Phaltan – A weekend getaway in Maharashtra

Around 250 kms away from Mumbai (110 kms from Pune), there’s a small town where the sky is clear blue and vast green hiils till as far as you can see. Located 50 kms from Satara, Phaltan was once a Maratha Princely state of British India ruled by the Nimbalkars, descendants of Naik Nimbaji Nimbalkar. The first wife of Shivaji, Sai Bai belonged to Phaltan.

The drive to Phaltan, although a bit bumpy, is made pleasant with pristine lakes and acres and acres of sugarcane farms, the main crop of the region. On my recent weekend trip (hosted by Jakson Inns), I drove around the length and breadth of Phaltan and the surrounding region only to be enamoured by the sheer beauty of Maharashtra.

Things to do in and around Phaltan

Windmill Farm in Pusegaon

Around 45 minutes drive away from Phaltan, exists one of the most dream-like places in Maharashtra. The windmill farms of Pusegaon can be one of the most romantic destinations in India. There’re huge windmills till as far as eyes can see on top of the hills, clear sky, light breeze and the most spectacular sunset. You can pack some food and drinks and have a little picnic here. If you’re staying with Jakson Inns they’ll arrange a cute picnic basket for you.

There were more than 200 windmills in the region producing enough electricity to supply to the whole Phaltan area.

Pusegaon Windmill Farm, Maharashtra

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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

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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

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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.