Just north of Goa and often overshadowed by it, is the beach town of Vengurla. A semi-circular range of hills surround the town and the white sand beaches on three sides open up to the deep blue Arabian Sea. The beaches here give you beauty and peace without any crowds. The Nivati and the Shiroda beaches are secluded paradises with crystal clear water. The market at Shiroda on Sundays is perfect for finding cheap treasures. Vengurla was burned down twice during its prime days. What is left of the scar is a cluster of large rocks, now popularly known as Burnt Island. Remember to visit it and take pictures. At the evening fish market, that is set up near the Vengurla Jetty, you can find a large variety of seafood and fish to go. This is the site for the long-abandoned port of the region. The lighthouse, perched on a hill, is the highest point from where you can enjoy a view of the beach and the setting sun. Besides fish, you'll find cashew nuts everywhere in all forms – be it roasted or raw. And if you happen to visit from March to June, don't forget to indulge in some fresh, juicy Alphonso mangoes grown here. Read More
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300 Kms from Vengurla
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
115 Kms from Vengurla
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.
132 Kms from Vengurla
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.
76 Kms from Vengurla
Only thing we did different today was 40km ride to Benaulim Beach. Road was in very good condition and we took around 40 mins to reach there from Agonda. The beaches in the south Goa are clean, beautiful and less crowded. You can make out the difference if you visit Panaji or Calangute at this time of the year.Read More
Only thing we did different today was 40km ride to Benaulim Beach. Road was in very good condition and we took around 40 mins to reach there from Agonda. The beaches in the south Goa are clean, beautiful and less crowded. You can make out the difference if you visit Panaji or Calangute at this time of the year.
To sum it all South Goa is the more serene half of the state where you’ll find some fabulous historic sights, Goa’s finest Portuguese mansions, winding country lanes and a series of resorts that range from the 5star hotel strips of Cavelossim and village feel of Benaulim, to the backpacker – friendly beach hut bliss of Palolem, Patnem and Agonda.If you want to drift into tranquility the south is a redolent, rewarding and re-energizing place to base yourself.
We arrived at around 10.30 am via a bus from Mumbai, the place is well connected from Mumbai. You get a lot of options, personally we chose to stick to travelling in a sleeper bus, which can cost somewhere from Rs.1400 - Rs1500.Benaulim, is close to Madgao so our halt was at Madgao, from where we booked an Innova for the duration of our stay there. It is advisable to book a car or a bike, as per convenience since the transportation otherwise via auto or cab can cost you a lot.A decent car can be availed within the budget of Rs.1000-1500 and a bigger one can dig a hole in your pocket upto Rs.3000.
A tiny beach town located within 10 kms of the bustling Madgaon is a must visit. It has a white sand beach which is relatively empty and has only a couple of shacks to eat. It is a place where you can sit under the beautifully clear night sky and spot the uncountable stars and galaxies in awe and admiration. It is so beautiful that you sometimes fear this is too good to be true and you are either hallucinating and It is just a huge painted ceiling you are stating at. One can also make an occasional wish on a falling star in the quiet and clear night. The village itself is located among green rain kissed coconut trees and small, beautiful and clean houses with a garden on the porch adorn the countryside. The feeling is that you have been transported to a time gone by as you sit and reminiscence about where you are, what you have achieved and most importantly what could have been.Varca Beach:
231 Kms from Vengurla
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 popular hill station in the Western Ghats. Owing to comfortable temperatures, Mahabaleshwar is thronged by tourists throughout the year, except during the four months of heavy monsoons from June to September. Being the erstwhile summer capital of the Bombay presidency during the British Raj, this place has a lot to offer — spectacular sunrise and sunset viewpoints, popular one-day treks to go on, and boating at the Venna Lake. Additionally, tourists can retrospect history at the centuries-old Pratapgad Fort and savour some toothsome jams and marmalades at the Mapro Garden. One must not miss out on the famous corn patties and strawberry cream when in Mahabaleshwar. Should you visit in March, you will be lucky to witness the gastronomically delightful Strawberry Festival that takes place every year. Plan a weekend getaway to this hill station and you will be impressed. Read More
Of panoramic views, perennial waterfalls and picturesque landscapes, Mahabaleshwar stands out as the largest and most popular hill station in the Western Ghats. Owing to comfortable temperatures, Mahabaleshwar is thronged by tourists throughout the year, except during the four months of heavy monsoons from June to September. Being the erstwhile summer capital of the Bombay presidency during the British Raj, this place has a lot to offer — spectacular sunrise and sunset viewpoints, popular one-day treks to go on, and boating at the Venna Lake. Additionally, tourists can retrospect history at the centuries-old Pratapgad Fort and savour some toothsome jams and marmalades at the Mapro Garden. One must not miss out on the famous corn patties and strawberry cream when in Mahabaleshwar. Should you visit in March, you will be lucky to witness the gastronomically delightful Strawberry Festival that takes place every year. Plan a weekend getaway to this hill station and you will be impressed.
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.
One of the best places for a weekend getaway would have to be Mahabaleshwar. The large plateau is surrounded by valleys on all four sides. It is among the best picnic spots situated near Pune. What adds to its charm? The lush evergreen forests and beautiful imagery. Legend has it that Mahadev temple is located where the River Krishna originates. A boat ride down Vienna Lake is definitely worth your time. Pratapgarh Fort is another historical place of significance one can visit. Strawberries and resorts is a luxury resort at Mahabaleshwar that is located amidst valleys that grow strawberries. The place is modern with all the amenities that one can ask for. It is a great place to rush off to for the weekend with your family. So be wise and try this out.Distance from Pune: 121 Km
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.
Mahabaleshwar is an iconic hill station on Maharashtra's Panchgani Plateau, which is the second largest plateau in Asia after Tibet. India's very own volcanic plateau remains green throughout the year. The magnanimous rocky formations and hills make it a magnet for tourists and also one of the best places to visit in February in India. The weather during this month stays at an average 20℃ throughout the day and dips a little at night.How to reach: The best way to reach Mahabaleshwar is by train. The nearest railway station in Wathar is 60km away.Travel to see the lesser known side of Sikkim, a dream called Lachen & Lachung!
DAY 2 : Mahabaleshwar
7. Mahabaleshwar is a sublime hill station nestled in the Western Ghats. It is situated at an altitude of 1372m and 263 Km from Mumbai. Mahabaleshwar offers panoramic views of the surrounding Ghats. It is often referred to as ‘Queen of hill stations’ in Maharashtra. The lush green landscapes are sure to take you in a different era all together. It is a tranquil and serene holiday destination. Mahabaleshwar’s beauty can be seen in the exotic peaks and the lovely rivers that flow by. It is easy to get mesmerised by various attractions such as Morarji castle, Mount Malcom, Pratapgarh Fort and Rajpuri Caves.
Take a night ride to mahabaleshwar, reach early morning and do half day sightseeing start with the famous Mahabaleshwar temple, Panchganga temple followed with nearest points i.e 3 monkey point, Arthur's Seat Point, Echo point, Hunter point, Tiger Spring Point, Window Point, Malcom Point, Savitri Point and end the day with Sunset point. (Total Duration : 1-1.5hr)
208 Kms from Vengurla
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 Mahableshwar, Satara in Maharashtra is perfect for a rejuvenation holiday. If you are here for a holiday, do visit the scenic Kaas Plateau overlooking the Kaas Lake. Though it is a popular spot, you may be disappointed with the lack of good eating places. It's best to head here after breakfast. Another wonderful tourist spot is the Thoseghar Waterfalls. Located about 25 km from Satara, these lovely waterfalls offer the most stunning views during monsoon. Also the highest waterfall in Maharashtra, Thoseghar should definitely be on your itinerary. If you have more time, then head to the village of Bamnoli, located 50 km away, where you can enjoy boating in the Shivsagar Lake. There are tons of places to visit in Satara district so do choose your destinations in accordance to the kind of holiday you'd like to take. Read More
The seven hills surrounding Satara give this picturesque district its name. Home to the popular Panchgani and Mahableshwar, Satara in Maharashtra is perfect for a rejuvenation holiday. If you are here for a holiday, do visit the scenic Kaas Plateau overlooking the Kaas Lake. Though it is a popular spot, you may be disappointed with the lack of good eating places. It's best to head here after breakfast. Another wonderful tourist spot is the Thoseghar Waterfalls. Located about 25 km from Satara, these lovely waterfalls offer the most stunning views during monsoon. Also the highest waterfall in Maharashtra, Thoseghar should definitely be on your itinerary. If you have more time, then head to the village of Bamnoli, located 50 km away, where you can enjoy boating in the Shivsagar Lake. There are tons of places to visit in Satara district so do choose your destinations in accordance to the kind of holiday you'd like to take.
This beautiful weekend destination is located right where the River Krishna joins its tributary called Venna. This place was the erstwhile capital of the powerful Maratha Empire. This little city should interest history buffs as there are a number of places of historical relevance to visit. Most of the heritage sites and other cultural hubs are the reason why tourists come here for a relaxing weekend. The weather is good throughout the year for a lovely picnic with family and friends. To experience one of the best weekend getaways from Pune within 200 Km, make a visit to Satara. Once known to be the capital of the powerful Maratha Empire, Satara stands at the meeting point of the Krishna River and Venna, its tributary. It is the monuments here that draw in the tourists in droves and one is sure to have a great time here. The Vajrai waterfalls, and the forts Sajjangarh and Ajinkyatara are places one cannot miss here and the Kass Plateau is one of nature’s wonders to behold here in Satara. July to February is when one should visit this wonderful place. Around 112 kilometres away from Pune, Satara is full of surprise packages that one should visit in order to unravel. Take your pick from the list above of some of the best places to visit near Pune within 100 km.Distance from Pune: 113 Km
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.
106 Kms from Vengurla
For every teetotaller and loner, Vagator is completely the wrong option. Instead, disappear from the madness and crowd to the southern side for serenity at Canacona Beach. A perfect place to spend some time in solitude!Read More
For every teetotaller and loner, Vagator is completely the wrong option. Instead, disappear from the madness and crowd to the southern side for serenity at Canacona Beach. A perfect place to spend some time in solitude!
74 Kms from Vengurla
Back at the campsite we were in an enthusiastic mood. There was some light music and beautiful ambience at the dinner table. We were soon exchanging our email addresses and asking each other to share their clicks. It was a long night. We were chatting about this and that. The dawn got us all with packed bags to the Madgaon railhead. This was the most amazing place I had been to after Binsar, Uttarakhand.Read More
Back at the campsite we were in an enthusiastic mood. There was some light music and beautiful ambience at the dinner table. We were soon exchanging our email addresses and asking each other to share their clicks. It was a long night. We were chatting about this and that. The dawn got us all with packed bags to the Madgaon railhead. This was the most amazing place I had been to after Binsar, Uttarakhand.
Ok , so to begin with We didn't have money .... hmmm , why do I bother mentioning it ... So an overnight train journey from Pune took me to Goa. Reached Madgao/ Margao in the morning b Goa Express. Since the people who had to join me were running late (which is an understatement) . I decided there was no point waiting for a day ... now to tell you I have started hating these auto wallas, they will rob you in taking you from a just one end of the road to other. I looked around but could not see any main road or buses ... I asked the auto for the fare to main bus stop . Rs 80. I went back into the station. Decided to ask the book Vendor. Good Move. Did what he suggested and you should do the same. Walk straight out . Yes, just keep walking and do not listen to any auto or people offering to be 'pilot'. There is a small bus stop opposite to the station. Cross the road and go stand there .
Getting There: I had taken a train from Thane (CST- Mangalore Express) at 10.30 pm which reached Madgaon(if ever you need to search on IRCTC, please type Madgaon and NOT Goa) the next morning. The journey through Konkan is visually pleasing as the barren lands are replaced by wonderful Coconut trees. I'd especially mention the bridge which links North Goa to Panjim and a river flowing beneath that; forms a picturesque view.
Arriving at Madagaon Railway Station after uch a long journey was a relief but at the same time a new anxiety popped as soon as i realised i need to make way to my hostel that I booked online through Hostel World ( a great site to get amzing deals )http://www.hostelworld.com/ . After much research and reviews I booked Jungle Hostel for next 3 days visit in Vagator . The ride from the station to the hostel was accompanied by the young group i met on train , as I hitchicked with them and used my smiling puppy face to persuade them in dropping me till my hostel !!!
When you want to get to South Goa, you can get buses from Mapusa to Panjim and from Panjim bus stand you can get Shuttle services directly stopping at Margaon bus terminal. Margaon market is the best option to do some shopping for local sweets, goan sausages, vinegar, goan spice mix and of course wine shops.
Margao or popularly know as Madgaon is 36km away from Palolem beach and has many sights and destinations. These include the 'Closed' Market called, in the Portuguese language, Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque, the municipal building, the municipal garden, Anna Fonte, Old Market or Mercado Velho, Holy Spirit Church and the grand colonial mansions.
Just north of Goa and often overshadowed by it, is the beach town of Vengurla. A semi-circular range of hills surround the town and the white sand beaches on three sides open up to the deep blue Arabian Sea. The beaches here give you beauty and peace without any crowds. The Nivati and the Shiroda beaches are secluded paradises with crystal clear water. The market at Shiroda on Sundays is perfect for finding cheap treasures. Vengurla was burned down twice during its prime days. What is left of the scar is a cluster of large rocks, now popularly known as Burnt Island. Remember to visit it and take pictures. At the evening fish market, that is set up near the Vengurla Jetty, you can find a large variety of seafood and fish to go. This is the site for the long-abandoned port of the region. The lighthouse, perched on a hill, is the highest point from where you can enjoy a view of the beach and the setting sun. Besides fish, you'll find cashew nuts everywhere in all forms – be it roasted or raw. And if you happen to visit from March to June, don't forget to indulge in some fresh, juicy Alphonso mangoes grown here.