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I am missing, missing the rains badly!! The tiny droplets on the leaves, the thundering sound of lightning, the sweet earthy smell, the foggy weather, and the wind in the hair; rains are all over my dreams. After all, what can be better than dancing in the rain and sipping piping some hot “adrak waali chai”? I am counting each passing day of these hot summers and eagerly waiting for my favorite season “Monsoon”.


Garbett Point trek

The calendar says, “Abhi, you have been here in Pune from past 5 years”. Why didn’t I relocate? Is my current job the reason for it? Hell no!! The only reason is I absolutely love the Pune Monsoons. As monsoon showers down on the region, the Sahyadris turn lush green, flaunting the innumerable waterfalls and rivers. I have been exploring the weekend getaways in and around Pune/Mumbai from past 5 years and believe me; I am still left with so much to see.


Thokarwadi

Almost half of the summers have gone and monsoon is around the corner, so let’s compile a list of some amazing places to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon.

  1. Rajmachi Fort

Rajmachi Fort is one of my personal favorite places to explore in the monsoon. Rajmachi Fort, a historical fort amidst the rugged hills of Sahyadri is a popular destination for nature lovers, travellers, and trekkers. Rajmachi Fort lies around 90 kms from Mumbai and 75 kms from Pune.

For more details check out my post: Rajmachi Fort Trek, adventurous one day trip near Mumbai and Pune (INR 350).

Rajmachi Fort

  1. Bendewadi, Laalwadi and Jagtap waterfalls

Look at that waterfall!! Hey, look at this one!! Wow, this one is amazing!! A few sentences which you will keep saying again and again on a road trip to Kanhe – Vadeshwar – Khandi region. With waterfalls flowing from every nook and corner of the mountains in the region, it can undoubtedly be named as “The Land of Waterfalls”.

Don’t miss visiting this region in the monsoon, it is absolute heaven. For more details, check out Bendewadi, Laalwadi and Jagtap waterfalls – Go get lost in the land of waterfalls!! (INR 300).

Laalwadi Waterfall

  1. Harishchandragad Fort

Though being a huge admirer of Sahyadri’s, somewhere my heart still belonged to The Great Himalayas. But, as soon as I did the Harishchandragad Fort Trek, something changed!! Sahyadris left an indelible mark on my heart at the very first moment my eyes met and feasted on the views from the fort.

Harishchandragad Fort is located around 200 kms from Mumbai and 130 kms from Pune and is a great weekend monsoon getaway. For more details, checkout my earlier post: Harishchandragad Fort Trek – One of my favorite treks near Pune/Mumbai (INR 500).

Harishchandragad Fort

  1. Andharban Jungle & Devkund Waterfall

One fine day, I found myself into the Andharban jungles carving my way through the dense and dark, suffocating undergrowth, battling through the very air, which hung heavy, moist and still.

The trail to reach Devkund Waterfall passes through the thick overwhelming forest and leads you to a standout among the most wonderful waterfalls you would ever envision.

Andharban jungle is located around 130 kms from Mumbai and 70 kms from Pune and is an amazing place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Andharban jungle & Devkund Waterfall: Time to get lost in the dense forest.

Andharban jungle

  1. Matheran Hill station

Matheran which means “Forest on the forehead” is the smallest hill station in India located in the Sahyadri hill range in Raigad district of Maharashtra State. What makes this place stand out from the others is that vehicles are completely banned, making it very peaceful and pollution free.

Matheran is located around 80 kms from Mumbai and 125 kms from Pune and is a great weekend monsoon getaway. For more details, check out my post: Matheran – Asia’s only automobile free hill station.

Matheran

  1. Nashik City

Situated on the bank of the sacred Godavari River, the air of the Nashik city carries an authentic spiritual feeling of being close to almighty.

Nashik is located around 165 kms from Mumbai and 210 kms from Pune and is an amazing place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Nashik City – An exciting two day trip from Pune/Mumbai/Surat (INR 1500).

Nashik City

  1. Kalsubai Peak

There are few peaks in the state of Maharashtra which I have trekked multiple times. One amongst them is the Kalsubai Peak – The highest peak of Maharashtra, also known as “Everest of Maharashtra”.

Kalsubai is located around 150 kms from Mumbai and 180 kms from Pune and is a great place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Kalsubai Peak – Trek to the highest peak of Maharashtra (INR 600).

Kalsubai Peak

  1. Lohagad Fort

Lohagad fort is one of the many hill forts of Maharashtra standing at an elevation of approx. 1033 meter above sea level.   Unlike other forts, it has stone steps leading right to the top of the fort which makes it easy even for a novice climber.

Lohagad Fort is located around 100 kms from Mumbai and 60 kms from Pune and is a great place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Lohagad Fort trek – An exciting one day trek near Pune/Mumbai (INR 150).

Lohagad Fort

  1. Satara

Satara is home to some of the most spectacular natural beauty spots. The city gets its name from the seven hills that lie close to Satara. Nature lovers are quick to take a one/two day trek to this place.

Satara is located around 250 kms from Mumbai and 110 kms from Pune and is a great place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Satara – A road trip to the Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers from Pune (INR 800).

Satara

  1. Tamhini Ghat

Located around 40 kms from Pune, Tamhini Ghat is a mountain passage situated on the crest of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. The Ghat section starts from Mulshi Lake and ends at the Orchard Café Sanaswadi covering a total distance of 44 kms.

During the monsoon season, the place transforms into a green velvety carpet with numerous waterfalls all along the way. One can spend an entire day here by trekking through the dense forest in search of the start point of a waterfall. For more details, check out my post: 12-hours monsoon road trip exploring Tamhini Ghat (INR 300)

Tamhini Ghat

  1. Garbett Point

Situated about 5 kms from Matheran Railway Station, in the hidden hilly regions of Bhivpuri village in Diksal, Garbett point offers a panoramic view of the lush green Sahyadri mountain ranges nearby. Garbett point trek is a one-day adventure trek filled with untouched natural beauty and is a perfect option for those who are looking for a quick weekend gateway from the city of Mumbai Pune. For more details, check out my post: Garbett Point Trek – An exciting one day trek near Mumbai (INR 350).

Garbett Point trek

  1. Lavasa City

Lavasa city, situated approximately 180 kms from Mumbai and 50 kms from Pune, is a private city with architecture resembling the Italian Town Portofino. The city is nestled amidst the beautiful Sahyadri Mountains all around and is a perfect weekend monsoon gateway especially for the couples and family. For more details, check out my post: A cycle trip to Lavasa city from Pune (INR 100).

Temghar Dam near Lavasa

  1. Torna Fort & Madhe Ghat waterfalls

Out of numerous one/two-day trips that I have done near Pune, Torna fort trek was one amongst my favorite. And taking a bath at Madhe Ghat Waterfall added more joy to the two-day trip.

Torna Fort is located around 214 kms from Mumbai and 70 kms from Pune and is a great place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: Torna Fort trek and Madhe Ghat Waterfall – A two day trip (INR 400).

Torna Fort

  1. Purandar Fort

Purandar fort, a hill fort near Pune is a perfect example of how clean a place can be kept, the reason of cleanliness is that it is maintained by Indian Army.

Purandar Fort is located around 195 kms from Mumbai and 50 kms from Pune and is a great place to visit near Mumbai Pune in monsoon. For more details, check out my post: An exciting road trip to Purandar Fort from Pune (INR 300).

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How many of you have been to Himachal and which all places did you visit on your trip to the state? Most of you may have visited Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Kasauli, Kufri, Kasol, Dalhousie…Isn’t it? Have you heard of Narkanda, Chail, Kalpa, Chitkul? Yes, they are a part of Himachal as well and are blessed with unparalleled natural beauty. So Abhi, how do you come to know about these off-beat destinations?

Sunset view at Narkanda in Winters

Over the years, a lot has changed on the way I travel. Earlier, I was more of searching for touristy hubs in India, but recently that isn’t the case. I don’t feel like visiting the overrated commercialized touristy spots anymore. And that’s when you add words like unexplored, hidden and offbeat to your search queries on google.

Narkanda in winters

And the result of one such query of an offbeat place near Shimla brought me to this place named “Narkanda”. Located around 60 kms from Shimla, Narkanda stands at an elevation of around 2700 meters and provides marvelous views of snow cladded Himalayan range. In winters the entire town is coated with a thick sheet of snow and hence make it a popular skiing destination of India.

The trail to reach Hatu peak in Narkanda in Winters

Himalayas as seen from Narkanda in winters

How to reach Narkanda in Himachal

Chandigarh is the nearest major railway station to Narkanda which is located at a distance of around 170 kms (6 hours). The distance between Delhi and Narkanda is around 400 kms (10 hours). Narkanda has direct connectivity to both these towns but frequency of buses will be low. The road towards Spiti and Kinnaur valley passes through Narkanda, so any bus going towards towns like Reckong Peo, Sangla, Rampur and Kaza will pass through Narkanda.

What I would suggest is to take a direct bus from Delhi/Chandigarh for Shimla and from Shimla, you can catch another bus for Narkanda (INR 114) which is a 2 hour drive.

Middle road goes to Hatu Peak Narkanda

Getting around Narkanda in winters

The town is small and can be easily covered on foot. Hatu peak is one of the prime attractions in Narkanda. One can either drive or trek to make it to the top. But I would recommend you to trek all the way as it’s an amazing experience (7 kms – one way – 2 to 3 hours). Also, road route remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall. To visit the TaniiJubbar Lake and nearby town Thanadhar, you can opt for shared taxi.

Roads at Narkanda in winters

My journey to Narkanda in winters

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see”. On my 20 days’ trip to Himachal, Narkanda was third on my list. After exploring the towns of Chail and Shimla, I headed for Narkanda.  From Shimla, regular transport is available for Narkanda and it takes around 2 hours to reach the same.

Forest covered with Snow at Narkanda in winters

The route passes through the popular hill station Kufri which remains crowded especially in the winter season. There were traffic jams near to Kufri and the 2-hour journey to reach Narkanda nearly took 3.5 hours. The route from Shimla to Narkanda is quite scenic, one can see the snow covered Himalayas at a distance.

Sunset hues as seen from Hotel in Narkanda

“Yes, this is what I was looking for”, I said to myself as I got the first glimpse of the majestic town Narkanda. A peaceful town with a Himalayan view!! The entire town was covered with a thick sheet of snow. Most of the hotels were closed due to extreme weather conditions, but I was lucky to get one. Almost all hotels at Narkanda provides a Himalayan view and it’s a delight to sit back, relax, have a cup of tea and adore the majestic views of snow- capped mountains.

Majestic view of snow covered mountains from Narkanda

Narkanda in winters is an absolute bliss. If you are adventure crazy, you must try hands at skiing. Some of the slopes are smooth and very steep, hence provides a different kind of skiing experience. I had done skiing previously at Solang valley in Manali so wasn’t much interested to do it again. What I was more interested is in capturing the views of the Himalayan range which had started to glow golden with the setting sun.

Skiing at Narkanda in Winters

The plan for next day was to visit the Hatu peak which is around 7 kms from the town. Standing at height of nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, the Hatu Peak is the highest peak in the entire Shimla district. Surrounded by majestic mountains and covered in a dense green blanket of sky touching cedar and fir, Hatu Peak trek is not to be missed on your visit to the town of Narkanda.

Me on way to Hatu peak top

There are 2 options to reach Hatu Peak top, one via road route and one via trek route. Due to heavy snowfall, both the routes were covered with deep snow. The only possibility was to try making it to the top via road route by trekking. The route passes through dense forest cover and walking through such surroundings is an absolute pleasure.

5 kms for Hatu Peak

On way to Hatu Peak in Narkanda

There were foot-marks in the initial 2 kms of trail, the snow sheet was not that thick and I kept on following the same. It becomes easy to trek on those foot-marks as you need to put in less efforts. The views all around were just fabulous. As I moved further, the thickness of snow kept on increasing and it was becoming difficult to trek further ahead.

Snow covered Hatu peak road – Where is the road??

The snow covered trees, the snow covered peaks, the snow covered roads, there was snow everywhere. It seemed as if I was walking in a white wonderland. I was loving every bit of it. With just 1.5 km left for the Hatu Peak top, the foot-marks vanished. The road on which I was walking was buried almost with 3-4 feet of snow. It was really getting difficult to move forward. I was counting meters by meters in my mind as I was moving ahead but at one point I finally gave up.

It was getting difficult to trek further ahead

I was exhausted and didn’t wanted to risk my life. I decided to turn back. But, whatever I experienced on the trek was just out of this world. May be these photo I have posted won’t do justice to what I actually saw.

I just loved trekking over here

Apart from Skiing and visiting Hatu peak, one can visit the Tannu Jubbar Lake. Further ahead on the same route is the apple town “Thanadhar”, do visit the Strokes Farm over there. Higher reaches, plentiful summer sunshine or vibrant white winters in abundant apple orchards – all contribute to make Narkanda ‘the’ place to be. After spending 2 amazing days at Narkanda, I left for Sangla.

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“When summer starts in India, it almost kills the desire of travelling”, my friend said. Is that so? Is the sun too bright to stop me from chasing my dreams and keep me away from my beloved Sahyadris, I questioned myself? I wanted to find out the answer. I planned to organize a group trip and to my surprise, people who enrolled themselves for a new experience were as excited as I was. While the city was asleep in the restlessness of summery nights, a group of 15 enthusiasts began their journey to a new adventure “Vasota Fort jungle trek”.

Boat ride for Vasota Fort Jungle Trek

15 enthusiasts trekkers

So where exactly is this Vasota Fort Jungle Trek?  Located around 140 kms south of Pune, in the Satara district, Vasota is a Fort located near to the Bamnoli village. Also known as Vyaghragad, Vasota Fort is the part of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and is one of the most popular jungle treks in and around Maharashtra. Standing at an elevation of around 3800 feet, Vasota offers awe-inspiring views of the Koyna backwaters and the wildlife sanctuary.

Koyna river as seen from Vasota Fort top

How to reach Vasota Fort Jungle trek

Vasota Fort’s base village Bamnoli is located around 160 kms from Pune and 300 kms from Mumbai. Mumbai and Pune are well connected to other parts of the country by railways and roadways. From Mumbai/ Pune, one can catch a direct bus for Satara from where the base village Bamnoli is 40 kms. Direct buses do operate between Satara and Bamnoli village (INR 50) (6 am, 8 am, 9 am and so on). The route passes through the famous Kaas Plateau. From Bamnoli, one needs to take a boat to reach the start point of the Vasota Fort Jungle Trek.

Also, you can hire a bike from Pune (INR 300-400) and explore Vasota Fort on a day trip from Pune. For bike rentals, you can compare prices at various bikes rental websites like Royal Brotherswheelstreetsabrentkaro, and rentrip. Remember, you would have to start very early from Pune so as to reach the base village by 8-9 am.

On way to Bamnoli village from Satara

Boat ride details for Vasota Fort

From Bamnoli village, one needs to take a boat ride to cross the Koyna River and reach the base of Vasota Fort. The boat ride will cost INR 3540, which is the default rate for 1-12 persons. So make sure you go in a larger group. Also, if you aren’t a big group, look for other groups who are doing bookings at the office there and ask if they can accommodate you. There is hotel Jai Bhiravnath at Bamnoli; you can do bookings there as well.

The boat at Koyna river Bamnoli

One would also need to pay INR 30 as entry fees to the sanctuary, Boat parking Fee: INR 150(for the whole group), Guide fee (INR 200 for the whole group), Tiger Fee (INR 100 for the whole group) and Camera Fee (INR 50 per camera). The same will be taken before starting the boat ride at the government office there. Remember the office closes at 11:00 am.

Boat rides happen at regular interval starting from 8:30 am and the boat takes around 1 hour to reach the base of the Vasota Fort. The Helmsman is also your guide for the trek.

Difficulty level of Vasota Fort Jungle Trek

I would rate Vasota Fort jungle trek as an easy level trek in terms of difficulty. Vasota fort trek is approx. 6 kms one way and it takes around 2 hours to reach the top of the fort. There aren’t many steep patches, it is a gradual climb through the dense forest cover, so trekking in hot summers won’t be a problem as well. I would highly recommend the trek to the beginners.

Helping each other at Vasota Fort Jungle Trek

My journey to Vasota Jungle trek

Doesn’t it really excite you when you hear of a jungle trek? Walking in the dense jungle would be a lifetime dream for so many of you. Isn’t it? For me, it definitely is. I always love to watch the guy Bear Grylls on the discovery channel, wandering in those dense jungles and finding out ways of survival. I always wonder if I would be lucky enough to experience something similar.

Koyna Wildlife sanctuary

With having some similar experience on my jungle trek to Andharban, I was looking for other jungle treks.  I had heard of the Vasota Fort jungle trek earlier but unfortunately couldn’t visit it on my trip to explore Satara. On that trip, when I reached the base village, I got to know that I will have to book an entire boat for myself since there weren’t other trekkers on that particular day.

Koyna River

That hunger to visit the Vasota Fort was still in my dreamy nights. I wondered why I shouldn’t organize a trek to the Vasota Fort. And thus the journey of the enthusiastic 15 began at 3:00 am in the dead of the summery night of 23rd March. We took a private vehicle from Pune and reached the Bamnoli village by 7:30 am.

Trekkers for Vasota Fort Jungle Trek

Bats flying at Bamnoli Vasota Fort Jungle Trek base village

After having some refreshments, we started our boat ride around 8:30 am. The water of the Koyna River was very clean and I was enjoying putting hands into the water. It was surprising to see the surroundings so green at this time of the year. During the one-hour boat ride, we played dumb charades. It was as if we were not a group of strangers but a group of people who knew each other from long.

The boat ride amidst beautiful surroundings

Koyna River

We began with the trek around 10:00 am. At the start, you will find a forest department office where you need to show the payment receipt. Also, a counting of plastics being carried along will be done and a security deposit will be taken. The deposit will only be returned if the plastic count is the same on your return. I really loved this initiative because it’s disheartening to see people throwing so much plastic on the other treks.

Clean jungle of Vasota

The trek passes through dense jungles and even though it was a hot day, it didn’t seem so. Sunlight could barely pass through that dense forest cover. We were enjoying each other’s company, sharing experiences of our other treks. Time passed by so quickly and within around 2 hours, we made it to the top.

Trekking at Vasota Fort Jungle Trek

At Vasota Fort Top

The fort is mostly in ruins. It comprises of three main sections – Old Fort, New Fort and Nageshwar cave temple. There is a temple of Lord Hanuman at the entrance. The other point of interest is Babu Kada which is a huge U shaped cliff that lies next to the Vasota Fort. From this point, one can view the Old Vasota Fort which is closed for trekkers due to the presence of wild animals.

Temple at Vasota Fort top

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For a moment it was cloudy, windy and foggy with almost zero visibility, the other moment sky cleared up, the fog vanished and it left behind astonishing views of the snow cladded mountains of Kinnaur Kailash range. At one moment, the sun was shining bright causing the Kinnaur Kailash to glow golden, the other moment it started snowing heavily and the entire town was covered with a thick blanket of snow. It seemed if someone has painted a town entirely in white colour. And yes, it all happened in a day’s

Road route from Reckong Peo to Kalpa in winters

Is travelling all about visiting a particular destination which will have spots of tourist interest. If you are that kind of traveller, you would be left disappointed on your visit to the state of Himachal. Travelling to Himachal is more about experiencing natural beauty rather than visiting particular touristy spots. It the overall journey which creates memories and not a particular destination. Kalpa in Himachal is a perfect example.

Majestic views at Kalpa in winters

Located around 570 kms from the capital city Delhi, in the Kinnaur district of Himachal, Kalpa stands at an elevation of around 3000 meters. Due to such an altitude, it remains cold throughout the year. Kalpa is a pure scenic bliss that one can never get enough of. The town sits on a high promontory with absolute majestic views of the Kinnaur Kailash range. Wanna taste one of the best apples in the world, make a visit to the beautiful town of Kalpa.

Old lady walking from Kalpa to Roghi village Himachal

How to reach Kalpa in Winters?

There are two ways to reach Kalpa, one via Shimla route and other via Manali route. Manali is the longer one as one has to cover the entire Spiti Valley to reach Kalpa and also the route remains closed in winter season. If you are doing the entire Spiti circuit, you can choose that route, I will only be discussing about the Shimla route.

Chandigarh is the nearest major railway station to Kalpa which is located at a distance of around 330 kms (11 hours). From Chandigarh, you can take an HRTC bus for Shimla (112 kms – 4 hours). From Shimla, you can catch an HRTC bus for Reckong Peo(220 kms – 7 hours) from where Kalpa is just 10 minutes’ drive (3 kms). Once you reach Reckong Peo, you can either opt for a bus/ shared taxi to reach Kalpa.

There are direct overnight buses from Delhi and Chandigarh to Reckong Peo as well, but it would be a long journey, so would recommend reaching in break journeys. You can take a day’s halt at Shimla/Narkanda, I would highly recommend Narkanda as it’s a beautiful town. Remember, the road conditions are not that good and are prone to frequent landslides especially in winters and monsoon season, so always plan to keep spare days. Also, in winters, snowfall is quite frequent and it may take a day or 2 to clear up the snow from the roads.

Reckong Peo Bus stand near Kalpa

Getting around Kalpa in winters

Kalpa in winters is mostly snow covered and strolling around is the only option to explore the town. Also, the town is very small and can be easily covered on foot. You can go on a leisurely walk to the Suicide point and all the way up to the Roghi village (5 kms – 1 hour). Except for the winter season, you will get transport for Roghi village as well. Walking all the way from Kalpa to Roghi village amidst snow-capped mountains is extremely delightful.

Kalpa to Roghi village route covered with snow

Kinnaur Kailash range as seen from Kalpa

My journey to Kalpa in winters

Which places comes to your mind when you plan a visit to the state of Himachal? Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie and Kasauli. Isn’t it? I agree these places are quite famous and are blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty. But aren’t these touristy towns too crowded? Personally, I don’t like visiting such crowded touristy towns and I am always looking for towns which are peaceful and less explored.

The streets of Kalpa in winters

And one such peaceful town with having natural beauty in abundance is Kalpa in Himachal. After exploring the last inhabited village “Chitkul” and making some lifetime memories, next on my list was Kalpa. I took a shared taxi from Sangla for Reckong Peo (INR 90).

On way to Roghi village from Kalpa

From Reckong Peo, one can reach Kalpa by taking a shared taxi/bus. Since the road route was covered with a thin layer of snow, the frequency of transport was very less.

Snow covered road route from Peo to Kalpa in winters

Luckily a taxi carrying goods stopped by me and asked if I wanted a lift for Kalpa. Though there wasn’t any seating space, I could stand at the back where the goods were kept. The memories of Munsiyari flashed in front of me where I did the same. The curvy snowy roads, the snowcapped mountains in the vicinity, and the peaceful road route, oh, this 10-minutes ride to reach Kalpa was such an amazing experience.

Somewhere near to Suicide point

The entire town was covered with thick snow due to the record-breaking snowfall this year. Almost all the hotels and stay options were closed, I was lucky enough to get the only homestay open in the entire town.  There is nothing much to see in Kalpa. What it does offer in plenty of peace and tranquillity. Come to Kalpa if you want to spend some time away from the crowded city life.

Foggy conditions at Kalpa in winters

Kalpa is pure scenic beauty, huddled under a snow blanket, and with snowcapped Kinnaur Kailash in the vicinity. Watching the sunrises and sunsets from the town is absolute bliss. The Kinnaur Kailash mountain range, wrapped in a white sheet of snow, appeared no less than a fairy tale land.

Breathtaking view at Kalpa in winters

Sitting in the balcony of your hotel, doing nothing and sipping down some hot tea, while staring at the snowy peaks in front is an amazing feeling.  The Kinnaur Kailash Shivlingam, a 79-foot vertical rock in the Kinnaur Kailash mountain range is the major attraction of Kalpa.

Sunset view at Kalpa in Himachal

Road route to Kalpa in winters

The main sources of income for the locals are from apple farming and the tourists. Kalpa has got one of the best apples grown in the entire world. One can take a leisurely walk/transport to the suicide point and further to the Roghi village. On my visit to the town, the road route was entirely covered with snow, so walking was the only option.

Snow valleys as seen on Kalpa Roghi route

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What if you can stand and experience blue above your head and below your feet? Abhi are you talking about a view from a beach where there are blue sky and an ocean? No, I am not!! Have you heard about the blue city in India? Or have you heard about Sun City, a city which is Gateway to Thar? Oops, enough of questions!! I am talking about the second largest city in the state of RajasthanJodhpur”. You’ll have your list of “must see places in Jodhpur” and still not be satisfied.

Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur at night

Standing at Pachetia hill and gazing at the blue sky above and an almost 360-degree view of blue houses in the city below will make you feel like “Wow”. When I saw it, all I could do was to stand there still, breath and smile. To explore the Blue City which is famous for its lakes, fort, rich heritage, dance, culture, shopping, and delicious food, lakhs of tourists set their foot to the land of Jodhpur every year.

View of Jodhpur City from Chamundamata Ji Temple

Abhi why don’t to you tell your readers about the crazy welcome you received this time in the city? Ahh!! Yeah. Ok so every time my travel experiences are very different, and this time it was crazy. I was welcomed by a hell lot of dogs. You find it funny? Right? Just thinking about that, I am shivering right now!! Let me put this up a little later.

Market at Clock tower Jodhpur

How to reach Jodhpur from major Indian cities?

The cheapest and the most convenient way to reach Jodhpur is via railways. Jodhpur is directly connected to major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Bangalore etc. by railways. If you find the frequency of trains to be less till Jodhpur, you can take a train till Jaipur and from there a bus or a train to reach Jodhpur. For train bookings, visit IRCTC.

For those who prefer road journey over railways, you can opt for a bus. Jodhpur is directly connected to major India cities via roadways. For bus booking, visit Redbus/MakeMyTrip/Paytm.

Jodhpur railway station

How to get around Jodhpur

A city can be best explored by walking and since most of the spots of tourist interest in Jodhpur (Mehrangarh Fort, Ghanta Ghar, Toorji Ka Jhalra, Pachetia Hill, and Jaswant Thada) aren’t too far apart, so strolling around to explore them will be a great option. Ola bikes/cars can be used for few places which are little far (like Umaid Bhawan Palace).

Also, you can hire an Activa/motorcycle. There are various online bike rentals services like RenTrip and JodhpurBikes, so compare the rates and choose accordingly. I covered the town mostly on foot, so didn’t take any bike on rent.

View of Jodhpur from Mehrangarh Fort

My journey to Jodhpur

Are you scared of dogs? Before my visit to Jodhpur, I never was but probably now I am. Abhi were you bitten by a dog? OH thank God, I wasn’t. It was an early morning in Jodhpur with still an hour left for the sunrise. I wanted to experience the sunrise from Mehrangarh Fort and hence was on the way to it, passing through the small streets of Jodhpur.

With a big backpack, I seemed to be a stranger to dogs and they were barking to their loudest. 1-2-3-4-5 and their count kept on increasing with each passing street and finally I was encircled by a kennel of dogs with all of them barking at me. For the time in my life, I was dead scared of dogs. Thankfully somehow saving myself from them, I reached a temple, and from there a local guy walked along with me all the way to the Fort. All the efforts were worth it as I was blessed with stunning views of the sunrise.

Sunrise view from Mehrangarh Fort Parking

So let me put forward my itinerary of how I explored the beautiful town of Jodhpur in 2 days:

Day 1 – Mehrangarh Fort – Singhoria Hill – Jaswant Thada – Toorji Ka Jhalra – Ghanta Ghar – Tripoliya Bazar Road – Padamsar & Ranisar Talab – Pachetia Hill

Is it possible to cover all these places in a day’s time? Yes, absolutely it is. All these places are close to each other and if you start your day early, you can very easily cover them in a day’s time.

Day 1 itinerary Jodhpur

  • Mehrangarh Fort:

You can kick start your journey to Jodhpur by witnessing the breathtaking sunrise from the parking of the Mehrangarh Fort. It is one of the largest forts in India. Looking at the architecture of the Fort will leave you spellbound. Make sure you enter as soon as the fort opens as it gets very crowded in the later part of the day.

The architecture of Mehrangarh Fort

Don’t forget to visit the Chamunda Mataji Temple which is located at one end of the Fort. I am not going much into details about the Fort; you may refer Wikipedia for the same.

Timings:  9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Entry Fees: Indian Nationals:  INR 100, Foreign Nationals: INR 600

Chamunda Mata Temple Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort

  • Singhoria Hill

Singhoria Hill which is just located near to the Mehrangarh is a great place to watch the sunrise as well.  At the top of the hill, there is a temple of Tekri Mata where you can take blessings to start your day. Also, Mehrangarh Fort opens at 9:00 AM, so you can spend some peaceful time over here before making a visit to the Fort.

Singhoria hill view from Mehrangarh Fort

  • Jaswant Thada:

After exploring Mehrangarh Fort, you can make a visit to the nearby Jaswant Thada which is at a 10 minutes’ walk from the Fort. Jaswant Thada serves as the cremation ground for the royal family of Marwar. It is quite a picturesque place and I am sure you will love your time out here.

Timings:  9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Entry Fees: Indian Nationals:  INR 30, Foreign Nationals: INR 50

Jaswant Thada Jodhpur

  • Toorji Ka Jhalra

From Jaswant Thada, you can take a long walk back, passing through the streets of Jodhpur to reach Toorji Ka Jhalra. It is a stepwell and the architecture of this will leave you amazed. A good place to test your photography skills!!

Toorji ka Jhalra Jodhpur

  • Ghanta Ghar, Tripoliya and Sardar Market

After testing your photography skills, you can head to the Ghanta Ghar, Tripoliya and Sardar Market and spend the afternoon exploring the bazaars. You can buy some gifts for your loved ones. Make sure you carry an Umbrella if it is a summer season as it becomes very hot in the afternoon.

Ghanta Ghar Jodhpur

  • Padamsar & Ranisar Talab

Next, you can head to the Padamsar & Ranisar Talab. Though there is nothing much to do here, you can spend some peaceful time over here just glaring at the water.

Timings: 6:30 AM to 11 AM and 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Ranisar Talab Jodhpur

  • Pachetia Hill

This is definitely my favourite place in Jodhpur. The blue city views, the sunset views, Mehrangarh Fort views and the night city views, all are just outstanding from here. I ended up clicking most of my pictures of Jodhpur from this Hill. Do stay till it gets dark as you will get some mind-blowing views from here. I ended up spending both my evenings in Jodhpur over here.

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It won’t be wrong if I call Sahyadri’smy second home “as almost every weekend, I have been hiking somewhere in this mountain range. Though being a huge admirer of Sahyadri’s, somewhere my heart still belonged to The Great Himalayas. But, as soon as I did the Harishchandragad Fort Trek, something changed!! Sahyadris left an indelible mark on my heart at the very first moment my eyes met and feasted on the views from the fort.

Views from Konkankada at Harishchandragad Fort trek

Sitting at Konkankada and looking from the top towards the bottom of the huge rocky mountains made me afraid, I got goose bumps and my heart was beating faster. I was dead scared when I looked down and I was in river of happiness when I looked up. I was like ‘woo thank God I am here’. Well, Abhi isn’t your splendid therapist “The Nature” has ways to left you speechless? Definitely it has!!

Sitting at Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort trek

Of-late, I have been doing night treks in the Sahyadris so as to experience a sky full of stars. And believe me, the amount of stars that I saw during the Harishchandragad Fort trek, I had never seen on the other night treks in the Sahyadris. Sleeping on a top of a mountain under a sky full of stars was a moment that I would remember for my entire life.

Stars as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek

How to reach Harishchandragad Fort Trek

Harishchandragad (HCG) Fort is located around 140 kms from both Pune and Mumbai. Both these metro cities are well connected to other parts of the country via railways. You can catch a local bus to reach the Khireshwar Village/ Paachnai village (HCG Fort trek base villages) from these metro cities..

You can catch a Nashik bound bus from Pune and get down at either Narayangaon (75 kms) or Alephata (100 kms). From these towns, you can catch a bus going towards Kalyan and get down at Khubi Phata. You can catch a bus going towards Alephata/Narayangaon from Kalyan in Mumbai and get down at Khubi Phata. From Khubi Phata, Khireshwar is another 5 kms so you may try your luck hitchhiking or walk all the way.

If you want to avoid the hassle of changing the public transport, you can drive all the way up to Khireshwar/Paachnai village. Parking facility is available at the base village for a small charge. For renting options from Pune, you can compare prices at various bikes rental websites like Royal Brotherswheelstreetsabrentkaro, and rentrip.

Harishchandragad Fort trekking route

Various trekking routes for HCG trek and their difficult level

There are 3 popular trekking routes options to reach the top of Harishchandragad Fort.

  • Khireshwar Village route: This is the most popular and the preferred route to trek the HCG. In terms of difficulty level, I would rate this route somewhere between moderate to difficult level. It takes generally around 3-5 hours to reach the top. The views all along the way make it worth to take this route.

Muddy road to reach Khireshwar Village, the base village of Harishchandragad Fort trek

  • Paachnai Village route: This is the easiest route to reach Harishchandragad Fort. I would recommend beginners to take this route. I take around 1-2 hours to reach the fort top from this route depending on individual’s fitness. The view all along this route are breathtaking.

Dense jungle trail as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek

  • Nalichi Wat route: It is toughest of all the routes and is only recommended for experienced trekkers. Also, one would need an assistance of rope to make it to the top of HCG. It takes around 2 hours to make to HCG Fort via this route.

Sunrise hues as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek

My journey to Harishchandragad Fort from Pune

You need special shoes for hiking and a bit of special soul as well. This time I and my soul decided to do the long awaited Harishchandragad Fort trek. Located in the Ahmednagar region it is full with spots of attraction and mythical stories. As you’ll reach to the top, you’ll be greeted by diverse flora and fauna, and even though it’s a tough trek, believe me it’s worth it.

Khireshwar base village Harishchandragad Fort trek

I along with one of my friend started from Pune around 1 PM. From Shivajinagar Bus Depot, we took a bus for Narayangaon (75 kms) and took another bus from Narayangaon going towards Kalyan and got down at Khubi Phata around 6 PM. From there we weren’t lucky enough to get a transport to Khireshwar and we walked the entire 5 kms to reach the Khireshwar village.

Pimpalgaon Joga Dam on route to Harishchandragad Fort 

Walking on that road is an experience in itself as one will be walking all along the beautiful Pimpalgaon Joga Dam. At around 7 PM we made it to Khireshwar, the base village of Harishchandragad Fort Trek. It had already gone very dark and there was dead silence in the entire village.

Chai time on Harishchandragad Fort Trek

The initial trek is mostly flat with few steep patches. Look for arrows marked on stones which will guide you to the correct path. One has to walk in dense forest cover which is quite a delightful walk. After around an hour of trekking, we made it to the Tolar Khind. Going further the climb is quite steep and one needs to be very careful.

Arrows marked on stones which guides to correct trail on Harishchandragad Fort Trek

Steep climb after Tolar Khind – poles for assistance

Few railings have been installed to assist in trekking but most of them are in ruined state. Follow the path of poles installed for these railing and you will make it almost to the top of the mountain. The further trail is pretty flat with few ups and downs. It took us around 4 hours in total to reach Konkankada which is the last point of the Fort.

4 years or so in Pune and why the hell I didn’t came here!! Sitting at Konkankada and glaring at the views of the surrounding regions brought tears of joy in my eyes. The high speed cold wind was helping to bring in more tears…Ha-Ha!! I was thanking nature for blessing me with such outstanding views. I laid down with my eyes facing a sky full of stars and I was gratified to see such a view.

Night views from Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort Trek

We decided to set up tents just next to the Konkankada where there were other tents as well. It was very cold and windy night and setting up the tent was getting bit tough but we somehow managed it. Next morning just before sunrise, what I saw, I was left stunned. I never imagined sunrise hues at Sahyadris can be such breathtaking. The Sahyadris range was shining orangish like as they were white Himalayan mountains.

Setting up tent at Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort Trek

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