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The Ganpati Photowalk

It’s that time of the year when everyone in India welcomes the Elephant God into their house, fondly known as Ganpati. 10 days of every Indian’s life revolve around the worship of the God.  Ganesh has been an annual feature in our house for as long as I can remember, we don’t get in the clay idol, we have an idol made of silver which we offer prayers to. As kids, mom would make us clean the idol and also decorate temples made of cardboard or Styrofoam. We would also get a whole lot of guests who came to our house during these 10 days to offer prayers and generally socialize with the family.  Over the years our beliefs have changed, we are no longer actively involved in the ceremonies pretty much Mom, Dad, Uncle and Aunty who manage the same. We on the other hand definitely go to see the awesome idols around where we live and take pictures creating our very own unique Ganpati Photowalk.

The biggest challenge with the photowalk is the crazy and erratic Mumbai rains, I personally don’t like my camera and gear getting wet and hence have to wait for the right time to get out there. Saturday began with crazy rains in the morning but eventually the day turned out to be sunny, at about 4:00pm I decided to head out for the photowalk, please note the objective was clear take pictures of Idols, a few minutes away from our house is Grant Road vegetable market, this also houses the biggest Ganesh idol in our area – I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no security in and around the Pandal (temporary temple), people moved in an out easily and it was not mad crowded, I quickly setup my camera and started taking shots, to my surprise nobody disturbed me or said not to take pictures, instead they were more than happy to let me keep shooting, the kids there also volunteered to look after my bag so I could move around easily -Absolutely awesome

From there on every pandal I went to I was extended the same courtesy, my next destination was Grant road station, the Ganpati there was lit up, so time to crank ISO and shoot, note I hate using flash, I think it takes away from the reality of the image. I retraced my steps from the station towards the BMC station at D-Ward, this area has always had very creative idols, I was surprised this time around instead of going creative, the committee there had gone for a simpler much larger idol, it was very impressive. This pandal also had some kids playing carom; they were very excited when I took their picture. Next destination Papanas Wadi, this is a small lane next to my house, their theme eco friendly Ganesh, I did not realise I had friends here, these were kids who I had grown up with, in turn I was treated like a star, they cleared the floor and let me take pictures and fed me a whole lot of sweet meats. Next I moved onto a lesser known destination, this is a small bylane near Nana Chowk, they generally get a small idol but it is always very unique, this time around was exactly the same. Moving uphill I got to Kemps Corner, the Pan Gali idol was a black and gold idol and was huge, post taking pictures I moved towards my final 3 destinations August Kranti Maidan (Tejpal)  and Geeta building and old Gamdevi.

The final destinations are also the oldest as far as we are concerned, they have been housing idols long before it was fashionable to host them. The Tejpal idol was simple but they had surrounded it by envelopes of Ganpati, to my suprise there was nobody around the mini pandal, forgot to mention, I missed the Ganpati which use to be there at the Kharegat intersection, don’t know why it was not there. Anyways moving on the Geeta building Ganesh, was mounted on the shoulders of Hanuman, very different from anything I had seen so far. The volunteers there let me get close to the idol and take pictures, by now I was losing light so cranked up the ISO even more. From here I quickly rushed to Old Gamdevi, this idol was surrounded by women who were waiting for the evening Aarti, I did not waste time here, moved quickly and shot a few images and headed home. All in all the photowalk was an amazing experience the pandals are amazingly peaceful and people don’t bother you, also there are no annoying kids going ‘uncle take photo, my photo please’ and so on.  Really enjoyed this walk, and will definitely do this again on the day of immersion, this time around with my zoom lens.

Do check out our awesome Slideshow of Ganesh Pics below – Shot using a Nikon D5100 with a 18-55mm lens

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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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My First Road Trip part 2

The next part of our awesome road trip was about 30 Kms from Pune, a small village known as Saswad, which houses an awesome Fort known as Jadhavgadh. We started our journey early, had breakfast at the Machan and got out buy around 9:30 am. The drive back to Lonavala took about half an hour considering the crazy fog, we also got lost in one of the by lanes, anyways we hit the expressway soon enough and made it to the outskirts of Pune in about an hour and a half. Here it gets tricky passing Pune and onto Saswad took a good 2 hours, crazy traffic and bad road. At a time even google Maps failed and we had to ask a cop for directions (surprisingly he looked and behaved like Manoj Bajpai). After a fairly crazy ride up a fairly broad ghat (Mountain) we reached our destination.

The first thing you notice about the fort is the people, they are all dressed in traditional Maratha outfits. Our welcome was accompanied by a blow of trumpets and a crazy beating of drums by a frenzied security guard, we also got the very firangi “tilak on the forehead” treatment. We quickly finished all the formalities and headed towards our room, please to note had booked a suite which was a surprise for the lovely Mrs. I was surprised by the room – it was big and had a large balcony with a crazy view – do check the image below for the view. We settled in and ordered food, some traditional chicken in coconut gravy with bread, the food was finger licking good. I would strongly recommend that you try the local cuisine in the Hotel; it’s absolutely to die for. After a quick siesta we moved towards the pool, the Mrs quickly jumped in, me on the other hand thought the water was a little too cold for my liking and hence went on to check the Fort.

The Fort is not very large, if you have been to Rajasthan it may almost seem like a Haveli what stands out is how well it has been maintained and how the entire Hotel has been built around it. The lawns surrounding the Fort are massive and make for some great bird and flower photography. I ended up spending quite a lot of my time taking pictures. Late evening we decided to head back to the room – post more chilling time we went for dinner – the dining room is pretty standard looks like something out of a clubhouse, but the waiter suggested that we dine at the balcony. This turned out to be a great suggestion as it was only us and the experience of eating there was amazing. The starter we ordered was something called Jadhavgadh ke Sholay (Fires of Jadhavgadh – loosely translated) a tandoori paneer dish; we ordered it basis the interesting name – not bad it was, for main course we ordered mutton for a change, a dish called Mutton Tambya Cha Rassa – hands down the best mutton dish we have eaten, the mutton was softer than the paneer, we finished the meal with an awesome Kulfi (local hand churned ice-cream).

Day 2 was pretty much filled with photography, swimming, dinning had an absolute blast, before I forget the Breakfast – absolutely amazing and they had a decent spread also; to give you an idea, my breakfast included muffins, breads, juice, cereal, poha, parathas, grilled veggies, juice, eggs to order and milk shake – I could not move for a few hours after that but totally loved it. Moving on, day 3 is when we left for Mumbai, again got out by about 10:00 am the drive this time was surprisingly fast, the roads were empty and we reached the expressway in about 40 minutes. From there on it was a 2 hour drive to Mumbai – we stopped at a Khopoli, did not feel like eating so had ice-cream and then drove on. Took about an hour 15 to get to home once we hit Mumbai, the little Ashoooooo as usual welcomed us (he also makes an appearance on our blog 🙂 All in all, our first roadtrip was kick-ass we had a blast stayed amongst trees and in a Fort, drove across some of the best roads in the country, could not have asked for more during our mini vacation.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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My First Road Trip

Awesome View!!!

My first Road-trip! This was an idea me and Yooti (my wife) had been playing with for a while. This year we finally decided to put it to the test, our poison a short trip through Lonavala and Pune in Maharastra – the Mrs being an expert on off-beat vacations figured destination 1; a PondProperty called The Machan. This is a secluded property about 20kms away from Lonavala. I, to begin With, was very skeptical about going there (the place does not have TV or connectivity!!!); anyways, after much debate and discussion, finally decided to go there and the rest, as they say, is History.

Sensational!!!

The trip began with a few disasters. I was unwell to begin with; next, we drove to an ATM, tried withdrawing money but the transaction failed, Of course the bank conveniently sent us a text saying money deducted – this took an hour to sort. Then mad rains in Mumbai! We got stuck in a jam at Parel which would just not move; anyways, we weaved through that using the back roads of Wadala and got out of the city – took us an hour but better than what most people managed. By now, memories of a certain Goa trip were coming back in my head, but the awesome drive across the Expressway made me forget them.

Yayyyyyyyyyyy Open Roads

Tree House!!!

We finally reached Lonavala, managed to withdraw money and then go searching for booze, don’t get it…. any shit is expensive in Lonavala. Moving on, Yooti, my expert Navigator, guides me towards The Machan. Note here, the drive is awesome, the roads are not, it’s a single lane road and covered in fog during the monsoons, make sure all the lights in your vehicle are working. After passing Bushy Dam and a lot of naked people, we finally turned onto a dirt road and find destination 1 – The Machan.

Like I mentioned, I was skeptical about this, but as soon as I entered the property, I was absolutely blown away…….. the reception is built on a pond which overlooks the 25 acre area. We checked in and walked towards our tree house with some assistance from the very helpful staff, surprisingly we had to walk into the forest to get to our room.

Brilliant Property

Randomness!!!

Finally we climbed a spiral staircase and reached our Machan; the room was like something out of a Jim Corbett Novel – very rustic and absolutely in sync with the surroundings. We settled in and ordered some food. At this point I must mention if you ever visit this place, do order the spicy chicken chilli, it is the craziest dish ever…. full of masala and crazy hot. Anyways, most of my time at the Machan was spent photographing the brilliant landscape and property, and going on nature trails; a suggestion: travel with an extra pair of shoes, I got mine wet in the waterfall and they just don’t dry here!

Dinners are simple but the setting just takes it to another level…… a man made tent, fireplace and candle lights just hits all the right notes. About the TV bit, I thought I would not survive but I did not miss it much! I would highly recommend this place, it amazing, non commercialized and blissful. Do check some pictures we have put up of our stay around this post. If you have any other questions about the place, do write to us via comments below….from here we now move to our next destination Jadhavgard which we will cover in our next post.

Greenary!!!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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