Bhimashankar – The Weekend Getaway: Part Two

We returned to the resort to the warm welcome by Bush. He was resting in his usual place, near the main hotel reception, in the shade by a pot of water. On seeing me get down from the car and go to the reception to enquire about lunch, he quickly got up and came over, as if to greet me again.

We ordered a quick lunch and went back to the cottage to get fresh and be ready for another wonderful afternoon and evening at the beautiful resort.

 

Lunch was quick as we were really hungry and an afternoon siesta gave us the much-needed booster charge to enjoy the evening.

The photographer in me was not idle and I kept on my click clicking all around the place. Equipped with a 55-250 telephoto lens, I hoped to catch some cool photos of birds or some squirrels or rabbits or a snake if I was lucky. I did get some wonderful shots as the evening sun provided the best natural lighting and highlighted almost every subject perfectly.

Birds_At_Resort

As sunset edged close, we became aware of an unusual chill in the air. I guess it was the last chilly nights of the winter season. I was glad we had packed jackets and sweaters for everyone as the night further went on to be really cold. It was a full moon night and we realized this when the shiny orb of the moon appeared on the eastern horizon over the distant mountains. We were in such a strategic location on this plateau that there was nothing to obstruct the view of the sun, as well as the moon, rise all the way until they set in the western sky. I made a mental note of making sure I will book in advance here if ever in the future there is a total lunar or solar eclipse and this place lies in the path of the eclipse. With the tripod and the newly acquired camera, I did my job of taking as many pics of the moon as best as I could. All the while, Bush was with me. He would accompany me everywhere and just settle down or lie down somewhere close by as I went about doing my work setting up the tripod etc. I felt a sense of security as, like a faithful guard, he would surely warn me if there was anything dangerous anywhere. Thankfully, he did not have to as we had the almost perfect and safe stay at this resort.

The_Moon_Beautiful

Spending two nights at this resort were the most memorable ones we had as a family and we enjoyed the food as well as the ambiance and the most important, fresh air and a wonderful time spent here.

The dinner was a buffet with a good spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We enjoyed the tomato soup and the pithla bhakri as well as a few typical chicken preparations. After having a sumptuous dinner and an equally satisfying dessert, we decided to call it a day and went back to our cottage. By this time, we were used to Bush accompanying us and we were a bit concerned when we did not see him when we stepped out of the restaurant building. But it was only for a minute or two, as he must have caught our scent and came along from wherever he was. He joined us from behind and then walked a few paces ahead of us right up to our cottage. Here he came over the verandah and spread himself there like a royal being guarding our entrance. We fed him a few good day biscuits which he had promptly. Earlier, I had asked for details about the two dogs at the reception and they told me that he is used to eating a full chicken as a meal every day. He has it at 9 pm and then does not eat anything else, maybe just some water. However, he was glad to have the biscuits we offered and I even dared to feed him right from my hand.

We then got inside the room and kept watching him from a window. He was sitting there looking at nothing in particular as if guarding the cottage. His ears would twitch a bit in the direction of some noises he heard. Some sounded like an owl or a nocturnal bird or a rat. Some we did not even hear, but his sharp ears picked them up.

It was pretty late and we switched off the lights to retire for the day. Sleep was blissful and easy to come as we had walked a long walk and had a good meal. The next morning, we had to check out and return to our daily schedules. When I woke up and checked out if Bush still sat there the whole night, I found him missing. The last biscuit that we had offered him was still there. Maybe he wanted us to feed it to him by hand or he was not hungry at all.

After the morning regime and the tea to refresh us, we packed up to check out. Completing the formalities and payments we bid a final good bye for the time being to the resort, to Bush, to Basanti and to the Blue Mormon as well.

Beautiful_Dam

The journey back was marked by stops to take photos at a picturesque ghat which overlooked a very beautiful dam. I was simply amazed to see the vastness and the ruggedness of nature and could not help but notice – it is the same nature that created the beautiful and delicate flower that I photographed and also created the huge and rugged mountain and the trees that grow on its slopes. No one waters them or takes care of them, yet they grow in this tough terrain. They are giving us a message – to stay tough and have a fighting spirit to overcome difficulties.

Reflecting on this and getting reminded of how minuscule we are in terms of nature and the big mountains and valleys and the wilderness, we continued on our journey home. Stopping on the way for a short lunch and reaching home on time for the evening tea.

We promised ourselves to revisit this wonderful resort and spend more time close to nature and in its laps, while still enjoying the safety and comfort of the cottages and of course the companionship of Bush and Basanti.

Not a week has passed since this visit that we remember Bush and ask each other, what he might be doing at this time.

Sunrise

A beautiful morning, a wonderful dawn. Can’t wait for the next travel in this quest to discover amazing places and beautiful things to capture in the camera.

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Quick 2-day trip to make your weekend memorable – Bhimashankar

Bhimashankar Part 1…

The end of winter in the Indian subcontinent is traditionally marked by the full moon night that occurs somewhere in the middle of March. In the Hindu calendar, it is the Holi Pournima (the burning of the demon Holika) the triumph of good over evil, the burning of bad things and the expectation of good things. It also marks the beginning of harvesting season in many states in India. And, as with any working professional, it also signifies a holiday from work. This year, the much awaited and wanted holiday came adjacent to a weekend.

Since the whole family had a holiday on this Holi day, we naturally headed outdoors. This time we booked a cottage at a resort in the famous forest reserve hill station called Bhimashankar, a place which is famous amongst many trekkers and adventurers in Maharashtra and beyond. The temple of Lord Shiva at Bhimashankar is well known.

A brief research on the Internet gave us options to stay. We had narrowed down to a couple of them. But the Blue Mormon was also recommended by a close acquaintance. We called them and booked our cottage for 3 days and 2 nights. The charges were not very high.

BlueMormon_Resort

We took the Nashik road from Pune till Rajgurunagar and then took a left road to go to Bhimashankar. This is a very beautiful road and winds through some scenic mountains and the backwaters of the Chas Kaman dam. We saw wonderful shades of blue and green in the water during our drive. The road is a bit bumpy and pot holed at places so we could not speed up. But no one was complaining as we had the beautiful scenery and the great views to keep us company. We also had to cross some ghat section and as we neared the Blue Mormon hill resort, we noticed the drop in the temperature. This was almost like a guarantee that we were going to enjoy our stay and our picnic.

Having some breakfast on the way at one of the small hotels, we continued our journey, sometimes stopping for photos or sometimes just to watch the view. The Blue Mormon is slightly off the road – around 2 km from the state highway. Rest assured the road is fully motorable, though quite narrow. On reaching and finishing the check-in formalities, we were shown our independent cottage with a car parking available just outside the gate. I had noticed a beautiful and healthy looking German Shephard as we checked in. Little was I aware at that time that he would be one of the most memorable things about our trip to Bhimashankar.

Bush

We refreshed ourselves and were ready to have our late lunch. We ordered and decided to take a short look around the resort. It is big and is spread over a tableland. With huts and bungalows spaced all over, but with sufficient privacy for the guests. I had my camera and went off clicking. As I checked my camera later, we had clicked around 350 photos here. Almost a 100 each day

After a good lunch, we were just lazing on the traditional rope wired bed called as Khat in the lawns waiting for the sun to go down a bit so that we could move around more freely to explore the resort hotel further.  As we sat here, I had the first up close encounter with Bush, the German Shepherd; as my kids were busy with the trampoline, I stood up keeping one eye on the kids and the other on views and photo opportunities. He came close and as if checking me out, had a quick sniff at my hand and my foot. I let him do it and immediately realised that he was an extremely friendly and playful 6 years old ‘pup’. There was another dog sitting close by who did not bother to check anyone out. We later came to know this was Basanti, the other dog of the resort. I petted Bush a bit and continued on my photography. Bush would follow me around the resort while I took the photos. He would simply come with me and sit down while I did my stuff. I did not really think anything about this on our first day.

Our cottage was a very short distance from the main check in counter and the restaurant and it was best to explore on foot. The resort has a lot of greenery and some dedicated flower beds which had roses and lilies and a few others. The entire resort is easily accessible on foot and does not take more than 10 minutes to go from one end to the other.

Internal_roads_in_the_resort

We asked for directions to go to the temple the following morning and also asked the supervisor to arrange for a guide to take us around the next morning. Another thing to note about this resort is that there is no mobile network coverage and they do not accept any cards. Please carry cash. (I know it can be risky, but that is how they accept payment)

A quick chat with the manager and a few employees suggested that we could explore the area on our own. We still were hoping to go with the guide as we wanted to venture into the forest as much as possible so as to get the feeling of a jungle trek.

The next morning, we expected the guide to show up at 6:30 am sharp and were ready by that time. When I went to the resort office to ask them for the morning tea before we left on our jungle trek, Bush and Basanti both came out barking and I was really scared to see two charging dogs. But this was just momentary, both recognised me right away and their manner of approaching me changed the moment they sniffed and confirmed that I was a friend they had met the previous evening. Basanti went off on her way but Bush kept on with me. He actually came back with me to our cottage and sat outside in the verandah; he looked royal in the way he sat.

The guide did not turn up. But we were glad since the night had become so cold on that plateau that the kids, wrapped in the warm blankets, did not stir till 8:30 am. We, however, got up, had our customary walk around the resort looking for birds and flowers and interesting views to photograph.

Flowers_in_Bloom

 

We then went to the temple. On our way, we were hoping to have a true jungle feel and also catch a glimpse or two of the giant squirrel – the state animal of Maharashtra. On a particular turning of the road, we stopped the car to get some photos of the greenery around the valley. That’s when I noticed a stir on some branches above. We saw the squirrel jump from a branch to another and go down into the valley.

Giant_Squirrel

But before he disappeared, he did give us a few poses and we were able to catch those in the camera frame. A few simians were also there to welcome us and gladly took whatever food we offered. The typical scene of a baby monkey clinging to the mother’s belly was adorable and we tried to offer this particular mother some food as well.

Monkey_business

We got along our road and reached the temple parking lot; which is nothing but the local bus stand that also runs a pay and park.

The way to the main temple is covered by a wooden ceiling for most of the pathway. They also have the customary shops selling toys, sweets, and other paraphernalia that can be expected near any of our temples.

Shop_lined_pathway

We had a VIP style darshan of Lord Shankar as the guy who was regulating the crowd and the queue was probably on his break and we could enter the main sanctum directly. On coming out we saw that the guy was back and there was a decent queue. We were not complaining!

Bhimashankar_Temple

 

We enquired with the local shopkeepers about the trek and jungle pathway to walk around. We were told about two more temples and were shown the way. We took the necessary permissions and the tickets to enter the reserved forest and after confirming with the guard that it was safe to go with kids, we began our 4 km walk on the trail. It was hot and sunny and we were exhausted walking, but the trees and the small butterflies kept our spirits high and we walked till we reached a Ganpati temple where we met two middle-aged gentlemen who hailed from South India. They were chanting some wonderful mantras in their language. Though we did not understand anything, the tune and the overall atmosphere was so religious that we wanted to stay there longer. There was another temple but since we were really tired we decided to head back to the parking lot.

We returned enjoying the greenery and sometimes dense forest and large boulders; clicking photos on the way.

Honestly, we did not even miss the guide at all.

The path through the reserve

On the way back, we enjoyed the drive again and kept looking for the giant squirrel, but I guess his appearance in the day was done and he had retreated to his safe haven, somewhere below in the valley.

To be continued……

 

 

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial and Museum

Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum

Situated on the Senapati Bapat road in Pune, Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial and museum does catch your sight due to its dome shaped structure partially hidden in the lush green trees. I was a bit hesitant earlier to visit this place as I was under the impression that it is not open to public, it is only for VVIPs or some special visits of ministers or it is only for symbiosis society etc. But what a fool I was. It was the museum of a social reformer, the person who fought for equal rights for all human beings.

Entrance.JPG

Just diagonally opposite to the Balbharati building this memorial and museum of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is located. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a great scholar, writer, a powerful speaker, an economist and above all the father of Indian Constitution.

Internal view of Dr.Ambedkar memorial

Dr.B. R. Ambedkar was born to Bhimabai and Ramji on 14 April 1891 in Mhow Army Cantonment. His father Subhedar Ramji Sankpal retired from army in 1894 and shifted to Satara. After spending few years in Satara,  they shifted to Mumbai for better education of Children. Dr. Ambedkar passed matriculation in 1907. He was the first untouchable to pass matriculation. He completed his B.A from Elphinstone college, Bombay. He went to Columbia University, USA to study M.A. Economics by using his scholarship funds provided by the King of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaikwad. Along with M.A. Economics, he was also awarded doctorate in Philosophy in 1916. He went to London to complete M.S. and Bar at Law. After returning to India he worked against caste discrimination.

display of important events in Dr.Ambedkar's life.JPG

In this museum, through a beautiful display of photos and information, life story of Dr. Ambedkar is presented in neatly manner.

Personal Belongings.jpg

No one can ever forget his famous satyagraha at Chavadar Tale (Lake). Babasaheb Ambedkar stated that a life-giving commodity like water cannot be a privilege of select class. No one can deny it to others. Dr. Ambedkar formed Samta Samaj Sangha on 4th September 1920. On 19th March 1927 Dr. Ambedkar with his other associates like Anandrao Chitre, Shri Bapu Sahastrabudhe, Shri Gaikwad, Shri More etc. gathered on the banks of Chavadar lake and drank a handlful of water from the lake. There is a picture and information about this incidence displayed in the museum.

Photo and information gallery.JPG

His personal belongings have been very well preserved and displayed. One would get to see his clothes, old suit cases, his bed, his table and chair where he wrote constitution of India, his utensils, dinning table, his collection of books, a silver-ink pot which was gifted by Lord Mount batten (Governor of India before freedom).

Belongings of Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

There is also a statue of Gautam Buddha where he bowed each day, India’s highest civil award Bharat Ratna which was given posthumously to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Bharatratna award of Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

Even Dr. Ambedkar’s study room has been replicated With his statue sitting at the writing table.

Study room_Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

Dr. Ambedkar had purchased violin in Delhi and Sathe brothers from Mumbai used to come there to teach him violin.

Dr.Ambedkar's violin.JPG

Outside the museum many trees are planted by famous politicians. One of the trees is a direct descendant of the Bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. It is planted by Maisaheb Ambedkar.

Bodhi Tree descendant plant.JPG

There is also an open air theater where various programs take place. The surroundings of the museum are soothing and calm.

This museum is adjacent to Hanuman tekadi and they have made a small open air study with benches and desks. There were so many youngsters sitting there and studying peacefully. It was a rare sight to have so many youngsters around but no noise at all.:-)

Peaceful and green surroundings.jpg

Dr. Ambedkar  was exponent of Dhamma Chakra. He was very much concerned about the upliftment of untouchables. He also guided them on the path of progress and development.

Do plan your visit and get to know more details about this architect of India’s constitution. It would be a small tour in the important era of India’s history. I would recommend all the parents to take their kids to this place. It is easier to learn history by looking at the various artifacts, seeing the photos and reading the details than just reading it and mugging it up from the history text book. Not just history but other subjects especially science would be understood better when you feel it, do it yourself then you understand it in better manner. So, do visit this museum and enjoy the feeling of tracking through some pages of history.

Dr.Ambedkar memorial.JPG

It is important to note that such figures such as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar are national or even international figures. So it is not right to associate them with any particular caste or religion. They are the true inspirations of all individuals.

Quick notes:
Easy to reach by bus, auto or own vehicle,
Parking space is available inside the museum main gate
Photography is allowed with additional charge of rs.50
Timings 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

If the management could do a Small audio visual documentary,  it would give a good idea of his work and would generate more interest in people to see the things with a keen eye.

Tulshibaug Ram Mandir

 

tulshibag-ram-mandir-kalas

Tulshibaug, the name says it all. This place is chaotic and dusty yet it is charming and quaint with its own beauty. This place seems to have answers for all your needs.

hustle-bustle
Tulshibaug is always overflowing with people.Tulshibaug is located centrally to Pune city. Every visitor coming to Pune visits this place to buy fashion clothes, footwear, purses and other household items.

brass-kitchen-set

brass-Kids’ kitchen-set

kitchen_needs

Kitchen-Utensils

show_pieces_for_sale

Items-for-sale

But with the chaos of the outside place they hardly come to know of Tulshibaug Ram Mandir, this quieter place.There are however, regular visitors to this place, mostly residents of Pune from many years.

regular_visitors

Daily-Visitors

This temple is a historical temple constructed in the Peshwa Era. It could be compared to a soul of a body. Located in over crowded Tulshibaug it is like like finding peace of mind in the hustle and bustle of the city crowds. The temple premises are big. There is Nagarkhana at the north entrance gate. It is typically a music gallery situated at the entrance of the palace. There is Hanuman temple and opposite to that there are beautifully carved marble idols of Shreeram,Sita and Laxman inside the temple sanctum sanctorum. This temple has wooden structure from inside. It has huge towering peak (Shikhar) It is approximately 140 metres in height and has sculptures of deities.

tulshibag-ram-mandir-kalas

Mandir-Kalas

There are many temples in this premises such as a Ganesh temple, Shankar or shiva temple, dattamandir, Vitthal Rakhumai etc.

Dashawatar.JPG

Dashawatar

There are scenes from Ramanyana are painted on the walls and few Dashawatar scenes are also there.

ramayana_scenes

Scenes-from-Ramayana

History of the place: This place initially belonged to Sardar Khasgiwale. He had a big garden of Tulsi (the holy basil plant). Naro Appaji Khire bought it from Sardar Khasgiwale and he constructed a big Ram temple here. This temple became so famous that his earlier name khire was replaced by Tulshibagwale. This temple construction took place between 1761 to 1795.When Nanasaheb Peshwe was ruling the construction was started but completed much later. Even today at the Nagarkhana they play Sanai Chaughda on every Saturday afternoon around 3 as a tribute to Bajirao Peshwe(1st)

Nagarkhana_Music Gallery

Nagarkhana

When we visited this temple recently (actually after 4, 5 years) we saw beautiful marble flooring and even some restoration done on the columns as well. All this work has maintained the beauty of the place and in fact added to it I would say. There is also a big board posted in front of the temple which gives a historical account of this place.

ram-mandir

This Ram Mandir also works as a breather in between your shopping sessions of Tulshibaug. You can take darshan, relax here for a while and get moving. But please don’t restrict it to just one experience, but let the visit become a habit.

At this  Ram temple, a big celebration takes place during Ram navmi festival which occurs in the first month as per Hindu calendar (Chaitra Shuddha Navmi). People gather here in huge numbers and the atmosphere is full of devotion and sacred chants.

During our recent visit we got an opportunity to attend Aarti of Tulshibaug ganapati. The idol is huge and beautiful. Just by the sight of it, all our troubles and problems seem to fade away. We really experienced “Darshan matre man kamana purti”

Tulshibaug-Ganapati

Tulshibaug-Ganapati

Quick notes:

Do visit Shrikrushna Bhuwan which is right there in Tulshibaug and taste the best misal of Pune (not too spicy just the perfect taste)

Every Saturday 3 pm in the afternoon, experience a recital of Sanai and Chaughada being played by local artists.

Best way to reach this place is to catch an autoriksha from your place in Pune and they will drop you just outside Tulshibaug.( It is too tough to get a parking space)

Wade Bolhai

protector-of-the-town-_wade-bolhai

Wade Bolhai Devi

We started our new year with the visit to the temple of Wade Bolhai Goddess. This temple is located off Pune-Nagar road near Wagholi. We were stuck in heavy traffic as there was some rally/morcha kind of thing. We saw huge crowd travelling in tempos and different vehicles, people coming in from wrong directions and causing a traffic-jam. There were empty plastic cans and glasses thrown on the roadside. While travelling we were discussing among ourselves that we will be changing the year only on the calendar but there will not be any change in the mentality year after year. But we decided to keep this negativity aside and persisted on our path.

on-the-way-to-bolhaidevi

On-the-way-to-bolhaidevi

After taking right turn at Kesnand phata we continued for almost 4 kms and kept following the road. After passing through Kesnand village a road through hills started. Most of the hills were bare. There were few fields of Jowar in between. Not very picturesque as such but it was a great feeling driving on the traffic-less roads.The road is motor-able.

on-the-way-to-wade-bolhai

On-the-way-to-wade-bolhai

There is a school called Jogeshwari Mata and just next to the school, there is an arch where Wade Bolhai is written. We entered through that arch. Just few meters ahead there were some small shops selling Puja Thali.

wade-bolhai-temple-located-near-jogeshwari-mata-school

Entrance Arch

We parked our vehicle and bought Puja Thali for Rs.40. It contained a coconut, some flowers and two small packets of some liquid. When I asked the lady shopkeeper what was it all about she told me that it contains some liquid with a medicinal value which relives us from skin diseases. As per the tradition it is offered to the goddess. I often think , what is the main purpose of these offerings? Will the God really be pleased with such materialistic things? But this gives them their bread and butter and there is no harm if you invest your bit in it.

expansive-courtyard

Temple from inside

We entered the temple through the back gate. It is considered that this Goddess is positioned in the temple facing backwards. The back gate was made up of wood.

wooden-backdoor

When we entered the temple, we saw a huge courtyard, Homkund and behind that the main temple is situated.

Homkund

Homkund

Surrounding the main temple there are corridors.

corridors-with-beautiful-paintings

Corridors-with-beautiful-paintings

On the walls of these corridors beautifully painted scenes from the life of Shivaji Maharaj are painted.

Important-scenes-from-life-of-Shivaji-Maharaj

Important-scenes-from-life-of-Shivaji-Maharaj

Many important incidences like Shivaji Maharaj Coronation, Afzal khan assassination etc are painted .

historic-scenes

Historic-scenes

beautiful-sculpture-of-vishnu

Beautiful-sculpture-of-vishnu

Every Sunday many people gather there to take darshan of the devi who is worshipped thrice during a day. Daily Aarti takes place at 6:00AM, 12 Noon and again at 8:00PM. Every Sunday many people visit this temple.

expansive-courtyard

The main idol of Bolhai devi is at the centre. It is saffron in colour and decorated with Shendoor. On the either side of Bolhai devi there are two idols made up of black stone. One is Bhawaragiri devi and the other is Kashidevi. There is a metal statue made up of 5 metals kept in front of the main idol. It has eight hands. In order to keep the main idol intact, this metal idol is worshiped by Haldi kukkum by all devotees. Wade Bolhai devi is worshiped with Puranpoli.

devi-palkhi

Devi Palakhi

The main entrance of the temple has Hanuman and Garud as Dwarpal, the door keepers and there are huge idols of them at the gate.

entrance-gate_hanuman-and-garud-idols
This temple is painted every year just before Navratri.

entrance-gate-of-bolhai-temple

Main Entrance Gate

There is a huge hall near temple which is probably used for serving free meals to devotees and for organizing different related events.

Wade Bolhai is situated on the outskirts of many small villages and it is regarded as Gramrakshak. It means that this goddess works as a protector of the villages.

There is a water tank opposite the temple called Moti tank. It is believed that the sacred waters of this lake cure the skin diseases. This water tank is filled with water throughout the year and never dries out even in the summers.

sacred-waters-of-moti-tank

Moti Talav/Tank

Food: If your are a hardcore non-vegetarian, you would find plenty of eating options as this part is famous for Mutton and Bhakri on the traditional cooking stove.i.e Chulha (Chul)  Vegetarians would have a tough time if you don’t carry your food with you.

We found a very good south Indian restaurant called  Sambar on our way back (location just behind Phoenix mall on Nagar road).

sambar

Sambar Restaurant

If you are visiting Wade Bolhai from Pune I would recommend you to eat some snacks like Medu wada, dosa, uttapam and Rassam (this is a must). They start serving proper south Indian Thali at around 7:30 pm which consists of a mouthwatering south Indian meal. Puri, mix vegetable, papad, sambar, rassam, rice and a sweet dish. You can relish the wholesome meal on your way back. Surprisingly all items (even the Thali) cost less than Rs.100. Who says there is inflation?? 🙂

thali-at-sambar

South Indian Thali at Sambar

What a start to the new year!  We hope that Goddess Wade Bolhai will protect us and guide us on the right path in the coming years.

Quick Facts:

Distance from Pune city – 28 Kms

Approximately 4 to 5 hours would be sufficient for travelling and visiting,  if you are planning your travel from centre of Pune

You may plan a visit to Aga Khan Palace on your way back.

Shinde Chhatri : Mahadji Shinde Memorial

outside-of-the-shinde-chhatri

Shinde Chhatri

Few places are near to the place you stay, few are far away. Sometimes it is just simple procrastination and you delay the visit. But when you visit that place you feel that it should have been done much earlier.

shinde-chhatri

shinde-chhatri

Have you ever thought of taking a city tour bus which shows the prominent places of the city to the tourist? Most of you will answer negative. Why should I take a bus tour to see the places in my city? I have been staying in Pune since my birth. I know my city well and I have visited many places during the past years. This word ‘Many’ does not contain the word ‘all’ most of the times. I, being a Punekar by birth was sure that I had visited the most important places but when Shinde Chhatri visit took place, I realized that this was a must on my list especially with the history associated with the place and I should have visited it earlier.

Shinde Chhatri

Mahadji-Shinde-_samadhi

 

This is built as a memorial of a great Maratha warrior Mahadaji Shinde. He was commander in chief of Maratha Army under Peshwe and his role was instrumental in creating Maratha supremacy in the Northern part of India. He played an important role in battle of Wadgaon which was the first Anglo-Maratha war. The Marathas were victorious and the British had to sign a treaty at Wadagaon in 1779. Such an important person in the History of Marathas : actually my visit was overdue.

Shinde Chhatri is located in the Wanwadi area near Pune Cantonment.

shinde-chhatri_shiva-temple

Shinde Chhatri_Outside

When we entered the premises we saw a huge courtyard with the Shiva temple in the middle.

shiva-temple_inside

Beautiful Shiva Temple

We entered the Shiva temple and were awestruck by the external as well as internal beauty and cleanliness of the temple. It has beautifully decorated columns and black and white marble flooring with squares and hexagons on it.

internal-flooring-and-columns

 

This temple is well lit with ample and colourful windows-panes and the sky lights. There is wonderful carving on windows and column arches.

colourful-windows-at-shinde-chhatri

There was a simple Shiva temple earlier. It seems that it was reconstructed and renovated  by Madhavrao Schindia/Shinde in 1965.

chandelier-at-shinde-chhatri

Chandeliers inside the monument

 

Mahadji Shinde was the fifth and the youngest child of Sardar Ranoji Shinde and Chima bai.

ranoji-shinde

Ranoji Shinde( Father of Mahadji Shinde)

 

At this place there was a small Shiva temple earlier which was constructed by Mahadji Shinde/Scindia himself. The renovation, no way reduces its beauty. It has beautifully decorated walls and columns and heavy chandeliers adding to the beauty. It resembles  to the Rajput style architecture. It made me remember a few temples I had visited earlier in Gujarat.

shiva-temple-at-shinde-chhatri_piece-of-art

Temple architecture from outside

 

Mahadaji Shinde died at Wanavdi/Wanaworie in Pune on 13 February 1794. His memorial is built just next to the temple. He was succeeded by adopted son Daulat Rao Scindia/Shinde, a grandson of  his brother TukojiRao Scindia/Shinde. Inside the hall photos of several  leaders of Shinde/Scindia dynasty are displayed.

mahadaji-shinde_samadhi

Mahadaji Shinde Samadhi

Overall place is peaceful and there was absolutely no one when we visited the temple and the memorial.

There is a Hanuman temple built by Madhavrao Shinde/Scindia.

hanuman_temple

Hanuman Mandir

In the temple premises there was an ultramodern gym which definitely looked out of place. The vast courtyards could be used for creating a museum or a book library or even an art gallery where oil paintings of warriors could be showed there. One can take guidance from Knowledgeable persons of this field and it could be used in a better way.

This temple and memorial is maintained by the Schindia Devasthan Gwalior. 100% for the cleanliness of the place. When we inquired with the care-taker he informed us that the city tour bus comes here twice a day. So do plan your trip and take out an hour from your busy schedule to offer tributes to this great Maratha warrior.

Quick Facts:

Entry fee: Rs.5 for Indian Nationals

Rs.30 for foreigners (I seriously feel this should be increased in multiples of 10)

There is Empress Garden near by, you can plan and visit it along with Shinde Chhatri

No separate space for parking but there is some open space outside the memorial where you can park your vehicle.

Open all days

Girivan: a picturesque getaway in the midst of mountain ranges.

nature_flowers

Welcome flowers

A second home, amongst forests, with eye-catching scenic views of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, and that too just one and half hour drive from Pune! Yes Girivan is the place. Truly it is a home away from home. It is a home away from traffic and lights, yet with all basic facilities. It is just a perfect place.

Paddy fields on the way.jpg

Paddy fields on the way

At a height of 400 feet above Lonavla, this awesome place is situated. It is located at western Pune, you need to go through Chandani Chowk then Pirangut towards Paud village. At the Paud village bus stand, you need to take a right turn and just keep going straight following the road. Keep your Google map on for your help. You will see a board on the left hand side saying Girivan (Hotle, Dongargao) Take a left turn there and start climbing the mountain through twisting roads.

the-whispering-valley

The Whispering valley

You will start feeling the chill in the air as you drive upwards. There are well posted security checks at frequent intervals, just to ensure the safety and security of the guests and to make sure it is not used by tress passers.

We started our journey at around 5 in the evening, so by the time we reached there, it was pretty dark. I would recommend you to start early morning may be around 7 or 8 so as to appreciate the scenic views which you see on the way and you get to spend the entire day in the lap of nature. You can take plenty of photographs and enjoy the journey as well.

View from top.jpg

View from the top

We visit this place at least once every year and still it has maintained its charm and keeps us pulling towards it.

home-away-from-home

A home away from home

By the time we reached there, it was almost 7PM. we completed our check in formalities and went straight to the Bunglow called Shreeban which we always take on rent when we are at Girivan.  At Girivan, people have built up their own bunglows and give it on rent to the tourists. We have some strange connection to this Shreeban bunglow. We enjoy the dawn here sitting in the balcony. This is the main attraction for us at Girivan.

nature-trails1

Main advantage of this bunglow it is close to the reception, the dining area and the play area. So if you have senior citizens with you who can’t walk much or small kids, this one would be the best option.

simply-relax-and-unwind

After getting refreshed at Shreeban and surfing through few TV channels for 10,15 minutes we went to the dinning place (yeah even at Girivan we were surfing the TV as we had switched off our cable connection few months ago, kids got a good opportunity to explore it. ) The Dinner was delicious except the excessively oily pakodas. All other food items were mouth watering. We were served a full course meal of starters (Veg Manchurian), Soup, roti with two vegetables, dal, rice, papad and Gulabjam plus one non-veg gravy dish.

The dinner was too heavy and with full stomach it felt as if our brain also wants us to go to sleep earlier and concentrate on the digestion of the heavy food we ate.

dawn-at-girivan

Dawn at Girivan

We got up very early as we wanted to catch each and every moment just before dawn and the fresh morning. We placed our chairs in the balcony and sat quietly waiting for the nature show to start. The near-by tree had become bare though it had rained very heavily this year. Few years ago we had spotted a rare owl on this tree. What could be a possible cause, we kept on wondering.

The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun

We sat observing the subtle start of the dawn and the black coat of darkness was getting unwrapped, revealing a bluish orange colour beneath. Cool morning breeze was keeping our minds fresh. We enjoyed the rustling of nearby trees and the sound of waterfall while sipping our morning tea.

 

Girivan beauty

Girivan beauty

Though we were on a holiday the other participants of the show had their part to play. Ants had started collecting their food, bees had started buzzing and as the sun was rising slowly in the east different birds of different types were travelling and tweeting from different trees. As the whole ambiance was getting warmer and cosier, more characters started appearing on the scene including crabs, chameleons, frogs and different types of birds.

a-view-from-top

A view from the top

After enjoying the calmness and relaxation of almost 2 hours we went to the restaurant and had a sumptuous breakfast of Juice, Upma, Aloo Paratha, Curd, Bread Jam, Butter and Tea. The kids were more interested in playing than in breakfast unlike adults. They rushed to the play area and enjoyed themselves for some time. There is a big trampoline, few swings and slides. In front of the play area, there is a big play area for outdoor games.

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Play area

We can rent many sports amenities like basketballs, cricket kits, frisbees, cycles at just Rs.200 deposit. They have put nets and created rectangle box like structures where we can play cricket.  We enjoyed cycling for some time.  We played Basketball and cricket. It was happy tanning activity for the entire family as we were least bothered about tanning and enjoyed the play more than kids.

different-colours-of-nature

Different colours of nature

 

We enjoy the nature trails here. There are many known, unknown pathways. Just take a stroll around those paths.

 

nature-walk

Nature walk

 

Nature had appeared at many places in many forms and different colours.  You can hear the continuous drumming of the waterfalls, flowers of various colours, shapes and smell. Different butterflies were making the nature sketch more colourful. Currently at few places new bunglow construction is going on. It was surprising to see the flowers blooming in the middle of the road in crushed stones. The rawness of the forest flowers was so appealing that we kept on going forward for quite a long time.

blue-sapphire-set-in-the-natures-green-emerald

Blue sapphire in nature’s green emerald

Near the main restaurant and the office there are other attractions like a small botanical area, rabbits, love birds etc. which are kept by the authorities. There they have made small hut like structures where there are cots and chairs to relax. They have made stone pathways to roam here. They have also planted many small plants in pots along the pathways.

girivan-position-details

girivan-position-details

There are few other interesting places in the same campus such as Dhepewada, Mount view sports park etc. Do try to visit those if you have ample time with you.

This trip always gives us more oxygen and we always return with more positive attitude.

Quick Notes:

Located at 40 Kms from Pune takes approx 1.5 hours

Good place for one day picnic, overnight stay, family get together and office trip

The staff is cordial and helpful. Rooms are well maintained and clean.

Food is delicious.

Carry Odomos and mosquito nets with you

Try to reach there at 10am and stay till 10 am on the next day (they have checkin-checkout at 10am

Do not smell the colourful flowers, the more attractive the colour, the more poisonous it could be.

Shivtharghal – A cave of wisdom

Come long weekends and everyone in Pune starts making plans of Mahabaleshwar trips or at least Pune’s favorite picnic spot – Sinhgad.

We too had something similar planned, but did not want to visit the same run of the mill spots.

We had planned a drive to Shivtharghal ourselves. It had been on our minds to visit this awesome place to experience the true rawness of the Sahyadri mountains and the dense forests that are said to be a characteristics of this place.

After spending a few weeks just toying around with the plan, we confirmed the trip; however we decided to take a hired car as friends advised that the ghat to reach there is a difficult one. I usually prefer my own car on family trips, however this time I agreed and it was in a way good. I was able to savor the scenery on the way and even click photos that I usually miss, since I am driving.

Enroute_To_Shivtharghal

En route to Shivtharghal

I had also read interesting things about this place – there is no network coverage and most mobile signals are lost among the high mountains around this cave. I had even read that the most sophisticated GPS trackers also lose their satellite connections, such is the geographical arrangement of this place. No wonder Ramdas Swami chose this place to write the holy scriptures of Dasbodh. He must have realized the geographical and cosmic significance of this place via his divine powers and chose to be completely disconnected from the outside world so as to concentrate on the task at hand. Such was his dedication and he teaches the same in the great scripts.

Valley in the ghat

Valley in Varandha Ghat

We started our journey from Pune and took the NH4 towards Satara and continued till the Bhor bypass. From here we took a right turn to the internal state highway is a single lane road and the condition is not very good in a few patches. However, all these minor peeves are washed away by the mere view of the Veer and the Bhatgar dam back waters. As we traveled the winding road, I was amazed to see various shades of green colour in the dam back waters in the valley below. It was a breathtaking sight to see 3 different shades of emerald green in the same water body. One of the patches of water was so still and calm, I wondered if it was the deepest part of the lake or if it had some other rock formation below it that resulted in zero ripples on the surface – truly a mesmerizing sight.

The green shades in the water

The green shades in the water

 

At a small pit stop to have chai and kanda bhaji just before the varandha ghat started, we confirmed the directions to Shivtharghal and were advised to finish the entire ghat and reach Varandh village and then take a right turn to reach the ghal or cave. At around 6 KM for this spot where we asked for the directions, there is a road which goes through dense forest and it does not allow more than one car at a time and is also very risky. Don’t take this road, go ahead for about 10 more KM and them you will see a board with directions to go to the ghal. Take this one.

We, being the non adventurous types when it comes to driving cars through the jungle; especially with kids on board decided to go the safe route.

Through the gorge

Through the gorge

Even the internal road was a narrow one and our driver, obviously enjoying the winding turns and traffic free road, decided to ignore our requests to drive slowly, and took us to the ghal in no time without any incident at all. The blind turns must have given the race driver in him the high.

The road however was very picturesque and we were also expecting some wild animals to show themselves. (more on this later). The road ran parallel to a stream and we could hear the water gurgling and flowing even in a very dry summer and almost no rains in this season.

The road and the vehicle

The road and the vehicle

The actual ghal, presented itself suddenly on one of the turns and we were glad to get down and finally start exploring this place – the one which we had heard and read about for a while now. Parking for cars is available in an open space under a few trees. Paying the driver to have his food while we went around and to wait for us to return, we began our walk.

On the left side just at the base of the temple structure are small hotels that serve everything from cold drinks to a proper lunch of pithla and bhakri. (Yes, everything is vegetarian here). It is suggested that you place your food order first and go to the temple so that by the time you return, a hot tasty meal is ready for you. We missed this and went straight to the temple.

The first thing that greets you is the sound of a perennial waterfall and a stream flowing on the right side of the approach road. Even in the dry monsoon, it was flowing with a force enough to make you hear it from a distance.

The entrance with the waterfall

The entrance with the waterfall

Climbing up a few stone steps we saw a Ganpati temple. We went further ahead and were greeted by some friendly gentlemen who manage the facility and also the small book store cum information desk cum memorabilia shop. Surprisingly there were hardly any visitors and in the daily visitor register, I saw my name as the 10th visitor on that day.

We went ahead and proceeded towards the main cave (ghal). The friendly uncle gave us information about the daily routine and reminded us to take darshan and come back to the main hall for a ‘prasad’ which is a free meal for every visitor. I noticed a big hall which led to the path way to the cave. In the hall, information and boards showcasing the great teachings of Swami Ramdas are depicted in the form of big display banners and boards.

History goes that Swami Ramdas was a great supporter of Shivaji Maharaj and being a sadhu (sage) having many followers, he was able to collect and report important and critical information about enemy troop movements to Shivaji from time to time. When Afzal khan decided to attack Shivaji, Samartha Ramdas Swami used secret messages hidden in small sholks or letters. Shivaji, who knew the code, could decipher the message in the letter and was ready for the famous meeting between Afzal Khan and Shivaji Maharaj.

The coded message

Vijapurcha Sardar Nighala Aahe

The actual cave is a big one and you can enter it easily without bending down or crouching. There are statues of Ramdas Swami and his disciple, Kalyan Swami who actually wrote the scripts as Samartha Ramdas dictated it to him in that cave.

The cave where the script was written

The cave where the script was written

Interestingly, the statues are also shown doing the same thing. Right next to this cave, is the waterfall that we could hear from the entrance. We had been warned of being careful of wild animals, especially snakes and we did see one big one encircled right on the entrance grill door. I managed to quickly go through, though I am totally terrified of these reptilessssss.

The Snake

The Snake at the Gate

Entering the cave, gave me an instant feeling of calm and quietness, felt like I was more connected to my inner self. I wonder if it was really the significance of the place or just a psychological thing that I was experiencing, however it was a refreshing experience.

 

Memories of a long time back school picnic to this place also came up and I spent some time reflecting on those thoughts and the deep wisdom that these great people wrote for us so many years ago.

 

On coming back from the darshan, we headed for a dining hall where we were asked to pick our own plate, spoon and water vessel and were served two servings each of the ‘prasad’ – (moong dal khichadi) and there was also some pickle (kairi aachar) for added taste. A very good thing about this ‘prasad’ meal is that after you finish, you have to carry your plate to the washing area and clean it yourself.

Another thing that we had heard about this place involved the people who discovered this place and actually built the current temple and accommodation structure. Being related to one of them had generated a good amount of interest in this place. When we saw his name engraved in one of the stones there, it felt good.

The foundation stone

We also discussed about this with the management folks there and were understanding from them about the very harsh conditions in which Ramdas Swami lived here, and how wild animals roamed freely but never did any harm to Samarth Ramdas Swami or his disciples. While we were speaking, we heard a sudden noise and rustling of branches and a big thump on the metal sheet ceiling and realized that our friends had decided to drop by to see if they could get any food from the visitors.

The Simian friend

The Simian friend

Clicking a few pics, and visiting the Ganpati temple again we decided to descend the steps to see what was being served at the small hotels at the base. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch of pithla bhakri and butter milk and commenced our return journey to Pune.

The greenery around the temple

The greenery around the temple

On our way back, before we reached the main road, we saw something silver flash past on the road and excitedly watched the tail of a long snake disappear to our left. It was a black one with a silver white belly. This was the first time I saw such a big snake and that too in the wild.

Our return journey through the Varandha ghat was a very picturesque one and we stopped at the top of the ghat where many other cars had also stopped. We were just awestruck to see the beauty of the Sahyadri mountains and its deep and green valleys. One tip – there are lots of monkeys here, and they have become bold enough to take food items from your hand if you lean out and offer it from the cars. I gave out cucumbers and apples which were whisked away in less than 3 seconds. We even saw around 4 -5 monkeys perched on the top of a parked car trying to get hold of what they saw inside. If by mistake the window would have been left open, the monkeys would have had a ball.

Monkey business

Monkey business

Enjoying this for a while, we began our return journey and reached home with memories and the satisfaction of a good darshan and blessings of Ramdas Swami.

On the way back

Return Journey

 

Quick facts:

Distance from Pune: 115 KM

Parking space: available near the temple

Road conditions: Okay types

Must do things on the way: Visit Bhor Rajwada and Borehwar temple(Mahadev Temple)

Enjoy the picturesque back waters of the two dams.

Get thrilled by the natural waterfalls at many places along the ghat road

Check the mobile for range – mine did not have any signal for 2 km around the cave

Take lots of photos and enjoy this one day picnic to the fullest

Fort Sinhgad: Soul of Jijabai and Shivaji Maharaj

Sahyadri.JPG

Sahyadri Mountains

Some places are synonymous to a city just like when we think of Paris, it is Eiffel Tower, for Agra it is the Taj Mahal, for New Delhi the Red fort and the Kutubminar, for Kolkata it is the Hawada bridge. Similarly for Pune it is Shaniwarwada and Sinhgad. Shaniwarwada was the pride of Punekars and a prominent part of Peshwa era, while the tale of Shivaji Maharaj would be incomplete without the mention of Kondhana i.e. Sinhgad and the great sacrifice of Tanaji Malusare, a lion heart soldier in Shivaji’s army.

En route to Sinhgad

Situated at about 33 km from Pune city, Sinhgad fort stands tall telling the great war stories of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his brave soldiers (mavalas). From Donje, Sinhgad is located at about 10Km.

Sinhgad view.JPG

Located at 4,300 feet from sea-level Sinhgad is situated on Bhuleshwar mountain ranges of the Sahyadri.

Sinhgad Ghat Road.jpg

We have visited Sinhgad during Summer, Winter and late rainy season. Each trip was awesome with the beauty of that particular season. Each season has its own charm which captivates your mind. It could be a soft drizzle which envelopes sahyadri in green carpet, or the chilly winters during which the fog wraps the hills with a white jacket of clouds, or it could be the blossomed spring on the Sinhgad fort top which will give you a feel of paradise.

Tree on Sinhgad top.jpg
There are two ways to reach Sinhgad. You can go trekking (By the way Sinhgad is much sought after by every trekker that every trekker going on a trek outside Pune first does a rehearsal here.) Through trekking it would take about 45 minutes to reach the top.

By car you can reach the parking lot at the top via a road through mountains (ghat) in about 20 minutes. They charge Rs.50 per vehicle as a toll.

When the parking is full people park their cars near the parking area on the road. Please avoid doing that since the ghat road is very narrow and can cause heavy congestion.

People climbing the fort

People climbing the Sinhgad Fort

When you start your journey from parking area you see several food stalls to satisfy your taste buds. While trekking your way to the top many people take a break from the trek and enjoy the buttermilk, yogurt, boiled peanuts, raw mango etc. that is sold by vendors along the path. These vendors are usually villagers from around the fort and they bring their goods to sell to the trekkers.

You enter the fort through Pune Darwaja. A big and detailed map of Sinhgad fort is installed by the Maharashtra Government there. Do take a snap of this map as it helps us a lot for going around in the fort.

MAP Sinhgad Fort

Map of Sinhgad fort

 

After entering through Pune Darwaja you get to see a board pointing in the right direction saying Tofkhana/ Daru kothar. It is a strongly built stone structure with ample open space. It was used to store the ammunition for cannons.

 

Ammunition Centre at Sinhgad.jpg

Going ahead on the left hand side a huge rock formation is seen. It was used to keep horses of the soldiers.

Stable or Ghodyanchi Paga.jpg

There is also a Shivsrushti exhibition on Shivaji Maharaj. It has pictures depicting important scenes of Shivaji Maharaj’s life crafted on copper plates. If you have good amount of time do visit it as it would deserve  sufficient time to understand it thoroughly.

 

Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

Just ahead on few footsteps Lokamanya Tilak Niwas is there. It is believed that Mahatma Gandhi has also visited this place.

Tilak Niwas.jpg

Information at Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

We headed up straight to Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi located at about half a km from here. He was the son of Shivaji Maharaj and Soyarabai.

Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi

Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi

There was also a small reservoir just behind the tomb. We were bit disturbed by seeing the condition of this reservoir as it was full of moss. These types of water tanks are found in all major forts and these need to be cleaned regularly and maintained properly as this might contain some important clues of history. There is a possibility of finding old coins, weapons and idols in these.

Sinhgad Fort.JPG

We went ahead till the Kalawantinicha buruj which gives us a great view of Tung, Tikona, Lohgad forts.

A view from Sinhgad

view from Sinhgad

Donagiricha kada (cliff) is the one from where Tanaji Malusare climbed on the fort to start the beginning of a fierce battle that ended in Shivaji’s army winning the fort.

Sahyadri Mountain ranges.jpg

About Tanaji Malusare: In the Purander fort treaty, Kondhana (Sinhgad fort) was lost to  the Mughals along with many other forts. Jijabai used to look at Kondhana from her Rajgad fort and it was causing tremendous pain to her that this fort was with the Mughals (enemies). She expressed her desire to take back this fort from the enemies hands. While she was discussing this with Shivaji Maharaj, Tanaji Malusare, Shivaji’s childhood friend visited them to give the  invitation of his son’s wedding. When he came to know about this plan he took the leadership of this campaign and on 4th Feb 1670 at night climbed this fort along with his soldiers from a very dangerous cliff.It is also said that Tanaji Malusare used a monitor lizard (a pet lizard called Yashwanti to climb this cliff, he tied a rope to the lizard’s tail which helped the climbing) Tanaji and his soldiers climbed the fort in total darkness(moonless night). A fierce battle took place and Tanaji Malusare was killed by Udyabhan just before capturing the fort.

Tanaji Malusare Samadhi at Sinhgad.jpg

All the soldiers got disturbed by the fall of their leader and started to retreat. Just then Tanaji’s brother Suryaji Malusare and Shelarmama((an old soldier in his mid seventies) took the charge of the campaign and asked the soldiers to come back, by reminding them about the oath of Swarajya. Shelarmama cut the ropes leaving no choice for them but to fight. In the battle that followed, Suryaji and Shelarmama killed Udyabhan (who was in charge of the fort) thus capturing the fort.’Gad ala pan Sinha gela’ (The fort is won but a lion is lost) a phrase uttered by Shivaji Maharaj in respect to the fallen warrior became popular after this great sacrifice of Tanaji as the Marathas lost a true and courageous lion from their army.

Tanaji Malusare memorial on Sinhgad.jpg

 

Food and refreshments on the Fort

One can enjoy the traditional marathi dish Zunka Bhakar with onion pakodas (which is a must with extremely spicy chutney, made from oil, onions and lots of red chilly powder). Do try butermilk, or curd given in earthen pot.There are fixed rates for food items and are displayed at the entrance.

Photographer's delight

Photographer’s delight Sinhgad

How to Reach:

PMPML buses run every hour from Shaniwarwada and Swargate up to the base of the fort. From the base you can get into a shared vehicle like a jeep, tempo etc. as well. If you have your own vehicle that would be the best option.

Trekking/ climbing during the rainy season should be done with proper precautions as the routes become slippery. Of late Govt. had closed access to Sinhgad due to heavy rain as there was a possibility of land slide. There was also an alternative way provided for some time which was extremely narrow and full of ditches and potholes. Better check with the latest news before visiting this place to avoid mood off.

 

The fort can also be reached from other side by Kalyan Darwaja. You can go by Pune Kondhanpur road and from Kondhanpur one can enter the fort through Kalyan Darwaja. It is facing towards Torna and Rajgad.

An evening at Sinhgad.jpg

To avoid overcrowding during holidays Government can start online registration and toll collection, thus limiting the number of tourists to this wonderful fort to a manageable level. That will make a one day picnic to Sinhgad more pleasurable and memorable.

 

Quick Notes:

Location: Near Donje village in Pune

Visiting hours : From 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Do taste the delicious Zunka bhakar on the top of the fort and do not throw empty water bottles and other garbage there ( It is a tragedy that this has to be told that too again and again) Use the dustbins instead which Government has kept at every half km.

Remember forts are our true national treasures.

Gramsanskruti Udyan

Gramsanskruti

Gramsanskruti

Villages have always been an integral part of India. A few years ago most of the population was living in villages. Today due to various reasons, villages have been vacated and most of the people have moved to cities in search of jobs, education, superior infrastructure and comfort. Today the younger generation will get a glimpse of village life after visiting Gramsanskruti udyan at Pashan.

Located in Pashan at Someshwarwadi is a newly built theme park by PMC ‘Gramsanskruti Udyan’. To reach here one might take Baner road from Pune University and take a left turn at Someshwar Chowk. This park is situated just next to Someshwar temple. This theme park is a good show case of how a self sufficient village used to be.

Park Entrance

Entrance wall of the park is nicely decorated and looks like a fortification of fort. After entering we are greeted by a beautifully decorated wall depicting different festivals celebrated even today with great enthusiasm and vigour in villages. It has wata pournima scene (Worshipping of Banyan tree) which is performed by married ladies wishing long life for their husbands,  Gudhipadwa i.e. celebrating the beginning of new year as per the Hindu calendar, Nagpanchami (worshipping snakes as they are friends of farmers) and many more.

Watpournima Celebration

Wata Pournima( Worshipping Banyan Tree)

Nagpanchami

Nagpanchami festival

Nandibail

Nandi Bail

In the earlier days villages use to be self sufficient. All people’s needs were getting satisfied in the village itself.  Mahatma Gandhi had the idea of self sufficient village in his mind.

In this park they have created small houses to display different professions. One can see scenes such as a doctor performing a surgery on a patient, a family asking for loan from a merchant, a tailor shop, Bangles shop (kasaar), perfumes shop, sculptor, potter, blacksmith, goldsmith, cobbler,washer-man, fortune teller etc.

Potter

Potter

There is a superb detailing in clothes, attire and hair styles which infuses life in the life less statues.

Pinjari

Pinjari

Different aspects have been taken care of for the houses e.g. the colours which are seen are very  typical to those found in village houses and also the interior structures i.e. of wooden columns and use of frames of Gods and saints to decorate the house.

sculptor

sculptors

Stone cutter_Patharwat

Stone cutter_Patharwat

The utensils,furniture,ornaments of villagers, curtains, doors and even the facial expressions of the villagers all the precise details have been taken care of and altogether give a feel of being there.

Tailor

Tailor

bangles Shop

Kasaar- Bangles shop Owner

A little ahead one can see a village school which used to take place in the shadow of tree. I am sure it will make you nostalgic if you have spent your childhood in a small village.

School

School

It also introduces concepts of farming. Agriculture is still the main occupation in India. Even today India is second in the world in the farm outputs. This park has a good display of main farming concepts like land preparation, seed selection, seed sowing and harvesting.

Farming

Farming

Farming_1

Farming

The next section has a replica of Patil wada. This used to be the residence of  the most important person of the village. He could be called as the leader of the village and a had major role to play in dispute solving, celebrations and events. Minute details have been captured here like the entrance, sitout place for discussion and hearing complaints of villagers, inner rooms and even the cow shed.

Patil wada

Patil Wada exterior

Patil wada_1

Sitout at Patil wada

When you go forward, this park has a jungle section which we did not find that impressive since we had already seen good quality detailed statues earlier.

When we speak of a village a few things come to our mind very quickly. Those are simplicity, straightforwardness, openness, naturalness, innocence and selfless help.

Wari celebration

Wari /Palakhi celebration

Nagpanchami festival

A trip to this park will give you an inside look into the village life, barter system, Gram Panchayat and rural occupations.

Village _Panchayat

Village Panchayat

One will get a nice exhibit by looking at weekly bazaar here. Weekly bazaar used to be (still it is present in villages ) an amalgamation of shopping, buying necessities, little bit of entertainment and enjoyment, amusement for kids and a good business opportunity for stalls or shop owners.

Weekly bazaar_1

Shop keeper

ram fight

Ram fight

bioscope

saree shop

Saree Shop

This park has been created with the efforts of about 1000 plus creators. I wonder will they ever get recognition for their fabulous work individually. Will they ever be recognized as sculptors or will they remain just mere workers?

The statues have been built with cement and concrete so they become more hard with rain and sunshine. Only some colour touch up is done yearly.

Marriage scene

Marriage Scene

We surely get to see various facets of village and village life but I had few things which were causing a concern in my mind. Parking space is not provided separately. One has to park the vehicles in front of the gate. As the theme park will get popularity it will cause a major problem for parking. Another point was, the park has over 400 statues and all are must watch, they might provide sit-outs after some distance so that senior citizens would also be able to enjoy it properly. Also they have provided small information boards in Marathi which also could be in Hindi and English.

While leaving the park I heard a remark from one elderly lady of about 80 years that this is what she had experienced in her childhood. Does that mean the kind of lifestyle we are having now will only be seen in a theme park 100 years later?? Only time will tell…..

Gram Sanskruti Park_Entrance

Quick Notes:

Location: Near Rajwada hotel Pashan, Someshwar wadi, Pune

Visiting hours : From 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM

Entrance fees: Adults Rs.50, Children (3 years to 12 years) Rs.30, foreigners Rs.150

Do visit Someshwar Temple of Peshwa era which is just next to the park.