This is a town in the Solapur District and one of the most popular pilgrimage sites of Maharashtra. The Kuladivat Temple is extremely revered and you can take the blessings of the Lord Vitthal no matter what caste or religion you belong to. The god here is known by many other names such as Pandurang, Vitthal or Pandhari. The idols of Vithoba and Rukmini are believed to be the Universal Gods of all Maharasthrians and they also believe that they are the reincarnations of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The Temple has 6 gates and the Eastern one is known as the Namdev Gate. This is where you will find the standing idol of Vithoba guarding the entrance. 13th Century inscriptions are still clearly found on the walls of this temple. The Pad- Sparsha Darshan in which you can enter the main sanctum and lay your head on the feet pf Lord Vitthal to seek his blessings is a popular ceremony here. The secularism followed here attracts even more tourists. Read More
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190 Kms from Pandharpur
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. Read More
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.
For starters, Pune has the Imagica theme park with rides, restaurants, and performances that can make any summer vacation a delight. You can stay at Novotel Imagica Khopoli that’s inside the theme park and let the young ones try every ride and slide with no time pressure.A more refined experience in Pune is ABC Farms, where you can take your little gourmet travellers to sample different varieties of cheese. Slightly older kids can accompany you to the Soma Vine Village in Nashik for a tranquil holiday amidst picturesque vineyards. What will they do there, you ask?Hang out at the Red Room that is full of games, try adventure sports such as rock climbing, go cycling on the estates, and swim in the pool. Meanwhile, you can do wine tastings and vineyard tours.
Finally had to say good buy to the picturesque Ooty which rejuvenated my soul !Visit Ooty any time of the year and it would never disappoint you . But if you are an ardent fan of nature , visit this place during monsoons . It would give you a chance to redefine beauty .
It all started with the idea of giving a birthday surprise. Packed the bags and started off the trip from Pune with birthday boy.You can reach Ooty by choosing various routes. One way to reach is via Banglore/Mysore . I opted for nearest airport from Ooty i.e. Pune to Coimbatore via flight and then covered remaining 85km(approx) distance to Ooty by road . You get cabs easily from main road outside the airport.Don't go for the taxis which are inside airport's premises as they would charge higher .
The alarm buzzed at 6 AM and we were supposed to join office but we were 250 Km far from Pune . Within 30 minutes we were ready and left Kolhapur . Made a call to my manager that I will be a bit late as I have an appointment with a doctor and by 11 AM we reached home. Yippie the trip is over successfully time to go to work and I was at my desk by 12 PM responding to the emails and back to normal daily life.My manager enquired me about my health and what happened that I need to visit doctor but deep inside I was smiling thinking about my journey :)Distance Travelled : 269 KmTotal Distance Travelled : 1529 KmDo watch our Entire Journey here https://youtu.be/nzni-bL9QyoThanks for going through my travelogs , do watch the trailer video that i linked with this blog . Comment and let me know your views ,it will inspire us for more trips in near future . Also you can connect with our facebook page https://facebook.com/moto2wrist and our youtube channel MOTO2WRIST where we upload more such videosTHANKSRAKESH (MOTO2WRIST)
The bus dropped me off at 6 AM across a highway with nothing in sight but a tiny tea stall and a dingy OYO room service that cost more than my flight tickets back from Pune to Delhi. Like other two coastal stays, this city served a purpose as well and we’ll unfold it after we get through my understanding of progressive rock and music in general.I don’t own any instruments. I couldn’t afford one and now it’s just too late because I would rather invest my money on things that’d shape memories and reap benefits for a happier future.The pure joy of music came very late to me, at least the kind that gets me numb and holds its wire against the pulse of my wrist to check if I’m still alive. More than anything else, it’s like running on a hedonic treadmill that won’t stop unless you want it to.Exhilarating. Overwhelming. Soothing.Three words that summed up my interpretation of music, irrespective of the genre like books and on-the-road shenanigans.
Before we get to actual trip, here’s what happened during the prep stage. As a lazy guy, procrastination is my forte. So obviously when it came to packing for this trip, I waited until the last day (the last 10 hours of the last day, to be precise). The last time I was in Himachal Pradesh, the weather was perfect for beach-bum shorts, flip-flops and if I was feeling risque enough, a floral shirt. This time was a little different. Since it was the beginning of Winter, the temperature there did not permit the exposure of my sexy legs and so I had to pack accordingly. Once I got that out of the way, with a little help from a friend who folded my clothes and my underwear (reluctantly) while I supervised, I was ready to leave.
Anyway, I booked my flight, registered with the organisers and like a professional procrastinator; waited till the day of departure to pack my bags. Needless to say that I was bound to screw up one of these things, and it ended up being my ticket booking. I accidentally booked my return ticket for July instead of June. Now if any of you have ever travelled spontaneously, you will probably know that websites like makemytrip, via and trivago are the most helpful when you need to book cheap flights. However, they behave like you’re a sinner if you need to cancel or reschedule bookings.The first option was to ring up their customer-care line. When I did, it sounded something like this, ‘Your call is being transfered and might be recored for training purposes’, followed by twenty minutes of ear-cancer causing music before you decide to hang up, if not yourself. Tip: Don’t be fooled by that sweet-talking recorded voice. You will never hear another human voice if you wait on that line.Option two was to email them. Getting a response was a long shot, but worth the try. I got a reply a few hours later, telling me that I coudn’t be reimbursed for my stupidity and that I had to live with the consequences of my hasty actions. It was a little better worded than that, but you get the gist. Feeling stupid, I decided to go ahead and cancel the return ticket and book another in its place. There was bound to be a twist, and this was the most annoying one yet. Just after accepting that I had to pay a higher price for my new ticket and not be reimbursed for my old one, I got a call from the airlines saying they are willing to convert my cancelled ticket money into points that I could redeem while booking my new flight. Sounds perfect right? Except I had already booked my new ticket! So to sum up, I messed up while booking my return flight, was told that I was an idiot and was not going to be reimbursed, cancelled the ticket, booked a new one for twice as much and then got a call saying that I could have gotten the new ticket for cheaper than the original.With all this happening before I even left, you can only imagine how enthusiastic about the actual journey I was. But it turned out to be the best trip I have ever been on (no pun intended). More incidents that occurred on the trip coming soon, stay tuned.
The "Oxford of the East" is a proud member of the elite top 5 in our list, and rightly so because the place is brimming with fantastic nightclubs at every nook and corner thanks to the large population of students. Pune boasts of wild parties all year round despite and the boys and girls don't even need an occasion to be honest. I know because I spent 7 years of my life doing the same there.Tripoto's top 3 of the city: Mi-a-Mi, High Spirits, and Area 51.Average expenditure for two: Rs. 3,000Read more about the city.
Also known as the "Oxford of the East", Pune boasts of one of the youngest populations in the country thanks to it being home to various academic universities. The current internet generation is appreciative of all kinds of music and hence music festivals here witness crowds in great numbers. Also the fact that Pune is the true hub of Marathi arts and culture, the world's largest Indian Classical music festival – Sawai Gandharva – is also hosted by this city. That's some variety, eh!Some Major Music Festivals Hosted: Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav (Indian Classical) in December, NH7 Weekender (various genres) in December.Read more about Pune.
Finally, on 23rd December by 11:00am we reached Pune via Mumbai and our journey ended there without any losses in the tour and returning all healthy.Even after 13 months, the memories of this trip are fresh enough that we still remember each and every city and places with all micro conversations and discussions we had. I still remember my interviews, they being one of the toughest I faced in my career (Because, I didn’t take them seriously at all to study more about the profiles on offer).Key Takeaway from this tour: Travels can teach you everything but your career doesn’t stray with you like a wanderlust. After giving four interviews in the tour, I was still jobless at the end, but some good opportunity was waiting for me as I am enjoying my current work and organization.This journey transitioned my experience to a different level and made us confident enough to visit any city or country with little research about them. After that I had many other trips like this and my soul always craves for trips like these of course with my travel buddy - Vineet. (Always chose your travel partner wisely!)And to highlight the best part of this trip – that the overall experience was just worth Rs.10,500 each.“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” – Paulo CoelhoThis is my first attempt to share my experience with all the aspiring travels out there through this contest. I suggest and highly recommend everybody to go on trips like these. Some anonymous, unplanned and following your heart trips are the best ones for an experience, which will be enough to add that smile on your faces with those life long memories.“Because, travels keep you going” – Rahul Mahant
296 Kms from Pandharpur
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.Read More
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.
Finally the day came. Valentine's day, we woke up early in the morning and left to Panjim for the carnival. After 30-45 minutes we reached Panjim and joined the carnival. Many groups were performing at that carnival, it was something that I can't forget in my life. Well planned, well coordinated. Awesome performance was given by the groups and members who participated in that Carnival . We spent our whole day in that carnival and we enjoyed to the maximum.
We then headed towards panjim, the quaint capital city of this cute state of goa. I had made my list of places to go much before the trip started and hence was searching for a boutique shop called Barefoot. It is difficult to locate but worth your time. The shop has great collection of eclectic home decor products and also pretty everyday wear jewels. The shop is located at 31st Janeiro Road or as the locals say 31st January Road, just near the subway,in a bylane.
A day I was looking forward to, today I took the ride from North Goa to South Goa. I had one beach in mind, very less known, secluded and amazingly scenic. Hollant Beach is a secluded beach close to the airport and very less people know about it. The ride is also awesome, this is one good place to pack a lunch, chill and spend a day. The major attraction is that this beach offers one km of shore line with pool like water and nominal waves. This is the place to come and play a game of water polo with your friends.I had booked a flight next day early morning, this gave me 4 full days in Goa.
295 Kms from Pandharpur
On reaching our guest house, we freshen up and went to beach . It was around 4 a.m in the morning but the aura of the place made us forget all our tiredness. In the morning , Ankit received a call and we got to know that one of our friend is already in Goa with his family.After a peaceful snooze , we took shower and went outside , hired a car and started our local sightseeing while heading towards Panjim . We decided to join the carnival that was supposed to be held on Valentine's day there. After a long fun-filled day, we went back to guest house and took some rest. Spending night on Calangute beach with friends while enjoying the music of water waves ,beer in hands, and cold breeze, gave an awesome feeling!!Read More
On reaching our guest house, we freshen up and went to beach . It was around 4 a.m in the morning but the aura of the place made us forget all our tiredness. In the morning , Ankit received a call and we got to know that one of our friend is already in Goa with his family.After a peaceful snooze , we took shower and went outside , hired a car and started our local sightseeing while heading towards Panjim . We decided to join the carnival that was supposed to be held on Valentine's day there. After a long fun-filled day, we went back to guest house and took some rest. Spending night on Calangute beach with friends while enjoying the music of water waves ,beer in hands, and cold breeze, gave an awesome feeling!!
7) Calm Sunset at Calangute Beach
We had booked 2 tier sleeper bus tickets and reached Panjim at 8 in the morning. From there, we took a bus to Calangute which took around 40 minutes to reach. We booked two rooms at a hotel near the beach for 1200 a day. It had two big beds, a nice and clean bathroom and a balcony! We anyway needed the room just to crash at night! We spent that day chilling at the beach, drinking beer and eating goan food at one of the beach shacks.
We reached the bus stop at around 8 am, took a bus to Calangute beach and in between saw the lanes of Old Goa with Portuguese houses all around us. We reached our hotel and the rest of the people joined us in the afternoon. Directly we headed to Baga beach, some of us saw the beach for first time and they were captivated by its beauty. The tossing waves of Baga and people jumping into it for a good amount of time really held us.
• Nightlife :- At the end of the day, what is Goa without its vibrant parties! This is by far the best season for party animals, as places like Mambo’s and Tito’s that you usually need to queue up endlessly to enter are now free of the crowds. Head to the Bar at Park Hotel in Calangute, or enjoy live music at the chilled out Cavala, on Baga-Calangute Road. If karaoke is what you’re looking for then head to St. Anthony’s bar on Baga Beach and sing your heart out. Another popular nightclub in Goa remains the LPK (short for Love Passion Karma) in Candolim, which is famous for its foot tapping music and peppy ambience. Goa is the only state in India where gambling is legal and there are many floating casinos where you can try your luck at the slot machines and roulette.
Airport to Calangute taxi costed us 900rs. The pre-book cab services inside the terminal is also 900rs but has very long queues. If you are planning to book from outside the airport, make sure you bargain. We were told 1200rs for one way cab and finally managed to hail one at 900rs.If you are coming by a train, the closest station to South Goa is Thivim (only 30mins).
291 Kms from Pandharpur
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Before the tropical air hits you here, an uncanny sense of time travel does, as you scan the historic Vijayanagar's devastatingly beautiful ruins and temples spread across the boulder-strewn landscape. The ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (1343-1565), which has now become a favourite hipster holiday destination, is best explored on foot or bicycle. It has a lot of famous attractions such as the Hemakuta Hill, home to the ancient scattered ruins and a monolithic sculpture of Hindu God Vishnu, along with Hampi Bazaar, once an ancient trading spot for horses, silk, cows, precious stones and now a hub of handicraft shops and little restaurants, with the 15th century Virupaksha temple at its western end and the 16th century Vittala temple at its eastern end. Sule Bazaar and the Achyutaraya temple is also a must visit. This historic expedition can get tiresome and overwhelming for many, and the village in contrast maintains a very laid back atmosphere, with innumerable guest houses spread around, some even with a fascinating spartan setting, costing no more than 300 rupees. Just like its ruins, an ancient festival called the Hampi Utsav has also been kept alive since the Vijayanagar reign and is celebrated annually in November, with light and sound shows, music and dance performances, all boasting of the Kannadigas' rich culture, set against the backdrop of Hampi's ruins. The Mango Tree restaurant is a quaint place reached via passing through a banana plantation. Other good places to eat include Prince Restaurant, Goan Corner Restaurant and Laughing Buddha, popular for South Indian, Chinese, Israeli, Tibetan, and usual vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, enjoyed by the riverside. Read More
Before the tropical air hits you here, an uncanny sense of time travel does, as you scan the historic Vijayanagar's devastatingly beautiful ruins and temples spread across the boulder-strewn landscape. The ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (1343-1565), which has now become a favourite hipster holiday destination, is best explored on foot or bicycle. It has a lot of famous attractions such as the Hemakuta Hill, home to the ancient scattered ruins and a monolithic sculpture of Hindu God Vishnu, along with Hampi Bazaar, once an ancient trading spot for horses, silk, cows, precious stones and now a hub of handicraft shops and little restaurants, with the 15th century Virupaksha temple at its western end and the 16th century Vittala temple at its eastern end. Sule Bazaar and the Achyutaraya temple is also a must visit. This historic expedition can get tiresome and overwhelming for many, and the village in contrast maintains a very laid back atmosphere, with innumerable guest houses spread around, some even with a fascinating spartan setting, costing no more than 300 rupees. Just like its ruins, an ancient festival called the Hampi Utsav has also been kept alive since the Vijayanagar reign and is celebrated annually in November, with light and sound shows, music and dance performances, all boasting of the Kannadigas' rich culture, set against the backdrop of Hampi's ruins. The Mango Tree restaurant is a quaint place reached via passing through a banana plantation. Other good places to eat include Prince Restaurant, Goan Corner Restaurant and Laughing Buddha, popular for South Indian, Chinese, Israeli, Tibetan, and usual vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, enjoyed by the riverside.
My first coracle ride was at 2 am in the middle of a chilling night from Sanapur to Hampi ,crossing the tranquil Tungabhadra. Me along with my five friends had gone to Sanapur from Hampi by taking a motor boat early in the day for spending some time there, as Sanapur was one of the most happening places around. So by completing all the so called 'To do check list' in Sanapur we came back to the banks of Tungabhadra hoping for a boat to take us over to Hampi as our hotel rooms were there. But there was no boat and only a coracle laid there in the dark welcoming us and and a small boy was on board with an oar in his hand.The coracle thing was not in our checklist and we had to improvise it, if we had to make it to the other side of the river and get to sleep. We hopped into the coracle after negotiating the night rates. Yeah! you know it, nights are costly.The coracle thing was made out of interlaced bamboo strips from side to the bottom. Obviously I coudn't see whether it was made of bamboo or plastic or whatever in the middle of a dark night . But you know what ,I figured it out the next day, and the day after as it turned out , I had never waited for a motor boat again in that trip, because that coracle ride in the middle of the night was pure bliss. It was not much far from floating in Tungabhadra .
Hampi in Karnataka, which is a group of ruins and monuments, used to originally be the go to place for wall climbers. But this pretty much changed when bouldering enthusiasts were overtaken by the crowds who decided to give 'revisiting history' a chance. So many Israeli cafes have opened up here, and intoxication is quite common. Hampi isn't completely done and dusted. There's still time to save this beautiful heritage site from the wrath of unwanted, careless tourists.
Day 5: It's a last day:(Today we explored the other side of the river. Hampi is divided by river where the other side of the river is Anegundi village.There are coracle rides to take to cross the river which we had heard lot of and wanted to ride on but sadly since there was no water in the river we just crossed the river by walking and reached the Anegundi village and visited main attractions on that side- one of the best one for it's view being 'Monkey temple' or also known 'Anjani Parvat'.After climbing 575 steps and saving ourselves from the monkeys we finally made it to the top all exhaused but view was all worth the pain! We chilled at Laughing Buddha shack-also a must go when at Hampi enjoying the "Dolce far niente"(an italian saying which means-sweetness of doing nothing) and enjoying the last moments of a trip full of fun!We left for Hospet in the evening which is 30 minutes away from Hampi for our bus to Mumbai! And this ended our wonderful trip to Gokarna and Hampi and we were back with beautiful memories to treasure lifelong!!!
Day 4: Trekking-Walking-TrekkingWe started our morning with a trek to Hemkuta Hill for the sunrise-for which we were late and missed the sunrise but the view was amazing. Then we started with a visit to famous Virupaksha temple and all other important and famous ruined complexes- Stone Chariot, Queen's Bath, Elephant's stable , Sisters rock, Achutarya temple and many more. Suggestion-Do take a guide at Virupaksha temple and Vijaya Vittala temple to know about Hampi and it's history better!Evening was a time for Matanga Hill trek.When in Hampi, you simply can't miss this trek. It is wonderful sunset point and not that difficult to climb except for monkeys make it little bit scary!
Hampi has risen to the top among the list of quick travel destinations in the recent years. Known for the abundant cave temples, the detailed carvings on them are noticeably flawless. One can just stare and admire the intricacy for hours. Cut out of a single rock are the four temples called ‘Badami’- meaning the color of almonds in colloquial term. It is an ideal picnic spot with river Tungabhadra flowing and boating facilities available during seasons. There are well figured statues of Nataraja in front of Cave 1 and Lord Vishnu guarding cave 3, only adding to the extravagance. If some time away is what you’re seeking, Hampi will not fail your zeal.Distance from Mumbai - 743 Kms-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You should probably take a trip to some place far and enjoy the weekend. We know that you are a workaholic but at times it is necessary for one to stop what they are doing, go on a little vacation, and come back thoroughly refreshed. That is exactly what we want from you so here is a list of all the places to visit near Mumbai. These places near Mumbai will cut you off from the city. There is something for the entire family to do in each of the places. It is time to start planning a trip. Life in the faced paced city of Mumbai can take its toll on one’s health. Therefore, as prescribes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Take out time from that ever so busy schedule and plan a weekend away from all the hustle and bustle. Well, here is where we come in to the picture. We know that you don’t have that much time to do all the searching so we have come up with a list that makes mention of the best weekend getaways from Mumbai. Take a look. You may as well end up spending the weekend at one of our suggestions.When the stress of work and life itself gets to you, all you need is a short weekend break to shake it all off. If you live or work in Mumbai all the more reason to pack your bags. There are plenty of places to visit around Mumbai and you don’t need an extended holiday for it. With just a few kms separating you from these idyllic weekend destinations you don’t have to think twice. Just pack your bags and go wherever the road leads you. Mumbai city can get a little overwhelming at times. The traffic jams and rush hour at the train stations can be a nuisance. This weekend, take a short road trip to get away from it all. It will do you a world of good.
We woke up before sunrise with the chirping noise of birds and the moment we came out from our cottage we were astonished by the sheer beauty of the location. The resort was located just at the side of the walls of Tungbhadra Dam . The resort guy asked us to have a walk to the top of the dam and then you can enjoy the water park here .Till then the breakfast will be ready . Soon we were on top of Tungbhadra Dam puzzled by the boulders everywhere .After quick tour to the water park we were ready for the tour to HAMPI .
HampiThe ancient ruins of Hampi have been recognized as a World Heritage Site for its historical and archaeological importance. This place has some exquisite temples and a heaven for Temple Backpacking enthusiasts. As a matter of fact, it is a marvelous place for all the people who are interested in architectural beauties. Have a look at the temples below:
Yes, you read that right. 'Being Hampi' cause that's what the place does to you. You won't be able to get out of Hampi and get back to your routine life for a while post this trip; unless you're one of the strong ones. However, the place leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and calm that you'll not get if you've been working crazily for a month with no weekends. That's exactly why this trip for me was much needed.An overnight journey from Hyderabad in an AC sleeper Volvo bus took around 9 hours on the 14th of February. After arrival at the bus station I took an auto towards the boat drop point to cross to the other side. I had booked an AirBnB (Chinni's House) for 2 nights on the other side of the river. He was polite to send an auto for my pickup. After arriving at Chinni's I freshened up and rented a scooty for 2 days to go around Hampi.Day 1 - Bus rides can be taxing, so we decided to have a relaxed day. We first went to the Sanapur lake which was ethereal. The blueness of the lake with the picturesque view made me chill there for around an hour feeling the wind in my hair all the while. We then went to grab lunch in the German Bakery which is quite popular there. The food was okayish and overpriced. (Most of Hampi is). Towards the evening we explored the Virupaksha temple which is right next to the other side of the river. We climbed to the top for the first sunset in Hampi which felt amazing. Towards the evening we roamed around the streets and had dinner at a different hotel and enjoyed the movie night watching 'Wolf of Wall Street'.Day 2 - We started the day with breakfast at Bejamin's, his wife and he moved to Hampi and have been there for around 10 years now. The dosas served were crispy with a yummy chutney. Taking off from there, we started on the temple trail. Anegundi Village, Chintamani Temple, Lakshmi temple and Durga Temple are the ones to explore. Each of them have a sense of uniqueness which their own stories and quirks. My favorite was the Monkey Temple on the top of Anjanye Parvath where Lord Hanuman was born. One has to climb 575 steps to reach on top for the fabulous view oh Hampi and the sunset. We went back to the one of the hip places 'Laughing Buddha Cafe' which was renowned for good food. With the amount of hard work we'd done, a sumptuous meal was in order. We stayed late for another movie night and took a scooty ride back to Chinni's. The extraordinary thing is that Hampi population dies down early, so post 10 PM the eerie surroundings might scare you a little. However, the starry sky with the serenity around made it worthwhile!Day 3 - We had booked the government approved guide for a bicycle tour which costs around 450 bucks. We checked out from Chinni's since we had the bus back this night. As recommended by our host, we had breakfast at the Mango Tree Hotel which serves quite a platter. We left our luggage there to join our tour group. The guide took us around to all the spots on the other side of the river which was for around 3 hours. He explained the details about the sites with utmost clarity and detail. If you're the one keen on knowing history this is a good investment. However, you can also choose to explore the trail yourself. By afternoon I was too tired to go anywhere else, so had lunch too at the Mango Tree which was decent. I roamed around in the evening to the other temples nearby and explored the shops on foot.Getting back to the Hospet Junction to board the bus was easy as there are plenty of autos to take you there. There are many firsts that I that have from this trip, it was definitely a refreshing one that helped me understand myself a little more. The travel bug has bitten me and I'm not stopping anytime soon.Overall Expenses: 5500 INR (2 night, 3 days)
248 Kms from Pandharpur
Best time to visit - N/A
The destination of the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves where you find a new meaning of beauty, Aurangabad was named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The city is located at the banks of the Kham River and known as one of the most historically significant cities of Maharshtra. You will also find the best museums out here which include the three most important ones. These are the Sunehri Mahal Museum, University Museum and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. apart from recieving all other modern facilities and amenities during your trip, you can laze away the afternoons in the beauty of the Bani Begum Gardens too. Read More
The destination of the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves where you find a new meaning of beauty, Aurangabad was named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The city is located at the banks of the Kham River and known as one of the most historically significant cities of Maharshtra. You will also find the best museums out here which include the three most important ones. These are the Sunehri Mahal Museum, University Museum and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. apart from recieving all other modern facilities and amenities during your trip, you can laze away the afternoons in the beauty of the Bani Begum Gardens too.
Before exploring Bombay we were at our friend’s place at Aurangabad, Maharashtra spending quality time with family. We had a chance to visit Ajanta. It’s a 2 hour drive from Aurangabad. A must visit if you are around Ajanta. It is a thousand years old cave and took around 700 years to construct. I would suggest reading up about Ajanta and then visiting the place rather than hiring a guide, which I did not find reliable. But yes they’ll show some interesting paintings, 3D effects and illusions inside the cave. Total there are 30 caves, only 26 are accessible the other four don’t have a way to get inside. It’ll take you around 3 hours to see all the caves.
As they say that happiness is along the journey not at the end of it, we were actually experiencing it in this road trip of Maharashtra. It was day 3 and we had to cover two more Jyotirlings which were Nagnath in Aundha and Vaijnath in Parli.We had an amazing Maharashtrian breakfast before we left.
Aurangabad is a bustling town (The world-heritage Ajanta and Ellora caves are a little distance away) and I could comfortably find a decent hotel (Hotel Karthiki) near the main bus stop. The hotel was cheap and pretty good for the tariff (Rs. 600 per night). I freshened up and then headed out to the main bus stop to figure out how to get to Lonar. Turns out Lonar wasn’t very much frequented by tourists and was more or less an off-beat destination. I guess researchers and geologists were the ones enamored by the place. So here was the deal with buses. Private buses leave at around 2.30 am to a place called Sultanpur which is about 15km from Lonar. Sultanpur lay enroute to Pune so all buses heading towards Pune might as well stop there on request. There are state transport buses from Aurangabad to Lonar as well but their availability is meager compared to the private buses. One can also take a state transport bus from Aurangabad to Jalna and then head off to Lonar. Jalna is around 100 kms from Lonar and the availability of buses to Lonar from Jalna is more than in Aurangabad. I weighed my options and decided to take a private bus at 2.30am to Sultanpur. Sultanpur is 135km from Aurangabad. The bus promptly did turn up at 2.30 am. It was an uneventful ride to Sultanpur. Reached Sultanpur at about 5.30am. Sultanpur operates private autos to Lonar Village. I parked myself in one of these and amidst “Baazigar” reached Lonar at 6.30am.
Aurangabad is a good place to visit if u love street food.... WE had street sandwich which I think not a single hi fi restaurant can make... WE tasted almost everything there which was available on the streets. There are few historical places but govt is not maintaining them so no one visit them.
This city is named after Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. It was called Fatehpur before it took its present name. This city is gateway to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves. Developed as a modern city, Aurangabad provides all comforts and modern facilities.
Arrive into Aurangabad on a morning flight. Transfer to your hotel and proceed for a half-day sightseeing tour of the Ajanta/ Ellora complex. Don't forget to take a torch- it'll come in handy inside the caves. Return to your hotel at your convenience. Overnight Aurangabad.
We spotted a rustic, vegetarian dhaba called ‘Deluxe Dhaba’ and attacked the food as soon it was served. Dal Tadka and Shev Bhaji, (a famous local Maharashtrian dish) was our nourishment for the night. After a few quick cups of tea, we set off again at a steady pace.
The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments, including the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as Bibi Ka Maqbara. Recently, Aurangabad has been declared as Tourism Capital of Maharashtra. The hand crafted caves of Ajanta and Ellora are astonishing, renowned for their sculptures, paintings and rare architecture. City Chowk as its name suggest, the center of the city, near the chowk is Buddi Lane known for spicy and delicious foods. Shah Gunj has a big fruit and vegetables market in the city. Aurangabadi cuisine is much like the Mughlai cuisine with its aromatic pulao and biryani. P.S.- Bring a torch with you to the Ajanta caves as many of them are quite dark and lighting is poor.
245 Kms from Pandharpur
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October,November,December
Surrounded by lush green valleys and numerous caves, Lonavala is a hill station set in the Sahyadri ranges. Its various treks, such as the Lonavala-Bhimashankar trek and the climb to Lohagad Fort and Duke’s Nose make it a favourite spots for trekkers and hikers. Lonavala gleams beautifully green during the monsoon months, with waterfalls oozing out of everywhere. Besides the hikes, there are the the Karla and Bhaja caves, Tiger’s Leap, Lonavala Lake and Bhushi Dam to visit. Apart from its boundless scenic beauty, Lonavala now boasts of a private adventure park as well. With endless shops in a row selling chikkis of all flavours, Lonavala is a paradise for all chikki lovers. The trademark chocolate walnut fudge is another scrumptious sweet treat. By virtue of connecting the prominent cities of Mumbai and Pune by both road and rail, Lonavala serves as a quick escape resort town having accommodation of all kinds and for all budgets. Read More
Surrounded by lush green valleys and numerous caves, Lonavala is a hill station set in the Sahyadri ranges. Its various treks, such as the Lonavala-Bhimashankar trek and the climb to Lohagad Fort and Duke’s Nose make it a favourite spots for trekkers and hikers. Lonavala gleams beautifully green during the monsoon months, with waterfalls oozing out of everywhere. Besides the hikes, there are the the Karla and Bhaja caves, Tiger’s Leap, Lonavala Lake and Bhushi Dam to visit. Apart from its boundless scenic beauty, Lonavala now boasts of a private adventure park as well. With endless shops in a row selling chikkis of all flavours, Lonavala is a paradise for all chikki lovers. The trademark chocolate walnut fudge is another scrumptious sweet treat. By virtue of connecting the prominent cities of Mumbai and Pune by both road and rail, Lonavala serves as a quick escape resort town having accommodation of all kinds and for all budgets.
Route B: The second trail begins from Lonavala and crosses the Tungarali Dam to reach the Rajmachi Village. This is a 15km long straight road, where you can easily take a vehicle. However, cars can only go up to a certain point till a diversion comes. There is a place where you can park your vehicle at the diversion and from here the last one kilometre needs to be covered on foot.How to plan it: If you start your trek from Lonavala, you do not need more than a day to reach the fort and make your way back to Lonavala.Distance: 15kmWhere to stayKajrat:
We caught the train and started our journey. We reached Lonavala around 10.30 in the morning and hired cab to reach the Heritage Villa. On our way we stopped for breakfast and had mouthwatering spicy vada-pav and adrakwali chai. What a relief from hectic journey. Our villa provides the excellent view and surrounded by Mountains and Lush Greenery. After spending some time, we booked the cab and the journey begins.Tiger Point: This point resembles the shape of tiger. Hills were completely surrounded with the fog, which gives the spectacular view. A small waterfall makes the scene picture perfect. This exotic location beauty was just spellbound.Loin’s Point: Next to tiger point, this place is situated. The The hills and mountains get carpeted with lush greenery, clouds overflow the hills and cool breeze make the view is heavenly beautiful.Bhusi Dam: This dam was the jewel of our trip. The dam overflow with sparkling water and foggy weather and scenic waterfall makes you to fall in love with Lonavala. Indeed this place is the best hangout place with friends, and enjoys the water fun, but as its slippery steps and inconsistent water flow, you need to be very careful.Karla Caves: This is the house of the Buddhist shrines with ancient rock-cut caves. The place is very peaceful and architectural perfect. Most of the stupas are simply built and bare but some contain carvings on the top. Timing for visit is 9 AM to 5.30 PM and entry fee is 5/-Bhaja Caves: Located in Karla caves and display the sculpture of a prince in a chariot, dancing couple, an armed warrior and a prince seated on an elephant and much more. Small waterfall again makes the scene astonishingly beautiful.The caves are high up in the mountain and you need to climb up the stairs and many stalls are situated on your way. The beauty of Western Ghats is breathtakingly glorious.Celebrity Wax Museum: this was our last destination for the day. As name suggests some big celebrities, like Asha Bhosley, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekanand, Mr. Beans, Shaktiman, was statues are there. A good place to click photographs with all the celebrities and these statues will look original in some point. Timing for visit is 9 AM to 9.30 PM and entry fee is 100/-Our Day 1 journey ended and we came back to our villa, we packed variety of tasty roasted and grilled chicken and enjoy our dinner in balcony which is the best part of the villa. Good thing is loud music is allowed and we enjoyed a lot.
This hill resort offers a refreshing change of scenery. Just a three hour road trip from Mumbai it is a popular weekend getaway abuzz with adventuresome activities from trekking, camping and waterfall rappelling. Monsoon is the best time to see this hill station come alive. A place made very popular by Bollywood is Khandala and Lonavla, twin hill resorts that are about 93 kilometres away from the city along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. These two places stand 5 kilometres apart from each other and offer one adventures like trekking, camping under the skies, tour’s of the various farm houses that dot the place and water rappelling. The Korigad Fort is a great monument that stands here and so are the caves, Bhaja, Lohgad, the Tiger’s leap and Karla. It would also be fun to get a glimpse of the Duke’s Nose, a cliff that resembles the nose of the Duke of Wellington and aptly named after him.Distance from Mumbai - 83 Kms
When the monsoons come, the best place to visit is just a two hour drive away. Lonavla is a paradise during this time of the year and is at a height of 2041 feet above the sea. This hill station is a wonderful place to get away for the weekend and spend a few days in quietness. Nestled in the Sahyadri Ranges, this getaway spot is ideal for those who wish to snooze undisturbed. If you a looking for a good picnic spot to spend the weekend with your family, you may want to consider this place that is just 66 kilometres along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. For trekkers, this place has a lot to offer you. Visit the hill called the ‘Duke’s Nose’ or cave like Bhaja and Bhedsa for an adventure that will thrill you. The best time to pay this place a visit would be from October through to the month of April. We have made things a lot easier for you by adding Lonavala on our list of tourist places to visit near Pune within 100 km. Try water rappelling at Durshet, visit a rice plantation or camp out at Maval, this place is filled with options for you.Distance from Pune: 66 Km
Last week, one of my friends who was visiting Mumbai asked for my recommendations on things to do in Mumbai, where to eat and places to stay at Lonavla.Mumbai has always dazzled everyone with its charm. The warmth and high spirits of the city is quiet enticing.Here is what to do in Mumbai if you are there for a day or two!
Given the extreme popularity of the hill station, mainstream travellers often miss out on the historical attractions of the beautiful town. Situated very close to Lonavala are the Karla Caves, Bedsa Caves and Bhaja Caves that make for an interesting visit. Also check out the Lohagad, Visapur and Tungi Forts that hail back to the Yadava Empire.Distance from Mumbai: 96 kmWhere to stay: Citrus Lonavla3. Go trekking in Khandala
Recently we went for new year Eve party were in the mid night we met three people, although we were strangers to each other we share are snacks drinks hooka and danced like best friends this was my best new year eve ever because a place were no mobile no network we were not talking on what's app or fb but sharing our thoughts and singing n dancing forgetting all worries ..
Can you imagine a day without internet, television or even mobile network? Well, as a matter of fact I could not. But the experience that I had, proved that being without these three was indeed possible for me. It was the occassion of our first wedding anniversary and we were spoilt for choices with respect to the places that we could visit for the occassion. It so happened that from somewhere I recollected reading about an ecoresort in Lonavala which had tree-houses. It had been a childhood fantasy to once dwell in a tree-house and The Machan in Lonavala proved to be the ideal way to live my childhood fantasy. Let me start describing the path that leads there. We happened to travel from Lonavala railway station and we took the Aambey Valley route to reach The Machan. The road until the turn to Aambey Valley is really good. But as soon as you take the left to go towards The Machan the roads become rocky and full of stones, not a very pleasant drive! It made me wonder if I really made the right choice by choosing this place...,but as soon as we entered the main gate all my fears were put to rest. The road from the entrance gate was a smooth drive. The reception is the first tree-house that you'll see although it is a miniature version of a tree-house. It is located amidst all the machans and the best part is that they actually instruct you of the do's and don'ts. The place is entirely solar energy driven and has solar panels installed in the property. After the initial formalities and registration, we proceeded to our room which was a jungle machan. By the way, the property contains Sunset machans, heritage machan, canopy machan and jungle machan. Coming back to our room, it was situated at a five minute walk from the reception admist trees and noises of birds as it ideally is, in jungles. There are 6 jungle machans the entrance and balconies of each facing opposite to each other which assures that the guests get 100% privacy. The floors are made of wood, you actually live with trees because you see two to three trees branching out from the floor of your room upto the ceiling. Just next to the entrance is placed a mini fridge and then there are booklets, two of them, one briefing you about the property and the activities (they have activities like tour of the entire property, trekking, bird watching, star gazing, spa, yoga) that are arranged for the guests and the other one tells you about the do's and don'ts. Going further, the room opens into a balcony. This balcony is not anything thats ordinary, it in fact is lined with glass walls and contains a reclining swing, a wooden bench and a bath tub with facility of warm and cold water. There is also a bathroom and attached toilet inside the room which are well provided with all the required toiletries. A very striking characteristic about this entire property is its cleanliness. Througout and everywhere the Machan is very clean and well maintained. The view from the balcony is that of trees from the top and there is just this wide expanse of beautiful green trees everywhere. It is indeed beautiful to spend some time with nature sipping tea and just reclining on that swing. Thats when you feel how important silence is. You get to hear noises of different birds in between but thats music to the ears! The dining area of the property requires a walk of 5-7 minutes but it is absolutely worth the walk. This is an open area with tables laid out under trees with fresh air soothing your senses. Caution is taken by the staff that the wind does not interfere with the food. There is a windmill adjacent to the dining area which is continuously in motion again which is used as an alternate source of power. The food is served as a buffet and is absolutely delicious and you are spoilt for choice. We did convey our heartfelt praise to the cooks who were involved in the food preparations. We did not really avail any of the activities arranged by the hotel but then we explored the property on our own and I must say it was an enriching experience. We loved our stay at this place and would definitely want to visit again. This one is defnitely a place worth publicising and revisiting.
Della Adventure claims to be "India's largest extreme adventure park", so if you're a corporate slave in Mumbai looking to set your pulse racing for a moment, this is the ideal destination for you to do so. They offer an alternate (and safer) form of bungee jumping, which is called bungee trampoline. You might have seen it many malls, but the one here is meant only for adults, as it is 28 mtrs high. They strap you all around and send you to a flight of fancy.Location: Old Highway, Kunegaon, LonavlaPrice: Rs. 500Height: 28 mtrsWebsite: www.dellaadventure.com
164 Kms from Pandharpur
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. Read More
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.
Now the D Day arrived it was 1st of Dec and I was sitting in my office preparing powerpoint presentation for the client instead of our roadtrip and celebrating our anniversary with my wife . My wife availed the leave as she had informed all her colleagues that we are going for the roadtrip and if she will go offc everyone will ask what happened. She was angry too and we didn’t talked in the morningMe : Hello, Happy AnniversaryWife : So ??? Do your offc work ( I can feel the Angriness on the other side of phone )Me : Lets continue our tripWife : How ????Me : Will travel in Night , pack the bags and be ready . We will start the journey once I reach home from OffcWife : Is it possible ?Me: Yes we will start today and cut short the journeyWife: YipppieMe: Ok, I will reach home by 4 will start soonSomehow pleaded to my manager that I will leave a bit early and he agreed. Now the wait was killing. Once the clock strike 3 30 PM I left office and was at home. When reached home found that the luggage is full ( Thanks to my wife who travels very heavy ) .Now there is no time to repack bags so we started from Pune by 5 PM with a good pace in chilling winter reached Kolhapur by 11 PM. Time to take rest in a pre-booked hotelNow another jolt of hammer, we informed the hotel earlier that we will be doing card payment, thanks to demonetisation we had only INR 6000 of hard cash. He agreed upon that but once we reached Kolhapur found that his swiping machine was not working as the internet is down ( Thanks to NHAI fellow who cut the broadband line while digging) and also he didn’t had any Paytm account. We tried for Online Transfer also but we failed. Now with no option left, we paid 2k to him in hard cash.Now the biggest question “Shall we return to Pune as we have only INR 4000 left”. Wife said will decide tomorrow morning as it’s already too late
It is a historical place and has great temples too
The closest central place, to cover the spots, in Kolhapur one can visit Mahalakshmi Mandir, Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir, Shahu Place, Rankala Lake. Also you can visit famous Jyotiba temple which is hardly 26 Km from the place all places can be covered in 2 days span
From Kolhapur to Malvan it takes 5 hours. There are two routes to reach Malvan- via Gaganbawada ghat or via Radhanagri. We took the route via Radhanagri village. The road condition is good. But the route has lots of turns and swirls. We left from Kolhapur at 7.30am and reached Malvan at 1.30pm. On the way we stopped at Radhanagri for breakfast and at backwaters, a little ahead from Radhanagri near Anuradha village.
237 Kms from Pandharpur
Best time to visit - January,February,June,July,August,September,November,December
A lovely city in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Ratnagiri is a port city surrounded by the beautiful Sahyadri Hills. If this is your first time here, you'll be spoilt for choice. Ganapatipule Beach makes for a great visit and is perfect for a leisurely afternoon. There is a Ganesh temple right next to the beach that is also worth a visit. The Ratnadurg or Bhagwati Fort, which is a beautiful structure constructed in a horseshoe shape, surrounded by the Arabian Sea, is also a beautiful place to check out. Thebaw Palace is another lovely touristy spot where the Burma King Thebaw was imprisoned. The palace is built in Pagoda style and is a must see. Bhatyachi Khadi is where the river meets the sea; the village near this place is Bhatye known as Bhatyachi Khadi. If you're here from March to June, do pick up some juicy Alphonso mangoes that the city is famous for. There are a lot of other scenic cities around Ratnagiri and depending on your mood, you can choose any of the cities to spend your vacations. Read More
A lovely city in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Ratnagiri is a port city surrounded by the beautiful Sahyadri Hills. If this is your first time here, you'll be spoilt for choice. Ganapatipule Beach makes for a great visit and is perfect for a leisurely afternoon. There is a Ganesh temple right next to the beach that is also worth a visit. The Ratnadurg or Bhagwati Fort, which is a beautiful structure constructed in a horseshoe shape, surrounded by the Arabian Sea, is also a beautiful place to check out. Thebaw Palace is another lovely touristy spot where the Burma King Thebaw was imprisoned. The palace is built in Pagoda style and is a must see. Bhatyachi Khadi is where the river meets the sea; the village near this place is Bhatye known as Bhatyachi Khadi. If you're here from March to June, do pick up some juicy Alphonso mangoes that the city is famous for. There are a lot of other scenic cities around Ratnagiri and depending on your mood, you can choose any of the cities to spend your vacations.
According to the inscriptions on clay tablets that were found during initial excavations at Ratnagiri in 1960s,this was a great center of learning for Tantric Buddhism and especially Vajrayana school.The clay tablets also mention it's name as 'Shri Ratnagiri Mahavihariya Arya Bhikshu Samaghya'.It was active between 5 th and 13 th century AD.Amid the scattered ruins at the hilltop are various votive stupas but it's the main monastery complex at the center which is miraculously preserved till date.The entrance gate to the main compound is made up of green chlorite stone with some intricate carvings which makes it distinct from other stones in the compound .As we stepped inside once again,stories ran in my head about monks and their activities that would have kept the place busy many centuries ago. The various sized Buddha heads were aglow with the direct moonlight falling over them.What could the various head sizes signify? May be they were designed as various steps towards attaining the greatest wisdom,of becoming the perfect Buddha head. Ratnagiri has two large monasteries and right in the middle of it stands a large statue of Buddha which is flanked by the statues of Vajrapani and Padmapani,two Boddhisatvas. As you walk the periphery of the main compound,the highly advanced and intricate drainage system of the facility stuns you. The large monastic complex houses around twenty four cells for residence made up of bricks.At a given time,more than five hundred monks could have lived and studied at this center.The center also housed three copies each of major scriptural works of Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. The Lama never talked,as if he had come only to quench my curiosity.But talking was not necessary,and I learned to appreciate the soothing beauty of quietness and silence.As I saw the diverse stone artefacts strewn all over the place I was reminded of what Tagore had told of the Konark Temple,that "here the language of stones had surpassed the language of man".Here too the stone works made the human need of language redundant. Me: But when one speaks of Buddhist history or heritage,no one speaks in same breath about Odisha as they do about other sites like Bodh Gaya or Nalanda. Lama: As per texts and Buddhist chronicles found in Tibet,China and Ceylon,a place called 'Odiyyana' is mentioned where the roots of Vajrayana Buddhism took shape.This place in all probability could be the present day Odisha and the great learning centers of Tantric Buddhism they refer to could almost certainly be the Puspagiri University that we are currently standing at.The entire sect of Vajrayana Buddhism seems to have originated from these scholastic centers at Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri complex if we take the available archeological and literary evidence into consideration. The old Buddhist Pali canons and Pas-Sam-Jon-Zang a Tibetan Buddhist text mention the land of Odiyyana where many great Tantric Buddhist preachers lived. The canons mention many secret places called 'Beyuls' where a seeker could go and find enlightenment and knowledge.Such Beyuls were hidden valleys and retreats often found in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet and India.The locations of these secret valleys were kept in scrolls which were placed in important monasteries and stupas.Sambhala is a well known beyul. Me: Just like James Hilton described the valley of Shangri-la in his book 'The Lost Horizon'? Lama: Hilton's story of Shangri-la was actually inspired from the myth of Sambhala itself.If you look closely the name Shangri-la is a modified form of Sambhala only. Me: Ah! Yes .....I never thought about it before,strange! And what role does Sambhala play in Tantric Buddhism? Lama: According to legends,the Tantric rituals of Kalachakratantra was taught to the Kings of Sambhala by Buddha himself.The kings of Sambhala wanted to follow the path of enlightenment without renouncing the world so they requested the Sakyamuni to teach them a less austere method of reaching Dharma and Truth,Buddha gave the first initiation of the Kalachakra rituals.Further a Tibetan text called 'The Blue Annals' credits Acharya Cheluka of bringing the teachings of Kalachakratantra to India from the mythical land of Sambhala. The philosophy that guides the school of Vajrayana Buddhism states that though the goal of all living beings is same i.e attaining knowledge and Nirvana,there are other methods of reaching there apart from the old methods of austere meditations. The tantric rituals can provide that path to salvation. Me: So Vajrayana created a short-cut path to salvation,because the older methods of meditations were hard and time taking? Lama: Let's not be quick to judge the ways and methods people adopt in their lives.As each person is unique so is their path to salvation. As I mentioned before,our current lack of knowledge on Tantric Buddhist practices in these parts of Odisha comes to a road block due to the secretive doctrines of the people who followed the school of Vajrayana. The stroll in the lonely night had got us very far from Ratnagiri now.Perhaps the Lama was aware of it but I was far from realizing that we had stumbled upon the foothills of the grand ruins of Udaygiri.I was astonished because the journey in the daytime had taken a much longer .So far so good.Like Ratnagiri, the excavations at Udaygiri stand on a hill top which is spread over a much larger area and even during the day the hillside looks beautiful.As if someone has sprinkled those stone artifacts over the lush green rolling hills. I could see the moon's reflection in the deep well that stands at the foot of the hills.Stone staircases lead down to the well which was sparkling in the moon light. In the same time as the monasteries at Ratnagiri,the facilities at Udaygiri had their peak time from 7 th century to 12 th century AD.The inscriptions found at the site refer to the name of the place being Madhavapura Mahavihara.Udaygiri has a large monastic complex amid it's ruins and among it's many relics the most interesting are the unearthed images of 'Dhyani Buddhas'. Not to miss out on details,the Lama showed me a stone carving on the entrance wall of the compound.Even in the moonlight,I could make out the figure.It was a human figure swinging on a rope with his eyes closed,in a prefect state of happiness.Nobody perhaps knows who or what the figure means,but may be it means exactly what the viewer feels by watching it,a sense of calm and bliss.A single piece of stone can speak to you across the length of ages. On the hills of Udaygiri there exists a huge Mahastupa where four cardinal Buddhas sit facing each direction.Akshobya facing East,Amitabha facing West,Amoghasiddhi facing North and Ratnasambhava facing South. I returned to the conversation at hand. Me: We were speaking of the Kalachakra tantra. And Kalachakra Tantra is one of the ritualistic practices of Vajrayana Buddhism? I saw the initiation ceremony last summer at Leh by the Dalai Lama. Lama: The Kalachakra Tantra is the most evolved and complicated form of Vajrayana school.Even today it is considered as one of the highest form of Tantric philosophy.Apart from the sect of Vajrayana itself,the Kalachakra Tantra may have it's roots in Odisha. 'Kala' means time,'chakra' means wheel and 'tantra' means a system.This tantric practice in Buddhism is based on the concept of Time and how we perceive it.Almost all religions and schools of philosophy consider time to be cyclic in nature,so does Tantric Buddhism but it differentiates the time cycles into three parts.The internal cycle,the external cycle and the alternative cycle. Internal and external cycles are passage of time as we perceive it.Just like modern science,Buddhism considers time to be a measurement of rate of change of things around us. Me: This is very interesting indeed.What are these internal,external and alternative time cycles according to Kalachakratantra? Lama: As I said before the external and internal cycles are time as we human beings perceive it. For example the change of moon's shape and location in sky denote the monthly lunar cycle which can be considered as external time perception.Similarly the menstrual cycle of a woman's body is an example of internal time perception.The alternative time cycle is a way taught by the teachers of Kalachakra to gain harmony over the internal and external time cycles. So this summer in Leh,when you saw the Dalai Lama initiate the Kalachakra rituals,he was paving the way for gaining harmony over the influence of time. Me: The Buddha himself never came to the land of Kalinga to teach or give sermons? Lama: Though there is no direct evidence of Buddha coming to Kalinga or preaching here,but places and their names have been a shifting entity on the pages of history. The 1st Khandaka of Mahavagga text in Buddhism confirms that two honey traders from Odisha named Tapassu and Bhallika were the first lay disciples of Buddha after he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.They offered honey cakes to Buddha after receiving teachings from him. Me: Not only the tantric sects but the entire Hindu pantheon seems to have assimilated Buddhism in current times.I have seen Buddhist images like Avalokotisvara,Tara,Yaksas etc in many Hindu temples especially in Odisha. Lama: Later during awakenings of Vaishnavite and Bhakti sects in medieval India,the all encompassing arm of Hinduism took Buddhism into it's fold and many considered Buddha as 9th incarnation of Bishnu.This happened in complete paradox of the fact that Buddhism became famous in ancient India when people revolted to some degree to the Brahmanical-Vedic orthodoxy in society.In current age,images of Dhyani Buddha has been found in the de-plastered walls of Puri's Jagannath Temple. The Asokan rock edicts and the stone carved elephant at Dhauli are the earliest evidence of Buddhism's presence in Odisha.A very similar rock cut elephant has been found in the excavations of relics near Kaima in Jajpur district.As per records ,even a stupa existed near the rock edicts at Dhauli until 19 th century which was lost to time later on. A Prakrit inscription in Nagarjunakonda confirms that 'Puspagiri' in Odisha along with Nalanda ,Tosali and Palur were great centers of Buddhist learning and scholastic traditions.There are even speculations that the Buddhist preacher Padmasambhava else known as Guru Rinpoche spent some time studying and contemplating in these hills of Odisha.Guru Rinpoche is credited with taking Buddhism to many Himalayan kingdoms as Tibet,Sikkim and Bhutan. The figures of Buddhist iconography such as Boddhisatvas,mandalas,images of Tara,fourteen forms of the Avalokotiswara,many Yakshas and Yakshinis that are spread through coastal Odisha and some western parts just goes to confirm that Buddhism had a stronghold in the land and helped in the propagation of the sect to far off lands beyond India. Me: I had never pondered on the idea that Odisha had such a substantial contribution to the rise and propagation of Buddhism in India and elsewhere.When I used to visit those monasteries and lamaseries in remote Himalayan valleys of Ladakh and Himachal,I never thought my home state would have played such a grand role in the epic narrative of Buddhism. Lama: I will once again go back to Tagore to illustrate my point....he once said that "though I traveled great many countries and visited far off lands from my home,I forgot to see the beautiful dew drop outside my window". I suppose you understand what he meant by that. Me: Yes dear Teacher,I most surely do.I always have it in mind that though I am out to explore the world I shall know my home land up close and thoroughly.Only when resident Odias have knowledge of their rich cultural heritage and past,rest of the world will slowly know too.I suppose I realize that. Lama: A Teacher is only as good as the pupil he is teaching....the more thirsty a student is,the better a teacher becomes.Now that you have accepted me as a teacher,will you do a small favor to these old bones? Me: What may I ask? Lama: Nothing,just a ride along the road till we get to the oldest of the three sites in the Diamond Triangle. So with the chilly winter wind against us.A young man and an old lama were riding on through deserted roads to Lalitgiri which is 8-9 kms down the road from the sites of Ratnagiri and Udaygiri.While on the road, we found an old couple whose vehicle had broken down and we stopped to help them out.The desperate old faces heaved a sigh of relief when the lama and me got down to give a hand to the broken down car.While the lama took the wheel,I was at the engine part.A small battery problem which was sorted out quickly and we bid farewell to the old man and woman who were repeating 'thank you's' till we got embarrassed. It must have been the last quarter of the long moonlit night,when we arrived at Lalitgiri. It was at this site,that tooth relics and bone relics were found in a stone casket.The bones and tooth were in a charred or half burnt condition and many consider them to belong to Buddha himself,but nobody can be sure.The Buddhist iconography and sculptures found scattered in these parts are highly esoteric in nature.More than fourteen forms of Avalokotisvaras have been found in Odisha and many have been unearthed here.No other place in India displays such variety in artifacts. Lalitgiri was the place where Tantric Buddhism was prevalent from around 300 BC to 13 th century AD.And hence it is considered as the oldest of the sites at Langudi hills. The terracotta inscriptions found here mention this place as 'Sri Chandraditya Vihara Samagra Arya Bhiksu Sanghasa'. Images of Buddha in various poses,images of Tara and other beings, sculptures of Avalokotisvara and many forms of Boddhisatvas,all strewn over the places and excavation is still going on. The old lama once again takes my hand to show something particular, an image of a woman breastfeeding a child. Me: Who is she? Lama: Her name is Hariti and she used to be a child lifter before Buddha persuaded her to become the protector of children.To be a mother to all those who do not have that privilege. Apart from four large monasteries at Lalitgiri,the major attraction is an apsidal ChaityaGruha or stupa completely made of bricks. After circulating the large stupa and prayer hall I walked over the slope to watch a glorious sight that people in today's age take for granted.I watched the sun climb slowly over the horizon and change the color of the sky.The sun has been doing this for ages,but still we find the sight ethereal.May be because our lives depend on it.May be because we know our time on this earth is limited and it would be a sin to miss out on such splendid and yet so simple views. I expected the lama to say something about that divine view,but as I turned around, he was not to be found.Morning always brings a change but this was something I had not expected.I searched all over the place and called him out but to no avail.My teacher had disappeared just as easily as he had appeared back in Ratnagiri hill top.I climbed down the slopes near the ruins to see if the old man would be waiting near the bike.But nothing.The last I saw him was when he sat down on the big rock under the huge tree. Perhaps more than surprised,I was disappointed,may be even a tad angry. There were no proper goodbyes and no parting words. This was the end of the line.The long night where we both contemplated on the ruins of the Diamond Triangle had come to a passé.As fog clutched the countryside I rode my bike alone back on the road to Ratnagiri in faint hope of finding the old lama somewhere waiting for me.Has he landed in some trouble?I was agitated and raced back. While on the road,the night flashed before me and all those images of the past swarmed past me.The ruins on these hills nearby had taken a shape in my mind.A heritage of the rich past of this land and a promise for the future times.My mind swam at the disappearance of the old lama.I was in distress because I knew I was too realistic a person to believe in phantom lamas who came and went as they pleased. Atleast someone I knew appeared on the foot of Ratnagiri hilltop.The old couple sipping tea at the road side tea stall smiled at me when I stopped my bike.They quickly offered me a hot cup of tea and only then I realized how bitterly cold the morning air was. Trying very hard to hide my anxiety, I just asked-"Have you seen the old man who was with me last night? I am afraid I lost him somewhere". The old lady looked at me and then at her husband. "The poor old man.He must be having trouble trying to find me....he was all alone", I added. Between the old woman changing her face from being aghast to a funny smile on her lips,the old man said,"Which old man?You were all alone last night when you stopped to help us". Taking the cup in my hands, I looked away.I tried very hard to recall the last words of the old lama. Soumya D Jena 10th March 2017This post was originally published on The Lost Hermit.
In my quest to travel and experience new destinations and places I decided to travel towards the Konkan highway this time. Being a Delhite the lure of the mountains is so much that you seldom make plans doing random trips towards Maharashtra. So here I was on my journey again with a few tips on the internet – stay, weather and travel distances was all that I was armored with. My SLR slung on my shoulders to take on yet another journey of its own.My destination – Romancing the Konkan highway with no real agenda – Just to experience it the way it is! The cities that draped the highway. The beautiful coastline. Lush green paddy fields and much more. I got on to a hired car from Mumbai and set off towards Ratnagiri – a commercial town by the seaside. 7 -8 drive from Mumbai and you land up in at a beautiful destination – The journey had its own experience –Driving through Ghats and quaint little villages. The coastline villages and the homes are so very different from the ones you see in the north – Lush green and brightly colored. The cuisine on the way was interesting from Poha breakfast to fish Thalis at the local eating joints.
The most scenic leg of the journey. Sea on one side Green mountains on the other. Located on the same MH SH 4, Ganpatipule stretch is something i will remember my whole life. It was like the movie perfect scene. All along the route I could see the virgin beaches where one could spend countless hours relaxing. Unfortunately we were running short of sunlight so we have to rush through this stretch and hence didn't get chance to click many pics.
Ratnagiri is just another town situated along the beautiful Goa-Bombay road. Goa-Bombay road is one of the best roads I've been to. All the green on both side and the awesome monsoon weather is just superb. Riding on MH SH 4 from Ratnagiri to Jaigad is a different experience alltogether. The scenic beauty is simply mesmerizing. Be careful while riding on this route though there wold not be any traffic but there will be numerous green snakes crossing the road.
This is a town in the Solapur District and one of the most popular pilgrimage sites of Maharashtra. The Kuladivat Temple is extremely revered and you can take the blessings of the Lord Vitthal no matter what caste or religion you belong to. The god here is known by many other names such as Pandurang, Vitthal or Pandhari. The idols of Vithoba and Rukmini are believed to be the Universal Gods of all Maharasthrians and they also believe that they are the reincarnations of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The Temple has 6 gates and the Eastern one is known as the Namdev Gate. This is where you will find the standing idol of Vithoba guarding the entrance. 13th Century inscriptions are still clearly found on the walls of this temple. The Pad- Sparsha Darshan in which you can enter the main sanctum and lay your head on the feet pf Lord Vitthal to seek his blessings is a popular ceremony here. The secularism followed here attracts even more tourists.