Om Namah Shiva – Panchmarhi

I know the title sounds a bit religious and may not fit the article describing Panchmarhi, but I am still going ga ga on the Amish Tripathi shiva Triology  and I feel it was destiny that after reading the books I visited a simple Shiva temple within the cool caves called Mahadev at panchmarhi,

In the last year I have gone to Pachmarhi twice both somewhat suddenly, first time for my anniversary and the next time for a destination wedding in the April of 2013. So the first time I went there I had little knowledge what to expect, I have reached there via Bhopal. Pachmarhi is 144KM from Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

Panchmarhi is a hill station whose temperature reduces to 3-5 degrees in the winter, but I have only experienced summers there so can’t comment much on that infact it was 38 degrees during the day a and around 30 at night. Panchmarhi lies inside the Satpura Biosphere Preserve at an altitude of 3500ft with a strong presence of Army base

To see the sunset and sunrise spots you need to book a Maruti Gypsy  but along with sunrise they show you other spots which I will describe below.

The first stop was Jatashankar, a cave temple under loose boulders dedicated to Lord Shiva. A natural rock from top of which stalactites hanging looks like matted and tangled locks of Lord Shiva and so is considered a swayanbhu Shivalinga. A stream called Jambu Dweep has its origin here and flows underground. The temple also displays two rocks which float in the water are believed to be part of the sacred Rama Setu long ago, the bridge that was built between India and Sri Lanka by monkey army in Ramayana (a Hindu Epic).

Pandav Caves are another popular attraction in Pachmarhi. These five ancient shelters are now protected monuments, my guide informed me that Pandavs never same there, but as they are 5 caves they came to be called Pandav Caves. the caves might have Buddhist origin. There is nothing notable inside like paintings, inscriptions or sculptures. Just caves …

Next, spot was Rajat Pratap waterfalls with a guide. It is also known as Silver Falls. A short walk down the hill will take you to a view point from where you can see this very tall waterfalls, but I didn’t find it very attractive because the water flow was very thin. During monsoon it could be an attractive waterfalls. The view of Pachmarhi Valley is really nice from here

Apsara Vihaar waterfalls. It is a very beautiful and angel-like waterfalls. The guide told me why the name Apsara (celestial woman) Vihaar (garden or similar) … in very simple terms a Pool of Fairies. It is not because the fairies visited this place. Pachmarhi was discovered by British Army Captain James Forsyth. And british developed it as a Hill Station. Well, the white women came to the waterfalls to swim. Madhya Pradesh then was a tribal area and they watched these women from behind the hides. Tribal people found the white women to be fairies!!! And so the name 🙂

Then was time for Jamuna Pratap waterfalls or Bee Falls. At the top, the water was flowing down the man-made stone-concrete steps before plunging down to form this beautiful waterfalls. The thin waterflow gave me an opportunity for a good shot. Then trekking down a couple of KM got me to the actual waterfalls. It seems this stream provides drinking water to Pachmarhi town. Bee waterfalls is nice to take a break and have dip under the cool water.

The sunsets and sunrises of Pachmarhi are stunning. Should not be missed. I went to Dhupgarh, the highest point (4,429ft) in Saptura range to witness the sunrise. The drive up is nice, narrow winding road in the bone biting cold. Later people waited for the sun to rise and shine. In the dark everyone looked like bundle of woolen 🙂 For sunset I chose Forsyth point or Priyadarshini Point from where the views are good too.

When I think of Pachmarhi I think of waterfalls and the colorful skies at dawn and dusk. Beautiful place!

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Bon Appetite

I know very little about cooking, very little, but today two things have probably encouraged me to write this blog,  one making pizza after coming home (yes of read made sauce)  and second watching the movie Julie and Julia.

I am a pure non vegetarian but my lovely husband is a pure vegetarian so ones before we got married  I decided to make lunch for him at my friend’s house, below is that recipe that I cooked for him thou now he is thoroughly bored of this recipe as I have cooked it many times now

I love making it, still..

First recipe Vegetable pasta with white sauce

Ingredients:

1)      Olive oil

2)      Butter

3)      1 cup milk

4)      3 spoons of mayonnaise

5)      4 pods of garlic

6)      6 peppercorns

7)        ¼ kg pasta of your choice, I normally use penne

8)      2 small onions

9)      1 tomato

10)   1 green capsicum

11)   1 yellow capsicum

12)   1 red capsicum

13)   6 mushrooms

14)   4 baby corns

15)   ¼ American corn boiled

16)   Salt to taste, oregano and chili flakes

17)   And if u can get hold of Italian seasoning (by Catch )

Take 2 big vessels, in one vessel put water and the pasta, 1 table spoon of olive oil and a spoon of salt, and put to boil, this takes time so just let it boil on one gas flame.

In the second vessel put 3 spoons of olive oil, next put the crushed garlic, and then the peppercorns. Follow it with onions, cut the tomatoes and capsicum in straight cut pieces, and put them all in the pot, then all the remaining vegetables, now close the pot and wait for the vegetables to cook, please ensure the flame is slow.

This takes time and really brings the flavor to the dish, now after you are sure the vegetables are cooking put 2 table spoon of butter, half cup milk and 2 table spoons of mayonnaise, if you want more white sauce, you can add the other half cup milk and one more spoon of mayo.

Till this time your pasta would be ready, so strain the water and keep it aside.

Now add 1 table spoon of oregano, and 1 table spoon of chili flakes to the mix of vegetables, and the Italian seasoning. Now add the pasta to the mix, and taste the sauce, if you wish to make it spicier you can add extra chili flakes or oregano as per your taste buds.

Now the pasta is all ready to eat, hope you like it

Second recipe: Mushroom stuffed spinach

With this pasta I normally cook a side dish with mushrooms and spinach. Easy to make and fast to cook

Take one bunch of spinach, boil it and cut it, now take a packet of mushrooms keep them in a micro able tray, throw the bottom stick of the mushroom and fill the spinach in the mushroom, now put some olive oil on the mushrooms, some oregano and crushed / grated garlic, before putting the plate in the micro add grated cheese on top, now keep the tray in the oven for 3 minutes.

Serve the pasta and mushroom wholesome veg fatty dinner is ready. Ensure you eat this hot.

Agra – the land of Moghul Histroy

Taj - Gate

Taj – Gate

So as Indians we are taught that Taj is one of the most beautiful monuments in India and the world. As we say in Psychology that if something is said to you so many times you will surely feel it’s true. I don’t know what applies for me, but I know one thing that when I entered through the south gate and was standing in front of TAJ I did not think about anything else, and I would have loved to sit there all day and just look at the incarnate beauty.

On the 20th Feb 2013 I reached Agra at midnight, checked into a hotel which had got good ratings on trip advisor called Hotel Kamal, I think more than the ratings I had selected the hotel as from the roof top restaurant “Stuffmakers” you could get the view of Taj. So even though we reached late we went to the roof top and saw the beauty last thing before going to sleep and also in the morning with the mist and fog it was the first thing we saw.

Many trips take you to Taj from Delhi for a one day trip which covers Mathura along the way, and I have done that, but I would recommend if time permits stay a full day at Agra, there are other beautiful places to visit in and around. And if you one of those who love photographing and historical monuments there is a lot that will interest you.

So on 21st Feb 2013, we had decided to see Taj in the morning and then continue to other places, the South gate which was a one minute walk from the hotel opens at 8.30 am, while if you are one of the early risers and want to see that Taj first the East gate opens at 6.30am. Taj is a very crowded place¸ even though we were one of the first to enter the south gate at 8.30 am there were at least a hundred people before us.

The Taj is a symbol of love, that’s what you feel standing right in front there, a man built this to bury his wife, and I would have loved to imagine Taj more of a palace where people lived than where people were buried.

Around 10.30 we left for Fathepur Sikri, it’s a 95 minute drive from Agra, it’s a planned City divided into two parts, fathepur and Sikri. Fathe(Win)pur was the where King Akbar built many royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings and Sikri represents the religious sentiments  of King Akhar. Tomb of Salim Chishti, A white marble encased tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti is built within the Jama Masjid’s courtyard.

Fatepur Sikri

Please take a guide that would cost around Rs. 600 excluding tickets to see around and understand Fathepur Sikri. There are boards outside each building in the premise, but would hold little value. Seeing Fathepur Sikri took us around 2 hours, the guide may try to rush you as they want to tap other customers, but request you to see around the place as your time permits.

Have lunch of dinner around the Taj Gunj area it has many good restaurants and a lot of variety too; Pizza Hut and Dominos are also available in Agra in case that is your choice.

At around 4 we reached Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb which is also called Mini Taj, again a monument for the dead of the family of Nur Jahan (She was the twentieth and favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir). Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Tāj Mahal.

Mini Taj

Mini Taj

Next stop – Mehtab Baug, this is a lush green garden along the bank of the river Yamuna which serves as an ideal location to view the Taj. The Garden has nothing to talk about but if you do have the time, there is a Mughal Heritage Walk which is  a one kilometer loop which connects the agricultural fields with the Rajasthani culture, river bank connected with the ancient village of Kuchhpura, the Heritage Structure of Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humanyun Mosque and the Gyarah Sidi.

Red Fort, was our last tourist point in Agra, as there is a Light and sound show at 6.30pm which we had decided to catch, again for the Agra fort we took a guide, to show us around, as we just had an hour and did not want to miss any important spots. Most building towards the outside built by Akbar are Red in colour, but many structure built inside the fort are Marble structure. Forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise, which gets undermined because of its competition with Taj, but it is really worth the extra time

All these building and many more in India depict the luxury, in which all these Mughal Kings stayed, and lucky for us they left these magnificent buildings that make travelling in India a beautiful journey.

Agra Fort - Anguri Baug

Agra Fort – Anguri Baug

Agra is not a very expensive city, you can get a decent hotel at Rs1000 per day, travelling around Agra can be done in an Auto who would charge your around Rs.500. To go to Fathepur Sikri book a car comes around Rs. 1200. A 2 day trip to Agra cost for 2 would be R.5000 with food.

Kolhapur – the land of Rani Tarabhai

Work is not always bad, and especially if you are one of those who travel along with work, it is even better. Over the 5 years of my corporate life, I have visited some good places and ensured I get a glimpse and feel of the place before I leave.

So my recent work trip was to Kolhapur, I had heard a lot about the Mahalaxmi temple and wanted to visit it from some years, so on the second day of my visit I got up at 7.00 am and took an auto to the temple.IMG_0239

Some history about Kolhapur, once upon a time, there lived a demon called Kollasura. He tormented the local people who prayed for deliverance from his evil influence to Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and protection. Soon the Goddess herself came and conquered him and that’s how this place came to be called Kolhapur.

The temple is with stone carvings of women and gods and goddess, beautiful charming place; many small temples surround the premise of other gods.

Near to the temple premise is the Chappal lane, to buy Kolhapur chappals, now a days we see these chappals in Mumbai stalls too, but I still picked up 3 pairs as the leather seemed more genuine, but don’t forget to bargain (they may agree to give you in quarter of the price they quoted). Kolhapur is also very famous for costume jewellery, termed Kolhapur saz, one can get loads of jewellery made of silver dipped in gold, at affordable prices, available around the temple

The next stop was the “New Palace”, the architecture of the palace is a combination of Jain and Hindu influences from Gujarat and Rajasthan, and local Rajwada style. There is a museum called Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum at New Palace, I would not see any of these possessions as the timings of the museum and my office clashed. But I must tell you an interesting part of this campus, it as a beautiful pond and has many reindeers, that is housed by the Maharaja till date, beautiful birds, peacocks ducks. Quiet a site to watch especially with such a close proximity.IMG_0261Kolhapur Ben

Food in Kolhapur is supposed to be very spicy, but the foods I had was mush bearable probably tamed down for us who are not from this area. Fish and mutton dishes are very popular along with a thali you will also be served pandhara rasa (white liquid like soup) and tamdha rasa (red spicy liquid ) which is a peculiarity here. If you are a fan of cooking you get nice readymade masala’s in many shops near laxmipuri vegetable market.

I had the opportunity to drive from Kolhapur and head to sangli, kurunwadi and icharlkaranji rural rich areas, with vast fields of jowar, sugarcane, etc.. lot of greenery, big enormous bungalows.

It was a good productive 3 days travel & work wise too, yes I did work too ;).

Maybe next time when you are planning a place in Maharashtra you can give this place a try, less crowd more to see. Every evening at 8.30 pm Mahalaxmi train leaves from Mumbai to Kolhapur and similar time leaves for Kolhapur to Mumbai which reaches the next morning at 7.30.

Awaiting my next trip…

 

New Palace the walls of the Mahalaxmi temple

HAPPY LOVE DAY

So tomo is valentine’s day how much ever me and my friends are cribing about the facebook status’s that we wil have to bear tomo. I am sure if any of us get those lovey dovey stuff tomo we will surely blush and feel happy about it.   

Anyways those double standards we will always be there, thats life.  

Every time i think of this particular day exageratted by “Archies” i only remember one man in my life MY DAD. So he was an ortodox man, growing girls in the house oh my god he was protective.

But eventually he realsied he would not do much about my wildness so he let go.

So the Valentines Day of 2007 he gave me Rs.500 to clebrate this day. For what ever reason he gave in to allow me to clebrate that day and let me tell you it must have not been easy for him, he was a Shivsanik and a big follower of Tackeray.  That moment bought Valentines blush to my face as i knew now my father will prohibit me in few things and my wildness can continue 🙂 🙂

Wanderer

On the eve of my birthday I want to write about my favorite thing – Travel. I want to consider myself as a wanderer who goes there sees things, explore places, talks to unknown people, and make friends with strangers. When I travel I am alone yet with many, my pace changes, my thinking becomes more rooted.

Travelling has been a thing encouraged by my mom and aunt since long, I remember going for a 16 day trip to Rajasthan by bus with my grandparents and aunt. My grand moms lap was my cushion for all those days. Jaisalmer is the place I loved, though we were there only for some hours, it was a stopover for dinner, yet the beauty of sand and the camel ride on the sand dunes made those hours more exciting.

Another trip was to north, we went by a group called southern travels with all South Indian people and we hardly understood them. That was my first trip to a very cold place; I did not remove my white sweater for 6 days and it was May. I saw the Taj Mahal during the same time and people did not enjoy that place because of the heat and I wanted to shut them up, as for me I was seeing one of the Wonder of the World I did not care about the heat.

My aunt has been quiet pivotal in instilling this quality in me, we were once planning a trip to Hyderabad and Orissa, 2 states in around 10 days, and shashi (my aunt) had organized everything from train bookings to hotels and everything was so perfect and in those days we did not have the internet to just click and pay, many calls were required to get all this done, and she was just perfect. En route to Bhubaneswar station we  suddenly planned to go to Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary,  got down at the earlier station and saw the most beautiful & different birds.

So by my Graduation years I had seen a lot of India, and now the carving to get my passport stamped. So one fine day my school friend (Saba) was telling me about how she is going to Singapore for 2 months, as her bhabi is doing a culinary course there. And I shamelessly asked her can I come for some days. Sweetly she agreed, I was off to my first international trip with Tasneem. And as my aunt put it I was the first lady to cross the Indian borders in my family so I was all smiling. Singapore was different grandeur. Saba showed us how to travel and off we were with the map seeing all the places. We were staying at Pasir Ris and there was a park for kids there, I went there on my last evening in Singapore and became a child, the basic swings and slopes were so different that I think I played more than the kids there.  

Goa appears in my travel calendar at least once in a year my ancestors were from “Ajgaon” in Swanatwadi district, so my parents went back to their roots to take blessings from our home god. Before Konkan railways going to goa and then coming backwards was a better mode of transport so frequent trips of Goa have always been on the cards. Goa is a relaxing place it gives me freedom to wear what I want, ride the two wheeler, party, sleep on the beach, drink and eat delicious fish.

Though my abode is Ganpatiphule (near Ratnagiri), I feel that place gives me direction, some universal energy runs and connects us. Wish to make that my second home someday.

Dubai & Coorg are places I went as a married woman; I have not changed a bit even after the ring in my hand. Being in the tallest building of the world to doing adventure sports on my honeymoon my madness shall continue.

What followed next was even a little unexpected for me too, an all by myself trek to the Himalayas, to planning in 2 days, shopping last moment,  rescheduling flights last moment, no return tickets. Still I was ready to go, jump and see if I fall. I was going to trek from Govindghat to Valley of flowers,  Hemkund sahib, Yashodhara falls, Mana Village , Badrinath, 64 Kms of walk, 2000 kms away from home, with strangers who became good friends, to unknown supporters who kept telling us only some more steps, beauty beyond imagination, snow clad mountains, river flowing rapidly, mist, calm cold lake, temple, Gurudwara, unseen flowers, guide who just knew all, barefeet pilgrims who had faith their desires would come true.

Image

I believe my travels around India and some places abroad have made who I am today and I wish to continue my wandering…. To far places and I wish to write about them in this space, so look out I will come back with a nice vacation soon.

Amitabh bachchan’s Birthday

So today is my birtdhay, in addition there are many poeple in this world whose birthday falls on the same day but one person who the world remembers is Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.

I have no other connection with him except this day, but somehow that is enough to make me smile. To like him since i saw him in Jadugar, Shahesnshah etc etc

Whenever till date if anybody asks me when is my birthday i proudly say 11th oct and tell them it is the same day you will find all papers filled with Mr. Bachchan’s photos so you will remember.

I use to stay in Santacruz very close to his house, and i remember one birthday my dad told me we have to go to his house as he is meeting all the people whose birthdays are today. But as we reached his house a little late that day the cermony was over, thats what my dad told me and instead took me for an ice cream.

So today for no reason but yet one reason, I wish Mr. Amitabh Bachchan Happy Birthday along with Countless others.