Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mumbai - Pune Expressway - World class in India

The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a showcase of the 'New India' By most standards it is a world class piece of road and given the surroundings, it is also a very beautiful piece of road.

Sample this...

Above two photos are taken at Khopoli.

Above three photos are taken between Khopoli and Panvel. It was raining although we were in November!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Harihareshwar is a very holy town for Hindus. It is also referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Southern Kashi - Kashi it should be noted is the holiest city for Hindus). It is situated a few hundred kms south of Mumbai and about 20kms from Srivardhan, its sister city. From my perspective more important than the religious significance of this place is the natural beauty that is on display enroute the 'pradakshina' round the temple - which unlike most temples runs round a mountain rather than around the temple itself.

A view of the Harihareshwar beach from the temple

The pradakshina route. The first part is a climb of the mountain, the second part climb down and the third and final part is the walk alongside the sea - this third part is the most dangerous as it is completely submerged during high tide.

Two different views of the coast from top of the pradakshina mountain. The real beauty starts from here

The journey downhill from the top of the hill and the first glimpse of what awaits us down there

Looking back up, we are now back at sea level

Look at what the sea has done to the rocks - its all porus

Closer look at the rock formations - the phots do not do justice to what one sees through the naked eye. The sight is simply overwhelming.

A small cave type formation in the rocks. Water constantly seeps here

This rock structure loosely resembles a camel. My cousin who comes here often tells me that this camel was atleast a couple of feet taller than this a few years back, poor creature it is equiped to deal with lack of water - but not plenty of water here!

Lets turn attention to the sea shore

The green and white algae on the surface makes it extremely slippery to walk - but the color adds to the beauty of the shore

What bright colour

Rock formations on the shore. The place is filled with things like these

Sunset at harihareshwar

View of the sea and sky post sunset

Last look at the temple and its backdrop before we head back to Srivardhan. Definately a place to come back to...

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Srivardhan is a sleepy town a few hundred kms south of Mumbai. It is very beautiful as are most places in Konkan. It though has two unique things about it - one good and one ugly that make it stand apart from other town's in Konkan.

Firstly the first Peshwa (Peshwa = Prime Minister in Marathi) of Maratha Empire - Balaji Vishwanath comes from this town

Secondly, (and the ugly part) - the explosives (RDX) for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts came to this place from Karachi (actually at a cost a few kms from the town - Shekhadi).

Now for the photos!

Just entering the 'village' side of the town and past the 'city' part of the town you have roads like this, narrow tar road covered on both sides by thick vegitation with sea on one side and hills on the other!

The place where we had stayed

Quick view of the hills from our hotel. This sight is not unique to Srivardhan, the entire Konkan is nothing but thin strip of land a stretching for a few hundred kms south of Mumbai and between the Sahyadri mountains and the Arabian sea.

Time to harvest the Kharif crop. Rice is the staple crop and diet of people in Konkan.

The above 3 photos are that of a typical 'vadi' in konkan. A 'vadi' is nothing but piece of land owned by a family on which you have various varieties of plants being grown. Now these 'vadi's' are the real wealth of Konkan. The typical plants one can expect to find are fruits - coconut, beetlenut, mango, jackfruit, pineapple and spices - pepper, chillies, cumin etc. Just a walk through one of these 'vadi's' is extremely refereshing - you hardly feel the sun even if you are walking at noon. Further many of these vadi's typically lead onto the sea, so after being tired of walking through it, you can relax on seashore.

One of the temple's in Srivardhan - Jeerneshvar or Lord Shankar

A typical village in Konkan. Notice the floor - it is made of cow dung - cowdung is an insecticide, and is also a cheap insulator helps keep floor temperature moderate.

The above photo was taken enroute to Divye Agar from Srivardhan and shows a beautiful coast and lush tree linings alongside.

Somewhere along this stretch of the shore (+/- few kms) is the infamous Shekhadi beach (as described above)

Srivardhan beach and sunset and a couple of views post sunset

The goddess of Srivardhan. Typically every village/town will have its own goddess.

What you see above is typically an example of blind faith prevalent even in this 21st century. The board above (this is in the temple mentioned above) claims that this goddess has the power to cure snake bites - all one has to do is bring the victim here and do some religious procedure and NO medical intervention is necessary. Without saying, I do not intend to test this if bitten by a cobra :)

Above 2 photos were taken during our return journey to Mumbai - somewhere just post Mhasala. I am not sure exactly. But the sight of the distant sea in the top and of the small pond in the bottom picture is amazing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Janjira Fort - "Kille Janjira"

A view of the Janjira fort from the top, courtesy Google Earth. This fort belonged to the 'Siddi' rulers - originally North African Muslims who came to India. Located a few hundred kilometers to the south of Mumbai this fort was never captured by the Marathas. The Maratha Empire (including their sea forts) extended to the south and north of this fort - but this fort remained out of their control. Finally it came into British hands in early 1800s when the Siddi state submitted under the system of subsidiary alliance and post indepence became part of Indian Union.

We approached this fort from the port of Dighi - the boat ride is about 30-40 mins.

Our first view from the boat.

A close-up and the grandeur of the fort is apparent.

The main entrance

Carvings on the walls adjoining the main entrance.

The fort has been standing in these waters for better part of 400 years now and all it has to show by way of structural damage (natural) is this - amazing!

The dilapitated palace structure

Look down the fort from near the palace structure. Palace structure is to the right and the main entrance is straight and left

View from top and one of the lakes

Another view from top and the second lake. The fort also has a well which has (believe it or not) sweet water bang in the middle of ocean!

This is at the sametime a beautiful photo and a sorry photo. Beautiful because it captures a large part of the fort in a single snap. Sorry because it also reflects the sorry state of the fort. This is a NATIONAL monument which means that it is to be protected and preserved - but there is hardly any protection. Around the fort there is nothing but wild shrubs. This is not how we ought to be treating our history.

The highest point of the fort, a canon and a magnificent view of the ocean

The structure seen in distance is a small fort built by the Marathas as a counter to this fort.

Looking towards the coast from top of the fort

View of the ships which carried us here from the coast

The three biggest canon's of the fort

A view of the 'buruj'. Even at high tide, the stone walls stand 40 feet tall! Again, there is hardly any structural damage due to the ocean water - and its been here for better part of 450 years!

A parting shot

The final shot. I leave hoping that there is something done about this fort. This fort is an undefeated fort. It has withstood numerous attacks from the Maratha's, the British and the Portugese - but it did not fall. Alas now its our neglect that could just prove its downfall and that would be a shame.