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98 Kms from Savargaon
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
India’s second largest city, Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is home to a few hundred captivating contrasts and cr...
Dream a little dream of FUTURE. How smart our cities could be? Is a Blade runner kind of future awaits for us? How would you find an affordable place to spend a night in a hugely expensive city? Is a disruptive way of living approaching fast into our travelling lives? I was harboring all these thoughts while for the first time I heard about the POD hotel in India, that too in Mumbai.The IDEA and where to find themYou can experience these future proof living styles in developed, over populated cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Moscow, London, Amsterdam, New York, Bangkok. The concept behind is secluded and minimized living for a hassle-free stay during a quick visit of these cities. Plus points of these pods are also its close proximity of main communication points like airports, railway stations and pocket friendliness. These make the pod type of hotels popular over a short span of time.No need of VISA to have a taste of PODThe idea sounds tempting, right? But could not plan for the trip right away? No worry. Mumbai now offers the coziest POD experience you could have. The new addition to the Maximum city's ever expanding offering is only 4 km away from Andheri Railway station and 5.5 km from Mumbai International Airport. A well connected spot in the busy city, URBAN POD is a perfect place for a night's stay. Or may be more than a day.The Place and amenitiesThe first thing that you would notice is a clutter free entrance. A traveler's dream is to find a place that is free of all the chaos(when staying the night is the concern) and this place would offer you just that. After you reach the first floor and have not yet reserved a POD you have to complete the necessary documentation. Please do carry an identity proof as it would come in handy for booking a room(POD). If you are carrying luggage, you need to hand them over to the stuff who would take care of it. Did I mention that your shoes are not allowed inside the pod? Okay, it is a shoe-less shrine of a traveler's soul. Besides it helps the place to stay more clean and hygienic.The timing for check in is 15:00 hours and check out timing is 11:00 hours. They would provide you break-fast at the cafeteria till 10:00 hours. Now what would you need for a good night sleep is taken care of the management in a pretty innovative way. A free WI-FI connection, a TV remote, a fresh towel, a water bottle would be offered to you to take possession of before finally catching a glimpse of the POD. The interior is very much in accordance with the minimalist approach of the idea of the seclusion. The pods are built as row houses inside of separate rooms and are very soothing sights.Once inside, you can actually feel that as a human being we really don't require much to go for a sleep. All we would ever need is a soft bed, a dim light(a reading light sometimes), some light fragrance and invitation of sleep.It offers just these in right proportions. End result will be a cherish-able experience for life. The future of smart travelling is here and this proves how.I forgot to mention the common washrooms which are quite spacious and inviting would offer you solace and are enough to calm your weary souls.Still planning to spend a lot for a night's stay in the City of dreams? Please check this place for a new experience with decent pricing which wont hurt your pocket. And remember future beckons, this could the part of a cyber-punk life you always wanted to experience.
Are you reading this, sitting in your office cabin with no Friday night plans whatsoever? After having slogged super hard at work all week, is your new year's resolution of having more fun, crashing right in front of you? Well, we've got good news for you! It's still not too late to get into action and plan an outing that is sure to start 2018 with a bang!Here's How!
Day 2 was Christmas and we decided to cover mainly Mumbai fort and nearby iconic places as they are close to each other. Took the cab to Flora Fountain to start with, but it was closed as some work was going on. Walking through the fort area along the colonial buildings made us feel like we are walking through roads in somewhere in Europe( most of the time :))
We took an early morning flight to Mumbai and reached around 9 AM in the hotel we booked in Santacruz area(Read my review on Fab hotel Embassy Park BKC). We had an amazing breakfast of wada pavs and chai in a small eatery called Ravi's near our stay. After quickly refreshing, we set on our first day of the trip to Sidhivinayak Temple and Haji Ali Dargah. We could not enter both the places due to the huge crowd and were pretty disappointed by then. Decided to go ahead with Lunch and found a nice place called Cafe Noorani(Mughlai style) near the Dargah and its a good place if you are a non-vegetarian. After having a delicious lunch, we went to Linking Road for shopping and found it to be a reasonable place. The trick is to tell 1/3rd if any price the shop keeper tells :) We found travelling in Mumbai pretty easy as we could get cabs and autos very easily and we need to pay by the meter. Ola and Uber also are very popular. Juhu beach was last on the list for the day and chaats were awesome here though the beach was very unpleasant and dirty.
I reached Mumbai around 12.30 PM and the train to Bikaner was at 2.35 PM so I had enough time to reach from Sion to Dadar railway station. Mumbai is not new to me at all and especially in the last 8 years I have travelled to Mumbai a dozen times for a lot of Business meetings and trainings. Train got delayed by an hour at Dadar station and by the time I reached Bikaner there was a delay. I reached my first destination the next day at 4:00 PM.Route:Bangalore-Hubbali-Pune-Mumbai(By Bus)Dadar(Mumbai)-Ahmedabad-Jodhpur-Bikaner(By Train).Rajasthan is a Land of Kings, Palaces (Mahals and Havelis), Forts and Temple ruled by Rajput’s with its rich Heritage and Culture. Rajasthan is well connected by Roadways, Railways and Airways. The best time to be here is between October to March as the weather in this part is very pleasant during that time. The temperature varies from 5 degrees during night to 25 degrees during the days.
Having few more days to spare, I thought to go south and touch the Arabian sea before returning back to Nagpur. So on reaching Delhi, after half a day’s rest, I left for Mumbai. I was touching the land after a gap of 20yrs. The last time I was here, I was a kid in early 1998. The first day, I took a tour bus at Churchgate and covered all the important places of Mumbai. The second day, I dedicated to Siddhi Vinayak Temple and Haji Ali Dargah, before resorting to Marine drive. I caught my train at night towards Nagpur, marking the end of my journey.
102 Kms from Savargaon
Best time to visit - February,March,November,December
The city of Thane is a great getaway from Mumbai. Its beautiful lakes, lovely locales, boat rides and old forts makes it...
I have been following many travelers on Instagram and then one day, I saw an amazing post by Nequesta aka Nikita Vhora. The post was about an ancient temple that was burried all this time under water and due to serious drought in Maharashtra, the temple has come out and started to attract people from around the region. I will talk more about the temple later. But Drought is what we need to focus right now, since it has become a sensation in Maharashtra and causing lives of many in remote villages.
It was 24th November 2016. Everyone were excited about the expedition that we are about to begin. For some of us it is the first overseas expedition. Moreover, this is the first time we are going to cross an International borders over land.Although the entire trip was planned, we still had confusion regarding the Visa process. As we read through different travel blogs and in-hand experience of fellow travelers who have crossed the borders several times, we were slowly catching up fear. Some said: One must have Multi-Entry Visa while the others suggested to get visa from the Thailand/Cambodia consulate before starting the trip. We never had time to decide which path to take. Moreover, there were fake websites and fake guidelines all over the internet. One of the travel blogger was requesting for money, so that he would provide us the itinerary for successful travel. We ignored all of that..A Wise Man once said: Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.That's Right! We prepared ourselves to take the risk crossing an international border over land. What we had in our hand prior to boarding the flight was just the e-Visa for entering Cambodia. Also we had booked a minivan that would take us to the Thailand Border (Aranyaprathet). From the border, we are on our own. I know you can already feel how scary it was for us to enter a country where law is not maintained and the people do not speak the language that we speak and there are landmines , yes LANDMINES which are still ALIVE. The only language that works there is "Money".Alright... Let me not scare you further and continue with the journey.
I left my room and caught the first local train and reached to the Thane station. From there, I boarded on an express train to Igatpuri . To my surprise there were many fellow trekkers on Thane station, and in the train also. I interacted with a few and they all were surprised that I was travelling solo. Some even gave that poor look " Poor fellow, got no family or friends." I smiled and kept on. There were many beautiful and picturesque sites in the way. I thoroughly enjoyed them.
First thing first, never go solo trip if you have no travelling experience. I had my share of travelling experience. I have been travelling since 2011 and have been to some of the most dangerous places where I have seen death from a close view. So, I had an idea of what all things could go wrong on a trip. So, as a traveler you should have something in your experience bank before you are ready for a solo. At least do a trip with some trip organizer. Next comes my golden rule of life, start with small steps. Ideally plan for a solo trip of a day or two. You can learn from its experiences and plan longer trips as you become experienced. After selecting my destination my next step was preparation for the worst possible outcome. In case, the trip does not go as planned, I made myself sure that what was the shortest route to come back home and it should be working 24*7. I also wrote down some necessary details on paper as one should have a redundant source in case phone battery goes off or worst phone goes off. Now, ready with safety, I searched for some places to stay and then drew out itinerary from several websites on which it is easily available. Other detailed preparations I have mentioned here.Now, the most important advice which you would not find anywhere is even after so careful planning a fear still remains in one's mind, it remains when you lock the door and leave the house, it remains when you board the bus or train and you secretly desire that something should happen so that you could convince yourself in cancelling the trip. Please overcome that fear. It happens with everyone, happened with me also. I wanted to come back from the railway station but pushed myself and I am happy that I did so. You will all be a new person if you manage to win that fear. In fact, it is that fear only, which is stopping us from going on a solo trip.
On the other hand I reached Thane at 8.30 pm in the night because of heavy traffic at Airoli Toll and road work near Ghansoli.Riders:Jegan aka motowanderer on Honda CBR250RHemant on KTM Duke390Eye of the Photographer:Nikon D5200 with Nikkor 18-105mmGARMIN Virb Ultra 30Oneplus TwoOneplus OneSafety Gears:Jegan: Rynox Tornado Pro Tri-Series Jacket, DSG Primal Gloves, Scoyco K11 Knee Protectors, MT KRE SV Momentum HelmetHemant: Solace Sprint Jacket, Solaces All-Weather Gloves, Mototech Knee Protectors, Studds Shifter helmetHere are the pics from the trip:
We decided to ride. I did not ride since long, I wanted to do endurance. I was not sure if I could do it but then decided to give it a go. I plotted out the route. The plan was to leave Thane as early as possible to reach Amboli and stay there for a night. Next day, go to Sindhudurg fort then Vijaydurg fort and reach Amba village for another night stay. Last day of the ride, start the return journey via Bhor where the infamous Necklace point is located. Google showed that it is 1177 kilometers. We booked hotels and did our preparation. I changed the cone set of the bike and did a complete service. Hemant had to pickup my bike which was with Pace and Pixel Motors for a week for service, parts and tyre change. He received a soft rubber Pirelli Diablo Rossi II upgrade on the rear.Day 1: September 2, 2017
So, to continue by own tradition to spent my birthday at some new place that I always wanted to explore, I planned to visit Murudeshwara. As usual, I called my cousin at 11:30 AM and asked him if he will join, and all he asked was what train we will be catching. He must have got used to my absurd habit of dropping sudden plans on him.Three and half hours later, we were at Thane station waiting for Mumbai - Mangalore Matsyagandha express with our sacks on our back and thoughts about how long we will be standing in train before we can rest our butt for some time. Luckily, three hours into the journey, a group of people got down at Mangaon and we got a place to seat. Rest of the journey was completed comfortably (with our nomad standards). We got down at Murudeshwara Road at around 4AM in morning only to see couple of autos waiting outside railway station. This was my first time in an of the four southern states of India and I was really excited and worried about it at the same it. We took an auto from Station to Town and were planning to spend some time outside temple before the doors open. But auto driver suggested us a hotel nearby temple, so we planned to go for it. Place was average and we got the rest needed before starting our day.
244 Kms from Savargaon
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, Aurangaba...
We reached Ajanta by 11 am,caves are little away from parking place where you get Government buses to go inside Ajanta caves area.We get into that bus and within next 10-15 minutes we were at caves base location ,we brought our camera and entry tickets and started exploring biggest man-made caves I seen ever.
Day 3 started with an early morning trip to Dadar railway station to catch the Tapovan express to Aurangabad. It takes around 7-8 hours and is pretty taxing if you are not used to day time train travels. We preferred this train to avoid complications in check-in time at the hotel etc. There are overnight trains to Aurangabad and also flights from Mumbai. Aurangabad is around 300+ kms away and zoom car is also an option (we did not explore it though).We reached Aurangabad around 1PM and checked into Hotel Keys Aures . After a quick refreshment, proceeded to see Panchakki and Bibi Ka Maqbara. Bibi Ka Maqbara is a must watch though its said to be a poor imitation of Taj Mahal.
The vehicle took off and we set on our way chatting and frolicking , recording videos of ourselves and of the beaut environs of Aurangabad in the pleasant drizzle AND… of course , reminiscing over our old and new one-sided loved ones . The next stop was at a Motel about forty kms before Ajanta caves. Half of us freshened ourselves up , the other half didn’t feel like it. Notsowhite tried to take a dump twice , but to no avail.After at least three of us had relieved ourselves, we took a light breakfast , grabbed a few cans and took off again amid fun , frolic and raunchy remarks and slanders. Theslut , who was a boy. Since we were all boys , spent the journey taking the piss out of Bro. The non-kafir was the quiet and probably the maturest one. I had packed along two books, one of which was ‘the Satanic Verses’ , and throughout the trip , I managed to read no more than five pages.Finally , we arrived at the bus stop of Ajanta from where a shuttle bus would take us to the caves. We bought a few statuettes of supposedly ‘antique-stone’ (as per the seller) and then after taking along a few packets of chips and snacks and clicking a few pictures of the wondrous hills encompassing us , boarded the shuttle bus . It was a short and wavy journey through the hills and forests and was really a spectacle to behold.
We got down at Aurangabad at 8:30 am which was late as the train got delayed by 90 mins. we had our breakfast, rather I would say it was a brunch as we planned to make it till the base village, Salher wadi, without any food breaks by 3 pm and start the trek.We got into the bus at 11:00 am till Malegaon and as per the bus driver we could have reached there by 1:30 but again there was a delay and we only managed to reach Malegaon by 3 pm. Traveling in bus we weren't sure on when would we reach the base village so we decided to take the shared taxi till Satana and continue to base village from there. Thanks to our taxi driver, he agreed to drop us till Salher wadi at very nominal cost. Finally we reached the base village by 6 pm.
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.
217 Kms from Savargaon
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, whic...
Grand Southindian Ride A ride that lasted for 30 Days 7500 wonderful kilometres 7 Indian States 1 Union territory. The best way to explore a new place is by a combination of bike and foot. That’s what i had done to create the memory which took just 30 days. This blog won’t have any poetic words or paragraph, it’s just an expression of my memory which i managed to collect it during the ride. First of all would like to tell you how this ride was planned. A year before i went on a solo ride mumbai to ladakh and back. After completion of this ride i planned at least one ride every year. So already been to north of india for the ladakh ride and finalized south for the current ride. Initially it requires a lot of planning regarding to route to take, places to visit, things to carry,etc. The plan was to create a V shape in the map covering the costal route from Mumbai-Goa-Karnataka-Kerala-Tamilnadu-Andrapradesh-Telangana-Mumbai. Then thought there are so many places in the south to be explored which till date i have heard from people or seen in television. And then the detailed exploration of the south was planned. The best time to visit south is immediately after monsoon. Also during monsoon it’s good, but it needs more precaution and attention while riding a bike. For the first time one of my friend Mr.Mateen wanted to join me for the ride which i still wonder how did that happen. Because most of my rides became solo not because it was planned such a way, it’s because most of my friends would turn down their decision for the ride at the end moment. So it was fixed 2 riders on a mission to explore the south on their machines South india needs no introduction for it’s beauty ,though my whole country is beautiful. So we were on a mission to explore this beauty for the coming 30 Days. After changes in dates twice,we fixed it as 1st of November. Servicing the bike and making it ready for the ride got it the schedule delayed by a day, also i had brought a 11inch laptop few months back so that i can copy all the sports cam video’s malfunctioned 2 weeks before ride and they informed that it will take a months time to service it. But luckily i got it on 1st November evening. So it was all set now. Day 1:- Mumbai to Kolhapur Initially it was NH17 which was decided. But the condition of the road was bad so we chose the kolhapur route. Time was scheduled as 7 am. But when i got the laptop from the service center yesterday forgot to take the charger from them. So had to wait till 10am for them to open the store. Everything was packed and neatly arranged. By the time my best friend Navin came to see me off. So we both picked the luggage and proceeded towards my machine also my mom and sis came down. Loaded all the luggage on my White tiger ( name of my himalayan). All the safety riding gears were on. Finally sat on my machine clicked few pics and said bye to all and left for the most epic and scenic ride. First task was to collect the charger from the service center and then proceed towards mateens house. Finally around 11am reached mateens house. His dad wanted to meet me as this was the first ride for mateen, so he was little concerned. I assured them everything will be fine and left around 11.30am. Both were super excited about the ride and coming days. Though it was a delayed start i knew the roads ahead were good. Mateen said that some of our friends were waiting at nerul to meet us. We met them at nerul clicked few pics and explained them about our ride. And you won’t believe the meeting went on till 1.30pm. We realized that we are super delayed and proceeded and took a lunch halt at lonavala. Once done with lunch we took the old pune route and then proceeded towards kolhapur. Within hours we hit the kolhapur road. It was too good for start smooth 6 lane highways with no potholes anywhere. Though we could have hit high speeds but restricted ourselves to 80kmph as we were on a ride not race. Now everything was coming into place after a delayed start. It was 5pm and we decided to halt for some snacks and tea. So we stopped at vittal kamath. Kolhapur was still too far from there and it already started becoming dark. We resumed our ride and took break occasionally. Around 8.30 we halted at a place and had some tea and snacks. People there started asking about the ride some took photos with my bike and Mateen was like someone click pic with my bike as well. We knew it would take another 2 to 2.30 hrs to reach kolhapur. During a ride there was a dark patch on the road and at the same time there was little fog, we were at our normal pace, suddenly a few feet ahead there was a truck without tail lamps and it was mud stained. Due to which it was not visible when it came close to us, we somehow managed as taking a sudden right for changing the lane at high speed can be fatal if there a vehicle approaching from behind. So i instructed mateen under such situations never suddenly change the lanes. After few hours of ride it was 11pm and we reached kolhapur so we sat for dinner at a hotel and used online apps to book a hotel. We found one at our budget and booked it and then we found that the hotel which we booked was right opposite to the hotel where we sat for dinner. Finally we had some dal khichidi and aloo mutter. Went to the hotel did the entry formalities, went to the room , freshened up and crashed on the bed.
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.
176 Kms from Savargaon
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. ...
There are several ways to reach Ratnagiri.Train: Ratnagiri is well connected with all the major cities of Maharashtra. It is one of the main railway stations of the Konkan Railway and all trains including Rajdhani stop here.Bus: There are plenty of overnight buses from Mumbai & Pune.Car: Ratnagiri is just few hours drive from Mumbai (348 km), Pune (305 km) & Nasik (486 km).Air: The nearest major airport is in Mumbai. From there, you can take a bus, train or car to reach Ratnagiri.
Atithi Parinay is in a small village named Kotawade. It is just 15 km away from Ratnagiri & Ganapatipule. Both Ratnagiri & Ganapatipule are famous for its scenic beaches and Kotawade village is in the middle of them. Ratnagiri has all, beaches, temples, forts, lighthouses, monuments & museums which has made it a perfect weekend gateway from Mumbai & Pune for all age groups. Ratnagiri is famous for Alphonso Mango too which is considered among the richest category of the fruits.
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.
70 Kms from Savargaon
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,October,November,December
Of panoramic views, perennial waterfalls and picturesque landscapes, Mahabaleshwar stands out as the largest and most po...
Mahabaleshwar - The very name evokes the beauty of the region - lush green forests and the mountain range of the western ghats. Quite a number of scenes of Baahubali were shot here.A small piece of advice:Now that you have seen all the places where Baahubali was shot, now go see the movie again. The thrill of having seen the sets and the places where it was shot, makes watching the movie again even more magical.Relive the magical moments of Baahubali!Cover picture credits:https://www.google.co.in/search?q=ramoji+film+city+bahubali+sets&rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN747IN748&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjny73k8rvWAhUEOY8KHaiwBzEQ_AUICigB&biw=1366&bih=662#imgrc=XTqs_Zzv2V61dM:
it was around 10 o'clock in the morning and we reached Mahabaleshwar. we stayed at Hira Baug resort panchgani, okay so it is a little far from town but trust me the view you get from here is worth it! charges are variable so if you wish to go there then please google its price or contact them directly. had lunch over there and then i went to sleep as i traveled for 16 hours, and ya lunch was good! after 3 hours of sleep i woke up at 4:00 pm and then left resort to explore Mahabaleshwar! i don't know how but sunset was early so as soon i reached Venna lake there was about to sunset, so what i did was just set down near to the lake and enjoyed that beautiful sunset! it was wonderful, the silent water that kids playing around and that cold weather makes it perfect! then i left for Mahabaleshwar market. it was usual market surrounded with some stuff and all. yes do not forget to try strawberry with cream! if you like strawberry then you will love it as Mahabalehswar is capital of strawberry! then i left for my resort as i was hungry, i had my dinner and went to sleep.
The clouds were at the level of our eye line at our entry(made at night time) to Mahabaleshwar which proved to be an amazing sight.Next day we were off to discover the beauty of this marvel that we made our visit to. Mahabaleshwar certainly has one of the best hills in all of Maharashtra if not the best. The multi-colored impression the hills give are something to look out to.
Located in Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar is a gorgeous hill station, with hanging clouds and covered in mist, wrapped in a lush green wild. With a rich princely legacy reflected in colonial era architecture that earmarks the town, Mahabaleshwar has a charming appeal. The town’s scenic beauty is enthralling, being the base of five rivers, nestled in magnificent Western Ghats. With spectacular view of the sunrise and sunset, trekking trails, horse riding paths and boating in the rivers, Mahabaleshwar offers a meditative ambience, the perfect weekend getaway and thereby one of the best places to visit in India in May.How to get there: Well-connected by road from Pune, which also has the nearest airport. The nearest railway station is Wathar.
We expected to take a ferry, but there was none. So we had to take this long along-the-river road. The road above the river is full of red sand. It required high levels of patience to ride this. More than 50 minutes, the road was all red with up and down slopes of red sand. I was sure, the bike would skid at some place, but it didnt. I must be a good rider. What was worse was the incoming trucks loaded with more red sand and blowing the dust in the air. Siddi was all red when we reached the bridge crossing.
7. Mahabaleshwar:Once the summer capital of the Bombay province, Mahabaleshwar is a plateau that is surrounded by valleys on all sides, and offers stunning vistas of the lush greenery it is surrounded by. It is also known for being the birthplace of the river Krishna, along with 6 other rivers. One can also make day trips to Raigad, Pratapgad, Wai, Lingmala waterfalls and the Venna lake. Located at 160 and 260 kms from Bombay and Pune respectively, Mahabaleshwar is one of the ideal places to visit in Spring season in India.
108 Kms from Savargaon
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
The seven hills surrounding Satara give this picturesque district its name. Home to the popular Panchgani and Mahableshw...
As I reached Satara it became even worse - the mad traffic and the road, and finally reached Pune at 8 pm. It was so nice to see my favorite Mama and Mami. Went for local Pune ride the next day and found myself like AK in PK. No one was following traffic rules, no helmets, no rules nothing. Saw people staring at me for following regulations. While coming back from MG road a guy in Merc was shouting at me for waiting for traffic light to turn green. Educated illiterate eh!? Spent the next two days in Pune and got much needed rest and most needed sleep. Running short of time, energy and most importantly money I decided to skip Mumbai and head to Goa. On 29th Dec left for Panchagani and Mahabaleswar. Visited Ganapati Temple in Wai and started climbing the hill. Reached the next destination by 11 am. Spent some time in city and at various places and left for Ratnagari. Joined Mumbai–Goa highway and reached the city of mangoes by 6 pm and stayed there for the night.
In the evening we started for Mahabaleshwar... Next day was fully dedicated to Mahabaleshswar. Visit to Mahabaleshwar Temple was quite ok. The highlight was after that. We reached one of the view point in old Mahabaleshwar. There was nothing to see the whole area was covered with fog. On reaching there in the jungle we saw the whole heard on Indian Bison. They were so big ab majestic and looking great......
Our initial target for the day was Pune (845 kms from Bangalore), but since we got delayed and we didn’t want to ride through the night, we decided to stay at a place called Satara. Pune was still a good 100 kms away. After a bit of hunting, we found a decent hotel right on the highway and we were settled in. I slept like a baby that night!Day 1 Stay: Hotel Mahindra Executive, SataraPros: Decent Staff. Good Food. Right on the highway.Cons: Small rooms. Slightly pricy.Few Pointers: Start as early as you can. Make note that you need time to pack the luggage onto the bikes. Always keep spare bungee cords. Also thoroughly wrap your luggage with tarpaulin. NH4 has relatively fewer fuel stations, so keep this in mind when you’re running low. The hotels in Satara have something called permit rooms, which people rent to host alcohol parties. This can get pretty ugly with an unruly crowd. So please check thoroughly before you zero in.DAY 2:Satara – Mumbai (270 kms):We were all pretty beat from riding all day long, so we slept in even though we had planned to leave early. After having some yum MisalPav andPoha for breakfast, we were ready to leave by 9AM. Now we had the horrendous task of loading the luggage and wrapping it with tarpaulin. It was only Day 2 and I was already fed up with the wrapping and unwrapping of tarpaulin. It is such a tedious task.Anyway, we finally managed to leave by 10AM. The road from here is great, and the view is out of this world. The route is surrounded by the Western Ghats. This beauty is mesmerizing all year round, but during the monsoons she has an outer worldly charm. Serene, calm and soothing. What a refreshing start to the day.