Trip To Grand Canyon

DSC0214101-Aug-2015: After a tiring day yesterday, today everyone woke up late. After getting our morning chores done we had tea and garma garam poha. Then it was time to go to our first stop of the day Grand Canyon. It is located in the neighboring state of Arizona and the Canyon is layered bands of red rocks formed due to millions of years of erosion by the river Colorado which cuts through it. Its one of the natural wonders of the world and is amazing to be at. There are 3 rims North, South and West to watch these majestic Canyons.

I had been to South rim before and it was unreal to watch. From the South Rim you can peer all the way down into the heart of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River runs a mile-deep from top. There are many vista points, outwardly hanging rock formations and though generally red in color, the Sun rays falling on the cliffs create multi hue color spectacle. It is indeed a mesmerizing sight and I was excited to go back to see it again.

Today though we were going to a different rim, the West one which is closer from Las Vegas. You basically take the I-93 S which merges to I-40 E and then you get on I-64 to reach the West side of the Grand Canyon and the journey takes around 5 hours with over 280 miles to cover. The route passes around Lake Mead, which is a water body formed out of Colorado river and we took a break there to see the great views.


The whole route is ghat section and with lots of twists and turns and G was bit uncomfortable through this section. The weather was also quite hot and so we avoided too many stop overs. On the way we had our lunch at a Mexican place and there we deliberated upon the activities to be done when we reach the park. We had two options, one was to do river water rafting, which was V’s choice, but as I and G had done that on river Bias in Himachal we wanted to go for the other one which was to go on the Skywalk!


Skywalk is an experience!0 Its a semi circular platform ring made of glass on which you walk. One end of Grand Canyon’s rim is 70 feet behind you and the other end is 3 miles in front of you and as you look down (if you have heart!) you see  —- nothing. There is nothing between your feet and the bottom of the Grand Canyon which is 2,000 feet below you. The constructors for this platform has done an amazing feet of engineering! I always wanted to do this and today was the opportunity. After lots of discussion, we finally picked this attraction.

We reached the West rim park by around 2:00 pm in the afternoon and straightaway went to the ticket booth. The ticket was priced I think $80 for adults and $60 for kids, which was on the higher side, but wait till you get on the Skywalk and its worth it. Not all of us joined in, I think we were 6-7 who went for it. After passing through the lobby and short walkway, here we were standing 2000 ft in air literally. I don’t think G saw much of the bottom, but I and Ar had a great experience walking there. We even sat there and the experience is hard to explain. You can see the bottom of the Canyon and the river flowing below you and the view of the rim opposite to you is enchanting. Not to mention we clicked many pics there and spent lot more time there than we had planned for.


It was after this memorable experience we decided to explore the Grand Canyon rims from the vista points. This is indeed a natural wonder of the world and you get lost in history of this place,which is not few hundred or few thousand years but goes back millions of years. You could spend the whole day exploring this place. Off course we did not had so much time and surprisingly were already hungry as well. So we sat on the benches there and had some snacks brought with us and also go some snacks for kids from the eating joint there which had a huge queue and consumed more than half and hour of our time.


As we came back to the table and were having food, some distance further from the rim we spotted a nice hillock tucked with boulders. We were excited to have some trek and leaving the ladies behind, we went to scale it. I was having a real trek after a long time and was enjoying all of it. At first we had to scale small rocks and boulders, but as we approached the top we had to pass on big ones, some as tall as meter. It was tiring, but finally we made it to the top and were glad we came. The top of hillock, which constituted only one rock where at max 3-4 people could stand was actually the edge of the rim and it offered unparalleled view of the valley and the river. We stood there for long time, before we were called back 😉 The journey back was equally interesting with the boulders and rocks really testing us.


Grand Canyon parks gives special preference to local Indian communities for jobs and opportunities, which was nice to see. After our tummies full, we explored the park a bit more which along with other things had a huge horse ranch. All of us even got our pics clicked sitting on the horses there. There were some other activities to do, but as we were getting late and also it was quite hot outside we left. As we were leaving I remembered a funny but embarrassing incident from my last visit here. At that time we had come with a group and our guide (Terry) had given us clear instructions to be back in 45 mins.

Now leaving aside if 45 mins can do justice to this place, we were on our way back in the given time range when I and P spotted one souvenir shop. In those days we were lot into souvenir thing and so we went there to explore and we lost the sense of time. At some point what we see is couple of our friends coming running towards us and asking to hurry. On the way they told us Terry is angry as hell and was even planning to leave without us. But our friends somehow convinced him to give them 5-10 mins to find and get us back. We were lucky they found us otherwise we might have to camp there only :). As we entered the bus all our co travelers gave us round of claps and we went and took our seats with our faces covered :):).

So it was time to say goodbye to this gem of place, which you can’t explore enough. I am sure we would be back here sooner than later.




Trip to Las Vegas – Part II


31-Jul-2015: The weather was bit okay today as even at night it can be quite hot in here. Last few times when I was here it was so bad to walk outside even though they used to have these water sprinklers on the facades of the Casinos which at least kept the walkways moist, but no better. We continued the walk and saw few other spectacular properties like of Newyork Newyork, no prize for guessing the theme of this one and MGM which was at one point the biggest Casino there. I remember being there earlier and they had this real lion roaming around in the Casino den above you which was a sight to see & fear as well :). There used to be a white tiger also in some Casino, I don’t remember which one was that. There are more animals in LV than in zoo, I think 🙂


We saw few more Casinos from outside and then as we reached the Mandela Bay Casino where we decided to explore it from inside. Inside the casino you hear the familiar sound of the ticking of slot machines, coins and see the tables of poker and various games. As we had kids with us, who are not allowed in the playing area, basically there is a line in every Casino and the kids can’t cross that, we did not try our hand on any. In my earlier visits we had tried some luck on poker and slot machines off course with no good result 😦  Last time we had been to the LV, we went to Madame Tussaud’s, which was my first time at any of their museums, but as G and Ar had already been to their Hollywood one, we skipped it this time!

By this time kids were getting kinda bored, so we went to this children’s play area, where they had many shooting games, ball games, cars etc. Ar had some nice time there and by then we were also quite tired and hungry. We were thinking where to eat. I remember couple of instances from my earlier visits when we had been to this Indian place called Tamba which was nice and once we being quite tired and hungry saw only Mac D near by and for veg burger they had one cheese slice and one lettuce leaf stuffed between pair of buns:(, which we reluctantly had!, I also remember in one of the earlier visits being to Rainforest cafe for the first time and this is the place I really like especially the decor with feel of really jungle with the animals joining the party Fortunately we found this nice place today where they had some nice veg sandwiches. With our tummies full, we did some more sightseeing and then headed back to the pickup area close to top of the hour.

We were quite tired, especially the kids were eager to just go back and fall on bed, but the hour passed and we were still waiting. We might have stood there for over 45 mins when finally the shuttle arrived and dropped us back. It was almost 11:00 pm when we reached our room and we just fell on bed and went to sleep.

PS: Few day later I got a toll bill and I remember scratching my head for long time to figure it out, finally realizing we had taken a toll road in Laguna section en route to LV and it was pay back time 🙂

Also one of the interesting sight in LV is when the day breaks and if you go out to take a stroll or drive around it feels like a ghost town as there is hardly anyone around at that time. LV is awake at night and sleeps during day time!

Trip to Las Vegas – Part I

WP_20150731_00931-Jul-2015: I have been to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon before and now that G and Ar had arrived few months back wanted to go with them to visit these places. So we  were waiting for the right time to go as we have been travelling too much lately and so when an opportunity came to go with some other folks the plan fell into place. There was one more family of 4 and one of our colleague who were to go with us. The plan was a short trip as it was difficult to take more leaves at that time. So we were to leave bit early on Friday and then be there over the weekend and be back by Sunday evening. As we were going in a big group, we booked a 3 room condo which was around 2 miles from the strip.

I think there is something with Friday’s and Las Vegas. Last few times as well when I traveled there, we had left on Friday eve. Its important to leave early though else you get stuck in traffic. I remember the first time we going there, we encountered heavy rains that too in the mountain section to add to the traffic which had slowed to snails pace and which caused us to reach LV quite late, I think it was early morning next day! But it was nice in a way as we were to get our hotel next day only, so it worked out fine, but still we had to sleep in car for few hours in the parking lot of the Hotel (Imperial palace) before we got the keys! Next time around we were better planned and we had stayed in downtown LV in the famous Four Seasons hotel which was quite nice.

So coming back to our times, the day we were to go was as expected packed with work (Moore’s law!). Finally I was able to wrap it up and left for home. G and Ar were already ready. So I got ready quickly, had my lunch and then we loaded the car and were on the way by around 3:00 pm. I thought there was less air in our car’s tires and so V had brought with him the air pressure checker and pump. All tires appeared to be fine and so assured we left. We took the El toro road and hit the freeway. The traffic had started building by now, it being Friday evening and our progress was slow. The route to take is I-15 which takes you straight to Vegas. Once we hit I-15 we started making good progress. As you move towards and beyond Barstow the geography starts changing as it becomes more dry, rocky with hardly any trees, yes you enter the desert.


On the way we stopped a bit at a hotel to refresh, have some home made bhadang and refilled the gas at the pump. It was quite hot and dry which is not very pleasant. It was by providence as we got in the car and might have gone 5 mins we spotted dark clouds approaching and then it started raining heavily. It might have rained for over half an hour and it changed the weather completely. My kind of weather :). Later there was nice breeze blowing and we had nice time driving with our sun roof opened and windows lowered. It was late evening now and as we approached Vegas you get this spectacular view of lights and you know you are about to enter this magnificent city. I still remember being here some time back when we had entered the city at night and we could see the sparkling lights from miles on the freeway!


We headed straight towards out hotel/condos, which was outside the strip. These were managed by some hotel chain and had other amenities as well. The rooms were big, each one having big beds, TV and then a kitchen area to cook. We unwound there a bit and then got ready to explore the city. They have bus service every hour which drops and later picks you up from the strip. The Strip is this famous 4.2 miles long street in the middle of new Vegas lined by Casinos and hotels. We were dropped behind the Mirage Casino which is at one end of the Strip and then we headed out. Our first stop was Mirage only who have this Volcano show when every 30 mins or so this Volcano erupts with high flares which is sight to see.

Then we saw the Venetian from the outside only, which is Venice themed Casino with all the bells and whistles of the gondolas plying on the canal with shopping centers lined along its banks. They also have a unique interior which gives you a feeling of night sky when you enter during day time and a sunny sky when you enter during night. When it comes to being over the top nothing beats LV.

To it you can add the Treasure island Casino who has this live pirate show with canon firing and gun shots and is quite entertaining, which we could not see this time unfortunately. Then there is this very tall Stratosphere, rising in the sky with a UFO like disk at the top. They also have ride which drops you from that height which would be cool and then you can’t forget the Luxor which is Egyptian themed Casino and is in the shape of a Pyramid and the star attraction is this high powered white light beam which is projected from the center to the sky. It is so powerful you can spot it from anywhere in LV and beyond!


We then had a view of few other Casinos like Alladin, Paris which has the famous replica of Eiffel towers and we clicked some nice pics there as well. Then we crossed the streets through this wonderful bridge and there are many of this kind which are an art in itself and got on the side of the Bellagio Casino. This is one of the landmarks of Vegas and has this huge lake in front of it which has a musical fountain show which happens every 15 minutes. I don’t remember what all songs were played when we were there but it is a show not to be missed.

The first time we had been to LV Bellagio’s musical fountain was the show which we could not move ahead from, it was so good! By now we were tired a bit and so we entered the Bellagios shopping complex and had some ice cream sitting on the stair case. The interiors of many of the Casinos are so spectacular and has great architecture lined with all the luxury shops. Many different live shows also keep happening in LV and this time around we didn’t see any, not that we saw much in earlier visits leave alone some like Circus, Pirates and few.

Barbara Lake And Irvine Spectrum


30-Dec-2016: I was on long leave and we were going around places. Some time back we had got his tickets for rides in Irvine Spectrum which we had not completely exhausted and so wanted to use that. But we also wanted to go out some place to have lunch. So we decided to go to some park/beach etc for lunch and then head towards Irvine Spectrum. Considering how late we were and time on our hand we decided to drop beach etc and through of going to this lake called Barbara lake which is en-route to our final destination. So G got the lunch ready ,which was parathas and we packed up and left.


Barbara lake is one of the natural lakes here (many are artificial) and in the Laguna area. It is on Laguna Canyon road as is tucked in between the hills. There is an entry gate close to a mile before the lake, where you have to park and rest you have to hike. After parking we started the hike, which at the beginning did not sound very exciting. It was after noon and was fairly hot and also most of the area was dry wilderness. There are many rolling hills through which you hike to reach the lake. Ar was not interested and wanted to go home. Seeing the lake and may be ducks! kept her going. The route is pretty straight forward and well marked. There were only few people around but the place was not quite as the hike is parallel to the highway (CA 133) and you continuously here the vehicles passing by.


On the way there were hardly any trees and so no shade, but suddenly the area started turning green with lots of trees and we knew we are close to the lake. Finally we reached the lake which at that time was quite small, though in good rainy season it would be quite big.  What we liked the most the natural setup of the lake and the forest surrounding it as we were quite bored by the many artificial man made lakes with perfectly curated park and tress around it. Another natural thing about it was there were no benches to sit and unfortunately thinking that there would be ones we had not picked the sheet in our cars trunk. We used some paper and even the back pack to sit along the shore. It was so quite there and bit cool due to water. There were few ducks in the lake, some swimming close to us. We had nice lunch alongside such a nice and serene place. After the lunch we would have very much liked to have a nice siesta alongside such a nice place, but we had other engagements and so we had to leave.

The way back as the way in was not much exiting. We just drugged along the trial to reach the parking. We were quite tired and thought of going back home crossed our mind, but Ar was excited to go do the rides and so we jumped in the car and headed north towards Irvine. We were going to the Irvine Spectrum complex, which is large and nice complex of shops and entertainment zone. It is strategically located in between I-5 and I-405. The parking is huge and is located close to the complex. The Complex is a sky open boulevard flanked by shops. The architecture is Mediterranean and is really nice place to shop and unwind oneself. We like to come here once a while and it has an added attraction of rides and other activities.


They have rides like Merry go round, Giant wheel, train along with some seasonal attractions. You can but individual ride ticket ($5) or you could buy a ride book which include 4 tickets for each ride ($51).  We had got the book last time and had enjoyed the rides but there some tickets left (2 of train, 2 Carousal and 1 Giant wheel).

So this was a good time to exhaust the remaining tickets. So G ad Ar went to the train ride, then Ar did the Carousal which by the way is her favorite and G and Ar did the Giant wheel (we bought one more). I was mainly the photo and videographer 🙂 There was also the ice rink, but we did not do it. The Giant ride especially is really good, it being one the tallest in US and you get a nice view from the top. Especially in the night the view is spectacular, with the whole wheel lit in multi colored led lights and you get the city lights view from the top. Today luckily there was no rush as usual and so we were done in 1 – 1/2 hours and ready to head home.

We did couple of thing today but enjoyed a lot, especially Ar who was looking forward to rides for some time.

Last day of 2016!

31-DEC-2016: Normally we don’t have any special plans for 31st. Typically we just spend some time with family, may be cook something together, watch a movie or so and then take to bed. This time around I was on long leave and we have been thinking about going for a cruise, so booking a cruise for the night of 31st sounded an interesting idea. We booked the cruise in advance as normally the sits fill up quickly. This was from Davy’s Locker called the Boat light parade cruise, which takes off from the Balboa pier of Newport beach. We were on the 8:10 pm slot and it was going to be 2 hours long. The cruise goes around the Newport harbor passing by many houses located on the water front, close enough for you to see their Holiday decoration and lighting’s.

We were going to have home cooked dinner. So G got the dinner packed along with few snack items and juice. We got there bit early, it was around 6:00 pm as we thought we may not get parking later and also we could go around a bit. We had decided to park in the Balboa pier parking lot, same place we had parked when I had been to Catalina island. But as we pulled in, the person on duty informed us that they have closed for the day and so you would have to do street parking. So bit sad we got on the road again, thinking when and where we would get the parking, but luckily just opposite to this parking lot on the other side of the street there was a slot available on the street. We parked there and paid for the parking for next 4 hours.

Now we had long time to kill and though normally there are lot of activities to do on the pier, but due to it being 31st everything was closed. Also it was very cold outside, kind of chilling, so we deiced to stay put in the car only. We even turned on the heater in the car, it was that cold! After a while we got bored and decided to walk the shoreline and explore the place a bit. So we moved along the shore, passing by many houses. It was dark by then, but the lights had lit up the harbor. Many of the houses we saw had some cool Christmas decorations, some having moving decos and were really nice. The reflection of lights in the harbor water was sight to see. We would have walked more, but it was quite chilly and we decided to head back to the comforts of our car.

We were hungry by then and so had our dinner. For dinner we had home made pattice, which though cold by now tasted yummy! Again the actual plan was to have it sitting along the harbor, but it was just not possible in this weather. It was a memorable experience to have dinner in the Car and we had nice songs playing in the background for company. Once done there was still some time in our hand and so we had a quick nap 🙂 Now it was close to 7:30 pm and we decided to head to the cruise office. First off we got in the wrong line, it was for the one slot before us, which we realized just before boarding the ship :). So we got back and stood underneath the shade of the office. It was not as comforting as inside the office itself, but we wanted to be close to the front of the line to get better seats :). Then it started raining, thankfully we had had our umbrellas, but we were worried about this whole plan being washed away. Thankfully the rains stopped in a bit, but made it even more chilling! We weathered on and finally our cruise came and they started boarding.

The cruise was nice and quite big than we had anticipated. There were 2 decks and we straight away headed to the top one to get a better view and experiences, hoping and praying it does not start raining again. The lower deck was enclosed and cozy and though the upper deck also had seating arrangements they were open to sky and it was very cold and became even more when the ship started moving 🙂 . The boarding was done quickly and the ship started and we were on our way. We were now cruising in the harbor and getting some nice views of the bay. There are many houses on the shoreline and many of them have there personal boats or yachts, which were also artistically decorated.

There were not many boats moving in the harbor itself, which is normally the case except for few like us, some of them had a full blow party going on their decks. Ours was more sober, with light music and cruising along slowly.  Many of the houses had nice decos, some which I remember well were showcasing events from Christs life, one who had created a big clock with multiple color lights and then reindeer, snowman, snowing effect etc.

At first we were quite excited to stand on the deck along the railings watching the spectre, but then as the night advanced it became really chilly. Now we would have liked to head to the lower deck, but off course it was all packed :). Somehow we managed to get under some shelter on our deck only, which protected us from the breeze at least. I and Ar got bored eventually and then decided to head to the tail of the Ship. Not only you get good views from here, but the the thrust from the exhaust creates nice waves and shapes in the water. It was so peaceful being on water. Year 2016 was passing us by and we were ushering into the new year, though we were few hours away.

We had already taken the U turn and now were seeing the other side from close quarters. One lesson for us was to get hand gloves and add more layers of clothes. The return trip was bit uneventful except that we were almost frozen! We finally landed and rushed towards the parking lot. After turning the heater on full blast, we became bit normal and then pulled the car and headed south along the pacific coast highway. Its always nice to drive on PCH, nights are even better, but the 31st made it memorable. Earlier we had thought that we could go someplace else after the cruise, but the cold got into us and we decided to just head home. We were back by 11:00 pm and thus ended an eventful year 2016 and welcome to year 2017!

Eaton Waterfalls Trail


06-Nov-2016: There were no specific plans for today but we wanted to go somewhere hiking. We have been doing hiking since some time and so decided to keep the momentum. One thing which had been missing from our sojourns here has been waterfalls (leave aside the Niagara!) as there aren’t many. Also we were passing through one of the longest drought’s in California’s history and even the reservoirs were empty, so waterfalls was long shot. But in our research on the places to go around we found this location called Eaton waterfalls which is located in the Angeles forest north east of LA. Per the latest blogs we read on the net it had water at that point in time and so even if the place was bit far away we decided to head there.

We had to leave really early considering the early sunsets during this time of the year, but as usual we got bit late and started only around 9:30 am. G had plans to have sandwiches there for lunch and so she packed veggies, bread, etc along with other snacks items and juice. Eaton falls is located close to Altadena and which was over 70 miles from our place and took us well over 2 hours to reach. The route you take is I-405 N and then onto I-605 N and take exit at Altadena Dr. The weather was quite cold and it was going to be an interesting day. The traffic was light and we enjoyed the drive.

As we exited the Altadena Dr, from here to the destination was small road passing through few towns. I was not happy with the direction GPS was showing as in the map I could see a better route so I changed to Google maps on my mobile. Its quite intriguing that each app show different paths and one is better than the other on its day! So we thought we were now on the right path and had now entered the foothills which had winding roads. This part was even colder due to hills and good forest cover. It felt nice being there.


We somehow missed the entrance, blame the GPS ;). But I think it was G who had spotted the entrance on the way and so we rerouted and after some winding turns and reached the entrance. There is a big entry gate for the Eton Canyon Natural Area Park and they have nice gardens, a museum about the local habitat and people, a small picnic area and big parking lot. It was almost 12:00 pm and we were running bit late. We were hungry too! So we first got a table, cleaned it up a bit and opened our bag to prepare some yummy sandwiches. Sitting under a big tree and in the middle of a jungle we had nice lunch. It was already 2:00 pm and we had to get going as we had to start back and pass LA before dark, though we were bit lazy after nice lunch and won’t have minded for a nice nap 🙂


We filled our backpacks, had juice and started the hike. There are many small hills around here and many marked trails. So initially it appeared to be a plain hike and we were not sure if coming all the way down here was worth it. One another thing which I remember was using Google maps a lot to find the falls as there are many forks to the trail and sometimes it can be bit confusing. After continuing the walk we all were pretty bored and decided that lets turn back after walking for 5 more mins. Our map was showing the fall around 2 miles from here, but the hike looked so plain and vegetation mostly dry, we were not excited to continue. But in some time the hike completely transformed as we entered a dense forest, it was colder here, but was nice to hike. We then passed under a bridge, which was one of the oldest in the area and is called bridge to nowhere and is quite famous. It used to connect Altadena to some hamlet I think, but is no longer in active use.


And then we heard something.. a sweet sound.. off course it was unmistakably a stream. From here on it becomes real fun, kind of adventure, bit difficult to put down in words. There was small gorge formed here, stream traversing through it and all around us was thick forest cover. We rested here a bit to enjoy the scenery which was looked as if it had come out of a painting. There were couple of logs fallen on the stream path and we all sat on one, water flowing past and below us. Now was the real hike was starting.

From here on you just keep following the stream, which is fairly wide in size and under drought condition still had lots of water. Upstream from here is the waterfall and this stream would have it sources in the Angeles mountain. The stream was following a serpentine path and there are few places where you keep crisscrossing it. At the points where you have to cross it, the stream is like a small river, they have placed big stones or wood log etc and its so fun to step on them to cross, I think the most happy here was Ar.  There were fair number of people around and at these points there used to be a small jam as only 1-2 people could cross at a time. We could just imagine what this place would be like once it rains nicely!

As you start approaching the fall, the small stones, rocks on the path turn into big boulders and the water flows underneath or through the gaps. The boulders are pretty big some over a meter in height and give you nice calf and joint exercise. No doubt Ar was doing nice through out, but in this section with only little help she was at ease and was negotiating the trail nicely and enjoying it. Finally we could hear the fall and though we were bit tired, we rushed though the last few rocks.


The water falls from fair height and there are in fact 2 falls here. The upper falls which is closed for public access and the lower falls where we were. We all love the sound of the falls and all our hard work and persistence was worth it. The water slides down the stones and it has created a small pool or pond at the base. There were so many people around but it still felt so quite. We were in middle of jungle on the foothills along the falls. The water was cold though, so I and G stayed away, but as Ar got going, she even would have dived in it 🙂 She was not ready to come out of it and was enjoying the splash, but finally what brought her out may have been the juice bottle which G pulled from the backpack. Sitting on the rocks we ate and had juice.


It was such a nice place that our feet were not turning back. But it was around 3:30 pm and was getting dark and so we had to start back. We had planned to be part of or follow some group as on the way we had encountered multiple paths and we were bit concerned about getting lost (yeah!) amid my mobile also having low battery. But as no one seemed ready to move on (neither were we!), we got going. We kept following the stream and on the intersections we were trying to remember which was the right path. We did fairly well; though at couple of points we were having second thoughts, but G showed the way.  There was one point where there is this small cave, which looked quite old, may have been used by early settlers here! We could now see the sun going down the horizon which was such an amazing sight. On the way we talked a lot and also clicked many pics which we had avoided doing earlier (to conserve the mobile battery). Ar was in full speed and was racing with us. In the end we all were quite tired, but we enjoyed every bit of it.


We reached the base around 4:30 pm. We refreshed and also had a look at the museum which was quite nice. We had a long ride back and left around 5:00 pm. Not surprisingly we encountered heavy traffic en route and reached home around 8:00 pm. It had been a tiring day, but I can say that this was a gem of a place and one of the best hikes we had and we have had many!

PS:We would definitely return 🙂 . We also have to find more about the bridge to nowhere 🙂

Jyotiba Temple & Panhala Fort – Day 3

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02-Oct-2017: Woke up early today as there was so much to do. We got ready and did the checkout formalities. We decided to even have tea later on. The hotel was next to railway line and we saw few of them passing by which was a nice sight. We left the hotel at 8:00 am and went straight to Gokul restaurant. We had misal and batate vada sambar. We also had tea. Refreshed we moved towards Jyotiba temple. Jyotiba temple is located around 20 km from here and located on Jyotiba hill. It took us around half an hour to reach there. There are multiple entrances to the temple, one at the top of the hill where you arrive after you ascend the ghat, the actual temple being bit downhill from here. Another entrance is close to the temple and now a days they have a road which descents to the parking spot near it. But on that day due to some reason it was closed and we had to park at the top and descend many steps to the temple which was bit of excursion for Aai.

We had nice darshan at the temple and then after spending some time there and then ascended the steps back to the parking spot. It was around 10:30 am and we were thinking of what next. In the three days of our trip we had not really done some sightseeing or went to see some place and so we wanted to do something to that affect. So we decided to head towards Panhala fort which is around 12 km from here and takes around 20 mins to reach. As we descended the Jyotiba hill and touched the main road, from where we took right turn we could see the majestic fort from a distance on our left hand side. But as we continued on this road, we saw it going away from us. Off-course we were heading towards wrong direction :). So after checking with locals we realized we were headed in opposite side, so we took the u turn and were now on the right path. In some time we started ascending the ghat towards the fort.

The roads here are really nice and well maintained. This fort is the Taluka headquarter and has a living population of 5000+. The ghat section is beautiful and down below we could see lush green valley and fields. We reached at the top in 7-8 mins and were at the chowk there which has statue of Baji Parbhu Deshapande, wielding 2 swords in his each hand reminiscent of the famous battle of Pavan khind. Now we have been to this fort few times in childhood, but this was our visit after long time and so we wanted to explore the fort in detail. There are few guides who offered to show us around, but as our car was full there was no much space to accommodate them.  So we decided to explore it on our own.


We went around for some time but were not sure if we were heading anywhere. On the way we spotted Tabak udyan, so we parked there and were thinking of exploring it. Luckily at that time a guy came on bike and offered to be our guide to take us around the fort. As he had his own vehicle it was perfect for us and his fees was if I remember correctly Rs 300 was reasonable. We were glad we found him, rather he found us else we wont have been able to see much. So he first gave some info on the fort and then took us to our first spot which was Sajja. This was a palace from the day of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and this is where the plan to break out of Siddi Johar’s vedha (encirclement) was made and from here only on that historic night Maharaj left in palki with 600 bandals towards Vishalgadh. This was also the place where Maharaj last met with Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.

This palace was of 2 levels and had multiple rooms. We explored the ground floor and then through stairs went to 1st floor. This room had good arches and some nice features. It also had big windows with nice views. It always feel so great being at the places where historic events had taken place. We were also interested to know the place from where on that historic day Maharaj descended the fort and crossed the vedha, which he told is at some distance from here and we would be visiting that too. We then descended and went to see some tatbandi (fortification) around this place. The next stop was one of the buruj which had a steep climb of 25-30 steps, The view from top was breath taking and has a good vantage point. From here on one could also see the bunglows of dyons of marathi film industry, Bhalji pendharkar, V Shantaram and all.


Our next stop was to see the spot we wanted to see earlier, the place from where Maharaj descended the fort and it passed through thick jungle. If I would have come with our group or would have had more time, would have liked to go and explore it more. For next time, maybe!  We then moved to see a very interesting place, called Andhar Bawdi (Hidden well). It is a three storied structure having two levels located underground. At the base is a hidden step well. This structure would help protect the well from the enemies whose first act would be to poison the water in it.  The upper level is road facing and so as the enemy storms the fort, they don’t see the underground structures nor the guards stationed at the basement, who then could surprise them. This well was the drinking water source for the inhabitants of the Fort. The back side of Andhar Bawdi is also well fortified by two layers of thick stone wall and it also has escape routes in case of emergency.  From the fortification one gets excellent views of the fort and the valley.

Our next stop was Teen Darwaza (Three doors) which are at walk able distance from Andhar Bawdi. It is one of the gateways to the Fort from Konkan side. The doors have been constructed in such a way that the enemy entering from the main door from Konkan side cannot see another two doors until they are fully in by which time the guards stationed there can surprise them. The doors would have been huge and strong to withstand even the charge by the elephant. The doors have beautiful arches having nice carvings.


Our next visit was to visit the Bale Killa (Citadel), which also houses the Ambarkhana (Warehouse) and is located at the center of the Fort. There are three granaries in this structure, having names Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati to store rice, varai and nachni and are huge, having capacity of around 25OOO quintals of rice. The rice collected from country would be poured from holes on the top of the high ceiling. The structure itself has huge pillars and they connected by arches which look imposing and beautiful.The Ambarkhana used to be fortified by 15 meter deep trenches to prevent attacks. This whole area is encircled by fortification and was part of the Citadel.

There were few more places to visit like Tararani’s palace, Shiva Kashid’s statue and memorial, but due to that day being election day some parts were closed and we could not visit them. So we were at the end of our tour and decided to have lunch on the fort itself. We were thirsty as well and chaas just outside the fortification of Bale Killa was perfect drink! From there we saw a hotel just opposite to it. We decided to try it out. They had freshly prepared bhakari, zhunka with thecha and chaas as menu. The food was really nice and the ambiance of we sitting in front of Bale Killa of Panhala was just perfect! We relaxed there for some time and would have liked to spend the whole day on the fort itself. But home was also calling and with our tummies filled, we decide to head back. We didn’t had to go back to Kolhapur as there was bypass connecting to the highway at some distance from Panahala and in some time we were on our way.


The weather was just perfect, cloudy with cool breeze. I think most of us took some nap and we didn’t stop until just before the Khambatki ghat at Aaram hotel. This is a new hotel and last time we had missed coming here. Its very large and has many sections for different cuisines. We had some south indian snacks, batata vada and tea. Just as we were having our snacks it started raining heavily, really heavily and I got one more chance of enjoying the monsoon after many years. We had to wait for more than an hour for the rains to stop and then we headed home. As we entered Pune from Katraj we got some traffic till we reached home at around 6:00 pm. Thus came to conclusion a nice, spiritual and relaxing trip.

PS: With Panhala fort covered (though had been here few times in childhood) and my earlier coverage of Vishalgadh fort and Pavankhind the historic circuit was complete.