India is an epitome of unity in diversity. As cliched it may sound, but that is what it is. On one hand our country boasts of having few of the largest cities of the world, on the other hand it is full of small towns, cities and villages. The life there is very different but special nonetheless. I love exploring these small towns as it gives the true flavour of our country. The simplicity of the people along with their local food and untouched sceneries provide the perfect fodder for a travel blogger like me. Recently ING Vyasa bank became Kotak Mahindra bank. With this move Kotak has made its home in a number of towns and cities across India. From big cities like Meerut, Bareilly, Rourkela to smaller ones like Raigarh, Muzzafarpur to even tinier ones like Mapusa, Kotak Mahindra is omnipresent! Its #KonaKonaKotak in India!
Interestingly I have been to few of these lesser known cities and they have so much to offer to a tourist! Here is a travelogue of three of such cities.
My association with Meerut started after my wedding. My sister in law and her husband were based in Meerut. They were doctors in the Meerut Medical college. As a result we used to frequent this city quite often. Earlier Meerut was just a commercial city to me. But as I explored it time and again, it turned out to be more interesting. Now that Kotak mahindra Bank is in Meerut, its importance has gone up a notch!
|The Timbaktoo Royal express|
The Indus Valley civilisation has been found in and around Meerut. It was supposedly founded by Maya, the father of Mandodari (Ravana's wife in Ramayana). Thus this city is also known as Ravana's sasural. Also the kingdom of Pandavas of Mahabbharata, the erstwhile Hastinapur was based in Meerut. Sadly the present Hastinapur has just a Jain temple. Today it is the 26 th most populous city of India.
This city has everything from malls to high end restaurants to amusement parks.The food habits of the people here are like that of typical Western Uttar Pradesh. People here are fond of overtly sweet tea also known as 'Khadi chamach chai' meaning if a spoon is put into the cup of tea, it should be able to stand in the sugar in the cup. Maybe this is because Western UP is the hub of sugarcane.
|Delicious food in a royal train setting...|
There are a lot of fine dining options in Meerut but my favourite is Timbaktoo Express hands down. The restaurant is in the form of a train with the waiters dressed up like royal butlers. A similar experience to that of Palace on Wheels. Not only the ambiance is innovative but the food is delicious too!!
Last year we took a trip to the Western coast of India. Silvassa is the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and is nothing short of picturesque. A former Portugese colony, its known for its beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and water sports. Its a privilege that the Kotak Mahindra bank has come here too! Its a respite for natives as well as visitors alike.
|Portugese style churches...|
Today Silvassa is the home of many Roman catholic churches. The word silvassa comes from the Portugese word Silva which means wood. It is the home of Warli culture. Warli language is a mixture of Marathi and Gujrati.
The main attractions today are Vasona Lion Safari park, Tribal Cultural Museum, Deer park and Dhudhni lake apart from the beautiful Arabian Sea. The best time to visit is from November to June.
|Picturesque landscapes offer every excuse to take nature walks in Silvassa!|
There are a variety of accommodation options in Silvassa. From luxury hotels to budget ones and even vacation rentals, you will find all. Food is something you won't want to miss. The restaurants offer a variety of cuisines but the fresh sea food is a must try. From mackerels to sea bass, prawns and baby sharks, sea food is delicious.
|Fresh catch from the sea...delicious sea food!|
|Accommodation ranges from luxurious ones to budget types...|
|The hub of water sports...|
Silvassa offers a variety of water sports thanks to its long coastline. Paragliding, water scooter, jet skiing, all adrenaline rush lovers get prepared! Just two and a half hours by road from Mumbai, its the perfect weekend getaway for Mumbaikars!
Goa is a place which can be visited again and again. The smallest state of India never fails to surprise its visitors with its gorgeous coastline, fresh seafood and the happening Portugese cum Goanese culture!
|The happening beaches of North Goa...|
Mapusa is a small town in North Goa. Its close proximity to the beaches of North Goa makes it an ideal spot for cheap accomodation. Mapusa is one of those tiny places which has become the home of Kotak. The best way to explore this town is by two wheelers.
|The Mapusa Friday market|
Mapusa comes alive in Fridays. Yes, its the day of the famous Mapusa Friday market. Vendors come from the nearby villages to sell their things. Its a must visit. Make sure to buy spices from this market.
|Its spices galore at the Mapusa Friday market...|
This town is studded with Portugese style churches as well as Hindu temples. The cuisine here is a mixture of Konkan and Portugese with awesome sea food. The Mapusa fish market is an interesting spot.
|Fresh sea food. The fish market is a must visit in Mapusa...|
In short, Mapusa can serve as a budget friendly place to spend the night while enjoying the beaches of North Goa.
|The Mapusa river flows into the Mandovi..|
With #KonaKonaKotak campaign in full swing, banking goes to a whole new level in all the nooks and corners of India!