Old Rajpur’s narrow lanes and bridle paths are full of stories, enunciating of old and rich culinary, heritage and ancestry. While the city of Dehradun has been re-shaping and re-moulding through time, the little hillock of Rajpur still speaks of an older but simpler place. The hillside is now a collection of what has been passed down over generations dating back to the British period.
SoDoon, in association with Rajpur Community, organised a unique ‘Food & Heritage Walk’ on March 26. The joint-initiative aimed at tasting and savouring the food culture as well as the age-old tales associated with the place. A number of social media campaigns and messages were put up by the two organising committees to bring in participation to the event; and despite the rising temperatures the stocked seats got filled within a day.
Meeting and then eventually starting off from the time-old and iconic Rajpur Bus-stand, the food trail began consisting of a caravan of 40-odd people. The participants were a mix-bag of assorted age-groups, and professions.
Kumud Taimni, from Rajpur Community, was the pilot for the ‘walk’; she, after giving a glimpse of the heritage around the starting point, led the gang to the first flavour-filled factory – Sardarji’s Pakora Shop.
The shop has been the palate locus of the whole town since forever. Mr Pritpaal Singh who is the owner of the shop, himself prepared pakoras for the participants; who couldn’t help but raid on the freshly prepared pakoras undeterred by its piping hot temperatures. The imli chutney further added to the dish. The shop has been a part of the Singh family since three generations. Concurrently, it has been acting as the lodestar for the locals as well as the tourist who flock to the place as often as not.
Ms Taimni then guided the gathering through the ascent of Rajpur, revealing and narrating all the fables and tales of the age-old monuments and centres around. The whole group gasped and stood in awe listening to the time-worn stories of small shops or what just remains as ruins now.
For re-igniting the taste buds, the ‘walk’ then proceeded to Lhasa Restaurant. Lhasa is a small yet cosy eating joint serving authentic Tibetan and Chinese fare. The modest interiors somehow accommodated the whole group at once; where everyone was served a Tingmo – a half moon shaped dough stuffed with minced vegetable & then deep fried. Interestingly, what outdid everything on the plate was the red spicy chutney served along the main dish as everyone seemed to express admirations for it.
Following that, the group then proceeded toward a rather new experience. Ajay Singh from ‘Dehradun Guitar Company’ invited everyone to see his workshop. Inside there, Ajay told and demonstrated the group about the renowned guitar production place. The custom-made guitars have attracted musicians from all over the globe, including the Indian Ocean band as well.
Further moving on, the ‘walk’ made its way toward a small coffee/dessert shop called Hi-Life café after visiting a small and old temple on the way to it. Each was served a ‘peanut butter cake’ at the café. The cake, filled with layers of soft bread amalgamated with the peanut butter was a delight. Its light yet full-filing taste brought life to everyone who was drained with the walk upwards.
The next stop for the food trail was a small eatery at the edge of the climb into Rajpur. The group got separated into two here: half of the lot ran toward the railing to capture themselves into a picture with the mesmerising view, while the other half proceeded toward the Gol-Gappas. The Gol-Gappas were a relish as well.
After resting for a bit, with bellies almost full and tongues demanding a rest, the group walked toward the last eatery. However, before arriving at the place, the group paid a visit to ‘Alaya Design Studio’ wherein art oozed out of the whole place. The studio was a collection of modern-use furniture and organic articles.
The last eatery was Marigold café. Owned by Kumud Taimni herself, Marigold leaves you with a dilemma to appreciate its serene location outside or its cosy seating inside. The Chinese café served an ‘exotic bhel’ packed with shredded vegetables and sweet and tangy flavours.
With the sun about to set, the trail inched toward the last place – Chai pe Charcha.
The last bit of the walk was dedicated for a friendly introductory session accompanied with a selection of lemon and normal tea. Everyone introduced themselves to the group and interacted with each other too.
Team TGC spoke to Kumud Taimni to get an insight on the walk and Rajpur community. “The voluntary community has been built to protect and preserve the heritage and environment around Rajpur.” She said.
“The purpose of the food-walk is to make aware the participants, especially youngsters, of the food culture and the heritage value of the place.”
Aviral Goyal, founder of SoDoon and the co-organiser of the food walk, said, “SoDoon is an online platform covering Dehradun, Mussoorie, Rishikesh in terms of food and travel. At Sodoon we tend to showcase people the culture and beauty of Dehradun district. The intent of the walk was to make people aware of the place they are living in.”
(Picture Courtesy – SoDoon)