January 23, 2016

Quote of the Post- "Let's Go A" - Quote about trip to Goa 'Beach Capital of India' - Sachin Kumar Gupta

If you are in Goa or planning to visit, and searching for where to go and what to do in Goa, you are at the right place. On one hand you have the most alluring natural charms whereas on the other hand you have an excellent array of architectural masterpieces, which are dotted in various towns of the state. Goa is a perfect place for sightseeing tour. Every corner of this tropical paradise displays a fine blend of traditional and modern aspects of life. Are you still planning, if you are for a day, two or a week? Choose the best places to visit in Goa as per your stay location and time of the visit.

|| Places to visit in Goa ||

Beach curves of North and South Goa [Best time Oct - March, though can be visited all time of the year]
Aguada Fort, North Goa [Best time Aug - March, though can be visited all time of the year]
Dona Paula, Panajim [Best time Aug - March, though can be visited all time of the year]
The Bom Jesus Church (Old Goa) [All times of the year]
St. Alex Church, Calangute [All times of the year]
'Mae De Deus' church, Saligao near Calangute [All times of the year]
Tropical Spice Plantation (A-14, Arla Bazar, Keri, Ponda) [All times of the year]
Shree Mangesh Prashanna Temple [All times of the year]
Mackie’s Saturday night market (Calangute - Anjuna Rd, Verla, Arpora, Goa) [All times of the year]
An eve at Paradise or Princesa Cruise, Panjim [All times of the year]
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary [Best time Nov - Feb, though can be visited all time of the year]
Arvalem Caves and Waterfall [Best time Aug - Nov]
Carnival of Goa [Feb]

|| Things to do in Goa || Beside indulging yourself in activities like sunbathing at beaches, try out other exciting things to do in Goa to make your trip an experience of lifetime.

Goa Entertainment - Nightclubs and Discos: Things to do in Goa list cannot be complete till we include Nightlife at a nightclub or disco parties at shacks on beaches of Goa. 

Water Sports: The vast sandy expanses of Goa are well known for various kinds of Water Sports like swimming, surfing, scuba diving, boat rides etc.

Goa Casinos and Cruises: Have an exclusive experience of boarding floating casino in Goa. The best casinos of the territory are legalized and boasts slot machines and live gaming. Goa offers best casino gaming which give domestic and international tourists yet another reason to visit the place. Some of the major casino games includes American Roulette, Black Jack, Baccarat, Rummy, Flash and Stud Poker. Don't forget to take a cruise to make your Goa Vacation more memorable.There are also three types of river cruises available in Goa such as day time, sunset and moonlight.

Backwater Swimming: There are few places where you can enjoy swimming in backwater. While the piping hot sun is on your head, enjoy swimming to get rid off the heat. Beautiful backwaters are waiting for you to dip in.

Fishing: Fishing is something you will enjoy when you get one. The best season for fishing in Goa is Monsoon. Traditional fishing style adopted by the local fishermen in Goa is called Rapan.

Camping: If you are wondering about doing something more interesting then beach camping is the perfect match for your instinct. There are many camp tents to campers for camping overnight. People seeking for adventure can also enjoy cycling and kayaking activities.

Dolphin Trip: From Calangute Beach and many other beaches, people can enjoy dolphin watch or opt for a dolphin ride. You must have seen a dolphin in an aquarium but in a sea rarely. You may get the opportunity to view dolphins in their natural habitat. October to December is the ideal season for dolphin watching in Goa.

Kayaking: Last but not the least, kayaking is another one of the popular things to do in Goa.

January 21, 2016

Quote of the Post: "This place is treat to eyes and heaven for bird watchers and photography lovers." - Quote about Bhigwan near Baramati by Sachin Kumar Gupta

The place is also known as 'Bharatpur of Maharashtra'. If you are bird lover, you are at the right place. The best month to visit Bhigwan, at the backwater of Ujjani Dam built on Bhima River is Nov-Feb, and peak time are Dec and Jan months. People come from all across India to see these migratory birds during the winter. Early morning and evening is the best time for bird watching. Try to reach by 6 or 6:30 strictly, if you really want to see sunrise and listen chirping of beautiful birds.
Morning: 6 A.M. to 10 A.M.
Evening: 3 P.M. to 6 P.M.
Bhigwan - Kumbhalgaon Bird Sanctuary - Birds Collage
Bhigwan - Kumbhalgaon Bird Sanctuary - Group Flight Mode
Best time for getting some nice and unique shots is early morning as sunlight doesn't disturb the camera lens at this time of the day. Although we knew all of this but sleep took the priority over photography and we started bit late in the morning i.e. by 6:00, and saw sunrise on our way to Bhigwan. Luckily we got to see few birds flocking in the morning itself. 
Bhigwan - Kumbhalgaon Bird Sanctuary - Painted Stork Flight Mode
Bhigwan - Kumbhalgaon Bird Sanctuary - Single Birds
Bhigwan - Kumbhalgaon Bird Sanctuary - Single Flight Mode
Bhigwan is 100 km away from Pune, approx 60 km from Satara, and approx 100 km from Solapur. The place is also known as 'Kumbhargaon Bird Sanctuary'. We reached a point where very few cars were parked. There are two main famous points - Kranti Flamingo Point, and Agnipankha Flamingo Point, which offer boating services, accommodation, and overnight packages too. One can also opt for overnight stay in lakeside tents. I got to know that Kranti Flamingo Point India is registered to Maharastra Tourism in 2014 under MTDC Bhigwan. Boat service varies from 10-20 people, ranging 100 INR to 200 INR per person depending upon the location from where you start. Watching sunrise and sunset over the lake from boat would surely be a wonderful experience.
As against the earlier plan, we reached to a less crowded place, parked near the bridge and headed for photography with our armor - Nikon D5100 and Canon :) We started taking few snaps of birds flying over the bridge. At the same time few birds were flocking from one end to another. There are many locals who offer boating for 2-4 hours. We booked a boat with a local person from this place only. We also luckily got a team of 3 people who knew a lot about birds, their features, habitats, and more. They were more than the guide to us. They were even discussing and explaining which ones were male, and which female. We didn't follow other boats and went ahead to chase idle and undisturbed birds. Try to avoid Saturday and Sunday as because of crowd, birds fly quite far off at times. If you are a bird watcher, go in small group and maintain silence to enjoy treat to eyes. Its really bird heaven on earth for those!

One of the main attraction is to adore pink greater flamingos. We kept moving till the point we finally had glance of flamingos. At few points our boat-rower had to drag the boat standing in the water. We were lucky that flamingos didn't fly off by that time. We were so close to flamingos that we could take reflection images of flamingos too but all were sleepy heads by then. One thing to observed that flamingos stood on one leg and slept in a very unique manner. My Nikon D5100 with 55-300 mm lens were good enough to capture few of the flamingos. Flamingos were so lazy that they were rarely moving their neck. We waited for long for their movements to get different posture photographs. Go for higher range cameras, if you wish to take more closer photographs. We saw many people having bigger cameras and binoculars for long distance bird watching. Many people rent bigger lenses for this purpose. 'Patience' is the key, which will help you take good photographs.

Out of all the birds, I like Painted Stork the most, and they were my main models for the day. I had many reflection and flight mode images of different birds. I created few birds collages as shown above. We saw many birds, few of them were:
Asian open-bill stork
Bar headed goose
Black-crowned night heron
Black-winged stilt
Bronze-winged Jacana
Brown Crake
Common Pochard
Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian wigeon
Forest Wagtail
Glossy ibis
Greater Flamingo
Green Sandpiper
Grey Heron
Grey Wagtail
Indian Pond Heron
Knob Billed Duck
Little Egrets
Northern Pintails
Northern Shoveler
Painted Stork
Pheasant Tail Jacana
Purple Swamp Hen
Red-naped ibis
Ruddy Shelduck
Small Pratincole
Spot-billed duck
The cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)
The demoiselle crane (Koonj)
The Eurasian coot
The little cormorant
White Breasted Waterhen
White Wagtail
Wood Sandpiper
Woolly Necked Stork etc (go on and on..)

Boating in itself was fun and worth, and chasing birds adds more fun, if you really have patience. Many of the birds were seen swimming in open water or walking across waterside grasslands. Many a places the color of grass was a mix of green, light red, yellow, brown while having sunlight and cloud shadows on it. Few other smaller birds can also seen flying at time to time like Kingfisher etc. Few of them were found in small groups. A few of them were spotted romancing and a few were busy catching fishes and insects with their long beaks. Many boatmen threw fishes in the water to attract more birds nearby.
I just can't believe that we have such an amazing place to visit near Pune. It is really a paradise for a variety of native and migratory birds around the picturesque lake. Do visit before they leave i.e. before mid March. Hope to come again and chase birds during sunset.

January 16, 2016

Best Beach Curves of Goa

I already have hattrip to Goa, and planning again this year. Love for Goa and its beaches never diminishes. Best time to visit the beaches of Goa is between the months of September and March. The deep blue sea, soft sand, swaying palms and coconut trees, delicious seafood, water sports and night-life of the Goan beaches makes it a popular and most loved tourist destination. Star (*) mark beaches are good for one or the other reason and for photography locations. List of beaches in Goa are as below.

Best North Goa Beaches: These beaches are full of water-sports, nightlife, activities throughout the year. A visit to Baga and Calangute is must for your itinerary. These beaches are famous for their extensive curved stretches, white sands and palm fringes.

Querim Beach
Kalcha Beach
*Arambol Beach
*Mandrem Beach
Ashvem Beach
Morjhim Beach 

**Morjim Beach (Morgim Beach) - One of my favorite among all north Goa beaches, popularly known as the Turtle Beach. The Morjim Beach is special as it serves as a hatching and nesting habitat of the Olive Ridley turtles, which are an endangered species. The sight of the tiny hatch-lings, turtles and crabs makes your experience at the beach an unforgettable one. Kite surfing is another activity popular at this beach because of its shallow depth.

*Vegator Beach (Nearby Chapora Fort): It boasts of pure white sand, doted with black lava rocks and swaying coconut and palm trees and lies within the backdrop of the 500-year-old Portuguese Fort and takes the visitors down the memory lane depicting the Old Portuguese era. Vagator's broad white sandy beach - Big Vagator Beach also known as "Little Vagator" is undeniably beautiful and offers picturesque vista with the red ramparts of Chapora Fort. 

Ozran Beach
*Anjuna Beach: The beach is famous for its stunning natural beauty with swaying palms trees and soft powered white sands. Now man-made stones are also being developed at one side for cleaner look.
**Bagha Beach (Baga Beach): The lovely beach of Baga is one of the oldest preserved beaches in Goa. There are many shacks which are lively even during night famous all over the world. This is for sure the most happening beach in Goa. 

**Calingute (Calangute) Beach: Water Sports and nightlight at the beach. You can also try lighting up Chinese candles up over the sea, and it looks amazing during night.

*Candolim Beach: This beautiful beach begins at Fort Aguada and ends at Chapora Beach.

Coco Beach Dandarim
Kekdole Beach
*Miramar Beach, Panjim: It is a golden beach fringed with palm trees. The soft sands of the beach makes it the best site for evening walks. 

Caranzalem Beach
*Dauna Paula beach
Marivel Beach
Dias Beach
Vainguinim Beach
Odxel Beach
Siridao Beach

Best South Goa Beaches: North Goa beaches are the crowded ones, but if you need few idle or peaceful beaches, South Goa would be the better side to roam around and relax. Clean blue water of the Arabian Sea gives you a pristine view of sea beds.

Baina Beach
*Hansa Beach (Goa Airport Flights passing above this)
Bimbel Beach
Bogmalo Beach
Hollant Beach
Cansaulim Beach
Arossim Beach
Utorda Beach

**Majorda Beach: It is one of the marvelous beaches in Goa that is located about 18 kilometers from Dabolim Airport.

*Betalbatim Beach (Sunset Beach): For sunset and photography lovers. Each one of us has definitely been lucky enough to witness beautiful sunsets sometime but the beauty of the sunsets at the Betalbatim Beach is beyond imagination.

**Colva Beach: The beach consists of fine powdered white sand and is bounded along its coast by coconut palms that stretch from Bogmalo in the north to Cabo de Rama in the south along south Goa's coastline. 

*Varca Beach: It is one of the cleanest beaches in Goa that allows the tourists to spend some time in solitude. 

Carmona Beach
*Cavelossim Beach
*Mobor Beach: This beach is an ideal location for the adventure tourists. It is one of the most popular beaches in South Goa, which enables the tourists to indulge in adventure sports such as water skiing, water surfing, jet ski, banana and bump rides and parasailing.

*Betul Beach
Canaguinim Beach
*Cabo de Rama Beach and Church
*Agonda Beach
Butterfly Beach
*Palolem Beach: The enthralling Paolem Beach instills in us a feeling of tranquility that is one of the major attribute of this serene Goa beach.
Tapona Beach

Ref: Above maps are taken from mapsofindia.com. Keep enjoying all beach curves of Goa.

January 9, 2016

Marleshwar, is an ancient Cave Shiva Temple, which is at distance of 17 km from Devrukh, 30 km from Sangameshwar, and 62 km from Ratnagiri. We came across great scenery on the way even in Jan, the views were really breathtaking. 

One has to go to Maral village, which is 14 kms from Devrukh. And after that 3 km road is by motorway and 1 km is by foot. Marleshwar name may have come from Maral village. This temple is also known as 'Trambakeshwar' of Konkan.

The craze for travel took us to strange places, this was one of them which was unplanned and I had minor injury in my right foot. I finally convinced myself and others to take the short trek of 530 stairs, and motivated others. :) If you don't mind climbing a few hundred steps, this is totally worth it. As the stairs are not very steep so even old and children can also climb with little support of family. Lovely weather, roads, towards Marleshwar from Devrukh. The vehicles can reach up to the base of the hill on which the temple is located. Area is green so you don't get tired, even the children with us were not. Though they demand their choice of toys, which many shopkeeper have as strategy of shopping while climbing stairs. 

It is a Shiva temple situated in a natural cave and is believed to be Swayambhu. The Shiva temple situated in between the beautiful hills and the Shivling in the cave is mesmerizing. Once we reached on top, there was no queue as such, and we got the darshan (visit) quite easily and with sufficient time. The feel of the hym, aroma, smoke and dripping water were just awesome, that can only be experienced once you are there in person. 

There is 'Kund' of cold water, where few snakes can be seen. I captured one kingfisher grabbing crab at this place, and many small birds flying. We had heard about the snakes roaming in the temple; though we did not see any of them. There were many monkeys jumping from one place to another, and we also found that monkeys also have love for Frooti, there were few monkeys who try to snatch visible food from others hands. The waterfall near the temple was awesome. It was not in full flow though, as we visited during Jan. But still a small stream was flowing from the small waterfall near the temple. It was really a lovely site to visit. There are many stalls on the way from tail to top of Marleshwar temple. There are shops all along the stairs selling food, Pooja items and souvenirs. Water, buttermilk, diffrent sharbat, drinks are available on the peak, some snacks also available there. Our group of 8 had around 25 glasses of all different drinks, and thalipeeth.

This place is must visit in monsoon as view of fall is great. In monsoon it has a beautiful waterfall amidst the Sahyadri hills, also the best season to visit though visitors are not allowed to enter the falls. It is called the place of thousand waterfalls. I can just think of that huge waterfall in front of temple during monsoon, would be just like "BAHUBALI" movie's scene. Think of amazing walk amidst rain, clouds, streams with deep gorges on one side and high mountain on others. There was water even in early Jan, and we saw that many people easily get under the stream and enjoy themselves. We got to hear many stories about Marleshwar from local people and shopkeepers. On the day of Makarsankranti a celebration of the marriage of Marleshwar and Girijadevi takes place. During Mahashivratri and Tripuri Poornima, there is a fair. Hope to visit again in monsoon.

Har Har Marleshwar!

Also few other nearby sightseeing places near Marleshwar, Maral: 
In our endeavor to explore the coastal belt of Arabian Sea, we travelled Mumbai - Alibag - Kashid - Murud - Shrivardhan - Harihareshwar - Harnai - Dapoli - Velneshwar - Jaigad - Ganpatipule - Ratnagiri - Tarkarli (Malvan, Sindhudurg) - Devbag (Devbaug) and many other nearby places, but we didn't mind visiting Ganpatipule once again.

We started from Devrukh, and reached Ganpatipule within 2 hours. The route was full of fields of Rice, Cashew and Alphanso (Hapus) Mangoes. After that we visited Ganpatipule temple. We were lucky to get the darshan quite fast, surprisingly there were no queues! And then it was the time for our Pet-pooja (Lunch) Nearest best place for food is MTDC and there we were, for all our meals.

Ganpatipule beach is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches amongst the Konkan beaches. With the Ganapati temple on the shores rendering a peaceful atmosphere, Ganpatipule is as close as you can get to a perfect holiday destination in Konkan. Meenal and Smrati went for jet skiing at Ganpatipule beach. An evening spent at the beach gives a feel of Chowpati, a little too crowded over weekends and vendors lining the shore. The day was little hot and the best thing to beat the heat was coconut water!

Sunset at Ganpatipule: If you love watching sunset, This is one of the best place. This time we relaxed at this clean beach till sunset. The water and beach is so clean that we could take few reflection photographs as well. When the sun was about to set, I setup my tripod, and could manage a few beautiful clicks. You can explore this beach quite long by walk both sides from the temple.

Aare Ware Beach (Arey Warey Beach): We have been to this place during our last visit to Ratnagiri. The views across seaside is amazing, and you will love the drive following the seashore all the times. This route is highly recommended. Seaside Ratnagiri - Ganpatipule route passes through the twin beaches of Aare and Waare and the Aare sunset point. It is the best place to enjoy splendid sunsets, pulsating palms and wonderful waves in Ratnagiri ranges. We followed the same majestic views along-with sunset at Aare in our last visit. Many celebrities own land properties near to this beach. Certainly this beach will be a star attraction for tourist in near future.

Don't forget to visit Prachin Konkan Museum, if you are with kids or family or interested in conch. We also get to see India's biggest conch (Shankh).

Few other beaches/places to visit nearby Ganpatipule:
Malgund Beach
Nandivade Beach
Kunbiwadi Beach
Jaigarh (Jaigad) Fort and Lighthouse
Happy new year, We started our journey from Pune with Meenal, Ashish, Smrati, Paresh, Parul, Amit, Veena, and lovely kidos.  

Pune - Satara - Karad - Kale/Pachwad Phata - Undale - Ghogaon - Yenpe - Kokrud - Malkapur - Amba Ghat - Sakharpa - Devrukh


After the highway near Kale, our TT moved across beautiful curves till Devrukh. The best view during the drive was the one which had many windmills near Ghogaon and Yenpe hillside. Once we passed Amba Ghat, beautiful natural surrounding and cool breeze touched. Amba Ghat is famous gateway for its natural beauty, picturesque mountain-scapes and for pleasant climate throughout the year. During monsoon, thousands of tourist visit this place for waterfalls, and during winters, especially for bird watching. 

We saw many hornbills, kingfishers and other birds flocking from one place to another. Amba Ghat is surrounded by rain-forests and Bison Wildlife Sanctuary. We were also lucky to visit sunset while returning from same route, where all of us stopped-by one point closer to wind-mill. We had many group photos and 'windmills talking to sun' kind of photos. We had closer look to windmill, which were of 'INOX WIND'. These are really quite huge, and sunset light at moving windmills looks awesome.

We reached Devrukh, which is a very small town situated in Sangmeshwar Taluka (Dist. Ratnagiri). We stayed at O'Nest Home Stay at Devrukh which is quite and peaceful. Many honeymoon couple love to stay here, though place is good for family and group stay too. They also organise few cultural programs like, Jakhadi (folk dance), Lathi Kathi Banati, Avatya Bhovatya, Sangameshwari Boli from time to time. On additional payments, you can opt for multiple activities like traditional fishing, trekking, nature walk in farms, bird watching, pot making, backwater boating etc. Overall we had great time at O'Nest with lots of games, playing cards, at times, and of course lots of photos. 

There is also a beautiful Soljai Gramdevi temple, don't miss to visit if you are in Devrukh. It is quite colorful, clean, and one of its kind in this area. Devrukh is for sure a place to spend some good time away from regular routine and relax.

Also few other nearby sightseeing can be done to below places from Devrukh:
Marleshwar Temple and waterfall, Maral
Karneshwar, Sangmeshwar
Ganpatipule, Ratnagiri
Ratna Durga Fort, Ratnagiri
Ambaghat - Pavankhind
Mahalaxmi Temple, Kolhapur

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