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A glimpse of paradise through the Verandah by the Valley

Mumbai is always on the move! Isn’t it?

At least 90% of Mumbaikars hate the hectic nature of the city!

And most of them certainly admit that if they could, they’d get out of the city at the first chance they’d get.

Every weekend, for folks who want ‘Out’ of the hustle and bustle, are always trying to make a choice on where to go to?

Most places are either filled up with the same crowd, or are far off to do a weekend / long weekend. And have been visited to. That’s when I believe one of the top picks for them and even for folks in Pune for that matter, is Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and Panchgani!

For a change, I decided to take a #midweek break and travel to Panchgani when I was invited to stay over at this beautiful villa, Saffron Stays Verandah By The Valley

Considering it was a midweek break, the travel wasn’t that hectic. To add to that, it was receding monsoon, so the weather up there in Panchgani, was most definitely one to cherish!

Took the early morning bus from Mumbai, and reached Panchgani around noon! That’s how long it’d take for you to travel to this place. That’s the beauty of it!

One of the reasons why I’d decided to visit this place was because of it being a little off beat, surrounded by greenery, vintage yet contemporary and most importantly, the magnificent view that this place had to offer!

 

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The garden with a view!

It’s really delightful especially for a family weekend getaway, or a bunch of friends. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up in a  beautiful 2 and a half bedroom villa on the edge of a valley! The first rays of sun  if you’re lucky and don’t have any clouds. Or be it the beauty of the sky to fill your day with brightness.

It’s a quiet location with a rustic yet modern feel to it, especially with the surrounding greenery, the swing to sit on while enjoying a breathtaking view and listening to the sound of the wind whizz past you across the mountains into the valley. A magical experience, certainly helps a city dweller like me to keep my sanity! A must do once every while for sure.

Apart from that the  wooden staircase ascends to a charming mezzanine of dark shiny wood that contrasts with the all white interior. The simplistic interiors speak exude elegance. The colourful throw pillows, bedsheets and flower pots add just the required dash of colour making this villa a very welcoming place.

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Cozy and Comfortable. Just like a second home.

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Perfect place to set your morning cuppa

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Or if you’re sitting with friends/family, this is good too!

The best place to have breakfast in the morning. With the weather that was during the time I stayed there, even if it was a midweek and I had a few things that I had to work on, who wouldn’t want to work out a place like this, sipping on a hot cup of coffee!

A perfect view and a relaxed mind! Nothing more that I could ask for!

Apart from this, the most amazing experience I had at this place was a bonus for me. Especially since I’ve recently took upon the love for organic farming! The local caretaker, Santosh, gave me a tour of the plants/crops he’s already planted in the backyard. But apart from that, he also let me experience farming first hand, much to my delight.

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Caretaker and Farmer Santosh

 

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Some organic red and green chillies already growing in the backyard.

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The farm in the backyard with a drip irrigation set up

The place on it’s own has a magic to it. The garden, the backyard, the experential organic farming bit, the location with a view and most importantly the quiet and peaceful stay! Quite the experience indeed!

Special Note: I was hosted at the Saffron Stays Verandah by the Valley thanks to the guys at Saffron Stays! Apart from the magical experience and the delightful stay, I’ve not got anything in return! In case you want to book the place, you could do it by getting in touch with Saffron Stays. They also have an AirBnB listing, incase you are comfortable booking via AirBnB. 

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The Old Kingdom of Kullu

“A window into the reflection of life, inside my soul lies a deep yearning to climb the peak up above the snow clad mountains of Himalayas! A time will come when I look at that mirror, where I don’t see the reflection at all for I’ll be one with these mountains of glory!”

As we drove past the mountainous reigons of Himachal Pradesh, while most of the mountains, look dry and surrounded by a cold yearning in the beginning of summer, elsewhere in India, it was a pleasant 1-5 degrees centigrades in this quaint little village of Kullu. About 20 odd kms from Manali and the same from Kullu, Naggar, Himachal Pradesh is the quiet little place you would want to visit and if your intention is to just sway away from the crowded places, especially if it’s a long weekend, this is quite the place to be at. It was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460! Hence the old kingdom of Kullu, as pointed out by one of my commenters on my previous blog as well. 

Amidst breathtaking forested hills, the Naggar Castle is a magnificent historical edifice. Made of stone and wood, this palace served as the residence of Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. It was built in AD 1460 in an impressive amalgamation of European and Himalayan architecture. Fireplaces, fitting staircases, and magnificent stone and wood works grace the castle’s interiors.

Here’s some breathtaking pictures from this beautiful place which you can call home, especially if you are in love with the mountains!

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Naggar, Himachal Pradesh, India, Travel Blogger, srinistuff, Srinivas Kulkarni, Himalayan Blogger, Travel Blogger India

Hello Himalayas! Let’s meet again…

It’s been a long wait… And the moment has finally arrived!

After working hard for the last couple of months, especially over almost all the weekends or Saturdays to say the least, this next long weekend is going to be a  much needed break traveling to my favourite destination in the world, eighth year in a row!

While most trips to the mountains are either an escapade across the longwinded journeys of durations beyond 10 days, sometimes, long weekends give that amazing opportunities to just take a glance at the love of your life, give a peck and come back to return to your hustle and bustle of the city life!

Considering the next week is one such long weekend, we thought it would be a great time to say hello to the mountains, spend a few days in the mountains and enjoy the breathtaking views of the snowcapped Himalayas.

This time, we’re off to Naggar, a quaint little village, about 20 odd kilometers from both Kullu and Manali. Considering, it’s also just about the right time where the weather in and around Himachal Pradesh would be pleasant to cold, it’s certainly a good idea to spend some time in here. While, Manali is like a pitstop to most travelers heading to the beautiful locations of either Leh-Ladakh, Spiti Valley or many other sought after destinations in the Northern Himalayas, this village-town was a great find, especially because it’s a little off-beat and also would give us some time to explore Manikaran, which maybe  a little touristy, but right around this time of the year, all the  more beautiful.

So, yeah, come this next week, the plan is to kind of unplug, unwind and settle down with some reading, conversations with friends and pondering over into oblivion while gazing at the snowcapped mountains, spreading grandeur across our lives.

Naggar is a settlement in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India, and it usually falls as a stopover, but is also a great destination because most treks, such as Chandrakheni, Rumsu. Back in the day it was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460, the name derived from ‘The Learned Man’

Apart from of course chilling out in Naggar, there are quite a few places, mostly temples which you can visit if you’re interested like Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundari temple, etc. But a couple of places that are interesting to me are

The Castle, Naggar

Castle Naggar

The Castle in Naggar is of a medieval structure and considered as a prominent tourist spot found nearby Manali. It was constructed in 1460 A.D. by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. The castle is of an architecture that is a blend of western and Himalayan style. The castle is strategically located near Beas River and provides 360o view of the surroundings.

The castle houses the Reorich Gallery that exhibits the painting of the well known Russian painter, Nicholas Reorich. Constructed with a blend of stone and wood, the mansion was once the home of the Raja, but was rehabilitated to a rest house in the year 1978.

Naggar Castle was converted into a heritage hotel by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation that took the charge in late 70’s. This castle turned hotel, offers complete view of Kullu Valley. The castle was constructed of wood and medieval stone with traditional architecture. (Courtesy: Holidayiq.com)

The Roerich Art gallery

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This is a place which is beautifully maintained.A small cottage where the. Ground floor is dedicated for the paintings and the first. Floor displays rooms with the furniture used by the Roerich’s. Takes you back to the old world charm. This place is a must For art and history lovers.

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

This recent addition to the list of attractions in Naggar, was built in 2005 and is home not only to Spirituality and Buddhism but also some of the most breathtaking views and backdrops of the area. The monastery is dedicated to Dalai Lama. (Source: Holidify.com)

Gauri Shankar Temple

Gauri Shankar Temple

This temple, located just below The Castle, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is an important religious center of the town. The historical temple was built in the 11th century and is said to be the last structure of the Gurjara-Pratihara traditions. (Source: Holidify.com)

And of course, if time permits,

Bijli Mahadev near Kullu.

Bijli Mahadev

A good ride for off road seekers and as well trekkers because the way from Naggar to Bijali Mahadev temple leads through cedar, pine forest and goes through top of the ridge of Pirpanjal range. Once you reach in the temple you can have a 360 degree panoramic view of Kullu and Parvati valley.

Hope this turns out to be a really interesting trip!

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Mountains, they’re always, always calling…

  • Every time I look around the corner there’s a new horizon,

  • Every time I look at a peak, my eyes widen!

  • The hope the feeling of surrealism that lasts beyond words we can’t express…

  • One that takes you away, Beyond all that entangled stress!

  • Hope, Dreams, Paradise beyond enchantment!

  • A breath a mile, as we climb this ascent!

Journey to the mountains is always a belief! A belief beyond a shadow of an underdog’s achievement towards glory! A hope, a dream and an experience that we take upon ourselves to feel that exhilarating madness that you derive after you climb the peak and reach the top!

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Snowcapped mountains at Har Ki Dun

Just around this time of the year, I have a strong urge to go back to  these magical, mystical divine creation of nature! A feeling that I cannot, and I do not want to resist as much as I want to! While I took to trekking in the Himalayas about 6 years ago and have been continuing to visit these mountains every year, whether I trek or not, it just feels like yesterday!

Every year, for that little glance, a beautiful peek at the sunrise beyond the mountain or the sunset hovering across the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas, gives me that sense of fulfilment. One that I cannot express in mere words! It’s as if there is another universe in itself and I’m tangled in this undying bond, a delirious and encapsulating feeling of boyhood, a desire to keep playing with a toy!

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Live like a nomad by the rocks, or by the river…

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Magnificence Unexplored!

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Keep your head down and keep walking…

Mountains mean a lot to many, and every one has their story or their connection with the Himalayas! I have many and hope to have some more, each and every year, until I finally decide to be with them forever…

Until then, I’ll keep my head high, hopes to fly and soar by every time they call upon me to pay a visit! Hopefully sometime soon again…

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Of Art, madness and magnificent views

“Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.” – Antoni Gaudí

One of the best things about visiting Barcelona is to be able too see the beauty of the maestro, an artist who is far beyond your extraordinary. Well if you ask me, Barcelona is Gaudí, Gaudí is Barcelona.  Yes, I’m talking about the master architect Antoni Gaudí of the early 20th century who shaped the city with his marvels. Not just his most famous century old work which’ll finish hopefully by the end of this decade, the La Sagardia Familia, but a lot more than that. The sheer marvel of visiting various places in Barcelona to view magnificence of Antoni Gaudí is a fortune that many should seize!

On our visit to Europe and Barcelona, after Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery, I think what caught my eye was Catalan Modernism artworks across the city by this amazing artist. If you intend to visit Barcelona, and have the sailing or seas on your mind, then do take some time out to visit some of the most spectacular works by this master artist.

One such experience is Park Guelle! A must visit if you’re in Barcelona.

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All the work of art right from the windmill to the steps to the alligator statue on your way up to the Park Guell terrace, you’d realise the spectacular cuts, the design the beauty of the elements of architecture including colours are inspired by nature, true to his style.

Park Güell is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). During this period, the architect perfected his personal style through inspiration from organic shapes. He put into practice a series of new structural solutions rooted in the analysis of geometry.

To that, the Catalan artist adds creative liberty and an imaginative, ornamental creation. Starting from a sort of baroquism, his works acquire a structural richness of forms and volumes, free of the rational rigidity or any sort of classic premisses. In the design of Park Güell, Gaudí unleashed all his architectonic genius and put to practice much of his innovative structural solutions that would become the symbol of his organic style and that would culminate in the creation of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family!

Some magical moments of this artistic creation, captured in a lens of time! One that I wouldn’t hesitate to re-visit again!

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Pere Lachaise Cemetry

No one here gets out alive…

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison

That said, one cannot truly explore horizons of life without a dream larger than that horizon itself.

I’d always been a huge fan of James Douglas Morrison, and when I started following him, listening to his songs, and read the book by the same title as this blog, I had never imagined, I’d have the opportunity to explore what is possibly the mecca for all the fans of , ‘The Legend,’ Jim Morrison!

Jim Morrison, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, Europe, Srinivas, Travel Blogger

Here lies the Legend!

For most travellers and tourists, Paris has it’s own charm and yes the Eiffel tower adds to a semblance of nostalgia and the rest of the city carries a feeling of being remarkable in it’s own way. It certainly is an epitome of historical greatness and has a fine taste for food, fashion, flawless culture  and a desire towards perfection of it’s own kind. No wonder it’s the most sought after destination by traveler’s across the world!

I’ve read many a times,

“Paris is always a good idea!”

Yes it is, especially if you can visit a place like the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and experience the aura of the souls of the departed, with a sense of purpose that you never had.

The destination was definitely on my list and I was saving the best for last, after having explored most of the city, spending more than a few days in Paris, @FeetonTheMap and I decided to explore the artisan life on our final day, by spending some time walking across the streets of Paris, visiting the Shakespeare and Company, reading a few lines, many a quotes, playing the Piano and being in the same location which once upon a time (1920’s) was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ernest Hemingway!

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The experience of exploring the almost century old bookstore, which still stands as part of modern art, culture and of course a business that has a repertoire that many would consider beyond what even traditional  sight-seeing locations in Paris would stand for. The quaint little bookshop was the beginning of a path to explore the greatness that we hoped would help end our trip on a high, a spiritual as well as that of self-discovery having, tread the path of the legends in a way, like never before.

While getting to the cemetery isn’t such a big deal, considering the easy access of metro the bigger challenge is to find your way around the cemetery to reach the grave. An ordeal that is truly worth the long walk and the wait, especially if you take the main gate from Gambetta side. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to take a picture of the cemetery map to navigate grave after grave while we tread the paths of the fall, leaves trailing across our feet, quite literally giving us a feeling of explorers of the dead!

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Walking round and round, around in circles, walking down steps and trying to find your route section by section, getting to ‘Area 48’ is an enjoyment of it’s own kind for sure. It took us probably a good 30-40 minutes, considering we were enjoying the experience, stopping by a few graves as we passed by. The wait was worth it, for I knew, when we got there, the sense of awe was something I’d cherish forever, not just to think of it as a check or a tick mark in my bucket list, but a lot more than that.

And I most certainly wasn’t disappointed! How could I be… I just stood there, for about 15-20 minutes and admired the beauty and the significant and enchanting view, with a sense of nostalgia… It felt like I was thrown back in time, in an alternate world! And that’s when I realized, I knew, it was time for me to leave…

And that’s when I had a smile, a smile on my face, cause in my head I could hear the words of his beautiful ballad, “This is the End.” A song that had a sense of severing ties, ones that left him heartbroken after his break up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow!

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again

Until we meet again… Au Revoir

Indonesia, Uluwatu, Bali, Paradise, Beach, Uluwatu temple

Wherever the path takes me…

He called out to the lone ranger walking across the horizon without a sense of time. In a beautiful, yet unknown sense of belonging he felt that there was no need to believe in what he was doing, because he felt completely all right. That is something that they usually call a rhetoric that pleases not only the mind, body but also your soul. A sense of feeling that speaks of the divinity you seek within yourself.

“What are you doing here? Are you lost?” He asked the lone traveler…

“On the contrary, I have found myself, he whispered,” as he spoke with a hint of fatigue in his voice. A voice that spoke of a thousand miles, traversed across a journey that he took with sheer determination albeit without any surmise.

“Great, welcome. Hope you had a great journey…”

“Most certainly, I did. But what’s more important is that it doesn’t stop here…” He had a spark in his eyes, and a belief that spoke of the Grand Voyage, a voyage that he had in mind to embark upon without any qualms, without any fear, only to speak of a reprise of his journey so far.

“So where to now?”

“Wherever the path takes me..” He smiled as he walked away.