Mahabaleshwar : In The Lap Of Western Ghats

Pied Bushchat Female

The British Colonisers had a tough time dealing with India’s hot summers. They constantly looked out for summer getaways in cooler locations, and created a concept unique to India: Hill Stations. These were ideal sleepy little villages, located atop hills which had moderate temperatures in summers. Over a period of time, these hill stations became very popular with local Indian tourists trying to beat the heat as well.

Mahabaleshwar is one such hill station in the state of Maharashtra. Located on the Western Ghats range (called the Sahyadri Mountains in Maharashtra), Mahabaleshwar was once a tiny hamlet, now a full fledged town with traffic jams. It is so popular that we avoid it on tourist days and seasons (school holidays, weekends, long weekends etc). We also avoid its bazaars, which, without over-tourism, are frankly quite charming.

Read more

Road Trip : The Aesthetics of Route Planning

Sunflower fields

Road tripping? How shall we plan the route? And out comes a favourite maps app, and we blindly take whatever route planning the app suggests. But the app has zero feelings and the routes suggested are just part of a larger “algorithm”, which probably consists of how many people use that route to get somewhere. … Read more

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.

Read more

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).

Read more

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

Read more

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

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.

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

Over 100,000 Kms Of Road Trips

Travel creates memories, and sitting home in this lockdown all we can do is revisit the memories. Over the last 10 plus years, I realised we have covered more than 100,000 kms, road tripping across North and South India. A whole lot of it was related to work, where we decided it best to drive, … Read more

New York : A Brief Intro

New York City

Many years ago, as a kid, I had chanced upon a coffee table book titled ‘New York City In Pictures’. Mesmerised by this amazing city full of energy and ideas, being in New York has since been a dream. I would scribble famous buildings like The Empire State Building or Chrysler Building. Would draw those … Read more

With Corona Virus Around, When Should You Travel

Coronavirus Travel Advice: When should you travel again? The simple answer is, not until there is an affordable and accessible treatment and or vaccine available for a few months.

What is Corona Virus? There are many kinds of Corona Virus out there and when we get a cold and cough infection, about 20-30% of the time it could be some kind of Corona Virus. The one that is pandemic in the world right now has a new novel strain called SARS-Cov-2 and the disease it causes is called Covid19. Read the NYTimes article linked here to understand what it is and how bad it is. Although many people have recovered, (in fact a majority of people who got infected, recovered), Covid19 can be quite fatal for many people too.

Read more

Kaas Plateau : Valley Of Flowers

Kaas Plateau Valley of Flowers

Sometime in 2009, we were driving through rural Maharashtra searching for a location for a film shoot. Near Satara, along an unknown hill road, we noticed large patches full of yellow wildflowers. Pleasantly surprised by this phenomenon, we took photographs and moved on. Around 3/4 years later we learnt the location was Kaas Plateau and … Read more