February 20, 2016

"If you are looking for fun, art, music, dance, love, food, ZaPalooza offers it all at one place. - Quote about "Kingfisher present ZaPalooza - The Grooviest Flea Market" in Pune, Maharashtra by Sachin Kumar Gupta

What's a Palooza? It is all about fun and art loving people celebrating at one place with a lot of people and a lot of small things going on inside a larger thing. 

This amazing flea market is full of fun, art, music, dance, love, food. Check out amazing stuff across all stalls ranging from hundreds to few thousands. Few of the stalls did offer discounts too. You can purchase handicrafts, souvenirs items for gifts and personal use. There are quite a few unique items on sell. Most of the work is not to be missed and it's hard to move on without a purchase, we couldn't either :) One can also set up their own stall month back and book the slot in the flea market.

The good part is the range of eating options available. Right from pastas to pizzas, n paani puri to chinese to mexican, was there to satisfy your taste buds and hunger. Being in Pune, could figure out the maximum crowd at chaat counter. Get your Kingfisher, beer or choice of drink at ZaPalooza, and listen to the music, and start moving your legs to the beats. Come and try few smoothies, fruit blends, iced teas & lemonades across different stalls.

Ticket Rates: 150 per person per day. Online pass or in person entry at the venue. One stall also offered live pottery making and take home at just 100 INR.
Timings: 11 A.M. to 10 P.M.
Location: Raga Lawns, Koregaon Park, Pune

Best of the bands were lined up for performances throughout the day. As per 13th Feb schedule:
4# Brownees
Awakening Souls
My side of the story
The Fields
The Madhur Datta Collective

As per 14th Feb (V-Day) schedule:
Cat Kamikazee
Easy Wanderlings
Rhydhhm Evolution
Scriptures in the attic
The Mad Hatters - This one was simply superb. They know how to hold the crowd. Mr. Jade and Jude has an amazing stage presence, must say!

This was an amazing 7th LaPalooza event happened at Pune. I spent Valentine day with Meenal, and later Pooja and Pankaj joined us. Many people were taking selfies with the ZaPalooza background at the entrance. Lovely crowd and amazing people all around Raga Lawns. It was a fantastic valentine day. As per experience, this place has something for all age and groups. There is no doubt that ZaPalooza is the most colourful and grooviest flea market in Pune! Big thanks to all organizers for organizing such an amazing - ZaPalooza. Looking forward for future 8th and further editions.

February 14, 2016

Looking for a place near Pune to spend a day or two, go for Jadhavgadh Fort - the only Fort Heritage Hotel in Maharashtra. Located 1km off Hadapsar- Saswad road, Fort Jadhavgadh stands upright with walls, gate and decor depicting royality. The management of resort have planned different packages very carefully to attract maximum footfall. One day package includes Lunch/Dinner with audio-guided tour of the Fort and the museum and extended overnight stay can be for as many days you may wish. It is not only a fort, but a family resort near Pune and Mumbai.
Address: Jadhavgadh Fort, Hadapsar Saswad Road, Jadhavwadi, Pune, Maharashtra 412301

From Magarpatta, we headed towards Hadapsar-Saswad highway and after a drive for approx 40 mins, we could see sign boards for way to Jadhavgadh Heritage Fort. To maintain the authenticity and non commercialization of the surrounding area, the route diverted from main highway is not constructed properly :P After covering the broken road we finally reached our destination and at the first look of it, all of us were awestruck with the beauty of the place. They offer Valet parking and the Guard/darban was dressed no less than a Royal Darban. We were welcomed by the authentic musicians who played trumpet along with Nagada, trust me it was just awesome and is to be experienced. This welcome is for all, irrespective of the fact, that whether you are there for a day tour or for a long stay.

Due to lack of time, we had opted for day tour and dinner. The audio-guided tour takes you approx 40-45 mins if you are really serious to know about facts; but we wanted to take a feel of every nook and corner of the fort and hence we took approx 2.5 hours to cover the place. 'Photography is also important' and hence the delay. The tour explains each point in short in your preferred language - Hindi/English/Marathi. We took audio tour which is quite well managed covering all the points at fort in order.

Photo Gallery
Elephant's dinner plate
Dungeons and Tunnels
Gate & Walls
Garden View & Layer-Royal Garden
Ganesh Temple
Tamarind Tree
Organic Garden
Payatha Restaurant

Experience of temperature controlled swimming floor on the top is just amazing with two trees. This was the place where we spent around 30 minutes and had few beautiful photographs. The place has well manicured lawns where people relax and play. There are also few outdoor/indoor games equipment, bikes, archery, rifle shooting etc to keep engage all the times throughout your stay. If one is having issue while walking, avoid this place as they don't have lift and stairs are quite high in the fort. The open space is full of greenery and has quite a few activities arranged, like basket ball, swings, garden for kids, huge space for children to run & play, a very old temple, museum.

Aai Museum: Museum gives a sense of development of civilization and how things would have evolved basis the necessities. This place covers most of the points as per audio tour. No photography is allowed inside, but it talks about Pilaji Rao and many things to display across three floors. The objects were like: Pagdipat, Paandaan, Chillums and Hookahs, Objects of Beauty, Food Processor, Transport, Parshuram, Pichkari, Temple doors, Gun powder flasks, Locks. At the top of museum roof, views are amazing specially in the evening.

The fort has suites, different grade rooms, royal tents and neem cottages which are spread across the three wings of fort. Room types include - Maharaja Suite, Maharani Suite, Museum Suite, Premium Hill view room, Premium Rain Shower Room, Deluxe room. The interiors are a mix of old world charm and contemporary luxuries. Many celebrities too visit this fort at different occasions. This fort is also used for photo shoot, Pre-Wedding shoot or other commercial photo shoots.

We had our royal dinner. During dinner as well, staff gave open air table for 8 of us as requested. Excellent food and choices in buffet! Fort Jadhavgadh's roof top restaurant came alive with 'Ghazal Night' that night. The place is great to celebrate anniversary, birthdays, royal wedding, valentines, special days and events. It was a great royal experience including audio tour of the fort and grand dinner with friends. Hope to plan our one night stay at Jadhavgadh soon.

February 1, 2016

Quote of the Post- "Goa Carnival is like a cherry on top for Goa lovers" - Quote about trip to Goa Carnival 'Viva' - by Sachin Kumar Gupta

Carnivals and festivals have always been celebrated around the world and India has always been one of the lead, given the diverse culture and people we have. A lot of these have been gifted by the invaders too and Viva Festival, in Goa is one of the best ones we adopted. This is one of the Portuguese festivals which was brought in to India by King Momoin the year 1961. Being one among the listed items in our 'Must Visit' chart, we finally made for it in Feb. It was a day just before the Carnival, when we visited Deltin Royale and guess what, we met modern King Momo who announced the event open. 

Goa Viva Carnival Dates: 
2015: Feb 14 to Feb 17
2016: Feb 6 to Feb 9

Here are the details of Goa Carnival put together as is, what we knew and what we experienced! It is celebrated, every year, for four days (Saturday to Tuesday). The celebration starts on the "Fat Saturday" before "Ash Wednesday". This festival combines fiestas of diverse cultures, religions and beliefs. The Carnival comprises of a number of parades with different themes, bands, floats and dances in the evening. There are parades in Panaji (Panjim), Margao, Ponda, Vasco, Shiroda and Mapusa where streets blaze with music and color. Main highlight of the Viva Carnival happens on "Fat Saturday" in the capital city, Panaji. The excited and fun-filled non-stop extravaganza of fun, frolic, music, and dance are uniquely celebrated like other Carnival countries. This festival attracts thousands of tourists.

We reached Panaji for Carnival Parade just in time. However, suggest you plan to reach early as there is heavy traffic and finding a parking space is a herculean task. It was amazing to see most of the people were uniquely dressed. There are specific themes on which each of the group performs with colorful floats. Floats are the major highlight of the festival, especially the ones parading with King Momo, the initiator of the festival. Most of the floats also carry music system with them. The best floats are prized well. King Momo distributes the prizes to the winners. Now a days, a few floats are commercially sponsored. However, the whole event could have been better to match international standards. Screening committee should eliminate floats that do not conform to the guidelines chalked out for participating tableaus and raise the Goa Carnival standards. 

The event is so colorful and vibrant that you may feel out of the place, if not dressed funkily or don't have a prop. But not to worry, the local vendors help in this completely and there are a loads of them. Important is how good are you in negotiating with them. There are vendors, selling head gears, props, masquerades, and ya, a few who can paint your face so as to fit you right in. We opted for multi-colored masquerades. River front is the area, which is set up for VIPs. People stood on the road sides, above the bridges, buildings and wherever they could find place to cheer the parade. Ideally you should try and find a less crowded location or a road side building, for best view of the parade. We did try to capture the beauty and fun of the eve in our camera, but it is to be experienced in person.

If you are in Goa during Carnival time, don't miss this festive event. You can enjoy with friends, spouse or family as festival fits for all ages and groups. If you are heading for the carnival, book your hotels in advance. There is no fee to attend, everybody is invited to join in. This makes it a unique event that brings together different cultures and combines them into one large festival. Check out other things to do and places to visit in Goa.

“When in Goa, do as the Goans do”.

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