Monkey’s and Munchies

09 March 2015

What a very educational day and interesting weekend it has been!

Today, we visited the Amber Fort in Jaipur, where there once lived a King with 12 wives… But this didn’t stop him indulging in a good pamper wherever possible!




These pictures show a steam room, which operated by servants boiling water in the next room and steam entering through little holes and a Jacuzzi, which was filled with hot water which bubbled somehow through some law of physics that I’ve totally forgotten now. The entire place was also air-conditioned, by having water run behind the marble walls and cool air pushing through little holes as a result.

He also had quite the wok!


That must have been some dinner party!

The high-light of this visit for me was a nifty instrument I bought from a street seller…


A Ravanhatta!


With a coconut base and a bamboo neck, I thought this was an impressive piece of craftsmanship! While I haven’t quite sussed how to play it yet… I’m sure, with time, I’ll become an expert!



Saturday was an awesome day. We visited the Krishna temple, took in the breath-taking views of the Nahargarh fort, and an absolute high-light for me… The Monkey Temple!


On the drive, we also saw the Water Palace, which was first brought to my attention by a particularly tasty episode of Reza: Spice Prince of India, leaving me to associate this view with tasty curry and therefore build up a sharp appetite.


Then came an evening of delicious delights.

An event was being held called Chowkhi Dhani- a rainbow of Indian flavours for just 500 Rupees!


Despite this giant menu greeting us at the entrance, I still have no idea really what I ate, or at least which was which. But I can tell you my favourite was Yellow!


Oh, Yellow!

Places were paid on entry, then seated on a first come first serve basis. And thank goodness we got in on the first sitting, because the queue built up quickly! The team behind it gave great service, were very attentive, and kept our plates loaded with various Thali flavours!



I hope to find a recipe for Yellow soon enough.


After dinner, the event also had a variety of dance performances, fun-fair style games to play, shops with lovely bits and bobs (really regret not getting a set of teacups now) and an Artisan Village to explore, which included jungles, caves, slides and houses, offering a sample of the many colours and diversities in style that fill India.


I can’t believe we’ve been here only two weeks and seen so much already! India is extraordinary!




Finally, after much patience and confusion, my India Tourist Visa has arrived!

Following on from my last post about this, let’s re-cap with a quick how-to (and some corrections!) on how to apply for an India Tourist Visa for UK Based Applicants.

How I Obtained an India Tourist Visa

1. I completed my application on the India Visa Online website.
2. Upon submitting my application, I also paid for my visa online (£93.60) and made an appointment to go to the London based embassy to complete my application. Upon making my appointment, the webpage changed to an appointment confirmation page, which I printed and kept and good thing I did because it was required later on! An alternative option is to post a copy of your application along with two 2×2 photos and your passport to the embassy and pay for Special Delivery for it to be returned to you. I have a couple of friends who have gone through this process at the Birmingham based embassy and told me that by going in person you can collect your visa the very next day. This turn out not to be the case for me, but it’s what I opted for anyway! So I made my appointment for 11:00 Thursday 29th January.
3. I also paid a couple of quid extra to receive text message updates on the process of my application, but this turned out to be a completely pointless thing to do, as I’ll explain shortly.
4. Next, I sorted out my photo. The passport photo machine had a specific option for “India Visa” which cost £7.

5. To my horror, I received no confirmation of any kind from the embassy that my application had been received, or an itinerary list for my appointment. So I used good old common sense and packed
Confirmation of my appointment
Itinerary of flights
Proof of where I’ll be staying
Proof of address
Several copies of my application
My passport
Two 2×2 photos
Confirmation that I had paid for my visa

I was told by one of the aforementioned friends who had done this that this what a good list, but more might be needed! I was also advised to take copies of my birth certificate, my parent’s birth certificates, my parent’s passports and my parent’s marriage certification!! Basically, legal confirmation of anything that is mentioned on the application!
I was also advised, in spite of having an appointment, to arrive at the embassy early as possible as queues are normally out the door…

6. So, come Thursday 29th January, I arrived at the London based India Visa Application Centre bright and early at 9:00 only to see no queues and no panic what-so-ever. So, I enjoyed a nice relaxed breakfast at Costa Coffee nearby, and returned at 10:30
7. I was greeted by a very friendly individual, who seemed to welcome the excitement that was suddenly bubbling over from me (you’d think it was the day of my flight for all the giddiness). I was asked if I had an appointment, and when I confirmed I do, was asked to produced the confirmation. Pow. I did.
8. I was given a waiting number (shown in the picture above) and directed to the glue stick and scissor area, where I completed my application by sticking my grumpy face down securely.
9. After about 10 minutes of waiting, my ticket number was called. I was asked for my application and passport. When I asked if I will be returning the following day to collect my visa, I was told with a polite smile that this would not be the case and that it will be ready for me to collect the following week. So, I opted for it to be posted to me instead, which cost my about £10 for Special Delivery. So to review, the only documents I needed in the end were my passport, and my application. But I still think it’s better to be extra prepared!
10. Less than a week later my visa arrived, and was followed a couple of day later by a series of text message telling my the process of my application… So I wouldn’t bother with this feature in hindsight.

And that’s how it’s done! So that sees me more or less ready to go, with just 11 days left on the count down!

Following all that visa fun in London, I then drove west to Bristol for a Sister Weekend!

As I’m yet to visit India, I’ve never experienced authentic Indian cooking. But it’s said that if you want to find this in the UK, there’s only one place to go…


And that’s exactly where my darling sister took me.

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