Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making of Gur or Jaggery

Last month, while returning from Mussoorie, I stopped at a small manual jaggery manufacturing unit along the highway. I asked them about the process of making jaggery, took some photos and also recorded a video. In this post, I’ll be telling you how jaggery is made.

You can view the video on my YouTube channel drnikhil143.

Jaggery or Gur is made by boiling and concentrating sugarcane juice. Sugarcane industry is quite well developed in India and plays an important role in Indian economy. Today there are numerous automated jaggery plants but still manual manufacturing is also carried out widely. It is a simple process and doesn’t requires any heavy machinery. It is a good source of rural employment in sugarcane producing regions like U.P, Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc.

The process of jaggery making is as described below:

  • Firstly, the sugarcane is crushed in a big crusher to extract the juice.
  • The juice is then transferred to a settling tank to separate the dirt and impurities.
  • The filtered juice is then put into large thick and shallow iron boiling pans kept over furnace.
  • The sugarcane juice is boiled while being stirred continuosly so as to avoid it sticking to the pans.
  • While boiling, impurities which come to the surface of juice are removed continuosly.
  • The juice is transferred from one pan to another while boiling. In this process the impurities which settle down are also removed.
  • Boiling continues for few hours till the juice thickens into a golden brown paste..
  • The paste is then transferred to a large flat pan to cool down. Here also it is continuosly moved to avoid sticking and to get a desired consistency.
  • It is then moulded into different shapes and packed for selling in the market.
  • Jaggery making is a simple but laborious process. This kind of manual unit doesn’t requires huge investments and can be set-up relatively easily.

Jaggery or Gur is a pure, unrefined and healthier form of sugar. It is also rich in iron as some iron gets absorbed into it from the boiling pans. Jaggery is consumed as it is and also used in making of many sweets.

Here are some photographs taken at the manufacturing unit:

Eat sweet, speak sweet!!

A short trip to Jhajjar, Haryana

Jhajjar is a district in Haryana state of India. It was carved out of Rohtak district in the year 1997.

Yesterday, we went to the  Beri wali mata mandir in Jhajjar district. On the way, we also stopped at Budho Mata mandir in Farrukhnagar. While returning back, we spent some time at Gokuldhaam Gau Seva Mahateerth and Sultanpur National Park. In this post I will provide some details and photographs of all these places. (click on the pictures to view enlarged images)

Beri Wali Mata ka Mandir

  • It is actually Mata Bhimeshwari Devi temple, located in a small town named Beri, of Jhajjar district. It is commonly known as Beri wali mata ka mandir. The temple is around 55-60 kms. from Gurgaon and takes about 1.5 hrs by car. The road to Jhajjar is a very good 4 lane highway. Driving was a breeze as the weather was quite pleasant.
  • It was named Bhimeshwari devi due to the installation of the idol of the goddess by Bhima during the period of Mahabharata.
  • Every day the idol of devi is taken from an outer temple to inner temple at around 12 pm and then back in the evening. This ritual has been going on since the period of Mahabharata.
  • Mata Bhimeshwari is regarded as the Goddess of happiness and success.
  • Every year lakhs of people visit this temple. Maximum crowd comes during the Navratras, which occur twice a year in the months of Chaitra and Ashwani (according to the Hindu calendar). During Navratras, there is a huge fair and hundreds of shops are beautifully decorated.
  • Newly married couples come here to re-tie the nuptial knot once again before the goddess. Mundan ceremony (first hair cut) of the male child is also done here very commonly.
  • In the same comples, there is also a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • The whole temple complex was under renovation during our visit.
  • This temple can be easily reached by buses, train, taxis, or by private vehicle.
  • There are many shops outside the temple, selling prasad and toys for kids.
  • Enough parking space is available.

Budho Mata Mandir

  • This is a famous shrine located in Mubarakpur village, about 5 kms. from Farrukhnagar in Gurgaon district of Haryana.
  • This temple ia around 20-25 kms. from Gurgaon and takes about 40 minutes by car.
  • Thousands of devotees come here to take the blessings of the goddess.
  • Devotees offer prayers to the goddess and light diyaas at a designated area.
  • There are also few other small temples in the same complex.
  • A big fair is organised every Wednesday, which is visited by locals and tourists. Wednesday is called Budhwaar in hindi hence the name Budho Mata mandir. There are shops selling prasad, various snacks, and toys for kids.
  • Newly married couples come here to re-tie the nuptial knot once again before the goddess. Mundan ceremony (first hair cut) of the male child is also done here very commonly.
  • There is a pond in the temple complex. People take out some mud from the pond and worship as a ritual.
  • Here also maximum crowd comes during the Navratras.
  • Enough parking space is available in the vicinity.
  • There is one small Budho Mata mandir in Jhajjar also but it is not so famous.

Gokuldhaam Gau Seva Mahateerth

  • This is a cattle hospital, established in the year 2013 by Shri Sunil Nimana. It is located on Jhajjar-Gurgaon road, Jhajjar district, Haryana.
  • It is spread over few acres of a leased land and continuosly expanding. It is first of its kind in Haryana.
  • Thousands of sick and injured cows and other cattle are brought here and given excellent medical treatment.
  • They have excellent facilities and a dedicated team for the treatment of cows.
  • Anybody can report a sick or injured cow at their ambulance number 8816809191.
  • This hospital is run privately with the help of public donations. You can also make your contributions for the welfare of cows. Shri Sunil Nimana can be contacted on his personal no. 9813820938.
  • I will be writing a more detailed post about this Cow hospital on my another blog Ye Soochna Janhit Me Jaari.

Sultanpur National Park

  • Sultanpur National Park is located in Gurgaon district of Haryana on Gurgaon-Farrukhnagar Road. It is about 15 kms. from Gurgaon and makes a nice weekend getaway for the people of Gurgaon as well as Delhi.
  • This is a paradise for bird lovers. It is famous for vast variety of resident and migratory birds which come from Europe, Siberia and Central Asia during winter months.
  • Sultanpur lake was given the status of Bird Sanctuary in the year 1971 and later upgraded to the National Park in 1991.
  • It takes about 1.5 to 2 hrs. to have a full round of the park. You can also spot Neelgai(Blue bull), deer and Black bucks. It is advisable to carry a binocular for bird spotting.
  • Rosy Pelican Tourist Complex is run by Haryana Tourism and provides very good facilities for stay among the lush greens with sweet melodies of the birds.
  • There are good facilities for food, water, toilets, and vehicle parking.
  • December to February is the peak season for visit. The park is closed on Tuesdays.
  • It is also closed during most of the summer months. For this reason we couldn’t watch any birds this time.
  • For more information you can check Haryana tourism website.

Hope you liked my post.

Please follow my blog and keep coming for more interesting posts about travel and food!!

Shubh Deepawali

Today is Diwali – the festival of lights.
While we all light our houses today, do spend some time today to light a few lamps inside u and sit in silence with ur eyes closed… 
Light the first lamp inside u and let it burn your anger and / or jealousy that u may have for any one till date; see it melt away…
Light the second lamp and let it burn away unwanted greed and desires… feel happy and contented with what you have been blessed with.
Light the third lamp and let it fade away all insecurities that you may have in your mind related to anything or financials; just beleive that God has given u life and he will surely give you enough to survive.
Light the 4th lamp and carry that lamp to each part of ur body; let it burn away all your diseased cells or any disease in making. Feel healthy as this lamp travels to each body part and illuminates each organ. 
The 5th lamp is a miniature of the Sun… nothing but the divine light… light it in the centre of your body and let it fill the warmth and love inside your whole body…feel one with the Divine… let the love and warmth filled inside you ooze out of you through your smile…eyes..speech…and body….carry this love with you through out the day…u will find that everyone who meets you is happy and elated. This is the biggest blessing that whoever meets you becomes happier after meeting you… this will also make you happier in return.
Light these 5 lamps each day morning and carry the positivity wherever u go…
Wish you a very happy Diwali….
God bless us All..ūüôŹ

How to stay Healthy while you travel.

Vacation plans will soon be swinging into high gear. And with an increasing number of people  travelling abroad, there’s no better time than now to make sure your next trip is a healthy one.

Manage Your Medications

If you will be travelling across time zones, ask your doctor about the best way to manage your medication schedule. Should you take your medicine at the usual time for your home time zone? Should you switch? If so, how?

Be sure to take enough of each medication with you, so you don’t have to worry about finding a pharmacy and filling a prescription on your trip.

Keep a copy of your prescriptions with you in case your medication is lost and you need a replacement.

Also, ask your doctor how your medications may react with the new foods you may eat on your trip.

Get It In Writing

Ask your doctor to write down any medical problems you have and how they are being treated.

Add the names (including generic names) and doses of any drugs you may be taking and how you take them (whether you need a syringe and needle, for example). If you are¬†travelling¬†abroad, this will make your trip through customs much smoother. It will also make getting replacement medications easier if you lose any. Make¬†a copy of the list ‚Äď keep one in your suitcase and another with you at all times.

If you’re travelling by airplane, place all medications in your carryon instead of your checked luggage, to prevent them from being lost or stolen.

Keep your medications in their original containers while travelling.

If you have heart disease, keep a copy of your most recent ECG (electrocardiogram) with you as well. If you experience any cardiac problems on your trip, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, it can be difficult to determine changes if an ECG is not available for reference.

Guard Against DVT

Older adults should wear compression socks when¬†they travel ‚Äď according to some studies, they may be able to reduce the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).

Locate Local Help

If you are¬†travelling¬†somewhere for the first time, it‚Äôs a good idea to identify a local hospital, clinic or physician ahead of time ‚Äď one that will be able to meet your specific health needs, should you need to seek treatment on your trip.

If you are travelling abroad, the consulate or embassy in that country should be able to recommend an appropriate hospital or clinic. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers can help connect international travellers with doctors and clinics as well.

You may want to consider purchasing a temporary supplemental insurance plan if you are travelling outside the country. Check with your health insurance provider to see in which countries, if any, you will be covered when overseas.

Healthcare abroad can be expensive. Medicare and most major insurance providers do not cover service outside India.

Retired military personnel should check if their healthcare is covered in the country in which they will be travelling.

Shield Yourself From Sunburn

Use sunscreen on a daily basis. Water-resistant sunscreens work well for a trip to the beach or for a hot day, when you may sweat a lot. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun. Re-apply every two hours after that. Using approximately one ounce of sunscreen (about a shot-glass full) every time you apply, will ensure maximum protection.

You might also consider purchasing a wide-brimmed sunprotective hat.

Beat The Heat

We need to drink more liquids during the hot summer, so consume plenty of cool liquids (fruit juices can help, too).

Remember to stay hydrated especially during air travel, when the air is particularly dry. By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. So, take water every time the flight attendant asks if you’d like a drink, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which will dehydrate you.

Protect Yourself From Illness

Traveller’s diarrhea is the most common health complaint of travellers to foreign countries. It is usually bacterial in nature and can be treated with antibiotics that can be provided by a travel medicine specialist (who should know which antibiotics work best in which parts of the world). Consult your doctor for more information.

Use a hand sanitizer before meals and ask your hotel or tour operator for safe places to eat ‚Äď food at international hotels is¬†usually safe. Drink bottled water, and use the same to brush your teeth as well.

Cruise ships present unique risks, including noroviruses, which have been associated with outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting. Handwashing and use of hand sanitizers before meals and after touching surfaces in common shipboard areas may help you avoid this problem.

Keep Your Contacts

Carry emergency contact information with you in case of an accident or a sudden illness so that family members can be easily notified of your status.

The best way to ensure a fun travelling experience is: To consult with your doctor ahead of time and make sure your immunizations are up to date.

 

P.S. Taken from an article in Health and Nutrition magazine.

Zika Virus – what should you know…

Ye Soochna Janhit Me Jaari....

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Zika virus is spread to people through bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito(same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses).

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare.

The most common Symptoms of Zika virus disease are

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Transmission

  • Aedes¬†mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. ¬†They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.
  • A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.
  • It is possible that Zika virus could be passed from mother to fetus

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‚úą Flying with Dog for the First Time

indahs: dive, travel & photography

Dutchie and I had prepared that someday we might have to (temporary) leave the Netherlands to pursue one‚Äôs career. Thus, when the opportunity came, the first thing we did was extensive search on the best company to fly our Labrador-mix dog, Dante, from Rotterdam (the Netherlands) to Minneapolis (USA). Since his weight was 25 kilograms (55lbs), he could not join us in the cabin. We had to check him as ‚Äúbaggage‚ÄĚ or as cargo.

Really, I will fly?! Really, I will fly?! Š∂ė ŠĶíŠī•ŠĶíŠ∂Ö ‚úą

Our choice went to a recommended and reputable company specialized in flying pets overseas via cargo. To my surprise, the company did not take our questions seriously, and we were disappointed by their ignorance. The next and our only option then was to fly Dante directly with an airline without additional extra assistance and assurance. I was not happy by this. If you searched online, there were hardly airlines…

View original post 1,049 more words

Road trip to Chail and Shimla

Last month I went on a road trip from Gurgaon(Haryana) to Chail and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, India; with my cousin and a friend.

It was a nice escape from torturing heat of Delhi, driving on Delhi- Chandigarh highway and through the serpentine roads of Himachal. We started in the morning  at around 7:30 am, took a halt for breakfast at the famous Sukhdev-Amreek Dhaba, Murthal for butter-drenched parathas with chach and lassi, and then continued non-stop till we reached Sadhupul.

Sadhupul is a small village in Himachal Pradesh on the way from Kandaghat to Chail, based around a small bridge constructed over the hill river “Ashwini”. The waters are quite shallow here and you can easily walk through it. There are few sheds with tables and chairs arranged in the middle of the river and a small restaurant serving you maggi, pakoras, omelette, tea, drinks, etc. Though you can enjoy few hours in the evening here but move on before it gets dark as the roads are narrow and not in good shape.DSC_0023¬†1DSC_0069

We reached Hotel Chail Palace by around 6:30pm, where we were greeted by lots of monkeys, ready to snatch on anything they could. But luckily we were not carrying anything loose, thanks to the information gathered from TripAdvisor. You all must be cautious of the monkey menace at the Chail Palace!!

1¬†3¬†52After check-in we drove towards the Deluxe Log Hut which is about 1 km deeper into the forest area. The path was too narrow and scary; just a few inches mistake and our car would have gone deep into the valleys. The hut was quite simple with basic facilities and lots of mirrors all-around(I hope you can guess the purpose well !!). The attendant was quite helpful and provided us good room service. The food was also good. Night was too cold as expected. We got up in the morning, took some nice shots and went for local sight-seeing. There isn’t much to see in Chail. We first saw the Palace which has some nice paintings and ornate maharaja style furniture. Overall, it was an awesome experience at the Palace, with fresh mountain air and ¬†towering pine trees all over. Then we went to Kali ka Tibba, which is a small temple of Kaali Maa, made in white marble ,situated at a great height. It has idols of many other gods too. The views from here are spectacular. Its so peaceful here that the only sound you will hear is of fresh air gushing through. This place is not to be missed at all. Later, we went to the Gurudwara situated near the main market area.

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3 4By this time we were too hungry and headed straight towards the Sharma Bhojnalaya, which is about 2-3 kms uphill on the way to Shimla. It is a small family run dhaba with very basic furniture and nothing attractive for the eyes. But you will get nicely prepared home-style food which your taste-buds and stomach will really love to have. We had few parathas and tea and were ready for our next destination- Shimla. On the way, we stopped at Himalayan Nature Park, Kufri. It is a small zoo with few animals and a museum. Adjacent to it is the Potato Research Institute of India.

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After drive of about 40kms from Chail Palace, we reached at Hotel Kapil, Shimla. It is a small hotel in Lakkarbazaar area near the Mall road. The room was nicely done and had a beautiful view of the valley. After few hours of rest, we went to the mall road for evening stroll. Sunset was really worth watching from the Ridge.

1 2Though it was not the peak season but still the crowd was huge. There were school kids, teenagers, newly married couples on their honeymoon, older couples and all sorts of people, everybody enjoying  in their own ways. There are many things to entertain tourists like horse riding, plays, folk dances and lots of eateries serving momos, pakoras, kachori, gol-gappe, gulab-jamun and variety of shakes and juices. Here, on the Ridge, is the famous Gandhi statue, the State library and the Church. You have to move slightly down on the other side of the Ridge to reach the Mall, which is a long road with innumerable shops and restaurants on both sides.  There is also a Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex on the Mall. If you are interested in theatre and art this place should be on your must-visit list. There is a guided tour and plays are showcased here regularly.

Next morning we had our breakfast at the hotel and checked-out. There are many places to see in Shimla like Jakhu Temple, Tara Devi Temple, Kali Bari Temple, Kalka-Shimla Toy train but we had to miss most of them due to time shortage. Kalka- Shimla railway will get you through the breath-taking spectacular views of Himachal valleys with very tall pine trees all over. We had that mesmerising experience during our last trip to Kasauli.

Toy train2 We went on to the Viceregal Lodge, also known as Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. It was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy of India. They have a guided tour of about 30 minutes which will take you through the marvellous architecture inside the lodge, all made of wood with beautiful carvings. There is also a huge lawn outside where you can relax if you have the ample time. There is also a library and a souvenir shop where you can buy some books, postcards, t-shirts, etc.

4 DSC_0223After that we went to Annandale, the Army museum. It houses some big artillery guns and many other weapons, mannequins of army personnel in different uniforms, posters showing some great achievements of our brave soldiers, details of various UN missions, etc. There is a huge golf course  for the army personnel. This place is really beautiful, very well maintained and a bliss for the eyes and the soul.

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That was all from my Chail-Shimla trip. And we drove back to our hometown !!

You may also like to read my reviews on specific places of Chail and Shimla on TripAdvisor.