Interview with the Famous Chef: Vimal Dhar

chef vimal dhar

Vimal Dhar is a renowned Chef. A Kashmiri Pandit who was born and brought up in Ranchi, Bihar. He did his Schooling from some remote areas of UP. His entry into hotel management was purely incidental. He started his career as a chef at the age of 21 and worked as for 15 years and since two and a half years he is working as an Entrepreneur. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Mr. Vimal Dhar by Deepankshi Chittora and Siddharth Nagar from

UB: What eagerness brought you to this field? Did you have any other career options before you opt for this profession?

A. Well actually, I did have an option to go for the Architectural Engineering. But my inclination was more in Arts and the creativity it involves. I used to help my mother in the household job especially in kitchen which fascinated me a lot. This drove me to join Hotel Management course.

UB: Please tell us about your achievements so far.

A. The biggest achievement, I think, is that I am a happy man. I never thought that I would be pursuing my passion. And since I am doing my work, this is my biggest achievement.

UB: How have been your experiences as a Chef?

A. I have been an average person throughout the life. So, I realized that mehnat to karni padegi [the only option I had is to work hard] which I did do. I achieved a level beyond which there was nothing to achieve. So my experience was like being so high on the 7th heaven.

UB: What is the source of inspiration behind your success?

A. It’s me only. You have to work hard to get to a level where you achieve something. It’s the individual who has to decide and it’s the blessings of the almighty that do the rest.

Vimal Dhar Udaipur

UB: As you just said that you realized that mehnat to karni padegi. At what point of time did you realize so?

A. Well, Once I had to repeat my class 11th. This event shocked my conscience. But I have no regrets as I took this positively. It provided me an opportunity to work hard and I did work very hard and performed even better than my normal.

UB: We have heard that you worked with Taj Lake palace. So can you share with us some of your experiences at Lake palace?

A. Yes, I started with Lake Palace. I was actually the lucky chap in my college to get 1st campus placement at Taj Lake Palace. So, I was very happy. I joined there as a trainee and got promoted. I worked there with the greatest chefs and got brilliant exposure.

Chef Vimal Dhar

UB: What is you motto of life ahead?

A. We have to grow the brand now. Udaipuri has to come in different cities of Rajasthan atleast. And Kabab Mistri’s next level is to reach cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, etc.

UB: How you found Udaipur as far as culture and taste is concerned?

A. Udaipur is nice and versatile. The people accept everyone. Initially he had a mixed experience and being a small city everyone will approach Udaipuri but those who remain with us for the next 2 years they are the actual customers.

UB: As a chef which is the best restaurant you have ever been and why?

A. There are so many actually and not just one. In India Maurya Sheraton & Bukhara of Delhi are quite authentic with their non vegetarian stuff. Another is Diva (an Italian restaurant) again in Delhi. La Piazza at Hyatt, Delhi, which is again serving some good Italian stuff.

UB: Which one do you feel is the best – Indian Food or of any other country?

A. Well, as a chef I have respect for all the food. All that matters is the originality must not be lost. It has to be natural and one should not fiddle with the taste by mixing colours etc.

UB: In the contemporary world the junk foods are buckling down the traditional foods. What is your take on this?

A. I don’t see anything like this. No food is buckling the other. They both have their respective clienteles in their own respective spheres.

UB: Do you think Udaipur is growing?

A. Yes, it is but not at a satisfactory pace. I find people here are reluctant towards spending money unlike people in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai etc who spends liberally which is good for people like us [Laughs].

UB: What is your perspective about

A. It is good. You people are doing a great job. I get positive vibes and the best part is that youngsters are doing this, so, that energy is visible. I wish you all good luck in your Endeavor.

Places to Visit

Kumbhalgarh : The Great Wall of India

The memories of men are frail …
therefore stands a fortress as thread ..
to hang history from then till now…

Built on a hilltop, Kumbhalgarh is a Mewar fortress located on the banks of Banas River cradled in the Aravalli Hill in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan state in western India. It is the second very most important citadel in Mewar region after Chittorgarh. The palace is known as the silent hill station of Rajasthan standing majestically on the high ridge with elevation of 1100metres (3600feet) above sea level. The longitudinal and latitudinal distance of the fort is 25.1475° N, 73.5831° E.

It was built by Rana Kumbha during the course of 15th century. In Kumbha’s time the kingdom of Mewar extended from Ranthambore to Gwalior, including vast tracts of present-day Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Kumbhalgarh was once the seat of Prince Samprati, who was the Jain descendants of the erstwhile Mauryan Dynasty, who ruled here in the 2nd century defining the boundaries between Mewar and Marwar. Rana took around 15 years to built this fort. The sentimental significance of the fort also accounts as the birth place of Maharana Pratap who was a great king and warrior of Mewar. The fort was built to serve a refuge for Mewar rulers in times of strife.

Kumbhalgarh Fort after the rains

In 1443, when the king started the construction and eventually the structure crumbled to ruins by the sunset .But then a spiritual preceptor addressed the king to offer human voluntarily sacrifice in order to ensure that the battle walls being constructed by Rana would be strong enough to withhold the siege. The king sent out word, but no one volunteered. One day a soldier from the commandment volunteered and been ritually decapitated. Today the main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol contains a shrine and a temple named as Vedi temple to perpetuate the great sacrifice. Because of its hostile topography the fort remained inaccessible to the mighty Mughal even after combining the armies of emperor Akbar of Delhi , Raja Mansingh of Amber and Raja Udai Singh of Marwar.

The invincible fort is the most formidable in the state of Rajasthan.

The frontal serpentine 36km long and 15 feet thick wall with soaring towers is the most impressive. The wall is claimed to be the second longest continuous wall after Great Wall of China. The wall is not in straight pattern but have many steep ascends and descends throughout its length covering mountain cliffs and valleys. According to the legends, it is believed that eight horses could run on this wall side by side. The wall also serves as an epitome of architectural excellence and exquisite art of Rajput era because the walls are still unblemished and intact inspite of being 700 years old.

Kumbhalgarh Udaipur

The impregnable fort is protected by 13 mountain peaks of Aravalli range, seven huge imposing gates just like the sentinels and 7 steel gray ramparts being folded within another with the walls  empowered by  arched bastions and  colossal watch towers.

The top of the fort offers a spectacular panoramic picturesque of sand dunes of Aravalli range and overlooks the approaches from Ajmer and Marwar.

The fort can be accessed by any of the seven gates which are named as Aret Pole, Hanuman Pole, Ram Pole, Vijay Pole, Nimboo Pole and Bhairon Pole.

At the top of the cliff Badal Mahal, also known as the palace of the clouds is situated. The two-storied structure is divided into two interconnected distinct portions namely the Zanana (quarter for females), and the Mardana Mahal (quarter for men) decorated with pastel colored murals of 19th century. The color scheme of the rooms is a contrast to the grim and earthy fortress. The Zanana Mahal is composed of stone jalis which facilitated the queens to see the court proceedings and other events in privacy. All the chambers are provided with ingenious air conditioning system which draw cool air into the rooms and ventile them from the bottom.

The  fortress consists of 360 temples within the fort out of which 300 of them are ancient jain temples and rest are hindu temples.some of them are Ganesh Temple, Vedi Temple, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Parshvanath Temple, Bawan Devi Temple, Golerao Group of Temples, Mamadeo Temple, Pitalia Dev Temple.

The Neelkanth temple is situated near the base of the plains containing a six feet high sculpture of Lord Shiva. The rana offered regular prayers to the deity in this temple and was decapitated by his own son in this temple while offering prayers.

The fortress of Kumbhalgarh in the Aravalli Hills (Mewar)

The thick woody forests encompass the vibrant and rich foliage along with a rich variety of fauna. The fort is encircled by Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary sprawled in an area of 578 square kilometer (223 square miles). The sanctuary abode a shelter to a number of endangered species. The species found are hyena, panthers, leopards, wolfs, cats, the four horned antelope (chausingha), blue bulls, sambhars, crocodiles, peacocks, bear, wild boars, jungle fowls, flamingoes, spoonbills, parakeets, grey pigeons, yellow footed pigeons, egrets, cormorants, golden oriole and many more. Horse lovers and adventure seekers can enjoy the thrill of riding and camping in the sanctuary. Each group is accompanied by local tour operators. Horses, tents, food and fodder are provided by the Aohdin (owner of castle-type cottages) on prior notice at a very reasonable cost.

The fort is open to the public and can be easily accessed from Rajasthan state government roadways ordinary and deluxe buses (102 km) or from the Udaipur airport (84kms.) or from the Phalna railway station serves to be the closest railhead. The months of September to march serve as the ideal time to visit the palace and in clothing one must prefer cotton tropical clothes in summers and light woolen clothes in winters. One can also enjoy the Kumbhalgarh festival celebrated during the winter season to promote Kumbhalgarh as a heritage site. Tourists can be amazed by the serenity and beauty of the place with its enthralling and verdant landscapes, deep jungles and pretty gorges .The fortress is spectacularly lit by various lights and lamps each evening. Kumbhalgarh is not just these fabulous monuments and magnificent citadels, but abundance of natural splendors is gracefully bestowed on it makes it a pictorial location and an attractive tourist destination.

Places to Visit

Sajjangarh Fort – The Past and Present

SajjanGarh Fort

sajjangarh fort

The numbers may change, the pages may turn…

But the palatial forts still stand firm echoing the history of Mewar Kingdom…

Perched on a high summit of Banasdara mountain of Aravalli hill range, just like a bejeweled tiara stands the glorious Sajjangarh fort. It is a white marble palace. The fort is situated 5km (2 miles) to the west of Udaipur city at an altitude of 944m (3100 ft) above sea level. The latitudinal and longitudinal of fort are 23.260 and 74.289 respectively. It was built in 1884, by seventy-second ruler of Mewar dynasty, Maharana Sajjan Singh. He was considered as a renowned ruler and a “Man of Vision” and was also honourerd with the title of “Grand Commander of the Star of India” in 1881.Having deep passion for astronomy, Maharan Sajjan Singh intended to construct a nine- storey astronomical centre that could facilitate the tracking of monsoon clouds and diagnose the weather conditions. Hence popularly known as monsoon palace. The other reason that added to building up of the fort was to serve a holiday home and hunting lodge to royal family and also to give Maharana a view of his ancestral home in Chittaurgarh.Due to untimely demise at the age of 26 , his dream remained unfulfilled with shelving of his plans by construction of partial three-storey building. But during his reign (1874-1884) Udaipur was recognized as the second Municipality in India after Bombay. The construction of Sajjangarh is considered as the most ambitious project which Maharana undertook during the span of his rule.

beautiful sajjangarh

Looming at a great height, the fort offers an exhilarating bird eye view of Udaipur city overlooking the two lakes – The Pichola & Fatehsagar. Previously the palace was owned by the royal family of Mewar but now it is controlled by the Forest department of Rajasthan Government. The importance of the fort lies in it’s unique location to give it’s visitors an astounding and charismatic view of the city. The road leading to the fort is hilly, steep, twisting with several blind turns. The best time to visit the place is at the time of rainy season because the picturesque and the scenic view of the scenery around is seen like heaven with the palace seeming as cocooned within the clouds. Rather than monsoons, from way down the city , the White Palace  renders a visual treat with a constraining attraction of pulling a visitor up to see the breathtaking spectacle of the setting sun with a colourful sky.

sajjangarh fort 2

The palace consist of a grand central court with a staircase, rooms, a huge bronze statue of Maharana Pratap, Fountains, Domes jharokhas, Marble pillars with floral carvings reflecting the vibrant art and architecture of culture of Rajasthan and royal quarters which are subdivided into Mardana Mahal(quarter for men), Zanana Mahal (quarter for females), the Diwan-e-Aam(hall for public audience) and the Diwan-e-Khaas(hall for private audience). The walls of the fort are plastered by lime mortar. The tall turrets with guards regulating each tower can be viewed from a distance. At night the illuminated palace seems like a fairytale castle floating free in the sky. The ground floor of palace is a museum with a collection of pictures, paintings and maps of the entire palace and the design of the palace that Maharana Sajjan Singh intended to construct. There is also an ingenious rainwater collection system in which 195,500 litres of water can be stored and it seems to be an innovative way of collecting rain water where dry desert conditions exists. Some cannons too still remain there, since the time Udaipur was attacked by Schindias in 1764, when the hill was used as ordnance dump. A boat ride across the lake Pichola provides a mesmerizing view of the palace.

The palace is enveloped by Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary established in 1987 which covers an area of 5.17 sq km. It is regarded as a reserve for reptiles, wild boars, blue bulls, hyenas, panthers, sambhars, jackals, spotted deers, peacocks, wild rabbits and many migratory birds. The entire hillock has been well protected with concrete wall and fences to improve the flora and fauna of the sanctuary area. To the left of the fort lies Shikarbadi or the Khas-Odi and at the northwest lies an artificial lake known as “Badi Lake”or“Tiger Lake. The adventure freak people can also make their way to the fort by trekking from the lake. On the western side of the hill lies the “ Jhar Water Hole”, a small perennial source of water encircled by numerous Mahua trees adding tranquility to the place along with a small temple of lord Shiva.

sajjangarh wildlife sanctuary

The backside of the palace gives the spectacular view of valley covered with dense, thick forest and lush greenery all around it. The place is not commercialized so no shops, no vendors etc lending a peaceful, quite and calm atmosphere. At the palace, a restaurant is operated by The Lalit Groups providing lunch, breakfast, tea, coffee etc. The fort is regarded as best sightseeing point of Udaipur and remains a popular tourist destination with an entry fee of just INR 10 for Indian, INR 80 for foreigner and INR2 for students.

Despite of being a tourist point the fort is not serving as a well maintained heritage. The interiors are ruined and the walls too are covered in graffiti by the young lads proclaiming their fascinations of their girl or vice-versa. It’s a high time for the authorized people to wake up and take effective measures to improve the conditions of the Palace.

Article and Photo Courtesy : Deepankshi Chittora