Search This Blog

Artist Point in Matheran

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

As we had another eleven points to cover, we decided to use the services of horses to take us there.

Neha got into a conversation with the horsemen, and finally struck the deal: eleven points to be covered at Rs 900 for two.

After the price was negotiated, we headed off to see the points. It was already 4pm and we had three hours in hand before darkness set in.

Our first halt was Artist Point. There was no signpost to indicate the location. Had we opted to walk here, we would not have been able to find it.

According to our guide-cum-horseman, the point used to be a source of inspiration for painters, hence the name Artist Point. There was a small podium here, offering a view of the lush jungle below. It was certainly a
sight that might inspire a painter to paint. Didnt find anything interesting to click, hence no fotos :(

We then headed off to see Pay Master Park. I wondered what was the story behind that name.

Maira Point in Matheran

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On the way to Matheran Railway Station we can see a board put up, indicating Maira Point. A small lane from there takes one to Maira Point.

There are a few monkeys here but they don’t bother you.
Vire from Maira Point
There is a small valley crossing activity conducted here. It costs Rs.250 and is worth doing for starters.

This place also offers an amazing view of Matheran, the hill ranges and the other points here.

Photo of the Day - Motor Bike

Monday, November 12, 2012

Attn: All the Enfield Lovers. I clicked this photo of an Enfield Motorbike at Dhobi Talao in Marine Lines. I was sad to see the bike in this state.

Monkey Point and Hart Point in Matheran

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where have all the monkeys gone? Maybe it is the off season.
View from Monkey Point
 These points are both a stone’s throw away from each other and can be reached within 40 minutes by foot.
View from Hart Point
Both these points offer an amazing view of Sunset Point and the hill ranges and valleys below. I would not mind building a house here to watch the view every day provided the monkeys continue their off season throughout the year.

Market in Matheran

Monday, November 5, 2012

The area around Matheran Railway Station is called the Market area. This place is bustling with lodges, hotels and cottages. These cater to the lodging requirements of both budgeted travelers and lavish spenders. Prices are hiked in the peak season, namely during summers and winters and on weekends. The best time to get good deals is in the off season, like I did.

Matheran has plenty of eateries which serve Gujarati thalis, North Indian, South Indian and Indo-Chinese food and our very own Maharashtrian dishes like vada pav, poha etc. The cost of the food items is reasonable.
With Neha in the Market area at 10 in the night
There are golas too to be had. I tried the Malai Gola and the taste differed from the one I had in Mumbai. It was not bad though. The famous Pepsi Cola I used to have when I was in school is also sold here. Pepsi Cola is an unbranded flavored crush sold in long, thin plastic packets. It bought back memories of my childhood days.

There are many shop selling chikki, fudge and bottled juice syrups. I picked some for my folks back home. The place is also teeming with footwear shops. The footwear is made by the artisans here. The famous Kolhapuri chappals are also manufactured here and sold here.
Pepsi Cola
 There are many boutiques here that sell leather bags and accessories, caps and key chains. A few video game parlours here cater to the needs of the people who love to gamble. There is no concept of winnings though.

At night this place is bustling with crowds who come shopping for items. For all my drinking friends, there is also a bar, the only one in Matheran.

The Market has everything to offer. All you need is a big wallet.

Photo of the Day - Chicken Thali

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This is a photo of my lunch at Hotel Kerala Kunn Bhuwan  at Vajreshwari. The gauty chicken served with rice and rice chapatti was mouth watering. Finger licking good I should say. To read more on Vajreshwari Hot Water Springs

Photo of the Day - SignBoard

Friday, November 2, 2012

For all those vehicle drivers and non drivers who are unware of what the colors on the signal stand for , this board is dedicated to them. Since it is in Marathi let me translate it for you in English RED is for STOP, YELLOW is to SEE and GREEN is to GO. I located this signboard on my way to Matheran (Dasturi Naka)from Neral Railway Station

Chowk Point in Matheran

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In about 20 minutes time we reached Chowk Point. On the way we saw a barricade from where we were able to get an amazing view of the landscape below.

Why is this place called Chowk Point when the view is not as good as the one you can get at Little Chowk Point?

This stretch on the way to One Tree Hill from Little Chowk Point is called the Chowk Point

There are no hotels here; it’s just on the way to One Tree Hill. If you come on horseback then the guide will show you the Point but if you come alone then do ask Ravi at Little Chowk Point and he will guide you to Chowk Point. Having seen the view here, we headed off to the Market as it was growing dark.

Photo of the Day - Footprint in the Sand

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

That is my footprint in the sand at Versova Beach. The best part of the sand is that you can create lots of innovative art forms in the sand,   Artist build sculptures in the sand and chidren build forts and castles in the sand, The imprint of the foot  lasts only for a few minutes or seconds, the winds and the water will wash away. Nothing lasts forever. 

Photo of the Day - Moon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I captured this photo of the moon, at Daria Mahal in Versova, yesterday. The yellow colored full Moon looked very nice in the dark night with no stars for company.

Little Chowk Point in Matheran

Monday, October 29, 2012

It took us around 20 minutes to reach Little Chowk Point from Olympia.

The view from here is just amazing; we could see Gabut point and a few plateaus in the distance along with the hill ranges and valleys. There were hamlets in the middle of nowhere. Where is the access rood to these villages, I wondered. I couldn’t see any.

Directions to Little Chowk Point on a structure. One has to stand on this structure inorder to sit on the horse
 The view from here was a bit foggy. It was difficult to understand why that should be so, especially as it was hot. Perhaps the culprit was global warming. You never know.

There is a small refreshment stall here named “Sahayadri Cold Drink House,” manned by Mr. Ravi. As he busied himself in the preparation of some Ice Cold Lemon Sodas that we had ordered, I busied myself in asking him a few questions about this place.
View of the Matheran from Little Chowk Point
 But before I could start, he started telling me about this place. He said, “Karjat Film City can be seen from here when the weather is clear. There are many other villages in the distance that can also be seen from here.”

He spoke about the celebrities who come here, the heavy rains and the hailstones that fall and the monkeys around that don’t hurt people unless you get scared.
Another view of the Little Chowk Point
I asked him about Panthers Cave. And he told me that it was just behind the Race Course. I told him that we had come from there but had not sighted the cave, nor did any of the villagers know of it.

He then told me about the water tank behind the race course. Apparently a road there led to the caves. I decided to follow it the next day as I had still to cover Chowk Point and head back to the Market before it got dark.

Olympia Race Course in Matheran

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On our way to Little Chowk Point we asked a few villagers for directions to Olympia as we had been able to locate it on our map, but there were no signboards to help us.

The villagers were carrying bales of hay on their heads. I wonder how much they get paid just to cut the dried grass and sell it off to the horse owners.

The villagers gave us directions to the race course, but when I asked them about the whereabouts of Panther’s Cave, they said they didn’t know about it.

Olympia Race Course in the middle fo the thick jungle on Matheran
This was a momentary setback, but then we figured that if the name, Panther’s Cave, featured on the map, then it meant that the place did indeed exist. Perhaps it was known by a different name locally. That would explain why the local people had not heard of it.

It took us around 25 minutes to reach Olympia from Rambaug Point.

In the midst of thick forest suddenly there was a huge open ground. It had two tracks, one on the inside and the other on the outside. I guess horse races take place on both the tracks.

The  horse hooves in the mud at the Olympia Race Course
I located a horseman here and decided to bombard him with a few questions. “When are these races held, and who participates in them?” He told me that the races are held in the month of May and that local horses from Matheran participate in them.

I decided that I would get the exact dates of the race out and try to see one for myself, but he didn’t provide me with the dates.

The outer track clearly showed the imprint of the horses’ shoes on it. Perhaps the horses had already started practicing for the championship.

I imagined the stadium full of people sitting and cheering and thud - that was the sound of the gun, marking the start of the race. Horses racing in the mud, struggling to be the first to arrive at the finish point. The sound of the hooves and the loud cheering of the crowd adding to it, it would surely be a sight to see.
I then headed off to see Little Chowk Point.

Rambaug Point in Matheran

Monday, October 1, 2012

It took us 30 minutes to travel through the forest to reach Rambaug Point. Again it offered us a beautiful view of Gabut Point and Alexander Point.

Board with instructions at the point
Thank God there is a hotel here that offers refreshments. Actually, the place is not so much an actual hotel as a private residence that doubles up as a vending place for refreshments.
View of Alexander Point and Garbut Point
I really envied the people who live here. They enjoy their daily quota of the most beautiful views of the hills and valleys. I wish I had a home here so that I too could enjoy the beauty of nature.
Thats me exploring the way to the village below
There is a village below which has been a home to tribals for hundreds of years. I met a few at the hotel and asked them where the way down led to. One of the ladies replied, “Gavat,” meaning, their village.

The home cum hotel serving refreshments
After having a couple of cold lemon sodas here we decided to visit Little Chowk Point

Alexander Point in Matheran

Monday, September 24, 2012

As I had already covered a few points in Matheran, I decided to save time by not going to see them again. I didn’t have much time here, and it was better to explore places I hadn’t seen, rather than go over already seen territory. So I set off to see Alexander Point.

It took us around 30 minutes to reach this point.

There is a proper road that takes one there and there are well-marked signboards on the way, indicating the whereabouts of the place.
View of Matheran from Alexander Point
 As the place is strewn with red mud, we were pretty sure that within no time we would get all dusty walking upon it, and that is exactly what happened.

At one place, I could locate Gabut Point and the small village below it from here. A lot of hill ranges and valleys around Matheran can be seen from here. 
Thats me at Alexander Point
A note to those who might plan to travel here: There is no hotel here for refreshments so carry some water on the journey.

Our next pit stop, Rambaug Point, was also visible from here. Sitting here and enjoying the view of the countryside was a completely amazing feeling.

Photo fo the Day - Bulb

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I captured this photo of a bulb on my trip to Erangal Village. As the lady at the shop switched on the bulb, it slowly started glowing. As the light began to glow brighter, it began attracting flies.
Like us humans, even flies are attracted to the light.
Let's spread the light, and drive away the darkness.
To read more on my trip to Erangal Village, click here

Kaldurg Fort

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The last time I visited Kaldurg fort, I could not reach the top. 

To read about Unconquered Kaldurg Fort Trek in Palghar

What a shame! But someone has rightly said, “Try, try, till you succeed!” I therefore decided to make yet another attempt to climb Kaldurg Fort.

This time I planned my trip with Aashish Chawla. I had met Aashish via my blog. He loves to read my posts and visit the places that I have visited.
We met a day before the trip to discuss the train timing and other details. We planned to board the 4.54 am train to Virar which lands at Virar at 5.50 am. This would give us enough time to board the Virar Dahanu shuttle at 6.15 am. In case we missed the 4.54 am train, we had a backup train to Virar at 4.58 am. These two trains are slow trains. I had told Aashish about the 5.20 am fast train to Virar which arrives at Virar at 6.10 am. But he put off the suggestion, saying that it would be a race against time to reach the Virar Dahanu Shuttle. If we missed this connecting train, we would have a long wait in store. The next train is after a gap of 1½ hours. So we decided to board the 4.54 am train.
I had told him that I had been to this fort before and that we had to discontinue the climb midway and so I had planned to do it again.
It appeared that things were not going to work out according to our plan. Read on to find out just how.
The next morning at 4.40 am, I was at the station near the ticket booking counter. I decided to call Aashish to confirm whether I should book the tickets. So I called him up. The phone rang and rang and then got disconnected. Had Aashish changed his mind about going on this trip? Why hadn’t he called me? I would not have woken up so early. I began to grumble to myself.
Kaldurg Fort in a Distance

Within two minutes, Aashish called back to say that he had just woken up and that he would reach the station within 15 minutes. He told me to book the tickets. The only hitch was that we would end up missing the 4.54 and 4.58 am trains. Our only bet was the 5.20 am train, which we had decided against because of the little time it would afford us between disembarking from one train and boarding another.
Nevertheless, I bought the tickets at a cost of Rs 15 per head and waited eagerly on platform no 4 where the fast train was supposed to arrive. How the guy managed to do it, I do not know, but he showed up just as the train arrived, and we managed to board the train after all.
Now we were hoping that we didn’t miss our Virar Dahanu Shuttle at Virar.
Our train arrived at 6.05 am at Virar. Aashish got out and began to run towards the platform. I followed suit. We had a lot of running to do. It was a close call. Finally after a lot of running, we boarded a decidedly ‘fishy’ smelling train and managed to get ourselves a place to sit.
Only to find out that the train left at 6.20 am. I told Aashish that we were destined to board the fast train, to which he readily agreed.
Aashish is 48 years old but has the spirit of a teenager. He was very active and I was shocked that he started trekking just a year ago. It was a privilege to trek with him.
At 6.47 am, we landed at Palghar station. We managed to get morning tea and vada pav for breakfast and then started off to the share-a-rickshaw stand to board our ride to Wagoba Mandir on the way to Manor.
 At 7 am, we were in the rickshaw, waiting for the rickshaw to be full so that we could have a head start. Finally after a 20-minute wait, the rickshaw was full. We were all cooped up like cattle, and the rickshaw driver was clearly bent on piling in more passengers than his vehicle could properly accommodate.
After a 20-minute ride in the congested rickshaw at a cost of Rs 15 per head, we were at the Wagoba Mandir.
Luckily there were few monkeys here; compared to the last time I was here. We wasted no time and decided to start with our trek.

Aashish and me up Kaldurg Fort

It was 7.45 am on my watch. We started climbing. The climb is vertical. Aashish told me that he has been to at least 25 to 30 forts and never has the climb been so vertical at the initial stage.
But we managed to motivate ourselves and kept going, taking small two-minute breaks in between and finally reached the basalt rock plateau in a record breaking 50 minutes.
Aashish immediately assembled some stones to mark the place as everything looked similar here. Trekkers’ instincts, I should say.
The last time I came here, we had reached this spot in two hours time, because we had gone down the wrong path. But this time we decided to take only the road going upward, ignoring the other roads.
The rock patch offers a good view of the land, the water bodies, the curvy road leading to Manor from Palghar and the Fort of Kaldurg up on the hill.
Now we had another question in our minds. There was a small gap in the rock that led to the top. We were hoping that it would not be the way to the fort. It looked difficult from here. Imagine what it would be when we neared it?
But that did not stop us; we took a 30-minute break and started on the tricky journey upwards.
Walking on the narrow trails, mainly comprising loose mud, we finally reached the place where we had given up.
From there we followed the up-down, inside curve, outside curve, mud, stones and loose mud trail to the top of the fort and at 10 am we were at the top.
This is the highest point in Palghar. All the other hill ranges were far below this one.

View fo Palghar from Kaldurg Fort

The feeling of accomplishing something that we couldn’t do is truly amazing. Its only after you fail once that you appreciate the true meaning of achievement.
Not much remains of this fort today. A wall comprising five stone bricks is all that can be called a fortification. The top part is made of huge rocks that appeared to us as the fortification from the basalt plateau. I guess the shape and the colour is what made us think of it as the wall.
We could locate three rectangular shaped cutouts in the rock. These are water tanks which had dried up. They were not too deep. There is no water supply on this fort. So if you are planning your trip in the summer, carry at least three litres of water.
Unfortunately, some ignorant fools had written their names all over the rock surfaces. Idiots. When will they learn?
This is actually a watchtower as it provides an amazing view of the land below. The water bodies nearby, the roads from Palghar to Manor and the factories in Palghar.
We sat on the rocks and ate Aashish's egg parathas, while enjoying the cool breeze.
Then it was time for the climb down. While the ascent was difficult, I realised that climb down would be even more treacherous. Somehow I am not too confident when it comes to walking on loose soil.
Aashish was there, supporting me and guiding me down the cliff as we started the descent at 10.30 am. We reached the basalt rock plateau at 11.20 and after taking a 15-minute break we were down at the temple at 12.20 pm. We had managed to climb up and down in four hours. Kudos to us.
At the temple we had a splash in the water from the hand pump. After refreshing ourselves, we saw an ST bus approaching. We signaled it to stop and boarded it and alighted at Palghar station. The fare of the ST bus is cheaper than the rickshaw, as it cost us just Rs 14 (for both).
The frequency of the ST bus is lesser than the rickshaw, so people commute more by rickshaw and travelling in that congested rickshaw is a pain. Travelling was so much fun in the empty bus.

Me atop the Fort
After having our lunch, we were at the station waiting for our train which was scheduled at 2.45 pm. It was the Virar Dahanu Shuttle that was going to take us to Virar.
We killed time talking to fellow passengers. They could not believe that we had come to Palghar to see a fort. Then Aashish pointed out the fort to them. Why this fort, was their next question. Aashish told them that we love to do such stuff that involves breaking of hands and legs; it gives us great joy. Ha-ha
Finally the train arrived and we were at Virar and from there boarded a train to Andheri and from there - home.
We got everything right on this trek. We didn’t get lost on the hills; we boarded the train that we had planned to board, and everything went smoothly. The heat was not that strong to exhaust us so we managed to pull off this trek in half a day.
A big thank you to God who was with me on this trek.
Finally I can say that I have conquered Kaldurg with Aashish. Next in the line of fire is Mahuli. Why? Because it remains unconquered.

Tricolour in the Eye

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I captured this photo of the tricolour in the eye of Hithakshi my travel buddy on my trip to Malvan. To read more on my explorations in Malvan stay glued to my blog

Collage of a Man

Monday, August 13, 2012

This collage of a man, designed entirely out of fabric, including clothing, is the handiwork of my eight-year-old nephew, Aaron. Just goes to show what a creative mind can do out of stuff that is all around us.

Photo fo the Day - The Reflector Bus

Monday, August 6, 2012

I snapped this photo on my trip to Sinhagad with Nelson and Nimesh. We were waiting for a bus, (State Transport Bus,  our mode of transport to the forts in Maharashtra) to take us to the base village of Sinhagad when the light-emitting reflectors on this bus caught my eye.
To read about my exploration of Sinhagad,

The Heart Shaped Stone

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hi Friends, on my trip to Mahuli Fort, I noticed this stone.
Have you ever seen a stone that is heart-shaped? Must be one of a kind, although there are thousands of hearts that are stony.
To read about my experience at Mahuli, click here


Belapur Fort

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The rays of the early morning sun shone down on the sea, framed by mangroves along the shore. It was a site worth seeing from the bastion of the fort, although the fort itself stands in ruins today.
This is the story of Belapur Fort, once a watchtower perched on a hilltop, watching over the sea and the mangroves.
This fort was initially built by the Siddhis who had built the massive fort of Murud Janjira,  To read about Murud Janjira which later went into the hands of the Portuguese. Subsequently, it was conquered by the Marathas, and finally taken over by the British.  
Tower of Belapur Fort located at the Kille Junction, thats why the junction is called Kille Junction. This tower is covered by trees all around it making it difficult to locate it from a distance. There is a small garden at the base of the tower. The tower is a storey tall but there is no way of accessing the top floor

Today just a bastion stands, and even this has developed huge cracks in it. The walls have broken down and there are very few structures still standing, making it difficult to figure out what it must have been.
This is our history which lies unattended today, and if we don’t take care of it, it might not even exist after some years. Fortunately there is some good news at hand. Jiten Kumar, the watchman of Forest Hills Society, informed me that CIDCO [City and Industrial Development Corporation] was planning to renovate the fort. The news brought a broad smile to my face. If not for such efforts, the whole fort will surely crumble.
The fort is very small. I could not locate any graffiti here. Maybe there are no walls to write on or maybe no one has even heard of this fort.  There are two small ponds near the fort premises with lovely lotus flowers blossoming in the water. I was unhappy to see the lake covered in a sheet of green algae. It could certainly do with some cleaning.  
View from the Belapur Fort located near the Forest Hills Society

The fort is located very close to the Forest Hills Society which is also perched on the hill rock. In fact one can enter the fort from Wing A of the society. This fort is very close to Kille Junction and located in Sector 32. 
A small road, running parallel to the Uran highway from Kille Junction, leads to the fort.  A little ahead the road divides into two, one leading to CIDCO guesthouse and Forest Hills Society and the other to the Fort. In fact, either of the two roads will eventually take you to the fort.
Kille Junction is so named because there are two forts here in Belapur. Both are bastions at a distance of 20 minutes from each other. While the former gives you a view of the sea and the mangroves, the latter offers a view of the Road Junction that connects Uran, Mumbai and Thane to Belapur.

Some structures located atop the fort

The fort at Kille Junction is so well camouflaged near the trees that one can hardly locate the fort here. I found it difficult to locate it myself.
This fort was in a better condition than the one I had left behind. The walls of this fort were made of stone and held together with a cement-like material. Patches of grass, now dry, had sprouted within the walls. This is a two-storeyed building but there is no way to access the top stories. The walls had small narrow holes in them to support guns to shoot the approaching enemy.
This is also a watch tower which enabled people in the old days to watch over the land. Currently I believe some soul has made it his home, as I saw a mat and some cooking utensils in there.

Some more structures located atop the fort with openings for window

The tower which once used to watch over the land now silently watches over the busy highway that connects various places together. It has certainly seen some modernisation.
The tower is very close to Belapur CBD railway station. After alighting from the station, you have to board a rickshaw to Kille Junction. The trip takes around 10 minutes and the fare is Rs 17.  There is no provision for food and water near the fort premises.

The pond full of lotus and infestd with algae at the bottom of the fort
Both the forts are not in very good condition. I hope CIDCO’s plans to work on the renovation of these forts come to fruition. It would be nice to see these forts restored to their past beauty. If that is not possible, at least some attempt can be made to maintain the remains well.
So that is what I saw on my visit to Belapur Fort. A big Thank you to Ameya Gokhale who introduced me to this fort via his blog and to Flature who accompanied me on my visit to this fort.

Map : Belapur Station to Belapur Fort

View Larger Map

Vajreshwari Hot Water Springs

Monday, July 23, 2012

I had never been to the hot springs before. I checked with my net reference, Google, and learned that a hot spring is a component of the hydrosphere; it is a natural occurrence where water flows to the surface of the earth from below the surface.

So I decided to pay it a visit. Now I had been planning this trip for quite some time with Hithakshi. But somehow we could not make it. Finally one day out of the blue, Milind, a college friend, called me and we decided to head to Vajreshwari.
I immediately filled my rucksack with a 2.25-litre bottle of water, a must to cope with the heat, along with my camera and scarf and headed off to Andheri station.
Now there was a huge crowd for the tickets at the station but I was lucky enough to get tickets immediately and boarded a Virar local. I wasted no time and immediately messaged Milind to let him know when the train would reach Borivali and the compartment that I was in.

Vajreshwari Temple
In five minutes, the train was at Borivali and Milind got in the train. He had brought no bag along. I was happy that at least one of us was carrying a water bottle. I always advocate the carrying of a water bottle to meet any emergency. Food we were supposed to eat on the way wherever we saw an eatery.

At 12:20 noon, we were at Vasai Road railway station. We then headed to the ST bus station to board a bus to Vajreshwari. We refreshed ourselves with some sugarcane juice at the bus stand and then inquired at the inquiry desk about the timings of the bus. The buses, we were told, plied at a frequency of one every half hour; the next one was at 1 pm. We had to board a bus going to Vajreshwari or Akaloli.
We had ½ hour in hand and so instead of wasting time at the bus station, we decided the time would be better spent eating. We had Tomato Onion Uttappa at Hotel Haridwar. An Uttappa is a dosa-like dish in which other ingredients like tomato and/or onion, chilli are mixed with the batter. The uttappa took very long to arrive, so much so that we were afraid it would cost us our bus.
Finally everything happened in the nick of time. Our food arrived, we ate and immediately left. As we reached the bus depot, we learned that our bus had arrived and was waiting for us.

Within Vajreshwari Temple premises

We immediately boarded the bus and got ourselves seats on the last row in the bus. We both knew that the journey would be a rollercoaster ride all the way for the next one hour. Our tickets cost us Rs.57.
We had been on the road for nearly an hour when the passengers, some of them, began to disembark. So we hopped on to seats in the front. Finally at 2:20 pm, the bus reached. Vajreshwari Temple The roads were empty all the way but as soon as we neared the temple the traffic jams started. Fortunately, the bus wasn’t caught in the jam for too long.
The Vajreshwari temple is located on a hillock and a series of steps take us atop the temple. The roads near the temple are very narrow; there are shops on either side of the road. These shops sell food and articles of worship

View of the fort of Mahuli from Vajreshwari Temple

We headed off to the steps. There were yellow coloured circles, two of them in the middle of the stairs. They started from the ground and went on all the way to the top. There were small wax lanterns (diyas) kept on the stairs.  I also spotted a golden tortoise on the steps.
We finally reached the entrance of the temple. The walls of the temple looked as if they were the walls of a fort. Even the stone used to built the temple looked liked the stone used to build fort walls.
The temple was beautifully carved out of the rock; even the pillars of the temple were beautifully carved and coloured. There are many small temples in its premises.
There was a big crowd to see the temples. The temple premises are quite small and it would take less than 20 minutes to see the temple. Now I had a question in my head. Where are the hot springs?
Milind asked one of the caretakers, who informed us that the springs were located around 1 km away from the temple.

Milind and Me

From atop here we saw the entire village surrounding the temple. Even the Mahuli Fort, which I had failed to conquer, was easily visible but I couldn’t locate the springs.
We then started our walk to the hot springs. Rickshaws and horse carts (tongas) also take you to the hot springs. But considering the way they were stuffing people in them, we decided to walk it out.
There are many hotels on the way offering travelers lodging facilities, both AC and non AC rooms with TV.  They had advertised on walls and placards placed all over. I wondered what kind of seedy joints they would turn out to be. The sort of places where you would do well to keep your expectations low. If there is a toilet, then great! You know what I mean.
We saw a river like formation flowing parallel to the road that led us to the springs. Many people were bathing in it. I wondered if this was the famous hot springs. After making a few inquiries, we learned that the springs were ahead.

Hot water springs packed with people

After walking for 45 minutes, we finally reached our destination. This place was crowded with cars and sheds built by the locals to serve refreshments to the people. But where were the springs?
As we were walking to the sheds I saw a huge group of people in semi nude state bathing near the springs.
We had refreshments and then headed off to see the springs. These were small rock structures which were cut in the ground with square shaped basins of various sizes filled with water.
There are six such springs out of which four attract huge crowds. The water is hot and I dipped my feet in it. But the crowd was quite rowdy. Even though there were instructions put up advising people not to bathe in the water, people were merrily bathing. I wondered how clean the water was. Not very, considering the unwashed state of the bathers.

Our Chicken Thali
Hungry, we headed off to Vajreshwari temple. Just outside the temple there are many eateries. We patronised Hotel Kerala Kunn Bhuwan as it was highly praised by the people and other food eateries alike. We ate chicken thali and the food was truly amazing. Home cooked food. We couldn’t stop eating chicken and the rice chapattis.
The time was now 4:30 pm and we decided to walk to the bus stop after such a heavy lunch. We then boarded a bus to Vasai. Alternatively there are buses which ply from Virar to Vajreshwari, besides the private vehicles.
Vajreshwari temple and the hot springs are located on Akaloli- Vajreshwari Road, Vajreshwari in Bhiwandi taluka in Thane district, pin code being 401204.
Though the springs still have hot water in them, I guess the people should be educated on how to use the water in the springs, by just dipping their feet in it and not bathing in it.
It was a good outing. The only negative part involved the people at the springs.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

For many, Udvada is a small town located in Gujarat, but for the Parsi Community it is the place where it all began.

After the Parsis left Iran, they landed on Indian shores at a place called Sanjan in Gujarat. From there on they moved to Udvada.

Houses in Udvada
As I entered the narrow streets I saw beautiful old Parsi houses. Most were ground-floor structures with extended porches. A few were a storey tall with balconies protruding out. Most of the houses were closed, the windows and doors tightly barred and a huge lock hanging on the doors. The houses had photos of Ahura Mazda prominently positioned at the entrance. Each of the houses had a well outside. I guess the well played a very important role in their culture.

As I crossed the bylanes, all I saw were houses and more houses but not a soul on the streets. Surprising, I said to myself. So many houses but not a single person here. I moved on to see more locked up houses.

Houses in Udvada

Finally I met an elderly Parsi lady named Mahrukh. I decided to have a conversation with her to know more about the place. I asked her, “Why is it that all these houses are locked up?” to which she replied, “The people who used to reside here are now in Mumbai. They live there and come down here in the month of May, as it is holiday season there. Alternatively they do come down for Parsi festivals too.” She then pointed out the Iranshah Atash Behram and said to me, “The Iranshah Atash Behram is the most important Fire Temple for all Zoroastrians across the globe, and all Parsis pay it a visit.” She then added that though the Fire Temple was established only around 400 years old, the fire in it is 1,280 years old. I found this very fascinating.
I thanked her for the information provided by her and headed off to see the Iranshah Atash Behram. The fire temple is beautiful. The following words are engraved on the entrance: “Homage unto Thee Oh Fire of Ahura Mazda” As I am not a Parsi, I was not allowed entry inside.

Houses in Udvada

But I spoke to Mr. Dastur who resides just outside the Fire Temple. He sells articles of worship.
He told me about the history of the Fire Temple. The information he gave was the same as given to me by Mahrukh. He told me that the priest stays next to the fire temple and that there are around 150 Parsi households here but only a few houses were actually occupied.
He told me that there are no schools and hospitals in Udvada. Also, he added, there was no way to earn an income so people had no option but to leave this place and head over to Mumbai for education and other facilities. He told me that most people do come back in the month of May for their holidays and that the streets were bustling with people then.

Houses in Udvada

Globe Hotel is located very close to the Fire Temple. The tariff at this hotel is Rs 1500 for a day’s stay, inclusive of three meals.
As I had finished viewing the streets of Udvada, I didn’t see any point in staying here any longer. Also, I wanted to head over to Silvassa, my next destination.

Iranshah Atash Behram

Don’t be surprised if someone questions you on taking pictures of these beautiful houses the way I was interrogated. I was questioned about where I came from, my profession and reason for visiting Udvada. I should have asked for prior permission of the house owners before taking photographs.
Udvada can be reached by both rail and road. Gujarat Express and Saurashtra Express halt at the Udvada railway station. If you are travelling by road, you have to take the NH8. Exit for Udvada instructions are given on the highway sign boards.

Razzberry and Icre Cream soda, the local cold drinks, too good

I enjoyed roaming around the streets filled with old Parsi houses. Each of the houses was unique. The windows, doors, balconies, porches and the wells outside the houses were an amazing sight to see. Not a single soul occupied these houses and there was not a soul on the steets. All about me wore a deserted look. I felt as though I was a cowboy visiting a ghost town. Only thing that was missing was my cowboy costume and my horse.
If you love Parsi cuisine, then Globe Hotel, Adarsh Hotel, Ashsisvang Hotel and Irani Inn are the places to enjoy a hearty Parsi meal.

I then headed off to a small hotel to have raspberry and ice cream soda. Having thoroughly enjoyed both the drinks, I headed off to see Silvassa, my next pit stop.

Popular Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...