Part#4–Unleashing Northeast India–Land Of Lama, Rains, Rhinos and Momos by Abhimanyu

Abode of clouds - Meghalaya!

Please excuse me for writing the final part of this journey after a gap of more than a month. Was caught up in adjusting with the “new normal” way of life and remote working.

There were struggles to get the groceries and seamless internet connectivity initially but now it’s all sorted. Meanwhile, I drove down to Raipur from Pune. 1000 kms in 20 hours with a co-driver. It was good fun. 

Reading part#4 directly might not be good idea so please click on the below links to read prequels

After spending 2 days in Assam, relishing local delicacies and meeting Rhinos it was time to hit the road again. Simanta was at hotel lobby with his innova, all neat and clean.

This time for a change, we started late. After lunch around 1:00 pm.

Day#7 –

  • Kaziranga national park to Cherrapunji
  • Travel time – 8.5 hours 
  • Road Condition – Smooth and well consructed
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

Lunch served to us @Bonhabi was full of taste and spices. Exactly the way we wanted.

The drive was pretty smooth, and we enjoyed the journey through the small villages, finally reaching the mountains from the plains. We stopped at Jiva Pure Veg to refill our tummies and this place is one of a kind. Very hygienic and full of taste. We ordered momos, noodles and some biryani. Reached at Saimika, resort by 10 pm. It seemed to be a deserted place wherein there was a security guard who led us to our twin-cottages (joined from inside).

Entering the cottages, our excitement reached next level. We had a fireplace inside the cottage. I have stayed in many resorts across India, but this was the first time I had this pretty thing inside the room. We asked the security to lit it up for us. Glasses clanged again with malt on the rocks. It was good fun and very relaxing. Woke up fresh next morning and opened the door of our cottage to be mesmerized by the beauty of this resort which seemed deserted yesterday. Resort is built on a cliff in acres of land, all construction is done using rocks which gives an ancient Roman feel to this place. Looked inspired by Harry Porter movie to a fair extend.

We had some quick sandwiches at the restaurant and left the resort to reach the entry-point of trek to famous “living Root Bridges.”

Day#8

  • living Root Bridges
  • Travel time – Full day trek 
  • Trek level – Moderate to difficult
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

At the entry point of the trek, you will meet local boys renting Bamboos and claiming to be guides.

My suggestion – Take Bamboos and not the guide. Because our guide named, Risk DID NOT guide us at all. He just kept walking ahead of us creating un-necessary pressure on us to trek down faster. Guide could be useful for getting some pictures clicked for sure.        

Single root bridge

Started off the hike and reached the,” single decker root bridge” after 1500 steps down hill.

It was tiring but we had some juice left in us so after some rest we moved ahead to the prime attraction of today’s hike – the double decker living root bridge. Another 2000 steps down hill, crossing a river, a few villages, lots of sweating and knee breaking efforts we reached the architectural brilliance, man-made, double decker living root bridge.  

There is a stream flowing underneath it and thousands of fishes are waiting to welcome you from a small pond of fresh, crystal clear water.

Fishes waiting to give you a natural pedicure

We spend time relaxing by the pond side and eating the packed food that we carried from Saimika. Pranthas that were packed had lost the taste completely and I suggest to better order Maggie from small shops around the root bridge.

Some wiki gyan for youA living root bridge is a type of simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping. They are common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastica[1][2]) by the Khasi and Jaintia[3] peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau. Most of the bridges grow on steep slopes of subtropical moist broadleaf forest between 50m and 1150m above sea level.[4] As long as the tree from which it is formed remains healthy, the roots in the bridge can naturally grow thick and strengthen. New roots can grow throughout the tree’s life and must be pruned or manipulated to strengthen the bridge. Without active care, many bridges have decayed or grown wild, becoming unusable. *

*Source – Wikipedia

We had to trek upstairs again. Although none of us wanted to but we did as we had to.

Knees, thighs and back hurted bad but we kept walking and motivating each other. 

I will write another post on does and don’t while you take this tiring trek of Living Root Bridges. Finally reached the car parking after 7~8 hours to meet ever smiling Simanta.

Had maggie and tea and ditched all plans to see some waterfalls to reach Saimika resort so that we can enjoy this beautiful stay a little more. 

Evening was set with a lovely bon fire outside our cottages where we enjoyed endless chats under the sky full of stars, zillions of them twinkling all night long.

Next morning was a lazy one, got up late and enjoyed our pre-ordered breakfast at the gothic Sai-mika. After quick check-out Simanta took us for some sightseeing around Cherrapunji and Dawki river. The water has no colour and odour is true in the transparent river which flows from India to Bangladesh and merges in Bay of Bengal via Sundarbans. Boating is a must here and if you are enthusiastic like us the do take a dip in the freeazing crystal clear water. Left Cherrapunji by 4 pm for our next destination which was just a night halt for us.

Day#9

  • Cherrapunji to Umsning, Meghalaya
  • Travel time – 4 hours
  • Road condition – Very good and scenic
  • Stay – The Sanctuary Song Resort, Umsning, Meghalaya

All is well when it ends well. Reaching this serene resort, we thought to ourselves, what a showstopper trip end planned by the curator. Nested in nature’s lap within a forest, small stream flowing besides the resort and NO MOBILE NETWORK available. What else does a metro lad need!!

Final Night Celebration

Some local strawberry wine was bought from the reception, bon fire was lit and the night went on and on till 1 am. Crashed in our cosy beds and woke up with chirps of birds, Trisha was the 1st one to wake up and got outside to greet the birds singing in a foggy cold morning.

Day#10 was finally here when we had to board our flight back to Mumbai from Guwahati airport, which is around 3.5 hours smooth drive from the heavenly stay on earth called The Sanctuary Song Resort. I leave you with some pictures here as we end this epic journey of a lifetime with a promise to come back again soon.

Reach out to us for any queries about this trip and for planning and booking yours.

#travel-click-eat-repeat

Send your love to us in comments section and by sharing this blog as much as possible.

Meet the star – Simanta – The ever smiling Mawa Man

See you soon again!

Cheers!

Abhimanyu @yatripandit

Part#2 – Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#2 – Tip toeing – Tawang and reaching Dirang!

We slept over with the Soldier’s stories of peace and altitude and how they live in extreme climate conditions at various posts across length and width of this beautiful Country called India.

@Tawang, the night temperature dipped to sub-zero and 3 layers of cloths, 2 blankets and a heater could brave us through that night.

Hold on, if you have landed to this page directly, please click Part#1 to read the prequel. Do come back here.

Day#3 –

  • Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake
  • Travel time – 8 hours tour
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Hotel Mon-Paradise

Woke up fresh and got ready at 8 am after eating some ready to eat poha and upma prepared by Akshata (Chotu). Reached downstairs to find our Chauffer for the day Mr. Tashi.

No, don’t think that Simanta got bored of our poha-jalebi talks and decided to part ways. In Tawang you are required to book a local taxi to visit Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake. Cost is approx. 5000/- all-inclusive and tour duration is about 7~8 hours. I think this arrangement is made to provide earning opportunities to the locals. That’s Good specially for Simanta as he got a rest day to spend with his favourite mawa and probably talk to his family over phone.

Tashi drove a Tata Sumo and could speak Hindi fluently. He had a footballer’s physique, spikes hairstyle and donned Ray-Ban aviators. He played some good music from the 90’s era which we really enjoyed.

Before moving ahead with trip, an important information is that all tourists (including Indians) need an Inner Land Permit(ILP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh border. The fess is about 250/- per person and it can be applied online. Our tour agent got this arranged for us before the commencement of trip.

Tawang to Bumla pass is about 35 Kms and takes about 1.5 hours to reach. The path is so beautiful that you would never want it to end. We visited in February and it was the perfect time as the mountains was covered with magical white fresh snow.

Tashi had to tie a metal chain on the tyres of Sumo to escape skidding on the snow.

Reaching Bumla Pass we were thrilled to the core, only Dev had seen such heavy snow before this day during his visit to Swiss Alps. It was difficult to even walk as the snow was soft, fresh and about 3~4 ft deep or even more.

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All tourists were taken to a Army shed and served free hot tea and water for FREE. You are expected to wash your glasses and keep them clean for the next lot of tourist. Before we move further in the day, let me brief you about Bumlapass, histroy and its geographic importance.

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Bumla Pass, situated at an altitude of over 15,200 ft is snowbound for almost the entire year due to its steep elevation and presents a beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau. The road to the pass takes visitors through many sleepy hamlets and scenic lakes, making the drive memorable. Elegantly maintained by the Indian Army, Bumla Pass is a must for those who want to see how Indian soldiers protect the borders in the harshest of climes. The road to Bum La is also a historical route, the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded India during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Here in Bum La Pass one of the fiercest battles took place in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. It is the pass from where Dalai Lama entered India escaping from Tibet.

After some tea and talks, one of the army officers took all tourists for a walk towards the border, and while all of us were breathing heavily the siren hooted and we were ordered to march back towards the army shed. It was scary as we thought there is some activity from China’s side but after another free tea and talks later, the officer told us that it was a routine round from the China side and there was nothing to worry about. Let’s go again, he said.

Officer explained us about the meetings that take place every quarter between the two army’s, talks of peace and co-existence, exchange of culture and some gifts from each side. Chinese are tough nuts, he said and guided us back to the Shed. Some pictures, snow fights, another round of tea and bowing down to our soldiers for their courage and bravery later we were all set to visit Madhuri Lake(Sangestar Tso) with our Tashi.

Indian actress namely Madhuri, danced besides Sangestar Tso in koyla movie and since then locals fondly call it as Madhuri lake. Now that’s real swag!

While waiting at Bumla pass, Tashi removed the metal chains thinking they aren’t needed any more. He was wrong, as our cab got stuck in snow as on the way to Madhuri lake.

All of us got down and tried to help but little did we know that our soldier would arrive all of a sudden in a truck and get us moving in minutes. Salute them, smiling and feeling useless at the same time we got inside the cab. Trisha(my wife) started to feel heavy head. Tashi told us it normal to experience this for people from the plains like us. Altitude and extreme sun rays to be blamed.  

Right on the turn towards lake, an army officer told us that the road is blocked due to heavy snow. We could not see the lake where Madhuri Dixit danced in 1997. I was 9 years back then and other three even younger. No worries guys, this kinda stuff keeps on happening on roadtrips and hill terrains told our very own Akshata Dixit. 😛

A few minutes later curvy roads, an army officer in uniform asked us for lift and we happily stopped to invite him inside. I think all soldiers have a lot of stories and they are great story tellers as well. He narrated a few to us and then Soldier and Tashi started to talk about current Prime Minister – Shri Narendra Modi. Tashi told us that, he likes Modi very much and trust that only Modi can uplift Arunachal Pradesh. There was no college in Tawang and everyone either dropped out after high-school or had to enrol in other states for studies, but now Tawang has a basic college, told Tashi.

The soldier got us some hot water to drink, which is the best way to beat the altitude sickness. Trisha felt a little better and after some time tashi dropped us to Hotel.

After lunch Dev and Akshata went on to see Tawang War Memorial with Simanta. Me and Trisha decided to rest for a while. Some chai, talks and lying around was what we needed.

After an early dinner in the ground floor restaurant and thanking Raju- the chef for the lovely food we dozed off again. Yes, like how the pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud.

Day#4 –

  • Tawang local and drive to Dirang
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Gonpalok Homestay

Next morning, it was time for us to bid adieus to Tawang but not so quick. Simanta had some plans for sight seeing and we also have “never say never” attitude. 1st place was Tawang Monastery. Monasteries are usually serene this was more that just serene. It was surreal. We were welcomed by harmless monkeys and after spending some time in the Monastery, waved goodbyes from young kids wearing Buddhist robes and having books in hands.

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Next up was a Giant Buddha Statue, located at an elevated place. We found a small and pretty café behind the statue to spend some good time and have tea and Maggie.

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Last up was the Tawang local market, almost all shops sell similar stuff which are woollens, souvenirs, incense sticks, cups/ mugs and footwears. We also got some to get back home with us. I love my dragon printed cup and still have my tea in it while writing this for you.

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Our time in Tawang was up and Simanta was ready with his mawa filled mouth and engine thumping. Next destination was Dirang.

Dirang was not in the original plan but last night we decided to alter the plan to ditch Shillong and include Kaziranga National Park. The decision was taken as the travel time to Shillong was too much for a day and we had to celebrate Dev and Chotu’s Anniversary. So, reaching to the next place was very important.

While driving back down-hill, we all admired the innocence and embracing nature of people of the beautiful state called, Arunachal Pradesh.

We stopped at Jang for a sightseeing, you will have to stair down about 200 steps to reach a river valley. Source Wikipedia : Nuranang Falls (also known as Bong Bong Falls), some 100 metres high, is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this part of the country, yet is unknown to many travelers. It lies some 2 kilometres away from the town of Jang on the road connecting Tawang and Bomdila, so it is also known as the Jang Falls. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use. The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. Just below the waterfall it falls into the Tawang river.

We were hungry and Simanta stopped at Jaswant garh war memorial again. Remember in the 1st part I told you about the free tea and hot water. This is the same place that serves them. We got some idlis, dosas, muffins and tea. The taste, view and soldier’s passion deserve respect and admiration.

About 4 hours drive and crossing Sela pass again we finally reached Dirang. Do not miss to buy fresh fruits from the shops on the highway side. Dirang is known to produce variety of fruits.

We faced some difficulty in reaching the home stay but when we entered Gonpalok Homestay. We thought, “stay ho toh aisa.” No words can describe the taste of hot pakodas that were freshly cooked for us by the caretaker lady along with hot tea. Later in the evening we celebrated the much awaited anniversary at hotel Norphel Retreat. It was very well planned and organised by our freelancer travel agent. I leave you with some pictures to ponder on and be jealous of us that we did this the trip only a month before the country wide lock down was imposed to tackle Covid-19 spread.

 

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Sure of waking up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Part#3 coming soon… where we move towards plains from the mountains and see the mighty Brahmaputra river, tea gardens and 1 horned rhino.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Guest Post || A short trip to Kailasagiri by Lakshmi

Where there is a hill, there is a temple! Very much true about the hills in India, right? So, this time let’s travel to a cave temple built on top of a hill, known as Kailasagiri. Not only temple but also there are other surprises on the go. Of course, a great place for photography! Come on guys… rock rock rock! I mean this place is full of rocks ahh 😉

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As usual, this is also a ‘not so crowded’ weekend getaway from Bangalore. Apt for a short day trip. My brother and his wife came for a weekend and it was their 2nd wedding anniversary. So we thought of taking them to a place nearby where they can have a photo shoot as well. This time we did not have kids with us. It was a couple’s day out.

Let’s jump in to the route and other details.

Situated at : Chikkaballapura District, Karnataka

Distance : 70 km

Known for : Trekking, Cave temple, Reservoir

Best time to visit : Mostly during winters. Preferably in the mornings and evenings as it will be too sunny during the mid day. We went on Feb 2nd 2020.

Estimated travel time : 2 hrs. We started at 6.45 am and reached by 8.45 am.

 

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We had a stop by on the way to have our breakfast.

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Route : Varthur, Balagere Road(Our place) – Whitefield – Hoskote – straight through Kadappa Bengaluru Highway – take left where you will see the big board ‘Kailasagiri’ – one more left from the next ‘Y’ intersection.

Expenses : Hoskote-Chinthamani toll plaza – Rs 55(double side, no Fastag here), Hoskote Highway Toll -Rs 20 (one side), Parking at Kailasagiri – Rs 10, Kaivara Reserve Forest(Kaivara Thapovana) – Rs 10 and other expenses for food.

Commute : Apt for bikers. We anyways, went in our own car. The village roads are best for countryside cycling (Carry one if you are a cycling enthusiast. Would give you a wonderful experience)

Temple timings : 9.30 am to 8 pm, Pujas and rituals are performed here.

We reached the foothills around 9 am and the temple was not open. So, here comes the surprise as I said. There is a reservoir just nearby known as Ambaji Durga Reservoir. It’s such a beautiful place with the lake and rocks.


It was perfect place for a photo shoot. Anyone planning for one, note this place. We took a cam full of photos, enjoyed the view and tranquility of nature. There are few rocks where you can climb on it. Ended up as an adventurous photo session 🙂 Plus point is, not at all crowded so enjoyed our sweet time.

We had parked our car near the entrance of temple where the stone paved path begins. As expected, here as well we encountered the monkey army. The beautiful stone paved path will take you to the top where the cave temple is. Though I saw few old age people, I felt it would be difficult for aged people. This spot is best for youngsters and kids. I heard trekking is also an attraction here. We did not go for it anyways.

Once you reach the top it’s such an amazing view. The breeze makes you feel ease.


The twin rocks sits together like someone had glued them many moons ago! It is believed that the Pandavas lived here for sometime during their exile.

Just below these huge rocks there are blue metal gates(doors) which are the entrance of cave temple. This cave is a recent man made construction and still going on.

The deities are Sri Jagadambe, Sri Vallabha Ganapathy and Sri Chathurmukhalingeshwara (Shiv linga with faces carved on 4 sides).
I must say how cool it feels inside. It’s so refreshing. We took a walk inside and saw the main part of cave. A stage and hall where people can meditate peacefully. Photography is prohibited inside. Still managed to click few pics.
Post this, as usual we went to explore nearby places.

Found Kaiwara Thapovana which was a complete time waste. The place would have been a good spot if they had maintained well. Don’t know for what purpose are they collecting Rs.10 per person as entrance fee! We saw two young couples inside and few swans caged inside a small pond. Took few photos here as well. Nothing much to explore.

Though we did not go, I will hint you few nearby places here you can visit.

– Vaikunda Betta ( This temple is just opposite to Kaiwara Thapovana)
– Ambaji Durga Betta with a Fort (Not suitable for families, apt for trekking)
– Bhima Bakasura Betta / Chamundi Betta (climb is around 500 steps, Lakshman Thirtha is here)
– Bheemeshwara Temple
– Sri Amaranarayana Swamy Temple
– Sri Yogi Narayana Mutt (Dedicated to Kaiwara Tatayya)

Tips :

– There are few small shops nearby. Still advisory to carry water bottles.
– cap/hat, sunscreen (those who really worry about tanning 😉 )
– Wearing your sport shoes will do good.

 

Story By

Sreelakshmi

About the Author
Sreelakshmi
Ten years of journey in HR/Quality field and 5 years in teaching came to an end few months back. Now as a homemaker I enjoy the quality time with my family. I also loved doing part-time jobs with All India Radio as a RJ and few other private radios in Kerala. Writing and travelling are my passions. Do visit my story blog as well.
Below is my travel blog. Please take a look.

Barnawapara – A not so famous Wildlife Sanctuary

At yatripandit, we believe there should be no boundaries on travelling especially when it comes to jungle and wildlife. It is the only one, out of 543 wildlife sanctuaries in India where you can drive your own car inside the protected area. When we came about this unique fact about Barnawapara, we were already inside our Ford Ecosport heading towards the Jungle.IMG_20170203_155409672

My younger brother suggested us this trip and 3 of us along with him, left from the capital city of Chhattisgarh, Raipur at 2pm and within 2 hours we were at the entry gate of Barnawapara. The highways are maintained in tint condition and cruising on them gave us great adrenaline rush.

Where to stay: We chose to stay at CG Tourism’s, Hareli eco resort ditching the more famous ones like Muba Resort and celebration. We did not regret the stay and hospitality even one percent and saved some bucks as well. The resort is well maintained, wide spread, and located on a lake side. Its service is fabulous as well and can be booked from various online platforms.

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After getting our room keys and dumping our luggage, we boarded our car and headed straight to the protected area entry gate. A guide, who are usually local village boys can be hired from the entry gate at a nominal price of 300-500 INR. Getting a guide is a must otherwise you might get lost forever in the wilderness(just exaggerating a little more).  It was a good 1.5 hours ride on bumpy jungle roads. And we were lucky to spot a sloth bear lazing around by the road side, wild boar and a heard of deer.

Deers

Back to our machan like rooms in the Hareli resort, changed and got fresh to have a relaxed time sitting in balcony sharing some talks from our old jungle trips(read about Bandhavgarh and Bastar), laughs,  relishing some drinks with freshly cooked snacks and doodling over music. All we needed after that was a good dinner and some nice sleep. The dinner was cooked on demand and was more like a home cooked food. We truly enjoyed every bite of it.

What to do: Jungle safaris are all about waking up before dawn and in Hareli resort the chirping birds played our alarms clocks. Within minutes we were driving in our Ecosport again and reached the entry gate driving through the fog and mist in no time. Hired a new guide and there we were inside this beautiful jungle which is spread over an area of about 245 sq km in the Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh. Bird watching in Barnawapara is one of the most enjoyed activities. The major fauna of the Barnawapara Sanctuary include Tigers, Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Striped Hyena, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python, Antelopes, Leopards, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, to name a few. The sanctuary also has a large population of birds that include Parrots, Bulbul, White-rumped Vultures, Green Avadavat, Lesser Kestrels, Peafowl, Wood Peckers and the list can go on and on. We could spot many of these but tiger. 😦

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Africa look alike lake

Do not miss climbing to the highest watch tower and observe the forest silently breathing pure and light. That greenery; spread till the horizon is the best treat you can offer to your eyes, tired of laptop and cell phone screens.

 

When to go: The protected area is closed for tourist during Monsoons(June to Sept) every year. The most suitable time of the year is winters i.e. November to March.

Not to worry if you donot have your own can to offroad, Gypsy’s and jungle safari’s can be hired at the entry gate or Hareli resort can arrange the same for you.

Bidding adieus to this self motorable jungle; we were back again to smaller concrete Jungle(Raipur) in 2 hours and next day to a bigger one(Pune). We captured many memories and pictures. We surely are returning back to this jungle very soon.

Stay tuned for our upcoming story on rules of the Jungle (Which are NOT location specific).

Story by: Abhimanyu

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Guhagar – with Sandy, White Sand and Serenity

We know you liked our last story, kuch khaas hai kaas on Kaas Plateau published in September 2017 and as promised here we are sharing the 2nd phase of that amazing Road trip with Sandy. If you missed reading the preceding story, click here and then read the current one.

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Here you go, After dumping the idea of quitting jobs and realizing that its getting dark, we hit the road again to reach our final destination- Guhagar. It was about 180 kms drive from Satara via karad and Chiplun. The roads were not in a good condition throughout the journey and there were some steep ghats, then we reached to the pre booked Nilambari Resort.

Where to STAY: It was a 3 bed non AC room with attached toilet and television. The resort owner is very friendly and we could bargain and get the fare down to Rs 1000/- from Rs.1500/-. After having typical Konkani poha and tea served at the Resort, we headed to the beach which is about a five minute walk from the resort.

What to EAT: While in Guhagar, one must try Konkani vegetarian food like ukdi chamodak, sol kadi, Bhaves, kokam sharbat and Thali-pith of Suruchi hotel is a must eat. Konkani sea food is globally recognized for its taste and while in this part of the sub-continent, one cannot afford to miss:  kalva, mhakala, vaghal, bonbil, kolim, kombadi vade, mori mutton, Ghol, Rawas etc.

We were awestruck after feeling the smooth white sand on this virgin Guhagar beach. The water was clear and so was the beach. It felt as 3 of us were the only tourists.  After having a dip in the Arabian sea, we headed towards the famous Gopalgarh fort which has great historic significance. It is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddis. It was captured by Shivaji Maharah in 1660.

Being one of the most important lighthouses of India, Anjanvel Light house is a must visit. The lighthouse operator explained us the technicalities involved in signaling and controlling the ships. We halted at an unknown and unnamed venue on the hill and facing the mighty Arabian Sea for some time and did not realize when we ended up halting there for hours. The air was the freshest that we ever had inhaled and the breathtaking view was the best ever experience we could have captured in ours lens, eyes and hearts. The thought of quitting job was dwindling all over again. We enjoyed some late night drinks on the beach in the moonlight and under the sky full of twinkling stars.

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Vyadeshwar and Velaneshwar temple:  Both are temples of Lord Shiva and are the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Brahmins.

Next morning we were all set to hit road and decided to take the road less traveled, where we had to cross Dabhol creek on a ferry along with our car, which was a superb experience to reach Ratnagiri. Visited an ancient Chandika Devi Temple to reach Pune via not so easy to drive Tamhini Ghat. The ghat is full of waterfalls and scenic beauty during the monsoon. We drove back to Mumbai with a lifetime experience, much improved bond of friendship and promises for the many more upcoming roadtrips.

Must carry stuff on a roadtrip: Aux cable, cigarette point charger, knife, water, jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, old newspapers, mat, bedsheet, nail cutter, mug, DSLR, football, snacks,  beachwear (if the place you heading to has a beach)and hell lot of great music.

Do not miss to listen to the music what we love on roadtrip by clicking HERE

Story by: Abhimanyu

Pictures by: Utkarsh & Sandy

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Matheran: A no-honking hill station

What can be a better escape on a rainy weekend from Mumbai or Pune than Matheran. Matheran is the only hill station in India, where vehicles are banned and you can clearly listen the sound of breeze rustling leaves and that of the horseshoes.

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It is the one hill station that is so close by that one can visit it at the drop of a hat. One can commute and explore the hills either on foot or on horseback. This is a perfect place for Digital detoxification as one can call it, to enjoy in the lap of mother nature.

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As far as travel to the hill station is concerned, Matheran can be reached by road from Mumbai or Pune via Road or Train with ease.

We stayed at Hotel Cecil which is a very calm place and fits in the budget. It is a heritage building and is about 100 years old. The rooms were very spacious, the washrooms were okay but the food was really good. Even though they do not serve any nonvegetarian food or alcohol, still I would say that the quality of food and variety was good.The rent on a weekend for a single night was Rs 3000/- for a double occupancy room, inclusive of all meals.

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As for tourist activities, Matheran has about 22 points which are listed below. These were all developed by Britishers.

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Important points are Alexander Pt., Rambag Pt, Little Chowk Pt, Big Chowk Pt, One Tree Hill Pt, Belvedere Pt, Olympia Race Course, Lords Pt, Charlotte Lake,Celia Pt (a waterfall mouth), Echo Pt., Porcupine Pt (Sun Set Pt), Panorama Point (Sun Rise Pt), Khandala Pt, Madhavji Garden & Point, Matheran Railway Station, Louisa Point, Mayra Point, Pisarnath Temple.

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It takes about 3 days to cover all the points and since we had a time constraint we decided to visit only the important places. We decided to visit all the scenic points but if you are an adrenaline junkie, you can try Valley crossing from echo point. High on the hills, when you witness the fog and feel the cold wind against your face nothing can taste better in that weather than hot maggie and corn. It’s advisable to reach back your resort before it gets dark as the hill terrain is not equipped with street lights. So to reach in time, we decided to hire horsebacks with funny names such as hawa hawai. After sound night’s sleep and a  delicious morning breakfast, we left for Mumbai. Took a Toy train (15 mins journey) from Matheran to Aman Lodge, then shared taxi to Neral and then Local train to Thane and finally back home after experiencing a much needed Digital Detoxification.

Matheran says,”Horn NOT OK Please.”

Photo Courtesy: MTDC website and Abhimanyu

www.maharashtratourism.gov.in

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited By

Utkarsh

Conquering Kundalika – River Rafting in Maharashtra | Yatripandit Original

Rafting is like romancing with a River. It expects respect, understanding and commitment as any other relationship.

We started off from Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai at 8 am, I know its a bit late for a summer road trip! This time we didn’t plan anything but the destination. We didn’t know what to eat, whom to book rafting with, where to stay or whether to stay overnight or return back the same day?

Reached Kolad by 12:30 noon and then the real task of finding a good stay begun. After a few phone calls and referring a number of websites, we found a place called “nature trails” (But didn’t book) which had luxury tents to offer but it was a bit out of budget as the tents were designed for 4 and we were only 2 of us. Nature trails can be booked from www.naturetrails.in . We failed in a couple of other places too as it was a weekday and most of the stays in Kolad operate only on weekends only.

Tired of hunger and burnt of heat, we decided to have lunch first, while having lunch I found a place called “Wilder West” which was very close by had good reviews on google.

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Wilder West Resort

We were there within minutes and got our cottage type room booked. Rent – 5900/- for 2 pax. 1-night stay, all meals and 4 adventure activities. The resort was situated right on the bank of the river and clear water was just a dive away.

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View from Cottage

4 Activities included – Kayaking, zipline, river crossing and WHITE WATER RAFTING.

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Kayaking in Kundalika River

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Fun during Zipline

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Kayaks

The 1st 3 activities were performed on the 1st day evening. Specially Kayaking is a must try. I enjoyed it and was able to learn it quickly.

The dinner was typical Maharashtrian cuisine and full of taste.

The next day morning was so pleasant besides the river that one can keep watching the water gush and listen to melodious birds humming for hours forgetting all worries, sorrows and griefs.

2nd Day, 8 am we left for the much-awaited adventure sport, white water rafting. The start point of the rafting is about 25 kms uphill from Wilder West resort. The rafting in Kundalika river depends on the release of water from Mulshi dam. Our rafting instructor Rajesh was pahadi, who hailed from Rishikesh.

Rafting
Image Credits – https://www.whitewatermag.com/

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Rafts

Note: Listen to the instructions carefully before setting in for rafting, as this sport can be ferocious and life threatening.

White water rafting is a sport where your adrenaline will be on the highest level and there are a few rapids which will give you the desired thrill.

The river has a calm flow after the rapids, wherein you can jump into the water and just keep flowing with the current and your raft.

The duration of rafting is about 2.5 hours but you will surely remember this for the rest of your life.

PS: – Rafting in Kundalika is fabulous for 1st timers and it is the only place to experience rafting in Maharashtra.

Cheers,

Yatripandit

Credits

Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited by

Utkarsh

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Warangal- Weekend gateway to kakatiya’s dynasty

Spending an extended weekend sitting idle at home is never a good idea. So, as always I planned a roadtrip to nearby place called Warangal, approximately 150 km away from Hyderabad with my husband. Warangal is referred as the cultural capital of Telangana state. It was the capital city during the flourishing days of mighty Kakatiya dynasty.

We started our journey from Hyderabad around 8 am just to stop for breakfast at one of our favorite places called Udipi Uphar. After that we started our journey towards the city of Warangal. Reached the destination around 1:00pm in the afternoon and checked in our hotel immediately.

How to reach Warangal:

Nearest airport to Warangal is Hyderabad which is approx. 150 Kms

Public Buses- There is direct connectivity from Hyderabad. Buses leave very frequently and take around 6-7 hours to reach Warangal

Train- Warangal is well connected by train routes to major railway corridors in India.

Roadtrip- This is my favorite. The roads are in good condition and one can easily reach within 5 hours.

Accommodation:

1. Haritha kakatiya, Warangal- This hotel is managed by government of Telangana and offers good accommodation, restaurant and a health club

2. Hotel Suprabha- This lovely mid range hotel lets you stay with complimentary breakfast option. This is located in Hannamkonda in Warangal

Places to visit:

Warangal fort– This places is in ruins form but maintained well by Archaeological survey of India (ASI). Fort was commissioned by king Ganpathi Deva. It has beautifully carved arches and pillars that surprised us. Also, has four main ornamental gates to welcome. One can find a Shiva temple with statue of Nandi and many more idols of Hindu Gods like lord Ganesh, Vishnu, Shiva. The extensive rock carvings on the pillars and arches will leave you mesmerized.

Kush Mahal – This architectural masterpiece built by Shitabh khan is located very close to the Warangal fort and is of great historic and architectural importance.

Ramappa Temple – This temple is around 60 km away from Warangal city. It is also called as Rudreshwara temple as this temple is dedicated to lord Shiva. Temple is a legendary example of kakatiya art. The temple was constructed during the reign of kakatiya ruler Ganpati deva. Here we hired a guide, who explained the history and other details of the carved pillars of temple. There are three entrances to the temple the main entrance to the temple faces the east where a Nandi mandapa placed. The interesting part is that, across India you will find Nandi sitting in relaxed position in all Shiva temples but here the Nandi is sitting in an alert position waiting to execute the command of lord Shiva.

Thousand pillars temple– It is located in Hanamkonda also called as Tirkutalayam signifying three gods as lord Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. The six feet high monolithic Nandi is a sight to watch. The temple was built by king Rudra-1 of the Kakatiya dynasty. Temple is situated on a platform raised above ground level and consists of a central hall with three shrines in different directions.

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Nandi at Thousand Pillar Temple

Shri Bhadrakali temple– Close to thousand pillar temple is Bhadrakali temple which has an idol of goddess kali in a sitting posture. The nearby lake called as bhadrakali lake which gives a magnificent view of the place surrounded with lush green hills. It imparts the temple and its serene surrounding a mystical air.

Nearby places:

Pakkhal lake– This huge manmade lake is enveloped by forested hills around few miles away from main city. The Pakkhal wildlife sanctuary can also be visited to unwind in the wilderness.

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Pakkal Lake

Laknavaram lake– Approximately 50 km away from Warangal, Laknavaram lake is located. Built by the Kakatiya rulers, this massive lake is of a bowl like structure having 13 small islands which are scattered amidst the jungle. This makes it a serene and perfect bird watching spot. Also, has a one of a kind suspension bridge connecting three islands managed and maintained by Telangana tourism department.

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Laknavaram Lake

Few quick Tips:

1. Plan your trip during winters (October to January) as in summer it’s too hot and you will not enjoy your trip to the fullest.

2. Carry sufficient cash as ATMs are rare in the villages around Warangal.

3. If you are going by train or bus please book your cabs for city travel and sightseeing in advance for a hassle free trip.

 

Story by -Shikha@yatripandit

Pictures by – Utkarsh Tiwari

Story appreciated and shared by Telangana Tourism Facebook page. 🙂

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Camping by the lake side @ Pawana Lake INR 1300/-

You will agree that we all are fascinated when we see a traveler carry a tent in his/her back pack and always wish to do something of similar sort. Isn’t it?

Find a calm and clean place besides a water body, pitch our tent, cook some food, talk to ourselves, sing to the acoustic guitar and sleep peacefully under the sky full of stars.

But the next moment this wonderful dream breaks and we realize that we are corporate dogs who do not have the liberty to do all this. Leave this dream apart; we do not even own a bloody tent!! I know how bad it feels, but don’t you worry  at all, Yatripandit has found out a fabulous midway. Read on!!

Do not own a tent but still be able to camp out in the nature’s lap!! Sounds fun right!!

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The crazy corporate employees in Pune / Mumbai surely have heard of Pawana lake. This amazing place is about a 70 KMs drive from Pune, off Pune-Mumbai old highway in Lonawala. You may follow google maps.

It’s better to reach the venue around 5pm so that you do not miss the beautiful sunset and the snacks served with tea by the property owner and organizer of Pawana camping, Mr. Vijay.

We suggest carrying booze and snacks along with you because there are no liquor shops nearby.

As the sun sets, you also may settle down, relax and unwind yourself in the natures lap.

Package details are listed below:-

  • Cost – Rs. 1300/- Per person
  • Evening snacks, dinner(veg and Non-veg – Must be informed beforehand), and next morning breakfast
  • Includes – Double/triple occupancy tents – Will be pitched by the us
  • Blankets, pillows and mattress inside the tents, to enjoy a cozy night
  • A table to dine and chairs
  • If you are a group of more than 20, you may also indulge in water-sports, but we suggest to ignore this and just enjoy peaceful camping experience
  • BONFIRE – Separate bonfire for every group shall be lit around 10 pm and will last for approx. 2 hrs
  • Neat and clean western/ Indian toilets
  • Barbecue can also be arranged on prior information on Per KG Rates i.e. Mix Veg Rs. 600/-, Paneer Rs. 800/- and Chicken Rs. 700/-

You may also carry Bluetooth speaker but do not blow it too loud to disturb the mountains and serene water in the lake.

Yatripandit is happy to help you plan this one of a kind camping experience.

You may call/whatsapp us on 9975712713 or fill the below form

This can be planned on any day of the week. Discounts on large groups on weekdays.:)

As Coldplay says, “Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars, I wanna die in your arms”

By : Abhimanyu @yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

Bow Down to the King – Bandhavgarh

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

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

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

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

-Abhimanyu

Note : Story appreciated by Madhya Pradesh Tourism on Twitter

twitter @yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media.