Petha – Agra ka Meetha

Every place has a landmark or a specialty,  it is a monument, temples of worship, nature’s own impression, people-their culture, clothes or food.

Well in that case Agra has three – The beautiful Yamuna River, Taj Mahal in its banks and Petha!
Petha is a delicacy made from Sweet Ash-gourd  dipped and served with sugar syrup.
Recently we stopped at Agra on the way to Delhi.  The train was nearing Agra cantonment station and some youth though unarmed, barged into the compartment. I felt fear for a moment, before I found out that they are the autowallas searching for their passengers. could not wait in their autos!
One Autowall  got hooked to us and was damn sure we could not get any accommodation ourselves. we acceded. So first thing is do your ground work before landing in such place.
We finished our breakfast with two kachori which generally would prefer to eat in the evening snack in south of India.
We had our visit to Taj Mahal. I liked for its serenity and humbleness rather than what it’s famous for – grandeur. We spent good two hours though we had to catch Chattisgarh Express to Delhi.
Before that only one thing was left – buying Agra ka Petha. My colleague who is from North India suggested me to buy Panchhi Petha – a brand by itself.
Aftee coming out of the Taj, we asked the autowallah to take us to Panchhi petha shop. He took us to some shop which was too small for its reputation and the shopkeeper came outside to welcome us. I felt something fishy. I was warned of the fake Panchhi Petha stores all round Agra. I felt very odd because somethings around were not real. I was coaxed to take some petha but to no avail. I have to find the Panchhi Petha Store!

So we headed back to the room and packed our bags. I had the list of the panchhi Petha stores  addresses  and showed them to the Hotel man. I asked which is nearest to the Agra Cantonment Railway Station. That’s the one Dholpur House on M.G. Road.
This time we did not say Panchhi Petha Store but said Dholpur house and then to Agra station.
That was there the Pancchi Petha Store right in the junction. It was a big store and people were busy buying sweets and namkeens.
Here we have what we desired and our patience paid.

 

Important things to note
1. Panchhi Peta Store has five branches, four in Agra and one in Delhi
2. There are numerous duplicates or fake shops all over Agra with names like Best Panchhi Peta Shop, New Panchhi Peta Bhandhar (with Best and New written very small). I didn’t taste in those shops but atleast they are not the best, as many say.
3. The original shop has a name “PANCHHI PETHA STORE”
4. Do not ask the autowallas to take to Panchhi Petha store. There is a great chance that they will take you to a fake one.
5. Find out the area in which the store is and ask the autowallas to take to that area.

The addresses are below
1. Panchhi Petha Store, Opp State Bank Of India, Dholpur House, M G Road, Agra – 282002
2.  Opp Hari Parwat Thana, Hari Parbat, Agra – 282002
3. Panchhi Petha Store, 15/136, Akka Wali Gail Noeri Gate, Hospital Road, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003
4. Panchi Petha Store, Bhagwan Cinema Chauraha, Agra.

The Address of the Delhi Shop is
Panchi Petha Store, #2365, Main Patel Nagar Road,Patel Nagar, Delhi -110008

The varieties of the Petha available are Saadha Petha, Angoori Petha, Kesar Angoori Petha, Kesar Petha  and all are priced below 100 per kilogram.

After reaching Gurgaon, it was around 11.30 p.m and we could not get anything to eat. We opened one of the Petha box. We felt that it was worth all the trouble in finding the authentic Panchhi Petha!

I have only visited the Pancchi Petha Store in Dholpur House, M.G. Road. and I cannot guarantee the correctness of the other addresses .
Request you to share any more information that can make this post better. Thanks,

AbdullapurMet Trek

Man, the alarm was not soothing but rather cruel at 5.00A.M in the morning but had to get up. Not much later got a call from Bharath ” Do you want to go? It rained badly yesterday”. I  don’t know how I could manage to say, ” Let’s go, at least we will meet people” .
Out of the comfort of the home reached the meeting point “Koti Women’s college Gate” by 5.45 sharp as was ordered by Sukumar, our Organizer. There were few others waiting on the other side of the road. but there was no Sukumar, nor Padmaja.  but before I could get any more sharp and angry almost everyone arrived by 6.00A.M blunt. We started off in the 4 wheelers  after parking our bikes before Haridwar hotel.  Padmaja was not coming as her father was not feeling well. So we started off in Hari’s Scorpio microHybrid.

Abdullapurmet is a group of small hillocks on the NH9 on the way to Vijayawada near Ramoji Film City. It is in fact very near to the Outer Ring Road which is in construction. (I don’t know what they will call the next Ring road, no prizes for the guesses). There was a nice BT road leading to the foot of the hillock, thanks to the real estate ventures. This is the first time GHAC is conducting a trek here and we are the first ones which makes it really most interesting and exciting.

We parked our vehicles and had the customary introduction, There were software victims, addicts, professionals,.. what ever you want to call them, a doctor, fashion Designer, consultant, ad woman. So started off.  It was cloudy but not raining luckily. The first thing was to conquer the first hillock. There was excitement to find new routes to the top.  we had to lift ourselves through the narrow opening between two rocks.

Common Buddy (courtesy: Vamshi)

There was lot of advices in the air around from the guys who made it to the top, a feeling of ” Can I make it” in the faces down. It was a while before everyone was helped to the top. Wow! it was great team work and spirit of adventure.  Then we had some pictures clicked on top of the hillock.

Conquered! The First Summit (courtesy: Gautam Narain)

Happiness(Anand) on the Peak (courtesy: Gautam Narain)

Then we saw a peacock on top of another hill, all inviting with its fully stretched feathers.  There was greenery all round thanks to the consistent rains in Hyderabad. And our next destination was a bigger hillock towards our  right.  It was already 8 and we stopped to break our fast. There were biscuits, chudwa, Anshu’s Sandwiches (she prepared them in the morning!), haldiram stuff, and Dates! I too had some dates! Then we were again on our way. We did not know how to make it to the top. All the existing routes, if any, might have been covered by the grass and other shrubs.

We were greeted by huge boulders, steep and no easy path to the top. we split into two groups and started our exploring. There was a small group of bees and Hari was bit on his hand. That was the first moment when the spirits were little down. But thanks to our self styled Manager Anshu Gemini and Hari we found a little hope.  There was a small crack between two rocks. I was a little apprehensive about going through it as there may be snakes or monkeys inside. But Anshu went through it, I followed . Anshu could get to the bottom of the small opening to the top. After seeing her courage and spirit, whatever resistance to accepting her as Manager was gone. Under her direction I could lift myself through the opening and made through it. I saw light! Wow! I could not describe my feeling. Anshu made it. It was her find.

The way to the top (courtesy: Naresh)

Slowly everyone followed. Someone from the bottom asked why do we have to do this? Why are we on this trek?   Other group with Sukumar go to the top from other difficult way.  Wow, the wind was soothing and inviting. Wait, Let me take a deep breathe.  How stupid we are, leaving these pleasures we are content living cramped spaces.

We could see the Ramoji Film City’s entrance from the top, thank God it is on the other side of the road. Other we know what would have happened to this hillock.  There were some pink apartments to the far South.  We climbed to the top of this hill. Took some pictures.

On the Top finally!(courtesy: Gautam Narain)

We got down in the direction of our cars. The descent was not that adventurous and boring to Anshu. We got down under the guidance and warnings “slippery rocks, sharp turn, Its steep” of Bharath. After what we have done those were not warnings!

There was this lovely grass swaying to the tune of the wind which we could not hear or comprehend.

Grass Dance (courtesy: Gautam Narain)

It was a great trip! The hill was all welcoming. The overnight rain and the ones before erased all the previous trails and paths and we had to start new. We tried our level best not to leave any impressions on the way. No littering was done but some centipedes were crushed under our shoes, the grass was grounded but they did not complain.  Our Trek to identify with our own nature – Nature was more than expected. Above all, the guys and gals were a great company. There were complaints of lack of variety in the snacks! haha.
Let me remember the names. Sukumar, Hari and his better half, Bharat, Gautam, Anshu, Anusha, Lavanya, Haritha, Anand, Gautham, Vamshi, Srikanth, Naresh, again Naresh, Vimal, Shri, Babu. Sorry who’s 19 and 20?

Thanks Sukumar and GHAC! It was real fun.

(Images Courtesy: Gautam Narain, Naresh, Vamshi)

Summer Night Camp at “Trails”

I was eagerly waiting for this trek. We were supposed to assemble at Yathri Nivas, Secunderabad or Morine Bakery, Mehdipatnam at 5.30 pm on last Saturday. We Bharath, Pranshu, Puja and Vijay started off from Yathri Nivas in Pathi’s Car. We were all supposed to assemble at Morine Bakery.   The land mark for the Morine Bakery was hugh hand lifted skywards. We reached there. The hand was a sculpture of a right hand lifting skywards, supposed to be black  but the palm was all white due to the bird shit. Ya, many things are never the same, the way they are meant to be. Back onto the road, towards Vikarabad. The next stop was Tawakkal Dhaba for the dinner. But many stopped at another Dhaba, we continued and found the Dhaba and some more followed. Ordered the food and in the mean time had brief intros.

Photo From Anurag Khare

We reached the Resort “Trails” which is enroute Vikarabad on the foothills of Ananthagiri Hills, by around 10 in the night. We are all looking for the hills around, but could see none except a small hillock in the back drop. The first impression was “man, wrong advertising”.   The pitched out the tents in the front yard of the living quarters of the personnel of the Resort.

After that we assembled for an intro again, this time with everyone. There were guys and gals from TCS, IBM, Microsoft, Infosys, Cognisant and other IT cos, some Sales Managers, a trained Pilot, a seventh standard kid with his father and many other interesting adventure Enthusiasts.

Fire Star

We assembled around the bon fire, the star now – too hot for the already burning summer night.  Everyone clicked photographs of the fire star and with it by getting as close to it as possible.

Neeraj with his Guitar

Now, Neeraj brought his guitar, to entertain us. He played some tunes and then sang while playing the guitar. He continued with regular doses of “Sorry, my voice is not good. I am not a singer”.  But it was good because nobody expected it.

Photo from Mohan a.k.a Monty

Next, we played anthakshari and went to climb the only hillock around.  That’s where Puja told the Ghost story – “A woman clad in white, waiting for her prized prey. The woman was earlier killed by her in-laws. Another dowry story”
The cool breeze was refreshing and took me to the days of summer vacation in a village. “Once upon a time when I was a kid……”
We thought of sleeping on the hillock but the breeze was growing strong.

Now back to the tents, only few slept inside the tent. Rest outside in the open air. Before the trip we thought that we would be in the middle of a dense forest, trees around us, strange noises keeping us awake, cool breeze romancing with us.  We were nowhere near the forest, there were shrubs around us, a street light and some drunkards in the nearby dwelling kept some of us awake by their songs, mosquitoes forcefully kissing. We would only manage 3-4 hours sleep with all the discomfort in all directions. Many things are never the same the way we expect. But it was sweet because something different from the routine and among so many friends.

Forest Walk

We got up and headed for the forest walk, no animals could be seen. May be I would call village walk.
Once back, the breakfast was served. Nothing wild about it but it was obese puris.

Rope Walk

Earth Quake

After the breakfast we did warmup and divided into two groups. We headed for the adventure activities. There was rope walk, earth quake – crossing the hanging swings without falling, the safety precautions were taken care.

Then we headed for the rock climbing, and zoomering. Zoomering is the toughest and needs more “stuff”.

We came down by “crossing the valley”. The staff were already over burdened in sending us down to the valley.

We had a decent lunch. Everyone was looking for some support  to lay down. But then the organisers Shraddha and Jitu were unrelenting. We played a game wherein your partner will answer the questions for you. You have to be quick otherwise it will be your turn to ask the questions. It was all fun with funny answers and questions too. The kid Shashank was fascinated about buffalos he was asking “why do you look like buffalo? Why are you talking like buffalo?” . He made everyone a buffalo.  We ended the buffalo game and headed home again in Pathi’s Bolero.

Heading home, could find myself fresh, though I was stinking. The place “Trails” was decent enough for a good group outing.  But it is always the company that matters. Everyone was great – Let me recall the names – Pathi, Pranshu, Puja, Bharath, Vijay, Bheeshmajeet, Ranjit, Srini, Mallikarjun, Tanuj, Sai, Suchithra, Neeraj, Shashank and his father Kamesh, Vineela and her friend, Monty, Anurag, Vipin. Sorry if I misspelt some names or missed. It is difficult for such encounters “Sweet Encounters” in the daily routine. Thanks Shradda and Jitu for their wonderful work, and GHAC for organising this trip.

More Photos at http://picasaweb.google.co.in/karteek.m/SummerNIghtCampAtTrails#

Also read http://bharathreddyt.in/2010/04/26/my-first-night-camping-trip/