September 5, 2017

If you would like to visit wonders of the world from Rome, Paris, Agra, Egypt and Pisa at one place in Pune. You should visit 'Seven Wonders Parks at Pune'. The dream park is in the city area and so is fairly accessible. This park is also known as 'Yashwantrao Chavan Garden'. The place is beautiful and have replica of famous wonders of the world. Though you wouldn't find 'The Great Wall of China'. Miniatures are in good shape and constructed well, which are really made by hard work. You can traverse wonders of the world in the park in below order:

1. Taj Mahal, Agra, India. 
2. Statue of Liberty, New York, USA. 
3. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. 
4. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. 
5. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy. 
6. Colosseum, Rome. 
7. The Great Pyramids of Cairo, Egypt. 

This place is a very good learning for young kids. Even small children love it. This is a nice place for photo-shoot, though little congested. There is no dedicated parking for the garden, so please come before time to park the car outside the park at the road parking lanes as per directions. There is no facility of drinking water inside, so bring along some water if you are coming with kids. 

There is a 4d hall inside park where you can watch 15 min movie by showing them ticket. This show has stories of Aladdin, Alice and the wonderland and Dracula's. Cost of the ticket is very economical and 20 INR only. Usually in malls, you pay 200-500 INR per person for similar shows. It is fun to watch with family and friends. There are many cartoon icon placed which are good entertainment for kids as well. Children can pose for photos with these characters. Though this place need regular maintenance. 

Address: 1, Shiv Darshan Road, Anurag Society, Sivadarshan Poorgrasta Vasahat, Parvati Paytha, Pune, Maharashtra 411009

Opening Hours: 6–9 AM, 4–9 PM (daily)

It is a good place to spend a lovely evening. As per my experience, The best and recommended timings to visit the park is 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Also plan to visit evening laser musical fountain at Bagul Udyan nearby. Usually 7 pm (post sunset). 

March 19, 2017

If you are looking to escape the city life somewhere near Pune or Mumbai in Maharashtra? Need a much needed break from the traffic and crowded streets. Camping near Panshet is the place to head off to for a weekend break or even mid-week outing. Enjoy the experience of sleeping under the open sky by the Panshet Lake. Panshet is a beautiful night camping site in the open, under the twinkling sky. Panshet is quite close to Khadagwasla dam, and approx 50 km from Pune, and approx 150 km from Navi Mumbai. 

The travel from Khadagwasla to Panshet itself is one of a kind where most of campers and photographers don't sit inside the vehicle but prefer to stop at time to time due to amazing surroundings. We started from Pune and reached here in 3 hours including multiple breaks. We choose Panshet Eco Village camp-site near Surya Shibir resort, which is still developing. This itself was a great experience. As soon as we reach the place, we had splendid views of the lake. Soon we got set up our camping tents, mats, and started the bonfire for the night camping. 

Soon after sunset, the real fun begins around 8 pm. We got our evening snacks ready and temprature started to drop. Everyone free to enjoy the evening as we want. Sanjay also bring his Guitar along-with him, and Chanchal his open-air speakers. We sing and dance at time to time and prefer playing music from our phones as per choice. We also had time to photograph at times, and enjoyed star gazing and bonfire till midnight. Everyone had dinner as and when we feel hungry. We also see few shooting stars during the night. If you have your telescope with you, This place is good to observe the constellation of stars and planets. Please note that it becomes quite cold in night, and during winters temprature drops a lot, so carry  woolen clothes and blankets is very important. The tents we got were new, and good quality. We have nets inside, so we opened few zips of tents, that keep flowing fresh air all the time. 

Few of us just slept for 2-3 hours and wake up early to adore the beautiful sunrise by the lake. We enjoyed it fully and had few clicks as well. Later we had our breakfast, and stayed there till 11 AM. The best time to do camping at Panshet is October to March. Avoid during the monsoon. Panshet is also very safe place to camp out in the open since there is no wild animals or even snakes around the place. But still be aware of surroundings, for your own safety. Swimming in lake is prohibited, but boat tour can be enjoyed after the sunrise. Our full group was full of energy. Really enjoyed the night and day throughout. Looking forward to more of these adventures to come. 

There are many other camping sites in Maharashtra, which can be enjoyed with trekking:
Bhandardara Camping
Konya River Camping
Krishna River Camping
Rajmachi Trek and Camping
Karjat Trek and Camping
Kolad Camping
Sahyadri Camping
Panchgani Camping
Torna Camping
Dapoli Camping
Alibaug Trek and Camping
Pawna Trek and Camping
Murud Camping
Kaas Trek and Camping
Lonavala Trek and Camping
Pune Trek and Camping
Mumbai Trek and Camping

March 4, 2017

Quote of the Post: "Gola Gokarannath Temple truly attracts millions of devotees of all religions, castes and creed from all over the world and deserve to named as Choti Kashi." - Quote about 'Gola Gokarannath Shiv Temple' (शिव मन्दिर) by Sachin Kumar Gupta

Gola Gokaran Nath Temple is a Hindu temple in Gola Gokarannath, Uttar Pradesh, India and is also known as Shiv Temple of Gola Gokaran Nath. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Shankar). The Gola Gokaran Nath is also called Choti Kashi. This temple is quite anicient, and presently an important and active pilgrimage site of the Hindus and attracts long lines of devotees daily. Teerth-Kund at Shiva Temple is having a new big Shiva idol, which will make its mark in UP and India's tourist places. 

It was a holy occasion of Pathik's Mundan ceremony (Tonsure ceremony). We left from Shahjahanpur at 10 AM since we had to reach Gola Gokarannath as per plan. We were in a big group of 15 family members to visit Gola Gokarannath temple. Gola is about 65 km from the city of Shahjahanpur, about 35 km from Lakhimpur and about 150 km from Lucknow.

As soon as we reached the temple, the echoing sound of ringing bells is simply amazing, and gives goosebumps. People chanting 'Bum Bum Bhole', 'Jai Bhole', 'Om Namah Shivaya' at this place. There are many decorated shops nearby, and small market. It is a beautiful place to conduct religious ritual, though many place need improvement. Anyone can enter the temple premises and its inner chambers. Last visit was with Manish when I visited in 2008. I took some time during evening to capture sunset overlapping with crescent moon on the head of Lord Shiva. Few other photographs were also taken, specially Pathik's mundan ceremony ones. 

The legend says that when the churning of oceans - Samudra Manthana - took place in the month of Shravan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed among the daemons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods, thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to make lessen the effect of poison. Since, this happened in the month of Shravan, since then the Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month.

This pilgrimage continues to visit this place throughout the year. It is estimated that during Shravan month, around 10 to 15 lakhs pilgrims visit Gola Gokarnnath dham. 

Festivals at Gola Gokaran Nath:
Saavan Mela: The importance of Gokarnnath dham increases during the month of Shravan (during July–August every year). During this period, the kanwarias first take a dip in the teerth sarovar (pond) to purify themselves, and then enter into the temple, where the Ganges water is offered to the Jyotirlingam. 
Chaiti Mela: In the month of Chatra (April) a great fair is organised for one month known as Cheti-Mela. All nearby areas are decorated quite well during that time. 
Maha Shivratri Mela: During this period, lakhs of devotees throng the Holy Shiv Temple. 
Bhoot Nath Mela: Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water, flowers, and sweets to the Shiv. Personally I feel that milk offering to the shivaling should be avoided, and can be offered to needy people. I am happy to see that many people understand that, and few temple priest also insist not to offer milk on top of shivaling. 

Important Places To Visit (In and near main Shiv Temple):
  • Budhe Baba Temple
  • Chandrabhal Baba Satsang Sthal
  • Gokaran Nath Dwar
  • Gokaran Nath Shiv Temple
  • Kartikeya Dwar
  • Maharshi Ved Vyas Yagya Mandap
  • Mata Parvati Satsang Sthal
  • Mela Sahayata Kendra
  • Nath Baba Dwar
  • Nath Vatika
  • Neelkanth Teerth Maidan
  • Radha-Krishna Temple
  • Ram-Janaki Temple
  • Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
  • Shani Temple
  • Teerth Sarovar Dwar
  • Teerth Sarovar
  • Vinayak Dwar
  • Vishwanath Satsang Sthal
  • Vishwakarma Temple
Other Famous temples in Chhoti Kashi (Shiv Nagari):
  • Bhootnath temple
  • Gajmochan Nath temple
  • Kalesh Haran Temple
  • Lakshmanjati Temple
  • Mangla Devi Temple
  • Phool Baba Ashram
  • Tedenath Temple
  • Trilokinath Temple
We had great time here with Pathik and full family, and everyone felt blessed.  
Om Namah Shivaya

January 8, 2017

Bibi Ka Maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) is a tomb located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra also known as Tomb of Rabia Durani. Due to the strong resemblance, it is also called 'The Mini Taj of India' - the Dakkhani Taj (Taj of the Deccan). The layout and surrounding of the tomb is very much similar to Taj Mahal in Agra (UP). Bibi Ka Maqbara has four towering minarets like Taj Mahal. It was built by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb, in 1678 in memory of his wife, Dilras Banu Begum (known as Rabia-ud-Daurani). It is about 110 km from Shirdi, about 210 km from Nasik, about 230 km from Pune and about 280 km from Mumbai.

Panoramic views of the site are simply amazing. After passing through the entrance a small tank is provided and a low profile screen wall leads to the main structure. The screened pathway has a series of fountains at its center. After climbing few stairs we reach the upper level. Soothing sunset can be enjoyed here. At the main place, there is a sanctum with the tomb of Dilras Banu Begum. An octagonal lattice-screen of white marble surrounds the raised plinth supporting Rabia Daurani's grave inside the tomb. The tips of its pillars are made of red stone.

A part of the song 'Jab Tak' from the movie 'M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story' was shot in Bibi Ka Maqbara and surrounding hills. Bibi Ka Maqbara has featured in a number of documentaries and short films, and movies. MTDC also organizes a fair every October as the 'Bibi Ka Maqbara festival'. For people who cannot visit Taj Mahal, this looks to be an decent replica of same. I loved the time with mom and Tanuj throughout the day. For sure, This is a nice place for taking photographs and selfie as well. :)

Recommendation: Certainly a must and worth visit for all tourists visiting Aurangabad. You can even adore the beauty of the place again and again. It was my second visit to this place. I have also added a memory 5 years back when this site was renovating. In my opinion if anybody wants to enjoy its magnificent view, spend 1-2 hours in the evening. Don't go with too much expectations with the Taj Mahal in mind, then you will not be disappointed. There is safe parking available near the attraction and its open until 9:30 pm. Good thing is it is opened till 9:30 pm, so while coming back from Aurangabad Fort, Ellora or Ajanta you can visit this place. Try to avoid visiting on weekends, as there is quite long queue even for tickets. 

Near by places of interest: 
Ellora Caves, Aurangabad 
Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad 
Daulatabad fort (Devagiri fort)
Sai Baba temple, Shirdi 

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