Archive for January, 2010

Beach Hopping: The Mumbai Excursion – Part III

January 31, 2010 8 comments

The previous weekends and trips were planned, to an extent, and so was this particular trip. Decided to check out some beaches close to Mumbai this time as opposed to going out-of-town for beachasms (a term I coined for ‘pleasures attained whilst visiting beaches’ – to be understood spiritually!). Had heard and read about Uttan and Manori. Hence, decided to out for myself, these beaches that were so close to Mumbai (Infact, they are in Mumbai!)

But, before that, I had to go to Ulhas River and capture the sun rise.

The view of Ulhas River from the bridge on NH8 while crossing over the Mumbai mainland.

The view of Ulhas River from Ghodbunder.

The sight of the sun shining over the waters with the fishing boats seemingly after the sun as a marker for their next destination is a picturesque moment that I had waited to capture all this while! Had planned a trip to the Ghodbunder Fort as well but the Republic Celebrations were in full swing and had to postpone the plan for a later day. From Ghodbunder we then moved to Uttan beach. However, for some inexplicable reason, we ended up at Pali Beach, ahead of Uttan. I guess the mistake we did was to ask people about ‘the beach’ and not ‘Uttan Beach’.

The pretty view from Pali Beach.

The beach isn’t must to talk about though the jumping fish kept us intrigued for some time.

There is the Pali Beach Resort opposite this place and ahead is a small cliff from where a panoramic view of Pali and Uttan areas is visible.

Pali is great place to go to see locals in action or locals just lazing around watching the sunset. The road along the beach keeps going north. Not sure where it goes to but it didn’t seem to end so we turned back.

Another one of those awesome views from Pali Hill.

This time we decided to go to Manori (with Uttan already forgotten about!). On the way we took to off-roading and landed up at Gorai beach.

The view of sea from our off-roading venture.

Though a little unnerving at times, the route landed us right on the far end of Gorai. But since we had planned a trip to Manori, we rode across the beach onto the road and back on the trail for Manori.

Since the beach is close by, it did not take us long to reach here.The first sight was a breath-taking view of the beach from the rocky terrain north of Manori.

But we were itching to get into the water and headed straight for the sea. Manori amazed it and captivated me!

Clear waters, lots of sea shells, wonderful sad and lime juice on the beach was just so heavenly! It is amazing that not far from Manori lies Juhu beach, one of the most polluted beaches in the whole of Maharashtra, and here at Manori, the water is clear!

It is a shame though that the beach is so small, for it gets crowded quickly. But what the heck, everyone’s here to have a good time. Manori too, like Gorai, has many resorts around its periphery and most people on the beach were living at these resorts over a long weekend.

There is a certain section of the beach with many sea shells which look, in the scheme of things, akin to gravel being placed on the road – dangerous often but easy to avoid. No  dangers here though, only pretty shells. Though some of them did contain hermit shells as we soon figured it out!

It was a low tide while we were at Manori and the receding waters left behind a rocky terrain, something that I am quickly getting accustomed to! It was revealed to us but the receding waters, a couple of pools were made around Manori for people to enjoy the beach and stay cool in the waters the entire day (how thoughtful!).

A long day at the beach made us hungry and since Rock Chic was paying, we decided to eat at a place of Rock Chic’s choosing! Had lunch at Pixxy Resort (whose directions we had followed earlier in the day for our off-roading experience).

While chilling out and unwinding at the resort, we reflected back at the day well spent! Though it went horrible wrong early in the morning with the Fort visit still pending and the trip to Uttan being an epic fhail, it was still a successful day with both thoroughly enjoying the trip nonetheless. Even with all the travelling in the day, it felt like a lazy day. Coupled with lazy service, it just made us plain lethargic! The day finally ended when we, grudgingly, called for the bill, paid the money, and headed back home!

A visit to a pretty beach was what made our day. Just sitting and idling around was fun and for a change we happened to have the time to do that!

With this I end my three part ‘Beach Hopping Series’. If you guys come across any more beaches worth the visit, please to post in the comments! Trance Dude shall check it out!

It is a shame though that the beach is so small, for it gets crowded quickly. But what the heck, everyone’s here to have a good time. Manori too, like Gorai, has many resorts around its periphery and most people on the beach were living at these resorts over a long weekend.

Beach Hopping Part II: Alibaug Expedition

January 30, 2010 5 comments

Trance dude (TD,  Me) thought of dividing part two and one into separate regions than talk about a few beaches here and there. I planned most of the visits in a similar manner as well with this part talking about his visit to Alibaug and its pretty beaches.

Alibaug happened more because of an adrenaline rush to just get up and go somewhere on a lazy Saturday. Though the initial plan was to chill at Kihim beach, the hyperactive puppy that I am, couldn’t resist checking out three more beaches in the same day!

I had my partners in crime, Rock Chic and Lord Chicken (come to think of it, they are my best travel buddies!) to go with me on this planned (or unplanned) journey. We got up pretty early on a Saturday to catch the 6:00 AM ferry from Ferry Warf in Mazgaon Dock. This is the first ferry from Mumbai to Alibaug and we were fortunate to catch the ferry as it was about to undock itself from the dockyard. Phew!

So, in the cold winter morning, we set sail to the distant land of gardens and flowers (or at least that is what I think ‘Alibaug’ stands for). A one and a half our boat journey does cut down on the long road trip and for unfit guys like me, it helps to enjoy the place more than the ride! Anyways, the early morning chill did not dampen our spirits and we began clicking pictures of anything we got hold of – seagulls, mountains, the sea!, anglers and the ferry itself! It is a pretty boat ride and I will recommend it to anyone wanting to go to Alibaug from Mumbai.

By the time we reached the other end, Rewas Jetty, the sun was already out but it was still cold. Since we were at Rewas and Mandwa isn’t far away, we changed our plans and headed out to Mandwa before going to Kihim.

The beach itself is next to the Mandwa Jetty, which divides the beach into two parts. On either side you have adventure sports activities though the side on the left is far better for the usual beach relaxation.

It is a pretty beach with calm waves inviting you to just sit there and watch the birds (and I mean seagulls) go about their daily chores. An hour spent at Mandwa in the cold sea with hot tea was an awesome early morning experience for me personally!

After Mandwa, we headed off to Kihim. Kihim too is two-faced, with a rocky side one on end and a plain old beach at the other. The entire length though is dotted with private bungalows. I envy these folks with such exotic views day in day out!

Kihim is a pretty beach though the rocky end is pretty deserted. This is where we spent most of our time watching the anglers and women go about their daily chores. What surprised us was how close they were to the shore while fishing. It seemed hard work but the rewards made it worth the effort!

We moved to the more crowded part of the beach but there was room for 1000’s of people there and we were just three! It was a low tide and anyone could walk quite a distance into the sea. Got into my shorts so that I could go in a bit deeper (still do not know how to swim, shame shame!) while the rest were busy clicking pictures.

It was only 11:30 AM and we were already tired and hungry. Said good-bye to Kihim beach and made our way to Alibaug. Had lunch at Hotel Fulora and then asked for directions to Alibaug Beach. This is the main beach of the city. A well-developed promenade, seating space, organised boat tours, vehicle parking was all there – reminiscent of Juhu beach (minus the boat tours!). We walked around looking for shade yet found none. The blazing sun beat down on us mercilessly but it was 2:00 PM so quite expected was this treatment of thee mortal souls at the hands of the all-powerful sun god (A bit too much eh? Nah! I am just getting started).

The Alibaug Fort is only a short boat ride away (or a short walk during low tides) and is a must visit if one is in Alibaug. As for us, our purpose was different (and besides the heat didn’t help either). We spent some time at Alibaug and later moved on to our destination.

Asked around, got lost, asked around again, got lost, asked around yet again and finally got the route! It was the last beach for the trip and my oh my, wasn’t it just worth the wait! A magnificent beach, it reminded me of Diveagar. A beach just ahead of Kihim (in fact there is an inner dirt road that goes here from Kihim). Oh yes! Trance Dude speaks about Awas, a place, for which, he has already made some special plans.

Awas is in fact like a copy of Diveagar with a creek on either end where anglers can be seen laboring throughout the day. A deserted beach, we shared this long stretch of sand with another group of around 15 people who were busy playing cricket.

It is hard to describe how pretty I found Awas in its raw state. Yes the beach needs cleaning up, Yes the sand isn’t as fine as in Goa, Yes there are way too many crabs for my liking but nothing was going to stop me from falling in love with Awas. Took a long walk on the beach and was quite surprised to see three different types of sands as well as a clear (clearer in fact) patch of sea in the middle of the otherwise muddy waters. Don’t get me wrong, the water was quite clear, just that the sand seemed loose for most of the stretch resulting in the ‘muddy looking water’.

It is a perfect beach for a long lazy day with your friends. We were here for around 3 hours and didn’t see as many people come even as the sunset neared. Sadly, had to get back to Rewas Jetty for the 6 PM ferry back home and hence caught the sunset whilst on the ferry and not the beach. But there are no regrets, for I found for myself a damn good beach. (Maybe I shouldn’t be posting here in the first place, the lesser people know about it the cleaner it stays!).

Anyhoo, that was the end of the second part. Four beaches visited in one day didn’t tire me out. Maybe, I am made for em’ beaches afterall! I will leave you with some more pictures I clicked from my faithful Panasonic FZ5, the grand daddy of the FZ Series!

Seen at Alibaug circle.

A kite feeding on fish it caught at Awas Beach

The three idiots.

Spot the crab!

The entourage of seagulls following our ferry back home.

Hotel Fulora, Alibaug

January 23, 2010 6 comments

A trip to beaches around Alibaug cannot be complete without trying out a restaurant there. We decided to go to Fulora in Alibaug City. Located a few meters away from the St. Bus Stand, Fulora is popular among locals and tourists alike. So Trance Dude, Rock Chic and Lord Chicken found a cosy table to relax and eat.

First up we ordered for Chicken Lollipops along with Prawns Chilly. The lollipops were pretty standard though the Prawns Chilly Dry was a big disappointment. Small in size were the prawns and the dish didn’t taste that good. It was below average for my liking. We though things may get better with the main course but the quality only went down. Ordered for a Chicken Afgani which was green in colour! The meal wasn’t spicy but quite oily. In fact we could only taste the oil and not the masala or the chicken.

Overall the food was a big disappointment as we had expected something better.

Cadbury Bournville: Sweetville!

January 22, 2010 2 comments

Cadbury Bournville is Cadbury’s entry into the dark chocolate segment. A niche segment, Cadbury has advertised this brand extensively. However for a true dark chocolate lover the Bournville falls flat on its face. Dark it is, understandable from its bitter taste, but not as dark as the other dark chocolates I have had so far. The flavours are very much reminiscent of the usual sugary goodness Cadbury unleashes with all its chocolates. This is true even with the UK version I got hold of. Such a shame the bournville is only for cheap thrills when it could have been so much more better with just a bit more cocoa!

Zenzi Mills, Lower Parel

January 19, 2010 1 comment

Zenzi Mills is an offshoot of Zenzi, Bandra. Similar in ambiance, Zenzi Mills offers a large rectangular bar with a small dance floor and another one on the top floor. The entry at Zenzi Mills is generally free which is such a refresher from the usual rigmarole of other places.

Going in a group or with ur friends/lovers is all good at Zenzi Mills. One can always hop over to Zenzi’s next door neighbour blue Frog if the Mills music isn’t to their taste. But for Trance Dude, it was a great night. Loved the ambiance, the music and the crowd. You’d expect a sophisticated crowd in Lower Parel, which is what Zenzi is all about.

As expected, the price of the booze is much higher here than say in Bandra. So pint of beer would set you back by INR 200 (taxes included). Trance dude being back from Goa recently, was in no mood to pay so much for beer especially after getting high on Kingfisher available for INR 35 in Goa!!

Anyways, Zenzi Mills is the place to go to these days if one wants to have a great time. Don’t forget, place shuts by 1:30 PM.

The pretty Gorai Beach and the imposing Pagoda

January 18, 2010 5 comments

Trance dude doesn’t quite remember when he went to Gorai beach but it sure was a long time ago! So TD (short for trance dude) and Rock Chic (RC) rode on TD’s pulsar on a hot Saturday afternoon towards the beach. But before that, the plan was to go the Global Pagoda at Esselworld, Gorai. The Pagoda, an immense structure in the suburbs of Mumbai, is one of a kind in South East Asia. Dedicated to Buddhism this imposing building is still under construction but does not fail to charm the onlookers with its golden colours and massive dome.

The Pagoda has four smaller similar Pagodas at the four ends of the structure. Since construction is under full swing, only one of the smaller Pagodas is accessible to the public.

Even the smaller one is immense and is a replica of the bigger Pagoda. intricate carvings on the Door and sayings of Gautam Buddha are abound in these Pagodas. There is also an exhibition on the life of Gautam Buddha. It is an intriguing one to say the least. A beautiful portrayal of Buddha’s life right from the his childhood to his enlightenment. A word of advice though: Start from the left as we made the mistake of starting from the right side of the room and saw his life backwards. Come to think of it, it was quite cool!!

There is a video session as well which shows why the Pagoda is being constructed,  how, donations received and purpose in the grander scheme of things. Lastly one can buy books and small items like fridge magnets (Trance dude loves fridge magnets and he bought one for himself).

The imposing pagoda is in the same complex as Essel World but we decided to hit the beach after a tiring walk around the structure. The nearest beach is Gorai and this is where we went. The beach is one of the prettiest along the Mumbai shoreline. The best part about the beach is that we can drive on in for most parts.

The pretty beach also has a few shacks and many private bungalows and resorts throughout the stretch. The grey colour sand does not please everyone but it wasn’t a problem for us. We actually liked this beach especially Rock Chic, for whom the beach is the best she has ever visited (doesn’t matter if Miramar in Goa is prettier but Gorai is the prettiest she says).

We even ate at the shack, Raju Koliwada, which is the closest one can get to experiencing Goa. Off course, still cannot sit on the beach and drink beer, a real shame though.  Anyways lunch was good and we continued checking out the beach. Riding on the beach made us lazy and I cannot remember walking on the Gorai sand! A low tide helped in bringing the bike right up till the waves which was an experience I will never forget. Imagine splashing sea water all over as you ride from one end of the beach to another!

Had earlier decided to check out other beaches but the calm ocean and the thrilling experience of riding in the sea kept us from leaving Gorai.

Not to forget the pretty treeline as far as the eyes can see. The beach grew more beautiful for Trance Dude as he spent more time on Gorai. And while there, we decided to stay back for the sunset as well. The evening lights brighten up the skies as if they are on fire. A shade of orange engulfs the sea and the sand and everything around them. It is such a pretty sight that I may never get enough of it, ever!

It was my first time to Gorai but most definitely not the last. A pretty beach like this tends to get crowded on holidays so planning ahead may help one avoid the crowds. It was lovely experience on the beach and for once a beach visit in Mumbai was a pleasant one!

Raju Koliwada, Gorai Beach Shack

January 17, 2010 3 comments

Cannot remember the last time Trance Dude checked out Gorai Beach. It was possibly, when he was a kid. This time on his bike with the Rock Chic, Trance Dude set out on his journey to Gorai. The beach was awesome, even visited the Global Pagoda. Gorai comes close to Goan beaches in terms of eateries on the beach itself. We went to one such shack which had a few pet dogs it seemed.

Hungry after hours of walking, we ordered for Chicken Fried Rice, Prawns Chilly and another Surmai. Unsurprisingly the prawns and fish was good while chicken was nothing great to write about.

The prawns they served us were big but not as big as the King Prawns. It tasted really nice even though we were very aware of the presence of Schzwan Sauce in the Prawns Chilly Dry! The dish wasn’t spicy though and once could taste the prawns through the sauce and masala. The fish was well cooked though small in size but at INR 80, it was the cheapest Surmai I have had in Mumbai.The prawns was priced at INR 100 as well, making it a cheap and good eating option if one is in Gorai.