Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ludhiana- A City Founded By Two Chefs

Ludhiana the legendary city that gave India Martyr Sukhdev, located in the old banks of Sutlej was our second stop en route Ladakh. The land of five rivers gave us an amazing and wonderful opportunity to relive our good old college days we headed to the "Museum Of Rural Life Of Punjab," which is in the Punjab Agricultural University campus. This wonderful two storied museum gave us an comprehensive tour of amazing culture and glorious past of Punjab. The artifacts include archaeological treasures from Harappan, Aryan, Gupta and Medieval antiquities in terracotta, specimens of old coins and seals. The false ceiling inside the museum is from the 18th Century.

The other galleries exhibit pottery, kitchen utensils, murals, farming equipment, musical instruments, spinning and weaving, ornaments and jewelry. A massive traditional cot and huge trunks for storage are the highlight of the museum. The best part was amazing black and white pictures of each item were placed right besides the artifact giving visitors a clear understanding of it's usage.Visiting hours if from 9 am to 5 pm and entry ticket is priced at Rs.10.

"Dr. Uppal Museum." that showcases water and power resources of Northern India. The model here depicts the rivers, irrigation system, roads, railways, the evolution of Himalayan rivers. A large model of Punjab and neighboring valley have been depicted in open air outside the museum. The construction of the model inside the museum involved 900 topographical sheets and the location of about one lakh elevation points by the team of workers involved in building the model. Entry ticket is priced at Rs.5. The model also depicts the salt flats, Tibetan plateau, salt range and Indo Gangetic plains.

We fell in love with the university and spent several hours here. We had lunch in one of the many student canteens. Piping hot masala maggie, huge plate of veg manchuria and a big glass of lassi in all just costed us Rs.95. We sat in the lawn and enjoyed unending conversations. The massive university campus was very clean. It is a bird watchers paradise and we spotted a flock of grey hornbill which is a rare sight even in National Parks. Early mornings one can rent bicycles and take a spin around the campus for Rs.30 per hour.

Gur mandi market in Ludhiana is a shoppers paradise. Lanes and by-lanes are dotted with shops selling anything and everything and then there is always plenty of street food. It looked like you can walk into any shop and try your hand at any north Indian delicacies. We in particular liked Chawlas.

Craving for Italian food the perks of a good city offered us "Colonial Resto Cafe" in Sarabha Nagar, pakhowal road. We ordered the penne pasta in red sauce which was very well done. The best dish was their spicy shredded chicken which was not too fiery and the chicken was beautifully cooked with a blast of flavors. The crunchy bell peppers and diced garlic added a good punch.

We checked into Hotel Mirage the hotel offers spacious rooms, clean sheets and comes with all modern amenities. What we really liked about this hotel was their excellent service quality. The staff were very courteous. The only drawback being it is a little in the out skirts. In our case since we were on our bike commuting was not an issue. The hotel is opposite Bhai Wala Gurudwara in Daad village.

If you are on a road trip to this part of India be very careful, unfortunately like most other parts of India, people do not follow traffic rules and regulations. One over speeding car almost took us out in one of the narrow lanes of Ludhiana.

Road-trips are our personal favorite and guarantees ultimate fun, adventure, lot of flexibility and freedom. But at the same time, there is lurking danger and very serious threat to life and property if you are not cautious or want to be over adventurous. Just a second of lapse in concentration could result in disaster. We saw several mangled remains of vehicles all along the highway but a gut wrenching moment was when we stopped for one of our chai breaks and saw a Hyundai Creta totally mangled and smashed. Looking at the car, we could guess what could have happened to the driver and passengers and for a second we could feel the chills in our spine. While on the highway always be focused never ever over speed, try and avoid driving or riding after sunset.

Machines can be dangerous as well if not handled well. Also, a few moments of unwanted adventure or heroism on the road could turn out to be disastrous and unfortunately in some cases it might drag innocent victims too in this misadventure. To avoid such bone chilling consequences and to ensure not just ones safely but also safety of other on the road it would be best to follow the law be well within the speed limit, alert at all times and above all respect the machine.

Your train or flight tickets can always be rescheduled whatever maybe the cancellation charges or loss, it is not worth risking your lives. Always remember the motto should be "Leave early, ride slowly and reach safely."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Patiala- Fine Example Of Punjab's Historic Grandeur!

Patiala-the land of salwars, parandas and pegs. We experienced the scenic beauty of Punjab once we took a deviation from the Delhi- Amritsar highway towards Patiala. We were welcomed by green archways across the road and beautiful paddy fields on either side. Riding our bike with scenic landscape made us feel so blessed to be citizens of a country that is gifted with all from mountains, hills, snow clad peaks to beaches and wildlife. We were further welcomed by a canal that looked more like a river.

The city has a royal feel to it with some amazing roads and historic monuments, the most famous being the Qila Mubarak Complex. Built in 1763 by Baba Ala Singh, this Qila or fort with a magnificent gate and multiple courtyards speaks of rich architecture and grandeur. It also had its own underground sewage system. Sadly, this  age old building is now in absolute shambles and ruins. It was a sorry sight to see such a monumental and historic building being neglected to an extent that in the year 2004, it was listed as 100 of World's "most endangered monuments."

While we were there, massive restoration work was taking place. As we walked around this monument, among everyday tools we noticed two massive cannons very casually laid around. The insides of the monument are in terrible condition with broken windows and crumbling walls. We were not able to help but wonder how glorious and awesome this complex would have been in it's hey days. Sincerely wish and hope that post restoration this monument might be able to do justice in providing a glimpse of its glorious past.

The Punjab tourism organizes Patiala heritage walk every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Shahi Samadhan, just 600 mt away from Qila Mubarak, from 8 am. This great fort seems to spread across acres, however, encroachments have led to cramped settlements to an extent where even the massive fort walls have not been sparred. Tons of shops have started their businesses and have ruined the beauty of the fort wall. If you plan to visit Qila Mubarak, early morning would be a better time as it could get chaotic during the day due to the massive market.

Every city in Punjab has amazing Gurudwaras and Dukh Nivaran is no different. According to the local tradition supported by a hand written document, a local visited the ninth guru of Sikhs - Guru Tegh Bahadur and requested him to bless his village as it was plagued by a mysterious disease. The Guru visited the village (now a part of Patiala) and in a short time the village got rid of the disease. The place where the Guru sat and preached is known as Dukh Nivaran, literally meaning - eradication of suffering. The calm and serene Gurudwara guarantees solitude and inner peace.

It stands testimony to actual service, their exclusive parking space is provided free of cost to devotees. They serve amazing food, portable water and prasad free of cost without any discrimination. It is an undeniable and irrefutable fact that the Sikh community contributes immensely towards the rich culture and heritage of India. The local community comes together as one and is dedicated in offering service to patrons who visit the Gurudwara without expecting anything in return. Photography is prohibited inside the Gurudwara so please respect the sanctity of the place.

Another magnificent monument is Sheesh Mahal. Built by the then Maharaja of Patiala in 1847, it portrays his love for arts and literature. The palace is decorated with murals, mirror work, art depicting poems and the artisans were from Rajasthan and Kangara. This palace was a prime example of grandeur with terraces, gardens, artificial lake and a grand suspension bridge- Lachman Jhoola. The palace also houses a museum that has artifacts, paintings, manuscripts and a massive medal collection. The green vegetation and the calm environment attracts a lot of birds. Early morning would be the perfect time to visit this place. It is open from 7am. In our opinion, Patiala is maybe not yet ready for tourism despite having rich legacy and historic monuments. Like the Qila Mubarak, Sheesh Mahal was also under renovation and we were not able to take a detailed tour but we really enjoyed catching a glimpse of whatever was left.  An important note to keep in mind is that almost all attractions in Patiala are closed on Mondays.

The freedom that a road trip offers is parallel to nothing. As we were traversing across the streets of Patiala, our hawk eyes spotted a humble and very interesting ice cream parlor- "Harbans Ice cream." This 25 year old shop opposite the Dukh Nivaran Gurudwara prepare their own ice cream and have an extensive menu plus are very economically priced. We went for Paan ice cream and being born and raised in metro, we expected the ice cream to come "Paan flavored" but we were taken aback to see actual ingredients of paan in the ice cream. We ordered grilled sandwich that came with good amount of veggies and amazing flavors.  A bottle of fresh badam milk loaded with nuts seemed to be a hot sell here and it tasted wonderful. We were served generous quantity and were charged a mere Rs.105 for all three. This place would any day give Swensen's, Baskin Robbins and the likes, a run for their money.

While at Patiala, it is a must to visit "Ambala Chaat House" in YPS road near Women's college. In our opinion, they serve the best and most impressive, elaborate pani puri in the whole of India! Satrangi golgappe as it is called, comes with 5 different flavors of water (paani) - Jeera, Pudina, Heeng, Theekha and Khatta meetha. Plus two puchkas topped with thick curd and the other with chutney (sweet and spicy.) This amazing culinary treat is priced at Rs.40 and is totally worth it. Believe us when we say you cannot have more than one plate as it is too heavy with generous amount of aloo and channa stuffing and the flavored water is ice cold! The place is very hygienic and run by very kind and courteous people.

If you have a sweet tooth, Gopal Sweet Shop in lower mall road would be your Mecca. Their exclusive specialty is the two varieties of "tart"- cashew and badam. Though not very sweet it has a good taste to it, just a dash of sugar syrup on the crunchy dry fruits with a base of tart. Their service is amazing, despite being a busy shop they were very courteous and helpful. The kesar badam milk and dhoklas are a must try here. They have a very wide range of delicacies to choose from and just one mere visit will not cut it.

If you are in mood for exclusive vegetarian Punjabi food look no further than New Sheetal Restaurant in lower mall road. Even on a Monday evening, people had to wait in queue to grab a table and their lip smacking food totally justifies the waiting period. We ordered dal makhani, paneer gravy, missi roti, sheetal special roti and butter roti. Their pricing would blow you off and make you wonder if it is actually 2016. All of this put together costed us Rs.132 and mind you the portions were generous. After a heavy dinner we headed to Sheetal ice cream parlour, a perfect place to taste different flavors. We tried mixed fruit and kaju pista ice cream. Served in one of the most crispiest cones that we have ever had and again generous quantity of ice cream costed us only Rs.35. With scenes like this, we were contemplating if we should actually relocate to Patiala.

For this trip, we considered trying out accommodation apps and it was our very first experience using OYO rooms and we had a very pleasant stay. We got very generous deals and stayed at hotel Polo Club in lower Mall road. Set in a residential locality, the hotel boasts of charming, spacious rooms with all modern amenities and clean bathrooms. The staff were very courteous, helpful and prompt with their service. Their restaurant serves amazing food, we started with the traditional Patiala Biryani that was very well complimented with boondi raita. The only drawback of the hotel is that they do not have exclusive parking and the entrance to the hotel is a little odd and uncomfortable.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Planning a Road Trip? How Best To Pack/ Transport your Bike.

There are countless options when it comes to road trips in India and if the road trip happens to be on a motorcycle the energy levels shoot up sky high. A bike ride especially to Leh, Ladakh belt is what every biker craves for. This belt is the most enchanting one, be it on a rented or personal motorcycle . In our opinion, riding your personal bike is much better than a rented one.

There are several perks of riding our personal vehicle. First, it would be in excellent condition and well maintained as compared to a rented one and one could be very confident that there are not going to be any major breakdowns en-route. Second, this option is more economical. In total for a 47 day trip we spent Rs.7290 for transit and packing to and fro. (From Hyderabad to Delhi- Rs.3140 & Chandigarh To Chennai- Rs.4150.) Hiring a similar bike even for 12 days would have costed us Rs.18000 as per day rent for the same bike is Rs.1500. And the feel of having one's own bike is such a celebration as we bikers consider the vehicle an integral part of the family and not as a machine. The three of us are out on a road trip!

The best option to transit your bike is the ever reliable, safe, economical and now very smart Indian Railways. We have used their services several times to transit our bike and have been thoroughly satisfied with their services. There are 2 options when it comes to using Railways to transit your bike- "Luggage" & "Parcel." The highly recommend one is to go for "Parcel Service."

Procedure For Parcel:

Take your bike to the Indian Railways parcel office and right outside you will find porters who would pack the bike using gunny bags and empty the fuel tank dry. After packing and emptying the tank, you would have to push your bike to the booking office. You will be provided a form, fill out the form mentioning your bike details and specifically mention that the tank is empty. Include the to and from station correctly. The supporting documents required are a copy of RC book, Valid Insurance and ID proof. Most importantly the owner of the bike MUST be present. Post this, the details are fed into the railway database and a bar-code is generated with relevant details which will be pasted on the bike. A million thanks to Honorable Minister Suresh Prabhu and Indian Railways for coming up with such smart initiatives. (Note that this facility is not made available in all Railway zones yet.)

Earlier these details used to be either written on the gunny bag or on cardboard. After you have paid the parcel charges, they will give you two receipts with all relevant details- one of which will go with the bike and the other is handed over to you and is required at the time of claiming the bike. Thanks yet again to the smart initiatives, we get an SMS status and PRR number. After this you have to park your bike inside and your job is done here. The entire process is very simple and you do not need the help of touts or agents. It takes anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes even with moderate rush.

Procedure For Luggage:

The second option to transport bike is using luggage service. This  means you are travelling by train and carrying your bike as extra luggage. Prerequisite is that it is mandatory to have a confirmed ticket as your bike would travel in the same train. You have to be at the station at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure while rest of the process remains the same as parcel service.

Both options have their pros and cons. With luggage, though the bike is an extra luggage there is no guarantee that the bike would travel with you. If they are not able to find enough space on the train, it might leave on a different train. Also, since you have to be with the bike from start to end you expose yourself to several instances of greasing everyone's palm to make sure your bike is loaded and offloaded.

With parcel service, you leave the bike at least a day in advance and everything happens on its own. Keep in mind that if your bike reaches the destination way too early and is not claimed within the stipulated time frame you will be levied holding charges. So plan your time accordingly.

How To Take Delivery Of Bike:

At the destination station you have to go to parcel office's "Outward Gate." Make sure the bike has arrived and produce the receipt, after verifying the details your bike will be released. You will be given a gate pass which will be checked by RPF. After this checking you will leave the gate and only then can you unpack your bike.

Few things to keep in mind:

The bike will be delivered only at the destination station and nowhere else, even to the owner. So make sure you give yourself adequate time at both stations to load and offload your bike. Most times the train stops only for a few minutes and you might not be able to offload your bike which might be a major problem. It would be a good idea to book your bike to the last station or where it stops for a longer time and get it delivered there. For example: If you opt for destination station as Pune and for some reason you are not able to offload your bike there and the train continues to Mumbai(the last station) your bike will not be handed over to you in Mumbai. You have to load your bike from Mumbai to Pune on another train and pick it up from Pune.

In case of parcel service, the onus is on Indian Railways to ensure that it reaches the destination station. It would be best to take trains that are from point to point. Keep in mind Indian Railways moves tons of cargo everyday and you have to find space. You can track the location of your bike with your PRR number. Fuel tank should be bone dry and this will be checked thoroughly. Carry a razor blade or knife with you for unpacking and to cut the nylon rope.

If you are heading to Ladakh:

One very important reason to have your own bike is it helps you overcome the restrictions imposed by the Leh Taxi Union. Bikes rented from any part of India other than Leh RTO jurisdiction are banned from visiting Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. Though the rented bikes can enter and exit Leh, they cannot visit the places that have the maximum footfall. Do remember there are multiple check points set up by the taxi union and documents are scrutinized so going with the attitude of "Chal Dheklenge!" might not really be of any help. This is where personal vehicle has its advantage. However, note that the rider and owner name or surname match is required. If the bike is not in your name or the owner is not accompanying you on the trip you have to prove that the bike was not rented.

With all this, your bike is all set to kick-start the road trip!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bike Ride To The Mecca Of Road trips- Ladakh!

Mountains or beaches is always the question when it comes to a vacation but a land of high mountain passes, frozen lakes, mesmerizing mountain vistas, colossal glaciers is a temptation too hard to resist. Himalayas, a mystic destination that is addictive in so many ways.

We embarked on a memorable bike ride to the majestic land of Lamas, dream destination of every biker- Ladakh. The two of us, with our ever reliable and trusted lieutenant 'Stallion' Standard Bullet left for heaven on earth. These unforgiving mountains were our home for 45 days. Fighting high altitude, extreme cold conditions and rugged terrain, pushing our bike to his extreme limit, we rode to witness the best of lakes, deserts, stunning valley, battle fields, monasteries et all.

Our slow ride commenced with the aroma of mustard fields and glimpses of water canals, single lane roads and beautiful landscapes painting a beautiful picture of rural Punjab. Of course, when it comes to Punjab how can one not experience the rich Punjabi cuisine and the Lassi. The humble land with its humble people gave us an experience of a lifetime in their Gurudwaras.

While one can try and be prepared for a bike trip by ensuring proper first aid kit is available, bike is in good shape and serviced with spares in hand, extra layers of clothing to battle the cold, the fact remains that you can never prepare yourself for everything and that is the biggest lesson that travel teaches you. Change is constant and things might not go as per the plan.

We were way too excited to visit the Kashmir valley and enjoy her pristine beauty with an initial plan to spend at least a month in South and North Kashmir but fate had other plans. Unrest in Kashmir valley has become a normal phenomenon but who would have expected a total shutdown and a shutdown this massive that lasted for months. Our able Security forces shot and killed Terrorist "Burhan Wani" which lead to massive protests in the valley bringing normal life to a standstill and all our plans shattered. We were unable to comprehend and come to terms as to why would locals create havoc for killing a terrorist. The day he picked up guns, posed for pictures and was unceremoniously given a poster boy imagine, his days were numbered!

With hopes that the situation would be under control and normalcy would return in a few days, we changed our itinerary and headed to Dalhousie for a respite. However, sanity did not prevail in the valley and we were unsure if we should completely abandon the trip and get back. It would have been easy to let go and come back later but with getting our third partner this far and not going to Ladakh did not seem right and we never expected the situation to last for that long. With the impression that this situation is just an obstacle we took a tough call wherein one of us flew back home and the other decided to brave it and ride to Sonamarg.

With the valley under curfew, the only option to ride to Sonamarg was with the help of Army. The Indian Army had made arrangements for a convoy escorting Pilgrims to Amaranth Ji Yatra from Anantnag to Gulmarg. With the help of the Army, all night I rode from Anantnag to Sonamarg fighting bitter cold conditions and low visibility plus no network coverage, far away from the stone pelters and thugs on the streets but all this was not without drama and chaos. I was stopped by so called "misguided youth" in South Kashmir and was put through a horrendous experience. Luckily, I was alone and not with my wife.

I spent some 10 hours on the streets waiting for night fall and witnessed CRPF being attacked and they were left with no option but to retaliate. These 10 hours gave me a chance to have lengthy conversations with locals about every sensitive topic! Most of them were not happy with what was happening but were being dominated and felt helpless and were forced to go with the flow in order to not be harmed. Something which is never told by the media. The experiences travel life gifts us! After the harrowing experience, maybe had we known what exactly was in store I may have not crossed the valley this way.

Resuming our dream road trip, from Sonamarg I rode to Leh and Reshma flew into Leh and we kick started our trip! We were so glad to leave behind the Kashmir issues and from Leh we headed to Zanskar valley.

Ladakh gave an entirely different version of the Jammu and Kashmir state with a startling contrast to the valley. The place has a sense of calm with the most mesmerizing views, a perfect destination for soul searching. The natural beauty of the place is enough to take your breath away and make you wanna embrace the place for your entire life. A place where the basic occupation is agriculture and tourism away from high rises, polluted environments and stressful life. The almost empty roads, the centuries old monasteries, the loving and affectionate people, the amazing food and of course the breathtaking beauty makes it the most blessed place on Earth.

From Leh we headed to Kargil to pay our respect to the martyrs and then back tracked to Leh with a lot of pit stops on the way enjoying the lesser known places such as Likir, Alchi, Chilling. After reaching Leh, we rode to Nubra Valley and Hunder.

From battling sub zero cold temperatures, to visiting the second coldest inhabited place on earth, to riding through several high altitude passes with no roads but boulders and crossing one of the highest motorable terrains, the experience has been amazing. We got to relish traditional Ladakhi food at some amazing homestays, met some like minded fellow travellers who had also quit their comforts back home and were touring India, volunteering and helping kids with education. Met many bikers on the way, exchanged itineraries and had the best of apricots plucked right from the tree.

The beauty of homestays is that one can actually live like a local and gain more experiences. We were glad that one of our hosts took the time out to give a tour of their in house farm and also took us to their paddy fields teaching us the nuances of farming and treating us to their farm fresh and sweet peas. Also another enriching experience was staying in a monastery and interacting with the lamas, getting to know more about their school, their discipline and having 3 meals with them. Surely an experience of a lifetime.

We were also very fortunate to be in Leh while His Holiness, The Dalai Lama was visiting and we got a glimpse of him and were very happy to see this Humble soul.

We saved the best for the last. After all this we had to ride back from Leh to Manali. This 470 odd kilometers was the best part of the ride. Riding through slush, encountering boulders, some crazy nallas and waterfalls to sleeping in the middle of nowhere under tents and fighting freezing cold to riding in pouring rain, the ride though the most challenging was one hell of an experience.

A total of 4130 kilometers in 45 days and still we crave to go back again :) Never will it be enough!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kolkata The City Of Joy

Kolkata, this legendary city known for its history,  monuments, trams, food and of course the land that gave some iconic personalities to the Nation- Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, Saurav Ganguly and many more.

A trip to Kolkata is not complete with out a visit to Victoria memorial hall and museum. Maybe that's why destiny planned a perfect trip as we were unable to visit this monument the last time due to the fact that it was under renovation. This grand monument dedicated to Queen Victoria houses an excellent museum that has a lot of interesting exhibits ranging from exquisite chair and tea-poy made of ivory, extensive collection of guns and swords studded with precious stones and gold, beautifully preserved age old Buddhist manuscripts written in gold, excellent marble sculptures of the British elite and the very first and grand piano on which Queen Victoria learned how to play.

The show stopper are the 12 paintings surrounding the massive central dome depicting important evens from Victoria's life. The best part about the oil paintings are they are naturally lit by day light. Even after several years these paintings are in excellent condition. A very talented artist had gone great lengths to give life to these paintings. We stood there with our jaws dropped admiring the colossal dome and paintings. The beautifully trimmed green lawns around the monument are too inviting and we sat there for hours admiring this beautiful white marble monument. The reflection of the monument in the water body and the sun setting behind was a moment to behold. Gallery is open on all days from 10 AM to 5 PM except on Monday and national holidays.

Of course, the iconic Howrah Bridge can not be left far behind. This bridge over the Hooghly River is one of the busiest bridges. And we rode our bike too over the iconic Howrah bridge.

Visiting the Indian Museum by shelling out as little as Rs.10 will get you a sight of a 4000 year old Mummy. The other huge galleries too are worth a visit. The museum is pretty well maintained.

We headed to pay our respect to Mother Teresa's home that houses her tomb. Right next to the tomb is a small museum showcasing books and articles that belonged to Mother. One can even visit the humble room that Mother used to live in. It did not even have a ceiling fan just a small table fan.

Kolkata could be famous for Eden gardens, Victoria memorial, Howrah bridge and many more but it was AJC Bose Botanical garden that earned Kolkata a spot in the Guinness Book Of World Records. All thanks to a hulk size Banyan tree that spreads across an area of 1.6 hectare. The tallest branch reaches 24 meters and has over 3600 prop roots (confirm from pics.) This one massive tree qualifies to be a jungle all by itself. The tree survived two massive cyclones and even though the main trunk of the tree was felled in 1925 it still survives. Thus earning the name "Walking Tree" and ____ (PIC.)

It is more than 250 year old tree and was in existence even before the establishment of the park. We had to walk over 100 meters to catch a glimpse of the panoramic view of this mammoth tree. The serene park is also home to exotic plants from over 5 continents. The botanical garden has wetlands that attracts a lot of birds and is surprising that  right in the middle of this chaotic city lies a haven for birds. We were lucky enough to witness a dogfight between an eagle and crow. Keep in mind that the entry to the park closes at 4 PM.

Kolkata has a very able local transportation network. We took the iconic taxi ride, these guys literally paint the city yellow. Also, we hopped on to the iconic tram. It is the only operating Tram Network in India and the oldest electric operating tram in Asia.

However, major parts of the city still seem to be stuck in the British Raj era and have not seen any phenomenal cosmetic change. In our experience, the city is not very traveler friendly as there are no signage and people do not seem to be helpful in our limited experience.

A book lovers delight at park street would be oxford book store. They have massive collection of books across all genres and a few in foreign languages too. Plus an exclusive section dedicated to Bengali literature. There is also a pretty decent cafe on the first floor of the book store.