Happy 67th Republic Day India!


Last year this time, I was in Singapore with a couple of my Indian friends. We sang our National Anthem there, like we always do in India to celebrate Republic Day on every 26th January.

It was the first Republic Day I was away from home. I missed my country dearly & wished I were at home with all my heart. I promised myself, I would never spend another Indian Republic/ Independence Day away from my beloved country. I want to be present to celebrate my country with the rest of my countrymen.

I am so proud to be an Indian. I am lucky to be born here. Proud to be a citizen of one of the largest Democracies in the world.

I want to Salute the Indian Defense Forces who protect our borders, Our seas & our Airspace. It is because of them we rest easy.

I want to pay my Respects to those who have laid down their lives in the service of my country.

I may travel the world, but my heart is at home only in my country India. My motherland.

Happy Republic Day India!

Jai Hind!

Ajmer Sharif

Pic 1

Located around 135 kms away from Jaipur, Rajasthan is the city of Ajmer. Ajmer is well known amongst the people of India as it houses the shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti . Revered by people of all religions alike, the shrine is a major center of pilgrimage in India especially for the Muslims. People visit the shrine in the hopes of having their wishes fulfilled.

In spite of being a follower of Islam himself, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti never tried to convert his followers who practiced religions.

He said “Let there be no compulsion in religion, Will thou complain men to become believers? No soul can believe but by the persuasion of Allah” He was compassionate towards people of all religions alike & all strata’s of society.

Because of his love for the poor & helpless Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti is also popularly called Garib Nawaz ( The one who shows kindness to the poor) Today many years post his death, his shrine is a place of great reverence for believers. Prayers are answered & miracles happen.

I have had the good fortune of visiting the shrine many times. I practice Hinduism, yet believe in the blessings of this great saint. If you are a person of faith, do visit this shrine, whenever you are in Rajasthan, India.

May the light of blessings of Khwaja Garib Nawaz always shine.

For more details, visit http://GaribNawaz.com

Raanwara Cottage Review

For our yearly Monsoon getaway this year, we choose the beach village of Nagaon. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we really wanted a place that was close to nature, relatively unexplored, peaceful & quiet. In short not your usual tourist destination. So instead of going for the popular beach town of Alibaug, we choose its shy cousin , Nagaon. The perfect cozy beach village in the lap of Nature.

For our stay we wanted something private instead of the usual hotel. So after lot of search, we came across this beautiful cottage called Raanwaara.

DSC00536

The entire process of booking the place was very smooth & the coordination was excellent. Right from our food preferences to offering directions right from the time we left from our place till we reached Raanwaara. A staff member from Raanwaara actually came up someway to lead us to the cottage, since we were unfamiliar with the area. Very impressive service indeed.

The Cottage itself is extremely beautiful. I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it. The area surrounding the cottage is plush green, with beautifully maintained lawns, flower trees, beautiful variety of Plants, coconut trees and more. Its like staying in the Lap of Nature.

DSC00406

DSC00429

DSC00392

IMG_7409

The Rooms at Raanwaara are simple, not too made up like our usual hotel rooms, clean, and has all the required amenities . The ground floor has 2 non/Ac rooms , a dining room, kitchen, front porch & a swing & the first floor has 3 Ac rooms, so its up to what you prefer. The Rooms are pretty spacious and can accommodate a large family easily. Plus they provide extra bedding and pillows upon request.

raanwaara-cottage (3)

raanwaara-cottage

Raanwaara offers both Veg & Non-Veg food as per your choice. Tea & Breakfast are provided upon request as well. The staff is extremely helpful and makes sure your stay is comfortable. The food is tasty especially the Non-Veg dishes. The Sea food prepared in typical Konkan style. So if you are a lover of Sea food, you will surely enjoy the preparations.

I found the rates for the accommodation as well as food pretty decent for the services they offer. As compared to the other available options I found this to be rightly priced.

The beach is located around 2-3 kms away. And it takes around 5-10 mins by car. It is advisable to have your own vehicle with you, cause there are a lot of places you can explore that are located in and around Nagaon.

DSC00409

Honestly this is a great place to stay if you want to relax and unwind. A perfect getaway for a weekend with family/ friends, or to celebrate a special occasion, which in my case was my moms birthday 🙂

The feel of this place was almost like home away from home. It was extremely comfortable & we enjoyed our stay tremendously.

DSC00458

So, Will I go back for another stay – Definitely. Do I recommend it – Absolutely. I was not paid to write this review, so I genuinely liked the place enough to say good things about it. I do recommend Raanwaara if you are ever visiting this area.

If you wish to visit this place, You can the details down below.

Website –        www.konkancottage.com

Contact No – +919987033326

Address – Raanwaara, Near Gaondevi mandir, Nagaon, Maharashtra, India.

Exploring the Unexplored 2 – Korlai

Korlai is a small fishing village located around 15 kms away from Nagaon & around 130 kms away from Mumbai. Korlai village is located on the slopes of the Konkan range, with the Arabian Sea to its west & Revdanda back waters to its east.

The residents of Korlai are Indians born out of Indo-Portugese ancestors. they speak a unique language which is a Luso-Indian Portugese Creole called Kristi. Korlai is also home to an abandoned Fort built by the The Portuguese in 1521 to establish their dominance over the Indian Coastline.

There are no Hotels or B &B’s around, one has to either stay at Nagaon or Revdanda which are the closest to Korlai.

The Beach at Korlai is extremely beautiful & clean. Being  unexplored has its advantages. there was not a soul in sight when I visited. It was like being on your own private beach.

DSC00524
The Fishing Village
DSC00520
Korlai Fort built by the Portugese
DSC00509
The village area around the coast line
DSC00505
Tiny Boats used for Fishing

Korlai is a beautiful place for a one day getaway. The beach is pristine and beautiful. A beautiful beach hidden away from the eye of your everyday tourist. There is a certain charm of the unexplored for sure .

Exploring the Unexplored – Nagaon

For my Monsoon getaway this year, I decided to go to a place that remains untouched by flocks of tourists and the chaos that comes with it. So I decided to visit the beach villages of Nagaon & Korlai , often called the Shy cousins of the Tourist filled town of Alibaug.

Nagaon is located at a distance of 110 kms from Mumbai. It takes around 3 hours to reach Nagaon. The most noteworthy thing about the trip is the sheer beauty of the Journey itself. The plush greenery everywhere is simply breathtaking & the rains just make everything all the more beautiful.

IMG_7321

IMG_7307

IMG_7329

IMG_7334

IMG_7349The Nagaon village has retained much of its old world charm. The village is beautiful, serene & pollution free.

DSC00437

DSC00499We rented a Cottage for the duration of our trip . The Cottage in itself was beautiful. I will have an entire blog post dedicated to it in the coming week.

DSC00473

The Beach of Nagaon are so Pristine. They are lined with Suru trees, which give them a beautiful, ethereal look. The beach is usually not very crowded except for the locals during Monsoon making it an ideal place for solitude lovers. This is nature at is purest best. However you may find it a little more crowded during normal months. But again not as crowded as Alibaug.

In terms of accomodation, Nagaon has plenty of options. However the most popular one is staying with the locals. There is an abundance of B & b options. Also many number of cottages are available on rent for reasonable rates. You can check out http://www.tripadvisor.in for more options.

Nagaon is heaven for Sea food lovers. Most B & B’s serve really delicious sea food of your choice. You have to only inform them of what you wish to eat a day in advance.

Monsoon is an ideal time to visit  Nagaon if you wish to enjoy the weather, have amazing food and spend time relaxing. However if you are into exploring the nearby Forts and are into Beach activities November to April might be a better time for you to visit.. Activities like Water sports are shut down during the Monsoon & Trekking becomes risky during Monsoon and is not encouraged during this time of the year.

If you are looking for a relatively Unexplored Destination for your Monsoon trip or a lazy trip with friends and family over the weekend, Nagaon is a wonderful option.

Sun, Sand, Beach – Goa!!

1449658922289Goa is by far, one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. There is just something about it that just draws people there. From amazing, sprawling beaches, water sports, scrumptious food, the laid back setting to the nightlife & the booze, Goa has something for everyone.
For me, its the peace, calm & tranquil Goa that calls to me. The fact that its so close to home made it the perfect get away place, when I found myself craving some time off from my hectic life & routine of being a Lawyer. So in the month of Oct 2014 , I visited Goa with my family.

IMG_7580We landed in Goa early morning at around 8.30 after a 40 minutes flight of Air India.

Goa offers both private as well as Government sponsored taxis from the Airport to your destination at fixed prices.
The drive from the Airport to our hotel in Calangute was amazing. The weather was chilly and the surroundings lush green and amazing.
The ride itself is an introduction of the various aspects of Goa.
One cannot miss the varying influences of architectures in the tiny houses which you come across as you drive through.
We had a reservation at Hotel Park Avenue near Calangute beach.

exterior__1__w

The hotel is amazing in terms of its location. Only 5 mins away from the beach. It had a Swimming pool, a Restaurant & Tattoo Parlor in its premises.The room was cozy and spacious, almost like an apartment without a kitchen.

We settled in quickly & took a nap for an hour as we had had been up since 4 in the morning.
After waking up, we went on for Lunch at a nearby Restaurant, I had the most amazing veggie soup.

2015/01/img_2359-0.jpg

We decided to do some local exploration that day, so checked out the local market. Did some hippie clothes shopping 😉 & spent the rest of the evening at the beach.

IMG_2437.JPGI cannot even begin to describe the immediate sense of calm that came upon me as soon as we settled down at the beach.

The setting sun, the people, each in their own way making the most of their time, the para- sailing, the waves of the sea, the cool evening breeze. There is just something about being at the beach that relaxes me. This was exactly why I chose to come to Goa, away from the hustle & bustle of my daily life. Even the locals just have this sense of ease in their being & it is quite infectious!

I also remember my previous trips here as a child, making sand castles was my favorite thing to do! If only I had my tools with me 😉 I collected a few shells & took a walk along the sea shore before returning back to hotel room for Dinner. The very first day was the best out of the entire trip.

2015/01/img_2390.jpg2015/01/img_2435.jpg

Day 2

We decided to explore the Southern part of Goa, also known as Old Goa.
We booked ourselves seats in a Volvo, which was very comfortable.
We had a tour guide to show us around and brief us about the history of the place.
Our first halt was Miramar beach, where we were asked to get down and get into a tiny boat that would take us around to see the Dolphins!
I did see them but could not capture them on camera 😦
We were also shown the house of some famous smuggler! What a sprawling piece of property that was!

2015/01/img_2444-0.jpg

2015/01/img_2470-0.jpg

After that we were taken to see the old churches of Goa, namely Basilica of Bom Jesus , Se Cathedral. It was beautifulllll beyond words.

2015/01/img_2515.jpg

2015/01/img_2519.jpg

We visited Dona Paula, one of my favorite of the entire trip! Had the most amazing view of the Sea!

2015/01/img_2475.jpg

2015/01/img_2477.jpg

2015/01/img_2486.jpg

We stopped for lunch before heading to the ancient temples of Goddess Shantadurga & Lord Mangesh. N also a quick stop specially for my family to see a family friend of ours, that was special 🙂
Anyway the temple it is!

shantadurga-temple

The last stop of the tour of South Goa was the most amazing of all. An evening River cruise over River Mandvi!

mandovi-river-cruising-for-1-hour-3

A perfect end of the tour for the day 🙂

 

 

Day 3

I was so tired after an amazing tour of the previous day that I was in no mood to venture out for a day long trip!
And I dint have to. When we headed for our lunch we met a local cabbie called Ashu ( a local Goanise with awesome info on food & local hangouts) who offered to take us around North Goa! Perfect!!!!!
We started with Agauda Fort, (the place where Dil Chahta Hai, a popular Bollywood movie was shot! )

2015/01/img_2559.jpg

On the way back from Agauda Fort, we saw the famous Kingfisher Villa & Taj Vivanta – where I intend to stay the next time I come to Goa. The Vivanta by Taj is located at a spectacular location. Gotta explore it the next time. Anyway, Next we travelled to all the beautiful beaches, namely Baga, Anjuna, Vagator..
Each more beautiful than the other.
We wrapped up our evening watching the beautiful sunset.

Baga Beach

2015/01/img_2597.jpg

Vagator Beach Sunset

2015/01/img_2630.jpg

Day 4

This was to be our last day in Goa. Finally I went for a swim at the beach! The wavessssssss! Felt like heaven. I was now ready to head back home. ( Reluctantly )
We had a gud lunch of Fish & chips with Beer to mark the end of out trip!!!had Ashu come pick us up & drop us at the Airport. ( with a complimentary cocunut water on the way ) 🙂

2015/01/img_2647.jpg

It was an amazing four day trip! Goa always has a way of relaxing whoever visits it.
I am a lover of Goa to the core & can’t wait to return soon!!