Yes, you read the title correctly! And no, I don’t mean the many small replicas of the Taj Mahal being sold as souvenirs in shops. During my recent visit to Agra, my awesome local host and sister, Chikirsha, took me around the city and I saw some of the lesser known versions of the Taj. Each of these versions were unique and beautiful in their own way and I thought of sharing this with all of you.
Ahmedabad – A bustling city and the financial capital of Gujarat. It’s famous for many things but never really known as a tourist destination. On my recent weekend visit to this vibrant city, I was quite surprised to see that the Ahmedabad has a lot of places to visit and many unique things to offer to any type of traveler. It has an interesting mix of heritage sites, a piece of the freedom movement, beautiful temples and mosques, good food, amazing hospitality and a unique culture. It is well connected with other cities in the country and all major airlines and trains have travel services to Ahmedabad. All this makes it a good choice for a long weekend trip from any part of India.
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.
We started the day with a quick visit to the local village’s small weekly bazaar and post that left for Malvan.
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.
I have driven a fair bit in India and seen quite a bit of the Indian countryside, the life of farmers, their ways of life etc. And when we drove through the Chinese countryside I was amazed at how many of these images resembled those back home. There were a few differences too and I had a happy time comparing the two. Sharing my own impressions on the rural Chinese landscape via a short photo essay below :).
Konkan… A strip of land along the coastal stretch of Maharashtra and strategically located between the hills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. This unique geographical position has endowed this entire coastal belt with hills, beautiful golden sandy beaches, pristine backwaters, lush green fields, swaying coconut trees, coves and lagoons and so much more. I have lived in Mumbai all my life and heard many amazing reviews and stories from fellow bloggers and friends returning from a road / bike trip in this region. But somehow my trips never materialized.
Traveling within Yunnan, for different reasons, was full of surprises as well as misadventures and our arrival in Lijiang was no different. We stayed in the old town of Lijiang where cars are not allowed on its narrow lanes. Per the email from our B&B, we had to reach the entrance to the old town and then they were going to come and pick us up. We reached the entrance and promptly informed our hosts to come for us. But for some reason, maybe a language hassle or they were busy with something, they just wouldn’t come. We waited on the main road for almost an hour and called them multiple times and moved from one spot to the other, because we were occupying the spots of the local fruit-sellers or hindering their sale. After an hour of waiting, a local police woman came to our rescue and spoke with our B&B people. Though I didn’t understand a word but whatever she did was pretty effective. Immediately after the call our hosts came for us and we took a small local bus that drove us inside a part of the old town and left us at another gate. From there we dragged our luggage on cobbled streets to finally reach our quaint wooden B&B. Despite the rocky start we had a good trip in Lijiang.