Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kulaba Fort

Type: Sea forts
Grade: Easy
Base City: Alibaug
Distance: 155 KMs from Pune
Route: Pune-Khopoli-Pen-Alibaug
Time visited: Nov 2010
Time to see around: 1 hour max
How to visit: Park your vehicle on Alibaug beack. A 10 minutes Boat ride to the fort starts from here. They charge around 100/ per person for to and fro. In low tides you can actually walk or take a buggy ride. The boating is well organized and they issue a ticket on the counter.
Entrance fee: There is Rs 5 charge for the entrance to the fort.

This Diwali we decided to visit Naigaon beach and Kulaba fort of Alibaug. We reached early to Alibaug beach around 9 AM. There was very less crowd around.

Built on a rock island near Alibag town, Colaba, Kolaba or Kulaba fort was probably came under Shivaji command along with whole of south Konkan. This was later established as naval station. It attained importance under the Angres and was the main base of the Maratha navy.

The main entrance of the fort, called Maha Darwaja, faces the Alibaug city.

The Archelogical survey of India has maintained this fort. Once inside the fort there's a well paved road with structure on both side.

There are 17 Bastions and the parapet wall is 7-8 feet wide.

There are two entrance doors. The main entrance door face Alibaug city.

As you start entering the fort on the left is Bhavani temple and house of few people that still reside in the fort.

Further ahead there are huge remains of what probably could have been palaces. The second structure which is a two storied could have been queens/ladies palace. The decorative false windows on the inner wall offer a glimpse of the once beautiful structure.

The well maintained Ganesh temple built by Raghoji Angre in 1759 is work visiting.

The huge beautifully carved Tulshi Vrindavan is something to watch out.

Right in front of the temple is a huge squared water tank.

The southern gate is smallerv called as Daria / Yeshwant Darwaja.

The view from the southern gate look awesome.

On one of the Bastions near main entrance door there are two huge cannons.

From alibaug side there is a small fort-like structure called sarjyakot, which was probably constructed to store artillery and protect attack from alibaug side.

This mesmerizing beautiful structure over 300 years old is truly worth visit.

Karpe Wadi, Nagaon

Base City: Alibaug
Distance: 160 KMs from Pune, 6 Kms from Alibaug
Route: Pune-Khopoli-Pen-Alibaug-Nagaon
Time visited: Nov 2010
More info: Website

This Diwali nothing was planned till last moment. Finally Thursday we planned and finalized for Alibaug-Nagaon trip. Had been earlier and Nagaon was always on the radar for re-visit due to its proximity, clean and beautiful beach. I loved Kashid more but decided to avoid it as it was peak season and I was sure that we might not get rooms there. We hit the road 6M on 5th November friday. As soon as we reached Banglore highway it started to drizzle. The road was empty and we reached khopoli very quickly within an hour an half. On way we stopped at Vadhakkal Naka had the famous vada pav at Kshuda shanti opposite the IOC petrol pump. The family paper dosa was huge one.

We reached Nagaon by 9.30/10 AM. Follow a mud trail just a mile before the last right turn to common beach and the Karpe wadi resort is located at far end on the beach.

The car park is right at the entrance. As you enter you will start suddenly feeling fresh leaving back all your exhuastive tiring journey.

The whole resort is inside coconut and supari plantation with banana shoot adding to the charm. It was well maintained with pathways built to rooms.

The pricing was per/pax- 1000-1250 depending on the rooms including lunch-dinner-breakfast and tea. Didnt enquire about AC rooms...

A quick check-in was followed by welcome drink- the fresh coconut water. The main dining area is right in front of office. The rooms are pretty decent with more spacious on your left and some AC rooms and standard cottages on the right. Each room has its own hammock and relaxing wooden bench outside. There a small table for lunch an breakfast.

After dropping the luggage we hit the beach. By 1 pm we were hungry and headed for dining area.

The dining area looks cool with aesthetically well-designed furniture made from local wood probably. The food was tasty with variety options in veg. Nonveg was made on order basis. The food was served hot in the dining area and it’s a self-service. Since it was diwali they served Aamras in the lunch. The tandali chi bhakri in the evening was very tasty along with solkadhi.

Found the staff extremely warm and helpful. It was nice to see that they were accepting CC since lot of resorts in Konkan still prefer cash.

A small pathway leads right to amazing vast expanse of the beach. During hide tide the water comes very close but in the afternoon during low tide you have walk few miles to the water. Nagaon beach itself is known for it soft sand, clean and vast beach where you could roam in evening basking in the twilight or walk as the sun starts to rise. The beach here at Karpe’s wadi is almost like private complete with water tourism- speed boats, tow rides, water scooters, ATV rides on beach made available on demand.

We played in sand built a seafort and collected seashells :) After enjoying the warm fun filled evening had heartfelt of dinner we went straight for bed. Next day we had long walk early morning collected some more seashells and played in water. Since we were able to get a booking of one day we proceeded to find another hotel.

If you want to do nothing and love a quiet tranquil getaway this could be great place to relaaax.
We enjoyed another day in Nagaon and then proceeded to Alibaug.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


To reach pali take a exit for Khopoli on Mumbai-pune expressway. Pali is 35 Kms from Khopoli. The road is in very good condition but isnt that bad. The drive is pleasant though.

Pali’s Ballaleshwar is one of the Ganpati in "Ashtavinayak". There are small lakes in front of the temple. In the innermost part of the temple, there is a three-feet Ganesh idol.

Sarasgad Fort

Type : Hill forts
Grade: Medium
Base Village: Talai, Umbarwadi (Pali)
Distance: 115 KMs from Pune (35 Kms from Khopoli near Pali)
Time to reach to top : 1.5/2 Hours
Time visited: Aug 2010

Not much of historic information is available about this fort. This fort probably was used to keep a check on the surrounding regions.Shivaji Maharaj brought this fort under Swarajya aand later as under Bhor Sansthan. Sarasgad stretches out in the north-south direction, to the east of Pali. From both ends of the fort one can reach the top.

Well the plan was made for Sudhgad. We started at 6.30 AM from pune and reached Khopoli via expressway. After crossing Khopoli we took Road for Pali. The road is in very good condition but isnt that bad. The drive is pleasant though. Once you pass Jhambulwadi village the majestic Sarasgad with 4 subhuge pinnacles on the left beckons you.

After visiting Pali temple we had Mix wada sambar in nearby hotel.It was almost 10 AM. After enquiring about Sarasgad we decided to abandon sudhgad which was around 12 kms away and try Sarasgad instead. On further enquiry we came to know that the popular path to climb was from behind the Pali temple pond and there were close to 100 steps carved in stone but every step is one and half to two feet high and are very difficult to climb. This was a exhaustive way and more easy way was from Umbarwadi few kms on Khopoli road. We drove back to Umbarwadi and the a very small motorable road leads to a tribal village called Talai from MSEB office.

After parking our car we asked the locals if someone would accompany us. A local boy Nitin and his friend offered to help us. After walking back on the road to umbarwadi few meters hidden in the thick vegetation was the start of the trail. The trail slowly climbed to a flat patch
'pathar'. The high rocky boulders of the fort were clearly standing out. The whole area was covered with beautiful carpet of tiny yellow flowers.

Once you start climbing the last huge steep patch there are small steps but are mostly covered in grass shoots. The steps are not in clear alignment and now and then now and then you might loose the trail in the thick overgrown grass. Nitin our guide, guided us very skillfully through the treacherous slippery rocky patches.

The huge door and sturdy fence walls and buruj are awesome. Once you pass through the door you there is water storage right in front of you. Im not sure but probably this is the Dindi Darwaja. A small trail to right lead you to top probably ballekilla. We didnt explore the leftside which had some caves. It said they had capacity to accommodate large group. The way to the topmost pinnacle is steep patch with rock cut steps. The top is realatively small or rather seemed small in thick overgrown grass but the view was awesome.

There is temple of shiva right behind the pond. The view beneath would give you glimpse of pali village spread in beauty of surrounding lush green mountains. There is also a tomb of Shahapeer near by.

The overall view is picturesque. The white puffy clouds wander lazily over the gorgeous valley, the calm water continues to travel its destined journey from faraway blue mountains and the lush green tress basking in the bright warm sunlight.

From the other side you can see Korigad, Ghangad, Telbaillya walls.
We descended back in an hours time. The boys were so simple and it was anybodys guess that this areas was extremly backward. They demanded 20 Rs for the guiding us. A 100re note brought 100crore smile on thier face. After wishing them goodbye we started our journey back. A hearty yummy lunch at newly opened hotel in jambulwadi gave us all the energy.

It was wonderful trek and something that would be cherished forever.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kailasgad Fort

Type: Hill forts
Grade: Medium
Base Village: Vaduste Village, Near Tamhini ghat, 85 Kms from Pune
Time to climb: 1.5 Hours
Best time to visit: When it’s raining cats and dogs!
Time visited: June 2010

Kailasgad is an unknown fort probably with no famous history at all though I read on internet that Shivaji raje had once visited this fort.

It was raining all the day before and Kailashgad seemed to be a best place to explore in rains. We started early from Pune had a breakfast- Pohe and Vadpav in Pirangut. The drive was extremely pleasant, lush greenery everywhere, drizzling rains and the beautiful Mulshi back waters added to the charm. As we started to cross Mulshi it started to get foggy.Before Tamhini ghat you have to take right turn to and drive to Pimpri Village. The drive was awesome once you turn towards Mulshi-Lonavala road. There was so much fog that we could barely see few meters ahead.

On the way there’s a gorgeous view of huge mountain wall with hundreds of waterfall emptying tons of joyous water in the deep valley.

The fog ensures that mystic view creates the romance in the cold air. Government has put railings and created a nice place where one could spend hours watching the clouds lingering on the cliffs and listening to tingling music of gushing water. The spot seems to be familiar with lot bikers who unfortunately create unruly atmosphere with loud music and dance with open drinking. But if you go to this place early morning then its a heaven on earth.
Further few meters away there’s a small dam and the overflowing water created beautiful mini-waterfall. Definitely we had to stop and admire the eerie beauty with a huge mountain behind the water and waterfall adding to charm.
Once we reached Vaduste village leaving behind the turn for lonavala on the left, the awesome view of huge mountains, green rice farms below and rains playing hode and seek enthrill you.

The grand Kailsgad seemed to be right infront of us. A helpful farmer- Mr Pawar arranged two boys to show us the road to the top. 2 kms ahead of Vaduste village there a sharp turn with a water tank barely visible on left. You need to park your car there and then start climbing the adjacent hill.

There’s a hardly trail and it was extremely slippery. Once you reach to the top of that hill the view is awesome. Faraway you can see a small island in the calm waters of mulshi. On onside you would see the lsuh green rice farms and filled with muddy waters.

A clear trail leads from there onwards through thick bushes of man-height of Karvy. A wild pig dashed in font of us at great speed and left us flabbergasted for few minutes.

It started to rain very heavily. It was picturesque sight and we could see swaying white lines of rain from gray clouds on back drop of green mountains. Unfortunately due to rains we could hardly take out cameras.
The trail goes up and down from the reverse side of the fort crossing few streams and extremely slipper rock patches. But its mostly easy walk rather than a climb. On the top we could barely stand due to severe wind and see 2-3 very small lakes where rain water had collected.

We decided not to venture more as were soaking and shivering. The boys told us there was a cave and remains of some construction/plinth kind of thing further ahead on the top.

Once back we went to Pawar’s hut and we had yummy meal. Had a stomach full of Nachnichi Bhakri, Pithla with hot steaming local Indrayani rice all prepared with warmth and care by the ajji.

This was place that I would definitely love to visit again and again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chavand Fort

Type: Hill Fort
Base Village: Chavand/Chavandwadi
Distance: 100 KMs from Pune
Route: Pune-Nashik highway
Time visited: July 2010, June 2011
Best time to Visit: In Rains
How to visit: Naryangaon is around 85 Kms from Pune and Junnar is 15 kms ahead. From Junnar you have to take straight road for Aaptale, crossing Shivaji statue and leaving behind the vast Shivneri fort on the left. Aaptale should be around 20 kms from Junnar. Take right turn for Chavand fort.
Excursions: Kukdeshwar Temple

The few showers this week brought back the all the hopes of perfect weather for trek. Four of us started at 5.45 and had breakfast- Pohe on Nashik highway. The less traffic made our journey easy. We reached Junnar by around 8 AM.

The muddy road had became all slippery due to few rain showers yesterday but the awesome fort was standing tall fearing the gushy winds and sparkling in the delicate morning sunrays. We decided not to take our car to chavandwadi as looked horrible from the bifurcation and parked our car in nearby house. The trail starts behind the school and you can easily see the 2 ladders at the middle from base itself. The half an hour steep climb took us to the base of the ladder. Well the ladders are actually just the side railing and not a ladder that we have climb. The tiny carved rock slanting steps or the cuts in the rock on the steep slopes above were looking challenging. The railings were swaying in the winds. The entire weather was misty and beautiful. A bird far was merrily singing lost in his own charming world. We took deep breath as we prepared to climb. Behind us the whole mountain range had disappeared in the fog and only main upside down bell mountain was partially visible. Far away on the left the kukdi seem to be flowing tranquilly.

Slowly we climbed the rock patch. Thankfully it wasn’t raining here and wasn’t slippery but mere imagining this patch in heavy rains sent down a chill in my spine. Broken step there after lead you to the top. The climb continues to be still steep. Overall you can easily reach the main entrance in less than 1-1.5 hours depending on your speed. The main gate is in good condition.


There nothing much to see on the top - few water cisterns, broken temple and ukhal lying at the start of the trail on the top. There is a chamunda devi temple on the small hill on the top but we couldn’t locate the trail which probably got lost in the grass. We didn’t have lot of time to explore so we decided not to go in the temple.

There was some remains that looked like palace. But it was filled with water. The view from backside is simply fantabulous! The entire Kukdi river and mountain ranges behind it on backdrop of wandering grey-black clouds with white streak looked like a magical water colored painting. After eating quickly some yummy pears we started back.  The climb down was easy and not difficult as we had imagined. In less than 45 minutes we were at the base. While coming back we stopped at Purohits before the Khed Ghat after Peth. The place was good and food tasted really nice. A mysore masala dosa and hot coffee killed all the growls from our tummies. We were back by 4 PM with all the wonderful memories for the thrilling experience.

Due to the lack of time we couldnt visit the famous Kukdeshwar Temple but I heard its must visit. It is just few Kms ahead of Chavand fort.

Updates- June 2011: Visited Kukdeshwar Temple.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Portland Japanese Garden

A picturesque experience filled with abundant tranquility, serenity and colorful blossom. This is something that you shoulhdnt really miss if you are visiting Portland.

The travel by Trimet Max to the downtown is extremely fast, smooth and very easy. With less than $3 you can zoom across the city. The Trimet stops at Oregon Zoo/Washinton Park. A lift will take you up 667 feet up somewhere on the mid of a huge mountain directly from the station. The station is sort of huge tunnel, with various kinds of information painted on walls and the basalt rock displayed in a long plastic pipe.

Once you are outside the lift a sculpture is again dedicated to information about the Huge Tunnels. The Zoo starts at the right hand side. The Trimet Bus would take you to Japanese Garden in less than $2 or you can simply walk down a 3 mile trail through the beautiful woods. We had a limited time and we choose the bus. The bus drops at a particular point from where you can take a free shuttle to the gate or simply climb few minutes through a nice trail in the gigantic trees. The ticket is $9.5 to the Garden.

Japanese garden essentially has 3 elements- Sand, Water and plants. Originally part of zoo the garden has been crafted without disturbing the natural habitat of huge old trees. There are five mini gardens- Flat, Stroll, Tea, Natural, Sand and Stone.

Once you enter the gate just around the corner is Flat Garden. It’s extremely beautiful with variety of charming flowers. Behind a house a group melodiously played Japanese drums.

A paper hat making activity was organized for the kids.

Down below is the abstract- Sand and Stone Garden. This looked more of an art with only rocks and white marble pieces around it. The circular motion around the rocks indicated that the white color was used a water. The lady guide explained the significance how these are usually near the monasteries. The moss was replacements for the plants.

The stroll garden had a beautiful waterfall and the upper pond was made as sort of magnificent lake. The kingfisher was enjoying seen sunbathing.

The end trail lead to the store which offered variety of Japanese items. We visited the international rose garden but the summer was yet to begun and hence the roses weren’t yet bloomed. We caught back the Trimet bus and then max to home.

Even the thoughts bring back the calmness and peace of mind.