August 18, 2017

3 Things to do in Dubai

Apart from being a major commercial hub of Asia, Dubai has turned into a global city over the years and has numerous travellers visiting for both work and leisure.  Known for its iconic skyscrapers such as Burj Khalifa and gorgeous man made islands like Palm Jumeirah, Dubai has becomeo one of the popular tourist destinations too.  Shopping is what brings most tourists to Dubai, however, the city does offer a lot more than that to its visitors. Though travel guides such as Expedia provides a whole lot of information to people travelling to Dubai, here is a list of things which you cannot miss while visiting this Middle Eastern city.

Go up the Burj Khalifa

Top of the list should be a visit to Burj Khalifa, a world renowned structure which is the tallest building in the world. Classified as a mega tall skyscraper, Burj khalifa also holds many other records as it houses the world’s highest observatory deck, nightclub and restaurant.  The elevators take visitors all the way to the observatory desk which offers spectacular panoramic vistas of the city. It is open throughout the week and timings are from 8.30 AM to 10 PM. The ticket prices vary from AED 125 to AED 500.


Splurge at the Shopping Centres

Often termed the shopping capital of Asia, Dubai is known for its extravagant malls spread over massive areas with international brands from world over displaying their best products. Dubai mall is considered one of the largest shopping centres in the world with more than 1200 shops and a host of other entertainments such as cinemas, aquariums and theme parks. Another major one is Mall of Emirates, which apart from more than 600 shops also has an indoor skiing area known as Ski Dubai. The other popular malls are Ibn Battuta mall, Bur Juman and Deira City Centre. If you love gold, Dubai gold souk with 250 gold shops is the place for you. Dubai Shopping Festival held every year is a major retail event when the merchandises are offered at attractive discounts across the shops of Dubai.


Enjoy a Desert Safari

When the charms of the cityscape turns insipid over a period of time, a break to the desert is sure to get you back on the feet. A short drive away from the streets of Dubai takes you to outposts where the desert safari is organized. Manoeuvering through the windswept sand dunes, land cruisers take visitors on a gala ride deep into the desert for some dune bashing. At the man made oasis, there are various activities such as quad biking, camel rides and sand boarding. The program ends with some delicious traditional food and a belly dance.



August 17, 2017

Places to Visit and Things to Experience along Malvan coast

Nestled in the southern strip of Maharashtra, Malvan coast is known for its long sandy beaches, glorious sea forts, numerous water sport activities and the delicious Malvani cuisine. The narrow roads of Malvan lined with tall swaying trees, laidback air and small houses on either side portray the perfect picture of a typical coastal town.  Beyond the trees, the powdery sands welcome you to the numerous beaches along this shoreline. While in Malvan, stroll around, take a boat ride, go scuba diving, visit the forts and head back to the aroma of Malvani cuisine wafting from the nearby restaurant. Spread over long stretches, Malvan coast does have quite a few beautiful beaches and prominent forts to explore.

Sindhudurg fort

This mid 17th century fort seems like a huge ship bobbing in the waters when seen from the Malvan beach. Built on Kurte island by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to counter the attacks from European colonizers and Siddhis of Janjira, Sindhudurg fort is undoubtedly the symbol of the glorious Maratha empire. Spread over 48 acres, the tall fortifications and the strong bastions of this majestic fort houses three temples and is home to 18 families who are believed to be the descendants of the Maratha warriors. A walk around the ramparts of its outer walls offer magnificent views of the blue sea and the waves thrashing onto the walls. Near the entrance of the fort are the imprints of the hands and feet of Shivaji Mharaj preserved in dry lime. There are boats that drop you to Sindhudurg at frequent intervals from Malvan beach and they give you an hour to explore the fort.





Rock garden

Rock garden is probably the most sought after place in Malvan to enjoy the setting sun. This neatly maintained garden offers the evening walkers an ideal place to stroll. However, what brings people here are an array of rocks that extend into the sea beyond the garden. It is an ideal place to catch gorgeous sunsets and enjoy the waters thrashing onto the flat bed of rocks. Perch on top of any protruding rock and watch the sky change colours as the sun goes down.



Chiwla beach

Despite the commercialization, the most popular beach in Malvan has held on to its charm. The long arc shaped beach with coconut trees in the backdrop, a few colourful fishing boats and the azure sea encapsulates its visitors and is well recommended for an early morning stroll.


Kolamb beach

Located a couple of kilometers away from Malvan, Kolamb beach is away from the highlights of Malvan. Apart from the local fishermen, a few bobbing boats and kids playing around, you are highly unlikely to see any visitors. The waves are pretty strong here and there is a sudden slope in the sands as you wade into the waters. The rocky outcrops to the right of the beach offer a beautiful frame against the blue sea.



Sarjekot fort and Talashil beach

Past a few villages and numerous mango orchards, the narrow road leads to the crumbled Sarjekot fort where all that remains are a few stone walls. Totally in ruins, this can hardly be called a fort anymore. However, a walk through the insides of the fort leads to the mouth of Gad river where it joins the Arabian sea. Apart from the Sarjekot jetty and the colourful boats, the fort offers nice views of the serene Talashil beach across the river.



Wayari beach

As you ride down the narrow road that leads to Tarkarli, Wayari beach pops up without a cue.  Also referred as Wayari Bhootnath beach, it isn’t quite a popular one and that keeps it away from the crowds. All that you can spot here are boats shored up, locals strolling around or a game of beach cricket.


Tarkarli

Tarakarli has over the years gained popularity on the tourist map and receives hordes of visitors during holidays and weekends. The beach here was once considered the most serene on the Malvan coast. The beach now is quite commercialized and offers numerous water sport activities for the visitors. Tarkarli is also a popular scuba diving location and is also home to the only marine sanctuary in Maharashtra.



Devbag beach

Further south of Tarkarli, the winding narrow road goes past numerous fishing hamlets and Karli river to Devbag beach. The narrow strip of land ends at this beach known for its heap of white sands and beautiful sunsets. The Karli river joins the sea here and across the river is the secluded Bhogwe beach. Very few visitors head to this beach and that makes it an ideal place for people who love leisurely walks and solitude moments.


Vijaydurg fort

A two hour drive to the north of Malvan takes you to the prominent Vijaydurg fort. Built in the 12th century during the times of Shilahar dynasty, this impregnable fort was referred as the Eastern Gibralter. The fort was later fortified further by Chatrapati Shivaji who built the tall walls and numerous bastions. The ramparts of the fort offer majestic vistas of Vijaydurg beach, the blue sea and the waves crashing onto the strong walls. The fort houses four fresh water wells, banyan trees, temples and ammunition rooms apart from cannons and cannon balls.





Devgad fort and beach

Devgad is primarily known for its innumerable mango orchards and are lined with shops selling the king the fruits during the months of summer. Also popular is the Devgad fort which presently constitutes of just the outer walls. A climb up the walls offers panoramic views of the sea. The fort also houses a temple and a 20th century light house. Located en-route the fort is the pristine cove shaped Devgad beach flanked by casuarinas and windmills.





Taramumbari beach

Located near Devgad, Tara Mumbri is a beautiful beach tucked away from the crowds. The rocky beach is known for the presence of phosphorescence which is visible as the sun sets. Numerous windmills can be spotted on the hills in the backdrop. The beach is situated at the mouth of a river with Mithmumbari beach across it.


Kunkeshwar

This coastal town is known for its popular Shiva temple that attracts numerous devotees during the festivities of Shivaratri. The temple with its colourfully painted tower is located by the beach atop a small cliff. Despite being a neat and serene one, the beach doesn’t get many visitors as even the pilgrims don’t seem quite keen on getting into its waters. That definitely makes a big reason to head to this idyllic hamlet.



Beaches of Tondivali, Munge and Talbegad

The stretch between Malvan and Kunkeshwar is home to some of the most serene beaches along this coast. Tondivali beach has a long sandy stretch with casuarinas in its background. All that you might spot here are a few fishing boats on the shore. Munge beach has a beautiful backwater near it which accentuates the charm of the place. Talbegad beach is probably the prettiest of the lot with an endless stretch of sand and swaying trees in the backdrop.




Water Sports

The beach at Malvan offers numerous water sport activities such as parasailing, banana rides, jet ski rides etc. There are numerous operators who conduct these near the Malvan beach. While Tarkarli is popular for its scuba diving locations, Malvan too offers something similar near Sindhudurg fort. Though the operators claim this to be scuba diving, they take you to a depth of only 15 feet and the prices are alarmingly much lesser than what it is at Trakarli, which offers actual scuba diving. However, if you wish to just have a glimpse of the underwater world, the one at Malvan is a good option.


Malvani cuisine

After clambering over forts, strolls on the beaches and water sports, all that you would want is some delicious food to relish. The delectable Malvani cuisine is easily available across the small restaurants in and around the beach and on the roads that lead to it. Thalis are available with various fish combos such as seer fish, king fish, pomfret, butter fish etc. A popular Malvani dish is Kombdi Vade which has Vade (made of rice flour and lentils), chicken curry and solkhadi. Though more of a Konkani dish, Ghavne which is similar to a Neer dosa is a delicious pick for breakfast.




Mangoes of Devgad

While returning from Malvan, take home a box of ripe Alphonso mangoes. Locally known as Hapus, they are widely available across the shops in Devgad and by the road side too. Mangoes are usually available only during the months from March to July.


Location:

Malvan is located in the southern coast of Maharashtra, very close to Goa border. The closest airport is at Dabolim (128 Kms) and the nearest rail head is in Sindhudurg (28 Kms). There are frequent buses from Malvan to other towns such as Sindhudurg, Kudal, Sawantwadi etc. 

August 11, 2017

How to Travel Ahmedabad on a Budget

Ahmedabad with its perfect mix of old and new gradually grows on you. It is a city steeped in history. Ahmedabad is a concoction of old architectural marvels rubbing shoulders with the more contemporary sophisticated structures. On one hand it attracts the history enthusiasts and on the other hand, many backpackers also frequent Ahmedabad to be a part of the colossal culture, a fascinating collection of old mausoleums, a growing culture of millennials, a mouth-watering street food scene and the tranquillity of Sabarmati Ashram.

Ahmedabad can be a delight for the traveller on a budget since this city has everything to offer within your budget. For a budget traveller what is more important is the fact that planning should be on point. So here are a few tricks and tips for traveling to Ahmedabad on a budget.

The famous art work at Sidi Sayeed mosque. Picture credit: Wiki Commons

Research and then Search

Before making the decision to visit Ahmedabad, you should start reading about the place. It is important that you have a fair idea about the culture that you are planning to be a part of for a brief time. Read about the city, about the experiences that other travellers on budget faced in the city. Be a part of any online travel group to interact and find minute details about the city. This will be handy when you are going around the city and have a strict budget to follow. Also, it is important to keep in mind that if you are planning to explore Ahmedabad in a budget you have to wisely decide the time of travel. The winter and monsoons are a peak season. So, even if you are planning to visit Ahmedabad during peak season then make sure you have pre-booked everything in advance.

Carry your Itinerary  

When it comes to traveling on a budget, the next integral part of it is the itinerary. Make sure you have a clear picture what places you want to prioritize in Ahmedabad. There are quite a few landmarks that you can visit without spending much. While travelling on a budget you must invest on good walking shoes since your walking skills will come in handy. Book your transportations early. Also if you are planning to take a flight then make use of your flier miles to avail discounts on your tickets.

Stay in Budget

When it comes to exploring Ahmedabad on a budget, you have to keep in mind that the amount which you spend on accommodation should be minimal. Book your stay in a popular and convenient locality from where you can travel to any place on your list. From luxury hotels to budget hotels, and hostels, there are plenty of options to choose from. Since you are planning to stay within budget and cannot compromise with the services offered, Treebo Hotels in Ahmedabad will be your best friend. With quality amenities, free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, and situated at convenient locations all around the city, Treebo promises great hospitality while you visit the “Manchester of India”.

Grab Meals for Steal

The most exciting part about traveling is exploring the gastronomical scene of Ahmedabad. It is a city well known for its teeming street food scene.  Places like Manek Chowk, Juhapura, Bhatiyar Gali are foodie’s heaven. Visit any one of these places and your lunch or dinner scene is sorted. And do you know the best thing about these street food havens? These places will lure you with their amazing food without making a hole in your pocket. So the traveller on a shoestring budget, head to these places to feel like a king. Still, if you want to save on food, try and interact with the friendly local residents, ask about their culture and show genuine interest in their cuisine. You will be invited for a dinner since the people in Ahmedabad appreciate honest explorers.

Explore and Create Memories

When travelling Ahmedabad on a budget it's important that you focus on creating memories out of your experiences. Be a part of the regal past of the city. Visit places like Sabarmati Ashram, Calico Museum of Textile, Adalaj Vav Step-well, Hutheesing Temple, Bhadra Fort etc. Most of these important landmarks have no entry fee. Also, you can explore the old city by renting a cycle and trying to be a part of the culture.

Sabarmati ashram. Picture credit: Wiki Commons

Jama Masjid. Picture credit: Wiki Commons

Keep in mind, travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to give up on your expectations. Ahmedabad is a friendly city and you will be greeted by many helpful souls who will treat you as their guest. So go ahead, pack your bags and embark on a journey of a lifetime. Go explore Ahmedabad.

August 9, 2017

The Serene Beaches of Vengurla


Heaps of white sands, endless views of the coastline and serenity throughout the day are what makes the beaches of Vengurla starkly different from any other touristy beaches. Some beaches are so secluded that even travel guides and google maps would find it tough to locate it. However, the locals are the best guides around and would happily guide you there. Most beaches are fishing hamlets devoid of commercialization, are quite clean, have strong waves and are known for their under currents. Vengurla lies wedged between Malvan and Goa, in the southern tip of Maharashtra and offer some of best white sandy beaches on the Konkan coast which are fairly unexplored.

Nivti beach:

Located to the north of Vengurla, this isolated beach in the shape of a horse shoe is known for its blue waters, rocky outcrops and swaying coconut trees in the backdrop. The beach also has a lighthouse deep in the sea on burnt islands, also referred as Vengurla rocks. To the right of the beach, atop a hillock is the sea fort of Nivti. Totally in crumbles, it is just a few stone blocks that remain.

Vengurla to Nivti beach- 37 Kms




Khavana beach:

The first glimpse of this gorgeous beach would urge you to settle down here. With backwaters and coconuts in the background, and white sands blending with the blue sea, this undoubtedly offers a mesmerising frame. With just a few houses, colourful boats and absolutely nothing else in the vicinity, I doubt any visitor would want to leave this paradise.

Vengurla to Khavana- 23 Kms



Vayangani beach:

A couple of kilometers to the north of Vengurla, winding roads across the hills lead to Vayangani beach. Vayangani is a popular beach along this stretch and known for its heap of soft sands, endless stretch of shoreline and green hills in the background.  The sloping sands are a favourite with the locals who frequent here as the sun sets.

Vengurla to Vaayangani- 4 Kms



Sagareshwar beach:

As you go down the hills from Vyangani, a vantage point en-route offers magnificent views of the Sagareshwar beach, the fishing jetty at its one end and numerous sea gulls fluttering around. Sagareshwar is the the most popular beach in Vengurla and this also means that it has its fair bit of commercialization. With rows of numerous casuarinas, the long ‘C’ shaped beach is a popular one with tourists and is frequented by visitors in the evening. The beach also has a Shiva temple and to the extreme right near the jetty is the Vengurla light house. Near the jetty, the fish market is best visited in the evening to see it bustling with the day’s catch.

Vengurla to Sagareshwar- 3.5 Kms




Mochemad beach:

Absolutely secluded and cut off from the main road, the road to the beautiful Mochemad beach goes through a few villages and the last stretch to the beach can be reached only by foot. Located to the south of Vengurla, Mochemad beach remains isolated from the crowd with just the locals frequenting it. This also makes sure that this scenic beach remains serene and beautiful.  The beach which has lovely sands is known for its windy evenings and high tides.

Vengurla to Mochemad- 9.5 Kms



Aravali beach:

White sands greet you at Aravali beach, probably the most secluded beach on this coastal stretch near Vengurla. Cross over the large heaps of sand and the long beach spreads out with just a few lined up boats and nothing else in the vicinity. The beach is away from the main road and a narrow mud road leads to this pristine place.

Vengurla to Aravali- 14 Kms



Shiroda beach:

Further south of Vengurla, the scenic route beyond the paddy fields, creeks and salt plains, leads to Shiroda beach, which has rows of casuarinas in the backdrop.  Though a bit commercialized with ATVs and camel rides, the long shoreline is quite a favourite with even tourists visiting Goa due to its close proximity.

Vengurla to Shiroda- 21 Kms




Navigator:

Vengurla is 545 Kms south of Mumbai and 66 Kms north of Panjim. The closest airport is at Dabolim (88 Kms) and the nearest rail head is at Sawantwadi (28 Kms). There are buses connecting Vengurla with Kudal and Sawantwadi.

Food and Accommodation:

There are restaurants in Vengurla town and near Sagareshwar beach which offer coastal cuisine. Apart from MTDC resort near Sagareshwar beach, there are budget hotels in Vengurla.

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