What better place to have food fit for gods than in the holy town of Rishikesh? The boutique hotel Ganga Kinare recently opened a new property, Holywater by Ganga Kinare, and with it, Varr—meaning ‘boon’—a restaurant dedicated to the temple foods of India. Served in a shining brass thali, the dishes have been sourced from and inspired by holy places across India. Some of these are served in the temple kitchens or offered to the gods as ‘bhog’, some are popular in those regions.
The meal begins with achanam, a ritual purification of the hands, followed by panchamrit, a holy elixir consisting of five ingredients—in this case, milk, ghee, honey, gangajal and tulsi. There are four thalis, which are rotated on a daily basis, all under the watchful eye of Chef Deepak Bhatt.
The one we sampled included arbi ke gutke, a popular staple on the Char Dham circuit, alu wadi from the langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, tamatar-wala paneer from the Bade Mandir in Delhi, Vaishno Devi ke channe, Brajbhoomi ki khichdi and Mathura ka peda. It’s a delicious mélange of dishes and, including the condiments, there are as many as 22 items in the thali.
On other days, the thali can include dalma from Puri’s Jagannath Temple, kayuppucana kathirikai kozhambu from the temple kitchens of Tamil Nadu, paruppu sorakkai kootu from Madurai’s Meenakshi Temple, Badrinath ki khichdi, and so on. To sample it all, you’ll have to dine here for at least four days in a row. The cheerful and eclectic interiors look good enough to eat too, and there’s even a photo corner for all our Instagrammers.
Pro tip: Don't forget to try the the signature drink, dhuaan chaass—smoke and ghee-infused buttermilk—which makes a dramatic entrance at the table
Where: Avas Vikas Colony, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Price: Rs 1,200 for two