Here is a post on how you can make an all-natural ingredient toothpaste/ tooth oil at your home with basic kitchen ingredients. First of all, congratulations that you have decided to come out of the bandwagon of commercial products and ready to take charge of what you put in your body.
This recipe is very basic and needs only a couple of minutes or less because there is no cooking/processing involved in it. So you need below-mentioned ingredients to make a DIY zero waste toothpaste:
- 2 tbsp Mustard oil/Coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt or rock salt
- Few drops of Clove oil
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
Let me explain why this combination can do wonders to your teeth:
- Mustard oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties so it is preferable but if you don’t like the taste of mustard oil you can use coconut oil too.
- Himalayan pink salt is quite important in this recipe because when it dissolves, it eliminates sediment and removes toxins from the teeth.
- Clove oil is optional but a great ingredient due to its antiseptic properties, and is useful in preventing gum disease. It has been found to be very effective as a deworming agent.
- The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties, reduces infections and helps in fight tooth decay and bad breath.
Just mix all the ingredients with the help of a spoon and store in a glass jar.
- If you are using coconut oil, make sure it is soft before you start blending.
- Use a spoon to take the right amount on your toothbrush, since dipping toothbrush can spread bacteria.
- Although I recommend making this recipe as fresh as possible, this keeps well up to two weeks in a tightly closed glass jar.
- You might be wondering about no mention of baking soda which is usually suggested for DIY toothpaste. I wouldn’t recommend that because it is abrasive and can damage the enamel. If you want, you may add it sometimes, maybe use it twice a week.
p.s: This post no way claim that you can cure cavities or major dental issue as a home remedy but as an alternative to toothpaste for healthy teeth.
Stay healthy, stay natural! 🙂
Prague can be tough in winters but it is equally dreamy with snow. I was thinking about a trip to Prague for a while and was delaying it a few times already, but the last January I decided to just go and explore in winters anyway. I was sceptical initially until I went. In the end, it was a good decision and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I decided to pen down how it’s like to be in Prague and also what are the perks in the winter months.
1. Less Crowd
Good news is, there will be way fewer people! You can have a gala time enjoying a walk at the Charles bridge or taking all your time at the magnificent Prague castle.
2. Low Prices
The hotels will be at slashed prices during the off-season if you visit in January. You can look up for a suitable hostel/Airbnb or a hotel, which will be most likely to be a lower price barring Christmas and New year times. I got a steal deal at a hostel for 8 Euros a night with breakfast. 😀
3. Enjoy a Dreamy Getaway
Winters can be difficult in Prague and temperature can really go very low. But this also means a good amount of snowfall which makes everything in the city dreamy. The houses, walkways, bridges everything will be all covered in the white blanket of snow.
4. What to Pack?
Lots of layers and layers, warm jackets, all winter essentials likes caps, scarfs, gloves. Good and warm walking shoes and a pair of boots is essential to explore the city comfortably.
5. Shorter Opening Timings
It is important to check the winter timings for the attractions, important monuments, museums and walking tours. There are activities which open for shorter duration or remain closed during the offseason.
6. Decide What You Want to do When You Get There
Do your research beforehand which is suitable for the weather you are planning for. Indoor activities could a great option for the evenings. There are lots of museums that open till late at night. Consider the National Film Museum, The National Gallery, and the Apple Museum which hosts 450+ Apple products to date. More unusual museums that may be more popular among bachelor parties in Prague include the Sex Machines Museum and the Prague Beer Museum.
Take your pick and decide which ones you fancy. Sipping hot chocolate or coffee while the world goes by will definitely be one leisurely activity while you are enjoying your time there.
7. Indulge in Seasonal Czech Food
Choose from zelňačka (traditional cabbage soup), Guláš (goulash), mulled wine served piping hot with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to warm you up to explore the magical city more. You can also opt for an eating tour to know some hidden gems in the city.
I must admit, the options for a vegetarian are very limited, and for a vegan traveller like me has to settle down what is possibly available.
8. Take a Walk on the Charles Bridge
The dreamy Charles bridge, straight out of the medieval times – decorated with 30 statues of saints (now replaced by replicas). It is one of the busy places in Prague and at any time of the day, you will see it bustling with tourists. It had been an important mean to cross the Vltava river and connect the old town with other prominent areas of Prague.
9. Visit Prague Castle – Take the Golden Lane Tour and Medieval Prison Tour
Admit it, Prague castle is the number one thing that every tourist do when they visit Prague. It is in a very big complex, built in the 9th century and hosts multiple buildings, museums, cathedral and a prison. It is the largest ancient castle in the world. It also has the official office to the president of the Czech republic. You will need at least 3 hours to explore it.
Take the ticket to see the buildings and museums from inside, it will also include the entry to Golden lane tour which shouldn’t be missed. It is a lane of tiny and colourful homes on displaying how life was for people who lived in those tiny homes. It has a lot of stuff on display to create a scene that will take you to medieval times.
Also, don’t miss the prison tour – it can be quite brutal to watch the ways, the prisoners were treated but a must watch to experience.
10. St. Vitus Cathedral
Prague castle also is the home to St. Vitus Cathedral, which is a prominent example of Gothic architecture and is the largest and most important church in the country. It contains the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Roman emperors. You would be surely awed by the aura and the beauty of this ancient church with a brilliant architecture.
11. Old Town Square and Prague Astronomical Clock
This is the place to enjoy beautiful evenings and usually, all walking tours start from the old town square. The Old town square has multiple buildings with historical significance – art museum, churches, oldest working astronomical clock. This clock was installed in 1410, it is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world. There is a tower in the Old Town Hall which is open to the visitors and you can experience panoramic views of the Old Town. Old Town square is also known for splendid Christmas market, it was ranked 10th best in the world by CNN recently.
In short, whatever time you choose; Prague will be gorgeous all year round and there won’t be enough time to submerge in the beauty of this town. Do let me know how did your Prague winter trip went. 🙂
Varanasi/Banaras has more than thousands of big and small temples and that’s the reason this city is also known as “City of temples”. The city is located on the banks of two tributaries of Ganges, Varuna, and Assi, which merge here.
We have already shared 9 things to do in Banaras
Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva, as Lord Shiva is considered the ruler of the city from the beginning of the time. That’s the reason you will find there are a lot of Shiva temples in every corner of Varanasi.
Here is the list of must-visit temples in Varanasi
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
Kashi Vishwanath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshipped here in the form of linga and is built 250 years ago. It is one of the most prominent Hindu temples and one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Lord Shiva is represented as a fiery column of light in Jyotirlinga temples and hence no idol is worshipped. Kashi Vishwanath temple is believed to be here since ancient time and has been mentioned in Puranas too. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times. Aurangzeb last destroyed it in 1669 and constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque at its place, later the temple was constructed adjacent to the mosque. Over the years different structures were built around the temple. The most prominent of them are low-roofed colonnade with over 40 pillars in the Gyan Vapi precinct and a 7 feet tall statue of Nandi bull gifted by the king of Nepal.
The 3 domes of the temple are covered with gold and that’s why people call it Golden temple of Kashi. Later on, many other temples were built around Kashi Vishwanath temple in the Lane, which leads to the Ghat.
Kashi Vishwanath temple opens at 03.00 AM in the morning remain open till 11.00 PM but it is closed in between for special aartis and rituals. These aartis and rituals can be booked online.
Best time to visit this temple is early morning like 4:00am or 5:00 am; otherwise, you will have to wait in a queue for the darshan for approx. 2-3 hours.
Kashi Vishwanath temple darshan tickets and aarti timing:
Mangala Aarti – 03.00 – 04.00 AM Booking cost: 350 INR
Bhog Aarti -11.15 AM to 12.20 PM Booking cost: 180 INR
Sandhya Aarti – 07.00 PM to 08.15 PM Booking cost: 180 INR
Shringar Aarti – 09.00 to 10.15 PM Booking cost: 180 INR
Shayan Aarti – 10.30 to 11.00 PM
Note: Due to tight security mobile phones, camera, belts with metal buckle, leather belts & bags, cigarettes, lighters are not allowed inside the temple.
You are allowed to carry offerings like water, milk, flowers, leaves, fruits or sweets inside the temple but a security check is done on these and only small portions are allowed.
Other must-visit temples are situated in and around BHU campus.
To visit BHU temple and others you can hire an auto. You will find autos with a package of 4 hours with the cost of 400 rs to 500 rs on the way from Dashashmedh ghat to Assi ghat. That auto driver will take you around all the temples including BHU – Vishwanath Mandir and at the end of the drive he can also take you to the factory outlet for Banaras saree in case you are interested.
2. New Vishwanath Mandir
This temple is located inside the BHU campus. It’s huge and surrounded by clean gardens. It is also known as Birla temple.
There are nine temples in the BHU campus of Shiva Lingam, Nataraj ji, Mata Parvati ji, Ganesh ji, Panchmukhi Mahadev, Hanuman ji, Mata Saraswati ji, and Nandi ji.
Birla Temple/New Vishwanath temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and it is the exact copy of the original Vishwanath temple. The centre of the temple has a Siva lingam and the walls of the temple have Hindu scriptures written. Birla Temple is made up of the marble and it opens all days a week from 4 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 9 pm.
Aarti timings are 4 am, 4.45 am, 10.30 am, 11.45 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 6.45 pm, 7.30 pm, 8 pm and 8.45 pm. Every Monday, Rudrabhishek is performed from 7 am to 8 am.
It’s peaceful and clean and not too crowded. Also unlike other temples here, one can carry their mobiles and bags here.
Note: – Do not miss to have cold coffee at “Om cafe”, it’s a cafe just outside of the temple.
3. Baba Kaal Bhairav Mandir:
Baba Kaal Bhairav temple is 1.5 Km from famous Kashi Vishwanath temple. It is situated in a narrow lane. This temple is dedicated to the fierce form of Lord Shiva. It is believed that a visit to Varanasi is incomplete without visiting this temple. Kaal bhairav believed to remove the sins of his disciples and protect them from all problems. Bags with camera and mobiles are allowed inside the temple here.
4. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple:
Tulsidas Ji, the author of Ramcharitmanas established the temple of Hanuman Ji in the 14th century at this place and named it Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple.
The statue of Hanuman Ji is placed in a small open shaped sanctum. The idol of Hanuman Ji is covered with Kesari Sindoor and it is facing the idol of Lord Rama.
Beware from monkeys, although they don’t snatch the food packets from devotees there. The temple remains crowded on Tuesday and Saturday. Camera and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple due to security, after the terrorist attack.
5. Tridev Temple
This is at 450 meters distance from Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple. As the name sounded this temple is dedicated to three gods Tridev (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). This temple does not have any historical records but Temple is beautiful and very interesting in design.
6. Shri Durga Temple:
Shri Durga temple is at a 750-meter distance from Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple. This is another very famous temple in Varanasi. It is believed that the idol of goddess Durga appeared itself here. It is also known that there was a temple at this place, which was demolished during Aurangzeb’s attack. A Bengali queen built the current temple in the 18th century. Temple is situated adjacent to a pond, which is known as Durga kund and painted in vibrant red color.
7. Shri Satya Narayan Tulsi Manas Mandir
This place is believed to be where Tulsidas has composed and sang Sri Ramacharita manas. Which is one of the holiest scripture in Hinduism. The temple is very beautifully made with marble and couplets of Ramacharitmanas are engraved on the walls of the temple.
8. Bharat Mata Mandir
Completed in 1936, it was created when we were undivided. Instead of idols, there is a huge map carved out of marble with very precise details of elevation of all the lands of what now we know as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. This map depicts rivers, mountains, and oceans up to the scale.
Although it is in bad shape with almost no maintenance and fewer visitors, we found this place very interesting from the historical perspective. It is less than 2 km from Railway station and worth visiting.
9. Nepali Temple
This temple is located on Lalita Ghat of Ganga river. The temple is made of terracotta, stone, and wood. King of Nepal had constructed it at the beginning of 19th Century. The temple architecture is similar to temple structures found in Bhaktapur and Patan in Nepal. The temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and also known as Pashupatinath Mahadev Mandir Varanasi. Local Varanasi people also call this temple Kanthwala temple because wood is one of the main material used in the temple.
10. Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple:
This temple is situated at Manikarnika Ghat. The Inner sanctum of this temple remains submerged in water throughout the year except for few summer months. It is situated in the bank of Ganga and there are several interesting stories associated with the submersion of this temple.
Till now, we have travelled to many historical cities in Maharashtra and Karnataka, this year’s goal was to visit some old cities in India. The very first list we came up with was Lucknow, Varanasi/Banaras and Prayagraj/Allahabad.
All three cities are not very far from each other, so we made a travel plan in the month of Feb which is the best time to visit northern India. In this blog, I am going to cover Banaras/Varanasi. This city is known to be the oldest living city in the world, believe me, this city has some magical vibes. We had heard a lot of things for Banaras and we were so excited to experience the life of this city.
There are many hostels and hotels available in Banaras. There are quite nice hostels available in 2-3 km radius of Dashashwamedh ghat or between Dashashwamedh to Assi ghat so finding a place is not an issue until you are going on some auspicious day. So without any further adieu, let’s get on to the best things to do and see in Varanasi.
1. Go on a boat ride:
The very first thing we did after reaching ghat is to get on a boat ride. In my opinion, do not take the motorboat, take the manually driven boat. Because as the boat sails slowly, you will be able to observe different ghats and appreciate the beauty of the place. If you are lucky, your boatman will also tell you the history and other details about the famous ghats. The mornings and evenings are the best times for boating and to enjoy the scenic beauty of Banaras.
You should be doing good bargaining for boating, we paid 600 rs for our ride.
2. Know the History Behind Ghats:
All the ghats are different, built by different people in different years; sometime eras! All of them are named after some important person or carry some unique significance. A boat gives you a great view of how architecture is. The famous ones are Assi ghat where river Assi meets Ganga river, Dashashwamedh ghat is famous for evening aarti and it is said that Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. Manikarnika ghat is one of the most famous, sacred and oldest ghat in the Varanasi. It is said that if you get cremated here, you will achieve Nirvana.
3. Watch Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat:
In the evening, do not miss the evening Ganga aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat. It is one of the best memorable experience in Varanasi. You can either see the live aarti by sitting in a boat or reach early by 5:45 and get a place in the open area. According to me, reaching early and getting a place is better than seeing it from the boats. Evenings are very beautiful at Dashashwamedh ghat, you will find a lot of sadhus there, lots of people come here to be the part of live Aarti. Once the Aarti is over, do not miss to take a boat ride. It is beautiful to see all the ghats lit up to its glory. Sight cannot be missed.
For morning aarti, goto Assi ghat; there is early morning yoga as well at Assi ghat. You will get a different experience at both the Ghats. Although, the aarti process is the same but the beauty of both the Ghats makes it different. Assi ghat is also famous for the different events happen here every day during morning and evening.
4. Take a Dip in the Ganges:
It’s been said that once you take a dip in the Ganga at Banaras, your soul and body gets pure. I think anyone visiting Varanasi will not miss taking a dip in the holy river. The actual ritual is to take a dip in the morning and then goto Kashi Vishwanath temple. The situation is water is almost good but at some ghats, it might not be that clean. A lot of people go to the other side of the river too via boat to take a holy dip.
5. Take a Long Walk Across the Ghats:
After the boat ride, we walked from Dashashwamedh ghat to Assi ghat via different ghats. During the walk, we met many sadhus; few were making breakfast/tea, few were bathing, few were meditating, and few were busy with their daily rituals. It’s a long stretch from Dashashwamedh to Assi but the landscape and beauty of each ghat will keep you fascinated.
6. Eat Your Heart Out:
In our three days stay in Varanasi, we just survived and thrived on the street food. I have a whole list of food and the places here to explore, I need to do a separate post only on food, will update the link here. For breakfast near Godowlia chowk, go to Kachauri (or Khoya) galli or Thateri bazar and find “Shri Ram Bhandar” shop for an early breakfast of kachori served with aloo sabzi. Kachori Sabzi is the most popular breakfast in Varanasi. And, how can you forgot dahi jalebi, yum!
There is another famous shop for breakfast who serves toast butter with white butter and Amul butter with Tea. Stop for mithai at Shree Rajbandhu, one of the oldest sweet shops in Varanasi. Have the strawberry pomegranate lassi at the Blue Lassi Shop. I will do a detailed post for all the must eating places in Varanasi.
7. Go on a Temple Visiting Trail:
There a lot of temples in Varanasi and it will be difficult to cover all of them if you there just for a few days. The most famous one is, Kashi Vishwanath temple! The best trick to experience this great temple is to reach as early as you can. That’s the time when you will find this place to be less crowded compared to the day time. So we reach at the entrance by 5 am and within 30 minutes we completed the darshan. We have done a complete round-up all famous temples of Varanasi in a separate post all famous temples of Varanasi in a separate post here. But to name the famous ones: BHU Vishwanath temple, Shri Durga temple, Bharat Mata temple, Satya Narayan temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple.
8. Shop for Banarasi Saree:
When you are in Banaras, you ought to buy a banarasi silk saree. That is traditionally the most famous clothing that you can buy from here. Alternatively, you can buy banarasi silk dress material or a scarf too.
9. Learn Yoga:
Learn Yoga from the most spiritual city of India. If you are planning to spend a few weeks in Varanasi, opting for a Yoga class is a great idea. There are a lot of Yoga centres in Varanasi for morning or evening classes. There are Yoga classes conducted at Assi ghat too. There are all classical Indian music classes too if you are interested.
Overall, as expected; I found Varanasi to be a very magical place. With all the chaos of residents and tourists and others who are here to see knowledge and truth; we found peace and tranquillity which is enough to lead us back to it someday very soon.
This blog post is a round up of tips and tricks for a perfect weekend in Barcelona. This year, I finally decided not to return from Europe without travelling to Barcelona. Although it was a very long bus ride with a one-day stop in Geneva, it was the best possible option in terms of time, budget and convenience.
I reached Barcelona early in the morning and I was so excited to see Sagrada Familia that I decided to walk with my backpack to see it even before checking in my hostel. It is not too far from the main bus station, so if you want to do this as the first thing when you hit Barcelona. I decided to book a preferred slot online for the next day. I spent a few minutes near Sagrada Familia and then took a metro to my hostel. I was staying in a hostel very close to Paral-lel metro station, which had great connectivity everywhere. Here is the first tip: buy yourself a Hola Barcelona travel card. It gives you unlimited metro/bus rides. It will be a great deal!
Here is the list of places to visit in Barcelona:
1. La Rambla
I checked into the hostel and had good breakfast and ventured out to La Rambla. It is the most happening street for Barcelona but also quite infamous for pickpocketing, so beware! It is a very good place for hanging out, eating good food and souvenir shopping!
2. Mirador de Colom
It is just at the end of La Rambla Street towards the seaport. It is a statue dedicated to Christopher Columbus to honour his first voyage to the Americas. It is a good architecture to spend some time around the area.
3. Gothic Quarters
It is not only the centre of the city but also the oldest part of Barcelona. It runs parallel to La Rambla Street. There are quite a lot of old walls and structures, which were a part of the Roman village. I found Gothic village very charming, although even with such an off-season, it was full of tourists. It is worth spending a few hours, slowly walking, getting lost and eating out in the cafes. Few notable places to look up are: Cathedral de Santa Eulalia, Placa del Rei, Picasso Museum, Iglesia de Santa Maria del Pi.
4. Placa de Catalunya
After this much of walking, you can relax your feet while sipping on some coffee at this place. It is quite a big square where the old city of gothic quarter meets the new Barcelona. It is known for its fountains and statues. It is quite a busy square with a big metro station underneath. A good place to spend some evening time or while you are deciding where to go next.
5. Sagrada Familia
Or Should I say ‘The Sagrada Familia’? First things first – please book the ticket with preferred slot online from the official website. It was the building for which I travelled to Barcelona. I wanted to witness the grandeur of the basilica, which is under construction from 1882 and is set to complete with 2026 – in 144 years; marking Antoni Gaudi’s 100th death anniversary. This is the number one place to see in Barcelona. The architecture is based on the forest as a theme. With brilliant use of natural light on painted glass windows, the whole experience is enchanting. The pillars are depicted as trees reaching out to the sky. Opting to the option of entrance ticket to the basilica, tower along with audio guide is recommended; which costs 32 euros.
6. Park Guell
This is a beautiful park, which is again a very famous tourist destination in Barcelona. An exemplary example of Catalan modernism, this UNESCO world heritage site doesn’t fail to impress how basic things are used/recycled to create beautiful structures. Entering to the paid area of the park is optional but I bet you would be tempted. The entry ticket to Park Guell is 8 euros. Again online booking with the preferred slot is recommended. I would suggest visiting the park in the morning so that you can beat the crowd and enjoy the greenery of the park.
7. Aquarium Barcelona
I think it is quite an underrated place in Barcelona. It is located in the Port Vell. It has a lot of different species of fishes, sharks, penguins etc. It also has an oceanarium with a moving walkway. It will take around 2 – 3 hours and will cost 20 euros. I found this place very interesting to know the marine life. Don’t miss watching the short documentary by National Geographic.
8. Barcelona Beach
Every day is a beach day! Barcelona also offers nice and clean beaches for a day of relaxing. It is a long stretch of white sand and clean water. It is one of the top attractions among locals and tourists, especially in summers. It is easily accessible with buses and metro and is perfect to spend some time since it is next to all major attractions of Barcelona.
9. Dig into Spanish Food
Go local! Dig into Batata Bravas, gulp as much as Sangria you can along with Spanish Paella. There is a wide variety of Tapas aka bar finger food that is served in the Spanish pubs. Join the evening pub crawls that happen at many places in the city.
Honestly, I fell in love with Barcelona. This place has so much to offer – be it backpackers, history junkies, beach bums, and families with children. There is something for everyone.