Of poets and pints: a literary pub crawl in Dublin

Let me start this story with a couple of “bet you didn’t know” bits of trivia: author and playwright Oscar Wilde played boxing for his alma mater, Trinity College. And Oliver Goldsmith, of The Vicar of Wakefield fame, also wrote the popular nursery rhymes Jack & Jill and Hickory Dickory Dock.

I know these interesting tidbits because of an evening in Dublin spent on a pub crawl, punctuated by not just pit stops for beer but also generous amounts of information about the city’s poets and authors. The Dublin literary pub crawl is the perfect mix of everything the city has to offer: history, architecture, green open spaces and literature, all of it washed down by pint after pint of glorious beer.

Actors

After all, Dublin has produced four Nobel Prize winners for literature (William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney). And it has been home to literary greats like James Joyce, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. In a nod to this rich heritage, Dublin is a designated UNESCO city of literature.

And on the other hand, Dublin is also home to over 850 pubs. As the joke goes, “How do you cross the city without passing a pub?” The answer, credited to James Joyce, “Go into every one of them.” Pubs were, and still are, to Dublin what coffee houses were to Vienna – social and cultural hubs. And for many writers, their favourite watering hole was a haven and sometimes even a muse.

We cannot, of course, go into every one of them this evening, but the aim is to get us into atleast a few pubs with literary associations. I reach The Duke at 7 pm sharp, all ready to start crawling my way through Dublin’s pubs. Colm Quilligan, the brains behind this literary pub crawl says, “At the end, you won’t be too drunk, but you won’t be too sober either.” And on that promising note, the pub crawl begins.

The group – about ten of us, mostly Americans – meet in the “snug” on the first floor of The Duke, a room that is just as small and cozy as the name suggests. Every pub has a snug, although the idea is redundant now. Till the middle of the 20th century, women were barred from entering pubs, a rule supported by the Roman Catholic Church to “prevent the spread of vice.” It was only when the men went away to war – in the 1940s – that women were grudgingly allowed into these hallowed premises, and even then only in a small, segregated area called the snug.

The Duke

Colm and his colleague Frank get the audience to loosen up a bit with their rendition of the Waxie’s Dargle, a traditional Irish folk song about local candle-makers. Then they don black bowler hats and enact a scene from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, ending with a quote from a London reviewer at the time it was first performed, “The only play ever seen in which nothing happens – twice.”

While the Irish take great pride in their famous literary works, they are not beyond laughing at them too. The duo then act out a bar brawl from Ulysses, claiming that this is the most familiar scene from this quintessential Irish novel, “since it is in the first chapter, and few people get beyond it.”

Performance

From The Duke, we head out as a motley procession towards Trinity College, which Colm calls “a cultural stop without a drink.” Standing in the front courtyard facing the grand buildings, he talks about its illustrious students, including Oscar Wilde. The writer hated the college, referring to his classmates as a “dreadful lot” and dropped out to study at Oxford instead. But during his days at the college, he refined his drinking skills, following in the footsteps of others like Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett before him.

Trinity College

Our next stop, which Colm declares a “drinking stop without culture,” is O’Neills, housed in a beautiful Victorian building. This bar is filled with locals and tourists, drinking away after a hard day’s work. The vibe is warm and friendly, and the pub itself is a warren of several tiny rooms and nooks (including, of course, a snug). There has been a pub in some form at this same spot for over 300 years, with a reputation for serving some of the best beer in the city. Another of Colm’s colleagues, Jessica, joins us here.

By the time we leave O’Neills, a few pints of Guinness have gone down among the group, and while we are not actually crawling yet, we are walking very slowly. Although the origin of the term “pub crawl” is from another university town, Cambridge, Colm says, “There have always been pub crawls in Dublin, even way back in the 17th century, when Trinity students went rampaging through the city’s taverns, narrating from the works of classical Greek and Latin poets.”

ONeills

Colm should know, given that he founded this modern version of the pub crawl over 20 years ago. This one comes off as a great experience since the guides are all professional actors, with a passion for literature. Not surprisingly, this literary pub crawl is one of the most popular activities for any visitor to the city, and ranked high on the Sunday Times’ list of the world’s 50 best walks.

From O’Neills, we walk across to the Protestant St. Andrews Church, built in 1665 but closed in the 1980s thanks to dwindling patronage. Today, it serves as the Dublin Tourism Office, still providing guidance to the masses, although not of a spiritual nature. On the pavement outside the erstwhile church, Colm and Jessica perform a hilarious scene from Strumpet City, James Plunkett’s story about a massive industrial strike in the early 20th century, known simply as the Lockout.

The scene is about a dialogue between two of the strikers, Toucher Hennessy and Rashers Tierney, both begging on the street for a spot of beer money. Rashers gives Toucher a quick lesson on spotting the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant, so he could customise his appeal. Colm and Jessica live the parts with their gestures and accents, taking us back to a time of great strife in Dublin.

Toucher

Following that is another halt for more beer and more stories at The Old Stand, once a haunt for political activists and now favoured by professionals in finance and law. Our final stop for the night is at Davy Byrnes, a trendy bar now, known for being featured in several scenes in Ulysses. Its other claim to fame is that Samuel Beckett lived in a room above it during his student days at Trinity. However, I like Davy Byrnes best as the pub where novelist Brendan Behan uttered his famous line about him being a “drinker with a writing problem.”

Through the walk and the pub stops, Colm has been throwing pop quiz questions at us (including the ones about Wilde’s university sport and Goldsmith’s nursery rhymes). Finally, in front of Davy Byrnes, the winners get coveted Dublin Pub Crawl T-shirts as prizes. Of course, most of us stay back for that one last pint at Davy Byrnes and exchange of notes about the experience. It has been a long – and entertaining – walk and I am glad to rest my feet. But I cannot complain; Colm had warned us that the whole thing takes over two hours “depending on how fast you walk and how slow you drink.”

Davy Byrnes

QUICK FACTS

Getting there: Fly to Dublin on Jet Airways, connecting via Abu Dhabi with partner airline Etihad.

Accommodation: Stay at The Fitzwilliam, located close to the main shopping areas. The cozy Brooks Hotel is another popular choice, also ideally situated for shopping and eating options.

For more information: log on to http://www.dublinpubcrawl.com

***
This was published in the July issue of Jet Wings International – see it in pdf form here

We’ll always have Paris

“Suddenly a train appeared. Women cried out with terror. Men threw themselves to one side to avoid being run over. It was panic.”

This is not a sensational newspaper report of a train accident; this is the reaction to the first ever motion picture screening by the Lumiere Brothers, as described by an astute observer. He goes on to end with “It was panic. And triumph.”

We are standing in front of Hotel Scribe when I hear about this. This was once the Grand Café, where this momentous event – ten films in the course of 20 minutes – took place on December 28, 1895. In a nod to its heritage, Hotel Scribe has a restaurant called Café Lumiere, with a plaque on the wall.

Hotel Scribe
(image courtesy: Hotel Scribe)

Clearly, Paris has a long and enduring relationship with cinema, and on this cinema walk, I hope to explore a small bit of it.

Woody AllenThe walk starts with a peek into one of the locations from Woody Allen’s recent ‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011). Allen has set some key scenes in Polidor, a once fashionable bistro and hangout of artists and writers. Walking into Polidor, I get a feeling that I have stepped into the early 1900s – much like the film’s protagonist, who travels back in time to the 1920s, an era when literary greats like Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein lived in the city. ‘Midnight in Paris’ is Woody Allen’s third movie set in Paris and his love song to the city, possibly his favourite only after New York.

While it is interesting to hear about ‘Midnight in Paris,’ we want to know about the more popular movies set in Paris and so head off to another neighbourhood. Along the way, Juliette points out filmy landmarks like the Pont des Arts (Amelie) and Hotel Regina (The Bourne Identity).

Funny FaceOur destination is Place Vendome, the elegant Parisian square lined by jewellers like Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels. However, the star in our eyes here is Hotel Ritz which has seen innumerable films, including three starring Audrey Hepburn (no less than six of her films were shot in Paris). Standing here at Place Vendome on a grey, rainy day, we watch Bonjour Paris – a delightful song taking us through the city with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn – from ‘Funny Face’ (1957) on Juliette’s iPad as she struggles with an umbrella that threatens to break free any moment.

Why Paris, I ask Juliette, why not any other charming European city like, say, Rome or London? That’s when I learn about the Hays Code American cinema had imposed upon itself in 1930 (lasting till 1968), which stipulated that no film should “lower the moral standards of those who see it.” According to Juliette, American film censorship at that time was strict, but for some reason, far more lenient with movies based outside the USA. She believes that for many Americans at that time, Paris offered a kind of fantasy escape (she calls it a sense of liberation), prompting filmmakers to script their movies around the city of lights.

Juliette

Juliette should know, given her Master’s degree in cinema history and experience as a production assistant.

Even without the influence of such moral policing, Paris has always been popular among Hollywood filmmakers; since 1900, nearly 800 Hollywood movies have been set here. And can Bollywood be far behind? ‘Sangam’ (1964), famously the first ever Indian movie to be filmed abroad, had a few song sequences set in Paris, followed soon by ‘An Evening in Paris’ (1967), shot almost entirely here. Someone pipes up with a remark on ‘Queen’ (2014), that complete entertainer with its clever shots of the Eiffel Tower as an omnipresent feature of the city.

Juliette is obviously at sea when we talk about Bollywood – why not start that tour, we ask – and we get back to talking about how Paris is strewn with filming locations. Not entirely surprising, given that, on an average, three feature films are shot in the city every day.

There are all the usual suspects like Champs Elysees (The Devil Wears Prada), Arc de Triomphe (Casablanca), Montmartre (An American in Paris, French Kiss, Moulin Rouge), all of them locations for films with strong Paris connections. Then there is the Louvre (The Da Vinci Code), about which I discover an interesting story. It is not easy to get permission for shooting at the Louvre, and for The Da Vinci Code, the then President Jacques Chirac, with a keen eye on economic gains, had to intervene. The museum acquiesced to filming for six nights, with the condition that the set be dismantled every morning.

Davinci Code

Much as it is fun visiting these locations, it is even more fun to listen to trivia from Juliette along the way. For instance, ‘Moulin Rouge’ (2001), that quintessential Paris movie, was shot almost entirely in a studio in Australia, with city shots digitally produced. And for ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ Meryl Streep never travelled to Paris; so much for that glamourous fashion week.

Moulin Rouge

The Devil Wears Prada

We end the tour, fittingly, at Hotel Scribe, with a brief stop for a moment of revered silence. Later, I read that one of the Lumiere Brothers had remarked, “The cinema is an invention without a future.” If only he knew.

***
A slightly edited version of this was published in the Hindu Business Line on June 19, 2015 – read it online here.

Exploring Agra with Padhaaro

A few months ago, I was invited by the people at Padhaaro to enjoy a local experience with them in any of the cities they offer their travel experiences in. Padhaaro is an interesting enterprise, offering customised and offbeat tours in different cities, seen through the eyes of a local (expert). This way, you get to see the side of a city that you may otherwise miss, or not even be aware of.

Right now, they have local “greeters” in 18 Indian cities. And I chose Agra during my December trip. In Agra, there is a choice of activities, from viewing the Taj Mahal along with a local, to exploring Agra on a bicycle, to food tours. We had the unique and extremely fun experience of exploring old Agra in a battery powered rickshaw. Our guide was Amit Sisodia, who came with years of experience in the travel trade in Agra.

libraryAnd so we set off, on Sunday morning, in the super dense fog. We took the rickshaw to a main spot and then walked our way through the crowded markets and narrow lanes. Agra, to most travellers, is about the Taj Mahal. And to the more adventurous, or those with more time on their hands, it is also about the lesser monuments like Agra Fort and Itimad Ud Daula. But on this tour, I came to discover the rich multicultural history of Agra, starting with Dara Shikoh’s library from the mid 17th century. This red sandstone building used to be a centre for scholarship and studies during Shah Jahan’s time, under the patronage of Aurangzeb’s brother.

We then went on to wander through the old markets of Agra and had a pitstop at Jami Masjid. I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to interact with locals and find some great photo ops. We stopped to admire old, exquisite buildings all along the way, with interesting inputs from Amit.

Masjid

people

buildings

We then found ourselves at some old churches – the most fascinating of them called Akbar’s Church. After that, a Roman Catholic Cemetery, filled with memories and whispers from centuries ago.

church

cemetery

puriAmit then took us to a small eatery for a brunch of the Agra special bhedei aloo and jalebi, before dropping us back to the hotel. In all, it was a great morning, with an experience of Agra that my husband and I will cherish. Although I knew in a vague manner that there was a thriving old part of the city, I would have never been able to discover it on my own. So I am thankful to Padhaaro for helping me discover this.

The next time you are in any of these cities, go ahead and given yourself an unforgettable Padhaaro experience.

This winter, take a walk

This winter, discover India on foot: lose yourself in its narrow lanes, bargain at local markets, drink chai at street stalls and talk to locals.

Customised walking tours are now a major attraction in many big cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Varanasi and Bengaluru. And, these are no random strolls around the old town but are carefully planned around specific themes, ranging from jewellery to history to street food. Here are some of our top picks:

HYDERABAD

1. Geology tour
What: Rock Walks
Who: Society to Save Rocks

The Deccan Plateau consists of spectacular grey granite rocks, which geologists believe go back 2,500 million years, when Earth’s crust first solidified. Go on a rock walk to understand the stories and structures behind the formations that dot Hyderabad’s landscape. These take place on the third Sunday of every month.

SaveRocks

2. Biryani trail
What: Biryani Detour
Who: Detours India

Once considered a dish only for the Nizams, the cornerstone of Hyderabadi cuisine has assimilated a variety of regional and foreign influences over time. On The Biryani Detour, explore the hidden hubs of this historic dish and find out what makes Hyderabadi biryani different from other versions. Make no plans for later, because you’ll be too full to do anything but nap.

Also consider: The Arts and Crafts Detour, which takes you into the sumptuous world of the Old City’s gold, pearls and diamonds.

BENGALURU

1. Nature trail
What: Green Heritage Walk
Who: Bangalore Walks

Bengaluru is commonly known as the garden city of India, with parks such as Lalbagh and Cubbon Park contributing greatly to its green heritage. The Green Heritage Walk is a lovely Sunday morning stroll through Lalbagh Botanical Gardens with historian and naturalist Vijay Thiruvady. Lalbagh is home to ancient trees and over 50 species of migratory birds. The walk begins at 7.30am and ends with breakfast at MTR, another Bengaluru institution.

2. Neighbourhood stroll
What: Parichay Walks
Who: INTACH Bangalore

Bengaluru remains a small city at heart, made up of several cloistered neighbourhoods such as Malleswaram, Jayanagar, Basavangudi and Shivaji Nagar. Each of these used to be home to a specific regional or religious community, and still has a unique character. The Parichay walks by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage are a great way to get to know these areas and what makes them special. From flower markets to forts and palaces, temples to mosques and churches, they help you discover the city.

CHENNAI

1. Jewellery jaunt
What: Jewellery Trail
Who: Story Trails

Gems and jewellery have always been close to Indian hearts, and Chennai is known for producing exquisite ornaments. The Jewellery Trail takes you through the lanes of Mylapore, one of Chennai’s oldest neighbourhoods, into the workshops where these beautiful pieces are handcrafted. Understand the history of gold and precious gemstones, listen to legends and myths about jewellery on this dazzling tour.

Also consider: Mystic Trail, which decodes the mysticism and superstition that are woven into the fabric of everyday Indian life.

Jewellery Trail

2. Photography walk
Who: Chennai Photowalk

Stroll through the streets with likeminded photographers who exchange notes about their experience of the walk and the shooting process. The Sunday Photowalk happens twice every month on Sunday mornings and is conducted by a group leader. The route changes as per the theme, which could be anything: history, food, architecture, gardens and so on.

KOLKATA

1. Culture trail
What: Confluence of Cultures
Who: Calcutta Walks

Kolkata is a city of many cultures, indelibly influenced by the various communities, including the Chinese, Parsis, Armenians, Anglo Indians and Marwaris, once calling it home. Peek into the lifestyles, art, architecture and cuisine of these communities with Confluence of Cultures, and learn what makes the city a real melting pot.

Also consider: Bringing the Goddess to Earth, a walk centred on Kolkata’s lifeline, the Hooghly River. See what life is like for those who depend on this river, from the fresh flower-sellers to the clay idol-makers of Kumartuli.

Confluence of Cultures

2. Ramble through the Raj
What: Dalhousie Square
Who: Let’s Meet Up Tours

With this Heritage Walk, you can follow in the footsteps of the British, starting from the ‘White Town’ developed by the East India Company. This walk combines an exploration of stately Raj-era buildings with a boat ride on the Hooghly.

DELHI

1. Purani Dilli
What: Jama Masjid and lanes of Old Delhi
Who: Delhi Heritage Walks

The imposing monuments that tell a thousand stories, the rich aromas of sizzling jalebis and parathas—Old Delhi lends itself remarkably to detailed exploration. Do the Jama Masjid and the Lanes of Old Delhi: walk down the narrow lanes around the 17th-century mosque and climb up the towers for excellent views of the old city. Make sure you stop regularly for the deep-fried good stuff.

Also consider: Hauz Khas, a maze of gorgeous ruins that was once a reservoir for the royals.

Delhi heritage walk

2. Wedding walk
What: Wedding market tour
Who: Masterji Kee Haveli

Created in the 17th century by Shah Jahan’s daughter Jahan Ara, Chandni Chowk is still the capital’s go-to shopping zone during wedding season, with everything you need available, from card-printing to jewellery to bridal lehengas. With the Wedding Market Tour, you can explore the bustling lanes of Kinari Bazaar and Dariba Kalan, and see what it takes to create that beautiful traditional wedding.

Masterji kee haveli

MUMBAI

1. Book tour
What: Bookworming
Who: Beyond Bombay

Mumbai has been the backdrop for some of the greatest literature about India, and for good reason: the city is populated with some of the most colourful characters you can hope to meet. With Bookworming, explore the city as Maximum City writer Suketu Mehta did, by following in the footsteps of a character from the book, Babbanji Bihari, a Bihari immigrant who moves to Mumbai in search of a better life. Or you could do a Shantaram tour, based on Gregory David Roberts’s bestselling novel, which will take you through the hidden lanes of this charming, chaotic city.

Also consider: Thali Tripping, an eating tour that includes classic Irani cafés and hole-in-the-wall idli joints (Mumbai has them all!). And, if you have the stomach space, also take in legends such as Chetana and Golden Star serving Gujarati thalis, complete with aamras in season.

Thali tripping

2. Art beat
What: Art Walk at Kala Ghoda
Who: Mumbai Magic

The stately buildings of South Mumbai are among the British Raj’s greatest legacies, and the area is littered with cultural hotspots and lovely art galleries and shops. Join the Art Walk at Kala Ghoda and enjoy a peaceful stroll through the art precinct of Kala Ghoda, named after the black horse of King Edward VII. This is a great introduction to Indian art, past and present.

VARANASI

1. By the Ganga
What: Varanasi Ganges Walk
Who: Vedic Walks

In Varanasi, there is no getting away from the Ganga; the river is at the centre of all aspects of life. With the Varanasi Ganges Walk, feel like a local as you chance upon hidden corners of the city. Tread through the bylanes and ghats, chat with local boatmen and watch the daily aarti on the banks of the river. And save time to buy some stunning Benarasi saris.

Vedic walks

2. Walk through tradition
What: Northern bazaars and hidden alleys
Who: Varanasi Walks

You’ll feel like you’re walking into another time in this ancient, holy city that is still deeply rooted in its past. Escape the chaos of the central ghats with the Northern Bazaars and Hidden Alleys tour, and explore secret passageways to the city’s holiest and oldest sites.

Also consider: Walking the Bengali Tola, which takes you around the streets inhabited by the Bengali community and their cultural landmarks.

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Published in Conde Nast Traveller on December 03, 2014 – read it online here… (all images attributed to the respective walk organiser)

The hidden heart of Hyderabad

Novelist Doris Lessing felt pearls mean tears. In Hyderabad, it meant the laughter and glory of the Nizams. From the time they welcomed pearl merchants from the Arabian markets, Hyderabad has been the Pearl City. However, more interesting and lesser known is the story of the diamonds that light up the city’s history.

Take the Koh-i-noor, one of the world’s largest diamonds. It was once stored at Golkonda, just a hop, skip and jump (or a bumpy auto-rickshaw ride) away from the Nizam’s capital. Golkonda, then a mini town, was also the administrative seat of various dynasties, since the mid 10th century. It was only in the late 16th century that Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah moved a few miles and established the city of Hyderabad, building the Charminar at its core.

Charminar

But this morning, I am not in the heart of Hyderabad to discuss diamonds with historians or purchase pearls from jewellers. I make my way towards Charminar, its four minarets casting a watchful eye over the neighbourhood. Walking through the narrow shopping lanes branching out from this tower is a sensory overload, pleasurable in a way that is purely Indian.

I have ambled through these lanes several times before, ignoring the cacophony of traffic and spindrift of people brushing past me. I have enjoyed the burst of bling from the bangles at Laad Bazaar, their glass, metal and lac twinkling in the sunlight. I have laughed at the way canny shopkeepers call out to “just come in, madam, dekhne ka paisa nahi lagta,” knowing fully well that to see is to succumb.

Laad Bazaar

Bangles

I have no favourites here, though. Nor have I known if any one of the shops is better than the others. I suspect this is how it is with most outside visitors to this area.

This time, it is different. At the Taj Krishna, where I am staying, they have put together a little exploration of the old city’s inscrutable streets. So I am on a “Deccan Odyssey” with Raize, Hyderabad’s first female tourist guide.

On our way to the Charminar, I quiz Raize, a Hyderabadi recently married to a Lucknowi, about the difference between the two styles of biryani. Raize’s loyalty clearly lies with her maika, as she declares that the Hyderabadi biryani—cooked for hours, with heaps of patience and generous sprinklings of secret ingredients—is the real McCoy.

Strolling around Charminar in the company of a local is a novel experience for me. Our first stop is at Nimrah café and bakery, an Iranian chai point, right next to Mecca Masjid. It is that no-man’s time between breakfast and lunch, but Nimrah is a veritable beehive. Men of all ages stand outside gossiping, as they sip on chai poured on to saucers. Inside, tray after tray of piping hot biscuits, cookies and dilpasand are brought out from the desi oven, to be displayed on the counters.

Nimrah

OsmaniaI get to sample a bit of this and a bit of that, all of it still warm and fragrant. The specialty here is the melt-in-the-mouth Osmania biscuits, the favourite of Hyderabad’s last and risibly eccentric Nizam.

In my many visits to this area, I have never noticed Nimrah. And I know that on my own, I would never have stepped inside. I leave clutching a box of Osmania, a gift from the gracious owner Abood Bin Aslam, “Hyderabad ki taraf se.”

Then we head into the throbbing mass of humanity that is Laad bazaar, where Raize imparts interesting trivia about how it got its name. Popular belief is that it is derived from lacquer (laad) which is used in the bangles this market is renowned for.

However, I prefer Raize’s theory that the bazaar was set up as a shopping destination by our old friend Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah for his daughter Laad’s wedding to Aurangazeb’s son. Even today, Laad Bazaar serves as the hub for trousseau shopping for many Hyderabadi brides.

We shop at Nayeem Bangles; an incredible collection, from the very subtle and classy to the cheerfully glittering and sparkly crammed into a small shop. Here, there is no oversell as they let the trinkets speak for themselves.

Nayeems

Choice

KharchobJust down the road is Afzal Miyan Karchobwale’s Lace Centre, here since 1951. Now run by the grandson of the original entrepreneur, this shop is legendary for its karchob (hand embroidery) work, not just among ordinary wedding shoppers but also among the rich and famous.

I hear whispers that Afzal Miyan’s craft—exquisite zardosi and delicate lace embroidery has patrons ranging from Princess Esra to Sabyasachi Mukherjee. I also learn that in this tiny space, some of the fabric that glitters is actually gold; from borders on saris to bridal khada dupattas.

Afzal Mian

Since we begin the tour with food, we also end it with a pit-stop at Navrang for a sachet of their biryani masala. For a shop that stocks condiments, nuts and spices, it is quirkily named Navrang Colour Merchant. The owner has never revealed the secret of his “Special Hyderabad Old City Biryani Masala” made of 15 spices, which guarantees a sublime biryani.

I catch a whiff of it and I can tell you this. The battle of the biryanis may never get resolved, but don’t leave Hyderabad without a stash of this masala.

Biryani masala

Lonely Planet, in choosing Hyderabad as one of the top 10 destinations for 2013, had said, “Elegant and blossoming, but also weathered and undiscovered, Hyderabad’s Old City is ripe for exploration.” Truly, Hyderabad reveals its charms slowly and bashfully to the visitor. Beyond the teeming masses and eager vendors, the old city has a warm heart.

For details on the Deccan Odyssey, email krishna.hyderabad@tajhotels.com

***
Published in The New Sunday Express Magazine on November 16, 2014 as Time’s Own Trinket

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