INDIA TRAVEL - KOLAD - THE UNSEEN PARADISE OF MAHARASHTRA

Hi friends! India has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty that I sometimes feel that it would not be possible to explore all in this lifetime. There are amazing places which are still hidden from the human glare. You can wake up everyday and find a new natural beauty. That is India. Let's visit one such place with eye catching beauty. If you are a backpacker with a thing for trekking in lush mountains or traveling in green landscapes and valleys flush with waterfalls, this is the place for you to be in. The name of the place is Kolad.

Kolad is a village in Raigadh district of Maharashtra in western India. Nestled in Sahyadri mountain range, this place was not known to many people until recently. However, many nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts now know about this natural gem of a place. The quintessential calm and serene village gives you ample opportunities to unwind and rejuvenate yourself. Kolad has varied climate pattern and each season shows a different hue to this place in terms of it's enchanting beauty. What makes Kolad more attractive are the green meadows and beautiful backdrop of Sahyadris.
Kolad, Raigadh
KOLAD
Pic - tripadvisor.com

Kolad Waterfall, Maharashtra
KOLAD WATERFALL
Pic - tourmyindia.com
Kolad is slowly becoming hub of water sports and adventure. There are facilities for rafting, kayaking and rappelling provided here. And the icing on the cake is that it acts as base for many treks. So you have full package to satisfy your quest for adventure. 
Rafting in Kolad
WHITE WATER RAFTING IN KUNDALIKA
Pic - littleapp.in
Kolad will offer you one of the best options of white water rafting spots since it is located on the banks of river Kundalika. River Kundalika is the fastest flowing river in South so it is ideal for rafting and other water sports. This is the reason Kolad is often referred to as Rishikesh of Maharashtra. The scenery around the village and the river will be a delight for the shutterbugs among you.


Rafting in Kolad, Maharashtra
RAFTING
Pic - india.in
Kolad has abundance of natural plants, and lush green landscapes. The rough topography, the valleys, waterfalls and mountains, all make for a portrait like visual. And whether you are an adventurer or a curious traveler out to explore the world, you will find enough here to quench your thirst for embracing the nature and feasting your eyes with the jewels of nature.

Besides water sports and adventure, there are some other attractions also in and around Kolad, which you can go to and enjoy.

TAMHINI GHAT WATERFALLS - Just 21 km(13 mi) from Kolad are Tamhini Ghat Waterfalls. This is a big draw near Kolad and is also known as Valse. The beauty of this place is in it's lush green surroundings. The scenery at Tamhini Ghat Waterfalls is straight out of picture postcards and is bound to leave you spellbound.


Tamhini Ghat Waterfalls, Kolad
TAMHINI GHAT WATERFALLS
Pic - holidify.com

Tamhini Ghat Waterfalls at Kolad, Raigadh
BREATHTAKING VIEW OF TAMHINI GHAT WATERFALLS
Pic - triphobo.com

SUTARWADI LAKE - Situated at a distance of 47 km(30 mi) from Kolad is the pristine Sutarwadi lake. The calm and quiet surroundings of this beautiful lake will rejuvenate both your body as well as mind. The added bonus is that you can enjoy bird watching here. 


Sutarwadi Lake, Kolad
SUTARWADI LAKE
Pic - holidayiq.com

Sutarwadi Lake adventure
WATER RAPPELLING AT SUTARWADI LAKE
Pic - tripplatform.com
Also Read - A MAJESTIC UNEXPLORED SCENIC HILL STATION - GAGANBAWADA

PLUS VALLEY TREK - As the name suggests, this valley is in the shape of plus sign. This is one place which will be hard to resist for you. It is located 22 km(13 mi) from Kolad. Trekkers among you will find this valley unique for it's amazing fauna and exotic scenery which will leave  you yearn for more. You don't have to worry about water as the whole trekking route is adorned with springs and ponds, which add to the beauty of the place. The trek route itself is arduous with difficult terrains and requires high skill to navigate through. However, you can set up camps beside any of the small but beautiful ponds along the way.


Plus Valley, Kolad
PLUS VELLEY TREK
Pic - tripoto.com

Plus Valley Trek, Raigadh, Maharashtra
INSIDE PLUS VALLEY
Pic - eventshigh.com

TALA FORT - Located 15 km(9.5 mi) away is Tala Fort. This is a 4th century fort situated at a height of 1000 ft. Though not much of it is left, but it acts as a view point for the exotic surroundings all around. You can see river Rajpuri clearly from here. Once on top and in Tala Fort, you will find yourself in the midst of lush greenery and beautiful mountains.


Tala Fort, Maharashtra
TALA FORT
Pic - inspirock.com

Tala Fort View
VIEW OF TALA FORT
Pic - traveldglobe.com
REACHING KOLAD - It is easily accessible as it lies on the Mumbai-Goa route. Kolad is situated just 120 km(75 mi) from Mumbai, which is the nearest airport also. You can hire a cab from Mumbai and it will take 2-2.30 hours to reach Kolad.
For traveling by train, there are a couple of daily passenger trains from Mumbai to Kolad. Kolad has it's own railway station.


Kolad Station, Maharashtra
KOLAD RAILWAY STATION
Pic - wikipedia.org
For road travelers, daily state run buses are available from Mumbai and you can get down at Kolad.

Also Read - ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LOCATIONS OF INDIA - NANDI HILLS

STAYING IN KOLAD - There are many options for staying in Kolad. Apart from hotels, a number of resorts have come up which provide all the facilities you can ask for. Besides, you can stay in camps also.

So this winter, head to Kolad to have an adventurous and memorable trip.

Which activity will you prefer at Kolad? Please comment.

HAPPY TRAVELING!!

INDIA TRAVEL - SHRI RENUKA JI - A PLACE OF MYTHOLOGY AND FAITH

Hello friends! There are many places in India with legends attached to them. And each has it's own story. Some have historical values and some carry mythological beliefs. Such places usually carry pilgrimage importance and attract large number of people. However, if these places are nestled in beautiful natural surroundings and also offer adventure activities in and around them, will it not be a double bonanza for you? I take you to one such place which is called Shri Renuka Ji.

Shri Renuka Ji is situated in Giripar area of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Located at an altitude of 672 m(2300 ft), Shri Renuka Ji is considered to be the birth place of Lord Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The biggest attraction of this place is the Renuka Lake, which is the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh. It's circumference is 3214 m. The main feature of the lake is that it is shaped like a woman. It is believed to be an image of Goddess Renuka.


Renuka Lake, Himachal Pradesh
RENUKA LAKE
Pic -hillpost.in
According to Puranas, the story behind Renuka lake goes like this:
Maharishi(sage) Jamdagni and his wife Bhagwati Renuka meditated and prayed for a long time at Tape Ka Tiba, a place near the lake. Happy with their devotion, and with the blessings of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu took birth as their son. Maharishi Jamadagni and Bhagvati Renuka originally named their son as Ram. But Ram performed a Tap(a very tough meditation) of Lord Shiva and pleased him, who gifted him with a divine weapon called Parshu and thereon he started to be referred as Parshuram. He has been called Parshuram everywhere in Puranas and all mythological books.

Lord Parshuram always fought for the rights and justice of common man. Once, when he was away, King Sahastrabahu attacked Tape Ka Tiba and demanded to have Kamdhenu cow from Maharishi Jamdagni, who pleaded with the King that he could not handover the pious cow to him since it was a gift from Lord Indra. Angry at this, Sahastrabahu killed Maharishi Jamdagni. Bhagvati Renuka jumped into nearby Ram Sarovar(pond), which immediately took the shape of a woman and eversince it is known as Renuka Lake.


Renuka Lake, Nahan
CALM AND SERENE RENUKA LAKE
Pic -  hpsirmour.nic.in
Lord Parshuram killed King Sahastrabahu and brought his father, Maharishi Jamdagni, to life with his divine powers. Then he went to lake and requested his mother to come out. Hearing his pleadings, Renuka came out of the lake but insisted that she would continue to live in the lake. However, she promised to Lord Parshuram that she would come out of the lake and meet him on every Devprbodhini Ekadashi. Renuka Ji also promised that people visiting this place on such a pious occasion, would get divine blessings. It is said that scientists have tried to gauge the depth of Renuka lake many times but have not succeeded so far.

Every year, on the eve of Devprbodhini Ekadashi(normally November), Shri Renuka Ji fair is held here. It is a five day affair and is of international magnitude. It begins with the arrival of son Parshuram to meet his mother Renuka. Lakhs of devotees throng the fair site to witness the occasion. Cultural groups from different regions perform at the fair.

You can also enjoy boating in Renuka lake. There are two seater, four seater and six seater boats available and charges very from INR70 to INR300 for half an hour ride. A battery operated vehicle also available to go around the periphery of the lake.


Boats at Shri Renuka Ji, Sirmaur
BOATS AT RENUKA LAKE
Pic - wikipedia.org

Boating at Shri Renuka Ji
BOATING AT RENUKA LAKE
Pic - himachalkesari.in

At one corner of Renuka Lake, Himachal Wildlife Department has built a mini zoo. You will find animals like leopard, deer, bear, ghorals etc. 


Wildlife sanctuary, Nahan
DEERS AT THE MINI ZOO
Pic - tripadvisor.com

Mini Zoo, Nahan, Himachal Pradesh
MINI ZOO
Pic - tripadvisor.com

A little away is the Parshuram temple dedicated to Lord Parshuram.


Parshuram temple, Sirmaur
PARSHURAM TEMPLE
Pic - mysterioushimachal.com

For adventure, you can trek to Fort Jaitak, which was built by Gurkha leader Ranjor Singh Thapa after destroying the Nahan fort. It is a comfortable trek of one hour. Fort Jaitak is situated at an altitude of 1479 m(5000 ft). Although there is not much to see inside the fort but the surroundings are amazing and owing to it's strategic location, it offers a panoramic view of the hills as well as valley around. 


Jaitak Fort, Nahan
JAITAK FORT
Pic - tourmyindia.com

Also visit beautiful and quiet Renuka Ji Temple at the lake. It is believed that it was built by Gurkhas in 19th century. It is dedicated to immortal Renuka Ji.


Renuka Ji temple, Sirmaur
SHRI RENUKA JI TEMPLE
Pic - tourmyindia.com

Renuka Ji Temple, Nahan
RENUKA JI TEMPLE
Pic - tepleadvisor.com
Also read: A COMBINATION OF WILDERNESS AND PANORAMA - SHOJA

To reach Shri Renuka Ji by air, you need to reach Dehradun, which is three hours drive from Shri Renuka Ji. From here you can hire a cab.
The nearest railway station is Ambala, which is 95 km(60 mi) away. From Ambala, catch a taxi to reach Shri Renuka Ji.
Shri Renuka Ji is well connected by road to all the major cities of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and is at a distance of 255 km(160 mi) from Delhi.

You will find government run as well as private hotels and rest houses in Shri Renuka Ji, so don't worry about staying at this place.

So when are you going to Shri Renuka Ji?


INDIA TRAVEL - 3 MOST AMAZING WINTER DESTINATIONS FOR YOU

Hello guys! The winter is upon us and holidays are around the corner. It is that time of the year to treat yourself to some cozy sunshine and winter delicacies. But if you are bitten by travel bug, then it is the best time to pack your bags and head to some enchanting destinations. Let me help you in picking up a destination for your winter travel. Let's walk through three different places in three different corners of the country. You can choose your favorite from among them. The places I am talking about are Mandvi in Gujarat in the west, Mandarmani in West Bengal in the east and Tattapani in Himachal Pradesh in the north.

MANDVI - If you prefer going to a beach during winters, you can head to the western shore of Arabian sea. Here lies the beach city of Mandvi in Gujarat. The beach in Mandvi is still considered virgin. The sunset at this beach is mesmerizing. Not only the beach but you will get a taste of royalty also in Mandvi. While approaching the beach, you can see a huge windmill in the horizon. 


Mandvi, Gujarat
MANDVI BEACH
Pic - faktgujarati.com
Horse riding at Mandvi beach
FUN AT MANDVI BEACH
Pic - trover.com
Mandvi beach blue water
BLUE WATERS OF MANDVI BEACH
Pic - tourismofindia.com
                                                                       
Vijay Vilas Palace is tha star attraction of Mandvi, whose architecture is a global mix. The palace displays multiple items brought from far off places. This royal palace boasts of well laid gardens, marble fountains and water channels. The palace was designed and constructed in 1920. Architects and craftsmen from Jaipur were assigned the task. Numerous Hindi movies have been shot in this palace.


Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Gujarat
VIJAY VILAS PALACE
Pic - gujarattourism.com

Vijay Vilas Palace at Mandvi
GRANDEUR OF VIJAY VILAS
Pic - natgeotraveller.in

Mandvi used to be a major trading port at one time but later on Mumbai became the major port. However, it is still known for it's ship building yards. You can go and see the ship building in these yards. Interestingly, ships are still built manually in Mandvi shipyards. 


Boat making at Mandvi, Gujarat
BOAT BUILDING
Pic - indiamike.com

Mandvi shipbuilding yard
SHIPBUILDING YARD
Pic - thinkingparticle.com


Take a long walk along any of Mandvi's beautiful, clean and quiet beaches and enjoy cool breeze along with watching flamingos and other migratory birds there. You should not miss Double rotis popularly known as Dabeli here, which is the special food of the region.


Windmill Farm Beach, Gujarat
WINDMILL FARM BEACH
Pic - trekearth.com

Windmills at Mandvi
WINDMILLS AT THE BEACH
Pic - compasstourism.com


Situated in the Kutch region, you can reach Mandvi by flying to Bhuj, which is the nearest airport and is 57 km(35 mi) away. By train, you can travel upto Okha, which is 49 km(30 mi) away. You can easily get taxis or buses from these places to reach Mandvi. 

Also read: CHAMPANER-PAVAGADH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK

TATTAPANI - Who wants to go near water in winters? It seems like a torture. But what if water is not only warm but natural also? Would you not like to bath in it? Tattapani, is a place known for it's hot water springs. Tattapani, literally translate means "hot water". These hot water springs originate from the river bed of Sutlej river, which flows through the region. The water in the springs is rich in sulphur and can cure many ailments. This water is particularly good for skin. 


Tattapani, Mandi
BATHING IN HOT WATER SPRING
Pic - holidify.com

Tattapani, Himachal
HOT WATER SPRING AT TATTAPANI
Pic - go2india.com


You can enjoy a warm bath in the springs. Don't worry about your hesitation in bathing in the open. There are alternate arrangements. You can make use of covered fencing or bath tub arrangements, made by locals. You can relax yourself here with the help of Ayurved and naturopathy. You can find some health spa resorts also at this place.


Sutlej river at Tattapani
SUTLEJ RIVER
Pic - indiamike.com

Apart from bathing in the hot water springs, you can also enjoy water sports in Tattapani. Go for river rafting in the river Sutlej. Breathtaking landscape all around will add to the pleasure. Or you can opt for mountain biking/ cycling along the banks of river Sutlej for adventure. You can drive/cycle for as much as 30 km (19 mi) right up to village Chindi. More adventurous of you can go for trekking. Tattapani has many options for trekking where you can admire the natural beauty on the way.


River rafting at Tattapani
RIVER RAFTING ON SUTLEJ RIVER
Pic - backtohills.com

Located at an altitude of  2230 ft, Tattapani is situated in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. It is 56 km(35 mi) from it's more famous cousin Shimla. 

For reaching Tattapani by air, you have to either travel to Shimla airport, which is 68 km(43 mi) away or to Chandigarh airport, which is 153 km(95 mi) away. You can hire taxis from here to reach Tattapani. Alternately, you can travel by train to Kalka (150 km/95 mi) away or to Chandigarh (170 km/ 106 mi) away and get taxis from there. You can get buses also from Shimla to reach Tattapani.

Also read: A PLACE OF PRISTINE BEAUTY AND PEACE - SARAHAN

MANDARMANI - Do you love to drive on the beach? Then this is the place for you. Considered to be the longest driveable beach in India, Mandarmani is a village beach resort in West Bengal. The beach is 13 km(8 mi) long and you will see red crabs crawling around the beach, which is the special attraction of Mandarmani. 


Mandarmani Beach, West Bengal
MANDARMANI BEACH
Pic - teks.co.in

Mandarmani beach sunset
BEAUTIFUL SUNSET
Pic - holidayiq.com

The beach has tranquility and peace and you can enjoy a quiet walk on the silt colored sand. Since West Bengal is in east, you can admire the beautiful sunrise on the beach. You can visit this place just to see the sunrise. 


Water sports at Mandarmani
BEACH VOLLEYBALL
Pic - excitingindia.com

Boating at Mandarmani beach
BOATS AT MANDARMANI BEACH
Pic - eventshigh.com

There are a number of resorts on the beach itself. These resorts offer various activities for you to indulge in. Many activities like jet ski ride, banana boat ride, parachute ride or RTV ride along the beach are offered here. You can opt according to your preference.


Parachuting in India
PARACHUTING AT MANDARMANI
Pic - tripadvisor.com

There are a few shops also at Madarmani selling shells, handicrafts and even hand ,made jewelry. You can also go to nearby beaches of Digha and Shankarpur, which are more popular and crowded.


Red crabs
RED CRABS AT MANDARMANI
Pic - travelandculture.expertscolumn.com

Manadarmani is situated 170 km(105 mi) away from Kolkata by road and 180 km(112 mi) from Kolkata airport, which is the nearest airport. You will easily get taxis from here to reach Mandarmani. To reach Mandarmani by train, you have to travel to Howrah and then to Contai (18 km/ 11 mi away) or Digha (30 km/ 19 mi away). From here you can hire auto rickshaw or cycle rickshaw to reach Mandarmani. Keep in mind that trains from Howrah to above places run only during the first half of the day. Both state run as well as private buses are easily and frequently available to reach Mandarmani beach.

So which of these places you would prefer to go this winter? Please leave your responses in comments.


INDIA TRAVEL - 3 NOT TO BE MISSED HISTORICAL LANDMARKS OF DELHI

Hello friends! Festival season is in full swing and I am sure all of you are having a great time celebrating them. Winter is also setting in slowly and Delhi's winter is extreme and awesome in the sense that on one hand it is biting cold and on the other it brings with it so many eating options to keep you busy munching whole day. Delhi is the capital of India and is also called the heart of India. And heart of Delhi is Connaught Place in central Delhi, a commercial hub and a hot spot for tourists. It's British era architecture, proximity to many well known tourist attractions and very easy connectivity makes it a much sought after destination. Just a stone's thrhe ow away from Connaught Place (or CP as it is fondly called) are three major historical cum religious landmarks which attract a lot of travelers. The unique feature of these landmarks is that they belong to three different religions and are in close proximity of each other and receive equal respect from the citizens, thus showcasing the cosmopolitan character of the city. These are Pracheen Hanuman Mandir, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and Sacred Heart Cathedral.

PRACHEEN HANUMAN MANDIR

This is a Hindu temple devoted to Lord Hanuman. This is an ancient Hanuman temple in Delhi (pracheen means ancient), and is supposed to be one of the five temples of Mahabharata days in Delhi (known as Indraprastha during that period). The Hanuman idol placed in the temple is Swayambhu or self menifested. The face of the idol depicts bala Hanuman or Hanuman as a child and is worchipped as Shri Hanuman Ji Maharaj or The Great Lord Hanuman.


Pracheen Hanuman Mandir, Delhi
PRACHEEN HANUMAAN MANDIR
Hanuman Mandir, Delhi
CLOSE UP OF HANUMAN MANDIR
Pracheen Hanuman Mandir has a unique feature in that it has an Islamic symbol of crescent moon fixed in the spire (Viman) instead of the usual Aum or Sun symbol found in other Hindu temples. This ancient temple's gate has beautiful artwork by skilled craftsmen and is known as Dwar. The epic Ramayana's story is engraved on massive silver doors. The temple, which is 33 m(108 ft), has a main mandap or hall, whose ceiling has an artistic depiction of Ramayana. A 24 hour non stop chanting of the mantra or hymn "Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram" in the temple since 1st August'1964 is a special feature of the temple and it is claimed that it has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.


Hanuman Mandir, New Delhi
ANOTHER VIEW OF HANUMAN MANDIR
The main festival of Pracheen Hanuman Mandir is Hanuman Jayanti (birthday of Lord Hanuman) every year, which is celebrated during full moon in the months of March-April as per Hindu calendar.


Idol at Pracheen Hanuman Mandir
THE PRESIDING DEITY
Image source - indiaongo.in

GURUDWARA BANGLA SAHIB 

Located barely 500 m from Pracheen Hanuman Mandir is the holy Sikh shrine of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. It is one of the most prominent Sikh shrines of worship. Built in the memory of visit of eighth Sikh guru Shri Harkrishan Ji, it was originally the bungalow of the then Indian ruler Raja Jai Singh and was known as Jaisinghpura. Guru Shri Harkrishan Ji was invited by Raja Jai Singh to visit Delhi in the year 1664 and stayed here. 


Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi
GURUDWARA BANGLA SAHIB
Bangla Sahib, Baba Khadak Singh Marg
GOLDEN DOMES OF GURUDWARA BANGLA SAHIB
During that time small pox epidemic had spread all over the city and many people were dying due to this. Guru Sahib, out of compassion for the mankind dipped his feet in the water and pored charan amrit into a small tank. Anyone, who took water from that tank, got cured of the disease. Thus Guru Sahib saved the people from this epidemic. The tank has now become a sarovar or pond and has fishes in it. Pilgrims consider it sacred and take it's water to their places. A special congregation is held here during the birth anniversary of Guru Shri Harkrishan Ji. 


Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Sarovar
THE CALM AND SERENE SAROVAR
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Gol Dak Khana
BEAUTIFUL SAROVAR
Gurudwara has a golden dome and white structure. It comprises of main Gurudwara and the sarovar. A yatri nivas or tourist home and a school are also being operated in the premises. The basement has an art gallery, a museum and a hospital. Just like other Gurudwaras, there is a langar or community kitchen daily, where free vegetarian meal is served.

You can visit the Gurudwara any time of the day or night as it is open 24x7.

SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL

Just opposite Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, across the road is the Sacred Heart Cathedral. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral and is one of the oldest Church buildings in Delhi. Blessed on 8th December'1935, the Cathedral is spread over an area of more than 14 acres. British architecture Henry Medd designed the Church building and the design has Italian style. 


Sacred Heart Cathedral, New Delhi
SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL
Image source - triphobo.com
Cathedral's entrance porch has circular arcaded trurrets on both sides which rise above roof height. Canopy is supported by a facade of white pillars. The inner side of the cathedral has broad arches, polished floors and a towering curved roof. The alter is of marble and a large fresco depicting the Last Supper is there behind it in the Apse. A large crucifix and a statue of Virgin Mary are situated to the left of Chapel.


Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gol Dak Khana
UP AND CLOSE AT SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL
A portion of the Cathedral land has been allotted to run St. Columba's boys' school and another to Girls school. The Cathedral is a prime attraction for all travelers to Delhi.

The best part of the above three landmarks is their connectivity. Being in the center of the city, they are easily accessible. You can ride Delhi Metro or state run buses or hire cabs to reach these places.

So, whenever you are in Delhi, do not miss these amazing and beautiful historical landmarks.

HAPPY TRAVELING AND A VERY HAPPY DIWALI TO ALL OF YOU!!