it well!

22725652448_c2aa60f618_o.jpg

I was lucky that my awesome mother-in-law knew how to speak in kannada (the state language of Karnataka). She went up to the manager and expressed our interest in getting a family dosa, and asked if we could take a video of the process. He graciously agreed.

The team quickly wrapped up all the previous orders.

Before we knew it, it was time for the family dosa!

The gentleman making the dosa seemed a bit nervous, most likely due to the gaping family standing in front of him recording his entire process.

Nevertheless, he remained completely focused and we watched as the family dosa slowly took form in front of us.

23155598641_abdbd73767_o.jpg
22521310114_9e0eecff25_o.jpg

Ta-da! It’s done – how awesome does this look?!

Moving it over to the high table nearby was quite a process as well. They laid out up to 6 plates with banana leaves, one of the servers balanced the dosa on two plates, and it was finally slid into the row of plates on the table.

We were given all the potato masala on the side – it would have been impossible to have it on the inside like a regular masala dosa. There was plenty of coconut chutney, mango chutney, and sambar as well.

Finally, the founder of R. K. Dosa Camp came over, thanked us for coming by and took a picture with my husband and mother-in-law!

22823809690_577849d338_o.jpg

There are no pictures of us completely obliterating the dosa, since I was way too occupied eating… but you can believe me when I say it was DELICIOUS!

Here is the video of the entire dosa-making sequence 🙂

Always hungry,

Beeni

Amazing Images from International Yoga Day 2016!

This week on June 21st was the 2nd annual celebration of International Yoga Day! 

It was a great demonstration of how this ancient Indian discipline is gaining new followers every day. Yoga is growing in popularity around the world for it’s physical, mental, spiritual, and social benefits. 

Here are 10 different places around the world where wonderful large practices happened for International Yoga Day celebrations. 

1. Chandigarh, India

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, shared this image of the main event at Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex in India

2. Milan, Italy

Yoga fans gathered in Arco della Pace (“Arch of Peace”) of Porta Sempione (“Simplon Gate”) city gate in Milan, Italy

3. Vancouver, Canada

Canadian athletic apparel retailer, Lululemon, leads this group at their “Om the Pier” event

4. Himalayan Mountains

The Indian Army celebrated International Yoga Day at the Siachen Glacier, situated at the height of over 20,000 feet!

5. Indianapolis, USA

Monumental Yoga attracted around 2,000 participants at Monumental Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana

6. New York, USA

New York City had multiple IYD2016 events. What could be more iconic than practicing yoga in the middle of Times Square – New York City! 

At the same time, an additional 400 people participated in the event at Bryant Park in New York City.

7. Mumbai, India

Yoga was done by these handsome fleet sailors & officers at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. 

Yoga by the fleet sailors & officers at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, ahead of #IYD2016 pic.twitter.com/AdXaY3MteB

\u2014 TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) June 20, 2016\n“,”url”:”https://twitter.com/TimesNow/status/744690252149727232″,”resolvedBy”:”twitter”,”floatDir”:null,”authorName”:”TIMES NOW”,”version”:”1.0″,”resolved”:true,”type”:”rich”,”providerName”:”Twitter”,”providerUrl”:”https://twitter.com”}” data-block-type=”22″ id=”block-yui_3_17_2_1_1466637284053_70291″ style=”position: relative; height: auto; padding: 17px; outline: none; box-shadow: rgba(128, 128, 128, 0) 0px 0px 0px 1px inset; transition: box-shadow 0.2s ease-in-out; clear: both; color: rgb(57, 57, 57); font-family: Ubuntu; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 300; letter-spacing: 1px; orphans: 2; text-align: justify; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;”>

TIMES NOW

@TimesNow

Yoga by the fleet sailors & officers at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, ahead of

8. Sydney, Australia

Yogis gathered around this beautiful Sydney Opera House backdrop in Australia as well.

9. Angor Wat, Cambodia

It was even celebrated at the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia – the largest religious monument in the world

10. Beijing, China

Let’s wrap up with this stunning image from the glass sightseeing platform in Shilinxia scenic spot at Pinggu District of Beijing

It’s hard to believe it’s only the second year – what will next year look like?!

The lovely destinations of West Bengal in Eastern India

West Bengal regally sits in the eastern region of India, with the Himalayas bordering its north and the Bay of Bengal in the south. This state is a place of incredible culture, heritage, aesthetic beauty, and cuisine. Here are my top places to visit for West Bengal:

1. Kolkata

The state’s capital is one of the most beautiful location where you can smell the old books, walk through narrow lanes, re-visit the colonial rule, and watch the hawkers selling delicious Rosogollas and Phuchka.

 Victoria Memorial ( Image Source )

Victoria Memorial (Image Source)

Must visit places: Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, Park Street, Fort William, Botanical Garden, Indian Museum.

Minimum Recommended Duration for Visit: 3 days

2. Darjeeling

The bong hub for a vacation, filled with red rhododendrons, white magnolias, birds of various species and green tea leaves. Oh! Don’t forget the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga. Tiger hills and Sandakhpu buys the deal of your trip. Make sure you catch up with all the major attractions there.

 Kanchenjunga ( Image Source )

Kanchenjunga (Image Source)

Must visit places: Kanchenjunga, Sandakphu, Tiger Hill, Peace Pagoda, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Batasia Loop, Lava, Everest Museum, Barboteu Rock Garden, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Neora National Park, Darjeeling Toy Train.

Minimum Recommended Duration for Visit: 4 days

3. Siliguri

Located near the thick forest on the foothills of Himalayas, Siliguri is a city famous for timber and tea. Don’t forget to eat some Momos and Thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) – some of the best found in India.

 Sevoke Railway ( Image Source )

Sevoke Railway (Image Source)

Must visit places: Jaldapara forest, Sevoke, Kalijhora, Mongpong.

Minimum Recommended Duration for Visit: 3 days

4. Kalimpong

A hill station located at an altitude of 1250 meters in lower Himalayas, its serves the tourists with an ecstatic view. Shop traditional handicrafts and watch the orchids decorate the hills.

 Deolo Hills ( Image Source )

Deolo Hills (Image Source)

Must visit places: Deolo hills and Dr.Grahams.

Minimum Recommended Duration for Visit: 1 day

5. Coochbehar

The enigmatic memories of the Mughal Era can be seen all around this city. The palaces, water bodies, and the Indo-Bangladesh border build up the city as a major tourist attraction.

 Jaldapara National Park ( Image Source )

Jaldapara National Park (Image Source)

Must visit places: Cooch Behar Palace, Chilapara Forest Range, Rasik Bil, Madan Mohan Bari, Dangar Ayee Temple

Minimum Recommended Duration for Visit: 2 days.

8 Easy Tips to Know before traveling to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a land of terraced tea plantations and wild jungles. Elephants and leopards, whales and monkeys, friendly people and incredible food. In spite having wondrous things to offer, Sri Lanka often gets overshadowed by Maldives and India. So I’ve come up with ways you can travel to Sri Lanka without having to dip into the piggy bank. That way you can get to see and experience this marvelous teardrop-shaped island off the bottom of India on a reasonable budget.

#1 Buy Bottled Water for Drinking

You are going to be walking a lot in Sri Lanka so be prepared with bottled water because tap water isn’t safe. This way you can save on water costs in restaurants. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence.

#2 Carry Cash

 Image Source

Sri Lanka is primarily a cash-based economy, as such you will find very few credit card facilities in and around the area. Carrying around money is essential, especially small bills. Expect a daily budget of $30-$50 per person on accommodation, food, drinks and transport.

My tip would be to carry around $50 dollars so you neither overspend nor use up all of your money. If there is any excess, you can always use it the next day.

Carrying small bills would be much appreciated by the local vendors as they would not be able to break change if you give them a 5000 rupees or larger note.

#3 Take advantage of affordable transportation

 Image Source

Image Source

uses or the famous tuk-tuks are a-plenty and rather inexpensive to move around the island when compared to taxis. Make use of them like the locals. If you’re traveling with a companion and just don’t feel like using public transport, another option is to rent a motorbike or scooter inexpensively for the duration of your stay!

#4 Find local spots for delicious food

 Image Source

Sri Lanka is known for its food diversity and those akin to spices! To taste the best of the cuisine, make sure to hit up all the local spots by looking for the crowded restaurants AND street stalls.

Expect a fusion of different tastes owing to their range of spices that would make your taste buds sizzle. From rice and flavorful curries to ‘lamprais‘, a traditional meat and rice dish baked in a banana leaf, to crunchy ‘papadums‘ – you’ll find it all at reasonable rates!

#5 Be friendly with the locals

The Locals here are some of the warmest and friendliest bunch you’ll meet, so don’t be afraid to go over and talk to them if you need anything. Language is usually not a problem as most of them can speak English or know at least the basics and will try to help you.

This would be wiser than using a map in one of the tuk-tuks, ending up lost, and unnecessarily adding to your expenses 🙁 Just ask for help!

#6 Staying Connected with a local SIM

Sharing frequent updates to your loved ones back home is often expected. We recommend getting a local SIM which will cost next to nothing as compared to the craziness of international roaming! Coverage is good locally, and the plans are reasonable. WiFi is also available in most places.

#7 Be prepared for the heat

Pack travel-size sunscreen, a hat, walking shoes and a rain jacket to keep you protected against Sri Lanka’s diverse weather.

#8 Enjoy the beach!!!

 Image Source

Sri Lanka’s beach destination is taking over as the next ‘Bali‘, so why not lounge on the many breath-taking beaches along the coast – it’s fun & free! There are also food vendors, clothes, and accessory shacks on the beach in case you’re hungry or need a change of clothes.

There’s plenty to do in this beautiful country and we can experience without going broke! Happy Travels. 

Energetic and unique festivals in India for every musical taste!

Amidst the colourful culture of India, thrives these scenic festivals, waiting to be explored! Unleash the vagabond in you.

India has a fair share of excellent music festivals, from the psychedelic scenes in the hills to the raves on the sands of Goa. Here are some of the best of all kinds of music you could hope to hear, presented through these music festivals in India you have likely never heard of.

The Indian Classical Music

The two most important traditions of Indian Classical music are the Hindustani music and the Carnatic Music. Hindustani music is mostly practised in the northern, eastern and the central regions, while Carnatic is practised in the peninsular region.

The best Indian classical concerts that shouldn’t be missed are:

 Scene from Tansen Music Festival

Scene from Tansen Music Festival
  1. Madras Music Season: It has been held each year in the mid of December and January in Chennai, from 1927. It is a great platform for young artists to display their talents in front of large audiences.
  2. Tansen Music Festival: This is the biggest festival that is held in the month of December in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It takes place near the Tomb of Tansen by the Academy of the Department of Culture, the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
  3. Dover Lane Musical Festival: This is for those who love drama and music equally! Held in the months of December and January, in Kolkata, this festival attracts huge masses from all over the country!

Folk Music

This is a broad musical category because of India’s cultural diversity, and each of type of folk music delivers unique insight into the origin areas. They include Bhavagheethe, Bhangra, Bihu geeth, Chishti, Fakir, etc.

The famous music festivals that will make you truly admire Indian Folk music are:

  1. Rajasthan International Folk Festival: It is held in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur during the Sharad Purnima, that is the brightest full moon of the year in North India. Your experiences here will involve folksy performances-both music and dance, jazz night, early morning ragas and various interactive sessions.
  2. World Sufi Spirit Festival: It happens in Nagpur and Jodhpur in the month of February.This upcoming festival in India is the largest gathering of all the Sufi artists and is the perfect showcase of the cultural heritage of Sufism.It will encompass concerts, qawwalis, lectures, workshops and more.

Indian Pop Music

The Indian Film Industry is well known for its music!It has a mix of Indian classical music and western music, giving rise to a new genre, with the huge audience! Traditionally, in Indian Cinemas, the songs are sung by professional playback singers, they are melodious and soulful!

These are the bands that every music lover must follow!

  1. The Raghu Dixit Project (Contemporary Indian Folk)
  2. Thermal and a Quarter
  3. Soulmate!

Rock and Metal music

Raga rock is rock or pop music with heavy Indian influence, either in its construction, timbre, or the instruments used, like the tabla or sitar. The “rock music scene” in India is small compared to the film or traditional music scene, but as of the recent years, it has gained huge followers, and many bands have gained popularity!

So, these are the bands for the rock music lovers:

  1. Indian Ocean (Delhi)
  2. Avial (Kerala)
  3. Little Booshka’s Grind (Chennai)
  4. Nicotine (Indore)

Jazz and Blues

Jazz and Indian classical music share some similarities, they blend well, and this is what paved the way for its popularity in the country. Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane, John Mayer and John McLaughlin were some of the pioneers of the fusion of Jazz and Indian music.

The best Jazz and Blues Festivals are:

  1. Mahindra Blues (Mumbai)
  2. Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Fest (Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh)
  3. Shillong Blues and Jazz (Shillong)

Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Trip to India during Monsoon? Here are your best destinations!

The Indian sub-continent has a lot to give during the monsoon season! This South Asian country with incredible climatic conditions attracts tourists from all over the globe.

There are places with highest rainfall records to places with moderate rainfall and excellent weather conditions. It has many stories to tell to all the explorers.

Monsoon rains are mainly due to the South-West monsoons which majorly hits the western ghats and travels northwards. But don’t stop the rains from traveling! From Kashmir in the North to Kanyakumari in the South, there are many places would leave you speechless and turn you into a storyteller.

So traveling to India during Monsoon Season? No Problem! Here’s where to go: 

1. MUNNAR, KERALA

 Munnar Tea Plantations (Image Source)
Munnar Tea Plantations (Image Source)

The best destination in the God’s Own Country (as the state of Kerala is often known) has eye-capturing Tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, verdant hills, and great resorts. The best time to visit the magnificent Munnar is August. The places to visit in Munnar are the Tea Garden, Mattupetty dam, Rajamalai National Park, Lakkam Waterfalls and Thoovana Waterfalls.

2. CHEERAPUNJI, MEGHALAYA

 Meghalaya Living Root Bridges (Image Source)

Meghalaya Living Root Bridges (Image Source)

This area receives heavy rains throughout the year, making it the second wettest planet on Earth has a lot in store for the tourists. The attractive destinations of this place are the Double Decker Root Bridge walking on which is a lifetime experience, Mawsmai Cave, Seven Sisters Falls, Mawkdok Dympep Valley and Nohkalikai Falls.

3. AGUMBE, KARNATAKA

 Sirimane Falls, Agumbe (Image Source)

Sirimane Falls, Agumbe (Image Source)

Apart from being the best sunrise and sunset spot in the state of Karnataka, Agumbe has a lot more to show. It has a number waterfalls and ruins of the Hoysala empire as its historical attraction. The drive to Agumbe is itself a phenomenal experience. The places to visit here are Jogigundi Falls, Agumbe Ghat, Koodlu Theertha Falls, Sunset Point and Onake Abbi Falls.

4. KODAIKANAL, TAMIL NADU

 (Image Source)

Being one of the best hill stations in India, it has numerous waterfalls and ubiquitous gardens during the rainy season. The peaceful climate and moderate rainfall attract many tourists. The places to visit are Kodaikanal Lake, Bryant Park, Berijam lake, Coaker’s Lake and Kurunji Andavar Murugan temple. It is referred to as the “The Princess of hill stations”.

5. LAHAUL-SPLITI, HIMACHAL PRADESH

 Chandra T (Image Source)

Chandra T (Image Source)

This town is a magical place with deep valleys, sparsely populated and peaceful place for some intimacy. It has many adventurous treks like the Yak safari and skiing.The places to visit are Baralacha La 4891m, Zingzingbar, Darcha, Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal, Hampta Pass, Jispa Pang.

6. ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS

 (Image Source)

One of the union territories of India, this group of islands is a beautiful destination to get away from the rain!
These islands sparsely receive rains and are mostly sunny. It is the best destination for adventure lovers as it offers Scuba diving, and there many resorts with different types of adventurous activities. The places to visit are Radhanagar Beach, Neil Island, Elephant beach in the Havelock island and Cellular Jail, Ross Island, Jolly Buoy Island in Post Blair.

7. MUSSOORIE, UTTARAKHAND

 ( Image Source )

The scenic, natural and splendid beauty of Mussoorie isn’t something that can be explained by mere words. The drive from Dehradun to Mussoorie is itself breath-taking, add to that is the spectacular view of the Himalayas!
The places to visit are Kempty Falls, Gun hills, Bhimtal Lake, Happy Valley, Everest church, Union House and the Mussoorie Lake.

Helpful Insider Travel Tips to use for Agra & the Taj Mahal

Agra, located on the bank of river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is perhaps the most well-known area of India. The fame started long ago – with the first mention of this city being in the epic Mahabharata where it is referred to as “Agrevana” or “border of the forest”.

As home to the infamous Taj Mahal, tourism in Agra is teeming every day – leading to a harried and often overwhelming experience for many tourists. Here are the top tips from TripAdvisor travelers on how to travel in this popular city:

 

1. Getting to Agra

Reaching Agra is no big deal. You can reach the city from Delhi(206 KM), Lucknow(378 KM) or Gwalior(125 KM) by road.You can also choose trains to Agra, which is more memorable as the railway stations are ancient.

2. Monuments to Visit

The top monument is, of course, white marbled Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. Agra Fort, another famous landmark of Agra is the massive red sandstone fort was built by the Mughals. King Akbar ruled the entire India by sitting in this fort.

3. Other Places to Visit

Itmad-Ud-Daulah is a beautiful tomb of Jahangir’s father in law, Itmad-Ud-Daulah. Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, St.Johns College are other attractions to visit while in Agra.

4. Places to worship

Soami Bagh Temple, Mankameshwar TempleJama Masjid and Guru ka Taal Gurudwara are other beautiful places.

5. Need to stay? Hotels.

Oberoi Amarvilas is the best hotel in Agra; moreover, it’s only 8 minute walk from the eastern gate of the Taj. TridentTaj GatewayJaypee PalaceRadisson BluMughal SheratonCrystal Sarovar are some of the fantastic choices of hotels to have a memorable stay in Agra. Some budget hotels are- Howard Plaza, Hotel Amar, Hotel Retreat.

6. Time to eat, Restaurants!

Here are some of the best places you get amazing Mughlai dishes in Agra:

  • Paatra – Jaypee Palace Hotel, Tajganj, Agra
  • The Mughal Room – Hotel Clarks Shiraz, Agra Cantt, Agra
  • Peshawri – ITC Mughal, Tajganj, Agra
  • G Thal, Khandari, Agra

7. Local Eating

Madhu Icecream gets you the best ice cream in the area since 1955. The coffee bar is the famous Ice cream of Madhu. Get local morning daily breakfast at Deviram Sweets and Rambabu Paranthas.

8. It’s February? It’s Taj Mahotsav.

The month of February(18th-27th) brings you the famous Taj Mahotsav, where people from various states come and sell their handicrafts and much more.

9. Kalakriti

Do visit the Mohabbat The Taj Show in Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Center in the evening which depicts the love story of Mumtaz and Shahjahan.

10. Light and Sound show at Agra Fort

It is a show which teaches you more about the history of Mughal era.

11. It’s Shopping time.

Sadar Bazar is a busy hub for shopping in Agra. Do not forget to enjoy the Chaat there. Sanjay Place, M.G Road, you can get anything and everything here. If you want to shop some amazing and unique marble pieces, Subhash Emporium is your place. Moreover, Agra is famous for White Marble. It is also known for leather shoes, which you get in fantastic quality at Valentino. Definitely, visit Kinari Bazaar which is known for Handicrafts and Dry Fruits.

12. Panchi Petha

Agra is a very famous spot for Pethas and Dalmot in Agra. However, beware of the fake ones. (Petha is a translucent softcandy from North India. Usually rectangular or cylindrical, it is made from the ash gourd vegetable). Check out the Panchi Petha Store in Agra Cantt, Agra.

13. Nearby places in Agra

Places near Agra include Sur Sarovar Birds Sanctuary and  National Chambal Sanctuary worth your time.