June 7, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.214: Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Excellent Sanctuary for Trekkers.”
Reviewed 2 days ago
NEW
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctaury gets its name from the Bhimashankar Shiva Temple around which this sanctuary is located. It is about 120 km from Pune and the best route to get there by vehicle is via Manchar on the Pune Nashik Highway. There are State Transport buses which go directly to Bhimashankar from Pune at regular intervals.

There is no infrastructure like the other wildlife sanctuaries of India. Guides, Safaris, Forest Rest Houses or even vehicle tracks are non-existent inside the sanctuary, and it is best explored on foot. Just outside the temple there are walking pathways (pugdundies) leading into the jungles of stunted trees and bushes of the Western Ghats (Sahyadris). Many trekking organisations from Pune and Mumbai arrange these treks to the Sahyadris especially during the monsoons (rainy season).

There are a few private resorts in the buffer zone as you enter the sanctuary. We stayed in one of these resorts during our visit and would take morning and evening walks into the sacred groves of the forest. The climate was very pleasant during the early mornings and late evenings even in the month of May, since it is a rocky plateau at an elevation of around 800 metres above MSL. Though we did not see any wild life besides rhesus monkeys and different species of birds, the sanctuary is famous for the Giant Indian squirrel. Leopards, hyenas, jackals and snakes have been seen in the deeper parts of the jungle.

The best time to visit Bhimashankar is from July to February after the rains, when the forests become lush and green, and many waterfalls can be seen in the surrounding hills.
Visited May 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

June 5, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.213: Bhimashankar Temple.

“Holy Shiva Temple in the Sahyadri Hills.”
Reviewed 2 days ago
NEW
Bhimashankar Temple is one of the 12 holy Jyotirlinga Shiva Temples of India. It is located at the western edge of the Sahyadri Hill range in Maharashtra, and is about 120 km from Pune by road. One has to travel up to Manchar on the Pune Nashik highway and then take a left turn to Bhimashankar. It is about 65 km from Manchar.

After reaching the temple entrance we had to walk down about 250 steps to reach the shrine. Luckily the steps are covered by an awning all the way down so it was not very hot. Be careful of the monkeys though, on the way. There are small shops to buy the offerings like coconut, sweets and flowers lining both sides of the stairway. There are some snacks and tea stalls as well.

The temple itself is well organised with railings to keep the rush of devotees in an organised queue. It was a Monday when there is maximum rush of devotees but we were able to get a darshan within the hour. The priest was kind enough to let us give an offering of milk on the Shiva lingam at the centre of the sanctum. There are some priests sitting outside the sanctum who take offerings in cash to perform specific pujas like abhishek. One can also sit outside the sanctum on the floor for a while to pray and meditate on the Lord, ‘Om Namah Shivaay’.

Legend has it that the Lord Shiva had fought with the demon Bheema, the son of Kumbakarna, and reduced him to ashes in a flash of lightning. Hence the name of the site became Bhimashankar. The river Bhima (formed by the sweat which flowed from Shiva’s body) also originates here and flows southwards to join the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
Visited May 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

June 2, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.212: Ratwa Resort, Bhimashankar.

“Far Away From the Hustle and Bustle.”
Reviewed 3 days ago
NEW
This is a very calm and peaceful resort located just 6 km before Bhimashankar temple. It is located on the main road and you cannot miss it while going to the temple. The rooms are situated in individual cottages which are quite well spaced out and you can park your car right next to your cottage.

The rooms are quite large and clean with a cupboard and dining table and chairs. The bathroom is also quite spacious and has a geyser for running hot water. However there is no TV or air conditioning and no mobile connectivity except for BSNL. They do have a generator in case of power outage.

They have a restaurant where they serve simple vegetarian meals freshly made in their kitchen. You can place the order about an hour in advance if you want it as per your likes with less oil and spices. We enjoyed the taste of their simple recipes.

This is a place to go to if you want to visit the Bhimashankar Temple or to just get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Even though we visited in the month of May it was not too hot, and the mornings and late evenings were very pleasant for a walk out in the cool climate, amidst the forests and greenery.
  • Stayed May 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

March 27, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.211: Hotel Aryaa Regency, Ozar.

“Clean and Well Maintained Hotel in Small Town Ozar.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterdayNEW
Ozar is a small town in the interior of Maharashtra, about 100 km from Pune. It is famous for its Ganpati Temple as it is one of the AshtaVinayak Ganpatis. The Lenyadri Caves and Ganpati Cave Temple is also nearby. The famous Shivneri Fort is also nearby at Junnar. We also visited Malshej Ghat from here.

We stayed for 3 days at the Hotel Aryaa Regency as it happened to be one of the cleanest and better maintained hotels in Ozar, Junnar and Lenyadri. The rooms were nice and cosy and well within our budget. We had a small balcony which overlooked the Ganpati Temple and we could sit there and listen to the morning and evening aartis. There was an LCD TV and a small cupboard in the room and the bathroom had running hot water.

The restaurant was also very neat and clean and served the local vegetarian dishes which were quite tasty. The service was courteous.

We had a very relaxing and peaceful stay at Hotel Aryaa Regency.
  • Stayed December 2016, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

March 18, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.210: Pavana Lake, Lonavala.

“Remote but Beautiful.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
This lake is about 20 km away from Lonavala town, but can be approached also from Pune via Paud and Mulshi. The latter approach is not very good due to rough roads so it is better to go via Lonavala, INS Shivaji and the Amby Valley Road.

The surroundings of the lake are very beautiful and peaceful. There are many exotic birds to be seen and heard early morning and late evening. It is best to go during winter and monsoon seasons when the climate is cooler. The Pavana Dam is constructed on one side of the lake.

We stayed in a resort overlooking the lake and got to witness a beautiful sunrise early one morning. The Tung Fort is very near the lake on the western side.
Visited March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

March 17, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.209: Cafe Goa, Pune.

“Delights of Goan Food in Pune.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
One of the best things about Goa is to have a lazy afternoon sitting in a beach shack and enjoying a spicy local Goan meal, and this was what we were craving for one afternoon last week. We found ‘Cafe Goa’ quite by chance while searching on the internet for the best seafood restaurants in Pune.

The restaurant is quite close to our house and still relatively undiscovered. It is just off the new road leading to airport and close to the Maruti Nexa showroom in Viman Nagar, tucked away in a building called ‘Faith Centre’.

It is a small Cafe which can accommodate about 6 tables including the outdoor seating, and it is not air conditioned, so it may become a bit uncomfortable in the hot season. But the taste of the Goan dishes were genuine, and the music and the pictures on the walls brought back sweet memories of our holidays in Goa.

We ordered some simple dishes like Prawn Curry Rice, Surmai Curry Rice and Fried Pomfret in Rechadeo masala with pao. It tasted exactly like what we have had at the beach-side shacks in Goa. The prices too were quite affordable.

We would definitely be visiting ‘Cafe Goa’ more often in future.
  • Visited March 2017
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

March 15, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.208: Tung Fort, near Lonavala.

“Small Fort but with a Steep Ascent.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
Tung Fort is about 25 km from Lonavala. The base of the ascent starts just about 2 km before reaching Club Mahindra Resort at Lake Pavana. The climb is not recommended for the faint hearted.

There is a parking area near the base of the hill on which the fort is situated. There is a small Hanuman Temple nearby at the base. The road leading up to it is very narrow.

After parking your vehicle at the base there is no other option but to climb it on foot. The initial ascent is very steep and slippery because of loose rubble and rocks. After the initial ascent the climb becomes easier and one can accomplish the trek in an hour. Be sure to wear your hiking shoes and carry a water bottle.

The view from the top is indeed mesmerising with the Lake Pavana in the foreground and the Lohagad, Visapur, Tikona and Koraigad forts visible in the surrounding hills. It is well worth the climb.

There are very few eating joints nearby, but we managed to find a small dhaba by the name of ‘Holiday Garden Dhaba’ where we got some delicious ‘kande pohe’.
Visited March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

March 12, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.207: Club Mahindra - Tungi Lake Pavana.

“Best Club Mahindra Resort in Maharashtra.”
5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
Club Mahindra’s resort at Tungi Lake Pavana is arguably one of their best resorts in Maharashtra. It is located about 26 km from Lonavala town off the Mumbai Pune Expressway.

Coming from Pune you have to take a left turn at Kumar Resort and carry on ahead of INS Shivaji till you reach Cloud 9 Resort. Just after Cloud 9 you will find a turn on the left pointing you towards the Club Mahindra Resort. The resort is 9.9 km from this turning, and it is a narrow country road going uphill through the ghats and forests. Much of the road has been repaired and only a small patch of about half a kilometre was still being repaired when we went in early March.

As soon as you enter the gates it is like arriving in paradise. You have to abandon your car which will be driven to a huge parking lot by the valet, and you will be taken in the resort vehicle to your room. Our check-in was fast and we were in our 1BR apartment within half an hour.

Our room was very well furnished, and there was a small kitchenette with a microwave and a fridge, a covered sit-out where we could have our morning cuppa and watch the sunrise, a bedroom, and a living room with TV, and a walk in closet with an e-safe.

There are 3 swimming pools with one of them being an infinity pool overlooking the Sahyadri hills and valley. There is a basketball and badminton court, a spa, gym and activity room with plenty of indoor games. Bicycles are available on hire and they also arrange Lake and Forest treks. We wanted to go on a trek to the Tung Fort which is just a few kilometres from the resort, but this could not be arranged as the climb is quite difficult and not for the faint hearted.

The restaurant, ‘Ripples’, is well laid out, with a separate section for the buffet and ala-carte. The buffet meals are quite expensive, but the ala-carte section had good options and quite tasty as well. They also have the ‘Gourmet Express’ where meals in a box are delivered to your room.

This resort is a place where you can go for a spell of rest and relaxation, but not too amenable to sight-seeing and monument hopping. You can go for long walks within and just outside the resort and even spot some exotic birds. In fact, the resort units are all named after the birds, and we stayed in the one named ‘Golden Plover’.

We had a very relaxed four day vacation and would love to come again at least once every year.
  • Stayed March 2017, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

February 16, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.206: Sri Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysuru.

“Prominent Temple atop Chamundi Hill.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
This huge temple is on top of the Chamundi Hill which is about 13 km from Mysore City.

We visited the temple on a Sunday and it was crowded with a lot of devotees not only from Mysore but from all over India. Chamundi or Durga is another form of the Goddess Shakti, and she is the slayer of many demons, one of which is ‘Mahishasura’ or the buffalo headed monster. You will pass the giant statue of this demon as you approach the temple. The city of Mysore has derived its name from this demon.

There is a good motorable road from Mysore city up to the temple and the views of the city are indeed enchanting as you reach the top. There are regular local buses going up to the top from the city.

There are some more temples like the Mahabaleshwara temple and the Nandi Bull temple nearby which can also be visited together on the Chamundi Hill.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

February 14, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.205: Sri Nandi Temple, Mysuru.

“Huge Nandi Bull.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterdayNEW
This is a huge monolithic statue of the Nandi bull on top of the Chamundi Hill near Mysore. We visited this place after visiting the Chamundeshwari Temple.

Nandi is supposed to be the vehicle of Lord Shiva, the Lord of destruction in Hindu mythology. The statue is carved out of a single large boulder and is supposed to be about 350 years old.

Being on top of a hill there was a scenic view of the land around Mysore city and a nice breeze to cool us off. It is worth a visit.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

February 8, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.204: Brindavan Gardens, Mysuru.

“Beautiful Gardens but Overcrowded.”
3 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
The Brindavan Gardens are located around 15 km from Mysore City in Mandya District. The gardens are beautifully laid with flowering plants and shrubs. It is adjacent to the Krishnarajasagar dam on the River Kaveri.

There is a token entry fee of Rs.40 per head as well as a camera fee of Rs.50. The gardens become terribly overcrowded on weekend evenings when there is a sound and light show with the dancing fountains.

We visited the place after our trip to Srirangapatna on a Sunday evening, and found it extremely difficult to cross the bridge across to the dancing fountains. We enjoyed the near side where there were more fountains and a waterfall.

There are many food and drink stalls so we refreshed ourselves with some snacks and coconut water.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

February 3, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.203: Railway Museum Mysore.

“Educational Entertainment for Young and Old Alike.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterdayNEW
This museum is located just behind the Mysore Main Railway Station in an open enclosure. There is an entrance fee of Rs.20 per head and Rs.15 for children.

It is much smaller than the Rail Museum at Delhi, but still quite interesting and educational. There are many models of the ancient steam engines and coaches which used to run on the Indian Railways. Some of them have been sectioned to show the inner workings of the engines. There is a room depicting the history of the Indian Railways in framed photographs and models.

The most interesting exhibit was the coach used by the Maharani of Mysore when she used to travel in royal luxury. You can even enter inside the coach and walk through it.

There is a mini train which runs around the grounds to give the kids a joy ride in the evenings and on holidays.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

January 28, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.202: Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B) restaurant, Mysore.

“Brightly Lit, Clean Restaurant.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterdayNEW
Adyar Ananda Bhavan, or A2B restaurant is located just outside the Mysore Railway Station. It is a good clean restaurant serving South Indian and ‘Chinese Indian’ dishes, as well as sweets and snacks.

They have a self service section where you can buy a coupon and go for a quick meal.

At night it is brightly lit and attracts and entices you to enter and sample the delicacies. We went in one night for dinner and ordered their ‘Mysore Masala Dosas’, which was quite tasty, and followed it up with a fruit salad.

After dinner we had some sweetmeats and parcelled a packet of karela (bitter gourd) chips to take home from their Sweet Shop.
  • Visited November 2016
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

January 25, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.201: Srirangapatna, Mandya District, Karnataka.

“Steeped in History and Surrounded by Natural Beauty.”
5 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterdayNEW
Srirangapatna is a small town about 15 km from Mysore city in the district of Mandya. The entire town is surrounded by the River Kaveri to form a river island, and encloses the ruins of Tipu Sultan’s Fort.

We had taken a private bus from Mysore for a day of sight-seeing, and Srirangapatna was included just as a drive through in about half an hour. We saw all the monuments but did not alight from the bus to visit them individually. But the sights of Srirangapatna are too good and one can spend the full day, if not more, to visit them.

Some of the monuments we saw in passing were the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Dariya Daulat Bagh (Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan), Tipu Sultan Gumbaz, Wellesley Bridge, Srirangapatna Fort, Bailey’s Dungeon and the memorial at the spot where Tipu Sultan was killed.

The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is also located near Srirangapatna.

There are some hotels and lodges located in and around the town. It would definitely be worthwhile to stay longer in Srirangapatna and explore the monuments, ruins and the beautiful natural surroundings around the Kaveri River.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

My TripAdvisor Review No.200: Mysore Maharaja's Palace.

“Grand Palace of Mysore.”
4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days agoNEW
For anyone visiting Mysore a visit to the Maharaja’s Palace, also known as Amba Vilas, is a must. It is one of the most iconic monuments of this city, and is located in the centre of Mysore. It is the residence of the erstwhile royal family of Mysore, the Wodiyars.

There is an entrance fee of Rs.40 per head, and cameras are not allowed inside. An audio guide is available on payment of an additional fee.

You have to take off your footwear and leave your camera in a free locker provided near the entrance to the Palace. The Palace grounds are huge and there are well laid out gardens and pathways.

Inside the palace are huge halls and rooms decorated with period furniture, paintings and precious artefacts well laid out and displayed. You are made to follow a certain sequence of rooms as you go from room to room and admire the items on display.

The palace is illuminated every Sunday and other public holidays from 7 pm to 7.30 pm, and looks indeed spectacular when it is all lit up.
Visited November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC