Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Visit to the lazy Malvan :)

I am planner through and through and that's the way I like it. Call it Sonia or a Virgo trait, but that's the way it is! And I am proud of it! My holiday begins from the journey itself, and so I like it comfortable and perfect. But my trip to Tarkarli was just the opposite. And I can't believe I enjoyed every bit of it! Our train tickets of 3AC did not get confirmed. So my journey to Kudal was in a "jugaad" seat which we got from the TC in a sleeper. The 10 hour journey was shared between me and my friend. It was hot, sticky and noisy. The crowd settled only by 2 in the night and I was too drained to think about anything but sleep.

We reached Kudal at about 11 in the morning and straightway headed to Lazy Malvan to hunt for a stay option. Yes, that's what I've decided to call this side of Maharashtra. Its a small dreamy little place perfect to take a break.

We began our 'expedition' to hunt for a stay option and stumbled upon - the Sagar Kinara which literally is next to the sea. Since we had not booked and its the "off" season (March end), we got our room pretty cheap. After a sleep for a few hours, we headed to the sea to explore the beach (which was dirty). As luck would have it, one of the scuba diving instructor approached us on this walk. We striked the deal and headed towards the golden ganesh temple. Here also, I felt God living this very slow lavish style! A beautiful place and a must visit especially during the evening arti time.

The Ganesh temple, made of Gold
We then walked to the rock garden which was absolutely stunning. The waves crash the rocks and roar about what they can do if messed with. Scary and breathtaking!

The beautiful rock garden across the Arabian

The next day, we were all set for our scuba diving. And let me tell you your trip to Tarkarli is incomplete without scuba diving. I was scared to death in the beginning. I think my guide must be cursing his stars because every time I dipped, I would tell him that I don't want to do it. But like many guides, this one was very patient with me. To encourage me, he showed me fish in the sea. And yes, that really worked. I had to go in now. The beauty of the sea cannot be described in words. The area is rich in coral, fish and sea plants. And to be able to see it and feel it was a wonderful feeling.

In the evening, we headed to the pristine Tarkarli beach. This was followed by the Tsunami Island, the Karli Sangam and Bogwe beach. Tsunami Island has lot of water sports but we preferred to enjoy the scenic beauty. The island is full of crabs which run into the sand the moment you start walking.. The place is surrounded by mango plantations, hills and other greens.

At the Tsunami Island

We let go the Dolphin safari and Nevati Beach as we were too lazy! But I've heard these are nice places too. But after the scuba dive, all that didn't matter.

The people at Malvan are very friendly. Being from northern India, they were happy to cook without coconut food for me. What I missed here was "nariyal paani". I guess, people eat rather than drink coconut! Sigh!

Boat trip to the Tsunami Island

How I "did not" plan this trip
1. We took the konkan kanya to Kudal. There are bus options also directly to Malvan or Tarkarli
2. From Kudal, we took a bus to Malvan which Rs. 30. rickshaw ride is around Rs.400-500
3. We stayed a day at Malvan and did our scuba diving, Ganesh temple and rock garden. From Sagar Kinara, we walked to all these places. Its a must walk if you want to "feel" the fish town of Malvan.
4. The following day we head to Tarkarli by an auto (Rs. 150)- enjoyed the beach. We then set off to the Tsunami Island, Karli Sangam and Bogve Beach by aboat which costed us Rs.600- we took an individual boat. It would be less if you share.
5. We returned the day after by a direct Bus from Tarkarli to attend to my work at office. Well, I am happy I am back, TO GO BACK AGAIN!!!!

View from the Tsunami Island

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Great White Rann

It was just one post on FB which prompted me to add Rann of Kutch in 'must visit places for me'. The endlessness of white patch on earth was fascinating and I knew I had to visit! 

As luck would have it, I landed in Gujarat for an official trip which made my travel to Bhuj extremely convenient and slightly easy on my pockets too. I took an overnight bus to Bhuj after shopping in Ahmedabad.

One thing which striked me at Bhuj was the “vibes” of the place. It felt so warm and secured and after staying in Delhi and Mumbai for years together, it was a weirdly nice feeling! 

Cab is a must at Bhuj and we headed to that straightaway.  We struck our deal at the station. 

The Black Mountain
The view of the Rann from the Kalo Dongar is breath-taking! The vast stretch of white from the mountain looks like a ocean. In fact, its impossible to believe it isn't the ocean! I guess that's why the mountain is called “black”. Because against the giant whiteness, anything which exists will look black!
View from The Dongar
There is a small temple at the mountain where meat is given to animals as a tribute. It’s a very small ceremony, but has been going on for a very long time. The story is that of a saint who used to pray at Dongar. But since it’s a very dry area, the animals also did not have enough to eat. Overcome by grief for the animals, the saint cut off his arm for the animal to eat. It is said that since then this tradition has been going on. At times wolves come down to have their served meals by humans.

After this enchanting visit, we drove to our Resort at Dhordo. The 1 and half hour drive had only the long dry barren land. The small villages which we passed had a small habitation of about 20-30 people whose main occupation is selling milk. We wondered where did animals drink water from. Unavailability of water is the main challenge in the area.  Even in a city like Bhuj, water scarcity is very high. People’s income is spent most on the procurement of water for daily sustenance.

We were famished by the time we reached our resort. Since the dinning timings are fixed, we rushed to take our food before time ran out. And it was a very wise decisions. The food here is wow! While eating, I wished my stomach was an endless pack where I could keep putting in food to satisfy my taste buds :P
After a sumptuous meal, we headed to our respective rooms to crash! (Dhordo has a accommodation facility for drivers. Their stay and food is a part of the package. Awesomeness!)

The Great Rann of Kutch
We experienced the magical play of lights against the white space of whiteness. The beauty at that time is just to behold.

The magical colurs of the Rann
The white ran is just the  dried salt. After walking for a bit, we also saw patches of water. Our driver told us that the area is filled with sea water in monsoon. We were glad to see bits of it!! We returned to our resort completely sated.  

We were welcomed to bajra rotla, baingan sabzi and some other typical gujju dishes which were mouth-watering.  This was followed by a musical night of local folk music. We retired to our beds happily drained.

The next day after breakfast, we headed to the city of Mandvi. On our way we visited the Vijay Palace. It’s a beautiful structure but after visiting the forts in north, it just another structure for me. 

We did not visit the Mandvi beach as it was afternoon time. Our driver then asked us the kind of lunch we preferred. And our obvious option as a typical gujju Thali (we couldn't get enough of it). He took us to this place called Osho hotel. After about 10- 15 minutes waiting, we were asked to share our place with another family. It was awkward in the beginning, but the moment our thalis were placed before us, our focus was to just eat! For Rs. 100, you get unlimited food at Osho hotel. People there love feeding you, so they make you eat till you are on the brink of bursting! The food is just delicious and the people warm. Its a must visit place if you are a veggie foodie!

My favourite eatery!

We then visited an extremely boring museum and then to Godhra to visit the Vaishono Devi temple. This temple is made like a micro mini vaishno devi temple. Fun visit!

Visit to the temple
The Kutch is a must place to visit at least once! Remember that the Rann closes down post March. So plan your days accordingly! Drop in a mail if you want the contact of the driver. He was really good! 

How I planned my trip
1. Reached Bhuj and booked a cab for 2 days (mail for details on the cab)
2. Went to the dongar in the afternoon and crashed at Dhordo Resort (check their website)
3. Visited the Rann in the evening
4. Day 2- We covered the morning Rann and a camel ride
5. Enjoyed the Palace, and temples nearby and headed back in the evening