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Goa - Road to Cabo de Rama Fort

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

After having breakfast at Madgaum Cafe we decided to visit Cabo de Rama Fort.

Now we had three options, public transport, Private Car or Bike. We decided to take the services of a bike to travel around as it would save on time and also we could travel where buses wouldn't take us.

There are buses plying from Margao City to Cabo de Rama Fort, this is the cheapest mode of transport. But the frequency is not very good so we decided to avoid it. Car travel is very comfortable but costly as compared to Bike and so we decided on bike. 

Bikes are available on rental basis near the Garden at Margao City. The Yellow Building to be more precise. Not sure what the name is. We took Hero Honda Splendor Plus to travel around. Rental being Rs.250 for a day excluding petrol. Filled the tank with Petrol worth Rs.200 we headed out of the city on the NH 17 to Cabo de Rama Fort.

Goa has very good roads, I should say. Felt good to drive on them and we were enjoying every part of our journey. No potholes on the tarred roads.

It was a gloomy day, and as it was monsoon season we were sure it would rain any time so we were prepared for it. In the rains it is advisable to drive slowly as the roads are wet and bikes can skid anytime due to thin tires.

The Fort is located in Cancona District around 25 km, from Margao City. So by bike it would take us around an hour's time to reach it. We took the NH 17, took a right at Chinchinim,, crossed Assolna, then Betul and then finally Cabo de Rama Fort.

The Tar roads cut through the fields. We could see fields all around, flooded with water. Some of the fields were green, others were golden but we could see them as far as our eye could see them. The skies were dark and cloudy waiting to pour on us. 

We crossed a couple of bridges the view which they provided was just amazing. The huge water bodies with coconut trees all around them. Tiny houses next to the water bodies. I wouldn't mind having a house next to the river. Fishing everyday for fresh fish , marinating them in herbs and cooking over firewood. The taste of it. Oh la laa. My mouth has already started watering just thinking about it. 

The population of coconut trees is increasing in Goa. This part of Goa gives you the feeling as if you are in Kerala. But you are in Goa.

The roads were deserted, every 10 to 15 minutes we could see a vehicle passing by. Though sign boards are missing here, I can't say missing but very few of them. But you can ask the people they are very friendly and give correct directions. We asked near the Churches and market areas, they gave correct directions and hence we reached the fort in an hours time. 

Goa - Fishing in a Pond

Monday, November 24, 2014

On our way back from Colva Beach, I noticed this man sitting next to the pond with his traditional fishing stick. Waiting for a good catch.

Hope he gets a good catch. Patience and sharpness are virtue here. I guess Fish is the main course for dinner tonight :) 

Goa - Colva Beach

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The entire trip we have been exploring historical monuments across Goa. 
Colva Beach
Was getting a kind of monotonous for Namrata and she wanted a break from history.  So she decided on Colva beach.

"No ways, Not Colva" In said. to this she asked, "Why?" to this I replied, "I had been to Colva beach in my schooling days, The kind of crowd it gathered in those days was sickening and to add to it pigs too dominated the beach."
Colva Beach
Namrata convinced me to accompany her by sponsoring food and drinks for the night. To which I readily agreed.

Colva is located in Salcete, in South Goa made up of white sand and the shore covered with coconut trees. As it is a famous tourist destination there are lifeguards who continuously patrol the sea. 
Colva Beach
It was a dull day at sea. The sun hid itself behind the clouds and the strong winds blowing all around made me feel good. It was low tide and in a matter of minutes it started changing.

As we didn't carry any beachwear, we decided to talk for a few km on the shoreline. The cold water lashing on our feet made me feel good. Namrata contined to have good fun, splashing water on herself and me like a child.
Low Tide at Colva Beach
There were not many people at the beach. Which was good. I don't like crowded beaches. 

It changed my outlook towards Colva Beach atleast for that day. I didn't mind tying a hammock between two coconut trees and sipping on some ice cold beer and reading a travel guide. If wishes were horses men would ride. LOL.
Coconut trees on the beach stretch
We then headed off to Margao City to have our dinner, which was to be sponsored by Namrata. 

Jaora, History of Jaora

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We kick started the very same day by visiting the Dargah's in its premises.

A little bit of history for starters. Mohsin is well versed with the history of this place. So he was both my guide and historian on this journey.

As per him, this shrine of Hussain Tekri was built by the Nawab of Jaora, Mohammad Iftikhar Ali Khan Bahadur, in the 19th century, situated on the outskirts of Jaora town in the Ratlam district of Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, India.

The Nawab was buried in the same graveyard where Hussain Tekri was built.

Thousands of people from all over the world visit these shrines. 

He introduced me to a term called "Hajri", Hajri means to pay a visit. People who are mentally sick visit this place in large numbers to relieve themselves from being possessed by Jinns, Ghosts and Demons. The best thing is that there is no human involved here. These demon creatures have long dialogue with the Deities in the shrines, and finally surrender and leave the bodies of the victims. 

To read about Shrines of Hussain Tekri     

Goa - Japanese Garden and Beach in Vasco

After visiting the small Mormugao Fort in the vicinity of the Mormugao Port Trust we headed onto the main road to have some refreshments. 
Japanese Garden signboard
As we were sipping on cold drinks, I inquired with the shopkeeper if there is anything around which she could suggest, we pay a visit too. To this she replied Japanese Garden poile" meaning have you seen Japanese Garden. To which I replied, "Na" She gave us instructions and we decided to walk it out. 
Fortification via which is the entrance to the temple and the beach
In the past also I have taken instructions from locals on my treks and been walking for hours and hours at a stretch when they say it is just twenty minutes away. 

I quickly inquired if I need to walk or board a bus to Japanese Garden to which, the lady declined and said that I will reach there i twenty minutes. Not again. But I still decided to go by her word.
Cross near the beach
In a matter of twenty minutes we were at the Japanese Garden. The Mormugao Port Trust looks after the maintenance of the garden.

Now this place is divided into two parts, the garden and then stairway to the secluded beach down below. 
Durgamata Shiv Mandir
We were on the stairway that led to the beach. As Goa had received its share of heavy rains, the entire area as full of creeper and wild vegetation. A zig zag stairway finally leads down the hill. Japanese Garden is situated on a hill.

We need to cross trough an old fortification to reach the beach. This fortification is not around the entire place, just a part of it. Maybe it was all around but had collapsed over the years. 
Coconut trees near the beach
The Durgamata Shiv Mandir (temple) is located very near to the beach. Now as we were approaching the beach the weather had started changing course. The Sun had disappeared behind 
the dark clouds and it had started blowing. No sign of the rain though.

There is a Cross erected near the Temple. No signboard as to why it was erected there. Historical significance is unknown. 
View of the beach
Just below the temple is the beach. "A secluded beach just for us" I said to Namrata. to which she readily agreed. It is a small strip of land or should I say beach with rocks all over it. As it was high tide the wild waves were lashing against the rocks and onto the shore. Each wave bought us more closer to the temple premises and to top it, it had started raining. That too heavily. We got some wonderful shots here. 

The weather was so nice that I felt like tying a hammock between two coconut trees and sipping some ice cold beer. Only if wishes were horses men would ride. But I will make sure that the next 
time I am on a each I will carry a hammock and a can of beer for sure to relive one of my many wishes.
View of the beach
"Castaway" is the word that came to our minds. Soon we could here sounds of men talking in a distance, as it was raining they were racing to reach the temple which offered shade. "It ain't Castaway, any longer" I said to Namrata, to which we both burst out laughing.
Stairs leading to the beach
We waited till the rain had stopped and then we headed out to visit the garden which is located on the edge of the hilltop.
Dark clouds in the sky
The garden offers a panoramic view of the hills, the sea at large in a distance. Plenty of ships sailing in the water.
Bus to Japanese Garden (Sada)
Finally we reached the bus stop again. Mini buses ply to this part of Vasco city. The Japanese Garden is located in Sada. So any bus plying to MPT colony, Sada and Vasco KTC and back needs to be boarded to reach here. Alternatively this place can also be reached by a private vehicle. For the beach below it needs to be trekked.

Jaora, Tum Tum to Hussain Tekri

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We were out of the train and into a Tum Tum to take us to Hussain Tekri.  To read about Train to Jaora. We divided ourselves amongst the two rickshaws [Tum Tum]. One went to Hussain Tekri the other did a de tour, to buy beef samosa and kebab for breakfast. Beef Samosa. This is the gate to heaven is what I said to myself.
Jaora Railway Station

 After shopping for breakfast we headed off to Hussain Tekri. Mohsin had made arrangements for us to stay at one of the lodges here. The journey was a bumpy ride over the narrow roads. I guess this is the case with all roads in the villages. These roads can give you a severe backache. But if you are used to it then Aal is Wel. I personally didn't get any backaches in this journey.
Tum Tum
We had divided ourselves into three rooms. Don’t expect state of the art lodges here. This place is full of lodges to accommodate people who come here from every part of the country.
Tum Tum
Most of them are one storey lodges which can accommodate around 20 rooms, the rooms in these lodges are not very big but most have inbuilt restrooms. Hot water is provided at request 24*7. The lodges’ don’t have arrangement for food, so you have to eat food in the eateries outside the lodge.

Shop selling Beef Samosa
Our restroom was not attached and to top it, it had Indian commode. Now I am not used to it, but by the end of our trip, I got myself used to it. "I am so flexible" I said to myself.
Hussain Tekri

Goa - Mormugao Fort in Mormugao Port Trust in Vasco

Monday, November 17, 2014

We were informed about Mormugao Port and Fort by the manager at Hotel Gomati. Based on his instructions we set out to see the fort.

For a change we ditched the motorbike and decided to take the bus to Vasco. BTW Namrata wanted to travel by the local bus. Dream come true for her :)

From Margao City we boarded a mini bus at a cost of Rs.10 each to take us to Kadamba Bus Stand. As buses to Vasco depart from here. Sitting in the mini bus is a pain, the seats are not comfortable plus for a tall person there is no leg room at all. Somehow we managed to reached Kadamba Bus Stand.We were hoping to get a bigger and better bus to Vasco.

We got a big sized bus to go to Vasco. But again the same old story, seats are not comfortable and no leg room. I hope Namrata is having fun. LOL

The bus traveled by the internal tiny village route, up and down , left and right we went on the roads and finally in two hours time we were in Vasco. It cost us Rs.50. 

The bus stops near the Express Kadamba Bus Stand in Vasco City. Direct buses ply to Panjim and Margao. NO stops. We planned to take this bus on our return journey. 

We asked the locals around and finally were on another mini bus going to MPT Colony. 

Now this bus was jam packed. on our toes we were managing the weights of our bodies. As we didn't know where to alight we had informed the driver about it. BTW the bus driver doubles up as  the conductor on the bus. Saving on manpower I guess. 

Finally the driver shouted, "Mormugao Fort" it was time for us to alight. We  paid him Rs.10 each and alighted. He informed us that we need to enter the Mormugao Port Trust inorder to visit the fort and we did just that. 

We entered the Port premises and asked one of the guards and he directed us to the Fort. 

We walked on the path and in a matter of five minutes I could see the fortification. 

As it had rained here, it was green all around. The color was very soothing to our eyes.  

The walls of the fort are around a storey tall and are intact. The walls are made of bricks (chire) these are used for construction of houses in Goa too. 

A small doorway in the wall, will lead inside the fort. The fort is very small. It houses a Cross, Nossa Senhora De Piedade Chapel and a couple of rooms. 

The wall doesn't cover the entire fort but just a few portions of it. One can walk on the walls to get a better view of the Mormugao Port. Huge ships are harbored here. 

Each fort has a huge door to it, but this one had a small one. So maybe some portions of the fort have collapsed and this is all that remains of it. 

This fort was built by the Portuguese to keep a watch over the land and the sea. No idea when it was built. No mention about it in history.

We then headed off to sea Japanese Garden as suggested by the mini bus driver. 

Mahabaleshwar a hillstation in Maharashtra

Friday, November 14, 2014

After visiting Pratapgad it was now time for some lunch. 
View from Needle Point
We headed to the market place outside the ST bus depot to grab some lunch. All that we could see is Veg Restaurants all around. The time was 1:30 PM on my watch and we didn't want to waste time searching for a place to eat.
Panoramic View from Needle Point
We immediately settled down to have Punjabi Thali at one of the restaurants. Can't recollect the name of it. But it took us thirty minutes to get served. The time was already 2:00 PM on my watch. 
Elephant's Head
Now we had to eat quickly else we had to miss our bus ride. The lunch was amazing and we had a great time eating it. All this just for the price of Rs. 175 each. 
Needle's Point
We were done at 2:20 PM. We raced to the ST Bus Depot to board the Mahabaleshwar Darshan bus. Nick of Time. No sooner did we enter the bus, did the conductor take a final call of the passengers and we started off for the points. 
Balakwadi dam
The bus traveled on the narrow lanes of Mahabaleshwar. Again there was dense forestation on either side of the road. So there was a continuous clash of the trees and the bus. The bus survived 
and moved on. These are State Transport buses and the Driver doesn't give a damm. Had it been a private car, it would have got plenty of scratches on it. 
Me at Kate's Point
The moment we reached the point. The conductor announced that we have 20 minutes to see these points and that we need to be back on time, else we will have to cut a couple of points as we need to be present at Sunset Point at 5:30 PM. The time on my watch was now 2:55 PM. 
Krishna Devi Temple
The first set of points that we visited was Kate`s Point, Echo Point, Needle's Point and Elephant's Head. Though the view is amazing, all four points offer a panoramic view of the place. Not sure as to why the different names were given. Again along with us there was a huge crowd to see the panoramic view which these points had to offer. The Balakwadi dam can be viewed from here.
Step water well at Krishna Devi Temple
We spotted two camels here. Looking at their state I didn't want to snap them nor sit on them. They were in bad condition. Not sure why they were even there. 

Refreshments and snacks are available here. 

After getting some amazing snaps of the hills, valleys and the river we decided to move on to our next set of points.
Cow carved in stone with spout
On the way the bus stopped by Strawberry Valley. A farm where strawberry is grown on a large scale. They have acres of land just for farming of strawberries. Here is a photo of strawberry farming. 
The crop is grown for six months. Each of these saplings get a white flower which gets converted to a strawberry. Process looks quite tedious. We were then invited to taste some strawberry ice cream. To which everyone jumped to have one. Later they were informed that they had to shell out Rs.50 for each. There was grinding of teeth then. LOL.
Krishna Devi Temple
We then headed off to see Kshetra Mahabaleshwar (Old Mahabaleshwar). It comprises of temples. We had a total of thirty minutes here. We started off with Krishna Devi Temple. We had to walk on a muddy trail for around seven minutes to reach the temple.
Another view of Krishna Devi Temple
The temple made of black stone is truly beautiful. It stands on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Krishna River which flows from below. The pillars of the temple were beautifully carved. There was a beautiful stone sculpture in the shape of a cow, It has a spout in it's mouth from which water flows. I believe it is the water from river Krishna. Many visited it to taste the water. We didn't visit the 
temple from the inside as we were short of time and headed off to see the other temples. 
Another view of Krishna Devi Temple
The other three temples are located close to each other. The Panchganga Temple and Shiva Temple. Not sure as to what is the name of the third temple.
Temple in Kshetra Mahabaleshwar
The Panchganga Temple. Panchganga means Five Gangas. This temple is supposed to be the originator of Rivers Krishna, Gayatri, Savitri, Koyna and Venna. Not sure as to who had built them but they were renovated in Shivaji's era. The temple premises have got five spouts over which are carved the heads of cows in stone. The rivers flow in different direction. 
Cow's carved in stone
Next is Shiva Temple, photography is strictly prohibited in temple premises. We didn't visit the temple as there was already a huge crowd waiting in line to visit it. 

The stone used in the construction of these temples was not as old as the one at Krishna Devi Temple. So I believe these were renovated or built later.
Temple in Kshetra Mahabaleshwar
After visiting the temples we sat in the bus to visit the next set of points in Mahabaleshwar. The time was now 4:50 PM on my watch. 
Panchganga Temple
Arthur Seat Point, Echo Point, Hunter Point, Tiger Spring Point, Window Point and Malcom Point. These points were over crowded and all wanted to take photos. We were getting irritated with the 
behavior of the crowd.
View from Arthur Point
The best one is the Arthur Seat Point. It offers a amazing view of the River Savatri, to which he (Sir Arthur Malet) had lost his wife and children. Lord Arthur used to come and sit here and look at 
the river. The point offers a panoramic view of the hill ranges around and also the deep valleys within them. This point is also called as the Queen of the Points.
View from Arthur Point
The Tiger Spring Point. It is believed that animals from the jungle used to visit this place to drink fresh water from the hills. Currently it is visited more by humans and not animals. Had some water 
here, it is truely refreshing.

Next we visited the Hunter Point. The British used to hunt for animals here. This is what the signboard says. 
Lady distributing water at Tiger Spring Point
Next we visited Malcom Point. From here one can view Arthur Seat, Torana Garh Fort, Pratapgad Fort and Savitri Valley. As it was hazy outside we couldn't locate the Pratapgad Fort and Torana Garh Fort. Arthur Seat was clearly visible from here and so was the Savitri Valley.

As the weather was hazy I was not sure if we could get a good view of the sunset. We were supposed to see Sunset Point next.These points are again located very close to each other and so the view is more or less the same. 
Arthur Point
Again there are plenty of monkeys here so be careful of handbags and other belongings.

There is also a mini market here, which serves snacks and cold drinks and my favorite Gola and handmade ice creams.
View from Arthur Point
We then headed off to see the Sunset Point. Though the weather was hazy but all that had cleared and we got some amazing views of the sunset. The view of the sun setting among st the hills was refreshing to my eyes and the sound of bird's chirping in a distance was soothing to my ears.
View from Arthur Point
Finally it turned dark and it was time for us to sit in the bus and head back to Mahabaleshwar ST Bus Depot. In 20 minutes we were there. Though the time was just 6:15 PM on my watch, it had turned dark already. Winter had set in. Nights would be longer that the Days. 
View from Arthur Point
We then headed off to the ST stand to inquire if there are any buses to go to Panchgani. The Inquiry desk informed us that any bus plying to Pune or Wai would drop us to Panchgani. They also 
informed us that there are no Panchgani Darshan buses and that we would have to travel by taxi there. Also as Panchgani was a smaller hill station in comparison to Mahabaleshwar we were not sure if we would get a place to stay there for the night.
View from Arthur Point
Now we had to make a decision, as to either go to Panchgani or Mumbai. Panchgani had a total of five points to see. The bus to Mumbai was to leave at 2:30 PM and 3:00 PM. Not sure if we would be able to visit all those points. I overhead some talking about a flash taxi strike. That too on the weekend, so the taxi fares would be soaring high. This influenced my decision to return to Mumbai. 
Look's like there are two sun's in the sky
Now where would be get a bus to Mumbai. We checked with the private bus providers. No bus to Mumbai. I guess we had to stay in Mahabaleshwar for the night. We decided to visit the ST bus depot to check on buses to Mumbai the next day. What should I say, luck by chance. There was a bus to Mumbai waiting to depart in 10 minutes. We sat in the bus and headed to Mumbai. 
View from Sunset Point
Finally reached Mumbai at 4:00 AM the next morning after a rocking journey in our very own bus (Lal Dabba). 
Sunset at Sunset Point
Please do not ask me for the cost of lodging as we didn't stay here for the night.
Hill ranges at Sunset Point
We couldn't visit Wilson Point (Sunrise Point). So we decided that we would do it when we visit Wai and Panchgani.

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