Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Raiding Mighty Himalayas – Himachal Pradesh

As you might have understood so far that I am a road trip person. 
Before getting to the trip, let me introduce to a new member – A white Maruti Suzuki Swift VDi and the owner is none other than, my brother from another mother, Sandy. He has recently shifted to the capital city, New Delhi imparting me a chance to plan and RAID the Mighty Himalayas.

Coming back to the trip, I booked myself on late night flight to Delhi from Mumbai and landed to be received by Sandy at the Airport. Trust me I was more excited to see the car than to see Sandy. We reached Sandy’s place around 2am and tried to get some sleep before the Raid, but the butterflies of excitement in our stomach had planned the other way.
We left early in the morning and our breakfast haul was at Sukhdev Dhaba in Mulchand just outside the national capital. The Paranthas are to die for and you cannot afford to miss the white makkhan (butter) even if you are on diet. Filling out tummies and satisfying our souls we are all set to hit the road again.

We stopped at Ambala to meet an old friend from the university and continued our journey. After crossing Chandigarh bypass, we were welcomed by a board saying, “welcome to great Himalayan Highway .” There we are, the commencement of uphill journey begins. After a few kms we could not control of emotions and urge to have Maggie noodles on one of the Maggie points ( Any hill u go, Maggie points are omnipresent)
In about 10 hours we reached Kasauli ( our would be basecamp ) and wasting no time we booked Hotel Pine View located off Chandigarh – Shimla Highway, towards Kasauli. It is a budget hotel, which offered us a Room for two in Rs 1300/- ( Meals aren’t included ). It is not a bad deal, being a long weekend.
The Pine View Resort

We decided to rest that night and dozed off after having dinner in the hotel’s restaurant itself.
On the 2nd day, we left after having tea and breakfast to reach Kufri, on the journey we had to cross Solan, Shoghi and Shimla ( bypass) . The dist. Is about 100 kms but Kandaghat is not easy to drive on, the average speed was about 20 km/h. We obviously stopped at some Monsoon Waterfalls and Maggie points to grab a hot tea and Maggie. Reached Kufri in around 6 hours and then our guide ( avoid hiring one )  told us to take a horse ride to see some sightseeing points ( we came back half way disappointed by the ruthless way the horses are treated and the mud slurry till knee height ) We had to pay the full amt. about Rs. 350/- per horse. Nonetheless we decided to visit, The Himalayan Nature Park. It is the home to about 30 Himalayan wild animals and birds. Witnessing this was a true delight. We started our return journey at 4:30 pm from Kufri ( as we had decided to avoid driving after dusk ) we managed to reach our base camp by 8pm. We had dinner at famous Giani Dhaba, but it turned out to be even worse than what we could have got at some other not so famous place. AVOID GIANI DHABA.
A  Monsoon Waterfall

Solan City

Somewhere on the way

Note: The area is a landslide prone, so be cautious while driving and follow sigh boards.

Next Morning was the most pleasant morning, I have experienced in my lifetime. The Sun was playing Hide and seek with the clouds and the fog was waiting to embrace us. Wasting no time we head started our journey to state capital – Shimla. Crossing Kandaghat was not as difficult as the weather was clear.
Do not forget to take an apple break in Solan Market.
Reached Shimla in about 5 hours and had to struggle a lot to find a Parking place. We headed straight to Mall Road, which is a must visit when you are in Shimla. Bought some Pashmina Shawls and stoles for our loved ones, after a lot of Bargaining. We were mesmerized to know about the history and importance of Gaity theatre. This theatre was constructed by British and is one of the six theatre left on the planet to be built on Victorian Gothic Architecture. After wandering around and having luscious Chole bature and Chole Samose, in a local Stall, at Mall road. We decided to explore Shimla a little more and click some pictures (Instead of penning it down, I would let you explore yourself).
We were back to Kasauli by 8:30 pm and decided to have dinner at Haveli, trust me the food was delicious and far better than Giani Dhaba.
An Apple Break

Toy Train Track

An Ancient temple on the Hill 

A beautiful day on the Hills

Shimla City

Shimla Church

Gaity Theatre- Balcony

Another Fall

Next morning, we started our downhill journey to New Delhi and believe me we were in no mood to do that. But we had to return back to work and earn some money for our next trip.

Trip Duration: 4 days 3 nights

Expense: Approx. 8000/- pp all inclusive. Ex-Delhi

The Roads are as smooth as Sukhdev’s Makkhan. Kudos to Himachal Govt.for that.

If you want to plan this trip, write to me on or leave comment below.

I will be happy to help.

Friday, September 5, 2014

CITY WALK - Local Tour Guide

Hi, I hope you like the blog post in my Travel Segment.

We shall be more than happy to take you ( individual / group ) for any of the tours you like from this blog in the very best price. 
For tours we recommend Public transport / self driven cars

A.) Walk the City: Mumbai

Our Standard Weekend tour will cover the below: 
1. Fashion street market
2. Victoria Terminus
3. BMC HQ Building
4. Flora Fountain
5. Rajabai Clock Tower
6. Siddhi Vinayak Temple / ISCON Temple
7. Any Irani cafe
8. Carter Road
9. The Antila Tower (World's most expensive home)
10. Haji Ali
11. Bandra fort
12. Kala Ghoda
13. Marine Drive
14. Nariman Point
15. Colaba Causeway
16. Gateway of India

17. Elephanta caves

It is highly recommend that you take our Shopping tour to avoid buying certain materials that you regret upon reaching home.

We recommend you share your interests and tastes with us so that we can develop a customized tour of Mumbai.

Hotel Bookings
We also arrange hotel bookings / Stay with the locals in any city across India.

Kindly Contact me for any details.

email :
Mobile : +919975712713

Monday, July 28, 2014

Matheran - No honking hill station

What can be a better escape on a rainy weekend from Mumbai than Matheran ? Matheran is the only hill station, where vehicles are banned and you can clearly listen the sound of breeze rustling leaves and the sound of the horse shoes.
Yes, you can commute and explore the hills either on your own feet or on a horseback. This is a perfect place for Digital detoxification enjoy on the lap of mother nature.

How to reach : Matheran can be reached by road from Mumbai or Pune via Road or Train with ease.

We decided to take the railways + roadways - You can take a karjat bound train from from CST and get down at Neral. Then either go for toy train ( narrow gauge ) from Neral to Matheran. The toy train is not fully functional during Monsoon season ( from July to September) due to heavy rains. After having some light snacks (vadapav is a must have) at Divdekar food stall at Neral station. Board a shared taxi available at Rs.70/- per person, which shall take you uphill to Dasturi car parking (it is the last point for the vehicles). 

Where To Stay: You can stay in Hotel Cecil, which is a very calm place and fits in budget. Cecil is a heritage building and is about 100 years old.

The rooms are spacious, the toilets are not very well maintained and the food is 9/10. Although they do not serve nov-veg food and alcohol. The rent on a weekend for 1 night was 3000/- for a double occupancy room, which includes all meals.

We booked it through

What to see : Matheran has about 22 points for tourists listed below. All developed by Britishers.
Important points are Alexander Pt., Rambag Pt, Little Chowk Pt, Big Chowk Pt, One Tree Hill Pt, Belvedere Pt, Olympia Race Course, Lords Pt, Charlotte Lake,Celia Pt (a water fall mouth), Echo Pt., Porcupine Pt (Sun Set Pt), Panorama Point (Sun Rise Pt), Khandala Pt, Madhavji Garden & Point, Matheran Railway Station, Louisa Point, Mayra Point, Pisarnath Temple.

It takes about 3 days to cover all the points and having time constraint we decided to visit only.
Charlotte lake , Echo point and Monkey point. So that we have enough time to click some of the best shots.

Breath taking view from Echo Point

If you want to experience adrenaline rush, you can also try Valley crossing from echo point.
And trust me nothing beats hot maggie and corn ( bhutta) at on the mountains, which is a must have thing.

Its advisable to reach back your resort before it gets dark as the hill terrain is not equipped with street lights.
So to catch up with time, we decided to hire horses, with funny names as hawa hawai and champion, which took us to Hotel Cecil before dusk.

After reaching hotel, nothing can beat hot masala Irani chai with bread butter.

After sound sleep during the night and delicious Morning breakfast and tea we left for Mumbai. Took a Toy train (15 mins journey) from Matheran to Aman Lodge, then shared taxi to Neral and then Local train to Thane and finally back home after experiencing a much needed Digital Detoxification.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bow Down to the King - Bandhavgarh

Enter the JUNGLE
Last January, we were in Jabalpur - The city of Marble Rocks for a relatives wedding. En-cashing this opportunity and deciding to go on a short vacation and enjoy great family time explore the woods. Katni is a small town having superb railway connectivity. We opted for roadways, taxis are easily available from Jabalpur to Katni. Its about a 3 hours drive on a not so good road. After reaching Katni and taking refreshments we borrowed a car from a family friend and hit the road again to touch our final destination - Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. We are a happy family of four and all travel enthusiasts. The distance between Katni and Reserve is about 50kms but the you have to drive through kachha road from Teori to Bandhavgarh. This stretch is about 25 kms and runs through the jungle. As per the locals, the road is not well maintained to avoid over speeding of the vehicles which might harm wild animals.


Cold Morning - Safari


Where to stay: After this bumpy ride, it was a delight to reach our pre booked resort - The Bandhav Vilas. It is a beautiful resort just at the brim of the jungle. We were welcomed with a fresh nimbu pani and a warm towel (to wipe of the fatigue). Mr Vijay Parwar, our resort manager was extremely friendly and had a lot of Jungle tales to narrate. They serve amazing veg and non veg food freshly cooked using organic vegetables procured from the near by villages. The resort too has a small farm. Its endorses a small library which is full of various books on flora and fauna. The resort has a swimming pool and spa to relax and de-stress. We also experienced digital detoxification as there was not much mobile network coverage.
Fare : Rs. 8500/- includes 1 daily jungle safari  and all meals for double occupancy room.

Jungle Safari: After a calm night and sound sleep, we geared up for the early morning safari. the resort served tea and snacks even before the dawn @ 4.30 am. The 4X4 wheel drive gypsy with a driver and a guide was waiting outside the resort. The temperature was 4 degree Celcius and the surrounding had a blanket of fog. We were all set to witness the king of Jungle. As we started off with our journey we could see the varied flora and fauna. Got to see many peacocks, bisen, monkeys, enormous colorful birds and countless dears. But you have to be fateful to witness the King. We wandered across the park in search of the tiger but our dormant fate took a steep turn on our way back to the entrance of the reserve. Oh my God, Screamed my brother - there he is - the giant cat - so elegant as if he wanted to say, " Keep calm and Watch the king walk." We held our nerves when he crossed the pathway to get lost in the wild. It was the scariest yet the most elegant moment of our  lives. We reached back to the resort after the dusk. The sky turned orange to impart us a perfect evening before the infinite stars took charge.

Before the sleep: After enjoying the delicious finger licking dinner we decided to sit around the fire place and beat the chills. Trust me we had one of the best  conversations that night, sipping coffee and popping popcorn, before we dozed off sinking between the soft mattress and warm blanket.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Roadtrip to Konkan via Heaven!

Did you ever wish to visit heaven prior to death? Yes it is possible and is situated in a very close proximity to Mumbai. I am talking about “Kaas plateau” aka “The valley of flowers.” The Plateau has been recognized as “bio diversity heritage site” by UNESCO. A car, 3 friends, a DSLR, some beer and cool music what else do we need for a road trip! All of us being fresh graduates did not own a car but we hired a selfdriven diesel car from Girikand travels and headed straight to Mumbai-Pune expressway and reached Satara town in about 6 hours. Being a national highway, the roads were smooth and there was no scarcity of eateries. We halted at one of the dhabas to fill our tummies and kept moving. It was an uphill journey from Satara to 1 of the 7 wonders of Maharashtra – The Kaas Plateau. This 22 kms  ghat is not a very tough one to drive on and its full of scenic beauty. As we move close we could see  the blossoms and suddenly it started drizzling making the journey more pleasing. Car parking venue is after you cross the valley of flowers and you have to walk back to the valley. Once we reached there, all we witnessed was an endless carpet of colourful blooms on both sides of the road.  It seemed as if the rainbow has been laid on the ground.

The whole stretch was so refreshing and rejuvenating that for once, we thought of quitting our jobs and blend in the valley forever. It is a surely a paradise for shutterbugs and can be an inspiration for poets and painters. Kaas also endorses a breathtaking aerial view of Shivsagar lake.  The Kaas plateau is known to be home to around 850 varieties of plants of which around 600 are flowering plants and about 40 of which are only found in Kaas. The volcanic soil i.e. rich in natural minerals is the reason for such wide floral diversity. This plateau is surely an ocean of learning for botanists and researchers. Being a weekend it was crowded.
[Note : Do not pluck or disturb the blossoms and walk only on the pathways marked with stones ].
Best time to visit is end august to November.  
After dumping the idea of quitting jobs and realizing that its getting dark, we hit the road again to reach our final destination- Guhagar. It was about 180 kms drive from Satara via karad and Chiplun.  The roads were not in a good condition throughout the journey and there were some steep ghats, then we reached to the pre booked Nilambari Resort.
Where to stay:
Nilambari Resort- It was a 3 bed non AC room with attached toilet and television.  The resort owner is very friendly and we could bargain and get the fare down to Rs 1000/- from Rs.1500/-. After having typical Konkani poha and tea served at the Resort, we headed to the beach which is about a five minute walk from the resort.

We were awestruck after feeling the smooth white sand on this virgin Guhagar beach. The water was clear and so was the beach. It felt as 3 of us were the only tourists.  After having a dip in the Arabian sea, we headed towards the famous Gopalgarh fort which has great historic significance. It is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddis. It was captured by Shivaji Maharah in 1660.
Being one of the most important lighthouses of India, Anjanvel Light house is a must visit. The lighthouse operator explained us the technicalities involved in signaling and controlling the ships. We halted on an unknown and unnamed venue on the hill and facing the Arabia Sea for some time and did not realize when we ended up halting there for hours. The air was the freshest air we have not had inhaled in our lifetime and the breathtaking view was the best ever experienced. The thought of quitting job was dwindling all over again. We enjoyed some late night drinks on the beach in the moonlight and under the sky full of twinkling stars.
Vyadeshwar and Velaneshwar temple:  Both are temples of Lord Shiva and are the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Brahmins.
What to eat:
While in Guhagar, one must try Konkani vegetarian food like ukdi chamodak, sol kadi, Bhaves, kokam sharbat and  Thali-pith of Suruchi hotel is a must eat. Konkani sea food is globally recognized for its taste and while in this part of the sub-continent, one cannot afford to miss kalva, mhakala, vaghal, bonbil, kolim, kombadi vade, mori mutton, Ghol, Rawas etc.
Next morning we were all set to hit road and decided to take the road less travelled, where we had to cross dabhol creek on a ferry along with our car, which was a superb experience to reach Ratnagiri. Visited an ancient Chandika Devi Temple to reach Pune via not so easy to drive Tamhini Ghat. The ghat is full of waterfalls and scenic beauty during the monsoon. We drove back to Mumbai with a lifetime experience, much improved bond of friendship and promises for the many more upcoming roadtrips.

Must carry stuff on a roadtrip: Aux cable, cigarette point charger, knife, water, jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, old newspapers, mat, bedsheet, nail cutter, mug, DSLR, football, snacks,  beach wear and hell lot of great music.