Kunjapuri Devi Temple, Uttarakhand

I have always loved the concept of temple hunt and I try to make sure to find temples in whichever place I visit. One such unique temple I managed to find was Kunjapuri Devi temple in Tehri Garhwal near Rishikesh.

History :

Kunjapuri Devi temple is one of the 52 shaktipeeths established in the region by Jagadguru Shankaracharya. It is located at a height of 1676 Mts atop hill. The legend is that Sati the wife of Lord Shiva gave up her life in the yajna started by her father. Lord Shiva passed through this place on his way back to Kailash with the dead body of Sati whose upper-half of the body fell at the spot where the temple of Kunjapuri Devi now stands. It completes the triangle of 3 sidhapeeths lying on top of mountains in Tehri-Garhwal district. Kunjapuri Devi – Surkanda Devi – Chandrabadni makes triangle of the Sidhapeeth. It’s a beautiful temple which is filled with panoramic view of the Himalayas and the valley of the Bhagirathi.

How to reach Kunjapuri Devi temple :

By Road :

Distance from Rishikesh : 25 kms approx. Hire a private cab or shared cab to reach this temple. They will charge anywhere between Rs.2500 – Rs.3000 based on the places covered and negotiations.

By Air

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport, in Dehradun. The distance from Dehradun Airport to Kunjapuri Devi Temple is 39km.

By Train :

Hop a train to Rishikesh railway station and from there you can book a private cab or share on basis cab to reach this place.

Detailed explanation about the temple :

As you reach the temple, you can park the vehicle nearby. You don’t have a designated parking spot since it’s situated atop a hill. As you make way towards the steps, you will find couple of small shops which sell Pooja items ranging from Rs.20-Rs.100/-. As you move ahead, you will find a steep way to the hill with small steps which are properly shed with asbestos sheet and railings to give you support while climbing. There are around 80-100 steps that you need to climb but it’s pretty easy to climb if you are fairly healthy. You will also find a small shop midway up the climb which sells basic food items like Maggi noodles, fritters (Bhajiya), some processed foods, water bottles etc. So if you are tired, it can act as a pit stop to recharge your batteries and start the climb again. But you need to be a bit wary of monkeys here, since it’s located in mountainous area atop a hill, you will find lot of monkeys here, so be careful of your belongings and also it is advised not to feed them processed foods.

When you reach the top, you will find an entrance which has the shape of a dome and is painted in pink. You will find 2 lions carved on either side of the entrance and a big bell made of brass hanging from the top of the cemented roof. It’s here where you will get the first proper glance of the temple. It is beautifully adorned with a mixture of Red-Pink-Yellow and white paints. The temple has enough space to accommodate anywhere between 50-60 people and is properly designed. As you move ahead you will find a small entrance (photography inside the sanctum sanctorum is not allowed) which has steel gates around. You will not find any idols inside but a rock shaped “Pindi” is installed inside the temple. Along with this, you will also find Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesh idols enshrined inside the sanctum sanctorum. There is a flame which continuously burns 24*7, 365 days a year inside the sanctum sanctorum.

There is toilet facilities for both men and women on the backside of the temple, you will have to walk 5-10 steps down. Also you have a pole which has some countries direction pointing towards various directions (it’s just a fancy spot to get some selfies). Uttarakhand tourism have done a nice job in maintaining the place and it’s one of the cleanest temple I have ever visited.

You can even find a quiet place near the trees which is located next to sanctum sanctorum or you can sit behind the temple and soak in the views of snow clad Himalayan mountain ranges and meditate for hours without getting disturbed or worried.

Timings :

It is open 365 days a year and devotees or tourists can visit this temple from 06:00 AM to 08:00 PM. During Navratri, it will be heavily crowded, so plan your visit accordingly.

Best time to visit :

May to October is considered the best time to visit but monsoon from July-September is a bit risky to travel in hilly regions. May-June is peak season and accommodations as well as cab services will be a bit expensive. I had visited in the month of November and since it was off season, I could visit with hardly any crowd and enjoyed the panoramic views of snow clad Himalayan mountain ranges. Also off season has it’s own perks, as accommodations and costs of cab are quite cheap as compared to peak season.

Nearest places to visit :

Tehri Dam : 62 kms

Surkanda devi temple : 66 kms

Devprayag : 94 kms

Buddha Kedar : 134 kms

You can follow my travel journeys in below social media channels :

Twitter : www.twitter.com/thenomadguy

Instagram : www.instagram.com/vigneshbhat

Also if you liked the blog, do drop a follow here as well as in above social media channels. Drop in the comments section if you have visited this place or are planning to and when? If you need any help with the planning, will gladly help you.

Shri Siddheshwar Devasthan, Gulsunde – Panvel, Maharashtra

Shri Siddeshwar Devasthan is an ancient temple established by Shri Siddeshwar sant around 1200 AD (the exact dates is not known but according to locals, it’s estimated to be around 700-800 years old). It is located on the banks of Patalganga river. It is also known as Gulsunde Shiva temple.

Bird’s eye view of Siddheshwar temple, Gulsunde

How to reach?

If you are travelling from Mumbai, follow the Bengaluru-Mumbai highway road which leads to Panvel and stay on NH48, then turn right to Pendhari onto Dand Apta road and soon you will find a small village called Rasayani. Enroute you will find Pillai HOC college of engineering and Technology (use this as landmark) and continue your journey straight until you find a small shop by the name Samarth Provision on the opposite side of the road, take a left from here. You will find a very narrow patch of cement road leading you to the temple. This is a residential area and the cement path can fit in only one vehicle at a time, so make sure you ride responsibly. There is parking space available for max. 2-3 vehicles, so make sure you check out parking spots before going all in.


Detailed explanation :

The moment you reach this temple, you will find 2 massive pillars and a very old banyan tree on the right. Just next to the banyan tree, there is a samadhi of an old saint. As you move ahead on the freshly laid patch of tar road, you will find the first glimpse of the temple sanctum sanctorum and it’s entrance.

First view of Shri Siddeshwar Gulsunde shiva temple

The entrance is adorned with nicely carved designs and logo of Swastik on both sides of pillars. on climbing the stairs, you will find 2 rooms with deities.

The room on the right has Lord hanuman carved fully from single stone and decorated with traditional orange coloured powder (orange sindoor). Lord hanuman is given more of a human form here with moustache. Just next to it, you will find, Lord Rama, Lakshamana and Lord Sita (read Ramayana to know more about them), all are made in marble statues.

The room on the left has Lord Kaal Bhairav again carved fully from single stone and decorated with traditional orange coloured powder (orange sindoor). Usually, you will find Lord Kaal Bhairav alone but in this temple, it is established with his wife who is adorned with orange sindoor and Mangal sutra.

As you move ahead, you will find a small temple with sanctum sanctorum which is painted in cream colour but the foundation still remains the same. The foundation is made of small slabs of rocks, properly cut and placed without the use of cement. They have used patches of plaster here and there to curb the leaks considering it’s an extremely old temple, so it’s obvious it will have it’s fair share of wear and tear but still it has stood the test of time and major portion of the temple hasn’t been tampered with. As you move across, you will find the first view of Patalganga river with sea plants surrounding the temple along with rich flora and fauna across it. As you move towards the entrance of the temple, you will two big slabs which have two elephants and their mahouts sculpted facing towards each other. Elephants are sacred animals to Hindus and it is living incarnation of Lord Ganesh, hence you find this in most temples especially in Maharashtra. According to hindu beliefs, elephants are also considered as sacred symbols of peace, mental strength and power. As you climb the stairs towards entrance of the temple, you will observe that it is intricately designed and sculpted and you will find a small statue of Lord Ganesh in the centre of entrance (which has eroded a little over time).

As you move inside, you will find a huge statue of Nandi carved in a single stone and the sanctum sanctorum is delicately carved in concentric circles with utmost precision and exact dimensions and distance. You can only feel astounded and surprised as to how the sculptors back in those days carved such beautiful temples with their bare hands and their tools (which is predominantly hammers/chisel). As you move straight towards inner sanctum sanctorum you will notice two deities one either side of the pillars. For going into inner sanctum sanctorum, women need to wear traditional sarees or salwar kameez and men need to go in without their shirts. The moment you enter into the inner sanctum sanctorum, you will feel an extreme gush of positive vibrations flowing through your body. Lord Shiva is submerged in the water (it is believed the Patal Ganga river still finds it’s way to Lord Shiva). You have almost 15 bells hanging on top of Lord Shiva and Lord Parvati standing opposite to lord shiva. You can sit there and meditate for hours and get lost in an abyss communicating with Lord Shiva. As you see the inner sanctum sanctorum, you will see it’s top is also sculpted in the same way with that exact precision of concentric circles as observed in the outer sanctum sanctorum. You can offer Bael leaves and flowers to lord shiva and enjoy the solitude with the supreme god. As you sit on the stones which dates back to 1200 AD and meditate, you can actually imagine and feel part of it’s history. The stones of these temples have stood the test of time and has seen hundreds and hundreds of generations of people pray and visit it’s premises.

As you come out of the temple, you will find an old banyan tree which is hundreds of years old and it’s roots have spread to all directions. There is ample space around here and you can sit witness the birds chirping, the river flowing calmly and the women in village going around their daily chores of washing clothes near the banks of the river. For people who like to take bath in river, this is an excellent opportunity to dive into the river (provided you are fairly good swimmer, never underestimate river currents) and enjoy natural beauty swimming around the temple.

Interesting Fact :

The temple is under the supervision of 25 families in the Gulsunde village. Each year the responsibilities for taking care of the temple and it’s daily rituals is handed over to families on a rotation basis. So a family which takes care of temple in 2022, will effectively take care of the temple again after 25 years i.e. in 2047. This tradition is followed by these families for generations now.

Timings :

Morning : 06:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Evening : 04:00 PM to 08:00 PM (sometimes closes by 07:00 PM)

During Mahashivratri, it is open for 24 hrs and is heavily crowded, so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.

Link to Twitter to read about this in a short thread :

Kelamba Devi Temple, Kharoshi, Maharashtra

Kelamba devi temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva and is situated in a small village called Kharoshi near Pen in Maharashtra. It’s history dates back to 1608 AD. Let’s deep dive into the history of Kelamba Devi and how it came into existence.

History :

Kharoshi village was an extremely dense forest back in 14th-15th century. It is believed that, one fine day a villager went to collect some banana leaves for worship (puja) in his house. Instead of cutting a few banana leaves, he started cutting the entire banana tree. What happened next shocked the person and the villagers. It is believed that blood started flowing from the banana tree and started dropping on the stone below. With every drop of blood, the size of the stone grew bigger and bigger. The villager panicked and informed everyone in the village. The panicked villagers immediately seemed help from a saint and informed whatever happened in that area to revered saint who lived in that village. The saint visited this place and came to a conclusion that this was a holy place and declared that ADISHAKTI resides here, which means it is OUR GOD, OUR PROTECTOR & OUR MOTHER. They called this goddess SHRI KELAMBA DEVI.

Wherever there is Goddess Parvati, there is always Lord Shiva around. In 1608, it is believed that when the villagers decided to build walls around the temple, they started cutting lot of mango trees which was surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. All of a sudden, a snake appeared and settled itself near the mango tree. This mango tree is still there near Kelamba devi.

The beauty of this temple is, it is situated atop a small hill and once you climb 100-150 steps, you can get an absolutely stunning view of countryside village, farms and western ghats. This temple holds no gate or security. The villagers upto this day still believe in caring and sharing. They believe anybody can come and take blessings from Kelamba Devi, hence it is always open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. You can stay inside the temple if you are stranded for the night or if you are hungry, the villagers are more than happy to share the food with strangers. You can find lots of banana trees, mango trees, cherimoya trees, canon ball trees and ball trees to name a few.

The temple is flooded with devotees during Navratri for 9 days and the Shri Kelamba Devi is decorated in 9 different sarees for 9 days. You can choose to pick a spot in the temple and worship or do your sangeet-kirtan as per your convenience.

Steps leading atop the hill where Shri Kidamba Devi is located.

Temple Structure :

The pathway to temple is a bit narrow and it passes through the village which is located near a small stream where you can find people fishing and spreading their fish nets to catch some fish and sell to the local market. You have got enough area to park your vehicles. You will be greeted with a huge gate less entrance made of concrete. As you move ahead, you will find an under construction fountain and well laid broad steps which is well built with adequate railings, so anyone in any age group can climb slowly and steadily. The steps is covered with asbestos roof from bottom to top which makes it all the more easy to climb up. If you are tired, you can also find adequate place to rest. Once you climb the steps, you will find another entrance, in which the pillar is decorated with mirrors. As you move inside, you will find Kelamba Devi covered with beautiful steel clad railings. The floor is laid with granite and is well maintained. There are bathroom facilities for both ladies and gents and with RO drinking water facility also installed nearby. To make the yatris stay more comfortable, the villagers have made sure that fans and tube lights are in working condition. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is vibrant in colour and painted with rainbow colours.

Map :

Kelamba Devi temple can be reached by local bus or private vehicle. It is situated around 35-40 kms from Panvel, Navi Mumbai.


Kelamba Devi temple

Maharashtra to Uttarakhand – 3800 kms solo bike trip – Chapter 1

Every year I plan a trip across India in my Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350x (whimsical white). Took this trip in Nov 2021 (too lazy to write a blog) but here I am. I felt the need to share a detailed experience of my month long trip across the beautiful state of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and back to Maharashtra.

3800 kms solo bike trip

This trip I had planned to visit major religious places and temples across these states especially in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. For the trip to be successful, I had to make sure the bike was fully serviced, with new MRF Zapper-C tyres (old tyres lasted around 32000 kms). Got a 2 man tent from Decathlon along with sleeping mat and rynox protective suit.

Started my solo bike trip on 09th November 2021.

Distance covered on Day 1 : 611 kms

Location : Navi Mumbai to Indore.

Woke up at 04:30 AM and got ready with all packing done by 06:00 AM. As I wore my riding jackets and pants, came down with luggage to my bike only to find my tent and sleeping bag absolutely difficult to tie it with my bungee cord. Took almost 45 mins to try tie it and put it in stable position so it doesn’t fall off during my long ride. Finally I was able to leave my home from Navi Mumbai at 07:03 AM.

Had planned Ujjain as first pitstop which is 674 kms from Navi Mumbai. So started my journey in full throttle through Bhiwandi – Nashik road which connected NH-3 and through NH-3 which connected to AH47. It had been a long endless ride of 611 kms, which had it’s moments of exciting view of mountains and forts (Laling Fort, Dhule) made by Late Queen Ahilyabai just 60-100 kms before Dhule. Just opposite this fort is a temple dedicated to Khanderao (not sure if this temple is a remembrance of sort of Raja Khanderao or Lord Khandeshwar). Due to time constraints couldn’t explore this but yeah added in the bucket list for next time.

As I reached Indore at 07:55 PM, I just didn’t have the gas left in me to reach Ujjain which was further 65 kms from Indore, so halted at Hotel Malwa Inn (cost Rs. 1500/- per night), quite spacious room with good bed, AC and hot water facilities along with WiFi available. Was fully famished after the long ride, so hit the bed after a hot bath and slept like a baby until 08:00 AM in the morning.

Thread of my solo bike adventures… Do drop a follow in Twitter.

The route to Indore from Navi Mumbai via Nashik, is definitely one long stretch and it does get monotonous as there is hardly any worthy scenery to watch nor does the heat make the drive interesting. I did get bored of my ride but I have been doing this for 10 years now and being a mile cruncher that I am, my mind keeps motivating me to keep going ahead 1 km at a time… but this was just Day 1 of a month long ride.. so the next chapter 2 will cover all details of my stay in Ujjain and the temples I visited.

Until then keep following @thenomadguy in twitter for travel related threads or drop a follow here.

Travelling within state during COVID times in India.

Ever since the pandemic broke out like a wildfire, our life has become more passive than active. All our weekend plans or yearly vacation plans have gone for a toss. The situation in India is alarming and going out even for a walk seems so stressful. The most affected state Delhi and Maharashtra are still battling it out and it’s people are putting up a brave front along with it’s frontline health workers who are fighting for survival against this deadly virus.

With so much going on, and with so much uncertainty Travel seems a distant dream. The most affected by this lockdown and pandemic is Aviation sector, hospitality sector, restaurants, bars and many other service based industry whose income is heavily dependent on tourists. But with India’s population already reaching stars, curbing this pandemic and roll out of vaccines seems a very difficult task. It’s estimated that, at this rate it will take at least 10-15 years for every Indian citizen to get fully vaccinated.

To all the travel enthusiasts who still want to travel across borders, you may not be able to travel around freely as every state govt. has imposed lockdown / curfew according to the rise of cases in that particular state and as precautionary measures. So here are some of the links which I have gathered statewise so it may help people plan their travel, if they are brave and confident enough to travel right now.

Here is the state wise & UT wise list of lockdown informations in India, so plan accordingly.

Jammu & Kashmir :


Andhra Pradesh :


Arunachal Pradesh :


Assam :


Bihar :


Chhattisgarh :


Goa :


Gujarat :


Haryana :


Himachal Pradesh :


Jharkhand :


Karnataka :


Kerala :


Madhya Pradesh :


Maharashtra :


Manipur :


Meghalaya :

Mizoram :


Nagaland :


Odisha :


Punjab :


Rajasthan :


Sikkim :

Tamil Nadu :


Telangana :


Tripura :


Uttar Pradesh :


Uttarakhand :


West Bengal :


Delhi :


Andaman and Nicobar Islands :


Chandigarh :


Daman and Diu :

No lockdown but test results required.

Lakshadweep :


Puducherry :


Ladakh :


Paneer Dry sabzi or Kadai Paneer

This week tried to make something spicy which would bode on well with rotis and Paneer Dry sabzi ended up ticking all the boxes and fortunately I had all the ingredients in my house to prepare this dish. Before we get into the actual cooking, let’s find out what are the ingredients required to make this beauty.

Ingredients :

  1. Black peppercorns whole – 5 to 6 nos.
  2. Kashmiri red chilli – 1 to 2 nos.
  3. Corriander Seeds – 1 tbsp
  4. Fennel seeds (saunf) – 1 tbsp
  5. Jeera – 1 tbsp
  6. Capsicum – 1 to 2 nos.
  7. Tomatoes – 4 to 5 nos.
  8. Onions – 1 to 2 nos.
  9. Ginger -Garlic Paste – 1 to 1.5 tbsp
  10. Paneer – 200 gas

Preparation :

Prep time : 15 mins

Cook time : 20 mins max.

  1. Take a pan and let it heat in medium flame. Now add, 4 to 5 nos. of Black peppercorns, 1 to 2 pieces of Kashmiri red chilli, 1 tbsp of corriander seeds, 1 tbsp of Fennel seeds and 1 tbsp of Jeera. Now dry roast this for 1 to 2 mins, but don’t burn the masalas /. spices.
  2. After dry roasting it, take these spices into a blender and blend it into a fine powder.
  3. Now in a pan, add 3 tbsp of Ghee, add 1 to 2 Kashmiri red chilli, 1 tbsp of Corriander seeds, 1 tbsp of Jeera and mix well. Make sure you light fry the spices for 1 to 2 mins before adding finely chopped tomatoes into it. Mix well, and add salt to taste. The reason we add salt here is because, it helps cook the tomatoes faster.
  4. Keep it in medium flame and cook until the tomatoes are mushy. Now add 1 to 1.5 tbsp of ginger – garlic paste and mix well. Stir it occasionally for 2-3 mins.
  5. Now add the fine powder of spices which you had blended in Step 1 and 2, add 1 tbsp of red chilli powder and mix well. Cook until the oil separates.
  6. Now add, 1 to 2 nos. of Capsicum, 1 to 2 nos. of tomatoes and 1 to 2 nos. of Onions; all chopped in medium size. Mix well but make sure the vegetable remains crunchy and don’t become soft.
  7. Now add the 200 gms of paneer, chopped in medium size and mix well. Mix well and cook for another 2 mins in medium flame, at this point depending on the taste, add salt if required.
  8. Now add, 1 tbsp of Garam masala, 1 tbsp of Kasuri methi and some chopped fresh corriander leaves and mix well.
  9. Switch off the gas and serve hot with rotis or bread or dosas.
Paneer Dry sabzi or Kadai Paneer

Karnala Fort or Funnel Hill

It was Saturday morning and the other night I had thought about riding my bike to nearby place only to sleep over it! But subconsciously, my mind had already thought over it and the moment I woke up at 06:00 AM in the morning, I had decided I had to go to a place where not many people visit, somewhere deep in the forests!

I swiped my iPhone, pressed G-Maps, and browsed through nearby places and forts. And in 15 mins, I had decided where I needed to go! Just like a soldier who are always ready in a minute with their bags all packed up, so was I. My Under Armour storm bags are always raring to go along with my military green pants and tees.

As I kicked my bike, she never disappoints and starts without any fuss; she was brimming with life and as I revved her up, she was raring to go too! So off we went to a place which has a famous fort long disappeared in the rotting history books.

History :

Karnala Fort also called as Funnel Hill lies in Raigad District in Maharashtra, 10 kms from Panvel deep into the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. This fort has history and based on my interaction with local people living in that village, they say it was built around or may be before 1400. What started as a tussle of power between Gujarat Sultan and Nizams, ended up involving Portuguese convoys and passed onto Mughlas and ultimately reclaimed by Shivaji Maharaj before going into hands of Aurangazeb and then into Peshawas before finally getting into hands of Britishers. This fort has seen it all, but one could hardly find anything about this in our history books. Each and every travel has their own story to tell.

Trekking to the fort :

As soon as I reached near the Karnala bird sanctuary, you could see Ransai reservoir and following the path towards the village which is approx 1.5 kms walk from base location. As I went deeper into the trails, I could see a small village and on enquiring the villagers about the patch towards the fort, they encouraged me to go deep into the forest and keep following the trail towards the mountain hill. But yeah, they also cautioned me to stay away from big spiders and their gigantic webs.

Wondering where the big spider webs are!!

So this route is basically 1.2 kms shorter than the well paved route but this natural trail is filled with adventures and difficulties. So choose the trail carefully, if you have what it takes to face challenges, then I would endorse you to choose the mountain trails than the other way round. Trekking during the monsoon has it’s own charm in any mountains, with fresh water streams flowing around and lush green forests everywhere, Maharashtra’s western ghats has it’s own way of charming trekkers with it’s beauty. Basic First aid facility is available at forest guest house, if at all required during any emergencies.

Some snippets Enroute my journey to the fort :

Unique features of Karnala fort :

The top of the fort has iron rails built by the forest department for ease of trekkers to climb to top of the fort. Along with this, it also has two forts, one situated at higher level and another at lower level. Both these were built back then for strategic importance. It has a tower called as Pandu’s tower which is basically a 125 feet high basalt pillar. Not much is known about this, but locals say it was then used as watchtower to keep watch of enemies intruding. Along with this we could also witness water cistern which is used to store fresh water accumulated from rains. It doesn’t have much use now, but back then this was a life saver to troops situated here. From the top of the fort we can see Prabalgad, Manikgad, Rajmachi, Matheran, Chandi forts etc to name a few. On a clear day, all these are distinctly visible.

Just like any other forts in India, every fort has a temple and this fort also has Maa Bhavani temple located just at the bottom of the fort. The reason may Bhavani temples can be found in almost all forts in Maharashtra is because, legend has it that Man Bhavani gave sword to Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj, and due to this sword, the king was able to conquer vast chunks of land and defend successfully.

Wildlife to see :

There are not much wildlife to see or hear, but it’s a treasure for bird watchers and Karnala bird sanctuary is famous for that. I could hear loads of birds singing and doing their morning chores but due to unavailability of cameras, I was helpless not click some beautiful birds which I spotted. But for people who love insects, you will find couple of varieties of spiders building their 4-5 feet long webs around. So pls make sure, you have a 360 degree view of surroundings so that you don’t end up messing the spiders handwork.

Do drop in comments if you have visited any interesting forts or trekked into mountains. Would love to read your comments and add it into my bucket list. And yeah don’t forget to like this blog, if you loved reading it. 🙂

Trip to Irshalgarh Fort

Irshalgad fort is an extended part of Matheran mountain range of Sahyadri Hills. The fort is located at a height of 3500 feet on the mountain.The fort is surrounded by mesmerizing views and dense forests around. So what does Irshalgadh actually mean? ‘Irshal’ means pinnacle and ‘Gad’ means a Fort. Irshalgad Fort is unique as it has a natural hole in the mountain.

Satellite view of IrshalGarh Fort. source : Google Maps

The views around Irshalgad Fort is splendid and jaw dropping. Towards the right side, you could see Morbe Dam which has a volume of 18,075 cu.km (4336 cu.Mi). The total height of the dam is 59.1m (194ft) and it took 7 years to build this amazing dam, started on 1999 and finished by 2006. Diving and unauthorized entry in to dam is restricted.

How to reach Irshalgadh Fort?

Distance from Mumbai : 80 kms.

Distance from Navi Mumbai : 45 kms.

Distance from Pune : 116 kms.

You can either hitch a ride through bike or car, though there are no parking facility near the base, but there is enough space to park your vehicle around.

Are there any charges for visiting?

No, one can climb the fort anytime 24×7 (ideal time is in morning and descent before sunset is advisable) and there are no charges to be paid for people from any nationalities.

What do you need for the trek?

  1. Pair of shoes with good grip.
  2. Good quality jersey/tracks or shorts which is not too tight.
  3. Cap (optional).
  4. Shades (optional).
  5. 2L hydration pack.
  6. Rope for climbing (optional).

Irshalgad Trek :

The fort is basically located in between Matheran and Panvel in Maharashtra. It is sister fort of Prabalgadh. As you climb up the hill, you will find the base Irshalwadi village, from there it will take an hour to reach the fort. Once you cross the Irshalwadi village, the trekking area keeps getting narrower with large boulders of rocks around everywhere. Especially in monsoon, the rocks are quite slippery and you could see clouds passing by you. There are couple of water tanks which were made hundreds of years in the 16th century by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj when they had taken over the fort and had built these water cisterns which were cut from rock and they are still sturdy holding water till date.

Water storage tanks built in 1600 carved into the mountains
Temple of Lord Hanuman (King of Monkeys)

Moving ahead towards the summit, you will find a small shop serving snacks and tea for visitors at nominal price after that you won’t find any shops and also bear in mind the shop is open only for a short while in the morning, so make sure you reach this spot between 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, after moving a few hundred metres or so ahead, you will find huge boulders of rocks near a narrow patch of crossing. It feels like entering in some primitive era but it also instills in you with liberating force to explore more.

So as we moved ahead, we found a small temple which was built during 1600s and still strong, and just further ahead we need to climb a small patch of rock to move towards summit, now this is where you require ropes to climb as there are no markings to keep your foot and also it’s quite slippery. But if you do not have rope to climb, so make sure you place your hands and feet perfectly (just like we did). There is a small ladder which is a bit unreliable but in order to reach the ladder, you would need to climb the rock through your rock climbing skills or with help of rope.

Climbing down from Irshalgadh Fort

Once we climbed the summit, it was surreal experience to find the natural hole in the mountain and the view was even more mesmerizing. We could feel clouds passing through us and coupled with rains and greenery everywhere around was worth all the time climbing it.

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Natural hole in the mountain near the summit.

You cannot climb the last peak because it’s vertical section with no climbing footholds, so one can explore the area around it and can stay as long as they want post which one needs to come back through the same route. The trail is pretty extensively visible as that’s the only route to travel up and down.

Summit of Irshalgadh Fort

One can go solo but going with a friend / partner or couple of friends is also advisable to make most out the trek.

Pls comment on some interesting treks that you have done in recent past, would love to have it pinned in my bucketlist!

Mumbai to Hampi – Bike Trip

When you plan to explore places either by train, flight, running, bike or by any means of transportation, distance hardly matters. Traditionally, Speed = Distance/Time , but when you have both speed and time on your side, distance hardly matter, infact it has never mattered to me. Before diving deep into my new destination, let’s check the actual destination and get a sense of where we are actually going.

Actual Distance :

Distance from Mumbai to Hampi : 753.2 kms.

The route was pretty simple : Mumbai – Pune – Satara – Kolhapur – Belgaum – Gadag – Koppal – Hosapete – Hampi.

Route I preferred : AH47. Asian Highway i.e. AH routes are buttery smooth roads where you are never in doubt to press the throttle and ride at constant speeds.

The Journey :

Started from Mumbai around 07:00 AM in the morning of Dec. 22nd 2018 and had decided to stay in Hampi for 3 days i.e. until Dec. 24th 2018, before leaving from Hampi on Dec. 25th 2018 on way back home to Mumbai.

I knew I was up for long ride today, as starting out 07:00 AM is ideally late time to start and to cover 763 kms especially in Royal Enfield which hovers around a max. speed of 80-90 kmph means I was up for long ride on saddle and even ride late into night.

With calculated breaks and some time slippage, somehow reached Hampi late into the night at around 02:30 AM. The last 160 kms of journey, from Gadag to Hampi was quite terrifying as it was one way and with road construction going on one side and heavy trailers (16 wheelers) passing around with low visibility was definitely a challenge. But somehow prevailed! As they say, journey filled with risks has it’s own beauty. And that’s exactly what happened, luckily it was a clear sky and moon’s rays falling on the mountains in Hampi was a mesmerizing view, the eerily silence and darkness around made things even more beautiful and at times scary, as you never know what to expect when you are travelling along especially dark in the night in a new place.

Hotels / Stay :

I had actually booked a homestay, a nice little cozy tent near paddy rice fields and coconut trees around to give me company. You could book it through www.booking.com and the rates are reasonable. Per night charges for staying in the tent was Rs.500/- INR only and breakfast, lunch and dinner charges are separate but they are quite affordable too. Airbnb is also a good option.

But my advice would be, rather than going for online booking in advance, rather search for homestays outside Hampi i.e. in places near Pampa-Sarovar lake wherein you will find lot of villagers having beautiful homestays with really good food and they treat their guests with lots of love, and charges that are less than Rs.400/- per night (in peak seasons) excluding food. These areas are well connected to Hampi with good roads and there are lots of bikes, cycles available on rent at reasonable price.

Hampi :

Hampi was declared a UNESCO world heritage in 1986 and it was the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire around 1500 AD.The whole terrain around Hampi is surrounded by boulders of different sizes and arranged like mountains. Till date, no one knows whether it’s natural or man-made.

Some of the places I visited in Hampi :

  1. Virupaksha Temple.
  2. Achutaraya Temple.
  3. Pampa Sarovar Lake.
  4. Monolithic Bull.
  5. Hippie Island.
  6. Hampi bazaar
  7. Matunga Hill and Veerabhadra Temple
  8. Krishna temple & Bazaar
  9. Saraswathi Temple – I & II
  10. Hazara Rama Temple
  11. Elephant stables
  12. Zenana Enclosure
  13. Tenali Rama pavilion
  14. Srinagarada Hebbagilu
  15. Parshwanatha Temple
  16. Ranga temple
  17. King’s Audience hall
  18. Stepped Tank
  19. Queen’s Bath
  20. Chandrashekara temple
  21. Octagonal bath
  22. Octagonal water pavilion
  23. Pattabhi Rama temple
  24. Domed Gateway
  25. Vittala Bazaar
  26. Vittala Temple
  27. Inscribed Vishnu’s temple
  28. Ancient Bridge
  29. Narasimha Temple
  30. Sugreeva’s Cave
  31. Riverside Ruins
  32. Tungabhadra River
  33. Rangatha Temple
  34. Varaha Temple
  35. Yantrodharaka Anjaneya Temple
  36. 64 pillar mandapa
  37. Ranganatha Temple
  38. Anjaneya hill and temple
  39. Bukka’s aqueduct
  40. Lotus Mahal
  41. Palace of Krishnadeva Raya
  42. Matanga Hill
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Achyutaraya Temple, Hampi : Achyuta Deva Raya, who was one of the emperors of the Vijayanagara Empire. He came to power by succeeding his elder brother Krishna Deva Raya in the year 1529. The stunning and heavenly temple is devoted to Lord Tiruvengalanatha; he is a configuration of Lord Vishnu. Thus, this temple was initially known as Tiruvengalanatha Temple. However, later on, it came to be called after the king in whose reign it was built. Hence, it became widely known as the Achyuta Raya temple. The accessible hall has few extremely lauded sculpted pillars in Hampi. The carvings are done on monolithic blocks of rocks. The statues and sculptures on the pillars reveal themes like lord Vishnu blessing an elephant, lord Krishna practising his flute while the calves are watching this scene with interest and infant Krishna dancing with a snake and holding it by the tail. Each and every Stone and it's carvings has its own story to tell. And since this requires quite a distance to cover to visit the temple, people tend to ignore it. And hence it remains empty most of the time, which is a blessing in disguise for explorers who can study the carvings and about the temple in detail without any distractions or disturbance. This is located near the Virupaksha temple and Hampi bazaar, and yeah you just need to walk some 2 or 3 Kms to reach here. If Virupaksha temple is in your list to visit, then make it a point that you cover this place too. #vikkitravels #achyutarayatemple #hampidiaries #hampi #travellers #traveldiaries #explore #bikelife #unesco #worldheritagesite #architecturephotography #architecture #templesofindia #temples #igtravel #igers

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Virupaksha Temple, Hampi : This is designated as UNESCO world heritage site and is also a major attraction, since it is part of group of monuments. It is a sacred temple, and as the name says, Virupaksha which is a form of Lord Shiva. More than a pilgrimage center, what fascinated me was how artistically and with perfection, the Hampi artisans had sculpted each and every carvings on the stones. The perfection and dedication with which this has been created is mind boggling. The pillars are intricately carved, and once you enter through this gopuram, you will find series of carvings and main temple on the inside. The nine tiered eastern gateway is the largest and with Tungabhadra River just on the banks, it makes it all the more beautiful. From what I read, the temple is an architectural genius with a tinge of mathematical concepts involved in it. The temple has repeated patterns and it demonstrates the "concept of Fractals"! At the temple top, the patterns divide and repeat themselves. As we move inside, we could find two lines of crowd diverted to the main shrine, one is a free line and another is a Rs.25 entrance fees. Though, it hardly made a difference, since it almost took the same time to reach the temple shrine. The Lord Shiva inside, is beautiful. For people carrying cameras, you need to pay Rs.50 to take your camera and click pics. Will share the inside pictures in my next post. Stay tuned. PS : Don't miss the delicious and sumptuous free food which is shared inside the temple premises. #vikkitravels #travellers #traveldiaries #hampidiaries #hampi #virupakshatemple #bikelife #templesofindia #shotononeplus6 #shotononeplus #temples #photooftheday #unesco

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Lotus Mahal, Hampi : Located inside the Zanana Enclosure, is worth every pain to visit it. Infact, it's found for it's typical architecture inspired from Lotus and hence the name. This is also known as Chitrangani Mahal or Kamal Mahal. If you could see my earlier post, regarding the close up of it's architectural design, you could see that, it's specially designed like the petals of lotus and hence posted the close up of it. The archways and balcony are all designed in this shape as you could see here. From the looks of it, it is a two storied structure and plenty of open spaces and all the windows are specifically arched and ventilation aplomb. Ideally this should be a private space for the king and queen or her friends to pass time. The lotus Mahal is surrounded by gardens which supports the case. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to go inside, since it's quite fragile and tested by times and hence couldn't witness the "lotus bud shape carved to the center of the dome". What surprised me, is this has particularly not been destroyed during invasions unlike other places and monuments. But all my respect to Vijayanagara artisans who could build such monuments and has last for generations uncountable. To build a palace with such perfection requires insane amount of skill and patience. If you ever visit Hampi, do make it a point to visit this place. The ambience and surroundings will make you fall in love with yourself all over again and ideally visit it around sunset, close to 4:30 pm – 05:45 pm. The rays of the sun, will bring a sense of calmness and smile, just like it brought on mine. 😊 #vikkitravels #hampidiaries #hampi #bikelife #travellers #heritage #unesco #worldheritagesite #worldheritage #explore #lotusmahal

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Virupaksha Temple, Hampi : Continuing from where I left off, as we go deep inside the temple through the main gate (pic shared in my earlier post), once you visit the deity and have lunch in the food area, while coming out, you could see this gigantic and magnificent Temple Tank. Surprisingly, this tank is well maintained and people can feed puff rice / mumra to the abundant fishes available in the tank. The reason, why people should visit, is because you can actually see the main gopuram in a perfect angle from this tank. What could be the main reason behind having temple tanks? Popular beliefs are, they may act as pure water with cleansing properties which will ward away all negativity but one could also argue that, the "Engineers" at that time would have kept it as a bathing and rest area, considering in those days, people used to travel in fact walk from far off distance and this is exactly where they would refreshing themselves. Another reason could be, this would act as a water reservoir for the city, so in case when rains don't fall, the water stored here could help the city and also fulfill people's basic needs. I am kind of happy that, since this was declared by UNESCO as world heritage site, the temples are well maintained. #vikkitravels #travellers #traveldiaries #hampidiaries #hampi #virupakshatemple #bikelife #explore #templesofindia #temples #unesco #worldheritagesite #incredibleindia #shotononeplus6 #shotononeplus

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Charges for visiting Group of Monuments :

The govt. charges nominal fees for entering into these sites which varies for Indians and Foreigners.

Charges for Indians : Approx. Rs. 40/- INR

Charges for Foreigners : Rs.600/- INR

Additional charges for carrying cameras and other video capturing devices.

The officials give a ticket which needs to be preserved and validity of the ticket is only for the day from morning 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM.

So plan your journey accordingly.

Language spoken in Hampi :

Kannada is the local language here, and locals are not much averse with English, Hindi or even Tamil. In one instance, while visiting one of the temples, I lost direction and found it an uphill task to converse with locals and find a way out, and slowly but steadily found connecting roads which helped in navigating way out. I don’t prefer using Google Maps or Apple Maps during my journey as talking with strangers and navigating around helps me feel satisfied during trips.

Smoking and Drinking :

It is strictly prohibited inside Hampi town and it’s a “dry” city as people have religious beliefs attached to it and being UNESCO World Heritage, it helps in maintaining the sanctity of the place. But, you could pop a beer or two in Hippie Island which 4 kms from Hampi via road and 10-15 mins ferry ride through Tungabhadra River, but do check the timings of ferry ride. Apart from that, you could get beer in homestays or hotels near Sanapur lake. Met some unexpected friends out there and hung out for good part of 3 days of the trip with them.

Coracle Ride :

Coracle are basically kind of walnut shaped boats. Coracle is basically made of thin strips of willow or ash that is interwoven to create bowl shape. It is then covered with a reinforced material, like painted canvas. While exploring the Hampi city, we came to a spot near Tungabhadra River where lot of coracle rides were happening. On enquiring, it costs around Rs.350 to Rs.500. I was on a budget, and found it quite costly for just a 15-20 mins ride. After exploring the temples, I came back to my room and next day during check out, I decided to check the Sanapur lake before leaving for Mumbai. While checking out the dam, found out there was a coracle stationed there and on enquiring found out, he was ready to give a 20 mins ride for just Rs. 150! Happily agreed to it, and as he steered his boat towards centre of lake, he did his trademark circling of boat and it was an amazing experience!

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Coracle Ride, Sanapur Lake : Located approximately 2 Kms from Anegundi, you need to take the bypass road from hotel happiness on the left hand side and in the process you will be crossing a dam, but don't stop there. Many people are content with clicking photos and returning back, but just have a lil bit more patience and move ahead approx 700 m and you will find this vast lake with serene views and empty Coracle, waiting for you and me to get on it and explore Sanapur Lake. These Coracle rides are also available near Virupaksha temple, which happens on the banks of Tungabhadra River, but it's better to avoid this ride, only because it's a little expensive considering Rs.350 for a 20 min. So the same ride happens here in 2 phases, if you want a short ride, it would be a 10 mins ride which would cost Rs.100 and for a 20-25 min ride it would cost Rs.150. And there comes the obvious question, where do we leave our stuff if we are carrying any luggages with us, is it safe?? Hell yeah, it's damn safe. You can keep your belongings with the caretaker of the Coracle rider and on record, Hampi is one of the safest place to visit and infact we kept all our belongings and valuables with even worrying slightly of being robbed. The rider, will steer his Coracle to the centre of lake, wherein he will the do trademark rotation in concentric circles in clockwise direction with varying speeds and he will do this not once but twice!! Make sure, your stomach is empty before sitting on this ride. Because those continuous circling may make u dizzy or puke. On the way, while returning, the Coracle rider will make sure you get the best view of the lake and hence he will stop atop a small rock just in the middle of the lake, wherein you can get down of the Coracle take some splendid photos. So will this be in your list of things to do, when you visit Hampi? Do comment below. #vikkitravels #travellers #hampidiaries #hampi #shotononeplus6 #shotononeplus #explore #coracle #sanapurlake #traveldiaries #bikelife

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Return Journey :

It was fairly straight journey back from Hampi. Decided to take Hampi-Solapur-Mumbai route through NH65 and NH48 route as I had already done AH47 route and didn’t to explore the same route again. Started at around 10:00 AM and rode consistently, stopping for lunch and tea once in a while. After reaching Pune at around 09:00 PM, I got lost within the city to find the road which connects Mumbai-Pune and despite my efforts of conversing with locals and using Google Maps, I still couldn’t trace the route and kept circling inside the heavy traffic for 1h 30m until somehow found the road towards Mumbai at around 11:00 PM. From then on, it was a straight 140 odd kms ride and rode with max. speed in pitch dark until I reached Lonavla at around 12:35 AM, and for people who don’t know, Lonavla is famous for it’s chikkis (a sweet made of jaggery and groundnuts) even though the shops were closed, but lonavla is also famous for small shops which offer Maggi Noodles and with dropping temperatures and another 70 kms more to ride, I decided it was ideal time to eat noodles and then start my journey again. These noodles don’t cost much, and costs only Rs.35-50/. After having noodles and tea, started again and reached Mumbai by 02:30 AM, thus ending a memorable yet adventurous journey!

Under Armour – Recruit 2.0 Laptop backpack

For quite a few months, I was looking for a backpack, which could be coupled for both travel and office use. I was seriously impressed with Wildcraft backpacks but the models which they had to offer was more into adventure and treks. As I kept filtering my choices, I found Nike and Puma bags were good, but they still didn’t provide the satisfaction that I was looking for. This is when, I saw Under Armour backpacks. I am aware of UA’s product and their products are pretty amazing, with Dwayne Johnson as their brand ambassador, it totally reverberates in their products – Hustle and Perfection.

Under Armour has a good hold in USA, but in India, it is still growing and trying to establish themselves as contenders against Nike, Puma, Adidas etc. I always like to try products of different companies, but only the best products which assures quality and perfection and justifies the price tag. I have never been a blind follower or influenced by a particular brand and blindly follow them for the sake of it. If a particular brand’s product justifies my needs, then I am game for it. This is what inspired me to buy Under Armour – Recruit 2.0 Laptop Backpack.

Product Design Details :

  • Padded haul loop.
  • Two main compartments with zip closure.
  • Padded back which provides necessary cushion.
  • Two external pockets.
  • Two stash pockets.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Highly water resistant.

Notable Features :

  • Tough, abrasion resistant bottom panel.
  • Soft lined laptop sleeve.
  • Water repellent front valuable pockets.
  • Adjustable, padded, HeatGear shoulder straps for total comfort.
  • Adjustable straps on front for extra organization.
  • 2 main compartment.
  • 3 external pockets.
  • No. of zips : 3.

Size & Fit :

  • Height : 48 cm.
  • Width : 31 cm.
  • Depth : 17 cm.
  • Volume : 25.2 L.
  • Can hold up to 38.1 cm (15 inches) laptop.

I have been using this bag very recently, but I am super impressed with this product. I wanted to test it’s water repellant technology, as most of the time even though the company guarantees the water resistant technology but it fails miserably. But this product exceeded the expectations. With the onset of early monsoon here in Mumbai, it was an excellent opportunity to test this product as I had an appointment with Passport Seva Kendra and I was carrying important original documents and it’s Xerox copies. Keeping trust on the backpack, decided to put the documents in the bag without any water repellant covers. I was skeptical at first, but I was confident of the fact that my trust, judgment and bucks spent won’t go waste. After riding in extreme rains today, for close to 70 kms, I was elated with the fact that, not even a single drop of water penetrated inside the bag and all the documents were as dry as a bone!

All these advantages comes at a price, but Under Armour Recruit 2.0 comes at a modest price of Rs. 5000/ or $65.44. For Indian customers, check in www.myntra.com time to time, to grab it for a steal during the sale deals which pops up on a daily basis.

Field test of UA Recruit 2.0

Links to check the Under Armour products :


Conclusion :

If you are looking for a backpack which can hold your laptop along with other essentials for either your normal commute or office commute, this backpack is an absolute must have. There are other products in the same range which Under Armour offers, analyze your needs and justify your requirements, buy whichever makes you feel comfortable irrespective of the price tag.