A peek into simplicity and the hardship of rural life

After exploring Mahabaleshwar for 2 days, we found ourselves saturated with the place and decided to return. The long weekend had invited a lot of crowd in the hills and we were so impregnated with the act of travelling that even though we had 2 more days before getting back to the routine, we decided to call it a quit and spend rest of the time at home. But is it so easy to convince the mad heart who has already tasted freedom? One often arrives at a point on the road where he has to choose the course that defines his journey and that is the beauty of travelling! On our way back, our silence conveyed that we were unhappy with the decision. My friend casually suggested that we visit his village which was not too far from Mahabaleshwar. Being raised in a metropolitan city, I’ve only had few opportunities to experience rural life that made me immediately second his idea.

Read: Road trip to Harihareshwar: Misadventures and Ruminations

rural india

As we took a detour from the main highway, the vehicles were replaced by the refreshing greens and contours of the hills slicing the horizon. I took deep breaths deliberately, filling the lungs with fresh air, enjoying the momentary freedom and soaking the beauty of the countryside. On the way, my curious eyes spotted a group of people burning crops on firewood. “This is called Hurda party”, my friend replied looking at my inquisitiveness. After toiling hard in the field, the farmers celebrate the good harvest of Jowar by roasting its seed and eating it with garlic/groundnut chutney or sometimes along with jaggery. Later, I learned that this simple dish of farmers is now loved by the urban people so much that it has begun to find its way in restaurants. Also, events are held up at various farms near Pune to celebrate the Hurda party.  The discussion invariably gave rise to my fantasy of living a slow-paced life, unlike the cities. As usual, I found beauty in every aspect of simple living while my friend pointed out the hardships involved in living such a life. He told me how once they had to face a huge loss when vegetable rates had slashed in the market owing to seasonal produce which resulted in more supply than the actual demand. The traders bought the vegetables from the farmers by paying peanuts that did not even meet the cost of labor involved for production. As a result, many farmers decided to not sell the product and left it to decay. He also told me that his village was a drought-stricken area which depends majorly on the ground waters and artificial lakes. Although the government provides subsidies to farmers to build wells/lakes, there are poor farmers who are still not able to avail the facilities and have to face a lot of adversities. It left me thinking for a moment but how could a dreamer weave his dream with logic? The endless green farms and fresh air blowing on my face easily deviated me from the topic. Soon, the concrete roads turned into the dusty lane and few farmers were heading way back home. We had finally made it to the village and as soon as we reached the front gates of my friend’s home I was uninvitingly welcomed by the barks of the dog. Before I go and try to play with him I’m warned that unlike the dogs of the cities, he can’t be easily tamed and loved. The human-animal companionship is mostly based on give and take relationship here unlike in the cities where people adopt an animal for status/pleasure and are well trained.  It was a street dog who resided in the courtyard of the house and was fed well. In return, he guarded the farms and the house. Now, a little cautious of the dog, I entered the house and was warmly welcomed by his family members. I noticed that the courtyard was a mess owing to the renovation work that was going on to convert the old traditional house into a big concrete one. At one end of the courtyard was a temporary hut where the family lived. My friend took me into the house to keep my belongings. It was a small room already filled with the household stuff, waiting to be shifted to the new house and could barely accommodate the family of 5. They were little hesitant if I would be able to adjust but I assured them that I was very comfortable and had no problem at all. With time, their guilt was also absolved as I got familiarized with the conditions. After freshening up and having refreshments, I was given the tour of the new house showing all the rooms and corners in its concrete form. We headed to the roof which was still under construction.  It provided the whole view of the village with a temple in the center and farms on its periphery stretching up to the base of the hills in the far distant.  The sun painted the sky orange in contrast to the green farms, replicating the image of the Indian flag. While my friend and his uncle got busy in monitoring the construction work, I got lost again, immersed in peace and the beauty of the countryside.

Read: Reminiscing old times: Road trip to Alibaug, Kashid, and Murud…

Rural life
Solshi village lies in the district of Satara. According to the locals, it acquires its name from 16(Sol) shivlingas that lies in the surrounding area of the village.

Dinner was served at around 8 and tough it was a simple food served with bhakri, dal and vegetable, I remember eating it more than the usual. My stomach always has enough space for home cooked delicacies and most of the time it doesn’t even make me regret overeating. Rather, I feel happy and satisfied. Since there wasn’t enough space for me and my friend to sleep in the makeshift hut; we took our bedrolls and slept in the village temple that night.

satara

The next morning, after having breakfast, since my friend got busy doing the household chores, I set out alone for a walk around the village. There were old men sitting under the tree, children playing cricket in the temple courtyard while few passersby stared at me smiling and inquiring about my whereabouts. Walking further towards the farm, I could identify few crops like jowar, grams, onion and tomato which is grown here in abundance. I aimlessly hopped from one farm to other watching farmers going about their day, sat by the well watching children diving and bathing in the well and after feeling tired wondering, found a place under a tree and irresistibly got lulled to sleep by the cool breeze. Later, my friend along with his granny took me around their own farm. Granny plucked the gram crop for me and was delighted to see me feasting on it and enjoying the village life. Upon returning home, we were served scrumptious puranpoli for the lunch post which I retired to bed again. It was all about taking a rest and going with the pace of slow village life.

Read:Living the moment!

rural life
Straight from the farm!

We prepared for the ride back home in the evening. The family kept persisting that I should visit them again after the renovation and apologized for all the troubles I had to face. But, how could I explain to them the childhood fantasy of mine whenever I saw the farms and mud houses from the window seat of the train and to have actually experienced all of it here. I was indeed living my fantasy without even going through the harsh reality of living a simple life. A sense of gratitude filled my heart not only because of the experience but also for my own conditioned life that I often took for granted. I hope my smile expressed at least a little bit of what I felt inside as I bade farewell to them heartily. Spending some leisure time in an obscured village made me realize the kind of vacation that I was actually yearning for. The insatiable hunger for exploring new places can sometimes blind you with the delusion of having fun. Sometimes all we need is to slow down and really enjoy the vacation in true sense. I got lucky with this opportunity and was glad to be able to recognize it. It’s not always foolish to listen to the impractical heart after all. It can take you to places you have already visited a thousand times before even actually having arrived there!

satara

 

Art amidst the mundane- Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2019

Mumbai has become synonymous with the madding crowd and commercialization. People are so used to the working lifestyle here that most of them find it hard to imagine living a slow-paced life.  The old colonial buildings in South Mumbai are just any other office building on a regular day outside which people can be seen taking a break from their work, sipping chai, devouring on roadside snacks or puffing a smoke. The beaches and the seafront areas quietly observe the vehicles rushing past by them on the weekdays, embracing few love birds and college students, only waiting for the weekends to be filled with the crowd. Ask any Mumbaikar after they return from a holiday away from the city, they will say how slow the life is in other parts of the country/abroad and that it is now difficult to enjoy the life of such kind for a longer period. However, it would be wrong to perceive Mumbai as machine-producing robots. From what may seem a life of constant hustle-bustle to many, Mumbaikars have somehow learned to embrace this lifestyle and find strength and hope from the daily grind. And where there is a struggle, there is art! There are rebels and people desperate to find their expression. And of course, being a business capital, the city has given freedom to many, who are above the struggle-for-survival bar to explore their interest in the field of arts.

Kala Ghoda
Myriad of colors at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

In between the pulsating Mumbai- A city that never sleeps, art is like a skipped beat, a moment of joy breaking the monotony and bringing people closer while spreading awareness about the socio-cultural affairs of the city as well as the country. No wonder, Mumbai is the hub for art lovers that provide a platform to many aspiring artists to showcase their talent even on international level. The Kala Ghoda arts festival is trying to conserve that spirit of Mumbai, passionately for 20 years, making it the biggest street festival of arts in India.

Kala Ghoda fest 2019
The weekdays generally see a lot of crowd from colleges all over Mumbai. It almost feels like walking on the college campus.
Kala Ghoda arts festival 2019
Felt a little old to sit on the steps and pass away time like that.

Being a person who prefers walking over taking a cab, reaching to the event from Churchgate station itself felt like a part of a heritage walk as the road is flanked by the colonial buildings taking me back to old Bombay days ( Bombay is an old name for Mumbai). Kala Ghoda, the location of the event, is surrounded by prominent buildings like Rythm House, Jehangir art gallery, Sassoon Doc library and the Max Muller Bhawan, which itself is an assurance that the place cannot let down the visitors and has something to offer to everyone, be it a theatre enthusiast, cinema, architecture, music, painting, literature or even a food lover! (Did I forget to mention the new selfie lover generation?)

Kala Ghoda arts fest 2019
An ode to Bollywood.

The famous Bollywood celebrities, musicians, dancers, comedians grace the festival with their performances while the authors, painters, filmmakers, etc engage with the budding artists in the various events held throughout the festival.  The small scale entrepreneurs and local artisans grab this as an opportunity to showcase their crafts by selling handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, home décor, ceramics, etc. Many of the stalls, in fact, see a lot of customers throughout the day. The 9-day long festival becomes a haven for both, the artists and the connoisseur of art bridging a gap between the two by exchanging each other’s ideology, struggle and interest. The various events held during the festival are free of cost and welcomes people from all walks of life not only from the city and country but from all over the world making it stand true to its tagline- Of the people, for the people, by the people.

Kala Ghoda arts festival
A nostalgic moment for the ’80s and ’90s kids.

Although I was unable to attend the various scheduled events due to lack of time, I made sure to go through the art installations. Many of them left a deep impression on me and made me appreciate the effort put in to spread the message on a public platform. On the other hand, it was disheartening to see many people attending the festival without understanding the message being tried to convey. I heard many youngsters remarking that they hardly understood anything about it without even reading the explanation given beside each art form. Art- a combination of reality and fiction is rather based on the simple philosophies of life, trying to retrace our roots. Anyways as the saying goes, the teacher arrives when the student is ready- the aesthetic art that can jolt a person’s deepest desire and feelings in subtle ways, is appealing mostly to people who are willing to learn and expand their horizons. One thing that I would take along from this festival is that the art lies in details and patterns that are everywhere. It is how an individual perceives things and expresses them that give art so many forms and colors.

Kala ghoda arts festival 2019
The colorful ceiling of taxis in Mumbai caught the eye of Rachel Lopez introducing visitors to the interesting but often overlooked art form. Follow ‘thegreaterbombay’ on Instagram for more pictures.  Source- Google

Apart from celebrating the 20th anniversary of the festival, it commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and also tried to spread his teachings. The art installations conveyed the message for dreamers, educated about the existing social stigmas, depicted various moods and phases of life, tried to decipher the roles of people, memories, dreams, and time while also reminiscing the journey of the festival so far. Below are few of them that may leave you spellbound and appreciate the art as well.

The Cloud of Diamonds

Kala ghoda fest 2019

The installation depicts how consciously/subconsciously, we form a cloud of diamonds built from our aspirations and experiences in life. The ladders denote the path to reach the cloud. Sometimes, the way to the cloud is simple but we often take a complicated route that is denoted by crisscross ladders. The carriage symbolizes the world we live in with friends and community playing an important role to help us reach towards our destiny, thereby warning us to choose people carefully. It acts as a platform that life provides to climb the ladder and the wheels at the base denote the circle of life with its sole purpose to help us reach toward that cloud of diamonds. Are you moving toward your cloud of diamonds?

Roots to sky:

Kala ghoda fest

A tree made from a scrap of bicycles denotes the importance of healthy childhood days that shape our adulthood. Just like the strength of the roots determine the growth of a tree, the simple joys of childhood like playing, riding bicycles, dancing, singing, painting, etc strengthens our cognitive and decision-making skills and helps us to face the highs and lows of life.

Kalantar

Kala ghoda festival

An hourglass with sand in the upper part depicts the present moment, slipping away with time and settling down as memories. The wings reflect the aspirations to soar higher and evolve as a better human being.

The Infinite Spindle

Kala ghoda fest

Reflects the infinite loop of life with our memories and dreams intermingling with others, denoting solidarity.

Kala ghoda fest

Kalpataru

Kala ghoda arts festival 2019

The tree itself portrays hope as it is also known as a wish-fulfilling tree. The trunk wrapped in receding colors from bright to dark symbolizes the truth of life. The books, degree, medals etc. show the joyous moments in the life of privileged ones, while the dream catcher depicts the unfulfilled dreams of underprivileged children who have been victims of trafficking, abuse and child labor. The mirror on the trunk reflects the face of an individual observing it as if asking him/her if they are contributing their bit to the society.

Kala ghoda fest 2019

Ghoda Ghadi

Kala ghoda arts festival 2019

The structure when rotated upside down reveals the irregular colors of the bar opposite to the hourglass in the perfect shape of a horse. It depicts the mystery of time and journey conveying the message that everything makes sense with the passing of time bringing out a new spirit and healing all the fragmented emotions.

Shah Rangi

kala ghoda arts festival

The horse head made from stained glasses is dedicated to the journey of the Kala Ghoda Festival responsible to bring out the colors of the city.

Warping Time

Denotes the continuous progress of time weaving with the memories and experiences.

kala ghoda arts festival

 

Best Weekend Getaways Near Mumbai

**Guest Post**

Life in Mumbai is always chaotic. This is one city in India that never sleeps. Mumbai is dynamic, exciting and full of life. The hustle and bustle of life is always restless and working 24 x 7. But other than the shimmers and glitters of this city, Mumbai also has to offer a lot of weekend trip near Mumbai. These are the places that everyone should visit to relax their mood and rewind themselves. Mumbai is surrounded by the majestic Western Ghats and offers a lot of getaway options to the tired soul. This is what made us create this article for travellers who are looking for superb weekend getaways. Read on

Karnala Bird Sanctuary

The Karnala Bird Sanctuary in on the Mumbai- Goa highway. If you are looking for a peaceful and lovely getaway near Mumbai then this has to be your first choice. The forest is spread over 4.8 sq km and it is the home of more than 150 bird species. Not just this over 37 immigrant birds can also be seen in Karnala Bird Sanctuary. This could be your ideal picnic spot for the weekend too. Take along your family and drive here.

The distance from Mumbai to Karnala Bird Sanctuary is 60 km and the best time to visit here is from October to April. Avoid the monsoon season to visit this place because you will hardly see any birds during the rainy season.

Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Source: Google

Things to do: Bird watching, trekking, the botanical garden.

Karjat

Kajrat is 62 km away from Mumbai and it won’t take you a lot of time to reach here. On the basin of river Ulhas nestles the beautiful town ofKarjat. This is a place which is immensely blessed by nature. Mountains, picturesque view, forts, vistas, and rock-cut cave temples make this small town a must visit place near Mumbai. There are a lot of things to do in Karjat.

The best time to visit here is in between July to September.

Karjat
Karjat in monsoon.

Things to do: You can come here to relax, trek, and rock climbing, waterfall climbing, picnic, boating, white water rafting, and rappelling.

Matheran

The next that we have on our list is perhaps one of the most popular destinations among the weekenders. Matheran lies at a height of 2516 above sea level. What you will get to experience here is a lush green forest, peaceful environment, and serenity. Well, isn’t that a good reason to visit Matheran? You can also take a ride on toy ride from Neral to Matheran. If you require any taxi service to travel try Uber promo code.

Matheran is 83 km away from Mumbai and the best time to visit here is from October to May.

Matheran
Source: Google

Things to do: Trekking, horse riding, sightseeing, walking and valley crossing. Once you reach here you can go to the Heart Point, Luisa Point, Lords Point, Echo Point, and One Tree Hill.

Lonavala and Khandala

Remember the “aatikyakhandala song” from the movie Ghulam? Yes, we are talking about the same Khandala. This twin hill resort at a distance of 93 km from Mumbai and to be honest is the heart of Mumbai people. Whether you are planning for a one day trip or want to embrace the hills and forget about everything, well Lonavala and Khandala are the places for you.

The best time to visit here is in between October to May. You can plan a two-day trip here to explore everything that Lonavala and Khandala has to offer

Lonavala
View from Tungarli Lake, Lonavala.

Things to do: You can visit Korigad Fort, Bedsa Cave, Tungarli Lake, Duke’s Nose, Pavna Lake, and Lonavala Lake. This place is famous for trekking, flee market and camping.

Kamset

After you complete your trip in Lonavala and Khandala travel for 16 km to reach Kamset. If you are an adventurous person and love to take part in enthralling sports then you are going to love us for introducing you to Kamset. Kamset is the king of paragliding in India. This place is covered with a plethora of paragliding spots. For a quick adrenaline rush make sure to do paragliding here. You can avail Ola coupon code to hire an Ola outstation cab.

It is 102 km away from Mumbai and the best time to visit here is from October to May.

Kamshet
Source: Google

Things to do: Kamset is famous among paragliders, apart from this come here to visit Karla Caves, Kondeshwar Temple, Uksan Dam, Bhairi Cave, Bedsa Caves, and Raikar Farm. You can come here to enjoy trekking, swimming, rock climbing, as well as boating.

Kolad

If on your next weekend trip all you want to do is take part in adventurous activities then visit Kolad. Once you see the Kundalika River gushing in full force, you will be blown away looking at the serene beauty. It’s an ideal place for travellers who want to have some fun along with sightseeing.

The distance from Mumbai to Kolad is 124 km and the best time to visit here is from June to February.

Kolad
Source: Google

Things to do: You can visit Tala, Kundalika River, Kansai Falls, Kuda Caves, and Tamhini Falls. Come here for hiking, paragliding, rafting, boating, and kayaking.

MalshejGhat

Take a road trip from Mumbai to Malshej and enjoy the beautiful trip. You will cross the majestic Western Ghats Mountain pass which will rejuvenate your soul and uplift your mood. You know you need a break and nothing can be better than taking a long drive through the mountains.

The distance from Mumbai to MalshejGhat is 154km and the best time to visit here is either from July to September or from October to March.

Malshej ghat

Things to do: Trekking, camping, picnic with friends and family.

Now you know where to go for the next weekend getaway trip. So, pack your bags and drive.

Note: This is a guest post by couponscurry.com.

Road trip to Harihareshwar: Misadventures and Ruminations


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

We pay our bill on the roadside stall; pour water on our heads to cool of our minds in the sweltering heat of May. It is the last stretch of our journey to Harihareshwar as we wear our helmets and prepare to reach the destination.

Harihareshwar beach.

We had set out for Harihareshwar beach in the wee hours of the morning. Until now, the trip was a mix of scenic driveways, good food, lots of laughter and dodging several potholes on the road. After 10 o’ clock the sun showed no mercy on us and drained our energy. So we had a brief halt at Kolhad before continuing onwards and sat down by the river Kundalika to wash away the tiredness.

Read: Living the moment!

Harihareshwar
The old-world charm of Harihareshwar.

“30 km to go! The road is going to become steep and narrower as we ride through the ghats.” I warned my friend on realizing that we were on the last but the most challenging stretch of all. This was my second visit to Harihareshwar and I was as excited as my first visit. The bike raced through the hill and the wide road began to narrow down to a single-lane, serpentine road. Each bend unfolded a fresh view and took us closer to the destination which made us forget about the harsh condition. All of a sudden, the hot air that once felt like a fire melting our faces, now felt like a soothing breeze. The perspiration caused by the agitating humidity began to cool down. The road ahead that looked distorted due to the heat was soon going to lead us to our oasis. I was already imagining the fun that lay ahead. But adventures, as they say, are not something that you can always expect. In my case, it was more of a misadventure this time!

Read: From Guhaghar, with love

Harihareshwar temple
Harihareshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as ‘Dakshin Kashi’. It is believed to have a similar spiritual aura as that of Kashi/Banaras and that whoever is not able to visit Kashi can make a pilgrimage to this place.
Harihareshwar Beach
The hill, seen in the picture is sacred and there is a well-carved path to circumambulate around it. The path starts from the temple premises and ends at the seashore. Look for the designer rocks that have taken various shapes and patterns over the years. There are also idols carved out of those rocks which are still worshipped by the locals.

Almost 10 km before the destination, as we took a sharp right turn, a bus from the opposite direction tried to race past us without compromising on the speed. Since there was not enough space for both the vehicles to cross the narrow road, my friend had to take the bike off road and in the process, we lost our balance. By the time I gained consciousness, the blood was oozing from my right knee and few locals had come to our rescue.  Thankfully, my friend was safe and the people around quickly helped him to pick up the bike. Looking at my injury, they asked me to apply a bandage to stop the bleeding but we did not have the first aid kit. The locals then suggested taking a detour to a nearby hospital and we quickly rushed there. The doctor confirmed that it was not a fracture and the swelling would be healed by a week or so. Although I was relieved at first, the symptoms of swelling and the stiffness felt familiar. Only six months back, I was operated for a ligament tear of my left knee from which I was still recovering. I silently prayed that this shouldn’t be the case again. However, few stitches and the first aid later, the doctor gave me the green card and we finally reached Harihareshwar.

Read: Ganpatipule in pictures

Harihareshwar beach
Magical sunset after a hectic day.

We kept brooding on how we could have saved ourselves from the danger and stressed on the importance of carrying the first-aid kit and also wearing the knee and elbow pads as a precautionary measure. The unbearable afternoon sun had also done the trick and in the anticipation to reach the destination faster; my friend raced the throttle a little more than he should; for which he was guilty. I thought of confronting about my injury to mom which was more difficult than sustaining the injury. I know the fear that she hides each time I embark on a new journey and the worries behind her constant reminder of being careful. This time, her fears proved to be true.  As time passed, I learned to pretend normal. I didn’t want the topic to ruin the rest of the day. After all, it didn’t make sense to delve on the past.

Harihareshwar homestay
This is how we woke up; amidst the rustic houses, tall trees, and the chirping birds. A view from our homestay.

What made sense was to look forward to the long holiday and be grateful for the beauty and tranquility around. We spent the rest of the evening on the beach. It was a full moon day and the beach glittered with silver sands and splashing waves. The atmosphere felt divine, as the wind carried the symphony of the bells ringing from the temple nearby.  The whole beach was left for us. I sought solace lying on the beach, observing the constellations above. And so did my friends. We were lost in our own reverie, hardly conversing amongst each other. Was it because of the misadventure or a long bike ride on an awful summer day? I couldn’t say. It was dark and the moon’s light was only enough to create silhouettes of each other not allowing me to figure out what they were up to. Whatever it was, I liked it this way, as I myself kept fighting with dominating thoughts and emotions.

Read: Adventure tales of Chamba

Harihareshwar beach

“Is it just an idiocracy to have come this far without proper planning or is this the price I have to pay for seeking freedom and happiness?”, I wondered.  My thoughts then fickled with the glimpses of my struggle in the closed cabin. The pain of monotony soon outweighed the physical pain. I was instantly grateful for that moment on the beach that helped me live in my own imaginative world. But, deep within I knew even this was momentary. For how long will nature entice me with its charm? I kept looking above as if trying to find a clue. If I’m really afraid of monotony, what if the sky became monotonous one day? Or was it the sheer pain in my knee that made me think so much!  When one is restless from within, it is difficult to find happiness from anywhere else. Perhaps, the answer laid in experiencing what is ahead and being curious rather than rationalizing the thoughts. And so I heaved a sigh and decided to let the time take its own course. For now, I’d like to bask in moon’s light and try to connect the dots (in the sky!). 😉

Harihareshwar

Tips:

  1. Never lose focus from the road and try to hasten even if you have almost arrived at the destination. Always remember that the road trip is like a marathon and not a 100m race. Do not hurry!
  2. Always wear helmets, and knee and elbow pads. (this goes for pillion riders as well.)
  3. Always keep the first-aid kit handy.

FAQs:

How to reach?

By road: Harihaeshwar is 200 km from Mumbai and generally takes 5-6 hrs by road.

By train: Mangaon is the nearest railway station. One can board a local bus from here or hire a cab. Harihareshwar is approx. 65 km from Mangaon.

By bus: Not sure if there are direct buses to Harihareshwar but a lot of buses ply to Mangaon and from there one can take a bus to Harihareshwar.

Where to stay?

There is no hotel or lodging at Harihareshwar apart from the Harihareshwar Beach Resort. Hence, one needs to book in advance. There is also a Harihareshwar MTDC Resort which needs prior booking. But, there are plenty of homestays around that provides a glimpse of local life here. The place we stayed at was well maintained and charged Rs. 1200/ night for 4 people.

What to eat?

The dhaba opposite to the Harihareshwar beach resort serves freshly cooked, delectable food ( both veg and non-veg). Although I loved the veg thali more, the fish thali is definitely to look out for. Veg thali costs around Rs. 100 while non-veg thali costs Rs. 150.

Binge on the sweets bought from one of the shops outside the temple. Also, try the locally made fruit flavored chocolates.

Places to visit?

Parikrama around the hill is considered sacred and is also a lot of fun. Climb the hill and face the crazy winds as you descend through the steps cut out of the rocks that leads you to the shore. Look out for the natural carvings and patterns on the rocks. Note that it is not advisable to do parikrama during monsoon as the sea is rough.

One can also visit Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beach which is 19 and 37 km from Harihareshwar respectively. Anjarle-Dapoli is another circuit which can be included along with Harihareshwar.

Reminiscing old times: Road trip to Alibaug, Kashid, and Murud…

Although the travel world is changing with people looking for more offbeat experiences and adventure, the clichéd trip to Alibaug is still one of the most preferred weekend getaways. It has long been catering to the recreational needs of wary travellers, especially from Mumbai and Pune who prefer breaking away, with comfort. While going through the old pictures, I became nostalgic remembering the simpler times when planning a vacation meant going to Alibaug/Lonavala.

Read: From Guhaghar, with love

Alibaug Beach
Nagaon Beach, Alibaug.

Alibaug Beach

On one such road trips from Mumbai to Alibaug, I convinced my friends to explore and travel all the way to Kashid Beach. While Alibaug still tops the chart for the crowd it attracts, I discovered that Kashid Beach is cleaner and a peaceful alternative (Not sure about the current situation though. This was a few years back).

Kashid Beach
Kashid Beach

Long stretched white sand beach lined with pristine palm trees, pocket-friendly homestays, fresh seafood coupled with chilled beer and friends by your side makes you believe in the much-needed respite from the mundane.

Sunset at Kashid Beach

Sunset at Kashid Beach

Sunset at Kashid Beach

Next day, we also visited Murud-Janjira fort (which is a 20kms drive from Kashid) to get a peek into the history.

enroute Murud
Enroute Murud.
Road trip to Murd Janjira Fort
Ah! The view…
Enroute Murud
A dilapidated structure overlooking the sea made a great frame to capture.

Enroute Murud

The 17th century built fort proudly sits in the middle of the sea, like a jewel in the crown. I remember that the boat services were closed when we reached in the afternoon due to high tide. It felt like it was taunting us, ironically in the same way, it had taunted its enemies.

Read: Standing through tides and times: Jaigad Fort and Karhateshwar Temple

Murud Janjira
Murud Janjira Fort.

Our visit to the fort was compensated by having authentic Malvan cuisine at Patil Khanaval hotel in Murud and tripping on repeated glasses of soulkadhi– An appetizer drink made from coconut milk and kokum.

Patil Khanaval- Murud
Simple yet delightful setting under the shade of coconut trees. Patil Khanaval hotel is pocket-friendly and a great pit stop for trying local cuisine.

So here’s to the short break from a fast-paced city life to the slow rustic coastal life, rough weekdays to a carelessly-sipping-coconut water-on-the-beach weekend, the cry of struggle to the joy of freedom, concrete jungles to the natural aura. A place with lip-smacking local cuisine, temples, forts, scenic driveways- suitable for everyone. Being a Mumbaikar myself, no matter what, a trip to Alibaug/Kashid always pops up naturally to my mind when it comes to planning a short beach vacation.

Vengurla- The unruffled paradise!

We have our eyes glued to the palm-fringed paddy fields as the driver drives the bus rashly on a narrow, single track road. My lungs are filled with the fresh air and head trying to hang out of the bus window to face the swooshing winds.

Konkan Railway
With the railway station as beautiful as this, I wonder how magical it would look if there were toy trains running in the Konkan region.
Kudal Bus Depot
The indefinite waiting at the bus stop…

We are on our way to Vengurla from Kudal- the nearest railway station. The local people on the bus are helping us to know about the nearby places and hotels. They seem to be innocent, true and loving in nature and are happy to see us visit their local area. Time passes quickly and we reach our destination. We are walking towards the beach when we find the (only) beer shop on our way. The shop owner is jovial in nature and asks us to relax and have a beer first before enquiring about anything else. We all hi-fi each other and grab a bottle of beer listening to uncle’s witty jokes and laughing incessantly. The sunny weather too seems to smile with us. The road is laden with coconut trees and other green foliage I am not able to recognize. We are here to spend our new year and the mood just seems right!

Vengurla

Vengurla- lies in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra to the north of Goa and is 30kms from the famous Arambol Beach in Goa. It is a horseshoe-shaped beach flanked by hills on both the sides.

Vengurla Beach

Vengurla

We find a guest house named Waman mess situated on the main road with the view of the beach. The rooms are comfortable with all the basic amenities and costs Rs700/night for 5 people. There is a hotel and a bar just a few yards away from our stay which happens to be the only ones in Vengurla. The hotel remains deserted for most of the day. It serves the local Malvan cuisine. The food is so fresh that upon ordering, they start chopping the vegetables and grinding spices right in front of us. So, patience is the key to relish the food here as cooking takes some time.

Homestay in Vengurla

The afternoon is quiet and the only sound dominating the area is the waves splashing right across the room.

Vengurla

In the evening, we take a stroll to Vengurla Bunder (port). It used to be an important port for trade, set up by the Dutch. Even today, the port comes alive with the activities of fisher folks in the evening. The boats anchored to the piers, fisherman folding nets and the woman selling fresh fishes with the sun setting in the background becomes a pleasant sight of chaos in the otherwise sleepy town.

We spend the New Year night at Sagareshwar Beach which is 3kms from Vengurla. The beach is lit up by the locals with dim lights and laser rays with the hope of few tourists arriving. Chairs and tables have been arranged and the locals are dancing on Marathi music. The drinks have been smuggled from Goa (at dearth cheap rate) and sold here 4 times the actual price. They have fried chicken to serve with the drinks that taste satisfactory. But we don’t mind spending a little extra on the New Year’s Eve and have a good time with locals.

Vengurla
Luxury in a village- A ride in a dazzling rikshaw!
Vengurla
Clearly reflects the jovial nature of the locals here.
New year in Vengurla
Sweet memories! The only picture of us enjoying with the locals.

The night is cold and the beach is now quieter with few people. We are sitting by the bonfire, watching the moon mournfully sliding into the sea. The dawn is about to break! It is time to return to our hotel room.

New year-Just the way I would like it!

Vengurla beach

FAQs
Where is it?

Vengurla lies in Maharashtra and is 30 km from the Arambol Beach (North Goa).

How to reach?

Kudal is the nearest railway station. For people coming from Mumbai/Pune can board the Goa bound train and get down at Kudal. There are local buses at regular intervals that ply from Kudal to Vengurla. One can also hire a vehicle while being in (North) Goa, visit the place and return on the same day.

Where to stay?

There are few homestays that have come up in this region. Though, I am not aware of the details. I stayed in Vaman Mess which is an MTDC approved guest house and is pretty decent for the price. They charged Rs.700/night for 5 people. (Note that the room is meant for two people or at the most three. We adjusted ourselves in a room by taking extra bedrolls.)

What to eat?

Malvan food. Sea fish is a must try for non-vegans. There are not too many options apart from Malvan cuisine. I vaguely remember that the hotel also served Chinese dishes.

Living the moment!

11.10 am, Valvand-
After camping at Udhewadi village, we reach a village named Valvand. In the search of a dhaba, we meet an old lady who is out for rearing cattle. Upon enquiring, she invites us to her house to have lunch. She tells us that there is no electricity in the village and hence it will take some time to prepare the food which is cooked on firewood. She would cook rice, roti,  mashed potatoes, and dal for us. We happily agree to the deal.




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Valvand is a village situated on the bank of Shirota lake.

The house is a typical rural house made up of mud and a thatched roof. The walls are made up of bamboo and cow manure that makes it strong and opaque. The floor is cleaned with cow dung and it is surprisingly cool in contrast to the hot weather outside.
The chickens and cat are moving freely in the house. The room is dark as I make way to the kitchen to strike up a conversation. The lady claims to be more than 60 years old. She lives with her husband and earns a living by selling tobacco products and sometimes serving food to the guests like us. She has 3 sons and 2 daughters who have settled in the cities. “What will they do here? There is no source of income in the village,” she explains.  The village lies in the rocky terrain of the Sahyadris and hence farming is rare in this region. The food materials are supplied from the nearby town and most of the villagers have cattle to depend on the milk and meat products.



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Valvand village



Valvand village

Tea is prepared as we exchange our lifestyles. She suggests us to visit the nearby lake and take a bath by the time she prepares our meal. But we have given up to the bucolic life of the village. We find ourselves comfortable in the verandah as we lie down on the mat observing the rural life. An old man opposite to the house is sitting under the tree lighting up a bidi. To our right is the mountain shining in different shades of green. The herd of cows passes through the narrow lane in front of the house. A young guy has come to the house asking for a cigarette. By the time he leaves, we are lulled by the chirping birds and the cool breeze and fall asleep in the lap of Mother Nature.



Valvand village


Our sleep is disrupted by the voice of another customer calling the aunty. It seems like we were asleep for a very long time. My friend checks his mobile which tells us it’s only a quarter to noon. We share the same look of surprise and can’t help laughing.
I peep into the kitchen to check for the meal. The smell of freshly cooked rice is gradually taking over the entire house and the bubbling sound confirms that the rice is almost ready.
I heave a sigh of relief as I lay down gazing at the sky. The birds are still floating above and the world still seems to match the pace of my breathing!



Valvand village

 

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The still waters of the lake holding the reflection of the hills, the smell of the jungle, the sound of the chirping birds and croaking of the frogs, the cool breeze lulled us to sleep. A leisure afternoon spent by the lake Shirota.

 

An excerpt from my diary: Camping at Shirota Lake

1st October 2017, 6a.m. – So finally here I am, 3 months after my knee surgery. I’ve been advised to walk as much as I can, so what better place to walk than in the woods!DSC_0824.jpg

Shirota Lake trek

Shirota Lake trek

Shirota Lake trek

Shirota Lake trek

I preferred to come here since it didn’t require climbing. Walking through the jungles and crossing streams felt easy. I and my friend had started from Lonavala last night and reached here in the wee hours of the morning after walking for approx.15kms.

Tungarli Dam
Lonavala at night, as seen from Tungarli Dam.

I thought this place was commercialized but there is no human in sight. Maybe, GPS was not accurate enough and we reached at the other side of the lake. Anyways, we had seen a small settlement on our way which may prove to be helpful. It was time to rest and hence we pitched our tent by the lakeside. We have apples and bread to satiate our hunger in case we don’t get food. There is enough time to figure out the rest. The dark skies were fading into lighter shades of blue as we prepared to sleep. My friend immediately fell asleep but I couldn’t and was imagining every possible combination of colors in the sky with the sunrise. It’s around 6 a.m as I open my tent only to realize that the views have surpassed all my imagination.

Shirota Lake trek
The sun writes the best poem in the sky!

The open sky and the wilderness around give me an exhilarating feeling of freedom! The cotton-like clouds are spread across the sky and as the sun gradually rises from behind the mountains, it gives the orange tinge to the sky. The sun, the sky, hills, plants, and flowers are clearly reflected in still waters of the lake. The occasional cool breeze creates a gentle ripple in the waters blurring the reflection and bringing me back to reality.
Read: An adventurous journey to Shiva’s abode: Bhimashankar

Shirota Lake

Camping at Shirota Lake

Camping at Shirota Lake

I feel like jumping, shouting and running like a child. But there’s no one around to accompany me in the madness. So I sit by the lakeside, calm and composed, letting my expressions flow through the pen. How I wish people could witness the same magic! But at the same time, I want to believe that such moments draw me silently towards them to see the intricacies of nature in my own way, turning my dreams into a reality. Moments like this is no less than a meditation and have everlasting effects on me giving a clear picture in my life, making me more confident and healing me in wondrous ways.

I can sacrifice thousands of sleep for this view and I feel stronger than ever!
Read: From Guhaghar, with love

Shirota Lake

Trek to Shirota lake
Udhewadi Village.

Trek to Shirota lake

Also Read-
The reward of endurance: Takmak Fort
Nature’s architecture- Harishchandragad and Konkan Kada
Wadeshwar – Discovering Euphoria

How to reach?

Shirota Lake is in Lonavala and is on the way to Rajmachi. Reach Tungarli Dam from Lonavala. As you walk 8kms from Tungarli Dam on the way to Rajmachi, you’ll arrive at the ‘Y’ junction. Take right for Shirota Lake from this point. The left one leads to Rajmachi. Follow the GPS religiously to reach this point.

Map for Shirota lake
Follow the GPS as shown above to reach the camping site.

GPS for Shirota lake
Remember to take right from the ‘Y’ junction, as shown in the image.

Best time to visit?

Post-monsoon (October for greenery) and winters (November to February) for star gazing.

Is traveling by vehicle possible?

I have seen all kinds of the vehicle on this route (even gearless scooters). But personally, I wouldn’t recommend traveling from any kind of vehicle. (The roads are not even suitable for SUVs). However, there are travel agencies and other companies that provide the facility for traveling in Sumo.

Below are the few companies that provide such facilities:
thrillophilia.com
adventures365.in
letscampout.com

Important points to remember:

The GPS will lead you to the point which is close to the Udhewadi village( not to be confused with the base village of Rajmachi). This place is not yet commercialized and there are no facilities for stay and food. So, one has to carry his own tent, food, and water. However, the place is worth for camping and star gazing.

If you’re looking for accommodation and food and want to have a taste of local life, then you should go to Valvand village which is also situated on the bank of Shirota Lake. Locals will be happy to invite you to their house for stay and food. They may charge Rs.100-150 per person for a night stay and will provide home cooked food with Veg. plate costing Rs.150-200.

How to reach Valvand?

To reach Valvand village, follow the same route as shown in GPS till the ‘Y’ junction. Now, as you take right from here as shown in GPS, after walking for approx. 500m, you will notice one of the roads leading uphill and then another going straight. The GPS leads to the road uphill,i.e, to Udhewadi village. But, if you keep walking on the straight road without climbing the hill and walk for approx. 2kms, you will reach Valvand village.

GPS for Shirota lake

Ganpatipule in pictures

Blessed with the bounty of greenery, hills, and beaches, Ganpatipule attracts nature lovers, peace seekers and pilgrims alike. Roads running parallel to the sea, clean beaches, Malvan style sea-food, helping nature of people are the key attractions. In addition, there are many secluded beaches in the radius of 5 km which people hardly visit. Aare-ware beach in Bhandarpule, Malgund are to name a few. Prachin Konkan museum is another interesting place which reflects the traditional Konkan life. Ganpatipule was the last place of my visit after Guhaghar and Jaigad Fort and hence instead of hopping to various places, I decided to slow down and laze around the beach.
Read- Standing through tides and times: Jaigad fort and Karhateshwar temple

Ganpatipule Beach
Ganpatipule Beach on a hazy morning.
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The art of chilling!

A camel on Ganpatipule Beach

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A guy taking a selfie
“But first, let me take a selfie!”
View of the Ganpatipule Beach from Aare ware road.
The views are rewarding if one takes the route from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule through Aare-ware road.
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I sat on a hill and observed the infinite ocean and the waves oscillating from the land to the sea. Interestingly, this monotony didn’t feel boring.
Bhandarpule
Bhandarpule
Aare-ware beach
Aare-ware Beach

Aare-ware beach

About Ganpatipule-

Ganaptipule derives its name from the famous Ganpati temple. The Ganesh idol is self-originated from the rocks and hence is also called ‘Swayambhu’ Ganesh temple. The temple is situated at the foothill facing the beach. The hill itself is considered holy and there is a pathway (of approx. 1km) for the circumambulation of the hill, as a mark of respect. The legend has it that during the 16th century, Bhide, the head of the village was going through a difficult phase in his life. And so he decided to give up on food until God solved all his problems. He retired in the jungle for penance and worshiped Lord Ganesha, his tutelary deity. One day, Lord Ganesh appeared in Bhide’s vision and told him that He has come to his village to solve all the problems and that the hill itself is His holy form.

Also Read- Mythological importance of Gokarna, Murudeshwar

Ganpatipule Temple

During the same period, one of the cows of Bhide had stopped producing milk until one day a cow herder noticed that the milk flowed from its udder automatically where the temple is built currently. Upon hearing the story, Bhide cleaned the area and found the idol of Lord Ganesh which he had seen in his vision and hence, he built a shrine here.

Ganpatipule Temple

FAQs

How to reach?
Via Rail Nearest railway station is Ratnagiri. Google map shows the fastest route from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule with a distance of 38km. I would advise ditching the bus as they take a different route to Ganpatipule with the views not as good as the old route of Aare ware and hire a cab or autorickshaw from Ratnagiri and take the Aare ware route to feel the wind and chase the sea.
Via Road Ganpatipule is well connected by roads from the major cities. Also, there are direct buses from Mumbai and Pune on daily basis.

Where to stay?

Ganpatipule is one of the major tourist spots in Konkan and hence there are plenty of options available to cater the needs of different kinds of tourists. Prices start from Rs.500 for 2 people/night.

What to see?

Ganpatipule Temple and Beach, Prachin Konkan museum, Malgund Beach.

Towards the north of Ganpatipule, one can further visit Jaigad Fort and Lighthouse, Hedvi beach, Velneshwar Temple and Guhaghar.

Standing through tides and times: Jaigad Fort and Karhateshwar Temple


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A ferry ride from Tavsal (approx. 50 km from Guhaghar) took us to Jaigad, a village famous for the fort situated on a hillock. The coastal fort is 750mts above sea level and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The towering walls of the fort are made of stones and are still strong, especially on the coastal side. The study reveals that materials used for construction are a combination of laterite and limestones. The fort is guarded by the moats and has 20 bastions. There is Ganesh temple at the center, a dilapidated building, a storage house and 3 wells within the precincts of the fort.

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Jaigad village
Jaigad village.
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A thermal energy plant is seen while on the way to Jaigad Fort.
Stepwell- Jaigad Fort
A stepwell outside the Jaigad Fort.

Walls of Jaigad Fort

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Entrance of the fort

Entrance of the Jaigad Fort

Jaigad Fort surrounded by moats
The walls surrounded by the moats.

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The mosses, plants, and wildflowers growing on the stones speak about its age. The fort is said to be built in 13th century by King Bhoj of Shilahar dynasty and is now protected under Indian archeological department. The local workers were appointed for the construction of the fort. It was believed that the human sacrifice was needed for the successful development of the fort and hence one of the workers named Khemraj sacrificed his own life. A tomb is built in his memory popularly known as ‘Babaji ki Samadhi’ and is still revered by the villagers. The fort was later captured by Sultan of Bijapur in the 16th century and renewed to prevent the enemies entering from the estuary. It fell into the hands of many rulers- from Naiks of Sangameshwar to Kanoji Angre in 1713, until it was finally surrendered to British in 1818.
Read: Banaras through my eyes

Precincts of the fort

Jaigad Fort

Ganesh temple within the Jaigad Fort
Ganesh Temple.

Karhateshwar temple-

6kms from the Jaigad Fort lies a temple bathed with untouched beauty of nature. The cool breeze brought by the sea was a welcoming gesture as we escalated down the steps to the temple. The occasional ringing of the temple bell, the rustling leaves and the roaring sea at the foot of the hill were the only noise disturbing the tranquility of the surroundings.

Karhateshwar Temple

View from Karhateshwar temple

The temple, situated on a hill slope is more than 500 years old and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s a simple wooden structure with Deepstambh situated in front and a small Ganesh temple beside the main temple.

Karhateshwar Temple

The temple holds importance amongst the particular clans of the society and is revered by all the surrounding villages as well. One must also visit the famous lighthouse which is a few meters walk from the temple.

**For more queries and info, refer to the previous post

From Guhaghar, with love


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My sleep was interrupted by the announcement made from the bus stand opposite to my lodge. It was 6.30 a.m. and the first bus of the day was ready to make its way through the winding roads. I stood on the balcony to see Guhaghar at this time of the day where silence was drifting along with the fresh air. As I stood there absorbing peace, I got lost in the reverie about the previous day’s series of misfortunate events. How I and my friends passed the whole night at a railway station, as the train was delayed by 5hrs and reached Guhaghar in the evening instead of reaching by noon. Although our body was deprived of the rest it needed, we kept exploring the places till all the street lights were out. So as soon as I reached the hotel, I hit the bed and was out like a light! Adventure, sometimes, is only good when remembered as a thing of the past.
Read: Cheap thrills in Goa: New year’s eve

Guhaghar beach

This morning, however, I was revived with the fresh aroma of the earth. The roads were moist and brushed away by the last night’s heavy rainfall. Though we had seen the most of the places by now, it was waiting to reveal its true self in solitude. My friends were in deep sleep and so I decided to have a company of my new camera and venture out on my own. The empty road with closed shops on either side was left for me to discover and dream the morning away. The leaves were sparkling green, wet and heavy with the dew. The chirping birds, the smell of leaves, wet twigs and branches provoked instant happiness in me. The temples, old rustic houses and the new houses with vibrant colors added to the beauty of this tranquil town. The glistening green paddy fields and the coconut trees that embellished the houses provided the final stroke to nature’s art. Most of the houses were decorated with lights and prayer songs echoed from the few houses since it was Ganesh Chaturthi. Unlike reciting songs on mike through boisterous loudspeakers in the cities, the Morning Prayer proceeded here with great devotion and large gatherings of family members. This made me realize the charm of the countryside, with simple people living an extraordinarily simple life.
Read: A hunt for the fireflies- Night trek to Rajmachi

Guhaghar in morning

Temple in Guhaghar

Temples of Guhaghar

Vyadeshwar temple- Guhaghar

Temples of Guhaghar

Homes in Guhaghar
Home with coconut and banana plantations.

Homes in Guhaghar

Homes in Guhaghar

Homes in Guhaghar

Homes in Guhaghar

 

Homes in Guhaghar

The place had slowly started unfolding its love for me until my stomach growled with hunger. The seemingly aimless wandering came to a halt when I spotted the only restaurant open in the whole stretch. I sated my appetite with missal pav and a cup of tea and soon made my way to the beach. The beach was clear with almost no plastics and other wastes in sight. As I walked down the beach, silence accompanied me freeing my mind from the reality and I was transported into a surreal world. As if everything came alive speaking to me. The whiff of the rain in the air was telling about its affair with the soil. The soft sands of the beach welcomed the waves that kissed the shore gently, whispering about their journey. The hills, on either side of the beach, were painted in green and enveloped in mist as if shying away from revealing their virgin beauty.
Read: Gokarna- Trekking to the sun kissed beaches

Guhaghar beach

Guhaghar

I witnessed romance in the solitude, where everyone played their part in contributing towards love and peace. I decided to be a part of this romance and soon waded my way through the sea, played with the waves, dived into the salty water, walked barefoot on the beach, humming songs with the birds and sands tickling my soles. As I left them free in their own world, they let me be! And in those little moments, we all became one, existing for each other. How wonderful it was to spend time in such quietness, away from the mad rush and hustle bustle of the city! Only if humans could understand their oneness with nature!

Guhaghar beach

For now, it was time to come back to reality and thus I was on the road again for yet another adventurous journey and hopefully an even better destination. My friends joined me after having “their kind of vacation” and soon we were on our way to Jaigad Fort and Ganpatipule. Here’s sending love and peace from this little piece of haven in Konkan region.

FAQs-

How to reach?

Via train Chiplun is nearest railway station for Guhaghar. The distance from Chiplun to Guhaghar is approx. 50 km. The cheapest way to reach Guhaghar is to board a state transport(S.T) bus from S.T bus stand in Chiplun. However, one can hire a taxi/ rickshaw as well which will be costlier than the former.
Via Road One will have to reach Chiplun which is very well connected via road from major cities like Pune and Mumbai.

Where to stay?

Plenty of stay options are available with prices starting from Rs.500 for 2 people/night.

What to eat?

Try Misal Pav and Pohe for breakfast and Malvan (Sea-food) food is a specialty throughout the Konkan region.

What to see?

In Guhaghar Guhaghar beach, Vyadeshwar temple, Durga Devi Temple.
Around GuhagharGopalgad Fort and Lighthouse in Anjanvel is 11km from Guhaghar towards the north.

Towards the south, Velneshwar Beach and the temple, Hedvi Beach are the main attractions and both the places are on the same route, within 20km from Guhaghar.

One can further, continue towards the South and visit Jaigad Fort, Ganpatipule, and Ratnagiri.

Our itinerary was Mumbai-Guhaghar-Jaigad Fort- Ganpatipule.

The reward of endurance: Takmak Fort

Not to be confused with the Takmak Fort, Raigad; this place has its own charm. The hill fort is located at 2000ft. above the sea level and offers the stupendous view of hills and Tansa and Vaitarna rivers (Tansa River is the main source of water for Mumbaikars). Located very close to Mumbai, it is a one-day trek.

Sakhwar village
The first view of the village.

On a rainy day of Sunday, I and my friends set out on our bikes looking for a new adventure. We reached Sakwar village at 9 am. There were farms spread across, as far as our eyes could reach. The farmers had already hit the field. The houses looked quiet and abandoned with few children playing outside their home. It was surprising to see such a tranquil village so close to Mumbai. Monsoon had played its role in adding the contrast to nature. Soon, we were accompanied by 4 children who became our guides.
Read: An adventurous journey to Shiva’s abode: Bhimashankar

Base village for trek to takmak fort

Our guide
These little angels helped us reach the heaven.

Our trek started from the muddy road with a view of widespread paddy fields. Soon we entered into the dense jungle where various kinds of insects, crabs, and butterflies were spotted. In about an hour, we had covered the first half of our trek and reached the ridge. The view of the peak covered in mist made us ecstatic. The ridge provided the view of Vaitarna and Tansa rivers on one end and the hills and plains covered with green carpet on the other.
Read: Nature’s architecture- Harishchandragad and Konkan Kada

trek to Takmak Fort

Takmak fort

Tansa and Vaitarna rivers
The confluence of Tansa and Vaitarna rivers.

The other half of the trek was a steep climb to the top. The slippery rocks and the gusty winds along with the rains pricking our exposed body parts made the climb more difficult. Every step that we took from here made us skip our heartbeats! Not only did it test our stamina but the patience and our perseverance to climb the mountain was equally tested. We managed to reach the summit in 2hrs after a watchful climb.

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The ridge- Takmak Fort

The fort speaks about the remnants of the past. There are 2 water tanks which are said to store drinkable water (according to locals). As we move further, there is a broken cannon followed by 2 more water tanks. The water in these tanks is not fit for drinking. However, during monsoons the water is fresh and hence we spent quality time bathing here.
Read: Tosh in monsoon

On my way to Takmak fort.
The greener side.
Takmak fort
Takmak Fort.
The broken cannon
The broken cannon.

After having lunch at the top, we were on our way to the base village. The descent was far more challenging than the climb. I even slipped and fell few times but slowly and steadily, we managed to reach the base village. It was quite an adrenaline journey providing an overwhelming view. After all, all good things come with a price, doesn’t it?

Takmak Fort

Takmak Fort

descent from takmak fort

The view from top-Takmak fort
Totally worth the pain.
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The leap of faith!

How to reach?
Via Train- Alight at Virar station, take a shared auto or a bus from the east to reach Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway. From there take another shared auto/tuk-tuk till Sakwar village.

Sakwar village is approx. 20km from Virar railway station.

(Note: It is advisable to take the driver’s phone number in case if there is no auto available from the Sakwar village)
Via Road- Sakwar Village is located off the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway and is approx.80 km from Mumbai. You can use Google Maps to get here.
Best time to visit?

The most favorable time is during the monsoon (June-August). But, it has to be noted that the final climb is steep and slippery. Hence, I would advise the amateurs to visit this place post monsoon, i.e., between October-February.
Guidelines:

  • Carry ample of water and snacks/food as there are no restaurants/shops available in the base village.
  • Wear full-length clothes to avoid mosquito bite in the jungle.
  • Carry mosquito repellent.
  • Ensure to wear good shoes/sandals having a firm grip.
  • Hire a guide. They are easily available in the base village. They will charge a minimal amount of Rs. 200-300.
  • It is a one-day trek that costs Rs. 300-500 each.

A hunt for the fireflies- Night trek to Rajmachi

After the wretched conditions of summer, monsoon was nearby. Sun had started playing hide and seek and it had already drizzled in Mumbai. So we could wait no more and planned night trek to Rajmachi in the first weekend of June.

The adventure began in Mumbai itself where we missed our train and later had to compensate by boarding the next train without any confirmed tickets. We reached Lonavala in the late afternoon, had lunch and started walking towards Tungarli dam. The weather was just right for trekking. Cool winds blowing with dark clouds hovering over the peaks raised our hopes for the rain.

Tungarli Dam
Away from the concrete jungle.

view from tungarli dam.

Tungarli Dam
Tungarli Dam.

After spending a quality evening at Tungarli lake, we continued our trek as we walked through the jungle and ghats.

Rajmachi via lonavala

The grass and shrubs had already spread the greenery around; the fresh green leaves had begun to sprout as if waiting eagerly for the Gardener to water them so that they can grow and make the place look more beautiful. The marks of the dried waterfalls on the hills were letting us know how mesmerizing this place would look after the heavy rains.

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Rajmachi trek

Soon, the moon had taken over the sun. The torch lights lit up our way and we were anxiously looking for the fireflies. As they say, patience is required to welcome something good, our patience ended after an hour when we first encountered a firefly. Soon, it turned into multiple spottings as we continued to walk in the dark jungle. We took a halt, to look at them closely, closed our torch lights and lo! The whole jungle was lit up with fireflies. It seemed like someone had planned a secret party in the jungle with trees decorated with lights (could not click the night photos due to not having a good camera). It was 11 pm and the village was still half an hour away. Fearing that the hotels/ dhabas in the village would be closed by the time we reach there, left us bewildered. We had covered approx.15 km and now we were all hungry, walking like zombies in the hope to have food. But as we reached the village, we saw the place overcrowded. The trekker enthusiasts were more than the whole population of the village. People roaming around, some tents pitched up in a village and on the outskirts was the welcoming view of this small yet commercialized village. We had no difficulty in finding food at this time of the day. We had dinner at one of the homes that served guests with home-cooked food. Watching us tired and hungry, the couple prepared food for us in less than an hour. The food tasted divine and the warm welcoming filled our hearts with joy. We pitched our tents close to the village, enjoyed each other’s company with a bonfire that helped warm our flesh and bones as we prepared to climb fort (half an hour hike from the base village) the next day.

Bonfire in Rajmachi

The early morning climb witnessed fogs and the mist that enveloped the peaks but as the day progressed, the sun pierced through the clouds to give the beautiful panoramic view of the valley. We were lucky to get the clear view since it is difficult to get such view in monsoon due to mists and fog.

trek to Rajmachi

Rajmachi fort

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After descending from the fort by noon, we bathed in a lake and visited the age-old temple in Udhewadi village before heading back towards Mumbai.

Udhewadi Lake-Rajmachi

Temple in Rajmachi

It had started raining heavily on our return. The monsoon had finally arrived in full swing and what a way to welcome the first rains!
Guidelines :

  • One needs to reach to Udhewadi village which serves as the base village for Rajmachi fort. The fort is approx. 2km from Udhewadi.
  • There are two ways to reach Udhewadi village.
  • You can reach Lonavala and start from Tungarli Dam (6kms from Lonavala railway station). This route is a simple walk through the jungles providing the most beautiful view of waterfalls and meadows. It is a 15km long walk to Udhewadi village and is perfect for amateurs and for the night trek where one can witness fireflies in abundance. There are private vehicles running from Lonavala to Udhewadi village but only during post monsoons as the roads get worse in monsoon season.
  • The alternate route is to reach Kondivade village in Karjat(near Mumbai) and start ascending to Rajmachi en route Kondhana Caves. This route is a steep 3hrs climb from the base. Generally, trekkers prefer to reach Udhewadi via Lonavala and descend through this route.
  • Fireflies are visible in monsoons. The best time to witness fireflies is in the early week of June.
  • Most favorable time to do this trek is during monsoon, i.e, from June to September.
  • Accommodations and food are easily available which is provided by the locals who rent their own houses and also prepare food (rent starts from rs 300- 1000 depending upon the no. of people). They can also help you arrange firewood for the bonfire which may cost some extra bucks.
  • An overnight trip to Rajmachi costs Rs 1000-1500 per person.
  • There are many travel clubs conducting treks to Rajmachi throughout the year. You can enroll through them as well.
  • Below are the links of the top travel clubs-

Mumbai travellers
Thrillophilia

Wine, strawberries, desserts and hills – A perfect weekend getaway, Mahabaleshwar

Riding through the curvilinear road of the hills, with cool breeze kissing our faces and greenery all around is all you need to get over the hangover of weekdays.

Also Read: An adventurous journey to Shiva’s abode: Bhimashankar

Road to panchgani
Roads with trees on both sides are my favorite kind of roads.

Panchgani

A 100 km from Pune lies Panchgani- a hill station that derives its name due to its location amidst five hills. Legends have it that Pandavas visited this place during their exile. In the present times, the place acts as an educational hub and is famous for several boarding schools right from Parsi, Muslim, Hindu and Christian schools. The climate here remains cool throughout the year (though Panchgani/ Mahabaleshwar are now victims of global warming due ecological imbalance and the dams that are built here.)

Table point, Panchgani

It is a wide plain stretched on a hilltop. One can also take up a horse ride to cover the maximum distance of this plain. It is so big, that 2-3 football grounds can be built here.

Table point, Panchgani
Table point.

View from table point

Kingberry wine, Panchgani

After surviving the afternoon’s heat while taking a stroll in the vast plains of the table point, Kingberry wine’s board on the road drew our attention, attracting us like a magnet.

Kingberry Wineyard

The place had a utopian feel with neatly arranged chairs and tables, surrounded by a variety of colorful flowers and view of the strawberry farms. Moreover, the cool atmosphere of the hills only added to the reason for celebrating this trip with some wine. Strawberry wines are the main attraction here but it did not disappoint us with grape wine as well. One can also opt to stay here with a beautiful view of farms if one doesn’t mind getting light on pockets. (Rent starts from 1700/ day.)

Kingberry wine- Panchgani

Strawberries at Kingberry
Our lunch for the day and it was all for free!!
Straberry Farm, Kingberry
Strawberry farm.

Mahabaleshwar

Situated at an altitude of 1400m, Mahabaleshwar sure is an absolute beauty! But too much crowd visiting this place from the lower plains of Pune and Mumbai have disturbed the peace and harmony of this place. No wonder this was favorite hill station of Britishers to enjoy the summer. They have built several cottages and bungalows here ( In Panchgani as well). In fact, many points are also named after them.

Kate’s Point/ Needle hole point/ Elephant point/ Echo point

All these points are very close to each other named differently due it’s distinct characteristics. We reached Kate’s point only to witness too much crowd. I am never fond of too many people and hence tried to find a place away from the hustle- bustle. When in solitude, we could hear different bird’s voices from the ghats, while the Krishna river added up to the beauty.

Kate's Point, Mahabaleshwar
Krishna river as seen from Kate’s point.
Needle point, Mahabaleshwar
Spot the Elephant’s head.

Echo point seemed to be of no worth due to the echoes of the crowd. But, we tried screaming from a quiet place and it does live up to the expectation.

Lodwick point

Next day, we still had time to visit places and we began our day by visiting Lodwick’s point. Hardly 500m walk through the jungle, this point has a memorial pillar in the center with its history etched on it. It provides a beautiful view of the valley with curved roads.

Lodwick point, Mahabaleshwar
Lodwick Point.

View from Lodwick point

Elephant’s head point

Just beyond the Lodwick’s point is Elephant’s head point which provides the panoramic view of the whole valley. It is named so because the ridge resembles the shape of an elephant’s head. Although, after observing the ridge from various angles, I found it difficult to match it with its name.

Elephant's Head - Mahabaleshwar

View from Elephant's head point

Venna lake

The serene lake with boating facility. Something that can be enjoyed with friends and families. The adjacent road provides a great view of Venna lake.

Venna lake, Mahabaleshwar

Rusty bridge- Venna lake
The old and rusty bridge opposite to the lake caught my attention.

Mapro garden

Situated on Panchgani- Mahabaleshwar road, this place is a great one to hang out with friends and family. It has a beautiful artificial pond, garden and strawberry vehicles for children. Also, one can buy Mapro products at discounted rates and can even try the samples before buying them. The restaurant here provides a great view of fields and one cannot simply miss strawberry cream with ice-cream. Other food items include sandwiches, pizzas, mocktails, and desserts

Mapro Garden, Mahabaleshwar
Mapro Garden.

Desserts at Mapro Garden

Other places of interest in Mahabaleshwar

Other places of interest include Pratapgad fort, Wilson point, Bombay point, Lingmala waterfall (can be visited from July-November), Panchganga temple (source of 5 rivers), Krishnabai temple (source of Krishna river).

Also ReadGokarna- Trekking to the sand kissed beaches

Guidelines

  • For budget travelers, this place may prove to be a costly affair as rooms and food are costly here. Especially on weekends, the room’s rent starts from Rs.1000 and above for a night. Simple veg thali starts from Rs.120. It is advisable to visit this place on weekdays as one may be able to bargain for a cheap stay since it is less crowded. (After wandering and bargaining for nearly an hour, we got a decent room for rs 600/ night.)
  • If you are looking for a quiet place away from the crowd, then it is not a good option, especially on weekends.
  • Going on a bike or personal car is the best way to visit this place as one can cover maximum places and also enjoy the drive on the curved roads. Otherwise, all the places are far from each other and one has to book a cab for sightseeing. Fares are fixed as decided by their association.
  • Best time to visit this place is during the monsoon and post-monsoon i.e., June- October to witness the utmost greenery and waterfalls around. Though one can visit this place in November- February as well to enjoy fresh strawberries and the cold weather but the greenery will be comparatively less and waterfalls will be dried up.

An adventurous journey to Shiva’s abode: Bhimashankar

Nestled amidst the dense forest, Bhimashankar is a wildlife sanctuary, famous amongst nature lovers and trekking enthusiasts and is also a religious place for Hindus. It is home to many endangered species of flora and fauna and is renowned for Indian Giant Squirrel (popularly known as ‘Shekru’ in Maharashtra). Also, plenty of medicinal herbs can be found in this region of Maharashtra. Situated in Sahyadris, a part of Western Ghats, it is draped with canopies of floating clouds, waterfalls and many streams that are reborn during monsoon. The Bhimashankar temple, situated in the sanctuary is one of the 12 shrines( Jyotirlinga) of Lord Shiva. Hence, a vast number of tourists arrive here to seek Shiva’s blessings throughout the year. Bhimashankar derived its name from Shiva temple and Bhima river. According to mythology, Lord Shiva defeated demon Bhima (son of Kumbhakarna) here and blessed this place by adding Bhima’s name along with His name and making it as His abode.

Also Read: Nature’s architecture- Harishchandragad and Konkan Kada

The road to Khandas village
Enroute Khandas village. Picture courtesy- Kundan Singh

One can reach here by road or by climbing a strenuous mountain. We hiked up to this place which took approx. 4hrs. There are 2 ways to reach the top; Ganesh ghat (Level: moderate) and Sidhi ghat (Level: Difficult). Khandas village is a base village for both the trekking trails. We opted to climb from Ganesh ghat. While this route is comparatively easier than the Sidhi Ghat, it offers a magnificent view of the valley.

Bhimashankar via ganesh ghat
Khandas village

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The climb has three phases; the first phase is a climb up to Ganesh temple.

Ganesh ghat

Ganesh mandir in ganesh ghat
Ganesh Ghat is named after this Ganesh temple.
view from ganesh ghat
View from Ganesh Temple.

The second phase is a simple walk, through the plains and here one will witness many waterfalls and the great view of ghats.

tea stall at ganseh ghat
Every time is a good time to have a cup of tea!

bhimashankar via ganesh ghat

ghats and waterfalls via ganesh ghat
The reason why one should consider trekking via Ganesh ghat.

view from ganesh ghat-Bhimashankar

waterfall enroute ganesh ghat

marshy land, ganesh ghat

The third phase is the common phase for both the trekking routes, i.e., Ganesh Ghat and Sidhi Ghat. It is the longest and comprises of steep climb followed by the dense jungle. Though a long and tiring trek, each view during the climb is a surprise and an absolute delight to watch with the added thrill of climbing.

trek to Bhimashankar
We realized how high we have climbed the mountain only when the cloud dispersed to give the clear view of the valley.

trekking to bhimashankar

bonfire in bhimashankar
Some relief after getting soaked by the continuous downpour.
dense forest of Bhimashankar
The forest was so dense that hardly any raindrops reached the ground.
summit of bhimashankar
That feeling of making it to the summit!
Bhimashankar temple
Bhimashankar temple.
medicinal herbs at bhimashankar
Medicinal herbs being sold near the temple at dearth cheap rates.

Gupt Bhimashankar – The next morning, we decided to go to Gupt Bhimashankar. As the name suggests, it is a secret shivling situated behind the mighty waterfall of Bhima river. This was the most adventurous part of the journey and to be very frank, it scared the shit out of us. Thanks to the guide who encouraged and helped us cross the river. It is hence advisable to visit this place post monsoon, i.e., late September- December when the flow of water is less.

en route gupt bhimashankar
Enroute Gupt Bhimashankar
Gupt Bhimashanakar
Gupt Bhimashankar.

One can also visit Nagphani which is the highest point of Bhimashankar and is about 1 hour of a climb from base (Bhimashankar) village. However, due to time constraint, we were not able to visit this place. This may be a good excuse to come back to this beautiful place.

How to reach:

Khandas village is 25 km from Neral and 29 km from Karjat. One can easily get a shared/ private rickshaw to Khandas or even ST bus services are available (buses are not frequent, though). The Rikshaw costs Rs.800-1000 for 6-8 people. Shared rickshaws are also available depending upon the availability of passengers.

Bhimashankar can also be visited by road. It is approx. 210km from Mumbai and 110km. from Pune.

One can also enroll in this trek through various travel clubs. Below are the links to the few clubs conducting treks:

Mumbai travellers

Thrillophilia

Treks and trails

Where to stay:

There are many local stay options available, with basic facilities. One can inquire with locals near the Bhimashankar bus stand or at the local food stalls. The rent may vary from Rs 1000-1200 for a night which can accommodate 5-6 people.

What time to visit:

Situated at an altitude of 3000 ft., the weather here remains pleasant throughout the year.

Though, in order to witness truly magical Bhimashankar, it is advisable to visit this place during monsoon and the post-monsoon period (June- December).

Guidelines:

  • Trekking via Sidhi Ghat is tricky. It’s a steep rocky climb which is completed via climbing 3 ladders (hence the name ‘Sidhi’ ghat). This route is advisable for experienced trekkers only. Though one can opt this route in post monsoon season as the rocks become dry and non-slippery.
  • Bhimashankar receives high density of rainfall in monsoon and it rains here almost throughout the day. Carry an extra pair of clothes and ensure waterproof covers for gadgets like mobile phones, camera.etc.
  • Ensure to wear good shoes or sandal having a firm grip.
  • The trek takes 4-5 hrs to reach the summit. Ensure to reach the base village by early morning.
  • Guides may be available at the base village. Inquire with the locals. (It is advisable to hire a guide for amateurs.)
  • Tea stalls are available after completion of each phase which also sells snacks. You may also carry your own snacks.
  • Hire a guide at Bhimashankar for visiting places like Nagphani and Hanuman lake.
  • Avoid visiting Gupt Bhimashankar in monsoon as the water level is high and flows at great speed. If considering to visit it in monsoon, hire a guide.
  • Do not litter around. Always carry your own disposable bag and dispose of wastes properly.
  • This is an overnight trek that costs Rs. 1000- 1500.

Nature’s architecture- Harishchandragad and Konkan Kada

‌‌Harishchandragad is one of those places that will leave your eyes sparkling with joys. One can never get enough of it and each time it treats the eyes with different hues giving different experience and pleasure. There are many ways through which one can reach Harishchandragad. We opted to ascend from Khireshwar village which is 7kms from Khubifata and one can easily reach here within an hour by foot.

Also Read: An adventurous journey to Shiva’s abode: Bhimashankar

Sunrise at Pimpalgaon Joga Dam- Malshej ghat-Harishchandragad
Dawn at Pimpalgaon Joga Dam. Enroute Khireshwar village
Golden rays of sun- harishchandragad via Khireshwar
Sun kissing the peak with its first rays.

Sunrise at Joga Dam

Pimpalgaon Joga Dam- via Khireshwar

Dawn at Khireshwar village

‌We reached Khireshwar at 7 am. Had poha and chai for breakfast, relaxed a bit before we started to ascend for Harishchandragad.

Harishchandragad via Khireshwar village-Malshej ghat
Khireshwar village.

Khireshwar village

Khireshwar village- Malshej ghat

Life in a village-Khireshwar
Simple joys of life!

Breakfast at Khireshwar

This route is both physically and mentally challenging. It takes 4-5hrs to reach the summit. One must carry enough water while trekking here as the weather is generally hot and dry and one may feel dehydrated soon. However, there are stalls at regular intervals. There are 2 rock patches at Tolar Khind where utmost attention is required. After that is 2hrs of easy climb through dense jungle. We reached the summit at 2.30 pm and spent a night in a cave.

Read: The reward of endurance: Takmak Fort

Tolar Khind- Harishchandragad-via Khireshwar
Tolar Khind
View from Tolar Khind
View from Tolar Khind

Harishchandragad- Trek via Khireshwar

Flowers bes- Harishchandragad
Bed of wildflowers.

Harishchandragad:

The hillfort is said to exist from the 6th century and there are many caves around, which are said to be carved out in the 11th century. Also, great sage Changdev used to meditate here.

Harishchandragad fort

Caves at Harishchandragad
Our holiday suite for the weekend.

Harishchandreshwar temple:

The temple stands in the middle of widespread plains. Old and worn out rock cut temple will take you back in time. As we entered the temple gates, the carvings on the temple wall depicted various Gods and life in the medieval age as if waiting to speak its mysterious stories.This temple is said to be more than 400 years old. It is built by king Harishchandra and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Right opposite to the temple is the water tank where people can take bath before visiting the holy temple. Although the water doesn’t seem fit for bath due to many tourists intervention.

Harishchandreshwar temple- Harishchandragad

Sculptures at Harishchandreshwar temple- Harishchandragad

Harishchandragad at dusk

Kedareshwar cave:

Behind the Harishchandreshwar temple, there is a temple cave of Lord Shiva. Shivling is approx. 5 ft tall and is surrounded by 4 pillars (3 of them destroyed). They say the pillars depict the 4 Yugas- Satya Yuga, Tretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. A pillar breaks by itself at the end of each Yuga. The destruction of the 4th pillar will mark the end of Kali Yuga. This shivling can be reached by crossing through waist deep water. The water here is so cool that it sends the chills down the spine! To add more to the enigma of this place, the water remains waist deep for everyone, irrespective of the height of a person.

Kedareshwar cave- Harishchandragad

Konkan Kada:

This place overlooks the Konkan region and hence is named as Konkan Kada. The cliff is ‘C’ shaped and one cannot look down the cliff while standing due to high wind pressure and the height of the cliff. Even if one looks down by sleeping over, it is scary and someone who has a phobia of heights may feel dizzy while looking down the cliff. The sunset from this point is mesmerizing. It creates the horizon separating the valley from the sky. One must see this place themselves as it’s beauty is beyond description.

Read: A hunt for the fireflies- Night trek to Rajmachi

Sunset at Konkan Kada
Sunset at Konkan Kada.

cliff of Konkan Kada

Konkan Kada

We descended next day in early morning via Pachnai route.

Harishchandragad via Pachnai route
Descend to Pachnai village.

I visited this place during monsoon too via Pachnai. So sharing the beauty of this place during monsoon.

Pachnai village- Harishchandragad
Harishchandragad via Pachnai route.

Harishchandragad in monsoon

Harishchandragad in monsoon- via Pachnai route

Harishchandragad via Pachnai

Waterfall in harishchandragad

Streams crossing- via Pachnai route

Meadows of Harishchandragad

Harishchandragad in monsoon

How to Get there:

  • There are four ways through which this trek can be completed, ie., via Pachnai, Khireshwar, Brahma ghat and Nalichi vat ( in the order of easy to difficult).
  • From Mumbai, one can catch the ST bus from Kalyan going to Ahmednagar or Malshej ghat and get down at Khubifata. Khireshwar village is 7 km from here.
  • To trek Via Pachnai route, one has to reach Igatpuri, catch ST bus to Rajur and then change the bus from Rajur to Pachnai.

Best time to visit:

  • This place can be visited from July to February. However, it really comes alive in monsoon( July-October) with innumerable streams, waterfalls and lush greenery.

Guidelines:

  • For amateurs, it is advisable to trek via Pachnai route only during monsoon.
  • In rest of the season, even amateurs can trek via Khireshwar
  • Nalichi vat is extremely difficult and is advisable only for experienced and pro trekkers.
  • Carry ample of water and glucose.
  • Ensure to wear shoes with good grip.
  • Please do not litter around. Dispose of the waste properly. Carry your own garbage bag.
  • Spend a night in a cave. There are many stalls near the temple so you may not need to carry food along.
  • There are sleeping mattresses available in Rs 30-50 for a night which is good if you are sleeping in a cave as the rocks are uneven.
  • If the caves are full, there are chances that you may get to hire tent from the stalls. (this is not applicable in monsoon as there are no stalls during this season.)
  • During monsoon, confirm from the base village if there will be any cook available at the fort or else you will have to carry enough food to spend the night in a cave. (Generally, the cooks are available.)
  • The whole trek costs Rs.800 – Rs.1000 each.

P.S- All Pictures are clicked from mobile

Wadeshwar – Discovering Euphoria

I learnt that my parents are going to attend meditation camp set in Wadeshwar, Pune on sunday. I joined them too thinking of exploring nearby places on my own. Turned out to be the best place that I have visited in Pune. Peaceful and less known to many, one may fall in love with this place immediately!

Andhra Dam, Wadeshwar
Andhra Dam.

While my parents were busy meditating and enjoying bhajans, I escaped from the place in search of solitude.I took stroll around the village, walked in jungle aimlessly humming my favorite songs, picked a stick and drew smiley faces in dirt, laughing my heart out and then kicking those faces till the dirt entered my lungs; later making me sneeze and cough. (What goes around comes around. No kidding!)

Shiv temple of Wadeshwar
Shiv temple.
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Closer to nature, closer to GOD!

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After conversing with a villager, I realized there is Andhra dam behind camp that was set. I had lost my way already, though this guy guided me even before I asked him. (I guess he already read that confusion on my face.)

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Sometimes, it’s better to be lost.
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Finding my own way.
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Moo Point!

Upon reaching the dam, absolute silence made me ecstatic. Only birds gave me company to sing. The blue water, dried grass, barren mountains, red soil, white windmill fans in the distant all complimented each other so well. Shimmering cold water felt like a quilt to provide warmth to my soul. I gasped heavily as I took my first dip in water beating the water surface as if taking revenge. I spent my whole day alone except for having lunch with my parents. I guess this is my way of meditation, and listening nature’s voice my Bhajan. I bowed humbly before Almighty as I prepared to leave, thanked Him for bringing me to this life, so that I could witness the marvels He has created.

Andhra river, Wadeshwar
The last image that my mind clicked.

How to reach Wadeshwar village:

Wadeshwar is a village in Maval Taluka in Pune district of Maharashtra.

By RoadLonavala, Talegaon Dabhade, Dehu Road are the nearby towns having road connectivity to Wadeshwar.

By Rail Kamshet railway station is the closest to Wadeshwar. One can also reach here by Begdewadi, Dehu Road, Talegaon, Lonavala, Khandala railway stations. However, Pune railway station is major station which is 55km from Wadeshwar.

P.S- All pictures are clicked from mobile (Moto E).