Explore Maharashtra’s Breathtaking Sea Forts

The western border of Maharashtra is blessed with a long coastal strip dotted with several bustling beaches and ports. The then rulers erected defence fortifications on the shoreline in order to defend the port towns. A unique feature of many of these forts is that they are set in very picturesque locations with unparalleled architecture. Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing sea forts in Maharashtra.

Sindhudurg

Image source: Wikipedia

The fortified area of Sindhudurg comprises 48 acres close to the town of Malvan and is an island about half a kilometre from the shore. Visitors can take a short boat ride to access the fort. The erstwhile ruler of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had built Sindhudurg to protect the region. The ramparts of the fort are 10 meters high and 4 mm thick extending to about 3 km in length. The fort has a single entry gate on the northeast corner located strategically making it difficult for enemies to identify the entrance. Sindhudurg is also the only place with a temple that is dedicated to Shivaji along with a few other temples. While people reside within the fort, the population has been dwindling over time.

Murud Janjira

Image source: Wikipedia

Murud Janjira fortress belongs to the 17th century and is located off Rajapuri near Murud. This fort is also known as Janjira fort and belonged to the then rulers from the Siddi clan with roots in Abyssinia. The height of the bastioned ramparts of the fort is 15 meters in the midst of the sea. History says that the fort had as many as 572 cannons always kept ready to fire at any approaching enemy. Some of these cannons can be seen even today. Though most of the structures inside are in ruins, visitors can still identify the meeting hall, school, and the mosque.

Vijaydurg

Image source: Wikipedia

Vijaydurg sits on top of a rocky promontory that juts out of the shore. This fort is about 75 km away from Malvan and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. On the southern side, there is a narrow neck that connects the mainland. Defence of this fort was bolstered by Shivaji after he took charge, adding 300 guns, 27 bastions, and three lines of defending walls. The bastions were provided with openings for the cannons and slit holes. The fortified area is 17 acres dotted with the remnants of old structures.

Kolaba fort

Image source: Wikipedia

Kolaba Fort sits on a low rocky island close to the Alibag Harbour. The fort is quadrangular in shape and formed the naval headquarters for Kanhoji Angre who was a Maratha General. The basalt walls of the fort were re-enforced with 17 bastions, and 3 of them remain intact to this date. There is a long causeway that leads to the main entrance. Though most of the fort now lies in ruins, the shrines have been renovated and restored.

Underi

Underi which is also referred to as Jaidurg represents a fortified island close to the mouth of the Mumbai harbour. It was set up as a companion for the Khanderi fort presently in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The islands of Underi and Khanderi served as landmarks for vessels entering the Mumbai harbour. The Khanderi fort is larger than Underi and was built in 1680 CE by Kahim of the Siddis clan.

Visiting these sea forts in Maharashtra one of a kind experience as it takes you back to the glorious days of Maratha Empire. If you are coming from outside Maharashtra, you can land in Mumbai or Pune and book a Savaari cab to cover all of the above mentioned magnificent places.

Happy Vacationing!

Visit the gorgeous Pushkar Mela

Rajasthan is known for its vibrant colours, festivals, culture and fairs that showcase the rich heritage of the place. Throughout the year, Rajasthan celebrates several fairs that brighten up what is an otherwise dreary and hard life for the village folk in this desert region.

Pushkar festival is among the most colourful and popular fairs in the Thar desert, which starts on 23rd October and goes on till 4th November this year. If you’re planning to head to Pushkar this year, we highly recommend booking a Jaipur to Pushkar taxi. The fair coincides with the brighter half of the moon ending with the full moon day. Folklore has it that the festival is celebrated as an obeisance to Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, according to Hindu mythology.

The Pushkar festival is celebrated around the Pushkar Lake which is about 11 kilometres away from Ajmer. Pushkar is surrounded on all three sides by hills, and the fourth side has sand dunes. Thus, Pushkar is a fascinating location with a befitting backdrop for the annual fairs. Colourful veils of women and equally colourful turbaned headgear of men bring this arid desert space to life. For the duration of the festival, village women dress in their finest clothes.

There are about 400 temples surrounding the Pushkar Lake and 52 ghats bind this lake. During the festival days, this lake which remains tranquil otherwise gets engulfed in religious fervour. Several thousand devotees congregate at the lake and take a dip in it. Sadhus and saints descend from the Himalayas, and everyone prays to attain salvation in the midst of chanting of verses from Holy scriptures that fill the air.  During the afternoons, people assemble around the stadium where horses, camels and, cows are paraded. Camels are also traded here during the fair.

Trading in livestock is, in fact, a major part of the fair itself and camels traded in large batches take centre stage. The large crowds during the fair make it difficult to drive any automobile, so walking or using a camel becomes the only option available to visitors. On a conservative estimate, about 25,000 camels are traded here during the fair. Visitors should also remember that this is a religious fair and hence non-vegetarian food, as well as alcohol, is strictly prohibited all around the town and neighbourhood. If you’re planning to drive down from Delhi just for the festival, we suggest you book a cab from Delhi to Pushkar.


For Hindus across the world, Pushkar is a unique destination because there is no other temple for Lord Brahma anywhere in India. According to legends, Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor who was also a devout Muslim had little tolerance for other faiths and religions. Once during his reign, he headed to Pushkar with the idea of getting all the temples demolished. On arriving there, he went to wash his face in the Pushkar Lake, and his reflection in the waters startled him. What he saw in the water was the haggard face of an old man. He saw it as a bad omen and gave up the thought of demolishing the temples and returned to Delhi which was his capital.

The nearest airport is Sanganer airport in Jaipur located at a distance of 146 km. Ajmer railway station which is well-connected with other parts of the country is situated barely 11 km from Pushkar. Connecting trains to Pushkar from Ajmer are available. Pushkar is also connected to other major cities via the highways of Rajasthan. You can hire a private taxi after arriving at any major city such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, etc.

Planning on exploring more of Rajasthan after your trip to Pushkar? Here’s a complete guide of what to do in Jaisalmer.

Happy Vacationing!

Head to Dhanushkodi for your New Year’s Eve getaway

Dhanushkodi sits at the south-eastern tip of India in the Rameshwaram district in Tamil Nadu. Until recently, approach to the tip of the town remained a huge challenge with no proper road connecting the last 10 km. A bridge known as the ‘Pamban Bridge’ existed in its original form until 1964 when it was destroyed by a massive cyclonic storm. Subsequently, it has been repaired and reconstructed. Over the last 50 years, things have changed a lot in Dhanushkodi and changed for the better. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid open a new road connecting Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram.

Another factor that adds importance to Dhanushkodi is its proximity to Sri Lanka which is about 31 km from this village. Before strife-hit Sri Lanka and the LTTE became powerful, regular ferry services used to operate between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Yet, the town is among some of unexplored places which is not completely commercialised making it a perfect New Year destination.

If you have been considering exotic locations for the upcoming New Year 2018, Dhanushkodi does fit the bill for more reasons than one. This is one place in southern India where you will enjoy the incredible beauty of the clear blue sea and a confluence of two oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. When you travel from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi, you will pass through a number of fishing villages with a mesmerising view of the Palk Strait giving you company on either side. Apart from all the mysteries and coastal charm of Dhanushkodi another aspect that makes it unique is its connection with Indian mythology.

According to the epic Ramayana, Hanuman was ordered by Lord Rama to build a bridge from Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka so that his army could go across to Sri Lanka and save the Lord’s consort, Sita from the captivity of Demon King Ravana. Hanuman executed the orders of his Lord and built what came to be known as Ram Setu with the help of his army of monkeys. In modern times, Ram Setu has been a subject of heated discussions and political controversy with the issue remaining wide open to this date.

Besides the iconic bridge, you can also explore the Gulf of Mannar National Park which is also a Biosphere Reserve.  It houses various species such as sea cow, seahorse, dolphins, pearl oyster, turtles and more. The Dhanushkodi beach and Pamban Island are also worth a visit. Both places are sparsely crowded and are the perfect destination to spend serene quality time while unwinding yourself. The sunrise and sunset views from the Dhanushkodi beach are truly mesmerizing.

The easiest way to reach Dhanushkodi is taking the road. You can take a direct bus or reach to Rameshwaram and take a connecting bus or book a cab. Travelling by air could be tedious as the nearest airport is 140 km away in Tuticorin. From there, again you will have to reach Rameshwaram and take a bus or cab. The closest railway station is also at Rameshwaram which is well-connected to other parts of the state and country. You can book a taxi from Trichy to Dhanushkodi and explore the surrounding places.

Happy Vacationing!

Bundi: A Trip To A Bygone Era

Rajasthan is a destination that finds its place on every traveller’s list, Indians and foreigners alike. The magnificent architecture, rich heritage, and the unique traditions make Rajasthan an intriguing place to visit. There are so many distinguished sites to visit that most visitors end up missing the offbeat destinations. Bundi is one such destination situated in a narrow valley amidst the Aravali hills surrounded by rivers, orchards, and lush green fields.

Image source: Wikipedia

Bundi was once ruled by the Hada Chauhans of the royal Hadoti Empire. Before the royals, it was occupied by the Bhil and Mina tribes. This rich heritage of over eight centuries is explicitly visible in the city of Bundi. The people here are still simple and take pride in following their own customs. The town is also renowned for its artistic abilities and has produced several vocalists and musicians. The painting style in Bundi is a beautiful amalgamation of Mughal and the traditional Ragmala paintings.

Image source: Wikipedia

Bundi lined with the blue houses, hills, lakes, bazaars, and temples offer several places that are a must visit. Taragarh Fort is one of the most stunning architectures of Bundi that is still standing strong. Built in 1354, it is situated on a steep hill which offers a picturesque view of the town below. You can also see the apartments, balconies, and murals which are situated above the palace. Naval Sagar Lake is an artificial lake located in the centre of the city with a half-submerged temple of Lord Varuna. The reflection of the entire city and the palace makes this lake an exciting attraction.

Taragarh Fort. Image source: Wikipedia

Sukh Mahal is a beautiful Palace near the lake Jait Sagar. It was the summer home of the royal family, and it is believed that a hidden tunnel connects it with the Taragarh Fort. The Sukh Mahal gained worldwide popularity after it found mention by Rudyard Kipling. The 84 Pillared Centograph, as the name suggests is a structure supported by 84 columns decorated with carvings of deer, elephants, and apsaras. There are several lakes and Kunds in Bundi that were built to provide water to the royal family and their subjects. The Lake Nawal Sagar, Lake Kanak Sagar, Phool Sagar Lake, Nagar Sagar Kund, and Dabhai Kund are a few that can be visited.

Naval Sagar Lake. Image source: Wikipedia

Temperatures in Bundi are same as the rest of Rajasthan, so the best time to visit is during the winters from the month of October to March. The closest airport is Sanganer Airport in Jaipur, about 150km from Bundi. Although there is a railway station in Bundi, the one in Kota is easily accessible from other states. Both state government and private buses are available to reach Bundi from Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Jodhpur, Bijolia, and Bikaner. The NH12 connects Jaipur, Bundi, Kota, and Jabalpur, so don’t think twice before hiring a private taxi to reach Bundi.

Happy Vacationing!

 

A local’s guide to exploring Kochi

The taste of salt in the air, the friendly people and a vibrant, bustling soul combine to form the sprawling city known as Kochi. This coastal city is one of the most developed in South India, but is more laid-back compared to its counterparts. The weather is pleasant all round, so you can visit this city any time of the year.

If you’d like to visit Kochi and explore the city’s culture and hidden gems like a local, read on!

The Quaint Roads of Vypin

A small town located to the north-west of Cochin, Vypin is separated from the mainland by a bay-like extension of the Arabian Sea. You can rent a car in Cochin, and traverse the 25-odd km to this town quickly. The beauty of Vypin lies in its serene and calm way of life. Most of the roads lie parallel to the coast making for a beautiful drive, and the beaches in the area are untouched and secluded. You can even learn the basics of prawn cultivation from the friendly locals, or explore the Azhikotta Fort which was built in 1503.

Cherai Beach

Cherai Beach is at the north western end of Vypin Island, in the Ernakulam district. Cabs in Kochi make frequent runs to this beach, since it is just 30 km from the city. The road to Cherai is dotted with pretty lagoons and prawn farms, making it one of the most scenic places in Kerala. Coconut trees and paddy fields also add to the charm, but you’ll forget all about the road when you reach the destination.

The beach itself is nicknamed ‘The Princess of Arabian Sea’, because it is one of the finest beaches on the West coast. The total length is close to 15 km, making it ideal for long walks and viewing the sunset. The water level is very shallow, so guests can take a swim or walk up far into the water (although you should check with the lifeguard before you get into the water).

The Mattanchery Trail

Mattanchery is one of the oldest parts of Cochin, and is located near Fort Kochi. The area is famous for its spice trade, which has been progressing for well over three centuries. The mix of pleasant and strong smells, combined with the vibrant culture will enable you to explore more of the area without getting tired. The area also houses the Dutch Palace, which is an architectural wonder in itself. It was the residence of the Maharaja of Kochi, gifted to him by the Portuguese. The walls are adorned by scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, but the overall beauty of the palace lies in its simplicity.

There are many other quirky destinations within the city, including Jew Town, the Synagogue and more. If you want to explore these places at your own convenience, then just book taxi in Cochin to take you around. One thing is certain; if you’re looking for a unique travel experience, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the wonderful city of Cochin.

 

Offbeat getaways in India: Gokarna

Gokarna is a town situated along the west coast of India in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is a renowned Hindu pilgrimage centre, but over the past few years has quickly grown as a tourist destination, especially for those seeking calm and serenity. If, you are searching for some personal space with just the sun, sea and sand, then Gokarna is the perfect destination for you.

 

Best time to visit
Plan your trips to Gokarna between September and April

How to get there

163kms from Panaji, 502kms from Bangalore

Things to do

Go on a beachside trek along the coast near Gokarna
Do early morning yoga by the beach
Hire bikes and head out to Honey Beach in Ankola
Go graffiti spotting around town

Where to eat

Ganga Cafe on Kudle Beach
Namaste Cafe on Om Beach
Chez Cristophe on Gokarna Beach

Gokarna is a vastly different experience from other famous beach towns such as Goa or Karwar. Interestingly, the Mahabaleshwar Temple which is home to Lord Shiva put this place on the tourist map. The idol here is over 1,500 years old, and visiting it will give you a deep serene feeling. Needless to say, Shivaratri is celebrated here with great enthusiasm.

Gokarna is a mix of temples and beaches with legendary stories attached to them. Even though it is a small town, there are several sight-seeing options to keep you busy. The most famous beach is the Om beach, named so because it is shaped like the Hindu symbol of Om. You can engage yourself in some water sports that are available at the beach and later indulge in delicious food available at the many shacks and restaurants present at Om beach. Namaste Café is the one that should not be missed. Other top beaches include Gokarna beach, Kudle beach, Half Moon beach, and Paradise beach. If you love trekking, you can also trek to all five beaches one after the other.

Apart from temples and beaches, Gokarna additionally offers a few other activities that are worth your time. You can indulge yourself in some relaxing massage provided by several resorts, hotels, and even some inns. With a wide variety of options available from foot to a full-body massage, this soothing experience is a must try activity. Gokarna is a centre for yoga too, and you will discover many classes around the town. Don’t be surprised, if you see a foreigner doing yoga on the beach. Shopping at the little shops in Gokarna is something that you can include while in Gokarna. You can discover jewellery, gems, garments, and more.

Barely 75 km from Gokarna is Murudeshwar. One can witness the second largest Shiva statue in the country at Murudeshwar. The large statue in the backdrop of Arabian Sea is a sight to behold. You can also visit Kumta, a small town on the road to Murudeshwar. Kumta is famous for its banana, coconut, fisheries, betelnut and cashew plantations. The long Kumta shoreline is a great sight, and in addition to that, several seabirds add to its beauty.

September to April is the best time to visit Gokarna. Regular buses from Bangalore and Mangalore are easily available apart from a few trains. The nearest airport is the Dabolim airport in Goa which is around 140kms from Gokarna. The roads from Bangalore to Gokarna are relatively good, so if you are in a mood for a long drive, take a cab from Bangalore to Gokarna. To travel within Gokarna, bikes and cars are available for rent. However, if you prefer walking, you can easily cover the entire town on foot. Perhaps, that is the best way to explore the place.                                                                                                      

Goa: A guide to beaches for some alone time

Tourism in Goa has blown out of proportion in recent years, mainly due to all the hype it has generated as a hippie destination. All the erstwhile pristine beaches have become overcrowded, with beaches in Calangute, Anjuna, Baga and even Palolem not recommended for those seeking solitude. Fortunately, this coastal state is teeming with other, lesser known beaches which are still relatively untouched. They are easily accessible too, as isn’t too difficult to book cabs in Goa.

Let us take a look at some of the best beaches in Goa that haven’t been drowned in the tourism wave.

Butterfly Beach

Image credit: Travel Triangle

One of the best beaches in the state, Butterfly Beach is definitely deserving of its pretty name. It has  relatively long, unexplored stretches of sand, mostly because of its remote location. Butterfly beach is around 35 km from Margao, to the north of Palolem Beach. One can’t get there if they just book taxi in Goa, since the beach itself is not accessible by road and you can only reach it after a two hour trek through the forest. However, if you’re looking for total privacy, Butterfly is the place to go to.

Galgibaga Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Galgibaga is famous not for its party vibes, but for another, much more beautiful reason. It is the seasonal nesting and hatching site of the Olive Ridley Turtles. It is generally regarded as the cleanest beach in Goa, and is located 18 km south of Cancona. Food options might be limited though; the beach is lined by very few shacks and a number of coconut trees. Galgibaga beach is well worth a visit if you’re looking for private experience in crystal clear water and glistening sand.

Cola Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Another secluded beach in South Goa, Cola is the ideal place for an escape from the hustle and bustle of mainstream beaches. Situated 15 km north of Palolem, signboards lead the way to this lesser known paradise by the sea. This beach also has an exotic lagoon- lined by coconut trees, beach huts and Rajasthani style tents.

Sinquerim Beach

Image credit: Thrillophilia

Situated adjacent to the well-known Fort Aguada and just 13 km from Panaji, Sinquerim is another stretch of unspoiled, virgin sands. The beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy one of the best sunset views that Goa has to offer. It also has a few adventure activities, including scuba diving, water skiing, fishing and wind-surfing. The quaint little eateries close to the beach serve delicious drinks and fresh snacks.

Lovers Beach

Image credit: smallbudgettrips.com

As the name suggests, this is one of the most romantic beaches in the state of Goa. It is located north of the more mainstream Betalbatim beach, and is technically an extension of the same. Despite its proximity to Margao (6 km), the beach always wears a deserted look except for the odd couple. There are no shacks or hotels near this beach and the only way to get here is via private transport. The convenience of Goa car rental has made travelling here that much more simple.

The party scene in Goa is great, but sometimes one needs solitude by the beach to contemplate and revitalise. These are not the only untouched beaches in the state, with Arambol, Betalbatim Cabo De Rama beaches being some of the other options. They are sure to appeal to all those seeking an alternative to the loud and overcrowded mainstream beaches, so make sure to check them out!

End of the year Holiday Offer: Assured Cashback from Paytm

savaari-bucket-list-2016

Hello Travel-Lover!

2016 is almost coming to an end and we are sure that there are many items on your travel bucket list that are pending. We’ve all been there, and before you know it 2017 will be upon us and you’ll look back at the year gone by with much regret. So what are you waiting for- rent a cab with Savaari and hit the road!

If that wasn’t motivational enough>>

*drumroll*

Savaari Car Rentals is pleased to offer you exclusive assured cashback of upto 50% on all bookings made using your paytm wallet.

Alright, you better start making those end of the year plans by heading to Savaari Car Rentals.

We urge you to read the detailed Terms & Conditions before availing the offer:

  1. All bookings made with Savaari Car Rentals using a paytm wallet stand a chance to win upto 50% cashback on paytm. While the cashback is assured, the exact amount will be determined solely by paytm depending on your order amount.
  2. Savaari Car Rentals is not responsible for determining the cashback amount or resolving disputes related to the cashback.
  3. The offer is applicable on all successful bookings, regardless of the transaction amounts
  4. Maximum cashback is capped at Rs. 2500
  5. Cashback is applicable on trips starting between 9th Dec to 20th Dec 2016
  6. The Cashback will be credited within 3 working days
  7. Cash back will be cancelled in case of full refunds or cancellation of bookings made with Savaari
  8. In case of partial refund, a proportionate amount of cashback will be rolled back
  9. Your Mobile number needs to be verified to be eligible for cashback

So choose the best destinations to travel for Christmas and New year holidays!

Christmas in India: Three Blessedly Beautiful Destinations

Look past the crowded beaches of Goa, to these 3 destinations for a Christmas and New Year that will leave you with warm, fuzzy memories to power you through 2016!

Shillong

Celebrate a Christmas like no other in, Shillong, the Scotland of the East. The city has a large Christian population and is perfect destination during this festive season. Hire a Savaari Car and drive down 100 kms from Guwahati and soon you are in the hilly capital of Meghalaya. Walk along Laitumkhrah, go for a boat ride on picturesque Wards Lake, or attend midnight mass at one of the oldest churches in the North East, The Cathedral Church. You will certain avoid the usual touristy crowds, especially if you choose to stay in a traditional homestay, like this 70 year old bungalow in the heart of the city. The spirit of the season is everywhere with carol singing, markets bustling with shoppers, pine trees piled up in the Fire Brigade Field, and lip-smacking Bengali, Chinese and Khasi fare that will leave you warmly stuffed and satisfied.

courtesy India TV
courtesy India TV

Kochi

Hire a Savaari Car and drive down NH7 and the Salem – Kochi – Kanyakumari Highway and 10 hours later you are in Kochi. The last few weeks of December are especially festive in this Kerala coastal town, which hosts The Cochin Carnival. A year end procession featuring regal elephants, fireworks, fun games, dirt bike races and more, the carnival is a throwback to Portuguese New Year celebrations, and has been revived in the 1980s. You can be enthralled by local Kathakali and Mohiniattam performances, watch folk musicians or witness the famed Indira Gandhi Snake Boat Race, also held at the same time of the year. If you are a history buff this centuries-old port town will not disappoint with heritage churches and synagogues. And the celebrations truly taken on a special meaning if you are lucky enough to be part of the congregation at midnight, on Christmas eve, at St. Francis Church. Built by the earliest European traders, the Church traces its history back to the early 16th Century, and is sure to transport you to a different world and time

Kolkata

Christmas Tree
Courtesy Indian Roots

Head to the grand old city of Kolkata for a colourful Christmas and New  Year. The Bengalis are known to celebrate festivals in style, and this season is no exception. Treat yourself to some decadent cakes and pastries at legendary bakeries like Flurys. Visit the city’s last Jewish Confectionary, Nahoum and Sons, who began serving customers just over a century ago in 1902! Go on a guided photo walk through neighbourhoods that will open your eyes into forgotten ways of living, and the diversity of the city’s culture. Get a glimpse into Anglo-Indian life in Bow Barracks as they celebrate their Bada Din on 25th December. Visit Chinatown, Portuguese and Armenian Churches all in Kolkata. And round off your visit with a visit to Allen Park where the Kolkata Christmas Fair comes to life. Browse through food stalls, listen to live music, join the gospel singers and admire the string of street lights and nativity scenes that celebrate the birth of Jesus.