Monday, December 14, 2020

Post-lockdown diaries:- #2: Rose´ by the Lake - Nestled in the Vineyards of Nashik




Rose´ by the Lake ... PC: Saffron Stays

 

November 2020


Usually we end up taking a vacation during the Diwali holidays, but thanks to the lockdown, this year we celebrated Diwali at home with all the festive splendor and pomp.  I decorated the house with marigolds, lights and rangolis and also made a variety of faraal - both namkeen and sweet - to make our celebrations truly traditional. My husband's side of the family too had flown down to be with us and my house was buzzing with people and gaiety.

To make this occasion all the more memorable, we decided to drive down to Nashik - the wine capital of India. A few days of relaxation in the lap of nature with a glass of wine can do wonders for anybody :)


Route taken - Pune --> Chakan -->  Sangamner --> Nashik (Rose´  by the Waldevi Lake)

Distance: 212 Km

Time taken: 5 hours

Details & Reservationhttps://www.saffronstays.com/view/rose-by-the-lake-3-bedroom-villa-amidst-the-vineyards-by-lake-waldevi-in-nashik-near-trimbakeshwar-slV1VCUZH5Ksp4nQ




Rose´  by the Lake:

An apt name for a villa nestled in the vineyards of Nashik. This 3-bedroom villa stands along the banks of the Waldevi lake in a gated and secure community and sprawls on an acre of plot right opposite the villa owned by Rani Mukherji's aunty...interesting, right!




Our villa path amidst the vineyards.....The villa seen in the picture is Rani Mukherji's aunty's villa


The living room - airy, well-lit and a happy space!



The location of the villa is rustic and truly a delight to our senses. The villa and its surroundings were impeccable with no issues at all to complain. A 24x7 caretaker and a cook completed the experience with their courteous service and a delicious Maharashtrian menu for us to order from. 




One of the glorious sunrises that we enjoyed from the villa



View from our bedroom






Sightseeing in Nashik:


Nashik is famous for its grapes as well as its temples! The grape harvest season had not started yet but the temples luckily opened up for the public the day we reached Nashik. Really lucky we were,  for we could visit the Trimbakeshwar temple - the renowned Jyotirlinga Shiva temple reconstructed by the Peshwas in the 1740s. 

We were the only visitors to the temple that morning. We had to follow a social distancing protocol with our own family members as well ;) and were then allowed in the sanctum sanctorum one after the other in a distanced queue. The temple darshan was quite safe and quick as we were the only devotees at that time of the morning.

Just next to the temple is the Bramhagiri parvat (hill) where the Godavari river originates. There are about 750 steps built onto this hill which makes the climb relatively easy. However, it still took us close to 3 hours to reach the top and down again. Panting, heaving and evading the monkeys we reached the summit to feel that we have conquered Mt. Everest! 
The steps have eroded in places and the monkeys on this hill are really a menace at some points. It is better to carry a stick to scare them off.

We came back to the villa for a sumptous lunch. Tired after the trek, we were ravenous and the Nashik-style patawadi chi rassa bhaji (steamed besan dumplings in a gravy) tasted awesome...burp...burp

Next day we were supposed to cover Panchavati and then the famous Sula Vineyards but our caretaker advised against going to Panchavati as it would have been a crowded temple experience in this pandemic. Pandav leni (caves), another small trek near the city was also closed to the public yet. So off we went shopping for some good local raisins and then headed to Sula.

Sula vineyards is just located on the outskirts of the small city that Nashik is and is quite a popular tourist destination. We had reserved a table at Little Italy in Sula. It seemed a good setting to savour traditional Italian foods paired with our favourite wines. Late Harvest Chenin Blanc paired well with lasagnas and crostinis. Enjoyed the family lunch with a rather slow service but good food :)


That's me @ Sula - all spent out after a long day.


The place was crowded and we could just click but a few pics before we decided to move out of the crowds. No, we did not muster enough courage to go for any tours either. 


Our Experience:

 Our stay at Rose´ was a refreshing one. Inspite of the pandemic and the restrictions, we thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience in a rather safe and cautious manner. 

Nashik is a place dotted with many temples, treks and vineyards - a place for all types of tourists - be it the religious type,  adventurer type or the romantic type. However in this visit, we could just cover a few places and still have a lot to check out. So, Nasik definitely warrants a re-visit, especially when we are so close in Pune :) So till then...adios and stay safe.


Disclaimer: This is not a paid post for anyone but is based on my travel experiences and opinions.









Sunday, December 6, 2020

Post-lockdown diaries:- #1: Little Paradise on the Konkan Coast

Little Paradise - A Villa in Agardanda on the Konkan Coast


The Villa (PC:  Tripadvisor/SaffronStays)


October 2020:

The lockdown  had ended again in Pune and now we were longing for a getaway to give us some much-needed break from the year that it had been so far. Agardanda, a small village off the historic fort of Murud-Janjira  on the Konkan coast was chosen as our destination. The villa seemed secluded from the crowds and the entire property just consisted of three villas with only a caretaker couple who looked after us. So, it felt relatively safe to go ahead and book it. We booked it through Saffron Stays, an aggregator of vacation homes/rentals.

Covid Precautions taken: Once we arrived on the premises, our luggage and car were sanitized. Of course, our temperatures were taken and a hand sanitizer was provided. The villa was sanitized after each stay with a booking gap of a day in between. The only person who relatively came close to us was the caretaker who served us food and cleaned our room.

We are very particular about sanitizing our hands frequently, wearing masks and not visiting crowded places. 

Links for reviews and booking:

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g18816542-d10040022-Reviews-SaffronStays_Little_Paradise-Agardanda_Raigad_District_Maharashtra.html

https://www.saffronstays.com/


Driving time & distance from Pune to Agardanda: 4.5 hours, 178kms

Route taken:  Pune - Khopoli- Agardanda. This was a relatively better route with minimum potholes.



 The villa stands true to its name....Little Paradise. It is a cute little wooden cottage situated right next to a secluded beach with a delightful, small garden in the front. A small wooden table and a bench on the garden lawns overlooking the sea are inviting enough to spend hours gazing at the shimmering waters between the Dighi and Agardanda harbours. 

There is direct access to the beach from the villa. However, the beach surfaces only during low tides in the evenings. During the day, the beach is lost under the high tide secluding it further from the crowds in Murud.

Since all other public places of attractions were still closed for the public, we decided to enjoy the serenity of the place for the next 2 days with a good book (call it Kindle ;)  in hand and good food as our companions. The cook dished out delectable home-made dishes of rotis, subzis, dal, rice, desserts as per our order. Breakfast too was home-made with eggs, poha, upma and the sorts.

Evenings were spent at the beach playing football with our little canine, Nemo and then calling it a day after watching the beautiful sunset. Nemo our then-4-month-old puppy enjoyed the beach to the core. He literally rolled himself on the wet sands and was reluctant to get back to the villa only to be forcibly dragged out of the beach by us. 

We decided to drive around Murud one day. We drove around the town weaving our way through thick crowds and fish bazaars. The town was crowded and was busy with tourists and locals alike. Life seemed normal with people walking by without masks. However, this did not amuse us and we dared not venture out of our car ;)

After driving around the town, we spotted Janjira, the majestic water-fort sitting in the Arabian Sea in all its formidable glory. Sad, we couldn't visit it this time as it was closed but it was lovely to  see the fort from a distance - the fort which till date remains invincible fort in Indian history!

We largely stayed in the property enjoying the view, good food and the beach. It was a great little experience, especially after the lockdown :)


Some memories captured by us: 


The little sitout in front of the villa



The Space in front of the villa


The beach in the evenings

The Dighi Harbour on the other side. Agardanda harbour is just a short walk along the beach.

The entire beach to ourselves!



Nemo and my son 


Pros: 

Proximity to the beach; its seclusion; good cook and a caretaker; spotlessly clean place; pet friendly.

Cons: 

The room could have been a tad bigger to accomodate the two of us and our son. It is ideal for a couple but is a tight squeeze for a family of three.

The garden in front can be better maintained. I guess the lockdown had just ended and that might have caused the garden to be a bit neglected.