Archive for May, 2010

Travel Photo Contest @BlogAdda

May 27, 2010 53 comments

What? Another contest? This one is right up my alley though!. BlogAdda’s latest contest in a long line of contests is one where people contest with each other by giving a context to the content of the photos in their blogs. Phew! (trying to be funny is doubly difficult bah!)

It isn’t so difficult to write a travelogue of a certain place but it is so difficult to actually pick out five of your best/favourite photos from a whole bunch of pictures! Come to think of it, travel photo folders in my computer are competing with each other for a place in this blog, as we speak!

That line from Pringoo is so true. Have seen such ‘fast’ travelers who wants to see everything but ends up seeing nothing and more importantly ends up being a lonely traveler without any experience to share, without any experience to enrich their soul!

Shot this picture at Juhu Beach. Had gone during a weekday thinking it won’t be as crowded as it generally is but was proved wrong by the thrones of burkha clad or dressed to go to a shaadi women! A fair was held at the beach with people thronging the make shift shops to buy accessories, household items and anything and everything else with the sea as the back drop. Come to think of it, even the Anjuna Flea market doesn’t offer this kind of view! Saw this balloon guy who tried to sell those balloons to everyone and anyone but if you did not have change (Rs.5), he wouldn’t sell it to you! Ironic in some ways but funny all the way! Sir buy balloon? Only Rs.5 sir. What? you do not have Rs.5. I no sell you balloon!

The dude in the centre got an earful from his supervisor and he kept pleading he did not do no wrong. After sometime another supervisor comes and says some things in a South India language (I think it was Tullu) and you could sense the tension between those two. Once the guy left, the worker was back to doing his job but his eyes said more than what he could possible say with words to his supervisor!

Found this lonely log at Diveagar Beach, Maharashtra. What was intriguing was this erstwhile tree was so close to the sea that I wonder how old it must have been? There were many shrubs growing a little further away but this was different. The footsteps in the background add to the mystery of this photu!

Clicked this at Bhandardara, a hill station in Maharashtra. Bhandardara is popular for its lake, known as the Arthur Lake and fed by the Parvara River. We were here just before the onset of summer so the weather was cool, the water was clear and the sky was blue! This small abandoned hut makes for the best view of the lake no matter what time it is. Imagine getting up in the morning and gazing at the reflection of the sky on the calm waters of the lake. Not many sights come close to this!

This picture is one of my favourites. Clicked at Manori Beach, Mumbai. This was also perhaps the first time when people were clicking me instead of the scenery. Why you ask? Well for starters, I was flat on the ground when taking this picture and onlookers were bemused at what I could be clicking from that height that I couldn’t click standing up. Well, it was the sea shells, which look humongous from this angle!

Hope you enjoyed reading through!

The contest is sponsored by

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Kobe Sizzlers, Why Have I not been here before?

May 21, 2010 1 comment

Kobe Sizzlers has been sitting pretty next to Spice Tree on Hill Road, Bandra for as long as I can remember. Have preferred to have my fill of sizzlers at Sahibaan on Turner Road but after a bad stomach (that my friend endured, I don’t endure such things as I have a bottomless pit!) we have avoided Sahibaan for the time being.

So when craving for sizzlers, we thought of crashing the party at Kobe’s to try a new restaurant!

Before ordering the sizzler we went through the usual ritual of getting ourselves a few drinks. This included an Ice Tea and Fresh Lime Soda. This was the first time an Ice Tea actually tasted like an Ice Tea. I could taste tea in there, for a change. It was an excellent coolant and could have done with another one too!

The fresh lime soda was the usual fresh lime soda!

Next up was the sizzler! (blame the ice tea for the long wait!). We ordered for a Chicken Sizzler with boiled vegetables. The sizzler was cooked well without burning the underside. The chicken steak was tender and veggies were boiled well. The french fries included were humongous! Thankfully there was no rice included or else we would have fallen asleep at the restaurant itself. The sizzler was excellent in my opinion.

Kobe has strangely gotten bad reviews at but I for one only have good things to talk about the place. The ambiance is no frills but the food is excellent! The Ice Tea was super and so was the sizzler. Pricey though it is, the food makes up for it.

Overall Ratings are:

Price: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Drinks: 4/5

Ambiance: 2/5 -(it isn’t the most well maintained place and one can notice seepage in certain parts of the wall)

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Whack!! this Wednesday’

May 20, 2010 21 comments

A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to a good whacking!

Haven’t really participated in many contests but couldn’t avoid ‘Whack!! this Wednesday’. For those who know me wouldn’t believe I wrote this but ya well, what the whack, here we go!

If you own a car and especially a bike you would be well aware of unruly pedestrians who think they own the road. I, the law abiding biker, come face to face with such pedestrians’ who-own-it-all. Even these are an assortment.

  • There are those who will explicitly choose to cross the road when a bike is approaching and endanger the biker’s life and off course their own. Doesn’t matter if the road behind the biker is empty, but if the pedestrian doesn’t cross before the bike crosses, the earth will shatter and the sky will fall down!
  • Then there are those who will, after getting down from the bus, always try to cross the road from the front of the bus. Oh ya, the government made the bus of glass so that everyone can see through and through! WRONG! We bikers do not know if you are crossing from the front of the bus because we cannot see you! Off course, with experience you learn to slow down but even then don’t you just feel like whacking the living daylights out of such people?
  • And then there are the aunties and uncles who cross the road as if strolling in a nana-nani park. And what’s more, they always find unsuspecting bikers to strut their stuff in front of. I know you think you are the most important person in this world and at the moment when you are in front of a biker, we think the same too because we cannot do anything. But I can whack you now, thanks to Blogadda!
  • Oh did I forget to mention the old, really old uncles who love to show their Usain Bolt akin racing skills to bikers. But they know they will lose if they run parallel to us. So what do they do to get our attention and in doing so defeat us comprehensively? Start running in front of us just when they see us hapless bikers. Oh ya you made your point. But uncleji, this ain’t the Berlin Olympics and if are so eager to show off your running skills at the age of 60, why don’t you go to a race track instead?
  • Before I forget, there is this another irritating pedestrian who just loves the feel of tarmac and if even there is a 2 feet wide footpath right next to them, they will still choose to walk on the tarmac. Such brand loyalty is unheard of, especially in government circles. Oh and what is worse is they choose heavy traffic situation to display such blatant affection and loyalty for the good ole tarmac. This is the time when bikers are forced to drive in the narrow gap between cars and the footpath and this is also the time the pedestrian chooses to take a walk in the park seemingly aloof of the eager-to-overtake-the-adjacent-car biker honking at em’.
  • Lastly, who can forget the holy rickshawallas and cabbies and buses? The most irritating rickshawallas are those who try to overtake a BMW on a highway when the road is clear. In doing so, they not only create a massive traffic jam behind them but also increase stress to unheard off levels in anger management parlance. Not to forget the cabbies who drive at 20 kmph, no matter what lane they are in. And they drive like royalty, like they are driving a Bugatti. Bikers like us are forced to two their line, disallowed to overtake such cabbies because if we do so, we will be breaking our oath we gave our mothers of not racing on the highway. Then there are the buses that just love driving in the last lane and make sure they give not an inch away to the bikers to pass through. Imagine being stuck behind a King Long Bus on the Andheri Flyover for more than 20 minutes just because the bus driver did not reciprocate your incessant honking! More than whacking the driver feels like whacking the bus itself for its way to big and way to powerful. Remember spiderman? With power comes responsibilities and for buses, this power translates into doing what they want because they own the god damn road!

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How to know the rickshaw fare in Mumbai without asking the rickshaw driver?

May 19, 2010 9 comments

Though of starting a new section called Travel Tips. Will cover tips on the things to do in a city like Mumbai or any other place I visit. Hope to not disappoint my readers.

Starting off with the auto rickshaws that plague the city. The humble three-wheeler can go anywhere and most drivers know the city like the back of their palm. If one needs travel tips, or needs to know about places to check out in Mumbai that are generally not in the list of ‘must see things in Mumbai’ these are the guys to go to.

However, some of Mumbai’s rickshaw drivers may fleece unsuspecting tourists. This can be generally avoided by being aware of the prices charged. Here is a brief on how much one is expect to pay for a rickshaw drive.

The minimum fare for a rickshaw drive in Mumbai is Rs.9.

Beyond that, the fare depends on the meter. It is easy to calculate how much you have to pay even without asking the auto driver.

For instance, if the meter reads 14, then you pay Rs.13 (14-1). The rickshaw meter starts at 10 and hence the minimum fare is Rs.9!

This holds true for all journeys anywhere in the city by any auto. Basically, just deduct Re.1 from the meter reading and that will be the final fare.

However, one must note that this does not hold true after midnight. The rates effectively double after midnight. However, each auto driver carries a rate card with him which displays the fare for a certain meter reading.

ALWAYS insist on seeing this rate card before you pay the fare.

Also, in certain areas of Mumbai, rickshaw drivers operated shared rickshaws. Basically, the rickshaws ferries three people (the officially allowed number of people in a rickshaw besides the auto driver) to certain predetermined destination for a predetermined price. Generally it is Rs.5 per person and the distance covered does not matter in these instances. Two suburbs of Mumbai – Jogeshwari and Kandivili have such auto rickshaws in operations. It turns out to be cheaper for the end consumer while making good profits for the auto drivers.

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Torrp it up, healthier version of Subway

May 18, 2010 2 comments

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Torrp It Up is a new fast food chain located opposite Infinity Mall. It is quite small and is more of a have-a-quick-bite-and-buzz-off kinda place and we did exactly that!

Quickly ordered for  a chicken buritto and a chicken Torrp with Herb Garlic Bread along with the brownie and cold drink combo.While preparing both the snacks, the guy at the counter was helpful telling us how a buritto and a Torrp are made. Excellent service I say!

The bread used for the Torrp was soft and felt fresh which was a change from the subway bread! They have a range of sauces including Garlic Mayo, which is a must try for all Mayo and Garlic lovers. The chicken quantity was good too and so were veggies. However, we were surprised that that the Torrp was smaller than a Subway sandwich and accordingly had lesser quantities of all the ingredients.

The Buritto too was small (especially for its price of Rs.110) but had good filling. Again, the play of sauces worked wonderfully keeping the Burrito tangy without making it overtly spicy.

Lastly, the crunchy brownie made for a good dessert though it was stale.

Torrp It Up is a good place to grab a quick healthy bite. Not much of an ambiance here but then again a quick bite doesn’t need lazying around. The prices are about all right. Just like Subway, they too have a sub of the day but the price is higher than at Subway (Rs.70 vs. Rs.50).

Overall Ratings:

Price: 3/5

Ambiance: 2/5

Food: 4/5

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How to Cook Real Food: An Online Cooking Class

May 16, 2010 8 comments

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Brewer’s cafe – Shakes are good, disappointed with the food

May 16, 2010 11 comments

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Hunting for a good place to unwind with a few non-alcoholic drinks, we landed up at Brewers Cafe. Brewer’s Cafe is close to Mega Mall, Oshiwara and an ideal place to hang out to avoid the mall crowds!

We got ourselves a good cosy seat and made it home for the next 3 hours! Quickly glanced through the menu and ordered ourselves two cold coffee creams, one with chocolate and another without. The cold drinks were really good and rejuvenating especially in this heat.

Along we the shake we ordered something to eat. French Fries with Cheese on top. The cheese used was Mozzarella. It was a crunchy treat along with the coffee shakes.

Endless conversations ensued but hunger pangs led us to order chicken nuggets. These are a lot different than at McDonalds for instance and far better too. Thorough enjoyed the nuggets with the tomato sauce. It was a chicken cutlet/puff mix with some pieces of chicken.

Next up we ordered for the Chicken Burger which is quite cheap here. At Rs.46 it is an excellent purchase though fresh veggies wouldn’t hurt! Chicken pattie is good and not overly cooked.

The food was good but we were disappointed in the end with the Mango Shake. It didn’t contain any real mango just extremely sweet mango flavour.

I think Brewer’s cafe is a happy place to hang out. The coffee is good here and there are other options too. However, it is clear the emphasis is more on the coffee here so fruit flavoured drinks are out of to-try list. The pastas seemed to be on everyone’s menu and we probably missed the boat. I think one can try the pasta here along with some yummy chicken nuggets.

Brewer’s cafe ain’t expensive so one can enjoy the time spent here without having to worry about burning a hole in one’s wallet.

Over Ratings:

Food: 3.5/5

Ambiance: 3.5/5

Price: 3/5

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Maroosh, Chilly Powder in Shwarma, a first for me!

May 8, 2010 1 comment

Maroosh is a small restaurant located inside Pheonix Mills, Lower Parel, next to three ice cream parlours. Maroosh owners like to keep their footprint small as evident from their second (or was it the first one?) restaurant in Carter Road.
We ordered for Chicken Shawarmas. The quantity was good for Rs.100. Even though we went late were served up freshly cooked chicken and pita bread. There was a liberal dosage of hummus in the shawarma. Many other player serve yogurt instead to give it a more Indianised flavour. However, we were disappointed with the unevenness of the spices. What was surprising was the inclusion of chilly powder which was put in haphazardly. They probably put in the chilly powder at the behest of the ice parlours nearby so probably people would go there next after a meal at Maroosh! Convenient eh?
I think the Shawarma was good except for the chilly powder mixed with it.

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Esfahaan – disappointing dinning

Esfahaan is a newly opened restaurant located in Bandra near KFC. The restaurant stands where Sahibaan stood earlier.

An extremely small eatery, it is ironic that the restaurant is frequented by groups of 5 or more. We too were such a group and occupied 1/4th of the restaurant.

Busy chatting and laughing, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves for quite sometime before the crowds started pouring in.

While chatting, we ordered for a couple of drinks including an Ice Tea and Fresh Lime Soda. I think the drinks are expensive for the quality on offer. Though its good, for Rs.90 a glass, other places offer better Ice Tea. The Ice Tea at Sahibaan used to be excellent in my opinion.

Moving on to the starters, we ordered a few of those!

First up for the Almond Smoked Chicken, Cheese Frittas, Fish Fingers, Manchow Soup, Nachos, Murg Malai Tikka and Crispy Baby Corn.
The starters here are extremely good. One should try the Cheese Frittas and the Nachos here. They are excellent especially the Frittas where the cheese is in liberal dosage. The Nachos were accompanied by spicy gravy. However, the tomato cheese sauce was the icing on the cake and ordered for a couple more to be had with other starters!
The Fish Fingers are a bit pungent and sharp in taste which could have been avoided, me thinks! Again, the starter was accompanied by spicy gravy!

The Manchau Soup was a bit different. It wasn’t watery but wasn’t the thick white soup that one generally accepts!

The almost smoked chicken was a delight though. Rich aromas filled the entire room when it was bought and even the veggies thought twice before denying themselves an opportunity to taste this exotic cuisine.

The Murg Malai Tikka was the usual Malai Tikka fare that one gets in most restaurants.

The Veg crispy/Crispy baby corn was good fare too. The baby corn especially seemed fresh.

The main course was a bit of a disappointment. The two gravies we ordered were thin and not exactly what we expected. The meal wasn’t spicy nor tangent and it felt like someone had forgotten to put in enough salt and masalas.

Murg Eshfani Malai was a bigger disappointment than the Murg Shabnami which had a far thicker gravy. However, the good thing was the chicken was soft, tender and well cooked.

The veggies ordered for a Paneer Shashlik Sizzler which was a bit bland for our taste buds. The paneer was soft and the gravy that came with the sizzler was a rich mix of veggies.

Not yet content with the food, me the gluttonous biryani lover ordered for a Chicken Biryani and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. The biryani wasn’t oily and was good enough for two people. But priced at INR 180, it was far more expensive than Biryani elsewhere which is where the disappointment stems from. Places like Just Biryani offer far better course and are cheaper as well.

Esfahaan is a multi-cuisine restaurant and we felt that it lost the essence of good food by trying to be more than what it had bargained for. A tiny kitchen can only give certain number of items and as for the rest, one has to do with subtle or sometimes major changes. Our biggest disappointment was their failed efforts to add spice to nearly every food item served which ensured that food didn’t taste the way it was meant to! Main Course was disappointment as well, as the gravies weren’t filling nor were they tasty.

Besides not to so good food were the not so good prices. Most starters were in the range of Rs.120-160, main course in the range of Rs.180-250 and the biryani for Rs.180. Clearly, the prices are on the higher side and I fail to understand what they plan to achieve with such high prices. Thankfully, we had coupons so the final bill wasn’t heavy on the wallet.

However, it seemed that the Tandoor items were in great demand here and probably that is something we should have tried out but couldn’t at that time.

My overall rating of this place are as follows:

Ambiance: 2/5 – There isn’t much of an ambiance to speak of here.

Food: 2/5 – I generally don’t give such low ratings but having tried a wide range of dishes on a single day, I have no other choice!

Price: 1/5 – Very very expensive is what I would term it as.

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Java Green vs. Mocha Shoot – Who is better?

Been to Java Green and Mocha a few times already so though of doing a shootout. Read on to find which is better.

Mocha is a well established coffee house, well know among the urban youth. It is more than just a café as alcoholic beverages and hukka is also served here. These two put together put the vote in favour of Mocha. Don’t forget the coffee they serve here is far better than any other café in Mumbai. Try out the Brazilian or Colombian coffee or just the espresso. Coffee here is as good as it gets.

Java Green on the other hand has coffee that I would  call ‘average’. It won’t keep you awake late in the night but that is not the point here. Coffee is cheap here but the flavours aren’t as diverse as what one may find at Mocha.

Coming to the food well it is a tie in that case. Though Java Green has far better Chicken Crispy Panini than Mocha. The bread is crispy and the chicken is tender. More important the chicken pieces are bigger than at Mocha which is a real disappointment. Overall, the food is better at Mocha.

Lastly, the ambiance at Java Green is no match for Mocha. At Mocha, one feels like spending time, chill out, relax, drink coffee and have conversations. Java  Green seems more formal and the seating isn’t as comfortable here.

Overall, Mocha is excellent for Coffee, Hukka, Booze and Ambiance. Desserts are excellent here and as well as at Java Green. Prices are on the higher side at Mocha so if you are in the mood for some cheap food, coffee and desserts than Java  Green is the place to be.

For those lazy to read, check the rating graph below.

Coffee:  Mocha (M) – 9/10 | Java Green (JG) – 6/10

Food: M – 7/10 | JG – 7/10

Desserts: M – 8/10 | JG – 7/10

Ambiance: M – 9/10 | JG – 6/10

Service: M – 8/10 | JG – 8/10

Price: M – 6/10 | JG – 8/10

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Annabelle’s-Cupcakes And Happiness

May 5, 2010 1 comment

Annabelle’s is a pastry shop located in Andheri. Close to Oh! Calcutta, the pastry shop makes for a perfect stop for dessert after a heavy dinner.

As the headline suggests, it’s where you will find cupcakes, lots of cupcakes! We tried the chocolate cup cake which was excellent. Though the donut we tried had hardened a bit as it was late in the night and it was clear that people come here for the cupcakes.

They have a variety here with coffee, banana, apple cinnamon flavours to name a few. They also had a strawberry cheese cake which should be yummy as usual.

Annabelle is a great little pastry shop which also has croissants and other bread items which seem to be in demand as  they were over by the time we go there.

Overall, I think it’s a great find, thanks to the vouchers! We bought some cup cakes for our friends as well. This pastry shop is highly recommended!

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Pratap Da Dhaba, Paaji tussi great hoji!

Have been to Pratap da Dhaba a few times already. My last few visits have been well documented here, here and here! I realised that I have yet to post pictures of this place and this time seems no different except for a few pictures but I hope that doesn’t disappoint.

The last time I went, we were disappointed but thankfully, that experience was a one-off. This time around, we went on a weekday and got the benefit of great service, courtesy relaxed waiters.  Pratap da Dhaba has a good Dhaba feel to it and one can see all sorts of people here including families, friends and couples.

We started off with drinks including the age-old Lassi and the Panna Goday Naal. The later was an extremely tangy drink with pepper and salt mixed with lemon juice and water. It was a one of a kind drink and we loved it!

The drinks kept us going for a while after which we ordered for a Macchi Fry Amritsari. The Amritsari was ravas cooked in North Indian masalas and wasn’t as spicy as fish starters are in Maharashtra. The starter was excellent and the accompanying chutney was good as well.

While raving about how good the starters were, we went ahead with our order for the main course which was a Kukkad Dhania Adraki. A bit disappoint with the adrak which had a strong flavour but overall the dish was good. The Ginger-Garlic paste was liberal but so was the white chicken which was tender and juicy. We also ordered for a Lachha Paratha and again was a bit disappointed here. Prefer my Lachha Paratha a bit thinner than a Tandoori roti but that wasn’t the case here.

Overall the food was excellent and the service was good. We were served the Paneer version of the main course which was promptly replaced by the chicken variant without us saying anything!

The place is a bit on the higher side but the food and the ambiance makes up for it. Pratap da Dhaba is highly recommended by!

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Mia Cucina, finally food that tastes Italian

Mia Cucina is a small restaurant Italian restaurant in Pali Naka Bandra. The place has an upmarket ambiance and a price to go with!

The ambiance is soothing and relaxing which is a big plus point of Mia Cucina. The crowd is essentially Bandraites along with foreign people who live nearly. We were there early but couldn’t find a table inside the A/C section so had to sit outside but thankfully, the cool evening breeze and lower humidity levels kept us from sweating.

The menu here is unique in a way that it is hand written. The person who wrote the menu has a clear handwriting! But this was a unique surprise especially after the hand written bill served to us by Deja Vu.

But we did order ourselves some coolers. We called for a Black Soda which was essentially cranberry juice with soda.
For starters we ordered for a Bruschetta Pollo. The bread was crunchy, cheesy and laden with Balsamic Vinegar. It had a nice taste to it, a bit tangy but tasty. However, I felt the Brushetta was a let down, especially compared to the food items we had subsequently.

For main course we called for Strozzapreti Con Pollo. Strozzapreti is what gave the meal its character. Parmesan cheese along with chicken cubes and tomato sauce made for a somewhat bland main course.

We were surprised we didn’t get any more sauces along with the main course. Probably should have asked but do not think they give any other sauces otherwise.

Oh, before I forget, they offer Sour Bread and home-made butter as appetizers. It was the first time for me with sour bread and the taste grew on me, as it is generally so with bread and me!

The meal was filling and was topped up with White Chocolate Cheese Cake. Tasted like Milky White with Cheese Cake in the mix.

Overall, we opined that Mia Cucina served excellent Italian Food and the service isn’t bad either. However, the price was a bit higher but it made up for the ambiance and the food. The overall bill was Rs.709 with the breakup as follows: Black Soda: Rs.65, Bruschetta: Rs.150, Strozzapreti: Rs.275, White Chocolate Cheesecake: Rs. 140

I think Mia Cucina is a good place to hang out, have good food and soak in the environment. Outside seating is recommended especially late in the evenings. Apparently the pizzas here are nice so if any of you guys try it out, do not forget to leave your comments here!

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Mocha, Coffee is as good as it gets!

Mocha is a popular cafe among the urban youth. Their Coffee and Hukka flavours are well-known and are probably the only Cafe to have a strong fan following for both the heady mixtures!

I don’t remember the last time I had hukka at Mocha but Coffee here is my staple food. Always on the look out for something new, I tried out the Brazilian Bourbon Santos. The hot coffee has a rich flavour. It was a refreshing drink which is generally not the case with Indian coffee. It had a hint of chocolate I thought but it could just be the home-made chocolate I chomped on before chilling out at Mocha.

We also ordered for a Dutch Truffle Cake Shake which was exactly like the Dutch Truffle Cake with whipped cream on top! Along with the shake, ordered for a Honeyglazed Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich was filling and it almost felt like having a soft Panini sandwich.

Mocha is never a let down in terms of experience and the food though we wished we got better seats! Mocha is a bit expensive, which is the reason why I prefer other coffee houses but then again, Mocha has so far being without any disappointments and I intend to keep it that way!

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Trip to Romantic Bhandardara

Its been sometime now since my visit to Bhandardara so finally decided to write about my wonderful experiences on this trip. Bhandardara is a hill station in Maharashtra and more information about this place can be found at Wikipedia.

Our journey started from Mumbai where we boarded a AC bus to Igatpuri.From Igatpuri we had to board a ST bus (Maharashtra State Transport) to bhandardara. Igatpuri is a busy destination for buses and trains alike so we could book a bus last-minute without any hassles. Before boarding the bus at Mumbai (from Kalanagar), we had dinner at Maharaja, a chain of restaurants and bars. The food here is excellent though the price is on the higher side. We had a relatively heavy dinner as we were under the impression that we will reach Igatpuri at 5 PM but instead reached at 3PM!. We reached within four hours and were left in the middle of nowhere it seemed. A quick walk to a petrol pump nearby and the people working there assured us that we were in Igatpuri. Phew!

We were stranded in the middle of no where (well, technically we were in Igatpuri), far away from home, searching for the ST Bus depot. It was a long way off but we reached their eventually. Passed by the Igatpuri train station and it seemed that if we planned in advance, we could have traveled by train as the ST bus stand is close by.

It was bone chilling cold but at least we weren’t tired walking. Once at the ST Stand, we were informed that the first bus will leave at 5 AM. So we had one hour to kill. Most of that time was spent gazing at the gazillion stars which are hardly visibly in Mumbai! Sigh, the pollution. The night sky was dreamy but we were tired and needed some warmth so went inside the bus depot, which with its hard, warm granite ledges, was as cozy as it could get!

The bus finally arrived but it had a punctured tyre so that took another 20 minutes and we were on the way to Bhandardara. Had heard that the road from Igatpuri is excellent and the view is even better but my body finally realised it was way to tired and I dozed off, missing most of the scenery in the process! Though in my drowsy state did realise that the road to Bhandardara is full of curves and would make for a perfect early morning bike ride.

We were finally there at Bhandardara. The bus dropped us near the entrance of the complex where most of the hotels are located. There is a ‘Cafe Dam Corner’, a Tea and Vada Pav stall, whose owner, Sanjay, was very helpful in giving us information on places to stay and things to do in Bhandardara. His tea, vada pav and bhaji are excellent by the way and he was our de facto breakfast/snack stop during our entire trip. 

We then headed to our hotel Amruteshwar (named after the Amriteshwar Temple), which is a couple of minutes walking distance from Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). MTDC has the best view of the lake, especially the MTDC Cottages. However, we were unable to get rooms there as the rooms or guest houses had to be booked around a month in advance!

Anyways, we proceeded to our quarters but stopped a few times marveling at the scenery. MTDC seemed to have the best view but Amruteshwar too held its own with a great view of the valley. We were taken aback and choose to spend sometime out in the open marveling at the scenery even though we were very very tired!

We freshened up, book transportation and were on our way for sight-seeing. Off course, we had breakfast as well, a more detailed account of which can be found here. We visited the Umbrella Falls, which is actually a water outlet for the Wilson Dam. The dam is at a height of 150m and is the largest earthen dam in the country and one of the oldest in Asia.

The dam itself is visible from Bhandardara but a closer look provides a better view. At the base of the dam is a tranquil garden with streams and trees and makes for a peaceful environment. The water is pristine and the riverbed is clearly visible.

We went closer to the water outlets, where fruit bats were resting high on the trees,. They were harmless and we continued to get closer to the waterfalls. Man made maybe, but it was a gorgeous sight. The waterfall created mist kept the surroundings wet and moist all throughout the day.

The sun was above us but the trees and the waterfall kept us cool and with the fruit bats keeping a watchful eye on us, nothing could go wrong! It was clearly one of the prettiest sights we had come across in a long while. To see such clear water and breathe such pure air was an unique experience for people like us who live in the stale concrete jungle known as Mumbai!

There was a bridge there which made for a picturesque setting and we spent quite sometime soaking our feet in the clear waters near the bridge.

Our next stop was Randha Falls, the third highest falls in India. Being close to summer season, the river had dried up quite a lot and the waterfall was just a fraction of what it is supposed to be. This was in February, so in the current heat, the waterfall may just be a trickle.While we went in February, the best time to visit Bhandardara to witness the true marvel of Randha falls would be during the monsoons. It was the middle of afternoon and we left soon after the mundane photo clicking session.

We returned back to our rooms and headed to MTDC for lunch. The food here strictly ok though they do serve a lot of Shrikhand! Lunch followed a couple of hours of lazying around and then we headed out for another trip around the Arthur Lake which is formed by the dammed up river of Pravara. The lake is a reservoir to the Wilson Dam and was formed way back in the year of 1910! Now that makes it a historic sight. There is also an ancient legend attached to the river. states the following about the ancient legend – ‘…Legend has it that Shri Agastya Rishi meditated continuously for a year, living only on water and air. Pleased with his tremendous devotion the Lord came down to earth, blessed him and left leaving behind a stream of Ganga – now known as Pravara River’.

And this time, we actually covered the entire circumference of the Arthur Lake! We came across many points which offered a panoramic view of the lake and the Sahaydris.

While on this round trip, we came across many dried up waterfalls and figured that in the rains Bhandardara would be as close to heaven as one can get! Streams and waterfalls line the entire lake and what was now barren rock would be transformed into lush greenery where the big cats will come out to play.Yes, there are leopards here and panthers too! Jungle Book anyone?

Anyways without digressing, Bhandardara is indeed scenic though we were greeted by dried up water falls, lower water levels and barren rocks for most of our journey. We came across an old temple while on the way to the sunset point. Couldn’t get time to step out and take more pictures. It was an intricate temple and seemed like the holy place of worship was deserted!

It was evening time and we went to the sunset point which is located near a playground on top of a cliff. It is strange that a children’s playground is located so close to a cliff.

The point offers a panoramic view of the surroundings including a Dam nearby. What was interesting was that the sunset point is located close to small forest which has a high population of panthers, as told to us by our guide. We shuddered at the thought of seeing one but thankfully (or sadly) we didn’t spot any. I did manage to spot an eagle which had made its nest high up on the cliffs. Ah! reminded me of the Discovery Channel footage!! Waited for sometime for the Eagle to return back to its nest, but it didn’t, I probably scared it!

On the left of the sunset point was the small patch of forest which still seemed lush green. The forest aside, the view of the sunset was brilliant!

Got an opportunity to click some interesting pictures of the sunset as well!

Darkness crept quickly and it was time to leave. We headed straight for dinner after our mini excursion. It was a tiring day and all of us were awake for more than 24 hours and once back in the room, we dozed off quickly! The morning of next day provided us with some more exceptional views of the valley.

Had our breakfast and were on our way back to Igatpuri from where we were supposed to get our bus. The road all the way to Igatpuri is excellent with some exceptional scenery.

We saw mountain tops lined up with Wind Mills providing electricity to the region which boasted of nearly 24 hours of electricity!

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of Mount Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra. The view from the peak is awesome though we were unfortunate to have not visited the peak on this trip, maybe next time for sure!

We stopped for lunch at Igatpuri. The place, Manas Resort, is a lifestyle resort providing a holistic experience. Naturally, the restaurant was expensive but the food was good. We had the chicken biryani which was like a Hyderabadi biryani though the same wasn’t explicitly mentioned. Overall a good meal. Soon after lunch, we boarded our bus and were back to the same old hectic life (ghissi piti life) in Mumbai.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience at Bhandaradara, one I am looking forward to for a pre-planned monsoon trip!

My uncle had been to Bhandardara a few months before we went and he scaled Mount Kalsubai. Below are some of the pictures he clicked.

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