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Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

4 Feb

I read “Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage” by Dr. Shaul Sapir on the recommendation of a Swapbook friend, Aadil Desai. Aadil is an avid reader, collector of antique books, maps & collectibles and a Mumbai story-teller. He leads many walks around Mumbai and shares stories about the city, its history, architecture and culture. So when Aadil recommended this book there was no doubt in my mind that it was a must read.

Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

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The Bombay Balchão walk with author, Jane Borges and Swapbook in Mumbai

24 Jan

Walking around in Mumbai, especially in the older parts of the city, is like walking through a treasure trove of the city’s history. In some instances, these treasures are hidden, just waiting to be unearthed. But in many cases they are in plain sight and all you need to do is pay attention. I love exploring my own maximum city and whenever I am not traveling and have the time, I join a group or some friends to walk around some of Mumbai’s old neighbourhoods. On one such weekend I joined a group of friends from Swapbook and author, Jane Borges, as she took us on a quick tour of the various locations featured in her recently released book, Bombay Balchão – talking about the old Christian neighborhoods of South Mumbai, their history, culture and the people.

Dabul, an old Christian neighbourhood of South Mumbai, Maharashtra

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My review of the Kundalika Rafting, a Nature Trails Resort in Kolad, Maharashtra

11 Dec

For our recent trip to Kolad, I was researching for accommodation options when I came across Kundalika Rafting – a Nature Trails Resort, an eco-tourism resort with a focus on nature and generating local employment. The online pics and reviews were good, so we booked a one-night stay in a superior deluxe tent. They had multiple options and packages (for meals and activities) available and I booked our stay to include dinner and breakfast (there didn’t seem to be any other options close to the resort). We didn’t book any adventure sports / activities in advance and chose to decide on them after arriving at the resort.

Our camp, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

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A Quick Weekend Trip – River Rafting in the Kundalika River in Kolad, Maharashtra

1 Dec

Any mention of river rafting instantly conjures images of a raft on the waters of the mighty river Ganga in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. And for as long as I can remember I have wanted to go for this amazing adventure sport. But for one reason or another my rafting plans have never materialized.  I closely missed another rafting opportunity in May this year but then quite by chance, I figured that river rafting is done on the Kundalika river in Kolad, Maharashtra. There are quite a few other activities on offer too, but the most famous one is river rafting and A & I decided to go check this out.

Driving to Kolad, Maharashtra, India

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An Evening with a Million Fireflies in Purushwadi, Maharashtra

5 Jun

“Imagine walking along a meandering path with very many twinkling fairy lights moving all around you in pitch darkness. Inspiring an innocent wonder, adding a bit of magic to the air and bringing out the child in you in trying chase these lights.” – To sum it up in a few words this was my experience at my first sight of thousands of fireflies at the recent Fireflies Festival in Purushwadi with Grassroutes.  

Festival of Million Fireflies at Purushwadi. Pic courtesy Sunny Lamba

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Konkan Diaries 3: Malvan and my first sight of dolphins in the Arabian sea

4 Apr

Continuing the stories of my Konkan journey here is the next chapter – Konkan Diaries 2.

Our second day in Konkan is my favorite with some unusual activities and unexpected surprises. We had decided to visit Malvan and see Shivaji’s famous fort of Sindhudurg that we all had read so much about in our school history textbooks. In ancient times, Malvan was known as ‘Mahalavan’ meaning a region rich in salt (“Maha” means salt and “lavan” means plantation of salt). Per Wikipedia another possibility is that it’s a phonetic derivative of the word “Mad” meaning “coconut” and “Ban” meaning “gardens” for the large number of coconut trees in this area. And if I was to decide between the two based on the current scenario, I would go with the latter.

River Karli and its backwaters, Konkan Maharashtra

River Karli and its backwaters, Konkan Maharashtra

We started the day with a quick visit to the local village’s small weekly bazaar and post that left for Malvan.

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Konkan Diaries 2: Parule and its pristine beaches

25 Feb

Continuing my experiences from Konkani Diaries 1.

After an adventurous overnight journey we finally reached Kudaal (the nearest bus station for Parule) early morning and got off at the bus stop on the highway. Here we met with Bapat Bhaiya – our host, guide and driver for the entire Konkan trip. Bapat Bhaiya loaded all our stuff in the car and gave us a quick introduction to the area during the car journey. We drove through the town of Kudaal that looked like any tier-two town in India with random concrete buildings everywhere and a big market. But once we were out of Kudaal the scenery changed dramatically. Sitting in the back of the car I had my ears tuned to Bapat Bhaiya’s stories but my eyes were trying to soak in all the elements of the world outside my window. This entire area was extremely scenic with a very Kerala and Goa like look and feel. It was green everywhere with small red brick houses and sloping roofs, long winding roads, mango, palm, coconut and cashew tress all around creating nice canopies, lush green fields (majorly paddy) and red soil, characteristic of this region, making a nice contrast with all the green. In many places the road was at a height and the village cozily nestled amongst palm and coconut trees below.

Pat Lake, Parule - Kudaal, Konkan

Pat Lake, Parule – Kudaal, Konkan

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5 reasons why Sindhudurg must be on your Travel Wish List for 2015

5 Jan

Sindhudurg, the southernmost district in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra and just above Goa, is a traveler’s paradise with stunning panoramas, beautiful golden sandy beaches, pristine backwaters, quaint villages, rare temples, awesome food, amazing people and so much more. Surprisingly (though I am not complaining and I hope it stays that way) it has also managed to remain a secret and avoid hordes of tourists who end up visiting Goa instead.

Sunset at the Kille Nevati Beach, Konkan, Maharashtra

Sunset at the Kille Nevati Beach, Konkan, Maharashtra

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Best Travel Moments from 2014 (The Year of many Firsts’)

31 Dec

Bidding goodbye to any year is never without mixed feelings. On one hand there is an excitement about planning for the new year anticipating new possibilities and potential opportunities. While on the other, there is a sadness like bidding goodbye to a good friend (time!), who has been a constant companion through the year, seen us through life’s ups and its downs, taken us to new shores, helped us grow another bit and discover that one other aspect about ourselves which we didn’t expect to find.

Clouds in water, Shudu Lake, Potatso National Park, Shangri-La, China

Clouds in water, Shudu Lake, Potatso National Park, Shangri-La, China

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Photo Essay – 10 Must See Sights in India, but with a “light” twist

26 Apr

On World Heritage Day this year (i.e. on April 18) I had posted a photo essay on Celebrating World Heritage Day with 10 Heritage Monuments from India.And while shortlisting pictures for this post, I came across some other beautiful pictures and sights in India, that just compelled me to write this post. Hence posting another photo essay on 10 beautiful sights to see in India that too in a unique way.

Now all of us visit the typical touristy sights at some point in time or the other, but with my own travels I have discovered that many of these places are even more stunning or beautiful when some minor natural / artificial elements, ceremonies, etc are introduced or amended. And I feel that in some ways, these sights then become a unique travel souvenir – images in your own memory or a wonderful story. This is also what takes your holiday to a whole new level. I am sharing 10 of my own such memories (from my recent visits) with you today –

1. Waiting and waiting for that rare yet wondrous sight of the snow-covered Kangchenjunga peak on a day with clear blue sky (and this is very rare :), West Bengal – Sikkim –

Kangchenjunga Peak, from West Bengal

Kangchenjunga Peak, from West Bengal

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