Sunday, October 07, 2007

Happy birthday, Blog!

I didn't realize it but today is the first anniversary of my blog. My Blogger profile says I've been on Blogger since December 2004, but most of my previous blogging trials were short-lived. So I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve managed to keep this blog going for a year..

Walking down the memory lane, my first post was very naive. And it took me an entire 4 months to be brave enough to make my blog public. So most of my earlier posts were not read by anyone :) Then there are some posts which I was very skeptical but got so many responses like this b'day post or some of my random thoughts.

Anyway as time progressed, I have come out of my mind blocks like "why should I put up my thoughts on the net for all to read?" or "Why on earth would people read what I write?". I have sure made a lot of friends through this blog. Thanks to all -- I probably would have quit long ago if I hadn't felt that you were listening. It’s been fun so far, and I would like to continue this way.. :)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Still alive..

Yeah I've been traveling most weekends and so not very active here.. Anyway this weekend I'm in Bangalore and so thought of reviving my space :) The first topic that's coming to mind is of course about the places I visited last month. No, no,.. I don't have any plans to make this a travel blog. Anyway most of my travels were small travels here and there which is not worth mentioning. This is a short writeup only about the significant places... So please bear with me :)

As I mentioned earlier our gang is obsessed with traveling. Every year once we get the holiday list, the first thing that we check is how many long weekends available or how we can make one!! This time also the same thing happened. A holiday that came on Tuesday clubbed with one day leave made it a long weekend. We decided to utilize the long weekend by going to a little far off place. The place we choose was Lonawala but decided to stay in Pune (mostly coz Pune seemed to be an easier bet for hotels). This time also the itinerary was not fixed, not because we are going there for the umpteenth time and the places doesn't matter, but coz none of us could take time out to make the detailed plan.. :( The only place that we had fixed was Lohagad Fort which was the sole inspiration for this trip. A forwarded mail and this site, both of which showcased some breathtaking pictures were reason enough for us to pack our bags.

We landed in Pune at 10.30 am on saturday as planned and checked in to the hotel (Hotel Shreyas,Apte Road). After freshening up and a quick lunch we were ready to go to Sinhagad as directed by the travel desk in the hotel. Btw, I think it would be unfair if I don't mention about the delicious meal in the hotel. We feasted ourselves with the authentic and typical Marathi tali. The best part is you don't have to rack your brains deciding what to order (That made it quick as well :P). You just seat yourself comfortably and a pre-planned menu will be served to you. You can then relish on the wide variety of dishes in front of you.. Most of them were kind of sweet, but real tasty. Even my co-travelers who were accusing me of torturing them by booking a vegetarian hotel , seemed to be satisfied :)

Sinhagad Fort seemed to be the most popular getaway for Puneits. Although the fort is mostly in ruins today, the place is blessed with picturesque scenery,lush green grass, colorful flowers, cool mountain air, and a pleasant salubrious climate. The pictures below would give you an idea.

Second day our destination was Matheran Hill Station . What makes this place unique is the fact that all vehicles (except emergency vehicles) are banned here. The only modes of transport are on horseback, by hand pulled rickshaw, or on foot. It's like you are taken over a hundred years back in time when there were no vehicles. I just hope they go one more step ahead and ban all plastics too (and litter as well). First half of the day we covered almost 12 km on foot but couldn't cover much view points (What else can you expect from a person like me who lacks stamina and is totally unfit). After lunch me n Sid decided to take the horse ride and cover some more view points where as the other three who felt the long walk in the morning was not enough and decided to trek over the narrow gauge railway track (Obviously the idea came from KK who was responsible for the arduous trek in Chimmony.). So we split and our trail was through the thick and shady forests. It lead to some stunning viewing points - cliffs with incredibly steep drops to the plains below.. More than that the unpolluted air, the beautiful surroundings,the magnificent panoramic views,charming forest walks,..All of them make a visit to Matheran a totally different experience in itself. You can easily classify it as "The greenest ‘green’ destination".

The last day was Lohagad. Although we had planned to leave early so as to cover the fort and also the Karla and Bhaja caves, it was not possible since we came back quie late the previous day. So we decided to cover only the fort. The surprising part is that no one knew about this place (which probably is the reason why it's still very beautiful)!! There were no sign boards, no directions, our cab driver also had no idea where this place is. We thought once we reach the village the locals can guide us. But very few knew there is a fort there !! Anyway once we reached there the place didn't disappoint. It was as stunning as it was in the photographs.. The path to the tops was not tough. There were steps and pathways except in one place.. Anyway we finished the round trip in about 3 hrs and reached back where we had some homely food in a place at the foothill (The biscuits n chocolates that we carried were taken by the monkey in the fort!!). That was the logical end of the trip(a long train journey was awaiting us still)