Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mahabaleshwar - Strawberry munching and more!

There some tourist places in India and specifically hill stations which are quite famous and popular among tourists mainly because these never fail to delight us. Mahabaleshwar is one of them. Nestled in the western ghats forests of Maharashtra, the place is ideal for an extended weekend getaway from Pune/Mumbai both. 



How to reach: For road junkies, this 5 hour trip is a pleasure drive on good smooth roads and ghats.

 Your own vehicle will also provide you the ease of travelling and stopping at any picturesque points you encounter....and there are quite a few! If not, buses are always an alternative. The train service is only available from Mumbai to Pune, ahead of which a bus or taxi is the most recommended mode of transport. The journey is enjoyable and you will encounter many local stall set ups along the road with home made pickles and Spices.  These are definitely worth a try and a to do in your what to buy in Mahabaleshwar.

Panchgani - is quaint little town on the way to Mahabaleshwar and is famous for good number of boarding schools in Maharashtra. Stop points also offer amazing view of the valley and horse/camel rides.




Things to do - There are many scenic points like arthur point, etc etc like most hill stations which offer you a good view of the valley. I am not mentioning any of those here since this is the expected part of hill station outing and any person with least 30% of tourists' genes is bound to cover these by default! And also because since I visited Mahabaleshwar in late summar/start of monsoons, I had no view of any of the valley...everything was covered by fog and clouds! Mostly like this ......Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my trip. 

So, not going by the rules, Mahabaleshwar can be an all time vacation spot, especially for Mumbaikars, who always seems to look out refreshment from the scorching heat. the old town which offers a diaspora of simple shopping items

What to eat in Mahabaleshwar
Known as the strawberry capital of India and rightly so, Mahabaleshwar is a treat for berry lovers. When I visited Mahabaleshwar, I had no liking for strawberries, whatsoever and I still don't prefer strawberry milkshake. However, after having the strawberry, mulberry, blueberry cream - fresh berries with fresh cream -- had me drooling for strawberries forever now. It is available at very possible eating joint in the town or at scenic spots where they will proudly show you the strawberry farms, give you a brief tour, allow you to pick fresh berries even.
This dessert made my entire weekend and I had this every time of the day I stepped out of my hotel. Please do try it at least once, if not love you are still going to get a second glass for yourself!

I don't have many pictures from my vacations as everything was just foggy, but I still managed to capture a few pictures here and there for the essence of the place. 






All these pictures are unedited and raw and is kept like that intentionally.

Spot me!



It doesn't matter what you miss, what matters is what you saw, observed and allowed yourself to be enchanted with! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bali - Asian getaway

If you are in India and are looking for a good vacation alternative with no visa hassles and cheaper currency, your next destination should be Bali, Indonesia.
                             

Archipelago of  islands - Indonesia, is famous for beaches, volcanoes, thick beautiful forests and this makes it a perfect destination to for travelers looking for varied experiences. And most sought after island of all is Bali.
                                

Bali is a beautiful island with beaches, mountains  and waterfalls to explore. Here is my 3 day itinerary for Bali in the month of April last year.

Notable Places to see in Bali-
Below are the top highlighted places in Bali which can help you plan your itinerary.
1. Ubud - handicraft villages, Tegenungan waterfalls, Tegalalang rice terraces, Kintamani active volcano
2. Beaches - Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Legion, Dreamland
3. Temple - Uluwatu


Day 1: Ubud - There are many cultural villages preserved in the Ubud region specifically kept for tourists. Every village has a handicraft heritage associated with it like silver jewelry making, paintings, Batik printing workshop, coffee plantations, rice terraces and cultural dances. You can see all the nuances of each craft and purchase finished products from local artisans. 

    
                                                                                                                                                                              


Here you can take the pleasure of tasting world's most expensive coffee - Kopi Luwak! Read more about it on Google as why it is so expensive :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak


For the enthusiasts, there is an active volcano in Ubud, which can be either trekked or admired from a distance through the various restaurants lined up along the road. However, the lunch leaves us with a bad taste.











                                                                                                                                                           




There is a beautiful gem of a waterfall on the way to Ubud - Tegenungan which is surely not to be missed. A refreshing dip is a must do item to be checked.




Day 2:  Bali Safari Park: We spent the entire day at Bali Marine and Safari Park. It is a very neatly organized park with quite a number of secured interactions with animals in real time. The pictures speak for itself. However, if you have been to safari park in any other international places before, this does not add much value to your travel memories. You can then plan this day to explore other parts of Bali.
The evening should be spent at Uluwatu temple which is incidentally the south-western tip of Bali. It is a wonderful spot for sunset viewing and is also famous for the traditional Balinese Kecak dance.


P.S. 1. If you do plan to spent your day at the Bali safari Park, you can avail the park mini buses from your nearest stop which are spread across all the famous tourists destinations.
2. Be sure to reach Uluwatu temple on time at least half an hour before sunset or at the scheduled time of Kecak dance.

Day 3: Water Sports:  Time for some water adventure and exploring local beaches. In the morning, we went for sea walk experience. You can also choose various other water activities as per your liking but for beginners sea walk experience is thrilling and safe at the same time.
Snorkeling etc are  not recommended here since water is not clear at all and you are highly unlikely to enjoy the underwater life.


Nusa dua and Tenjong Benoa beaches are recommended for these activities are highly popular as well.
Apart from these, to have a carefree and leisurely stroll or frivolities with water , I recommend Kuta beach, Seminyak and Legion beach (which is also where you will find shacks and live music), Dreamland beach which is very scenic with rocks and white sand.

What to buy from Bali?
I didn't indulge much in shopping but if you plan to...do ensure to do an aggressive bargain. You can pick up handmade soaps, ayurveda, herbs and plenty of dream catchers!

Bali is a place to just soak in the slow beach life - you can either do nothing and just sit in an idyllic beach sipping drinks or you can go for parties in south Bali or explore the spiritual/cultural/Green side in Central area. Nevertheless, this place has so much to offer and can cater to various suitors. Hope you find what you are looking for there ! :)

I've only posted pictures taken from a mobile phone here with no editing what so ever. You can assess the beauty from the real pictures!

                                     





Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Nashik/Trimbakeshwar - God's abode

When living in India, one cannot escape the spiritual essence small towns and cities offer. However, people look for some other activities as well when exploring a new place. Nashik is modern mix of holiness and rich leisurely experience wrapped into one - holy for its spiritual history and serene experience it enriches you with. Leisurely affair because of all the wine tasting hobby you can develop here :)








Here is my brief recap of my travel experience and things to explore in Nashik!

Nashik is a well known ancient holy city situated at the northwestern side of Maharashtra and is hugely popular amongst Hindu devotees as it hosts the MahaKumbh Mela  - largest religious gathering every 12 years.

There is a huge temple complex right in middle of the old Nashik city and lies on the banks of river Godavari. All references in Ramayana of Nashik like Panchavati can be found here in temples.  In fact, there are certain temples which open only during Kumbh i.e. every 12 years.  













The point is even if you are not ardently religious, you are bound to get spiritual at this place - sit at the steps of water in the temple complex and you will get the feel of it. Ramakund is famous holy tank where you can take a dip.






                                     
        



The feel of this place especially in early mornings and late evening is truly captivating. I found my moments of peace and quite here observing other  people performing their rituals and in general just thinking nothing. Now I do understand why holy places make up for a great meditation place!


Another interesting activity you can combine with visiting temples is trekking. Trimbakeshwar, another important holy place in hindu mythology, only 30 kms from Nashik city is an ideal place to trek. The Shiva temple, surrounded by huge hill ranges, makes up for awe inspiring view. You can choose a small hill nearby for your ascend and enjoy the majestic view of the temple and the town. 




The hill top where where we trekked


When you have soaked in the ambience of Nashik city and had the spiritual encounter, there is another part city eagerly waiting for an entirely difference experience. It doesn't seem right to not visit at least one winery in the "Wine Capital of India". There are a huge number of wineries - 22 precisely when I last checked. Sula and York are popular choices and offer wine tasting, tour of the factory, wine-dining among other things. You can experiment with different items on their food menu to go with a range of wines.  

Best season to visit Nashik for a lifetime memory will be of course during the Kumbh Mela in the month of April-May of the designated year. Another hot month is the month of Feb-March - the grape stomping season. Various wineries have remarkable wine festivals during these months as well.

Whatever your calling, Nashik is one city which will leave you enriched and mesmerized.