I have taken a lot of time to write this post. I read that how you start and end your speech/essay/blog matters the most. So, I have wondered what would be the best way to write about my Successful New Year’s Resolution of 2012. One would be to start with Statistics – According to Forbes only 8% of people meet their New Year’s Resolution. The other would be to recite an anecdote or maybe a conversation I had with a friend about the resolution or just tell you guys how confused I am about how to start this blog. I’ll just say it. I started 2012 with a thought of visiting 50 New Places in one year. And by December, when I went back in time to count all my Facebook albums, I realized I have accomplished my goal – Beaches, Deserts, Mountains, River Banks, Caves, Small Towns and Cities. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoyed 2012 🙂
1. Vasota Jungle Fort, Bamnoli Village: Wrong Shoes (Puma which is one size smaller. Killed me while descending) but what a feeling. Made friends with the trek group through whom we heard about every other trek that happened in 2012. To know more about this trek and the destination, click here
2. Dhak Bahiri, Zhambivalli Village: Slept in the Village Panchayat’s house. On a cold floor made of stone (Temperature that night – 5 degrees Celsius) with absolutely no bedding or blanket. Cattle and poultry as neighbours, we tried hard to get some shut-eye. Started the trek at 4AM as the villagers have a ban on girls climbing the mountain and reaching the temple on top. So we sneaked up 🙂 Read about this trek here
3. Devil’s Canyon, Tamhini Ghats: First trek where we descended down to a valley first and the return was a climb. Weather was getting hotter, fewer trees, and lots of rocks. A very good stretch of all your muscles because of the rocky trail. My legs started shivering while descending. Apparently due to fall in altitude, your BP goes down. Some salt helped here to gain back the lost energy.
4. Kundalika Point: A rock with nothing but deep valleys around. Lots of echoes are heard. Sat here for sometime just as the sun was setting.
5. Bedse Caves: Climb 400 steps to reach these beautiful and well maintained caves. Even the steps are absolutely clean. The person in charge will share a lot of stories with you and some of those small rooms are totally comfortable to take a small nap in. We used these awesome rocky rooms to change as we were attending a drum circle right after :p
6. Pavana Dam Back Waters: We had to sneak our way into spending a few minutes here. But the place is rocky and beautiful. Perfect to catch a nice sunset.
7. Girivan Hills – Cha Hut: Lovely hangout place on top of mountains. Beautiful amphi-theatre. The view I am sure will be great but we reached late in the evening. Experienced Drum Circle for the first time and enjoyed every bit of it.
8. Ellora Caves: Great experience. Ensure you cover Caves 1 to 16 before you head towards 16 to 32. The former is more artistically made than the geometric ones.
9. Beed: Small town which is very dry. We were here for our friend’s brother’s wedding. Very friendly people and great roads from Beed to Pune. Best for a good long drive.
10. Bibi Ka Maqbara – Aurangabad: From a distance, this will remind you of all the images you would have seen of Taj Mahal. When you go inside, you will see it is not well maintained. We spent a lot of time, sharing our childhood stories on the terrace of Bibi Ka Maqbara!
11. Bhairavgad, Moroshi: One of the tougher treks I have done. Maybe because of the circumstances – Heat, No Food, Dry Air, Steep Climbs and Crazy Rock Climbing. Also, I feared for my life when I had to walk down really narrow steps. A single slip would mean a 400ft fall onto plain hard rocks. Read more
12. Canyon Valley, Khandala: Though this was done in summer, we hardly felt the heat. There was forest cover though out which made the entire trek very pleasant. Also one of the few waterfalls you will find around Pune during summer. We played Holi here 🙂
13. Kashid: We left Pune at 2:00 AM and reached Kashid at 6:00 AM. Perfect time to be on a beach, as you watch the sun rise and experience sand and water get warmer. After playing with the waves for 3 hours, we rested on the hammocks for some time before trying out a few water sports. More here
14. Murud: We reached Murud enroute from Kashid to Janjira. The beach looked dirty and not so much fun but the fish thali meal we had was delicious. The vegetarians in our group was not so happy though as they enviously watched us clean our steel plates :p More here
15. Janjira: Janjira Fort is beautifully and strategically constructed. We enjoyed the stories narrated by the guide and explored the 12 acre fort. What saddened us here was the amount of garbage just thrown all around the fort. So we did our bit. Read more about this trip here
16. Katraj to Sinhagad: A strenuous 16 mountain overnight trek. It is one of the must do treks in Maharashtra. Even today, the highest number of clicks in this blog is on my K2S trek. Read more about this trek here
17. Guhagar: A beautiful, clean and virgin beach, Guhagar is surrounded with mountains on either sides. You will be one of the few people on the beach. If you enjoy that kind of privacy, then Guhagar is THE place for you
18. Hedvi: One of the smallest beaches I have seen. This beach has rocks all around and the peculiarity is that lots of crabs fall on these rocks along with the waves. It’s a fun thing to watch!
19. Ratangad, Ratanwadi: First monsoon trek. We expected it to pour pleasantly but this felt like nature saying.. You wanna trek in the rain.. Go.. trek in the rain. Heavy non stop rains ensured the trek was super challenging. A river which was at 2 feet deep when we started the climb and almost 4 feet when we came back. So you can imagine.
20. Kataldhar, Lonavla: Started with a long walk from Lonavla to the starting point of Kataldhar Trek, followed by a descend. We had our lunch in the middle of a valley with waterfalls on one side and a pond on the other. It’s moments like these that reassure you, traveling is good!
21. Vairatgad: A dry trek in the monsoon but filled with fun. We tried Chimney Climb, climbed down a narrow opening to reach a beautiful rocky opening. If not for that, it was a relatively simple trek.
22. Purandar: First self guided trek. Beautiful location. Slushy because of the rain but a training ground for Indian Army. Our palms were dirty because of the trek but we were starving. So, we washed our hands in a fresh puddle of rain water and gobbled down some delicious food.
23. Vajragad: The path connecting Purandar and Wajragad is ruined by trucks that try to take this unpaved route. Yet, we bravely conquered the Vajragad Fort as well
24. Kalsubai, Bari: The highest mountain of Sahyadris, Kalsubai has a bit of both. Almost 50% of the trek is made easy by ladderways but the first 50% is super fun too. Not too many people do this trek in the monsoons but the view from here is out of this world.
25. Waterfall Rapelling, Near Lonavla: Something we should all try. Rappel down slippery rocks through waterfalls. We were upset though that we did not trek at all.
26. Khandas to Bhimashankar: The trek which has everything you can ask for. Read more
27. Bhimashankar Temple: One of the seven shrines, this temple is situated at the top of Bhimashankar Hill bustling with activities like any holy place but covered with fog which almost hides the kalash of this temple. Read more
28. Raireshwar, Korle: Valley of Flowers of Sahyadris, one of the greenest treks in Pune. Once you reach the top, you will be pleased to see a nice little pond surrounded by yellow flowers all around. It gets really cold at the top but the trek itself is an easy one
29. Duke’s Nose, Lonavla: A trek which brings back a lot of memories for avid trekkers in Pune, Duke’s Nose is a must do to know about the trekking culture that is embedded so deeply among Puneites. Read more
30. Torna Fort, Velhe: An awesome trek for first timers as well as people who have hiked for a while. Almost at the peak, you will come across an out of this world waterfalls. Just for that, you HAVE to do Torna
31. Kondeshwar, Zhambivalli: A cute little temple in the middle of mountains, Kondeshwar is close to Pune and a nice getaway even as a picnic spot. Read more
32. Kusur: With beautiful roads, vegetation on either sides and mountain in front of you, Kusur is a picturesque scene for one to visit
33. Panchgani: The drive to Panchgani from Pune is breathtaking. I took my family here and they absolutely loved the experience of Maharashtra’s greenery.
34. Old Mahabaleshwar: Old Mahabaleshwar has some beautiful temples one of which is the sangam point of 7 rivers. New Mahabaleshwar has all the beautiful viewpoints but make it a point to visit Old Mahabaleshwar as well.
35. Wai: We went here to visit a temple which is a replica of Tirupati. The village is situated amidst mountains which makes you temple visit very pleasant and chilling!
36. Shirdi: Again, this was a temple visit. We got darshan within 30 minutes and the idol of Saibaba is divine.
37. Shani Shignapur: This village is supposed to be one of the few villages in India where the houses have no doors as the place has no thieves. As you go there expecting this, you will be shocked with the number of crooks you come across. They try to cheat you about all the things you need to purchase when you go for darshan, without taking any money from you and after you come back, they quote exorbitant prices. Be on your guard in this place.
38. Karkala – Gomateshwara: After a short climb, you will reach one of the huge statues of Gomateshwara which is surrounded by smaller statues of more digambaras
39. Sinhagad – Lake: Sinhagad is a jinxed mountain for me. Everytime I planned a trek to this mountain, it never happened. The closest I got was till the base of this hill and was sent back saying the place was shut due to some road construction
40. Khadakwasla: A get-away from city, Khadakwasla is a quiet town, overseeing a river and mountains.
41. Talzai: A good photographer friend of mine had a concept in mind and wanted to execute it. Hence we headed to Talzai and the result is here for you to see! Click here
42. Karnala: Through a national park, we started the trek of Karnala. The whole trek is through a forest and hence you needn’t worry about tanning. On reaching the peak, you have to walk a little more to rest at a cave where we also had our lunch. Lovely Spot
43. Kalavantin Durg: My send off trek. Kalavantin Durg was a semi night trek. We camped on the mountain, made chai in the morning, hiked a little, reached a plateau, made breakfast, hiked some more, had lunch and trekked back. Beautifully planned by TrekDi.
44. Bhuj: Prag Mahal is beautiful specially when the sun is setting and the light makes the orange buildings look brighter and prettier. The architecture in Trimandir is worth the visit to Bhuj. Check out the work on the roof of this temple. The design of every block is different from the other.
45. Chhatedi: Some scenes of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam are shot here. We loved the time spent here!
46. Bhujodi: This village was beautiful with small houses built in the authentic style of that particular tribe.
47. Kalo Dungar – Khavda: My experience: A beautiful view of the salt rver at a distance, Kala Dungar is a HAVE to visit point if you happen to visit Kutch.
48. Rann of Kutch: We unfortunately reached here when the sun had already set. I am guessing we haven’t got full experience of the White Desert but I don’t intend to visit this place again as I feel it’s too much hype over nothing.
49. Lakhpath: We absolutely loved walking around at Lakhpat. Climbing the walls of this fort, taking long walks into the sky and taking lots of pictures were some of the things we did here.
50. Koteshwar: You will not get anything to eat near Narayan Sarovar and Koteshwar. If you are not carrying any food, skip this place totally. Koteshwar temple itself is a nice place to visit.
51. Mandvi Beach: With a huge line of wind mills right on the beach, this place is a must visit in Gujarat.
Dunno how to end this blog either. Except that 2012 will always stay special 🙂