Maharashtra

Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani Chronicle

This is the final post in the series of posts I have posted about my trip during the summer. In the first post I had described Aurangabad and Ellora Caves. In the second post I had described Pune, Khandala and Lonavala. From Pune we left for a 3 day stay at Mahabaleshwar.

6th Day :- Checked out of hotel at Pune early morning as our Volvo bus to Mahabaleshwar was to leave at 7.00 am. Bus left at 8.00 am!! Checked into pre-booked rooms of the MTDC holiday resort. I had inquired at 16 hotels including this one for their rates and MTDC resort was the cheapest one which had a restaurant too. After seeing the place I was satisfied with my choice. Awesome surroundings with a small playground, nice rooms and good room service with wonderful food. There are a lot of monkeys there and can create a lot of ruckus. And bookings are tough to get here especially during the tourist season. This is MTDC resort.

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7th Day :- After a lot of rest on the previous day, we went sightseeing. There are several “points”, temples and a lake (Venna lake) to see in Mahabaleshwar. Thankfully it didn’t rain and we were able to see lots of places. Venna lake is enjoyable more in the evening due to all the stalls including video games parlors! but the boat rides are very costly! The place where Marjorie point, Arthur’s seat etc are there requires a fit body and a pair of good legs. I was amazed at so many old people climbing so many steps!

There were a lot of horses too but I didn’t have the courage to ride them. Dad and I paid Rs 10 each to just sit on a horse and take photos 😀 We ate strawberries too but didn’t like the taste. 😦 And there is a nice market place too! 😀

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8th Day :- We left for Panchgani early morning . There are not many sights to see in Panchgani. To increase the business of the taangas (which charge 300 rs for a 10 min ride around the table land) vehicles don’t go into the tableland whereas its perfectly accessible. And if you can walk, you can traverse the area on foot. One can see many gliders para sailing in Panchgani. There is a picture of one in the collage. I have only 5x Optical zoom 🙂

There was a place where the Pandavas had lived while on exile. Seriously why on earth would anyone climb so high to live during exile? Then we went to Mala’s farm and bought a lot of jams of different flavors. 🙂 I found a strange figurine etched on a tree trunk there. Then we had snacks and wonderful ice cream at Mapro farm. After lunch and rest at MTDC resort, we went to Venna lake in the evening. The weather with clouds and slight drizzle was awesome! It can get quite cold in Mahabaleshwar so its better to have warm clothes with oneself.

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9th Day :- Though our bus for Pune was to leave at 11.30 am, we had to checkout at 9.00 am from the resort as per their rule. We just waited at the hotel which was the pick up point for those going to Pune. After sometime someone shouted from the back of the bus “Stop the bus! Everyone get down soon. Something is burning!” We all got down hurriedly. The fan belt had burnt out. The driver took the bus to a nearby restaurant and called for a replacement bus. It took 3 hrs and those 3 hrs was full of heat and sweat. We all missed Mahabaleshwar and we were facing the harsh reality of weather in June in India. We reached Pune totally exhausted.

10th Day :- Some more shopping in Laxmi road market in Pune and loads of rest and sleep.

11th Day :- Headed back home.

Thus ended my wonderful summer vacation trip!! Looking forward to next vacation 😀

Categories: Hills, Maharashtra, Nature | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Pune and Khandala Chronicle

This is the second post about my 12 day vacation trip. In the earlier post I had described the trip to Aurangabad and Ellora. From Ellora we left for Manmad where we had the night train to Pune. Trains usually leave late from Manmad. God knows why! Next morning we arrived in Pune and after a lot of hotel search (Hotels are usually full during June – July in Pune due to admission time.) checked into one with available rooms and reasonable price (considering Pune prices). It had wonderful surroundings..peaceful and green. And the hotel rooms were good too. 3rd day was spent resting.

4th Day :- We hired a vehicle to take us to Khandala and Lonavala and back. The driver turned out to be a mobile phone addict!! Thank god we had a safe trip. We stopped at a little restaurant “Shiv Sagar” just outside Aundh. The food was tasty and reasonably priced. After filling our stomachs we moved on. The Pune – Mumbai Expressway was beautiful and the long tunnel awesome!

As it hadn’t started raining yet, all the waterfalls and greenery were dry in Khandala and Lonavala. So we didn’t get to enjoy much in the hot sun. We found Lonavala to be better than Khandala though. We bought several packets of the famous Lonavala Chikki and came back to Pune by evening.

5th Day :- Again we hired a vehicle from the same guy to take us around Pune. And ended up with the same driver. First of all we went to Aga Khan Palace in Pune. It was a wonderful place with such green surroundings and peaceful atmosphere.

The Aga Khan Palace Pune is a national monument of India’s freedom movement. Following the launch of Quit India movement in 1942, Gandhiji, his wife Kasturba, his secretary Mahadevbhai Desai were interned at the palace from August 9, 1942 to May 6, 1944. Mahadevbhai and Kasturba passed away while in captivity at the Agakhan palace and their samadhis are located in the campus.Situated near the River Mula, the palace is a simple memorial to Gandhi and his life. The famous movie ‘Gandhi’ was shot here.

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Then we went onto see Pataleshwar Caves and the adjoining Shri Jangli Maharaj Mandir. I was surprised to find so many office goers ( from their attire and bags) lounging around with newspaper or some book in that mandir and caves area on a late weekday morning.

From there we went to visit Shaniwarvada, a palace fort built by the Peshwas.

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Then we went to see the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. It was awesome but camera was charged at Rs 150 extra!! It was too much! But yes it is indeed a place to take snaps. Such wonderful artifacts. Maybe I will take photos when I go to Pune next time. From there we went to Nivant Garden Restaurant on Paud Road. There were three sections at that place – one ac section full of agarbatti smoke, one hot garden considering there was no wind and one inside with very less fans. We were all sweaty by the time we finished eating. I won’t recommend the place in summer. The chilly chicken dish in Pune restaurants (I ate at 2 of them) is quite different from other places. It is served as long slices!

After lunch we skipped a few places and went to Khadakwasla Dam which didn’t turn out to be much enjoyable at afternoon.

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Then we came to back to hotel. On way the driver stopped the vehicle and went to attend some personal work. He was gone for around 45 mins! Atleast this time he didn’t play bad songs like he had done on our Khandala trip.

Categories: Cities, Hills, Maharashtra | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aurangabad and Ellora Caves Chronicle

A long 12 day trip was planned during the 2009 summer vacation. The places on itinerary were Aurangabad, Ellora Caves, Pune, Khandala, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. This post is about the visit to Aurangabad and Ellora caves. Rest of the places will follow soon. 🙂

1st Day :- Hometown to Manmad. Had to get off at 3.30 am! Train to Aurangabad (2 hrs journey) was at 5 am. Though it started from Manmad itself, it came and left at 7.30 am. It was a passenger train and that meant seat for the quickest :) Thankfully we got seats. Both Manmad and Aurangabad stations are lacking in coolies (porters). Checked in a hotel at Aurangabad and went sightseeing in evening. Hotel experience was not good due to power cuts and bad food. But the evening was well spent at Bibi ka Maqbara and Panchakki (water mill). I realized that photography is very difficult in India as people don’t move out of frame even on request!!

The Bibi-Ka-Maqbara is a beautiful mausoleum of Dilras Banu Begum, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb, constructed by her son Prince Azam Shah. The mausoleum was intended to rival the Taj Mahal, but, the decline in architecture and proportions of the structure had resulted in a poor copy of the latter.

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2nd Day :- Checked out of hotel at Aurangabad and left for Ellora Caves (30 kms from Aurangabad) in a hired car. We stopped at Daulatabad fort on way to Ellora but didn’t have the energy to climb it.

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There I found guava sellers coloring their guavas to decorate their baskets. They too had a sense of color and style!! :) I took a snap with a seller’s permission.

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Then we went to see Aurangzeb’s Tomb. It was a simple building and the tomb was nothing special. Apparently Aurangzeb lead a very modest lifestyle.

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Then we reached Ellora. We were awestruck to see the monumental caves and sculptures made by cutting the rocks and faces of the hills. Ellora, a World Heritage Site, is something that needs to be seen to be believed. The most famous cave of Ellora was the Kailash Temple. Such intricate and difficult work after cutting stones and faces of the hills is unthinkable.

Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills – being Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples and monasteries, were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain caves (caves 30–34), built in proximity, show the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.

Ellora has a lot of shops and restaurants nearby. After a nice lunch we visited the Ghrishneshwar Temple that enshrines one of the 12 jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva.

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From there we left for Manmad where we had to catch the night train to Pune.

To be continued….

Categories: Historical, Maharashtra, Religious | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Kihim – Alibaug Chronicle

During my summer vacation stay at Pune in 2010, I went on a short trip to Kihim and Alibaug over a weekend. Kihim is a beach at south of Mumbai. By road Mumbai to Kihim is 120 km and takes approx 3 hrs. Pune to Kihim is 150 km and takes 4 hrs. So we decided to go to Mumbai by train and then by ferry to Mandwa port which takes 1 hr only.

Our train was to reach CST at 4 am or so. The first ferry for Mandwa port leaves Apollo Bandar at 6 am. After having tea and sandwich, we decided to go and sit at Gateway of India to enjoy the open space and oceanic breeze at least. It was wonderful seeing the dawn break at Gateway of India. Lot of people had gathered there by 6 am…I guess Alibaug is a popular weekend getaway for Mumbai folks. Our ferry left at 6.15 am and thus began my first boat ride.

The boat ride can be a torture for those who suffer from motion sickness. After a bit of hotel searching, we decided to stay at Nandanvan holiday home at Kihim Beach. All hotels at Kihim/Mandwa are private homes actually built for such purposes and the rent is too high. I guess the residents think of Mumbaikars as very rich people. :-| Our a.c. room’s rent was Rs 2200 per day!! No tax. No in-house food facility. The room or shall I say the flat was very big…it had one living room, a bathroom and a big bedroom with dining table. Only tea was available at this place. Food had to be ordered from a neighboring holiday home. But it was tasty,not expensive and normal like typical home cooked Marathi food. Both non-veg and veg food were available. The Kihim beach was hardly 3 mins from the hotel on foot. One important thing about Kihim is that Airtel network, the so- called “Atoot Network”, gets broken there. Reception is available only at beach..not inside homes.

In the evening, we went out for a stroll on the beach. Kihim beach is a rocky type of beach with rocks covered with sea shells and some sort of algae/coral growth. Kihim is described on travel websites in these words :-

The place is famous for variety of woods which serves as a cover. Nature lovers will be thrilled to visit the place for it provides sight of rare butterflies, birds and flowers. The most attractive part of the Kihim beach is that the place is not entirely discovered and unpolluted.

We didn’t spot any rare butterflies or birds. We did see a very different kind of flower though. As for the “unpolluted” part, Kihim beach does have its share of plastic waste and rotting garbage. There is a jeep service at Kihim which gives parasailing facility. (No, we didn’t do it..too scared :D )

Next day,we went to Alibaug. Thankfully our hotel was near an auto stand so we didn’t have to walk much in the hot sun. Alibaug is quite well-developed commercially. But the only shopping we did there was to buy “hapoos” mangoes at cheaper price and of better quality than Pune. :D There is a fort called Colaba Fort surrounded by sea water at a little distance from the shore. When tide is low one can go there on foot. Otherwise there are speed boats for tourists to go there. These boats also take tourists on short rides on sea, just near the shore.

We came back to Kihim by lunch time. In the evening we went out to the beach for one last time. Next day, we went back to Mandwa port by auto and then back to Bombay by boat. As it was noon by the time we reached Mandwa, the crowd waiting for the boat was quite big. One has to grab a place soon in the queue for the boat else all the good seats are taken. Spent the afternoon and evening at a relative’s place. Reached Pune at midnight by train.

Categories: Beaches, Maharashtra | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment
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