‘The Machan, Lonavala’ – A Review

IMG-20150703-WA0014Hi friends! I am a day late this time. I am sorry for that. I should’ve come on Thursday! Though I am late, I am proud of myself for making it here punctually. I have given reviews on books and shared a few recipes. It’s time now for some place review. This is not exactly a place review. It is a place cum hotel review. This has been waiting for probably 2 years now to find a place on my blog. Finally, I’m here with it. The Machan is situated at Lonavala. For those of you who do not know where Lonavala is located, let me tell you. Lonavala is situated near Mumbai and Pune. It is about two hours’ drive from Mumbai. It is a hill station surrounded by greenery situated on the Western Ghats. It is a perfect place to visit during monsoons.

The first-time ever I went to this place was during June 2015. Yes, it was during monsoon and I had no idea whatsoever that I was going to Lonavala. It was our first wedding anniversary and by then, I was familiar with the Mumbai Pune Expressway. My husband was giving me a surprise. He just told me to pack our bags for two days and so we left. As we were reaching the Mumbai Pune Expressway, I kept on pestering him to tell me where we were off to, but in vain. I kept thinking for some reason that he was taking me to Panvel. The Mumbai Pune Expressway has a deviation towards Khandala and Lonavala. When he took that left turn, I was sure that we were going either to Khandala or Lonavala. My husband had sealed his mouth. He just didn’t give it away. As we reached our destination, that is, The Machan, we saw a beautiful canopy of plants in the entrance. It is something which I will never forget in, probably, the next 50-60 years. We, then, slowly entered place.

IMG-20150628-WA0010The Machan is a beautiful hotel which offers tree houses and ground based cabins for stay with buffet lunch and dinner. It is situated in the interiors. I was astonished to see how the reception was made. I will share a photo of the same with you guys. It gives you a forest feel. The tree houses and cabins are very nicely made. When you see from down, you can see only the tree house in the middle of greenery. Isn’t it a perfect place to spend your small vacation in? It, surely, is, when it is also your first wedding anniversary. The entire experience, gave me a princess feeling. We were tired after our drive. So as soon as we reached, we had lunch and napped for a while. The lunch, here, is buffet, as I mentioned earlier. Whatever spread was there, it was delicious. We spent our evening sitting on the deck in our room. The deck overlooks the Western Ghats. What a beautiful sight it was. We spent our entire evening just enjoying nature. We couldn’t venture out anyways because we weren’t sure how safe it is. The next morning, we ventured into the woods (as you may call it) soon after breakfast. It was scary. The very thought about going there at night scared me. However scary it was, it was wonderful. We ventured into the deep woods like a nature’s trail on our own. We found it very amazing. We could see our tree house from the woods. It looked so beautiful! We couldn’t believe our eyes. We just sat quietly with the sound of trees rustling and birds chirping. It started drizzling slightly. We enjoyed the tiny raindrops

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The same evening, we also took a walk around the property. It is a very huge property. The planning that has gone with The Machan is incredible. They have different types of rooms. They have a huge family room as well, if you’re planning to travel with your family. You also have a cozy room like the one we stayed at, if you’re only two people.

We stayed there for two nights and we really enjoyed every moment of our stay. It was very special. I would give this place a rating of 9 on a scale of 10. If at all you are planning to go somewhere this monsoon, The Machan at Lonavala is the place. If you find that the weekend is too much, then, you can just hop in on a weekday, when the tariffs are low compared to that of the weekends.

I am going to share a few photos with you all. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Cheers!!!

Our Favourite Holiday Destination Goa

IMG_0728Hello!! I am back. . . Instead of giving a detailed description of our travel, I will break up the places we’ve visited and give individual place reviews. It makes more sense and it is easier for you guys to read as well. Goa is our favourite hangout place. Who doesn’t like Goa! Goa is everyone’s favourite destination to just chill and enjoy. We’ve been there now a couple of times. We have a few favourite places there. We do not mind going there again and again.

One of the few places which features in the list of our favourites is the Cola Beach. We found out about this beach on the internet. It was in the list of the secret beaches of Goa. The first time we went to Cola Beach, we had hire a two-wheeler from the hotel (situated in the South of Goa). The beach was about two hours away from the hotel. We kept following the google maps. We were about ten minutes away from the beach and google was insisting that we take a right turn. The turn seemed very unlikely because we couldn’t see any road. It was a mud road which was super narrow and it was very uneven. We did not know how we will cross that. We found it really unlikely for any beach to be locate there. I, in fact, told my husband that we should turn back. He did not want to give up. He told we will go a little ahead and see. The path was very interesting. It was a mud road, filled with stones and completely uneven. We are still not sure how we managed to cross that. We rode for about ten minutes and found a widespread land. We went a little further and then we were shocked to see what was there in front of us. We could see water below the cliff. We were mesmerised to see that. We have never seen blue coloured water anywhere in India and the beach was situated below the cliff.

This was really a wow moment for us. We were then trying to figure out how to get down the cliff to reach the beach. The path was really a difficult one. You had to climb down a few rocks and then, get down the steep stairs. We somehow managed to do it. The beach was really mesmerising. We went around the entire place and found it to be very silent and clean. We did not see many people on the beach except for a few foreigners. We went around the place and took a lot of pictures. We, then, sat own on the beach quietly to enjoy the waves. We spent about an hour or so of calm and serene nature.

The beach became so dear to us, that we went back to the same place when we went this 16195622_10154139979296440_4609146041898506694_ntime. We had taken the car this time. So, reaching the beach was a little more difficult. We somehow managed to reach. This time the path to get down the cliff had changed. There were a lot of changes that were made. They had a man-made pool where we found a lot of people and kids playing. This time when we went the beach was very noisy. There were a lot of people. It was not as calm as it was during our previous visit. We were to some extent disappointed, but we were happy that we went. We also found an over friendly doggie who posed with us for something which turned out to be an epic selfie.

When you go on your next visit to Goa, I suggest you should go to this beach.

Cheers!!!

Travel Diaries I – My first trip to North India Part 4 – Manali to Kasol

Hello! Hope everyone is happy with the way winter is treating you! I was initially disappointed when the winter didn’t set in at all until December, but once it did, it was really awesome. I enjoyed the cold and pleasant weather after a really long time as it is hot most of the time, here, in Mumbai. Time really flies. It’s been over a year now since I went for a weeklong trip to North India during winter. As you all are aware, I’ve created a small Travel Diaries segment in my blog and I’ve been squeezing in my experiences once in a while (I’ve so many topics to write about, it is just too much effort to decide what to put up next). It is high time now that I completed my Travel Diaries I (I’ll do that in the next one or two posts, I promise). I’ll continue from where I left last time.

The fourth day of our trip was at Manali. The previous day we had had a wonderful time at Solang Valley. We had our share of new experiences. We decided that the next day would be spent in a quiet and leisurely manner. We started our day very late as it was super cold as usual. The main market at Manali was very close to the Log Hut (that is name of the HPTDC Resort we stayed at). We decided to just walk along the roads slowly and enjoy the cold and pleasant atmosphere. We started our walk at around 11 am. We first went to the famous Hadimba Temple. We had to walk and climb a bit to reach there. It was a peaceful temple. From there we started gallivanting.  We went in search of a particular Italian place for Pizza, but it was shut. We, then, just wandered and landed right in front of this place called Johnsons Lodge and Café. We went into the Lodge for lunch. What amazing lunch it was! Even to this day, we are reminded of the delicious food and the serene atmosphere of that place. The interiors were very elegantly made. After lunch we gallivanted into the Market and spent our evening there and got back to the hotel close to 7. The next morning we were to leave to Kasol from Manali.

IMG_20150122_100507Our fifth day was at Kasol. Kasol is not Kasauli. It is altogether a different place. My husband found out about this hidden place on Facebook. The moment he found out about it, we included this place in our Manali trip. It takes about two hours to drive down from Manali to Kasol. What a drive it is! We never expected the entire place to be so scenic. As the Himalayan Mountains stare at you in the eye, you can hear the Parvathi River flowing deep down the valley. It is a scary drive, but yet, the atmosphere altogether gives you the calmness. We had booked our stay at the Himalayan Village Resort. We just couldn’t take off our eyes, as we entered the property. What an amazing property it was! It is one of the few places which I can never forget. We had our lunch. By the time we were done with everything it was 4 pm. We just stepped into our room and we were astonished at the view we had from our room. We were facing the Himalayas with the Parvathi River flowing alongside and right behind us was the Coniferous Forests. We were keen on going on a Nature’s Walk, but then because of the rain, they didn’t have it at all. We just stared at the Himalayas as they disappeared right in front of us because of the rain and accompanying fog.

Kasol is one such place which is a hidden gem of India. If at all at some point you get a chance to visit Kasol, make sure you stay at The Himalayan Village. It is simply awesome!

There’s a last part coming to this Travel Diairies. Wait for it, I’ll be back soon..

Cheers!!!

Travel Diaries I – My first trip to North India Part 3-Manali

IMG_20150119_133125Hi friends! It’s been more than a month since I blogged. So here I am with my blog post after a long time. How’s monsoon treating you? I’m sure it’s been awesome at some parts, but, however, I am disappointed with this year’s monsoon back here at Mumbai. Yes, it did rain heavily initially and the monsoon was in full swing, but unfortunately, for a very short time. Yeah, it has started off again! And that’s surely great news. Without complaining let’s enjoy what the weather has to surprise us with, with a smile on our face!

Coming to my blog posts, as I already mentioned, it has been quite some time now since I blogged last. So I thought it would be apt for me to continue with the Travel Diaries. This post is a continuation of the previous post – Travel Diaries I – My First Trip to North India Part 2- Manali. My previous post was about our Bus journey from Chandigarh to Manali and also about the Log Huts. Moving on from the previous post, I will take you through our stay at Manali. The day we reached Manali it was very late in the evening. It was almost eight thirty at night. We couldn’t do anything much that day as it was freezing outside. Our so called adventures started only the next day. My husband randomly decided to give me a surprise. And while I was busy unpacking inside he was talking to the manager of the Log Huts about places we can visit in and around Manali. I didn’t pay much head to it because I didn’t know what we were doing that day.

While we were having breakfast I realized that we were going to Solang Valley. I was super excited. This was the first time ever I was going to see real snow!  Just cannot explain in words what it felt like. We quickly got ready. They had arranged a cab for us and we left by around 11.30 am. On the way the taxi driver told us that we had to stop at one of the many shops on the roadside and pick up snow clothes.  We chose one of the shops and got jumpers and rubber shoes and other skiing stuff for our adventure. We then reached Solang Valley. Oh My God! What a place. It was like heaven on earth for me. We found quite a lot of people here at the Solang Valley in contrast to what we saw in Manali. We didn’t find that many tourists at Manali as it was off season and it was freezing.  I would suggest that you go in this season that is sometime between December and February. It would be the best time to visit Manali and the surrounding areas as it is not crowded.

We did quite a lot of things in Solang Valley. We first had hot Maggi and Masala Chai which was being served. As we ate there were people who were coming and coaxing us to get our photo in the typical Manali costumes. We first hesitated and then decided to go for it. We had a photographer who by force with his skills got himself tagged to us. He went on clicking pictures while my husband and I posed for him. He got too excited when he came to know that we’re from Mumbai and made us pose for him in some typical Bollywood poses.

After that we tried our hand at skiing. My husband did a great job, while I couldn’t do much. I was damn scared. We were given our personal guide at the shop where we got our snow clothes. He helped do about two rounds. My husband did it multiple times and he almost became an expert in it.  After skiing it was our turn to go on super fast ride on the snow mobil. It was too good. The guy drove the mobil so fast that I could feel myself flying high in the sky.

After the small adventures we had, then was the time for us to climb as far as we could. We started climbing the snow clad small mountains (I would call it a mountain because it was elevated, though not a big one). The photographer walked along with us and showed us around. He took us to the highest peak which was not yet explored by any other guide/photographer and gave us few of our best clicks. For the first time I felt the virgin snow. It was really soft. We played in the snow like crazy. We then walked down towards the place where we had kept our baggage with our guide. While alighting, the photographer told us to slide down the small peak.  I was dead scared, but somehow managed to do it.

We walked around the place for a long time. We didn’t realize the time until we actually got into the car. It was nearly 3.30 pm. We then left Solang Valley with a lot of memories. We reached our log hut by 4, after returning our snow clothes and shoes. At eight that night we had a special camp fire right in front of our hut. It was really amazing. The camp fire in the freezing weather was something which we actually yearned for. Altogether it was an amazing experience – the first ever snow experience.

I will soon come back with the next adventure of Manali.

Till then, Cheers!!!!

Travel Diaries I – My first trip to North India Part 2 – Manali

IMG_20150118_154350Hi friends! The monsoon has finally set in. What more can I ask for? Here at Mumbai, it had been really very hot over the past two weeks, and now with the onset of monsoon everything is cool again. I don’t know if you remember, but sometime in February I started a new segment on My Space called Travel Diaries. This post is the continuation of the same. Back in January we had been to North India. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, it was my first ever trip to the Northern part of India. This post is the continuation of my previous post which was put up sometime in February. Let me just start off with where I left.

After the wonderful Rock Garden experience, we went back to the hotel we stayed at around 5.30-6 pm. We took an auto from the Rock Garden to our hotel, and I just can’t tell you how cold it was. It was hint to us as to how cold Manali would be. For me it was the first time ever I was visiting a snow clad area. It was surely an experience I was looking forward to. The First Hotel we stayed at Chandigarh was a pretty good one. The food was amazing. We booked that hotel in particular because the distance from the hotel to the bus stand was about ten minutes. We had to take the bus to Manali the next morning. We wanted to stay as close as possible to the hotel so that it would be easier for us to reach the bus stand the next morning. Our first day at Chandigarh was fruitful and relaxed. The next morning, we started our day very early as our bus was at 8.30 am. We had to be at the bus stand at 8 latest. We reached the bus stand at 8 am. We took a shared auto to the bus stand as shared auto. It was freezing!

Once we got down at the bus stand, our next step was to search for our bus. We had booked a Deluxe AC bus from Chandigarh to Manali. It was the Himachal Pradesh Transport bus. We booked it online. When we booked it, we were all happy that it was the deluxe AC bus and stuff, but the moment we saw the bus, both me and my husband were dumb stuck. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was the typical Government bus which was all old and rickety. The only advantage was, as it was peak winter we didn’t need AC. So the bus was fine with us. The bus started at dot 8.30 a.m. The scenic beauty which we got to see was amazingly beautiful. We stopped for breakfast at a dhaba at around 10 a.m. From then on we went directly without any stop till about 12.30 p.m. Once we reached Bilaspur, we broke for lunch. It was the most amazing lunch we had. It was a buffet with a spread of roti, sabzi, dal and chawal. I can still remember the taste. After lunch, we didn’t stop anywhere in between until we reached Kullu. The scenery on our way to Manali is something which I can never forget – the mountains which stood tall bordering the water beds in that area. We reached Kullu at around 5.30 p.m. We were made to wait at the bus stand for about half an hour. From there when we started, we were just about 5-8 passengers travelling to Manali. So from the main bus stand at Kullu, we were taken to the local bus stand and we had to change our bus. The original bus was rickety itself and worse was the new bus we got into! But that was not a concern for us, as we enjoyed every single moment of our bus journey to Manali.

By the time we changed buses and left Kullu it was around 6-6.15 p.m. It took about one and half hours for us to reach Manali. We reached Manali at around 7.45- 8 p.m. We took an auto to our resort. We had booked at the Log Huts which was maintained by the HPTDC. It took us 20 minutes to reach the place as it was at the higher peaks. The log huts were really very beautiful. I had never seen something like that till date. As it was winter, the occupancy at the Log Huts was low. So they showed us around the place, and told us to choose our hut. We chose the first one. And apparently, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stayed at the very Log Hut when he visited Manali in his stint as the Gujarat Chief Minister.

I just cannot explain how amazing the place was. It was freezing there! The temperature was something like 1 degree! I just couldn’t take off my gloves and cap for even a second, it was that cold.

So this was the day two of our trip. Our Sunday well spent on the beautiful roads of Himachal Pradesh opening up at Himalayas.

I will come back soon with the next post on My Space very soon. Till then, enjoy.

Cheers!!!