Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to plan your central Konkan trip - Impromptu version!

When you are in one of the best lush green landscapes amidst monsoons our country has to offer - you must realise you have to explore all four corners of the state and sometimes along the boundaries as well. One such memorable trip happened in September 2016 where we covered the Konkan coastline and satisfied our craving of sea and long drives.

The Itinerary
So there was no specific itinerary for the trip and we travelled from south to north along the coast where the road took us - Murud Beach in Dapoli, Harnai , Anjarle, Kelshi and Harihareshwar - all in a 3 day trip!


So we had the pleasant weather of mid September and a long weekend ahead, giving us an opportunity to plan a long drive all the down way south to Ganapatipule. We started off from Mumbai just fine in the early morning. Being a photography enthusiast and a beginner, I didn't miss any opportunity to click as we sped by the highways or small towns of Maharashtra. Our one such stop was a village near Mahad where we chirpily got off to enjoy the idyllic scene of a small water stream against the backdrop of a thriving green hills and stretch our legs a bit. And thanks to my absent mindedness, I left the car keys inside the ignition - only to realise 10-15 minutes later when we got locked out of the car ! :D



It was 4 in the evening and apart from the camera in hand, we both didn't have any other accessory to support us at this time. Our wallets, mobile phones everything inside the car. First 5 mins, we just looked at each other and stupidly laughed at my foolishness.  We got an aluminium scale from the local village store on rent and tried the old trick of opening the jammed door lock from outside. For another 15 mins. This nifty inspiration from Bollywood didn't help. We started panicking as it began to rain and the clouds set the environment for the dusky evening and the night fall.

Seeking help from passing by cars didn't seem to be working either. For next 15-20 mins , none of the cars stopped. :(. And to our bad luck, the local mechanic in the village was equipped for two wheeler only and the nearby town was 20 kms away. Phew! We were in for some adventure it looked.  Finally, by God's grace a vehicle stopped by and the people inside tried to help us in all possible ways they could. So after all the wasted efforts of 2 hours, we finally had to break a window to access the door lock from inside! The crudest way fit.  Of course, we broke the smallest window in the car at the rear for minimum damage costs later. We thanked our stars and our saviours who stuck with us in the entire ordeal.  Learning from this - Never ever forget to pull out your car keys when stepping out (even for a minute)!

By this time, the sun had already set and our destination was still very far. We, not being a very big fan of overnight driving, decided to alter our destination and head to the nearest available beach now - Murud beach which was about 2 hours drive from there. And we also pulled in some local villagers going back after day's long work to their homes! It was an interesting drive - We  trying to converse in a very broken Mumbai versed Marathi , they speaking in a different village Marathi dialect, not getting what the other was saying - the smiles post the conversation seemed to dissolve the differences!

This little deviation in our route landed us to the beautiful beach of Murud in the pitch darkness (even by 8 pm) and I didn't get to appreciate its beauty and serenity until sunrise the next morning. We spend the night at the beach side local resort. The morning view of the beach is at its full glory and is justifiable in the picture below -



Murud 
Where to stay? - There are couple of decent resorts on the Murud beach and you can take your pick. We stayed at Dreamland resorts which offered simple Maharashtrian food and games for involvement like carom, table tennis and a hammock for sky gazing !

Harnai, Anjarle and Kelshi - All these are small villages on the Konkan coastline thriving majorly on fishing. These places offer the real Konkan rustic charm. The drive along the coast is splendid with few stunning view of the sea, the greenery around and glimpse of the life of the locals here.





Where to stay?- Since these are not tourists destinations, you might not get many places to stay. Anjarle has few resorts though - Ketki beach resort is one I recall. Nevertheless, planning to drive along these places is best recommended to enjoy the beauty they offer.

Harihareshwar - We took a detour again after reaching Mahad to Harihareshwar since we had another day remaining of our long weekend and we weren't disappointed as well. The lonely drive to Harihareshwar offers you some resplendent views amidst the thick abundant forests and is indeed very refreshing.

 

 Harihareshwar is famous for the temple of lord Harihareshwar and is situated right at the beach.
The beach has a long stretch of sand for walks in low tides and also a rocky cliff where you can stand and enjoy wave splashes - you just need to be careful of the moss and shells though.



Where to stay? - There is a very beautiful MTDC resort near the beach but needs to be pre-booked especially in the case of long and public holidays. Needless to say, we couldn't get any accommodation there and chose the first available local hotel stay at the beach.

 The change of viewing the life through simple lens and slowing down even for a day or 2 gives a fresh perspective! If you are looking for a tranquil vacation with just relaxing on the beach and savouring simple Maharashtrian delicacies, this Konkan drive might do wonders as your next trip!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lazy things to do in Mahabaleshwar!

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

3 days Bali Itinerary - the 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!