Winter was almost here.
The gentle breeze with festive spirits soaring high, the holiday season was about to start.
With piles of work left, IPL winter competition was almost upon me and I hadn’t done a thing. The preparation for my upcoming exams was almost zero. Everything was a khichdi in my head!
So what did I do?
I decided to go on a week-long trip!
And this time – it was Maharashtra.
My 8 day trip to the Marathas land was nothing short of an adventure.
It was like looking back in time – a peek into the battles fought, dynasties that invaded and looted India, the mark they left behind. I took it all in.
But there were still so many things that made this trip so different from the others.
Here are 9 of my favourite reasons to visit Maharastra!
1. Maharashtra swagatha ahe- Welcome to Maharashtra
From the cab driver who picked us up at the airport in Mumbai to the locals who helped us find our way when we got lost, the people’s hospitality and generosity were at its best!
No one owed us anything, nor was it necessary for them to go out of their way and help us when we needed it, but they did!
2. Greenery all around
Almost the whole of Maharashtra has this spectacularly well maintained green cover that would make any environmentalist super happy!
During fall, the flowering season is at its peak and the orange carpet formed by different species of marigold beautifies the streets you pass through in a floral decor.
Especially in some places like Ellora and Ajanta caves, a panoramic view of the edifice brings out the main outlines of the structures against a green and orange backdrop.
3. Religious Ride
One of the most prominent cultures, which is hard to miss, that is filled with a large number of highly traditional and religious folks who take immense pride in their culture and practices that have been followed since a very long time.
In any tourist place, you cannot miss the number of temples that are present along the edges or as the main dome.
It could be the forts or the caves, even with some broken idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses due to an invasion, every carving or structure in the monuments had a touch of ancient Indian history.
If you’re an ardent fan of Hinduism then a visit to Shirdi, Ghrishneshwara Jyothirlinga (in Verul), Triambakeshwara temple (in Nashik district’s Triambak town) and Shani Shinganapur temple is a must.
Having come so far, even if you’re not a fan, out of curiosity you will end up visiting these places. You will come to know exactly why millions of devotees throng the temples every year.
The Sai museum in Shirdi has all items owned by Baba till the very end.
Shingnapur of all might be the one with the most number of surprises. None of the houses has doors, the Temple itself is an open ground with not even a shadow of a tree leaf falling on it. With no queue, no real entrance to a building, you will doubt if you are at the right place at all!
Khoopa changalee ahe!
In general, the food for breakfast and lunch at restaurants include a nice mix of south Indian and north Indian food (Gujarati mainly) like poha, idly, dosa etc.
From breakfast food at KrishnaBogh in Mumbai or lunch in Alandi or the delicious dinner food at MTDC resort near Ajanta, it was quite surprising to know how at each place we got the best culinary treats made in the state.
Bhakiris are tortillas, anywhere between soft to crunchy, is the main dish. Dipped with subzi, or the side dish, the items on the plates are unlimited!
Nashik! What a place! As suggested by our cab driver, trying the Maharashtrian traditional thali was the best decision we made on that trip.
Sweets like Shrikhand and Puran Poli that were the main sweet desserts are hard not to like!
This is, in fact, one of the favourites amongst the locals as well as tourists.
Yoghurt mix (called ‘chakka’ in Marathi) with a touch of saffron and cardamom is used to balance the sweet and sour taste of the dish.
Puran Poli is a dish common to almost all states of South India, known by different names like holige, obattu, etc.
In some thalis, kolhapuri thecha is a special additive to the items on the thali.
What strikes you the most is how nutrition and calories intake are balanced perfectly.
The additions of chickpeas, carrots with wheat dough chapati (another type of tortilla) blends in naturally.
All in all, the real feel of the place wasn’t felt by our visit to Ajanta or having vada pav in Juhu beach.
We felt it when we were relishing Yama Anna that Maharashtra offered us.
5. Daulatabad Fort
While exploring different places in the state, Shivaji fort cannot be missed.
With mazes built to confuse invading enemies, dark passages whose maps were etched only in the memories of soldiers and the kings, tiny huts that housed only the guardsman, giving them good cover – everything as we saw had a scientific reason for its existence.
Walking along the steps to reach the fort and the maze that is at a height can be very exhausting. But the effort is well worth it for the view that awaits you is blissful!
6. Ellora Caves
One of the best parts of the trip was when we ended our 45-minute ride from Aurangabad and entered Ellora caves.
Yet again the place proves why this ancient structure still attracts millions of tourists and why it is worthy.
The 10-15 acre garden at the entrance seems big enough.
But wait until you reach the caves.
Hiring a guide is not only important but necessary, for the sheer size of the place will make you realise how easily you can miss out on things or get lost in the partial darkness.
Surprisingly the entire cave is made from only one rock having three divisions of religion- Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism (5km away from the others).
With 12/13 smaller caves for each, looking at crude walls you may wonder what’s so special about this place.
But the ’+’ sign on Kailashnath Temple at the far end which is believed to be the landing site for aliens or the RIGHT side walls with the carvings of the entire Ramayana and the LEFT side walls with the carvings of the entire Mahabharata will leave you awestruck.
Limited in space, caves are built in a more compact way than that of Ellora.
Sixteen of the 30 caves contain beautiful mural paintings and the architectural beauty of the caves makes it the most striking monumental cave.
8. Sula vineyard
Drinking At The Drinking Place
Nope. Not talking about any watering holes in Nashik or Mumbai.
A visit to the Sula vineyard was one of a kind experience when we were on our way back to Mumbai after all the sightseeing near nashik.
Tasting the wine with the touring requires extra bucks but just go for it. You’ll know why soon after your tourising begins, but go for it!
Older the wine finer it is? What a myth! Wine is just another perishable food item that needs the same amount of storage care as any other drink. Ageing of wine happens in the barrel and each barrel is not kept for more than 5 years.
From plucking out the best grapes in its raw form to the winemaking barrels with fermentation drums, it gives you a wholesome educational trip kind of feels at the end of the day. They even teach you the right way to hold wine glasses and handle the drinks to extend its longevity. As a personal choice, with 14% alcohol Red wine was the best for me closely followed by Dessert wine with 11% alcohol and an amazing fruity taste to it.
The crackers offered to prevent drying up of the palate after having a few glasses of wine are just as yummy!
9. Final Destination – Good ol’ Bombayyyyy!
Keep two days out- one for film city tour and another for the Nehru science centre.
The aashiqs or mastanis or mogambos of Bollywood can be seen on the sets of iconic Hindi films that were shot at Film city.
The land of dreams keeps up to its name as you see the superstars on these film sets.
Nehru science centre is 5 storeyed high and covering 8 acres of land. The scientific world you plunge into for one day will leave you spellbound.
From a transparent glass with a woman depicting the human body with nerves and all the internal organs to 3D shows of the technological and scientific industrial, everything about the largest science centre in the country is fascinating.
And All The Extras
These are not so much the extras – more like the things you could do to make your evenings at Mumbai city more eventful.
- A visit to the small Tarapora aquarium
- A drive along Marine drive
- Visit to the city church or to the Gateway of India will complete your trip.
- Shopping is the best at Linking Road, Colaba Causeway or fashion street and will keep you up to date with the latest trends of the street style ramp walk designs.
- You could be on the move at all times along the world sea link (which is terrific by the way)
- Or you could just spend some quality time at Juhu beach with family or buddies.
Along the shores
Watching the sunset at 6 pm on the shores of the beach is something that you will not forget in a long time to come.
A good time to visit Maharashtra and Mumbai
Anytime from October to February is a good time to visit the place since without monsoon rains flooding the place.
Sitting in my Indigo flight, the plane was about to leave for Bengaluru at 3 pm.
One last look at the city beneath me, that expanded in all directions. The sea on one side, high rise buildings on the other. Witnessing the urban crowd in a concrete jungle made me realise the high contrast seen in the green peaceful villages, temples and caves we visited in other parts of the state.
After all this, the least I can say is:
Khup khup dhanyavad for having me over Maharashtra!