A beach, a fort, and a lesson- Malvan

I was more of a homebody than I would like to admit, a few years ago. Other than traveling to and...

Geeta Masurekar

Mysore Maharajah's Palace (Amba Vilas)
Mysuru (Mysore)
This palace which was the seat of the Wodeyar kings was rebuilt in the year 1912 by an English architect named Henry Irwin as the original one was destroyed of fire in 1897. This palace is one of the best examples not only of the Edwardian Raj Era but also of Indian Royal architecture. The beautiful kaliedoscope of stained glass enhanced with the wood carved doors and mosaic floors is exquisite undoubtedly. The museum of weapons is a must visit along with the part of the palace where you see a number of beautifully carved statues and paintings referring to the life of Mysore in that era.The palace is lit up with hundreds of bulbs every evening from 7:00 PM - 7:45 PM and the whole evening on public holidays. This is when you get a more extravagant view of this royal beauty.
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysore Zoo
Indiranagar, Near Mysore Palace, Mysuru (Mysore) 570 010
This beautiful zoo was established in the year 1892 by Raja Chamarajendra Wodeyar who is also said to be one of the main architects of the Mysore City. The original name of this zoo was thus Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens. The zoo covers a large area and the animals are protected in a way that they have ample amount of space to roam about freely and feel close to nature. The Karanji Lake inside the zoo at present was taken over by the zoo authorities to increase the charm of this zoo as well as provide visitors with a little more. The Karanji Lake is thus a perfect place for boating and bird watching. Early hours of the day are when you will enjoy the most here with the beautiful views of gorgeous animals and also a peaceful experience with very less crowds. Regular programs and educational events such as insect exhibitions are organized here and a tour to this zoo is not only entertaining but also educative.
Chamundi Hill Bull Statue
Chamundi Hills, Mysuru (Mysore)
This is the highest and probably the most important landmark of Mysore. Located very close to the Tipu Sultan's Palace, this is a perfect option for adventure seekers. Hiking is a popular activity enjoyed by tourists here and the most important attraction is of course the Chamundeshwari Temple on the peak of the Hill. This place was once named Mahishapura after the name of the Buffalo Demon. He became extremely powerful with a boon that no man could kill him. He became arrogant and started torturing all the gods and goddesses. This is when all the lords of heaven decided to take the help of Goddess Shakti who then took the form of the fierce Chamundeshwari. The goddess is said to have killed the demon on this hill after which the hill was named Chamundi Hills. The region was once also named as Mahabaleshpura as the cult Deity was Lord Shiva and there is also a lovely temple dedicated to the God of Gods, Lord Shiva here. Later, when the Wodayar kings accepted Chamundeshwari as the royal goddess, the temple of Chamundeshwari temple became more popular. There is also a life size statue of Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva. This Bull statue is the third largest bull statue of India. There is also a brightly painted statue of Mahishasura on the foothills and this is a hotspot for clicking group photos by all tourists.


Pune
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Called the Oxford of the East, Pune is a bubbling cosmopolitan city. A large student hub, this city loves art, culture and theatre. The Sahyadri hill range of the Western Ghats makes this destination ideal for hiking and wildlife spotting. A shower of rain brings the city alive. The Agha Khan Palace of Pune is a sprawling complex with emerald green gardens and sprawling lawns, perfect for a casual stroll. The Shaniwarwada is an ancient structure built by the Peshwas and the ruins of this marvellous architecture can still be seen in the city. Dedicated to the brave hearts of the Indian Army, the National War Museum is a popular tourist destination and houses militia paraphernalia. Those interested in meditation can get day passes from the Osho International Meditation Resort, which is very popular with tourists. Handcrafted beer, baked goodies at the Kayani Bakery on East Street and eateries such as Touche the Sizzler, Malaka Spice and Dario's will complete your trip here.
Panaji
This is the capital of the state of Goa and is probably the smallest state capital. Panaji is also the headquarters of the North Goa District and is situated on the banks of the Mandovi River Estuary is the Tiswada Region. The more popular name is Panaji but Panjim is also a commonly used term. This was the name by which the Portuguese used to address this city. When the whole of India got independence, Goa was still under the colonial rule of the Portuguese who freed it a number of years later. The Portuguese effect is what you will get in each and every thing of Goa and Panjim too. The attractions here are the lovely white church, the food that you will get here and of course the different types of building lined on the sides of the narrow streets. These houses are the remains of the various clans who have ruled here including the Latins and the Portuguese. The houses look beautiful and brightly coloured and many of them have simple yet pretty wrought iron balconies too. Many of these are now either resorts for budget concious travellers or restaurants for the ones who love to taste Portuguese and Goan cuisine.
Calangute
The third day started of late, and as it was our last day, we spent the some time in lazing around in the pool. At around 3 we visited Calangute beach where we enjoyed a few water sports (snorkling, parasailing etc). They offer great packages but it is very important to negotiate the prices. I personally would recommend water sports at this beach.
Lonavala
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October,November,December
A modern-day resort town, the hill station of Lonavala is around 106km from Mumbai. It makes for a great weekend getaway from Pune as well, if staying at luxury hotels, spending time with family at a massive waterpark, roaming the halls of a wax museum and go-carting sound like fun to you. If you are here during the monsoons, do check out the many gurgling waterfalls. You can even drive or take a local bus to the fascinating Karla and Bhaja Caves nearby. But if you would rather do nothing, then driving aimlessly through the green Sahyadri ranges all day, while stopping for the locally-made chikki candy is also a good way of indulging in tourism in Lonavala. There are even some yoga retreats that you can check into for some professionally-guided relaxation. If you have more time, you can combine a trip to Lonavala with a visit to the popular Lohagad and Visapur forts, located in Khandala.
Kolhapur
Best time to visit - February,March,April,May,June,July
Kolhapur, in Maharashtra, is a land of temples and regal palaces. The most revered of them is the Mahalaxmi Temple, which has a simple yet fascinating structure. Other temples here are the Temlabai temple, Jyotiba temple and the Bimkhambi Ganesh temple. The Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Museum, which was once the residence of the first Maharaja of the Maratha Empire, is a vivid display of artefacts representing the ancient history of the city. Take a walk through history at the Panhala Fort, which is an imposing fortification believed to have housed Chhatrapati Shivaji himself. Kolhapur is known for its spicy array of Maharashtrian food. Try some of the local delicacies at Padma Guest House, Waman Guest House and Parakh. Being a bustling tourist destination, Kolhapur has a lot to offer when it comes to lodging for all types of budget travellers. Don't forget to take back the local Kolhapuri Chappals, that make for lovely traditional footwear.
Benaulim
Day 3-We got up early today to catch the sunrise of the day at Colva. Early morning was breezy, cozy and fresh. The sand covers itself into hues of golden rays and view is spectacular.Advise- Go barefoot to enjoy sunrise. Walk into the slow gentle waves as they wash the shore, feel the cool breeze and love the breathtaking sight in front of you. If you are accompanied with your love interest, its icing on the cake.Varca beach - This exotic beach has white sand and a lot of peace and serenity, making it an ideal spot for sea bathing. Magnificent Palm trees around seashore line made it more beautiful. Lots of little white crab were around the beach.Colva-Benaulim-Varca – this is one endless stretch of white sand beach.We move towards Benaulim. You could find some best spa here to pamper yourself.You can get tattoos and hair braiding done at a very cheap price. You just need to bargain.We saw the lovely sunset at beach.Advise – Try different cocktails in Goa like Prawn Cocktail with Jack Daniels Sauce, yummier and tastier. Try their local drink ‘Fenny’ but not all love this drink.We returned to our stay and end our day with street shopping at Colva beach. We brought few souvenir at very cheap rate (all thanks to our bargaining skills), some cool shorts and T-shirts at unbelievable price. For girls, you get really cool clothes at very less price. We shop cashew nuts with brown cover. Its tastier than the regular cashew nuts. You can also buy authentic cashew chocolates. Beware of the frauds as they cheat the tourists.We returned our bikes and moved towards airports to catch flight for Bangalore. Tip before you move to Goa, Goans are really very friendly and helpful but there is exception everywhere.
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