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A trip to Karjat August 25, 2011

Filed under: Travelogues — jkomal @ 6:08 pm
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My husband and I decided to make a one day trip to Karjat last weekend. Karjat is a nearby touristic destination from Mumbai. It is about 60 km from Navi Mumbai. We decided to leave by 9:30 in the morning in order to reach the resort at the check-in time. But, unfortunately we got delayed because of  a flat tyre that had to get fixed. Once that was done, we got caught by cops for crossing the red signal. He asked me to collect my license the next day from a nearby police station. But because we were travelling to Karjat, I requested for him to let go and help me out in the given situation. He agreed to give it to me only if I paid a fine (read bribe) of Rs. 200/-.

Hill View on our way to Karjat

Anyways after such a dramatic start we ultimately commenced our journey to Karjat at around 11:30 am. We took the Pune-Mumbai expressway and thereafter took the Shedung exit. After driving a few kms we took a left turn thinking it was the turn to Karjat. But it was the wrong turn…by the time we realized this we had already driven a couple of kms. But the views from this road were just so amazing. You could see lush green hills all around you and all of them had several streams of mini waterfalls. I just regret not clicking any pictures here. We crossed many villages on our way as well. After a while, I told deepu, “I think we are on the wrong track, so we decided to ask the village men for the directions to Karjat and they said “you took the wrong turn”. But we had no regrets, because we had a feast for our eyes. Thereafter, we followed the right directions given to us by an autowala and reached the city of Karjat. Our resort, “The Rivergate Resort” was located about 12 kms from the city, in a village called Kalamboli. The drive to this village was terrible, because the roads were all bumpy.

Once we reached the resort we were really impressed with the huge landscapes surrounding the actual resort building. The resort has tents and cottages as accommodation for its visitors. From the outside, the resort looks really good, with so much greenery around you. The major attraction of this resort is that, the River Pej flows at the periphery of this resort. On reaching the cottage, I was slightly disappointed to see the interiors of the cottage. The furniture and furnishings looked tacky and lacked style and elegance.  Even the bathroom was not up to the mark and it had a stinky smell.

Way to the river

Way to the river

The food in the resort was limited and ok. When we went to have breakfast, I was surprised to learn that they didn’t have a toaster to toast bread. When serving eggs, they only served masala omelet.  The funniest thing was – they made uttapams but didn’t make dosas or idlis. I mean when you made the batter, then serve all three!! Even the lunch and dinner were just alright, nothing great about the food. The crockery was really bad. I mean for a resort that is rated well and charges a tariff of a star-rated hotel, the service and ambience was really poor.

Even the staff wasn’t friendly or well trained. The highlight of the resort was its surroundings and the proximity to the River Pej. You could just walk down to the river and enjoy the serene surroundings. The resort holds activities for its guests. You can avail information on activities at the front desk.

River Pej

River Pej

All in all, the trip was good, because one, we were in close proximity to nature away from the hustle bustle of the city and two, because Avishi had a gala time 😀

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Manali, my favourite holiday July 29, 2011

Filed under: Travelogues — jkomal @ 9:23 pm
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Manali is my favorite destinations from all the places I have visited so far. I went to Manali with my dear husband in 2009 during the winters. We chose to go there in the winters because I wanted to see snowfall desperately. I kept my fingers crossed while planning the holiday, in the hope to see snowfall while holidaying in Manali. And this was so important for me, because I had never seen snow ever before.

Due to time constraints we chose to fly to Kullu from Delhi and henceforth hire a taxi to Manali. We were in for a wonderful surprise, as we flew amidst snow capped mountain peaks as we approached kullu. At one point we actually flew in between two peaks and I felt we were going to crash. It all seemed like a dream and before we even landed I was so excited about the trip. The best part about the flight was the landing. It felt like we were gliding on the Beas (pronounced as Vyas) River and for a moment me and my hubby thought that the flight was going to touch the water and BAM, it just hit the runway of the Kullu Airport. Wow so thrilling eh!

From the airport we hired a taxi for Manali and reached Manali in an hrs time. There was no snowfall when we reached Manali and I kept asking the driver if there was a possibility of snow in the next couple of days. He said, there might be and all I could do was hope for it to snow. We chose to stay at Apple Country Resort because it had great views of the mountains. The hotel served only vegetarian food, but we were ok with it because for some reason, we preferred eating vegetarian food while holidaying in the mountains.

After checking into the hotel and freshening up we took a walk to the Beas River. The water was extremely cold but we just sat by the river and enjoyed watching the river flow and the mighty mountains that surrounded us. Deepu tried the river crossing sport and he had fun. I didn’t, cause I am a chicken  ;P. After that we just surveyed the local market and headed back to the hotel.

Beas River

Beas River

View around Beas River

View around Beas River

River Crossing

River Crossing at the Beas River

The next morning at around 5 a.m, the reception calls up our room and tells me, “mam if you want to see snow fall you should come down because it is snowing”. I was in my sleep but still I immediately got out of bed, changed and rushed outside. I was so excited to see the snowfall and I stood there staring at the sky with a huge grin and thanking God, that he let my wish come true. It was still dark and all I could see was the snowflakes falling down. After a while, I went back to my room and slept. When we woke up in the morning and looked outside the window, everything was covered with fresh, soft snow that was in its purest and cleanest form.  I can’t tell you how happy we were.

Snow View

Snow View from our hotel

After breakfast, we headed to Solang Valley.  Because of all the snow, it was not easy reaching the place. The vehicle we hired could only take us till one point and after that we had to either walk or take a horse ride to Solang Valley. During summers, it isn’t a problem to reach there by vehicle. On the way, we stopped and rented some snow gear that included a jumper suit, rubber shoes and gloves – without which we couldn’t have survived. The horse ride took us 30 minutes to reach Solang Valley.  It was a lovely ride and the views were breathtaking and it resembled a picture that you would probably see on a postcard. Alas, I couldn’t capture any of it in camera cause because I was freezing.  By the time we reached Solang Valley, both Deepu and me were freezing to death and felt we couldn’t move and we needed heat desperately. Luckily there was a tree house with a fire lit in it. We went there and warmed ourselves till we felt normal again. We got out and played in the snow for a while and when we started to feel cold again, we decided to head back to the hotel.

Solang Valley

Solang Valley

The next day we went sightseeing and visited several temples, a tibetian monastery and hot water springs. Hadimba temple was really nice. On the way to the temple, you had to climb these stairs that were surrounded by tall fir trees and they swayed in unison with the wind and made that frightening sound that you would hear in horror movies. I realized then, that those sounds actually were for real and not a figment of someone’s imagination hehehe. We then went to a couple more tourist destinations and went back to the hotel.

Hadimba Temple

Hadimba Temple

All in all, the trip was amazing and I will cherish the memories for a lifetime. The only thing I missed to see was the apples hanging on the trees. I guess I will visit the place again in the summers, to get a green view instead of a white landscape.

 

A holiday at Mahabaleshwar May 19, 2011

Filed under: Travelogues — jkomal @ 12:23 pm

We went to Mahabaleshwar in May 2011 and unlike what we heard, it was hot. During the evenings it would get chilly but during the day it was so very hot.  I guess the best time to go there is during winters.

If you are in Mumbai, then it is best to drive to Mahabaleshwar. It is about 260 kms from Navi Mumbai. The roads are in good condition and the route is simple. Before we started our journey, I read some travelogues claiming they reached there in 3- 3.5 hrs. But we took 5 hrs to reach Mahabaleshwar. I am not sure how realistic the 3 hrs target is.

We started out at around 9 am from home. We stopped in between for breakfast and to fill up fuel. We faced traffic on the Pune road. We also had a flat tire which took us 30 minutes to fix. Of course we had our little Avishi with us so we weren’t driving crazy. Speed varied from 80-120 km/hr.  We reached Mahabaleshwar around 2 pm.

It was so hot by then, that all we wanted to do was check-in to our hotel. We made reservations with Citrus Chambers, Mahabaleshwar. It is a very nice hotel, with lovely greenery around. It is a heritage property and therefore there is a ground floor and an upper floor. The rooms were well maintained and clean. The room was also very well done mainly in earthy tones thereby emitting a calming effect. It is apparently ranked the best hotel in Mahabaleshwar by TripAdvisor and I cannot vouch for that, but we were very happy with the hotel.

The food in the hotel was vegetarian which was a little disappointing. But the staff was very cordial and friendly with Avishi. They even prepared baby food for her and helped me whenever I needed assistance with the kitchen staff.

Around the hotel you will find cabanas, a play area for children, a huge chess board (like in harry potter) to keep you busy while in the hotel.  They also have a spa in the hotel.

We spent most of our time in the hotel. They arranged some puppet show for the kids as well.

As for the places worth seeing, in Mahabaleshwar, you should visit the venna lake. There are boating facilities at the lake, but choose the right time or else be prepared for a long line for the tickets. During the day it is too hot and in the evenings it is too crowded. I reckon mornings are a good time.  It opens by 8 a.m.

That is the line at the ticket counter

Sunset at Venna Lake

You can skip all the points that the tourist departments market. They are not that worthy to see. Just visit one point. Kate’s point is good for a great valley view.  You can visit the market if you want to shop, but you won’t find anything specific to Mahabeleshwar, except for strawberries.

A view from Kate's point

There is a place called Tapola which it seems looks like Mini Kashmir, but we didn’t go there. All the waterfalls were dried up. You can visit the temples there as well.

The city is famous for its strawberries and mulberries. You will find many people selling strawberries and mulberries on the streets of Mahabaleshwar.

As for the food – you must try the fresh strawberry and cream at Bagicha’s corner at the main high way. It is just mind boggling. You can visit the garden there and buy some fresh strawberries as well. Another good place to eat is an Italian corner called Piazza Vienna. They have an interesting menu for breakfast and dinner.

Strawberry and Cream at Bagicha's Corner

All in all it was a great holiday because we felt rejuvenated and relaxed at the end of it. Avishi enjoyed it a lot and therefore we were happy parents.