100 !


sketch credit @Ar

Yes, the journey which started in 2011 has brought us here .. its the 100th blog!!.. Frankly I never thought we would reach here. When I stated it was nothing more than a new hobby I had picked up, which I thought like many others before this might fizzle out in some time .. which in fact it did .. briefly in 2012 and 2013 when I wrote maybe 1 or 2 blogs only. I also used to think that eventually I would run out of topics to write about or would get into writer’s block ūüôā . Never mind the big words but what kept me going was a desire to share my experiences and seeing that there is an audience to my blogs and the support I am getting from them and my near and dear ones! So THANK YOU!

When I started out I wanted to cover variety of topics but mostly it seems I covered traveling, trekking and may be some silly experiences. I hope that all these were of help to someone the way other peoples blogs and vlogs have helped me over the years. Some of the blogs were easy to write as I was beaming to put those thoughts down and share with everyone, some of them especially the ones I was writing after a gap of the event happening presented a writer’s block, but eventually I was able to persevere and able to reconstruct the events the best I could. Through our blogs¬†we traveled together locally, internationally, went to forts, long drives, famous places, had fun and along the way I had many memorable moments which I can relive through the words I had penned down.

The blogs which are my favorites are the ones which after reading take me back to those moments like Baneshwar .. one of the first blogs when I was still learning how to write :), Mahabaleshwar .. for Ar!, Ganpatipule .. gar gar pa pa.., Sandhan Valley .. name of that place is enough to give me goose bumps.., Vishalgadh and Pavankhind Fort Trek.. what an adventure !.., Raigad .. inspiration!, East Coast trip.. what a fun trip, Trip to Konkan and Satara .. family time!

So what next.. There is lot of work to do, I have lot of unpenned experiences and ideas to jot down and share.. diversify the content .. share some interesting things and info.. but the most important thing is for me to be regular and focus on putting out good content. So there is a long way ahead and I hope it would get bigger and better as we glide along. But today is the day for me to take a break and reflect on how I reached here. And yes.. I am too excited for the journey ahead!

PS: Some of the stats on the eve of 100th blog ūüôā

Visitors Views
700+ 1250+

Trip to Bhandardara – Day II


30-Oct-2011:¬†Today we wanted to wake up early and go and see the sun rise at some sun rise spot or something, but after yesterday’s tiring day we had to take it easy ūüôā Finally, woke up at 8:30 am and went to the resort cafeteria to have the breakfast. The weather was very good and we¬† were looking forward for an eventful day. Today we had planned to explore this place a bit in the morning and were thinking of going for boat ride again in the evening if possible.


We got to know from resort staff that the total dam perimeter is around 25 km which can be circumvented by a decent road. There are many nice vista points along it and some other attractions as well. We were back to our room after heart-full breakfast and wrapped up our things and stepped out. There was no difficulty in finding the road as it starts close by from the place we were staying at and then you just make sure to not leave that road and you would be back to the point from where you had started. First we had to go bit uphill as we were on the other side of the dam which is off course lower down river bed. There we passed along the MTDC resort which had a majestic views of the backwaters, which temped us to come back some other time and stay there. But we were as happy with Yash!


This place is so nice, quite and calm as very few people visit it. We could hear the slow buzzing sound of the wind, the chirping of the birds and off-course in the background the soothing sound of waves. We stopped at couple of places to have great view of water with nice backdrop of hills. There were few big trees but mostly  bushy grasslands which was a different topography which we liked. We then decided to enjoy the drive and take a break from stopping and taking pictures :). There is a different fun to drive on a vehicle less road and I was enjoying it. At some places along the backwaters there was rice farms and the sight of endless expanse of green carpet is always refreshing.


As we were just going around the perimeter we saw board for a diversion to a vista point. We decided to check it out. We had to scale the ghat section for it and then we reached a place which is like Mahabaleshwar or Lonavala, from where we got a great view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It was so windy up here that it was difficult to stand still there but we liked it a lot and  spent lot of time there admiring the golden hued mountains. Then we hopped into the car again and descended and as we were about to hit the plains we got bit confused on which turn to take to return to our original route. After some deliberations we took a path we thought was the right one, but it ended in a dead end :).

But sometimes missing a turn can also be a good thing to happen. The road we took was going nowhere, but it ended on a beautiful spot which was just adjacent to the backwaters and there was a small vista point there with railings. We got on the platform of the railings and could here the waves  hitting the stone walls and making a calming sound. We were lucky to have stumbled here and got some time to spend. Then we backtracked and got on the actual route and continued our journey along the coast.  Some distance ahead we could see a temple and from where we were we could see it was quite old.


As we approached we could see the majestic temple in front of us. Its quite an old temple; at least 700-800 years old and called Amruteshwar temple. The architecture is hemadpanti and the carvings are fine and beautiful. The best part was a big courtyard with a turtle filled pond and the whole complex was just adjacent to the backwaters giving it a timeless appeal. After taking darshan and admiring the whole complex we spent some good  time there sitting in the courtyard. From there we could see some forts like Ratan durg and I decided to be back here some time soon for a trek.


It was now over 1:00 pm and we were bit hungry. So we decided not to stop anywhere now and just enjoy the drive and see if we can find a good restaurant on the way to have lunch. Unfortunately there are not many good options here to eat out and we ended up going back to the resort. We were not sure if we would get anything as it was past lunch hour; but they managed to get something for us which was nice. Then we took a nice siesta and woke up late just in for tea time. Earlier on the way back while passing the Bhandardara village, I thought I had spotted another road to reach the waters and possibly a water sport/boating place. So after our evening snacks thought to explore that and as it was close by we decided to walk there. But it turned into a disappointment as it was a dead end and nothing there, so we returned back but decided to have a nice evening walk amongst the nature.

We were back at the resort by 6:30 pm and were quite tired. We took some rest, watched TV and then reluctantly headed out for dinner. We could see there were many guests sitting along the bon fire playing games, but we were just too tired and just headed to our room and hit the bed.

Trip to Bhandardara – Day I


29-Oct-2011: My birthday was approaching and some time back we had started this tradition to go out on a short vacation somewhere on these kind of occasions as its a good bahanaa to travel and also build some good memories. So G & I had been thinking of where to go this time and not sure how we stumbled across the option of Bhandardara backwaters. From the info and pictures we saw online it appeared to be a nice place and also seemed to be not that visited, so less crowded ;). Only thing was there seemed to be not many options to stay there.

I think at that time there were only 2 one was MIDC resort and another being Yash resort. We obviously wanted to go for MIDC as generally they have the best locations and good VFM and the one here was situated on the top of the hill overlooking the backwaters, but unfortunately it was booked for the days we wanted. So somewhat reluctantly we booked the other one which frankly turned out to be a really good decision :).

With the resort booked, the plan was ON and we decided to drive to the place as it had been some time I had been for a long drive. It is located around 170 km up north of Pune and was expected to take us around 4 hours to reach. We decided to make it a 4 days trip, taking Monday & Tuesday’s off (In those days planning the trips used to be cliffhanger experience as we both had to apply for leaves and had to wait anxiously for both of them getting approved for the time duration we planned for ;)) but we had not made any specific plan as this area was new to us and we were not sure what to expect and so decided to take things as they come. The previous week we got all stocked up and were ready to leave early morning on Saturday.

We woke up early. The weather was quite nice and were looking forward to the ride and the trip. The route is Pune -> Chakan -> Rajguru Nagar -> Ale Phata-> Otur-> Kotul -> Bhandardara. The initial part of road was going to be great but we were expecting some traffic as this is industrial area and from there the road is two lane highway so we were expecting some slow and rough ride. As expected we were doing quite good till Rajguru Nagar, but from there our progress slowed and the road was also not pleasant to drive on. We took a break enroute and had our breakfast. We were at Ale Phata by 10:00 am but around here there was bad traffic jam and we were stuck there for good 30 mins and somehow managed to get out and on our way to Otur. From here you pass through the plains and there is nothing singular about this ride but we were glad to get out of the traffic.

But after some time as you cross Otur, the geography changes rapidly and you are now passing through the rolling hills. 1, 2, 3, 4 .. and eventually I stopped counting. You just ascent a hill through a ghat then descend then get on another one and get off it and so on. It was one of the most enjoyable drives I have had. The country was so beautiful that time of the year and passing through hills crossing few streams and passing through quint villages was a memorable experience. I would have liked the ride to just go on but we were now near the backwaters and could see the full expanse of it. Then we reached a small bund, the water overflowing from top of it on the road we were driving on.  In monsoon it seems this road would be closed for traffic. Then we went down hill a bit and saw the dam gates, water pouring out of the gates and passing below us through an aqueduct. From here a bit uphill and after passing the Bhandardara village we were at our resort around 1:30 pm.


The Yash resort was started by a retired couple, who also run and manage it. They are really good people and took good care of us while we were their guest. They have many room options and we had rented a room in a cottage and on the upper floor. The room was nice and spacious and had a small balcony attached to it. We had got a swimming pool view and also view of vast stretch of densely covered green hills and valleys in front of us. We took some rest, refreshed up a bit and then decided to have lunch. We were actually late to lunch but they were kind enough to arrange food for us and we had it in our room. We spent the afternoon at room only watching TV as it was fairly hot outside. Then we had the evening tea and decided to just go along the backwaters for a stroll.


Plan was just to go along the backwaters and spend some time there, but as we reached we saw no queue for the boat ride and realizing that later in the evening there would be quite a wait decided to have a ride right now. The boat takes you almost half way, the whole backwaters is huge though and the rates compared to other similar locations was quite reasonable. It was so calm and we could hear even a slight whisper of natures sounds. The backwaters are surrounded by hills and we got a great view from here. Also as the sun also sets early here among the hills we got some glimpses of the hue too. All in all we had a great time and we were lucky to find the right time to come here. The one hour ride came to so quickly and once we were dropped back we had some snacks in the chowpaty area and were back to the resort by 6:30 pm.


We were quite tired now and bit sleepy as well. In fact we were not even enthusiastic to go to the dinning area for the dinner. Also it was quite cold and windy outside now. Somehow we managed to get there and had some light food and after we were back we called it a night immediately.



Trek & Visit To Ajinkya Tara Fort

DSC07157Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Satara City, Satara district

Grade : Easy                                                          Height : 4400 feet

Distance From Pune : 100 kms

Ajinkyatara means invincible fort and is one of the most important forts in Sahayadri ranges and was once the capital of Maratha empire. It is located next to Satara city or one can say Satara is located on the slopes of this fort. It is on one of the seven mountains surrounding the city of Satara (from which the city derives its name). This is the first thing which one sees as one gets neat Satara on the NH4 highway and has a towering presence, which can be seen from any place in the city.

There are many important landmarks present on the slopes or machi as it is called, including Dholya Ganpati, which is patron deity of the city, Adalat vada, Hanuman temple etc. I still remember going to the Hanuman temple every other evenings when we used to be there. One of the interesting thing to see there is a huge rock, which some time in history rolled from the top and landed there creating a small cave (gufa) beneath it, which we kids used to love hiding under and spooking others. On the very rock, there is a vista point, from which you get a great view of the city along with surrounding hills and the sun set from there is a thing to be experienced. We used to drag our feet when the time used to come to go home from there.


On the hill slope there is one more place called char bhinti. There is a water tank at the entrance and then stairs to climb. This is the place where they have built a memorial to the freedom fighters of the First War of Independence and this spot offers a unparallel and unobstructed view of the Satara city. You can see the seven hills encircling the valley and on behind you is the mighty Ajinkya Tara and its buruj on top of it is this huge signage (“Ajinkya Tara”) written in marathi, which can be spotted as far off from the NH4 and is pride of the city .

The road to the fort starts from either Char bhinti or further down hill from the junction of upper and palace street from where it winds through a narrow street and merges to the ghat. It takes around 20 mins to reach the top, the road being small and uneven, but has some nice thick forest cover and so a treat in monsoon or just after that to drive on and we had even spotted peacocks and some other wild animals here few times. Just before you reach the top there is a nice vista point from where you can see another famous fort; Sajjan Gadh and the wind farms further in the background. The entrance area to the fort is small and the parking space is limited.


Satara has a very special place in my life and I have been coming to this city since childhood and the visit here is incomplete without ascending this fort, which keeps following you where ever you live or move in the city.  There is a road which leads to the main gate of the fort, which is fairly maintained as there are few offices on top (DD, Akashwani etc) and so people travel everyday there to work. I along with my cousins used to trek it once a while and I believe this was the first fort I trekked in my life. There are many trails and you crisscross the road as well and takes anywhere around 1:30 hours to 2 hours to reach the top.


There is a big gate at the fort entrance and some steep steps. On the either side of the entrance there platforms for the soldiers and the bases of which have some stone carved motifs. You can continue climbing the stairs and you reach the buruj or you can continue and you pass through the DD/Akashwani center and a short distance from there is  remains of the palace of Tara rani. There are many tanks and temples at the top and som remains of fortiffication. Mangalai mandir is close to the famous buruj and due to this temple the fort is also called as Mangalai. Just besides it is the famous Ajinkya Tara sign board in marathi which is visible even from NH4. You also get good views of Yavteshwar, Sajjangadh and other hills surrounding it. One could sit there and time just passes you by.

I have so many memories of this fort and it has been my most visited fort and with the history associated with this place on always leaves this place with pride in the heart!


A Day at San Diego Zoo – II

04-Feb-2018:¬†With our tummy’s full and good rest, we headed first to cross the bridge to the other side. The bridge is at a great height and you get to see not only the whole of zoo, but some parts of San Diego city. As we crossed over, we saw the Elephant trail on our right, but first we decided to do the Skyffary, which is cable car rope way connecting this part of the zoo to the entrance. Luckily there was not much queue and we hopped on to the cable car in 8-10 mins.

One of the good thing is that it is one way trip, so they can do fast turn around and also it provides connectivity if you want to move between ends of the park. The view from the top is spell bounding and you pass over many exhibits and if you look closer you could also spot some animals like Ar spotted the lazy gorilla deep in siesta on that slow sunny afternoon. I don’t know what was with the weather or it may be the time we were there that most of the animals were asleep.

You reach the other side in 2-3 minuets and Ar thoroughly enjoyed the ride. What then we did, just got out of the exit and from the other side entered the gates again for the ride back ūüôā We were enjoying this and within few minutes were back to from where we had started. We then headed for the Elephant trail and on the way saw few other animals which we had not seen before. The area for the¬†Elephant habitat is quite big, i think over 2.5 acres and there were 2-3 of them in open.

One of them was standing besides what looked like a granary, with a door and a chain attached,which he was pulling and banging, this exercise (good idea :)), was releasing some fodder at a time, which he used to eat and then repeat the whole routine again. The other one was eating lettuce which was spread across the ground and we got close up view of her. Just outside their enclosure there was a small park, which housed many models of animals and Ar was busy in climbing on top of them and waiting for someone to click a pic with smiling face.

We had covered most of the zoo, except some parts which we did not find interesting, though we would have liked to do the waterfall trail, which passes along and behind it which would have been fun, but we were coming to the closing hours (5:00 pm) and had to cover few other things and were tired as well, so we moved on. Yes, we were back to the Skyfarry again and en-route spotted the gorillas again, though one of them had woken up by then and was moving around though grudgingly.

We got off the cable car and headed to the exit and as we were about to leave we spotted the Reptile trail just on our left and decided to cover it quickly. It was quite nice, which had few crocodiles (both of them lay motionless with there mouths wide open), many snakes and lizards, some of whom scarred Ar a bit. One thing which we liked in this zoo was connectivity here which has been well thought of and they have made all these connections to move from one part to another easy, which helped us in covering the zoo in the little time we had. It was almost 4:30 pm and time to say good bay to zoo, which we all liked.

Before heading home we had to cover couple of other attractions which were outside the zoo in the Balboa park area. One was a mini train, which was literally mini, not like the ones we commonly see and other was merry go round, which Ar was quite eager to hop on (actually she wanted to hop onto a horse, but a false moving one was just as good for her :)). First we hopped onto this mini train, me and Ar, which winded through the mini San Diego and Zoo, moving under a tunnel and ending the journey on the mini platform. It was fun, which I think Ar liked. Then we headed for the merry go round, but there was also a butterfly ride besides it which Ar went for.

That brought an end to a wonderful trip we had. We headed to our parking lot and picked the car and headed home. On the way back for most part traffic was thin, though it increased as we got closer to home. But we were back by 6:15 pm at home, as per plan. We did not rest a bit, as we had to celebrate Ar’s B’day, do the traditional ceremony and give Ar gifts ūüôā and a surprise! I hope Ar enjoyed it and would have nice memories of it for the future.

PS: I was so tired from the schedule we were in for past 2 days and my stomach was also not all well, so I ended up taking leave the next day. I had asked Ar also to take leave but she was determined to go (she does not like taking leaves from school like me :)) ! 

A Day at San Diego Zoo – I

04-Feb-2018: Ar’s B’day was coming up and we were thinking of plans to celebrate it. Off-course we wanted to go out to some place but were going back and forth on which one to go. We tried asking Ar few times but she was not giving any definitive answer. After many iteration we finally locked in Sand Diego zoo, which we had been wanting to visit for a some time now, but somehow never managed to go.

Once the tickets were booked through AAA (tickets are priced around $54 for adults and around 10 less for kids, but we got good deal of 15% off from them), we got busy in our daily chores and nothing much happened on this front, until the day before. We bought some stuff like chips and all and had planned to have lunch there only.  We had planned to leave early the next day so as to reach as close to the opening time of 9:00 am.

It was Sunday today, we woke up not too early and our pace was also quite slow. After we got ready,¬† we had a small B’day celebration at home, packed our bags and headed out. We were running really late. It was 10:30 am and we were supposed to be at the park around 9:00 am. Luckily the traffic was quite thin that day and we were cruising on I-5.

The road runs straight down south on I-5 and then as you near San Diego you take I-805, which takes you to the exit for the city, from where after negotiating the small and tricky city streets you enter the Balboa park. This parks houses many attractions and one of them is the zoo. So we were in the parking lot at around 11:44 am and it was quite empty and so we got parking in the 4th row. En-route Ar had had a nice sleep and we munched on old Hindi songs, the drive had been pleasant but the weather was quite hot.

After a short walk to the entrance, we entered the zoo, which is quite large and is one of the oldest and quite famous ones in US. We got the map at the entry and were trying to figure it out, which if you have been to any of these big theme/amusement parks would know can be quite intimidating at first. We spotted the bus stop near by and decided to take the round of the place first to get antiquated with it.

The queue was quite thin and we were told that today we had got the fast lane as it was Super bowl day and only few of the folks like us were outside. Though we would have got the place in the first bus, but it was on upper deck and we had learned that the lower deck is better, so we waited for the next bus and were kept entertained by our host. We were running quite late now, it was almost 12:30 pm and were bit worried if we would be able to complete the park or not. The next bus came as our mind was going through this thought and we got good seats.

The bus takes you past all the major exhibits. It starts with majestic Flamingo’s, then passing through the Lion’s den, Tigers abode and Elephants grass lands, it covers the African section, penguins and lot. Ar thoroughly enjoyed it and we got a great view of Lion, Tiger and many others. The round the park trip took 40 minutes and we were back to from where we had started. We then decided to visit the interesting exhibits on foot.

Right next door to the entrance is the Tiger trail. This passes through thick forest, taking us to home of some other animals like many types of monkeys etc, passing through the Hippos home, though we could catch only a glimpse as it was not in the water but tucked behind a rock at an height. We then reached the Tiger’s den, but were bit sad to see he was sleeping. We went over its viewing area which is expansive and were about to leave we spotted the yellow stripes and then the big feline was out in open. It roamed around a bit, then again went to his den, then was back again, climbing down to come closer to us. We got one of the best views of Tigers we have had. Ar was quite excited and was readily taking pics with him.

We then decided to move on. We were bit hungry by now, but as we had started late, we decided to cover some more before taking a break. Next up was the Panda zone. We started the trail and got to see the Panda. She was having a nice time and was doing lot of funny things, she even showed some of her good climbing skills which were impressive. Ar found her theatricals funny and was not ready to move from there. Though Tiger and Lion are always on the top list when you visit the zoo, but Panda for sure is the star attractions as they are not that common in most parts of the world.

We then were out of that trail and were trying to understand the map, to see where the food zone is. It seemed that it was closer to one end of the very high bridge which was straight in front of us. We saw stairs rounding up from the base to the top and were intimidated by them and were thinking there has to be some lift also, but the escalator which takes you to the top was even more impressive. I don’t think we had seen such a long running escalator, taking you to such a height, though it was divided in some parts. We got on it and really enjoyed the ride, with some great views and Ar jumping around.

As we reached the top, we were not sure if we were on the right side of the bridge and which side to go, so we asked one of the attendants who sit on the help desks at many places of the zoo. As it turned out, we were on the right side and the tree top cafe was just across the bent. It was a nice cozy tree house type cafe, though the food options were limited. We took Cheese Pizza Kids menu for Ar (yay!!), Sandwich for G and Fruit bowl (melon) for me as I was not feeling well.

We got good seats on the edge, closer to the waterfall and we just overlooked the bridge. Nice breeze was blowing and amongst soothing sound of falling water on that sunny afternoon we had a nice lunch. Ar had her B’day Pizza and she was all energy that day. We then took some break and rested there. It was now 3:00 pm and surprisingly we had managed to cover a lot, credit goes to Super Bowl as well.¬† We then decided to cover the remaining places we had marked on the map.

PS: This was the trip which Ar was enjoying in and out and she was full of energy for the whole day!



June/Jule 2008: Since childhood we had heard about the anual Wari piligrimage which takes place in the month of Aashadh which per Julian Calander would be June/July. As we used to keep moving our base due to father’s transferable job, I could not attend it. So finally when we were well setled in Pune and the oppurtunity which I was waiting for knocked on the door when Ashk asked us to join him for it. It was Sunday and so we all could go there. The plan was to first meet at Ashk’s place, then along with Ram go to Hadapsar at Sandy’s place and then head to Solapur road/Saswad road to take darshan of Paduka’s and join the Wari till the Saswad leg and return. Unfortuanelty I had some appointments later in the afternoon and so I was going to join the Wari till the start of the Deve ghat and then return.

So I woke up early, got ready and went to Ashk’s place. I was to come on my own bike as I had to return before others. We then moved towards Hadapsar and went to Sandy’s place to park our vehicles and walk the remaining way, which we had planed to start immediately. But Sandy had made all the arrangements for Breakfast and tea. After having a nice poha and tea, we were on our way.

We were heading towards the Saswad road, for which we crossed the Gliding Center on which we learnt few things that day. Per Sandy, this huge ground is used to fly the gliders and they also offer rides for newbies for a ticket. We were excited to do it one day, but Sandy was worried that it does not have an engine and more importantly can it hold him ūüôā . Nevertheless that was for another day. As we reached the road, we were not sure if the Palki has passed or not. So we walked back to Solapur junction and it seems Palki had just reached there.

Every year as part of Wari, Palki of¬†Dnyaneshwar maharaj and Tukaram¬†maharaj start from Alandi and Dehu respectively and make a 21 days journey to the temple of god Vithoba at Pandharpur on the day of¬†Ashadhi Ekadashi. Today was the 4th/5th day and the palki was to start from Pune city, where it had rested yesterday and pass through Hadapsar -> Deve Ghat and then rest for the night at Saswad. There were so many people, one can call it a sea of humanity, but no chaos pure order and bhakti. People were walking happily, chanting abhangas and greeting one another as Mauli.¬† All were equal and same. We saw the Palki approaching and we headed towards it. We got a good darhshan of Paduka’s of¬†Dnyaneshwar maharaj and Tukaram¬†maharaj.

We then joined the sea of people and were varkari’s. People from all over Maharashtra join this journey. Many a times they come as part of a group called Dindi, which has all the arrangements including a truck to carry there luggage and per need old and tired people. They have the medicines for emergency and also carry food and equipments along with cooks and support staff. The path of Wari is fixed including there stops and breaks.¬† Everyday they stop at a town or place and the trucks which normally move ahead would go and make the preparations for tents, cooking food etc for the varkaris belonging to there group. Also from whereever the Palki passes the locals arrange many things for the travellers like tea, snacks, water and places to stay or rest etc.

I along with others continued the journey till the start of the Deve ghat. The journey from here to the top as people say is amazing as the Palkis are pulled by bullocks and people and one has to see and be there once. But sadly it was not to be for me this time. I bid all others and headed back. It was such a great spiritual experience being there. Even the thought of continuing and going all the way to Pandharpur also crossed my mind. The enthusism of people, the eglatarism, happiness and hope is what I took back from the Wari.

It was bit diffcult to make my way back and to find Sandy’s place. But somehow I made it. I picked my bike and was on my way back home with being more enlightened and spiritual!