June 29, 2012

This year, continuing my travel month after month to the places like Pattaya, Bangkok, Goa, Panchgani, San Juan Island, Seattle, Mount Rainier. This time, wheels turned towards Alibaag to welcome the monsoon. The journey wouldn't have been complete without Meenal, Piyush and Monika. All the trees and hills welcomed us with fresh green smiles. 

We started our journey late Saturday afternoon and enjoyed the hide-n-seek between clouds and sun on the way. It was late evening when we were at Kihim beach, and could pay a visit to moon-light floating on the sea-waves. This view did not last for long as clouds came back again to let moon take a set-back and it started pouring; A cup of ginger tea with Indian snacks in the drizzl, what else one can ask for! Our next destination was "Hotel Ravikiran" near Alibaag (selected after visiting a couple of hotels around), where we just crashed with a plan to get up early morning 4:00 AM and head towards Kanakeshwar Temple  :P  Apparently, this didn't materialize (as expected) 

Map to nearby place of Alibaag
Alibaag or Alibaug (Alibagh), the headquarter of the Raigad district is a coastal town in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, India. It's best known as 'mini Goa' for its historic marine forts, fine beaches and clean water. Located 35 km south of Mumbai, Alibaag is a popular weekend getaway for the citizens of Pune, Mumbai and nearby places. It is approx 140 km from Pune and we traversed the route via Pune-Mumbai expressway - Khopoli - Pen - Alibaag. 

Alibaag Beach: This beach has an energetic vibe. It attracts the tourists for its historic Kolaba Fort. A beautiful sunrise and sunset can be enjoyed here. We enjoyed a small trip on horse-cart in the morning. 

Kanakeshwar temple: It is situated on a hill near Mapgaon village, about 12 km away from Alibaag and falls on the way to Mandawa. It takes 700 steps to be climbed to reach the top. We couldn't visit this holy place due to lack of time. In the hopes of visiting it sometime later, we moved ahead. 

Varsoli Beach: This is relatively less visited but cleaner, beach with sparkling white sand. We stop-by this place for sometime and enjoyed mango, coconut and casuarina trees. We had Puri-Bhaaji as our morning breakfast. 
Rameshwar Temple, Chaul: While going to Birla Temple, we couldn't stop us by visiting this temple. This temple is old, but still attracts all the tourists for its vibrant colors and old heritage. Chaul is a historic town situated about 15 km away from Alibaag. It is famous for its Portuguese ruins, an old church, a synagogue, Buddhist caves, the Hamam Khana and this temple.  
Birla Temple or Vikram Vinayak Temple, Salav: Just after Revdanda, it started raining heavily, and we stopped our car on the river-bridge to enjoy the dark sheds of clouds over our heads. I don't have words to describe the view when the rains were fast approaching us from the west, it was incredible and for a moment felt like as if I was watching Discovery Channel. We could not stop on the bridge for too long as it was quite dangerous. Just a 2 km drive and we were at beautiful Birla Temple. The white idols of Ganesh, Shiva-Parvati, Radha-Krishna, Ram-Darbar and Goddess Durga were so lively that one can feel their presence in the serene environment. We could have the images only in our memories. Alas! Photography is not allowed at this place. The temple is still under construction. 

Kashid Beach: Quite a crowded place, where one can enjoy horse ride, camel ride and other rides at this beach. Meenal and Monika enjoyed the camel ride at the Kashid sea-shore. We enjoyed and relaxed at this place for sometime. Enjoy my last trip to Kashid and Murud Janjira fort

Murud-Janjira: Janjira is the legendary fort situated not very far from Alibaag. Due to high tides and heavy rains, we didn't opt for the Janjira fort visit. Near the Murud beach, we had our late lunch followed by tea and sweet-corn. The view covering the Murud beach with running horse-cart and the Kasa fort in the sea is eye catching.

Alibaag Fort - Kolaba (or Kulaba) fort (Not to be confused with Colaba in Mumbai): It is situated in the sea at a distance of approx 1 km from the Alibag shores. With low tides, one can easily walk to the fort in waist-deep water. However, during the high-tides, boats, horse-carriage needs to be used. We opted for horse-carriage and paid 100 INR per person. Below snap gives more info about the fort. 
Imp Note: Try to visit it during 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. or very early in the morning, when water is quiet and don't have high tides. 

It's possible to enjoy Alibaug in a day. However, if you can, the place demands 2-3 days visit. One can take walk along the sealine beaches, relax and unwind. Best time to visit Alibaag is from November to February. Monsoon season adds to the beauty, but calls for precautions at the same time. 

June 18, 2012

The picturesque Parvati Hill and Temples can be the choice, if you want to spend good time in Pune early morning or in the evening. It also provides a great morning or evening trek location for the locals having just 103 steps. This place is just 1 km from Swargate, situated at a height of 2100 feet above sea level, considered to be the oldest heritage structures in Pune.

Timings: Open at 5:00 a.m. Close at 8:00 p.m.

Once you are at the hilltop, you can get the amazing 360 degree views of the city below. Parvati hill comprises a couple of temples, main attraction Devdeveshwar Temple ( Shiva and Parvati), Lord Kartikeya Temple, Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Vitthal Temple. The Vitthal temple is of quite recently built structure, having idols of Vitthal and Rukmini. The main temple entrance is quite old, but well preserved. The idols of Shiv, Parvati and Ganesh are marvelous Indian metal work.

It was a pleasant experience to reach at the top of the temple to enjoy panoramic views, Entry cost is 5 INR only for 1 hour. We were during the dusk at that point. Cool air was breezing the atmosphere, and city lights started twinkling all around. As we were touching closing time, we quickly visited rest of temples at the Parvati hill. The temple have attracting colour combination, fine metal work idols, and eye-catching painting on the walls depicting epic stories.

Parvati hill also boasts a museum, build as a commemoration of Peshwa rule. Peshwa museum has a rich collection of portraits of the heroes of the Peshwa dynasty, old manuscripts, weapons, coins, etc. Some of the paintings of the Peshwas are also displayed in the hall. The Samadhi Sthan of Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa is also situated near the museum. Near the top of the entrance gate, there is a small restaurant, which provides some snacks, tea, and coffee.

Shravanmas (Savan month of Hindu Calender) festival and Kartikeya Swami festival (during Tripura Poornima) are mainly celebrated at Parvati temple to offer prayers by thousands of devotees. Take a break from the maddening crowds of the city, and relax while adoring beautiful sunrise and sunset views from the hill. 

Other one day trip from Pune: 
An eve at Mulshi Lake
Sinhgad - The Lion Fort

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