September 29, 2013

Quote of the Post: "At Lingmala waterfall, you will love to get lost in the sound of waterfall and clouds chasing you, time to time." - Quote about Lingmala Waterfall near Mahabaleshwar by Sachin Kumar Gupta

Nature, Water, Lakes, Waterfalls! This trip was the dip to the places like Thoseghar Waterfall, Kaas Plateau, Tapola 'The Mini Kashmir', cloudy Mahabaleshwar, and Lingmala Waterfall during the monsoon weekend. We reached this place at the evening. I love the unique sounds and the power of flowing water, whether it is the sea-waves or a waterfall. If you are searching for Lingmala waterfall, you are at the right place.

Dudhsagar waterfall, Lingmala waterfall, Thoseghar waterfall, Dhobi waterfall, and Chinaman's waterfall are the famous waterfalls in Maharashtra. This place has advantage of being near to famous hill stations like Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. It is easy to access from both Panchgani and Mahableshwar. Below map will help you to reach Lingmala waterfall (D) from nearby places - Mumbai (A), Pune (B), Panchgani (C), Mahabaleshwar (E), Tapola (F), or Satara (G).

Lingmala Waterfall Road Map
Entry Fee: INR 10 person and INR 10 additional for the camera. [as of Sep'13]

This place is full of natural beauty and has a pleasant climate. To experience this you need to visit Lingmala Waterfall in the rainy season. The best time to visit Lingmala waterfall is July to October (or November) during monsoon season. During the entire rainy season it has a great flow of water. You may experience heavy rainfall and lovely clouds following you during evening. The area is quite serene and tranquil, with clouds and dark woods in a hilly area. After entrance, there is a set of stairs, leading to the main point. Proper directions are given that lead to Chota Dhabdhaba (small waterfall) to the left (100 meters), and Bada Dhabdhaba (big waterfall) to the right (1200 meters).

We took the right turn first, and followed the stairs-route. These are properly maintained and promoted and also there are sensible gaps so that water doesn't fill in the walking treks. This trek reaches at an exit point, from where everyone just enjoy the picturesque vistas of Bada Dhabdhaba (big waterfall) that descends from the cliff and eye-soothing green valley alongwith a series of waterfalls. There were some monkeys roaming on the way, some of the them jumping from one tree to another. Please be on alert, if you have some food with you. We did some trick photography with snaps of waterfall flowing from the water bottle.

At Chota Dhabdhaba you can see waterfall originating point, and many people enjoy bathing and having a break here, We stayed some more time here and enjoyed along-with some nice photographs. This place is a clean pond, where many small waterfalls meet. This place is full of visitors that just adore the views of the waterfall. Don't miss the opportunity to get wet and drench in the waterfall. If you are planning to take shower and enjoy the water-flow  visit this point first and bring your towel and changing clothes with you.

No matter how much pressure you feel at work, you will be relaxed here and forget all your woes. There are some hotel and restaurants nearby where it is possible to eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food after visiting the area. After coming out of the campus, we had tea and snacks at Mapro Garden and take home some juice and other stuff back to Pune.

Other nearby places to visit: One can easily combine visiting Venna Lake during one day or two days trip to Panchgani or Mahabaleshwar.

Boating at Tapola - 'The Mini Kashmir' of Maharashtra.

September 27, 2013

Quote of the Post: "After watching Thoseghar waterfall, you are tuned to attract towards it." - Quote about Thoseghar Waterfall near Satara by Sachin Kumar Gupta

You say the word 'waterfall' and the image of huge water body dropping from a high cliff in midst of a green valley, comes to the mind. If you are searching for Thoseghar waterfall, you are at the right place. You definitely should visit Thoseghar to admire the masterpiece created by God with various shades of white, green and golden color. A few other famous waterfalls in Maharashtra, in addition to Thoseghar are Dudhsagar, Lingmala, Dhobi and Chinaman's waterfall. 

We saw many windmills on our way while coming from Pune. If you have some time, Take a side trip to the nearby windmills farm at ChalkewadiThe scenic Thoseghar waterfall is one of Maharashtra's tallest waterfall. Its height is around 500 meters; which makes Thoseghar even special. Thousands of waterfall lovers come from all over Maharashtra to visit this place, especially during the rainy season. The best time to visit Thoseghar waterfall is July to October (or November) depends on rainfall.

You can experience nice views of waterfall flowing from the cliff during the entire rainy season. There are a series of waterfalls, some of them ranging 15 to 50 meters and tallest one of 500 meters in height, in the valley. This place is full of natural beauty and has a pleasant climate. To experience this you need to visit Thoseghar Waterfall in the rainy season. Thoseghar Waterfall is just 25 km from the city of Satara, Maharashtra. It is situated near the Sahyadri hill, at the edge of the Konkan region and 40 km away from famous Kaas plateau (Kaas flower valley). Below map will help you to reach Thoseghar waterfall (E) from Satara (F), and nearby places - Mumbai (A), Pune (B), Panchgani (C), Mahabaleshwar (D) or Solapur (G).

Thoseghar Waterfall from nearby Places
Entry Fee: INR 10 person and INR 10 additional for the camera. 

There are 2 major points marked as Chota Dhabdhaba (small waterfall), and Bada Dhabdhaba (big waterfall). To reach all these place, proper directions with good stairs and instructions are given. The area is quite serene and tranquil, with a clean lake located between the dark woods. One can pay visit to the vistas of Bada Dhabdhaba (big waterfall) and eye-soothing green valley. There is a picnic area and a newly constructed platform which gives a good view of the waterfall. This place was full of visitors busy adoring the view of the waterfall.

At Chota Dhabdhaba you can see waterfall originating point, which is an easily accessible water stream and it's quite safe to get into it. We stayed here for 30-40 mins only, because of time constraint, else we wouldn't have moved from here for at least a couple of hours. We had to head for our next destination - the Kaas Flower Valley.

After coming out of the premises, we had tea and some snacks just near the parking area. There are a few restaurants nearby where you can find vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. This is a popular picnic spot located in the Satara District. There are many attractions like boating at Tapola and Kaas Plateau which attract many tourists not only from India but from around world.

Other nearby places to visit:

Boating at Tapola - 'The Mini Kashmir' of Maharashtra.

September 23, 2013

Quote of the Post: "Albert Hall Museum is one of the finest and oldest museum of Rajasthan, located in Jaipur City." - Quote about Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur by Sachin Kumar Gupta

After visiting City Palace and Jantar Mantar, we reached Albert Hall Museum during our visit to Pink CityIt was named after King Adward VII (Albert Edward) and foundation was laid by Prince of Wales. It is said that this old and famous museum was modeled on the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Its collection includes portraits of local kings, costumes, woodcarvings, paintings, and arts & crafts. It is also called the Government Central Museum, which is the home for the art of Jaipur.

Location: Ram Niwas Bagh, south of the Old City, Jaipur. The building is situated in Ram Niwas Garden outside the city wall opposite New gate. Being in the center of the city, one can reach the Albert Hall Museum from all directions easily. 

Entry Fee: INR 20 and additional INR 50 ($1) for a camera. This is also part of Composite Entry Ticket. At some places photography isn't allowed. 

Albert Hall Museum Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily. One can also take a virtual tour of the museum. The Virtual Tour takes you through the museum giving you a glimpse of the courtyards and different galleries with a commentary about its display, collections and history.

The best time of the day to visit the hall is during evening, where you can enjoy the architectural beauty with sunset; or a horse ride if you wish to. Albert Hall Museum also provides shelter to a large number of pigeons. Pigeons can be seen on terrace of the hall all round the year. People also feed pigeons at the nearby roads. 

This unique museum is very well maintained, and is divided into lower and upper part. The museum has a rich collection of artifacts like paintings, carpets, ivory work, stone, armory, metal sculptures, colorful crystal works etc. Within the museum, we also visited 'Dolls Museum', Egyptian Mummy, Egypt collection, arms and armors. The mummy is the most popular of all the items displayed in the museum. It fascinated all my family members and for me, it was a recall of my visit to EgyptDolls museum contains a large number of lovely dolls and toys which has been collected from various countries representing different cultures across the world. The Dolls Museum in Jaipur attracts the tourists from various countries by its striking beauty of the collection of dolls from the traditions of several countries.

We took many snaps inside the museum, and some outside the museum. This place also houses a wonderful restaurant where we had our evening snacks. After that we enjoyed shopping at Nehru Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar, and further visited Govind Devji Temple and Hawa Mahal near City Palace.

If you want to timely visit Jaipur in a day or two days, click here.

September 21, 2013

Quote of the Post: "Tapola truely deserves the appreciation and definitely lives upto the tag of 'Mini Kashmir'. If you haven't visited Tapola, you haven't visited Maharashtra." - Quote about Tapola near Mahabaleshwar by Sachin Kumar Gupta

After visiting Thoseghar waterfall and Kaas Plateau of seasonal flowers near Satara, we stayed at Hotel Shivneri near Shiv-Sagar Boat club. If you want to feel the calmness and beauty of Tapola, just stay here for two days, and you'll wish to be here forever. We headed to Shiv-Sagar Boat Club post our breakfast. Our hotel was just near to Shiv Sagar Boat Club, so we reached there in no time.

Tapola can be visited throughout the year, however the best time to visit is from September to February, when you can enjoy clean and clear water. The place attracts heavy rains during monsoon. Tapola is a perfect holiday destination, only 25 km away from Mahabaleshwar, but it never got the fame as it should. The journey of 1- 1/12 hr from Satara or Mahabaleshwar, is a destination in itself. You can enjoy the route between the high Sahyadri hill ranges and the dark woods. Below is the map to Tapola (D):

Tapola - Mini Kashmir Map
Tapola sits at the convergence of the Koyana and Solshi rivers, and is a complete blend of natural beauty, seasonal waterfalls, mountains, tranquility, greenery, invigorating air and pristine ambience. The view of Koyana river on one side and Solshi river on the other, is really beautiful. 6 hours driving distance from Mumbai (290 km) or 5 hours from Kolhapur (200 km) or 4 hours from Pune (150 km) make it ideal for longer stay.

The dam is the biggest in Maharashtra - known as 'Shivsagar' which stretches 90 km long and serves as a water reservoir to the Koyana DamShivsagar Lake and river camps are major tourist attractions here. Shivsagar dam is very popular for motor boats, which are available with nominal charges. Motorboats, Speed boats and scooter rides are the popular boating means; others enjoy kayaking and swimming. There are many unknown forts in deep forests around the lake.

Tapola Sightseeing: Tapola is full of attractions – From Shivsagar Boat club, you can see and reach differnt points, including a few islands and return to boat in following order and timings:
- Shivsagar Darshan (45 mins - 6 km)
- Triveni Sangam (1 hr 30 mins - 12 km)
- Datta Mandir (2 hrs - 20 km)
- Vasota Fort (3 hrs 30 mins - 30 km)
- Koyana Abhayaranya (4 hrs - 40 km)

Tapola is the base camp for one of the most exhilarating treks that one can go for in Maharashtra. Places mentioned above are completely cut off from civilization and can be reached only by a boat. The weather is exhilarating even in the peak of summer. So, if you are up for a challenge, take the forest authority permission in advance and be early in the morning to go to conquer Vasota Fort or Koyana Abhayaranya. One can find various animals in the dark forests such as tigers, bears and wild fox. The starting point of all these points is Shivsagar Boat club. We opted till Datta Mandir as that day, authorities didn't allow the trip till last point. After booking we got our turn soon, and ride in the boat with Meenal, Anmol, Priyanshu, Piyush and Monika.

While to the Shivsagar Darshan by boat journey, The surrounding views of the river were breathtaking and pleasant. Triveni Sangam is small island at the junction of three rivers. Our first stoppage was famous Datta Mandir, where we stepped out and roamed around for about an hour. The famous Shiv Temple, located below the lake level on this island, is the major attraction. We just wanted to be here as long as we could stay. 

We also enjoyed the vistas of a small beautiful village Bamnoli, located on the shores of Shivsagar lake. It was surprising and certainly unbelievable for us, to see the villagers carrying their home-luggage and other daily necessities by boats, loaded with more than 20 people at once. At one hand we could never imagine leading such a difficult life, on the other we see these people leading their lives happily.

Tapola is popular with nature and adventure lovers and photographers for trek and relish the scenic beauty. If you are a water sports enthusiast, Tapola is the best place to head to. It pleases mind by its nature and makes you forget all your urban woes. It was a action packed and rejuvenating weekend for us, after that we approached towards Mahabaleshwar following Lingmala waterfall during evening on our way back to Pune.

Next time I am planning to pay a visit, for a 'River Camp at Tapola'. Other nearby places to visit:

Kaas valley of flowers near Satara.
Thoseghar waterfall near Satara during monsoon.
A day at 'Grand Canyon of India - Mahabaleshwar'
A day trip to Panchgani - 'Five hills of Sahyadri'
Visit to Lingmala waterfall near Mahabaleshwar during monsoon

September 18, 2013

Quote of the post: "A photographer's heaven and a botanical garden with a colourful carpet of millions of tiny wild flowers spread across." - Quote about Kaas Plateau near Satara by Sachin Kumar Gupta
We were planning to visit Kaas Plateau since long. We visited this place after Thoseghar waterfalls in Satara. The place is also known as 'Kaas Pathar' which is situated in western ghats. Kaas plateau of flowers, a few kilometers ahead of Satara in Maharashtra, is a magical piece of land and is one of the global biodiversity hotspots. 

The place displays one of the most spectacular natural events of wild Maharashtra during the latter half of the year. Depending on the monsoon and other weather factors, these flowers bloom on their own and stay for about 3–4 weeks. So the best time to visit the place is in Aug - Sep - Oct when rain is at its end leaps. It is not only a botanical garden, but also a photographer's heaven. Recently it has been declared as Biodiversity World heritage site by UNESCO.

Kaas Plateau Fees: There is INR 10 entry fee per person for visiting the place. There is also an online site '' where you can book in advance alongwith your vehicle details. We took the entry tickets online in advance, and showed mobile confirmation while visiting. You can reach this place from Satara. Below is the route map to Kaas Valley (D) from Pune (B), Mumbai (A), Mahabaleshwar (F), Panchgani (G), Tapola (E) or Satara (C).

Kaas Plateau of Flowers (D) Maharashtra Map
It was mesmerizing to view different colors and shades of millions of tiny wild flowers spread across Kaas Plateau at the dusk. Sun was bidding adieu and trickled it's rays creating a magical effect across. As per the info available there, valley has more than 850 different species of flowers and other plants including Orchids, Karvy and carnivorous plants such as Drosera Indica. 

Now Satara forest division and its organizers have placed fencing across both sides to preserve it. However, they do allow people to enter the fence on foot; no vehicles allowed inside. The walking pathway is clearly marked so that people don't walk over the flowers and there are a few caretakers to prevent it. We took many photographs from inside and outside the fencing. It was sunset time when yellow and red sun-rays make the valley more beautiful. The earthen smell of the soil along with the dramatic play of clouds and lights amidst the blue vast sky make the place a truly breathtaking spectacular, for human eye.

There are a few instructions which visitors are expected to follow - 'to do' , and 'not to do' (by Satara Forest Division):

*Pets are not allowed.
*Smoking is strictly prohibited.
*Don't litter or throw garbage.
*Don't pluck the flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves etc, for any purpose.
*Don't use this place for eating.
*Don't damage the flowers, plants, wild life etc, while taking photographs.
*Don't try to cross the barricade/fence. 
*Don't park your vehicles on road/plateau.

*Please keep Kaas Plateau clean.
*Drop the litter in garbage box only.
*Park your vehicles only at the designated places only.
*Co-operate with the Kaas staff, volunteers, police working here.
*Please record your valuable suggestions in the register kept with forest staff.

Please note if you have expectation of watching large flowers, you are at the wrong place. Now a days this and its nearby places are one of the most famous picnic spot for locals. The place is increasing its popularity by leaps and bounds with the support of Satata tourism and localities. It has an small lake named 'Kaas Talav'. We drove down the curves from Kaas Plateau and passed by Kaas Talav and headed towards 'Tapola - Mini Kashmir' for night stay. Trip with Meenal, Anmol, Priyanshu, Piyush and Monika made this even more special. More during my next visit to Kaas.
Quote of the Post: "This is the place to come, if you are looking for unique architectural astronomical instruments." - Quote about Jantar Mantar in Jaipur by Sachin Kumar Gupta

Welcome to the world of solid geometry in Rajasthan which is the biggest stone observatory in the worldAfter City Palace we were ready to visit Jantar Mantar where we purchased composite ticket (valid for 2 days and 70 INR per person to visit 5 places in Jaipur - Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall Museum, Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort). 

Jantar Mantar was built by King Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734. Its literally meaning "formula or calculation instrument" where we found many instruments for measurements. It is modeled after the one that had built at Delhi. There are a total of five such structures built by Jai Singh at different locations, including the ones at Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi. It is said that The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these and has been inscribed on the World Heritage List

More than just a curious collection of sculptures, each structure at the intriguing Jantar Mantar observatory has a specialized astronomical function. This observatory has religious significance, since ancient Indian astronomers were also Jyotisa masters. Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948.

Location: Next to the City Palace, Tripolia Bazar, Jaipur.
Entry Fee: INR 10 and additional INR 50 ($1) for a camera.
Jantar Mantar Timings: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.

Inside Jantar Mantar there are 14 major geometric devices in total, which measure time, predict eclipses, and track stars' location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declination of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related Ephemerides. Each is a fixed and 'focused' tool. Many of the smaller instruments display remarkable innovation in architectural design and its relation to function. Some of them are:
Vrihat Samrat Yantra at Jantar Mantar
*Vrihat Samrat Yantra: The most impressive one is 90 feet huge Samrat Yantra sundial (the world's largest sundial) to notify 'accurate time of day'. It is nice to experiene visibly that shadow moves roughly the width of a person's hand every minute. It's a profound display of how quickly time does move. This instrument is the trademark of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, which can be seen from far far away. The chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons. 
Jai Prakash Yantra at Jantar Mantar
*Jai Prakash Yantra: It is a two hemispherical bowl structure which is used to find out the positions of the celestial bodies during days and nights. 
*Nadivalya Yantra: It is a distinctive sundial with two dials.
*Kranti Yantra: It is used for direct measurement of the longitude and latitude of the extraterrestrial bodies.
*Dhakshinotak Bhitti Yantra: To find out of the altitude of the sun.
*Raj Yantra: Two large metal astrolabes suspended on iron rings are used for measuring ascendant altitude, time, position of the sun and that some other celestial objects. 
*Chakra Yantra: It gives the angle of an object from the equator.
*Unnatamsa Yantra: An instrument for measuring altitude or angular height of a celestial object.
Rashivalaya Yantra at Left
*Rashivalaya Yantra: It has 12 sundials for the signs of the zodiac.
*Laghu (Small) Samrat Yantra: measures time.
*Great Ram Yantra: This measures the local co-ordinates of altitude and azimuth of celestial objects.
*Dhruva Yantra: It is used to locate the position of 12 Zodiac signs and also the Pole Star at night.
*Disha Yantra: Indicates direction.
Nadivalya Yantra at Jantar Mantar

Wet view of Jantar Mantar Jaipur
Today the observatory is a popular tourist attraction. We also saw, many students of Astronomy and Vedic astrology visiting and taking some of their lessons at this excursion. It is right by said that the observatory is the single most representative work of Vedic thought that still survives, apart from the texts. 
City Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Hawamahal can be seen from this place from different points. As soon as we were about to exit showers welcomed everyone and make the environment pleasant. After that we moved to visit Albert Hall Museum.

September 15, 2013

Quote of the Post: "Hawa Mahal is a prominent attraction which is standing high in the heart of pink city." - Quote about Hawa Mahal in Jaipur by Sachin Kumar Gupta.

The renowned 'Palace Of The Winds', or Hawa Mahal, is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Jaipur city. The intricate and fascinating facade of the Palace of the Winds is probably Jaipur's most recognized building. If you search for Jaipur, you will easily see Hawa Mahal as the symbol of City at various sites and places.

Location: Next to the City Palace in the heart of the Pink City.
$$ Entry Fees: INR 10 for Indians. INR 50 for foreigners. 
Hawa Mahal Opening Timings: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.

Located in the heart of Jaipur, this beautiful five-storey palace was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh (grandson of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh who built Jaipur). The palace is believed to have been constructed in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. The palace is built of red and pink sandstone that contain rows of small colorful windows and screens. Wind flows through the open windows, enables free circulation of air within the structure, giving the palace its name.

The main highlight of Hawa Mahal is its pyramid shape and its 953 windows or 'Jharokhas' which are decorated with intricate designs. The palace overlooks the main street of Jaipur's lively Old City. The main entrance of the Hawa Mahal is from the rear of the building where one can usually find many monkeys. The interior of the Hawa Mahal is stiff and plain with passages and pillars reaching to the top storey. The building stories are connected by slopes to reach the upper floors. 

Though many reasons are cited behind the construction of the fort, Purdah system followed by the Rajputs is said to be one of the main causes. During those days, Rajput royal women did not appear in public or in front of strangers. However, they were keen to follow the day-to-day events and royal processions occurring on the streets. So the main intention behind the construction of the Hawa Mahal was to facilitate the royal women a sense of freedom and provide them a view of everyday life through the windows without being observed. A panoramic view can be enjoyed from the top of the building. Take a peek behind the facade of the Hawa Mahal. The monument also has an archaeological museum. 

There are numerous attractions around Hawa Mahal such as the famous Jantar Mantar, Govind Devji temple, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, BM Birla Planetarium, Jain Temple, Statue Circle and so on. From topmost floor of Hawa Mahal, we could finger point most of the places and enjoyed excellent view of the city with flowing winds. We also visited Hawa Mahal during evening and night times that is eye-catching from outside.

Here are some of the tips to visit Jaipur in a day or in two days.

Nearby Tourist Attractions in Jaipur as per map:
Jantar Mantar (D)
Government Central Museum (Albert Hall Museum) (E)
Birla Planetarium Jaipur (F)
Jal Mahal (G)

Places near Hawa Mahal - Jaipur
$$ Composite ticket that includes entry fees for:
[C] Albert Hall
[D] Hawa Mahal
[E] Jantar Mantar

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