24 Hours in Pune – What to do,see and where to eat

I think I am on to making some kind of a New Year traveling trend for myself – traveling to and exploring a new city within the country. Last year I went to Ahmedabad (read about the trip here) and 2017 started with a trip to Pune. Despite spending a couple of months in the outskirts of the city a few years ago and a few trips last year, this is the first time I saw the city like a traveller would. Here’s what you can do, see and eat if you are in the city for 24 hours.

Shaniwar Wada, Pune

Shaniwar Wada, Pune

Continue reading

Advertisements

Farm-to-Table at Madhuban Agritainment, Roha

When was the last time you slept under the stars, ate a meal made with freshly plucked vegetables from the farm or spent an entire day sitting in the midst of trees with no mobile network to disturb you? Around 125 kms away from Mumbai, in a small town called Roha, a farm offers all this and more. Madhuban Agritainment is located about 5 km drive away from the main Roha city and is a beautiful location to spend a quiet weekend and detox (physical, mental and digital).

The 50 acre farm owned by Dhananjay Joshi, the third generation farmer, is completely organic. Joshi took a conscious decision to convert his farm in 2006 when his father died of Aesophagus cancer and realised that pesticides used in farming are the major culprit. Joshi grows all kinds of seasonal vegetables, fruits, millets along with mango, rice, cashew and kokum – the major crops of the Konkan region. The farm houses a cowshed which takes care of the compost and also provides organic milk. A man-made pond in the farm harvests rainwater and is also used for prawns and fish farming, none of which is on the menu (the food here is completely vegetarian).

Madhuban Agritainment, Roha

Madhuban Agritainment, Roha

Continue reading

Konkanastha Brahmin Menu at JW Marriott Sahar and Panchamrut Recipe

Every trip that you make, to distant shores or a village close-by, leaves you enriched with new experiences, culture and abundant knowledge of food – something that’s been inspiring me to travel more. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Konkan region of Maharashtra with the chefs and marketing team of JW Marriott Sahar. The idea was to learn about the Konkanastha Brahmin cooking straight from the people of that community.

I have written about the trip on India Food Network

We drove to Guhagar and Diveagar where we stayed at homestays and ate at the khanaval – local eateries. The locals opened their hearts and kitchens and taught us their family recipes. We watched young girls shaping perfect modaks, learnt to make hand-made rice sewai from an old grandmother and snacked on the most fabulous awla candy with cardamom flavoured raw mango sherbet. We even visited a mango farm and picked raw mangoes, fresh kokum fruit and cashews. Continue reading

Jawhar – Paradise near Mumbai

The best part of traveling is when you find paradise in an unexpected place. We weren’t expecting much of Jawhar when a friend recommended it as a weekend getaway. A place in Thane District, around 180 kms from Mumbai, how beautiful or serene can it be, we thought. But a 3 hour drive to a hilly place close by vs the 7 hour tiring one to Mahabaleshwar sounded like a better idea to us. So we packed our bags, checked the map and left for this little village.
How to reach there
There are no tourist buses to Jawhar, train will only take you till Dahanu Rd. station from where it’s difficult to get a public transport. Hence driving or hiring a cab is the best idea. If you are on Western Suburbs drive towards Ghodbunder Road and get on to NH8. Make sure you have a full tank and GPS connection, switch it on and keep following the route.
 
Where to stay
There are just 3-4 hotels in Jawhar. We stayed at Shanti Sarovar Resort. Located near Jaysagar lake, the hotel is a perfect location. They offer a package with 3 meals. We paid Rs 1700 per head for the non AC room and lunch, dinner and breakfast. The rooms are clean but make sure you take the one facing the lake with a small balcony. The food is decent with dal, sabzi, roti, rice and a non vegetarian dish for lunch and dinner. We had a decent omelette and bread for breakfast. Other than the hotel, the town does not have many options to eat. However, if you go during monsoons eating bhajiyas and pav pakodas at the roadside stalls is a good idea.
 

 

 
What to see
The Jaysagar dam on Jaysagar lake is just 5 miutes away from Shanti Sarovar Resort. It’s beautifully peaceful near the lake, even with the sound of the water flowing through the dam. 
 

 

 
Around 18 kms from Jawhar, towards Silvassa, is Dabhosa waterfall. The 300 feet high waterfall on Lendi river is surrounded by thick forest.
 
The journey more beautiful than the destination

 

The road to Jawhar is mostly good except for some rough patches. The route is full of beautiful landscapes. I probably saw all shades of green in this trip. There were beautiful farms, paddy fields and small vineyards on the way from Jawhar to Dabhosa. Small streams of river will make you want to jump into them or just dip your feet in the cool river water and sit for hours.
 

 

 

 

 
This sleepy Hamlet so close to Mumbai is still untouched by the crowd running towards Lonavla every monsoons. If you are planning to do the same I’d suggest you take a U-turn and head to Jawhar instead.

 

A trip to Bhandardara

Bhandardara is Maharashtra’s sleepy Hamlet set amidst the Sahyadri mountains and is best visited during monsoons. But we (me and my husband) decided to go there last weekend mainly to get away from the fast life, social media and noise. We took an early morning passenger train from Dadar and reached Igatpuri around 9 am. From Igatpuri we took an auto rickshaw which cost us Rs 500. Other options are to either take a cab which will cost you around Rs 1000 or take a shared rick till Ghoti and from there take a shared jeep to Bhandardara. There are ST buses too from Igatpuri to Bhandardara but can not be relied on due to low frequency. A drive from Mumbai to Bhandardara takes around 31/2 hours.

We reached Bhandardara and checked into our room in the MTDC resort by the Arthur lake. There are other small hotels too with rooms but none gives a view as beautiful as the MTDC resort.
Beautiful Bougainvillea flowers adorned the roads and the lake sides.
I sat there by the quiet lake…
and scribbled on my notepad.
For lunch we went to a restaurant in the small market which serves Maharashtrian, Chinese and regular North Indian food. MTDC has a canteen too but we don’t think that they cook in very hygienic conditions. We ordered 2 rice plates which came with dal fry, ussal, chhole, chapatis and rice.
The food was good but very spicy and we were dreaded by the thought of eating the same food for dinner when my brother-in-law called and told us about this small place called Kaka Gujarati Thali . The only catch is that you have to inform the owner at-least 2 hours in advance and he’ll prepare the dinner for you. On our way back we told him to prepare 2 thalis for us, each thali costs Rs 120.
After a little afternoon nap, a walk on the hills and by the lake and watching the Sunset we went for dinner at around 8pm. Yes, villages have early evenings hence early dinner. We were served a thali with lovely kadhi, aloo ki sabzi, sev ki sabzi, salad, hot rotis and khichdi. The food was fresh and very homely with no overwhelming spices. The owner, a middle aged Gujarati man, serves you as if you are his guests which makes the experience even better.
We called it an early night since we had planned to go for early morning boating in the lake and watch the Sunrise. The view was beautiful as we saw Sun coming out from behind a hill while we sat in the middle of the lake. It was quiet, serene and enchanting. In all the excitement I forgot to take the camera along and couldn’t take pictures of the beautiful Sunrise.
For breakfast we went to the same Gujarati place to grab a plate of hot poha. While our breakfast was getting ready we couldn’t stop ourselves from hogging on the yummy bhajias and batata vadas with chai at this nearby stall called Jai Hind.
Since we wanted a quiet weekend we stayed away from sight seeing but if you want you can go and check out the Wilson Dam, Mount Kalsubai, Agastya Rishi Ashram, Ratangad Fort and Amriteshwar Temple.
If you want some time off and be with yourself away from the fast paced world, I’d say you visit Bhandardara.