October 30, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.139: Tamhini Falls, District Raigad, Maharashtra.

“Nature's Beauties.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 30 October 2015 NEW
The waterfalls of Tamhini Ghat are a sight to behold during the monsoon season, between July and September. Being a hilly region the rain water trickles down from the top of the mountains in the Sahyadri Hills (Western Ghats of Maharashtra) forming huge waterfalls as the streams cascade down the slopes towards the plains of the Konkan region.

A lot of weekenders from Pune and nearby suburbs drive to Tamhini to enjoy these beauties of nature in the rainy season. To avoid the crowds it may be better to visit the falls on a weekday. The two lane road is good in parts, but patchy and pot-holed in some sections.

Tamhini Ghat is a 50 to 60 km drive from Pune, and may take about an hour or two depending on the traffic. You have to follow the Paud Road route from Chandni Chowk in Pune. After passing Pirangut and Paud villages you will come to the Mulshi Lake. Travel further down the ghat to reach the Tamhini Ghat. Soon you will start seeing small waterfalls trickling down the hillsides. There are many small eateries along the way where you can stop for a snack and a cup of coffee. About 15 km after Mulshi Lake where the road takes a bend there is a small natural platform which forms a kind of look-out point from where you get an amazing 360 degree view of the hills with waterfalls all around you.

The falls were not gushing down due to less rain this year (2015), but they still looked refreshing after the recent rains.

If you carry on further down the road you will reach the ‘Orchard Resort’ where you can stop for a meal or overnight stay, or carry on towards Kolad or Mangaon towns on the Mumbai – Goa highway.
Visited August 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

My TripAdvisor Review No.138: Shri Varad Vinayak, Mahd, Khopoli, Maharashtra.

“Talk to Lord Ganesh Yourself.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 30 October 2015 NEW
Shri Varad Vinayak Ganpati Temple is one of the eight Ashtavinayak Ganesh Temples in Maharashtra. For a pilgrim doing the complete conventional ‘yatra’ this temple would come 4th in the sequence.

This temple is located in the village of Mahd, near Khopoli on the old Mumbai – Pune Highway (NH4). It is not to be confused with the town of Mahad which is on the Mumbai – Goa Highway. Mahd is about 6 km from Khopoli, 63 km from Mumbai and 85 km from Pune. One can exit at Khalapur if travelling via the Mumbai – Pune Expressway.

What is different about this temple is that a devotee can perform his own puja, and pay his respects to the Lord Ganesha himself. There was no rush or pushing from other pilgrims when we visited and we could pray in peace.
Visited July 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 29, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.137: Shree Vighnahar Ganpati Temple, Ozar, Pune District, Maharashtra.

“Remover of Obstacles.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 27 October 2015 NEW
‘Vighnaharta’ means Remover of Obstacles in Marathi language, and that is the name given to this Lord Ganesh at the temple at Ozar. Lord Ganesh got this name when he defeated ‘Vignasura’ the demon of obstacles.

We paid our respects at this temple after visiting the Girijatmaj Ganesh at Lenyadri. Both these temples form part of the Ashtavinayak yatra of eight Swayambu (self apparent) Ganpatis in the Pune region of Maharashtra. Ozar is about 85 km from Pune, and Lenyadri about 100 km. We had spent the night at Lenyadri, and drove down to Ozar the next morning. It was a very pleasant drive of 15 km through green fields of tomato, banana, jowar, bajra, sugar cane, and other crops. We passed a few villages and experienced the rural life of the farmers.

At Ozar there is an entry fee of Rs.20 for each vehicle. There is sufficient free parking for many vehicles in the parking lot next to the river. The temple is next to the Kukadi River, and boats are available near the embankment for pleasure trips. The temple was brightly painted and there was an orderly queue for darshan. The temple is surrounded by a fortified wall from all sides.

We had a good darshan of the Lord.

Around the temple there are some Bhakta Niwas lodgings for the pilgrims to stay. There are some private hotels too.
Visited July 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 26, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.136: Junnar Caves, Pune District, Maharashtra.

“Ancient Buddhist Caves.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 24 October 2015 NEW
These are a series of ancient Buddhist caves dating back to between the 1st and 3rd century AD, found near Junnar town in the Pune district of Maharashtra. Most of the bigger caves are found in the Lenyadri hills about 5 km from Junnar. One of the caves in this series has the famous Ashtavinayak Ganesh known as the Girijatmaj Ganesh. A lot of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims trek up the 300 steps leading to these caves. Many of these caves are used by Buddhist monks for prayer, meditation and even as dwellings.

The other caves are found in the other hills surrounding Junnar. There are some in the hill of the Shivneri Fort, but these are not easily accessible to the normal pilgrim. You have to be a seasoned trekker to visit these.

Junnar town is about 100 km from Pune city. The route from Pune is via the Nashik highway. You have to turn left at Narayangaon and follow the state highway till you reach Junnar. There are a lot of hills and green forests surrounding the town. The River Kukadi flows near Junnar, and there are a lot of green fields on the banks of the river.
Visited July 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 23, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.135: Shri SiddhiVinayak Temple, Siddhatek, Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra.

“Second Temple on the AshtaVinayak Tour of Lord Ganesh.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 22 October 2015 NEW
This temple of Lord Ganesh forms part of the Ashtavinayak circuit and is about 100 km from Pune. It is actually located in Ahmednagar district, about 20 km from Daund town. The route from Pune is via the Sholapur highway (NH9), via Yevat, Chauphula and Patas. At Patas you have to take a left turn towards Daund town and travel for another 20 km till you reach the Bhima River Bridge. The Siddhatek temple is clearly visible across the bridge. There is ample vehicle parking near the temple, located on the banks of the river.

Siddhatek village is a typical Maharashtrian farmer’s village with a lot of fertile green fields, mostly sugarcane, next to the river. The temple is located on a small hillock and looks very beautiful. It is surrounded by small shops and eateries serving sugar-cane juice and the rustic meals that the farmers love to eat (zunka bhakri).

The Ganesh idol here was bigger than the one at Morgaon, and had a trunk curving to the right. Photography is prohibited inside the sanctum so we could not get an image of this beautiful one. There is a paved track around the temple so after darshan inside we did a ‘parikrama’ around it. We also visited the ‘Bhakta Niwas’, a lodge for the devotees, but found it to be in an abandoned and decrepit state.

We then decided to have lunch at ‘Siddhivinayak Restaurant’, where we were served a rustic thali lunch which consisted of zunka bhakri, potato bhaji, rice, dal and a few chopped onions. It was 3.30 pm and we were very hungry so we relished it.

We had a good darshan of the Lord Ganesh, and a good experience of the rustic village life of Siddhatek, and returned home safe and sound with his blessings.
Visited June 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 19, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.134: Vithal Kamats, Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar Road.

“Good for a Quick Bite.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 18 October 2015NEW
This Vithal Kamat, part of a chain of restaurants in Maharashtra and Karnataka, is located on the Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar Road. It is about 4 km from Panchgani, on the left side of the road, going towards Mahabaleshwar.

It is good for the regular South Indian fast food items which Vithal Kamat is well known for, like idlis, dosas, wadas and uthappas. The place is reasonably clean and has good washrooms. You need to buy a token and then place your order at the self service kitchen counter.

Service was quick and efficient, and we refuelled and refreshed ourselves before proceeding to Mahabaleshwar.
  • Visited September 2015
    • 4 of 5 starsValue
    • 3 of 5 starsService
    • 4 of 5 starsFood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 18, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.133: Dholya Ganpati Temple, Wai, Satara District, Maharashtra.

“Maha Ganpati at Wai, a Must Visit en route to Mahabaleshwar.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 17 October 2015NEW
This Maha Ganpati temple, also known as Dholya Ganpati, because of its large size, is situated on the banks of the Krishna River at Wai. Wai is a temple town, about 35 km from Satara, en route from Pune to the famous hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. It is just about half a km from the Wai ST Bus Stand. There is ample parking available near the temple, if you are coming in your own vehicle.

The Lord Ganesh idol here is very large and brightly painted, and looks very cheerful and happy. It will make you happy too, just to look and pray to him. After the darshan do take a walk around the idol (parikrama) to get his blessings. There is strict security and you are not allowed to take any snaps of the Lord Ganesh.

After emerging from the sanctum, walk behind to see the streamlined shape of the temple. It is designed in the shape of a fish to reduce the pressure of the flowing waters if there is a flood.

Next to the Ganpati temple is the Kashi Vishweshwar temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a beautifully carved Nandi bull and a nicely decorated Shivling.

This temple is a must visit for the spiritually inclined visitors of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.
Visited October 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 15, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.132: HoneyWood Holiday Homes Hotel, Mahabaleshwar.

“Laid Back Forest Retreat.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed yesterdayNEW
HoneyWood is beautifully located on one of the back roads of Mahabaleshwar, the Duchess Road, which snakes its way from Old Mahabaleshwar to Kate’s Point. It is a thickly wooded road in the jungles, with hardly any traffic, and it would indeed be very scary to walk alone on this road at night. But that is exactly why we chose to stay here for 4 days at this secluded Forest Retreat.

The Chinoys (owners) were very welcoming and offered us the best rates for off-season weekdays. They sent us an email with details and maps of how to get to their resort immediately after our enquiry.

We decided to visit during the last week of September, during mid-week. So we got to choose our room, at the best off-season rate. The rooms were spacious, comfortable, and well furnished with some antique wooden furniture. In fact, we had the whole resort to ourselves, since we were the only ‘honoured’ guests. We could laze on the lawns with our morning cups of tea and breakfast, as well as evening cups of coffee.

However, their ala carte menu for lunch and dinner was a bit limited and priced on the higher side. Since we went out during the day we did not bother to order lunch, but on a couple of occasions we had to place our dinner order 2 hours in advance. We quite liked their preparations of ‘alu-gobi’ and ‘parathas’ and the quantity of their servings were sufficient for the two of us. They serve non-veg dishes too. During the weekends and season time they offer the buffet option of dining too.

HoneyWood is about 6 or 7 km away from the Mahabaleshwar market, in a remote location. So you do need your own transport to best enjoy this resort. But this is exactly what we liked about it. As soon as you step out of the resort you are in the deep woods. We enjoyed the best solitary morning walks on Duchess Road listening to gurgling streams and the birds twittering in the dense forest.

We would certainly visit this wonderful ‘Forest Retreat’ again, the next time we want to get away from it all!
Room Tip: There are Villa and Suite rooms available for larger families.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2015, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 starsLocation
    • 4 of 5 starsRooms
    • 5 of 5 starsService
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 14, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.131: Mapro (Restaurant), Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra.

“Best Garden Restaurant Serving Vegetarian Fast Food.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 13 October 2015NEW
Mapro serves probably the best vegetarian pizzas and grilled sandwiches in all of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. And you can actually see your order being prepared in front of your eyes. They have a wood fired oven for baking their pizzas and taste wise these pizzas easily match up to the ones you get from the Dominoes and Pizza Huts in the big Metros. They serve delicious juices, punches, shakes and ice-creams too. Do not forget to have something with strawberry as an ingredient. Mapro specialises in growing and processing strawberry in Mahabaleshwar.

They have a huge alfresco seating area next to their beautifully landscaped gardens on the Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani Road. They have recently developed a huge free parking area which is thankfully off the main road. It is a self service restaurant and you have to select your requirements from their menu boards, make the payment and submit your token to the chef. Then you can either watch your food being prepared right there in front of you, or take a seat at one of the many glass topped tables and chairs and wait for your token number to be announced.

You may find the prices of some items to be on the higher side, but there is no compromise on the quality of the ingredients. Payments can be made by credit cards too.

You can also take a tour of their strawberry farm and processing unit, and buy some of their products from the factory outlet located in the same premises. There is a small chocolate factory too. Mapro is not just a restaurant but a cool hangout place with friends and family. Your children will enjoy this outing too, as there are many brightly painted gadgets and vehicles lying around in the gardens to run around and play with.
  • Visited October 2015
    • 4 of 5 starsValue
    • 4 of 5 starsService
    • 5 of 5 starsFood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC