Places to Visit Near Me : Mumbai

Harihareshwar

People keep asking me, “I am in Mumbai this weekend, what are the places near me, where can I go?”. This is not generally the kind of article we would write, but here we are. Where CAN one go? Well, wherever there is peace and fewer crowds, good ambience, a nice place to stay and good food.

Like every city, Mumbai has plenty around it for visiting. And I shall not mention the overdone Lonavala/Khandala.

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Petraglyphs in Ratnagiri

Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri

One of our recent trips to Ratnagiri, Konkan Maharashtra, yielded an unusual discovery. Thousands of years old rock carvings made by early humans. Such carved drawings on rocks are called Petraglyphs, and we must be thankful to Mr Sudhir Risbud, who has painstakingly discovered, documented and made (continues to make) supreme efforts to preserve these and bring some public attention to these.

Our hosts told use as part of “what to do”, to speak to Sudhir Risbud on what we can see around the area and that he has interesting visits in mind. We had no idea we would be seeing rock carvings, made around 20,000 BCE to 2000 BCE! (Mr Sisbud says it is very difficult to accurately time these peraglyphs, but we can get a fair idea from the materials used and the animals portrayed. We find drawings of Rhinocerous, but they have been extinct from this area for 10s of thousands of years. Elephants have been carved as well, which are not found here for many years now).

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Why I Don’t Like Flying Anymore

I hope the airlines folk are reading this. I used to love flying. But of late it has become a task full of drudgery.

Flying sucks. Every aspect of it. From booking tickets to collecting your bags at the end of the travel and exiting the airport. Read this too : Exactly 100% of Americans Hate Flying…

To start with, tickets are so so expense. One person’s one way ticket is equal to an average person’s monthly salary (almost). What do you get in return?

After booking your ticket and some 15 emails, 8 SMSs and a couple of WhatsApp messages from the booking site later, you are asked to WebCheckIn. You try and nothing happens. Then you get an email at 6 am saying WebCheckin is now open. You quickly drop everything to go through the arduous process of handing over all your privacy data to the airlines, answering many questions while the airlines doesn’t offer to answer even one (“Would you serve food without known allergens” for example) and accept your destiny as the seats offered to you in the centre row or on the wing (with no view) as the only choice.

Reach the airport at least two hours before your flight takes off. In Covid times, 3 hours prior since there are long long queues.
Long queues while entering the airport. Show ticket, search for ID while juggling your luggage. And frowning at fellow passengers who aren’t following the Covid Protocols.
Long Queue at Kiosk. The first Self service kiosk you approach doesn’t mostly work.
Baggage drop after self check in has long queues making kiosk self checking useless.
If you didn’t do a web check in pay extra again.
Long queue at security, take off belt, shoes, remove laptop, remove cameras etc

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Mandarmani Beach : Perhaps The Longest Beach Stretch In India

Mandarmani Beach

One of the reasons we called ourselves ‘The Untourists’ is we get to visit interesting locations due to the nature of our work : film-making. Many of these locations aren’t the ones we would have visited otherwise. One such shoot took us unexpectedly to Mandarmani.

At nearly 13km long, Mandarmani is the longest beach stretch in India. The geography is such that the sea is generally calm here, but the tide rises a fair bit. We were soon to find that out.

Back in February 2021, when the Coronavirus Pandemic seemed to be under control and things were opening up, we had to fly to Kolkata for a film which had to be shot on a beach. We were hoping to shoot it in Goa so we could drive down, but some circumstances insisted we shoot near Kolkata, herself a charming city full of heritage, so we locked on Mandarmani. Well, I am glad for the experience.

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Is Your Mask Protecting You From Coronavirus?

Now that it is early established that the novel CoronaVirus Covid19 is airborne, the masks are our best protection against this menace. But not just any mask will do. The first point to remember is that a right mask gives you a protection up to 95%. But what is a right mask and how do … Read more

A Charming Cottage Getaway in Goa

Vivenda Dos Palhacos, Goa

As we stay locked at home due to the CoronaVirus pandemic, rekindling memories through old photos is the only way we can travel. And thanks to the many photos we have, plenty of old experiences are revisited.

One such trip was work related, to Goa. After much searching (we wanted to avoid the crowded pubs, disco and party zones, yet stay close to place of work), we chose the Vivenda Dos Palhacos, Goa. Built as an old Portuguese style Bungalow in 1929, this lovely house is renovated with great care. The moment we stepped inside we were bowled over by the vintage charm, the beautiful warm colours and the wooden furniture.

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Maheshwar : Little Known but Gorgeous

Maheshwar Ghat

About 500km Mumbai, on the banks of the mighty river Narmada, lies the old city of Maheshwar. Many historians identify Maheshwar as the ancient town of Mahishmati. It is believed Maheshwar was build on the ancient city of Somvanshya Shastrarjun Kshatriya and was the capital of the King Kartavirya Arjun, who is mentioned in the Sanskrit Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Much later, it became the capital of the Maratha Kings, the Holkars. Maratha Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar (1725-1795) took over the reigns of Maheshwar after her young son Male Rao Holkar, heir to the throne died, soon after her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar’s death (her husband Khaderao Holkar had died almost 12 years earlier).

Ahilyabai Holkar led her armies to battle. She also transformed Indore from a small village into a magnificent city. However she herself made Maheshwar her capital and developed the fort, ghats and temples of Maheshwar, as well as many roads, wells, ghats and rest houses.. She developed many temples all across India, the most significant being the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. They say the sites where Ahilyabai Holkar built include Kashi, Gaya, Somnath, Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kanchi, Avanti, Dwarka, Badrinarayan, Rameshwar and Jagannath Puri. She also supported merchants and farmers and helped them lead lives of peace and prosperity.

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Be A Sensitive Traveller

Man Smoking

I was standing in the lobby of an upmarket jungle camp in a tiger national park in India, and a fellow traveller was yelling at the top of his lungs with choicest of abuses about how he was being taken for a ride, because he hadn’t been able to spot a tiger. The entire hotel … Read more

Sariska National Park : The Oft Overlooked Forest

Sariska National Park

We were on a long research trip, driving through many small cities of Rajasthan, including Alwar. Known for its delicious milk based desserts (mithais), Alwar is also right next to Sariska National Park, a fact that we of course, could not overlook. So obviously, a quick plan was made to visit Sariska and go for … Read more

Mount Abu : A Pleasant Revelation

Mist over Mount Abu

I had always dismissed Mount Abu as a crowded, touristy destination and it it was never on our travel radar. Until one day, a research led us deep into this ‘hill station’ and we were pleasantly surprised. Mount Abu is a ‘hill station’ on the Aravalli range of mountains. The Aravallis are amongst the oldest … Read more