Places Explored in 2017

By Rutuja Bhagwat - December 31, 2017

2017 was filled with a lot of travels — outside the home state and even outside my home city. The year seems so long that we somehow tend to have a milky memory of how the initial months were or what we did and where we travelled. But last night when I was looking out for the places I’ve travelled in 2017 for a blog post, I realised I’ve been to a number of places. Today, to end the year on a positive note and begin the new year with the thing I love to do the most, I would be travelling. We have planned a night trek to the regal Kalavantin Durg and witness the first sunrise of 2018 from up top to celebrate the beginning of the new year.

So here's a long list of places I've been to in the year 2017:

GOA

I visited Goa twice in two months–once with my friends and the next time with my cousins. Both times the experiences were different. Since my friends refrain from alcohol and are vegetarians, I had a lovely me-time with them. Me-time because there were no smoke breaks or constant discussions with what kind of alcohol to drink next. However, with my cousins, the trip was contradicting to the previous one. Here, the trip involved visiting some breathtaking places along with a lot of smoke and drink breaks. The first voyage to Goa was a bike ride from Mumbai to Goa (and further to Gokarna) with a ton of exploring and impromptu plans; whereas the second was via the rail route while bonding with my cousins!

Read: A Vegetarian Teetotaler in Goa

Completely lost in the beautiful emerald lagoon of Cola in Goa

COLA BEACH & LAGOON
We planned on Goa the second time as it was my cousin's birthday. He is currently studying in Kolkata doing his graduation in sports management. So we planned a get-together and celebrate his birthday. On the third day of our Goa trip, we went to this paradise named Cola Lagoon, which was opposite to its beach. It was clearly one of the loveliest panoramas I'd come across. 
Then, after immersing ourselves deep in the lagoon, we went towards the beach. The guards held us back as it was refrained to go in the waves. Credits to the jellyfishes, we stayed back on the sand. We ended our time at the beach by snacking at one of the shacks. I am thankful to my brother to have introduced me to this tropical paradise.

Read: A Tropical Paradise at Cola Beach

ARAMBOL BEACH & SWEET WATER LAKE
On the Day 2 of my Goa trip, again one with the cousins, we went to the Arambol Beach. Going a little further, something not many people are aware of is a beautiful lake that goes by the name Sweet Water Lake. Following which, we went inside the Arambol Beach that was exactly opposite to the lake. We were splashing water and were in a war with the waves – sometimes the sea won, sometimes we did!

Read: Lost in the Beauty of Arambol Beach 

Relaxing ahead of the Candolim Beach in Goa

CANDOLIM BEACH
After reaching Goa, again on the trip with my cousins, we went to the Candolim Beach. It was near to our guesthouse in Marra and as we were tired of travelling, we decided to go to the nearest beach.   We did dip ourselves and clicked a lot of pictures, needless to say. It was a refreshing and a calming time.

Read: Kissing the Sun at Candolim Beach

BAGA BEACH
For my cousin's birthday, we went to Anthony's shack, Baga, for a beach party. He cut the cake at 12:00 and then we celebrated by singing karaoke, drinking, and relaxing at the beach till 3:00 am! Baga has some serious clubbing culture. While we were walking towards the beach, we could find a street full of men who were gawking at women in a fetishistic way. We also saw prostitutes and men discussing on which type of women they need for the night – someone from South India, someone from Mumbai, or a Russian prostitute. This two-second conversation that I overheard sent chills down my spine. Anyway, I am glad to have experienced this side of Goa. I had only heard about it but had never seen it.

CHAPORA FORT
Since the day Dil Chahta Hai was screened, this fort has gained an overnight stardom. This one is from the archives of my trip with friends. We reached the Chapora fort to find a lot of people. The boys were recapturing the DCH trio and the couples were redefining love sitting on the barriers, overlooking the sea. I am not fond of places with too many people and Chapora Fort was nothing distinctive – it was rather too narrow – and I don't recommend it even a bit. 

Read: Discovering Food – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 5

Snacking at the Colva Beach in Goa

COLVA BEACH
Credits to the manager at our hotel in Colva for directing us to this fantastic piece of sand. The main entrance to the beach is overcrowded with a ton of shacks and stalls; however, this part of the beach is quiet, secluded, and picturesque, which makes me wonder how there are two sides to everything.

Read: Paradise on Earth – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 4

CALANGUTE BEACH
My friends and I were staying near the Calangute Beach and so it was easily reachable. Most times, if we had nowhere to go, we sat on the shores of the beach, just getting completely lost while staring at the horizon. Since we were in Goa in September, it was not allowed to go in the water, so we just dipped our legs and then hogged at the shacks.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Thanks to Treebo for offering me a two-night stay at any of their hotels across India. I chose the one in Kufri, near Shimla, because of the breathtaking view from the hotel. Shimla was on my travel list for a long time, but I had never planned or thought of visiting it this sooner. But then, I decided I would go, and there I was, feeling the luckiest person to be alive and to be looking at some of the world's best views.
We were in Himachal Pradesh for about three days and every minute of it was spent either shivering or contemplating about the God's miracle named winter.

Envisioning the rest of the trip on a foot overbridge in Shimla

SHIMLA
Our hotel was in Kufri, but for it, we had to go via Shimla. We got into a bus from Delhi and reached Shimla. After exploring places around it and a lot of walking (seriously, a lot of walking), we enjoyed the place. We were at the Mall Road most of the time, either eating or people-watching. Owing to the Treebo chain of hotels, I could at last step in this wonderland. I always had Shimla on my bucket list, but I thought it was not attainable this soon. Because cold places require a lot of planning and the appropriate gear, I kind of pushed this destination farther. However, when Treebo approached me, I started enlisting the Indian places I wanted to go. Shimla being on the top, this destination was then finalised.

Read: Taking You From Shimla to Kufri

CHAIL
Since we had a full day at hand, we thought of travelling a little farther and ride as much as the daylight could offer. So we left for Chail as the road seemed promising with full of tall trees. Actually, the sole purpose to go there was the woody trail. On our way, to our luck, we found Himalayan Nature Park, so we took a detour. I was hoping to see a snow leopard, but there was just a leopard. Further, we saw a brown bear, black bear, tahr, and goral. 
Looking below at the incredible view from the hilltop at Fagu

KUFRI & FAGU
Kufri is a hill station on a hill station – yes, you read it right. The hill station is Shimla and then if you go a little up on the hill, you reach Kufri. If the weather at Shimla is 10 degrees, then up top it would be around 8 degrees. That means, if you find Shimla cold and are travelling to Kufri, then brace yourselves; Kufri is going to be even colder! The place has incredible views and is famous for snow activities like ice skating and skiing. We, however, did not do any of these because it was not snowing yet. It usually starts snowing from December.
Then on one of the mornings – since our friend had recommended – we thought of visiting Fagu. This hill is just about 1.5 km away from Kufri and is like another mini hill station. It is famous for its view again and apple orchids. Sadly, there was nothing to do on the top, so we just took some snaps and descended.

SALOGRA & SOLAN
We were looking for unusual things to do in Shimla so we went through a lot of travel write-ups and then decided to go to Tattapani. But when we reached, we found out that road to it was shut. So, an impromptu detour was to Salogra. The road towards Salogra is a highway and I could find a lot of cars with number plates belonging to Chandigarh, Punjab, and Delhi on it. This sort of made me happy because I could alas find someone other than the natives! We tried tikki chat, which was the first time I was tasting it, and it completely blew my mind. We then reached Salogra only to find there was nothing to do there. So we asked a local and he recommended the Mohan Shakti National Heritage Park, which was just 15 minutes away from Salogra, in Solan. The road from up top to this park was narrow and really beautiful;  I felt like the road should never end! After spending about 15 minutes in the park, we left from there.

Read: Exploring In & Around Salogra

KARNATAKA

I visited Karnataka twice this year: once in February and then in September on a bike ride. The first time it was to attend a wedding of my best friend – who, by the way, is the first among the lot to get married – and the second time was to visit Gokarna on my 10-day bike trip to Devgad, Goa, and Gokarna.

Read: The Highs and Lows of Gokarna

After getting drenched in Vibhuti Falls, Karnataka

VIBHUTI FALLS
While we were loading our luggage into the cars while going back to Goa, a local approached us. He recommended a place named Vibhuti Falls – a scenic place near Yana, Karnataka. We googled it up and were impressed looking at the pictures. We had to take a short detour to reach this place, but this extra distance was truly worth it. We passed the barriers and were marvelled seeing the trees and the smooth road towards the falls. I was assuming it to be a natural waterfall, and though it indeed is a natural waterfall, the surrounding area is maintained by the government. 
We reached the falls and it was full of liveliness and vigour. Such dense the flow of water and such white the foam! What a beautiful, crystalline water and what a stunning location! Vibhuti Falls, doubtlessly, should be on your itinerary if ever you come to the southwestern zone of Karnataka. It would also make an ideal picnic spot or a perfect weekend getaway for the Kannadigas.

Read: The Scenic Vibhuti Falls – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 7

THIRTHAHALLI
Thirthahalli is a quaint little town in the district of Shimoga. My best friend got married here. We lived in a guest house that was full of beautiful antique pieces and archaic furniture. We were seven girls under the roof of this huge house. The owners lived downstairs and had given the top floor for rent. Every minute of the stay I wondered who are the travellers who visited Thirthahalli; what a remote way to explore!

KUDLE BEACH, GOKARNA
I had heard a lot of stories about how Gokarna is a hippie's paradise and how you can spot gypsy souls here. Usually, foreigners with braided hair and embracing bohemian style are seen. Also, I had read how the beaches are fantastic and clean. But on the contrary, when we reached, I was not happy at all. And this has a lot to do with the place I was staying at, which was a shady little cottage. I don't  know why we thought of saving money here! Even the beaches were not as beautiful as people had said them to be. They were full of cows, people, and dogs. I was honestly planning to unwind myself here but obviously, I could not, well except for the night-time when all the rubbish had gone. In Gokarna, we visited the Kudle Beach only (though there is another beach named Om, we didn't go there). So far, so forth I didn't like the place, but I am happy to have explored it out.

Read: Unwinding Myself at Gokarna – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 6

DELHI

Delhi was on my travel list since the day I learnt it was the capital of India. I earnestly wished to roam around in a cycle-taxi (if that's what they call it) to the historically vital places like India Gate, Red Fort, Qutub Minar. The recent addition to the Delhi list being the Sarojini Market, I had heard stories of how you get a piece of clothing for a cheap 20 rupees here. While I was planning my itinerary for Shimla, I had two optional routes: via Delhi or via Chandigarh. Though the latter was a lot closer to Shimla, I finalised on the former because of its importance in my travel list. I was as delighted as a child when he gets a balloon since I had two days to explore Delhi.

Read: Visting Historical Places in Delhi

Marvelling at the Moghul architecture; captured at Red Fort in Delhi

RED FORT
You know how there is a list of touristy things to do in every city? Red Fort is one of those in the capital of India. Initially, I had thought it to be an ordinary fort, but after entering, I was shocked. The fort is humongous! For all the architecture lovers and the students, this fort is a sure shot visit. The intricate details and the majestic domes make you wonder how talented architects were. Crazy! The Red Fort, which is a historical and architectural marvel—thanks to the substantial area of land it is spread across and the enticing feeling you get the moment you see it–leaves you thoroughly impressed. You start imagining how things would have worked in the Moghul era and start contemplating life.


CHANDNI CHOWK
We visited Chandni Chowk only to satiate our hunger since we had travelled from Mumbai to Delhi for two days and were in desperate need of food. We tried out all the recommended diners and honestly I liked only the rabdi, which was opposite to the Paranthe Walle. I was also stunned to see so many wedding boutiques here. I was more shocked to see people from a rich background as well as people from lower. It's unusual to find this scenario in Mumbai markets!

SAROJINI MARKET
Sarojini Market is every girl's dream. You get clothes for as low as Rs. 20 here. However, I did not find any because I did not explore much. I did buy a lot of clothes and if ever I go to Delhi again, I’m surely splurging. I only wish Mumbai had such cheap clothes.

LOTUS TEMPLE
Lotus Temple was a huge disappointment since we could not carry our luggage through the gates. So my friends had waited outside while I went inside alone just for the sake of shooting a video for my vlog series. I did not even go inside the temple but just browsed in the vicinity. I did Google the pictures of the interior to find out how the temple is like from inside and it looks like some church. All in all, I don’t regret going inside the temple. I am however impressed by its lotus-like form.

DEVGAD, MAHARASHTRA

The journey towards Devgad was enchanting – blue skies, cottony white clouds, cows grazing around, neon green fields, and a pleasantly perfect weather. This sort of route is romantically scenic and my personal favourite. I would stay in this quietness over the hustle of the city any day (and I'm assuming who wouldn't). Devgad was our first stop on Devgad-Goa-Gokarna bike trip. We extended the stay by another night because the place looked promising.


Capturing the infinite blue of the Taramumbari Beach in Devgad

TARAMUMBARI BEACH
We left for Goa at 8:30 am but before we left, we asked the hotel caretaker the route to reach Malvan. He gave us a way that would cut down almost 1 hour of the journey. We started off and when we reached this route, we were marvelled! Towards our right, there was a beautiful, clean beach, the beach of Taramumbari. A must-visit spot if ever you cross this route. Not a single soul on the sand! All we could see was bright blue paint spread across the sky and the water. What a lovely sight! Without a doubt, we stepped down and clicked few gorgeous shots. We were grateful for the caretaker who suggested this route. We were bursting with joy not because of the short-cut but because of the smooth road and the breathtaking view besides.

Read: From Kunkeshwar to Calangute – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 3

Happy to have the best seat in the world; captured on the railing of Vijaydurg Fort in Devgad

VIJAYDURG FORT
This historic beauty is around 45 minutes away from Devgad. After crossing the green patches of land and lush caves made out of trees, we neared the fort. We could feel the vibes – ancient fortification, the moss mightily declaring its place, and the historically soothing air. We entered through the first door, and my immediate inward reaction was not something you would want to hear. I had assumed the fort to be diminutive and so I was a little disappointed! However, when we walked further, the reality was totally contrary. We realized that the fort was spread across a large portion of land. The fort looked gigantic as the waves kissed its legs; what a dreamy place to click pictures! Abundant light, nature's favourite colours, and a vast space to pose! 

Read: The Vijaydurg Fort – Goa Gokarna Travelogue Day 2

RAIGAD, MAHARASHTRA

KOLAD & BHIRA
For a friend's birthday, we camped at Bhira and then went for river rafting. I am happy to have tried another adventure sport, though the flow of the water was not intense at all and we did not experience the thrill that one experiences in Rishikesh. However, I was really pleased with the neon green carpet across our tents in Bhira and the magical experience inside the Bhira lake. I witnessed one of the best views of my life while we were in the water and could see rain falling heavily at a distance. The sight was further beautified by misty mountains and heavy clouds. We could see the rain moving along with the clouds and it was a divine sight! The water was cold and clean to add to the heavenly experience. Bhira, by the way, witnesses one of the heaviest downpours in Maharashtra.

Read: Camping at Bhira & River Rafting at Kolad

Immensely happy to have conquered this hard climb of Kalavantin Durg

KALAVANTIN DURG
Kalavantin Durg was the toughest climb I've ever experienced. If you're a trekker, you should surely try going here in monsoon and just like there is a sign written in chalk before the trickiest part begins, “Climb it at your own risk.” Best one I've done so far! This was shot at the top-most point. Truly thrilling!

Read: Kalavantin Durg Trek Travelogue Part 1

Smiling my pain away at a vast golden field near Bhandardara

BHANDARDARA

It was an exhilarating, fun road trip with my postgrad college seniors. When they were still students, we had hardly ever exchanged words, but after they passed out of the college, they became close-knit with my best friend. Initially, they had planned for an overnight stay at one of the tree houses in Lonavla. This was the first time I was hanging out with them. I knew they were funny, warm, and welcoming, so I was not in two minds whether to go or not. It was fun to be with a bunch of funny seniors!

Read: Bhandardara Road Trip Travelogue

RAJMACHI

Rajmachi was quite an impromptu plan. I was to leave for Goa the next night, but my friends insisted me to join. I am always ready for camping and trekking as I love to be in nature, surrounded by nothing but the God's gifts. Rajmachi takes a special place in my heart because I shot my first vlog here. After receiving a good response I got the encouragement to further continue vlogging and till date, I have two independent vlogs coupled with two vlog series. The third independent vlog (the one that takes you to Kalavantin Durg at night) is shot and would be edited soon. 


Stroking my hair as I pose ahead of a beautiful sunset at the Bhavali Dam

BHAVALI DAM, IGATPURI

I had imagined the area to be a little undersized, but after reaching, I must admit, was thoroughly stunned. We left at around 3:00 pm from Mumbai. Since the dam lies near Igatpuri, we had to go via the Mumbai Nasik Highway. Marvelled by a beautiful panorama on our right, we reached the waters around 5:00 pm. The shots turned out to be brilliant – thanks to the gorgeous sun and a serene landscape. We shot some breathtaking pictures – some of which were sans any human. We also trekked for a short distance that offered a good view in which the road had tagged itself along. One of my favourite locations in 2017.

Read: Bike Ride to Bhavali Dam

KELWA BEACH

On my 23rd birthday this year we went to the Kelwa Beach. I had been here last year as well, but this time it was much different – we camped at the beach...only that we were not given the permission to camp by the police so we had hired a cottage and camped outside, in its verandah!

CHINCHOTI WATERFALLS

We looked for one-day waterfall locations around Mumbai and coincided on this exquisite waterfall of Chinchoti. After a one-hour ride, we reached the base. The distance between the base and the waterfall is around 8 km, which is fine if the road was smooth. However, when reaching, you would be disappointed looking at the rocky road. Imagine riding on an extremely rocky patch for 45 minutes at a stretch! The cars could manage, but since we were on a Bullet, I was worried. Plus the mishap of the tyres puncturing would have left us amidst the jungle with no people around. We crossed a fair amount of the route, but after studying the maps, we were stunned to find the waterfall to be still 20 minutes away. On way, we saw a beautiful waterfall hidden amidst the trees and bushes. We decided to scrap the main Chinchoti waterfall and instead descended down for this one.

Tired after an unsuccessful trek to Gorakhgad Fort

GORAKHGAD FORT

We planned to conquer the Gorakhgad Fort, which is near Murbad, some 50 km away from Kalyan. The traffic near Kalyan was crazy and we were stuck for around 30 minutes in it. Back of the mind, I knew the trek would get cancelled. We still somehow reached the base village Daheri. After asking the locals, we got the way to the fort. The trek starts from Gorakhnath temple and we started ascending at 12:00 pm! The first part of the trek is through a jungle. Sometimes the trail would get so narrow, you wouldn't see the floor. Also, a word of precaution: I wouldn't recommend individual trekkers or a group of three or below for this trek unless you are fully geared. The jungle is not dense, but I would still suggest to not go with fewer people. A group of five or beyond would be ideal. 

Read: An Unfinished Trek to Gorakhgad Fort

  • Share:

You Might Also Like

0 comments