July 18, 2015

Fort Pratapgad (Pratapgarh Killa)

If you are visiting Mahabaleshwar, and have 3-4 hrs to spare, Fort Pratapgad is worth visiting, which is approx 25 KM away from Mahabaleshwar. If you are in Mahabaleshwar for 2 or 3 days stay, count this fort in your travel list. From Pune it is 150 KM, from Mumbai it is 200, and from Satara it is approx 70 KM.
Pune - Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar - Pratapgad Road - Pratapgad Fort
Mumbai - Khopoli - Pali - Kolad - Mahad - Poladpur - Pratapgad Rd, Rajpuri - Fort

We saw many waterfalls during the ghat area on the way to Pratapgarh on the road side, which would bloom during peak monsoon season. During monsoons, visibility is quite low, due to dense fog, so drive carefully specially on turns and hairpin bends. You can reach out to parking place by vehicle, and then by walk and by climbing the stairs to reach the top. There are step numbers also marked at many places. There would be approx 400 stairs to climb but its not really tiring, when you reach on the top and see the views, these are really worth. During the stair route, there are many shops who sell souvneirs and snacks. Quite a variety of Maharashtrian food options are available at reasonable price. As Tanuj was quite inquisitive about Maharashtrian Delicacies, we tried all varieties.

This fort has a great historical significance...Afzalkhan, enemy of maratha empire came to this fort with the plan to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji, but Chhatrapati Shivaji defeated him even though he was much younger than Afzalkhan and later Chhatrapati Shivaji built a huge Maratha Empire. Thats a short history of this fort.

There is a small garden on top with a big statue of Chhatrapati situated is in the center. We bow our head in respect to the Maratha warrior king. The place was covered with fog blanket during most of the times, which makes this place more beautiful. The sun was playing hide and seek, whereas side mountains were covered with dense fog, sometimes sunlight and shadows. It feels fresh and lively, once you reach the top and with rains, it was even more beautiful. 

Fort is divided into several parts. From the fort, you can watch out below points within and breathtaking views outside the fort:

Afzalkhan Tomb
Ancient Cave (Shivkaleen Guha)
Ancient Lake (Shivkaleen Taalab)
Bale Killa
Cannon Attack Points
Chhtrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj Statue
Jawali Valley (Jawali Khore)
Kokan Darshan
Mahabaleshwar View
Main Gate
Makarand Fort (Makarand Garh)
Pratap Garden (Pratap Garden)
Punishment Point
Royal Court (Rajdarbaar Sadar)
Royal Path
Shri Bhawani Mata Temple
Shri Hanuman Temple
Shri Kedareshwar Temple
Under Ground Tunnel (Chorwaat)
Watch Tower

Best way to cover the fort, is to stroll around the fort wall fencing which has stairs and flat areas to walk. It took us 3 hours to be back to parking place. I am not sure if Maharashtra can learn from Rajasthan on how to maintain forts and monuments; but by government, local people, and tourists collaboration and efforts, we can maintain these places. As of now, this place really requires maintenance, the bathrooms are very bad, try to avoid them. Just be careful of the monkeys here. :) I just loved this place and being with Meenal and Tanuj, it added on to the fun.
|| Om Ganeshaya Namah ||

This was one of our instantly planned trip and yes, it turned out to be a wonderful one, as always (wink). The trip to Prathi Shirdi Shirgaon Sai Baba Temple. On our way back we happened to pay a visit to Ganpatiji too. Just near Somatane Toll Plaza, we have a huge idol of Ganapati situated on the left on NH4 - Birla Ganpati Temple.

If you are coming from Pune, take left after Somatne toll plaza, and after approx 500 meters, you have to take another left to reach the parking place, which is base to climb to reach the top. It can also be easily reached by Morya Temple Road which is near Somatne Phata Bus Stop. Earlier we were thinking that it would take around 30 minutes to reach the top, whereas we completed within 10 minutes, it would be around ~200 stairs.

NH4 view looks really cool from the top, specially in the monsoon season. Jain Kalash Mandir is quite visible from the top, just across NH4 Old Mumbai Pune highway. From all corners of the top temple boundaries, there are flash-lights focussing to Ganpati idol. Beauty gets doubled during night. There was also a garden from the back side, but it was not open during our visit. 

Thanks to Amit, Veena, Paresh, Parul, Meenal, Tanuj, and cheerful kids to making this trip more wonderful.

If you are interested, Other places to visit near Pune:

Sunset and Moonrise at Vetal Hill, Pune

ISKCON NVCC Temple at Katraj-Kondhwa - Pune

Aga Khan Palace & Gandhi National Memorial in Pune

An Eve at Parvati Hill and Temples

Saras Baug - A Stork Garden, Pune

Katraj - Snake Park - RG Zoological Park

July 16, 2015

Quote of the post: "All actions result from thoughts, so these are thoughts that matters."

Across different regions of India, there are numerous God and Goddess and their dedicated temples in Hindu religion. Everyone can't always visit the main sacred place. So some of the Indian states are building the replicas of major Hindu temples such as:
Replicas of 12 Jyotirlingas at Siddhesvara Dham, Sikkim
Replicas of Char dham at Namchi, Sikkim
Replicas of 51 Shaktipeeth at Ambaji, Gujrat.
Replica of the most famous Tirumala Venkateswara Temple (Tirupati Balaji) at Narayanpur village near Pune.
Other replicas of famous monuments and major places of pilgrimage such as the Taj Mahal and Replica of Angkor Wat Temple in Bihar are under construction.

Near Pune we have replica of Shirdi Sai Baba temple named "Prati Shirdi Sai Baba Temple" near Kiwale, Shirgaon. If you have limited time and still want to visit Sai temple near Pune, this could be right place. For us, It was a short and half day trip from Pune. The way to reach to temple is pretty easy, it is near to Somatane toll plaza on NH4 (Mumbai Pune old highway). From Pune, It is reachable within 1 hour and from Mumbai within 2-3 hours depending on starting point.
Address: Prati Shirdi Sai Temple, Kiwale, Shirgaon, Maharashtra

At the time when we visited, there was not much crowd at this temple unlike Sai Temple at Shirdi. Even during the weekend, there were limited people, and within 5-10 minutes we got to see the replica of the Shirdi idol inside. No photography is allowed inside the temple, though Sai Idol is pretty visible once you are inside the temple.

After the visit don't forget to have prasadam at Anna Chatralaya. It is being served around 12-3, we had the same here as well. This place in itself is beautiful, and all the color carvings are pretty amazing all around. The temple follows most of the rules and procedures like in main Sai baba temple, Shirdi.

We were with Amit and Paresh's family during this trip, We had few photographs during the 'Parikarma Marg' & children also enjoyed this place. We relaxed here for an hour. Near the back door of the temple, there are few shops, where one can buy souvneirs and also have snacks. Just outside of the temple, and near to main entrance there are quite many shops, and small market, that make this place more lively. As per current situtation, parking space seems to be good enough. After that we proceed to "Birla Ganpati Temple" which was pretty visible from the NH4 expressway toll.

Other World Famous Replica Visit: We have visited "Mini Siam" - "The miniature world", place with most of the wonders at one place named "Mini Siam" in Pattaya, Thailand. We had a couple of hours around Mini Siam with a quick tour of most of the landmarks of Thailand and replicas around the world.

July 5, 2015

Quote of the Post: "Whenever you read this, wherever you are, you will thank someone, whoever it is." - (A 'Thanks Poem' by Sachin Kumar Gupta - Whenever.. Wherever..)

   Thanks.. Whenever.. Wherever..

Thanks for supporting at all stages,
no matter what, where I rank.

Thanks for being my ATM gift,
whenever I don't have money in the bank.

Thanks for filling the spaces,
wherever I leave blanks.

Thanks for giving me refreshness,
whenever my eyes see you & blink.

Thanks for being my pointers,
whenever I don't have any links.

Thanks for being my ship,
whenever I am about to sink.

Thanks for picking me up,
whenever I fall down or shrink.

Thanks for always praising me,
for whatever I say & think.

Thanks for being my recylebin,
whenever I had some junks.

Thanks for being my flying kite,
whenever I don't have wings.

Thanks for giving me your hands & shoulders,
whenever I am slipping any extreme edge or brink.

Thanks for being my lifetime juicy wine,
whenever I feel dry & nothing else to drink.

Thanks for giving me all your time,
whenever I am running out of clock.

Thanks for being my secret key,
wherever, whenever I am getting locked.

 - Sachin Kumar Gupta (Sach)


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