9 Virgin Beaches of Goa, perfect for some “Me Time”

India’s favorite holiday destination, Goa, is well known for its beaches, beach shacks and water activities at these beaches. While Baga, Calangute, Anjuna and Candolim are extremely popular among the tourists, these are a few beaches that are hiding in plain sight where you can spend your quality “me time” in the most serene and peaceful Goan environment.

Virgin Beaches of Goa – Vlog
Keri Beach

Right at the tip of Goa, Keri beach is the first beach you will come across while coming from Maharashtra. This little known gem of a place is situated right on the point where River Tiracol meets with the Arabian sea, which is a spectacle in itself.

It is accessible from Tiracol by a 5-minute ferry ride, which operates every 15 minutes between Tiracol and Keri from 7.00 AM to 8.00 PM.

Soft sands and clear waters makes it just the perfect place to rest, relax and rejuvenate while watching the most marvelous of sunsets over the never ending Arabian Sea.

Beach shacks and changing rooms are available at the beach. All in all, it is a perfect place for those who want a calm and peaceful beach time in Goa.

Galgibaga Beach

Located in the southern part of Goa, Galgibaga is one of the cleanest beaches of India and we do not have any doubts to that.

This secluded beach is a nesting sight for the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles and hence no commercial activities are allowed here, making this beach a haven for all those seeking a perfect time, aloof from the entire world.

The beach itself is a pristine stretch of golden brown sand, fringed with coconut palms. The seas can get rough at times, however the beach has lifeguard on duty, so you can swim in the designated areas.

We totally totally fell in love with this beach and till date this remains our favorite beach in Goa. We will not say much about this place, just let its photos convey our words to you.

Cola Beach

Well, some beautiful things are pretty difficult to find. Some pristine places are even difficult to reach. Cola beach is pristine and beautiful, hence it both difficult to find and even difficult to reach. But it is totally worth the efforts you put in to reach here.

Cola beach, though it is slowly gaining popularity, is still a lesser known beach in Goa. However its USP beats all the beaches of Goa. You stand on the beach, you have the gorgeous Arabian Sea roaring on one side while a serene lagoon sits quietly on its other side.

The beach also houses a couple of resorts, where you can unwind and get mesmerized by this one of a kind beach that offers you an experience you can cherish for a very long time.

Cabo de Rama Beach

For us, Cabo de Rama was a kind of show stopper for it offered a setting similar to a Bollywood Song Location. The remains of a 17th century fort that overlooks the ocean and a rocky plateau that opens up to the beautiful Arabian sea.

Legend has its say that Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman took refuge during their exile and hence the place has got its name. The remnants of the place do tell a tale of the history of this fort that would have been a bastion during the Portuguese reign.

One of the best beaches for those looking for some quiet time, Cabo de Rama too offers marvelous sunsets that keep you stare at the horizon in sheer amusement and joy.

Butterfly Beach

When the only way to reach a beach is through a boat ride, how can we not include this in list of virgin beaches of Goa.

For everyone looking for a peaceful time on the beach where you just sit on the sands and let the cool waters of the sea wash your feet, Butterfly beach is your place to be. Just 10-minutes boat ride from Palolem, it is one place you should not miss out on when you are looking to be away from the crowds in Goa.

The best part, you also get to see dolphins surfacing for air en route to this beach. Two great things in one go, amazing isn’t it!

Betul Beach

For the ones looking for an experience of Goan heritage, Betul Beach is a gem that is often overlooked by tourists. A quintessential Goan town, Betul is nestled upon the convergence of Sal river into the Arabian Sea.

Source: What’s Hot Mumbai

Betul Lighthouse provides some lovely panoramic views of the surrounding villages lined up with coconut palms and other trees. Unmarred by tourist influx, with a calm beach and mesmerizing views Betul is perhaps one of Goa’s best kept secret.

Rajbaga Beach

Another Goan beach that is nestled upon the convergence of river meeting the sea. The Rajbaga sea coastline is covered with high palm trees and heavy pine trees which stretching from the cape, that separate the beach from the neighboring Patnem Beach, up to the Talpona River mouth.

Source: Make my trip

The long coastline makes it ideal for a perfect evening walk with your someone special as the cool breeze and soft sands makes the atmosphere pleasant and tranquil at sundown.

Xandrem Beach

Away from all the hustle and party vibes of Goa, lies this little beach in the southern part of Goa that will surely give some of the international beach locations a run for its money.

Source: istock

A small beach area that emerges out from a lush green coverage of foliage, the color of its water and the softness of its sands will definitely not make you feel sorry about not being able to visit Maldives. A totally secluded beach, suited for some exquisite “do not disturb” moments.

Polem Beach

The southernmost beach of Goa, a secluded mesmerizing, 700 m long stretch of glittering sand by the side of vast blue expanse of water, this beach is the place from where the coastline of Karnataka starts and that of Goa ends.

Source: World Beach Guide

It is a perfect place for swimming and sunbathing and just the ideal place to spend some time with oneself The beach also has rocky cliffs adding on to its startling natural beauty.

So, if you really want to detox from the world and enjoy the beach time in Goa with no one around to disturb you, these are the beaches you should be heading to on your next trip to Goa.

Fontainhas – A walk through the colorful streets

Residing in the heart of the capital city of Panjim, overlooking the calm waters of river Mandovi is this ancient Latin Quarters that exhibits the forgotten history of Old Goa that is strikingly alive in the colorful houses of this pretty area known as Fontainhas.

A Brief History

The Portuguese came to India at the end of 15th century for establishing trade. They established their head quarters in Old Goa, after defeating Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur and taking total control over the sea route for trade.
Between 15th and 17th Century, Goa flourished and so did its people. However, the plague outbreak in late 17th century wiped off almost half the population of Goa and the Portuguese government had to shift bases in order to keep the trade going.

Travelling down stream along the river Mandovi, they arrived on the Marshy lands of Panjim, filled it with rocks and sand by drilling the mountain of Altinho and assigned the lands for the people for building their houses. That is how Fontainhas came into existence.

All about Fontainhas

Fontainhas, literal translation means Little Fountain, derives its name from the spring water that flows down from the hills adjacent to it. It maintains its Portuguese influence, particularly through its architecture, which includes narrow and picturesque winding streets like those found in many European cities. In words of William Dalrymple, “Fontainhas is a small chunk of Portugal washed up on the shores of Indian Ocean.”

The architecture in entire Fontainhas is a fine blend of Indo-Portuguese styles which one can identify quite distinctly in the houses here. The red colored tiles adorn the roof tops of the old villas and the buildings having projected balconies with the walls painted in the tones of yellow, green, red or blue.

Some of the elements of the houses are extremely amusing and you won’t find it anywhere else. Glass tiles in roof for sunlight and ventilation, oyster shells as window panes, emblem on top of the house and balcaos are some of the most striking elements that clearly stand out and make the houses extremely pleasing and definitely photogenic.

The colorful steps at Rua de Natal, where Christmas celebrations are a spectacle and the hypnotizing aroma of freshly baked confectionaries from the 31 de Janeiro Bakery are a couple of pitstops one must make during the visit at Fontainhas. If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the Doce and Dodacol at the bakery along with some assorted cookies straight out of the wood fired oven.

An abode for photographers and story lovers, Fontainhas is declared as a UNESCO heritage zone in 1984, it is a place one should definitely visit if you are looking for a Goa experience beyond the beaches. Special credits to Make It Happen for taking us through this amazing journey which is otherwise lost in history books.

Figueiredo House – A stay experience at this 430 year old villa

430 years ago, circa 1590, to get an idea of the timeline, take a look at the what India and world was like at that time.

1. Shakespeare had just started writing his plays
2. India was still under Mughal Emperor Akbar’s rule.
3. Galileo had not yet argued that Earth revolves around the sun
4. It is 40 years before the Taj Mahal was built.
5. Let alone Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, the emperor who built Taj, was not even born.
6. The British East India Company were still 10 years away from making landfall in India.

Basically, before all the path breaking events of 16th and 17th century, in the village of Loutulim in Goa, this magnificent house was erected which is standing proudly standing the test of times. The Figueiredo House, offers its guests an experience that is as interesting and unique as its history.

The property is divided into two parts, one is the home stay and other is the museum. The part of the house behind the museum is the private residence of the Figueiredo family, who still live there. The property houses 5 rooms, which are altered just a wee-bit to accommodate the modern day amenities. Rest of it is just raw and unaltered.

The moment you step inside the house, the aura embraces you with all its warmth. The common areas of house adorned with jars and vases of yesteryears grab your attention as you make your way towards the open air courtyards. The walls of the house are decked up with Mario de Miranda’s illustrations and cartoons, which is an absolute treat in itself.

The Figueiredo Museum tour is an experience in itself that will take you centuries back down the memory lane. Figueiredos have contributed immensely to Goa, with the family members who were judges, advocates, diplomats and members of Portuguese Parliament and legislature of Goa. This influence is starkly visible in the displays at the musuem.

The museum houses lovely rose wood carved furniture that will definitely make you feel that you have teleported to another era, the cupboards and the lockers with ivory inlays, the crystal chandeliers that illuminate the ceilings, an elaborate dining area with exquisite furniture and some of the unique porcelain crockery you will ever see. Mr. Gomez, caretaker and manager of the property, takes you on a wonderful journey, full of stories about every little detail you see in the museum.

While the entire place is treat to eyes, the food served here is treat for eyes, nose and taste buds. Personally supervised by the owners, Fatima and Pedro, the food is not only tasty, but also makes you feel content after having it. We had the finest prawns with lemon rice during our stay there while having some lovely conversations with the owners, who made us felt extremely at home.

Overlooking the lush green paddy fields surrounded by tall coconut trees, the views from the mansion are a treat for sore eyes. In the quiet of Loutolim, you can be fooled into thinking that Goa is still that verdant paradise it once was. Full marks to the Figueiredos for opening up their home to all where one can enjoy the grandeur and stories of this truly historical home.

6 best Road Trips to take in Maharashtra

As the tourism industry grapples with the pandemic, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with things moving back to normal, slowly but steadily. As we get accustomed to the new normal, one major change we all will see is the way we travel in the post pandemic world. Travelling while maintaining your personal bio-secure bubble is the way to go travel. at least for the next one year and the best way to ensure this is by taking a road trip, exploring the areas surrounding your base location and getting to know more about the place you live in.

With that thought, we share with you 6 best Road Trips that you can take in Maharashtra and go explore locally some of the hidden gems en route.

1. Mumbai-Pune via Expressway

If you a beginner in terms of taking road trips, you might start off with this route. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a beautiful drive with broad roads and amazing views on its either side.

Monsoons are the perfect time to go on this route as numerous waterfalls mushroom up on the way, especially on the ghat roads nearing Lonavala.

The highway journey takes around 1.5 hours between the toll booths and total journey is around 3 hours factoring the traffic and peak hour rush in the origin cities.

2. Konkan Coastal Highway

The Konkan coastal highway is in true sense is an underrated gem of all the road trips. Roaring Arabian Sea on one side and the lush green Western Ghats on another, this is one route that one should definitely undertake if you love road trips.

The trip can be broken into 2 parts and converted into a 2-day outing.

Day 1 – Mumbai-Alibaug-Kashid-Murud
Day 2 – Murud-Dighi-Diveagar-Shrivardhan-Harihareshwar-Velas-Anjarle

The roads are not in very good conditions, so it is better to do it over a period of 2 days so as to give your back a some relief. If you love to go on bike rides, this is one that you should not miss out on.

3. Mumbai-Nashik via Kasara Ghat

Yet another route that is just surreal and breath taking. On your way to Nashik from Mumbai, crossing the Kasara Ghat in the peak of monsoons is a treat to all road trippers.

You can take a detour at Igatpuri and explore some beautiful interiors laced with lovely waterfalls and panoramic views of the dams and reservoirs.

2 locations that are worth visiting on this route are the Dhammagiri Vipasana Centre, a Buddhist Meditation Centre that is so peaceful, you would totally feel blissful. The other is the Bhavli Dam which will make you feel you have teleported to Bali with step farms with Paddy Cultivations.

4. Driving through the Waterfalls at Malshej Ghat

According to us, this is a bikers dream route. Beautiful open roads, cool breeze running across your face, amazing views to cherish the ride and then out of nowhere you are driving through a heavy waterfall that roars as it flows down the cliff.

In the pre-COVID world, travelers did make a pit stop at the falls and enjoyed a hot cup of tea with boiled corn on the cob, a treat in such an amazing weather. You can still do that, only with a hot cup of tea and some home made food that you carry on your trips with you.

5. Pune-Panshet-Lavasa-Tamhini

The best part about road trips in Maharashtra is that some of the most gorgeous routes are in close proximity of two of its biggest cities, Mumbai and Pune.

Even if you don’t have a planned itinerary for your travels, this route is just perfect for you. It is off the main highway and runs past through small villages and hamlets and is amazingly pretty especially in monsoons.

6. Mumbai-Goa

How can it happen that we talk about road trips and not talk about this one? Everyone has been dreaming to take one from the time we saw Akash, Sameer and Sid take a road trip from Mumbai to Goa in Dil Chahta Hai.

Beautiful Roads, awesome views and the mere thought of visiting Goa makes this road trip one of the best experiences one can have in their life. Although the fastest route shows from highway, if time is not a constraint, we would suggest you take the coastal route via Ratnagiri and Malvan as it is a different experience altogether.

There you go, a ready reckoner for all you travel enthusiastic souls who are urging to travel but not sure where to start with. Pick up your locations, mark your destinations, carry all your precautionary requirements and have a safe ride out there. Do leave back your feedback if you find this information helpful. Ciao!

Taj Corbett Resort & Spa – Hospitality in Hallowed Woods

At the base of the mighty Himalayas, along side the mild gushing of river Kosi, covered in tropical foliage inside India’s oldest wildlife conservation park, stands a resort that leaves you awestruck with aura. Welcome to Taj Corbett Resort & Spa, Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand.

Photo of Taj Corbett Resort & Spa, Uttarakhand, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India by Mastane Musafir

Located 10 km from the base town of Ramnagar, the resort stays put at village Garjia along the buffer zone in Corbett National Park. Once you enter the gates of the property, you are in a completely different zone altogether. After all, where else in India would you find yourself welcome to the tunes of a Bagpipe?

The reception area just gets you awed with its decor and design. The frames that adorn the wall and the artefacts that beautify the surroundings just swipes you off your feet in a dream world. The charm of such places, just cannot ignore the smallest details that are taken care of to make the stay as comfortable as possible, even if it is for just 10 minutes.

In & Around the Property

Shadowed under the coniferous vegetation of Deodar & Sal trees, the resort boasts 60 rooms and cottages, 2 restaurants, 1 bar, banquet hall, a swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. The look and feel of the place is kept simple, yet elegant and gives the vibes of a classic Pahadi atmosphere.

The rooms have everything that is just perfect, from the cosy beds to comfortable baths. Walls are adorned with pictures of wildlife from the region, which just adds the feel to the feel of staying put in the jungle. And to add to it, the housekeeping staff are extra sweet, as they left us a self-pampering kit for doing a foot spa with a lovely message. No one can beat Taj Properties when it comes to hospitality.

Photo of Taj Corbett Resort & Spa - Hospitality in Hallowed Woods by Mastane Musafir

The ambience of the property itself rejuvenates you with little things here and there that catches your attention. For those who want to know more about the history of the forest, the library contains some really interesting books from renowned authors and photographers, including the famous works of Jim Corbett himself.

Dining Experience

In our travels, we have experienced that comfortable stays and elegant ambience attracts only one part of the mind. A hotel or resort’s make-or-break USP is the food and the dining experience it provides to its guests. And again, Taj Hotels just do not let you down on your expectations. Equipped with 2 lovely restaurants, the flavour of the food in each of these is just impeccable. Here’s a brief about the restaurants

1) Tree-Top Restaurant

The all-day dining multi cuisine restaurant literally takes your fine dining experience to great heights. Outside seating comprises of two decks where you can just get hoisted up amidst the flora of the forests. The mild gushes from the river Kosi creates a beautiful symphony accompanied by the chirping of birds. Just the perfect kind of music you would wish while indulging in the culinary treat.

Photo of Taj Corbett Resort & Spa - Hospitality in Hallowed Woods by Mastane Musafir

We had a lavish lunch in the form of the Kumaon Thali, and the taste from each and every dish served is still afresh in some corners of our dentures.

2) Jim’s Grill
If scrumptious grilled delicacies laced with local flavours in the company of some soulful live music is your idea for dinner, then you need to head straight to Jim’s Grill without any 2nd thoughts. The menu of the restaurant is meticulously crafted as all the dishes in it are inspired by the local cuisine or have a touch of the local flavours. Best time to enjoy these are in winter months, when the temperatures are have dipped and you have your private fireplace for the warmth as you indulge in these delicacies.

We tried the Thukpa & Pahadi Tikka, totally worth it. Full marks to the pomegranate chutney that was served with the tikkas.

Activities that keep you indulged

Our past experience with Taj Properties made us acquainted with one fact that the staff does treat the guests like God, and leave nothing unturned to provide them delightful experience and a pleasant stay. Same is the case here.

Mornings are for wildlife. And nothing beats exploring the jungle, spotting some wildlife and indulging in a heavenly breakfast from a hill top with amazing views of the forests and snow capped mountain peaks. The staff also arranges for heritage walks in nearby village and showcase the lost history and heritage of these places.

If you are travelling with kids, then your kids are going to have an amazing time in the resort. The resort arranges for dedicated activities directed at the entertainment of children. These include survival training, cooking lessons, archery etc to name a few. These make today’s kids forget the technological supports and embrace the outdoors.

Photo of Taj Corbett Resort & Spa - Hospitality in Hallowed Woods by Mastane Musafir

As you assemble around for evening tea and snacks, the naturalists start an interactive session regarding the flora and fauna of the forest. The foliage along the banks of river Kosi attracts the indigenous Himalayan Goral towards it, and its a test of the eyesight in spotting this beautiful fawn in the camouflaged surroundings.

Gautamsnaps : Himalayan Brown Goral . Photostory on Himalayan ...
Source: Gautam Dey

A stage play narrating the life and times of Jim Corbett and other stories from the Kumaon region brightens up your evening as your flaps of wisdom open up to new culture and glorified past. As the stars take the charge of the night sky, the views are totally mesmerising as you head towards your room in reminiscing a wonderful day you just experienced.

Photo of Taj Corbett Resort & Spa - Hospitality in Hallowed Woods by Mastane Musafir

Hospitality in the Hallowed woods, if it were to be given one name, Taj Corbett Resort & Spa would definitely be the chosen one.

Sagargadh Fort – A trek through the lesser known gem

The land of the brave Maratha warriors, the land that scaled its zenith under the Maratha rulers. The Marathas were known for using guerrilla tactics in war to surprise their enemy and the hilly terrain of Sahyadri ranges played a perfect aide to them and hence one can find many hill forts in Maharashtra. Did you know there are around 300 hill forts in Maharashtra?

One of the them is a lesser known, strategically built fort overlooking the mighty Arabian Sea called Sagargadh. Very little is known about the origins of the fort or who built it but it has all the elements which makes the trekking experience last a lifetime.

Sagargadh is located just 6 km before Alibaug, a popular weekend getaway in proximity of Mumbai. Yet it is relatively unheard of as compared to other popular hill forts of Maharashtra. It falls on the road leading up to Alibaug. If one is travelling by road, the vehicle can be taken up to the base village Khandale. The trek starts here. 

Photo of Sagargad By Mastane Musafir

What follows is a journey that will make this trek a memorable one for years to come. Embark from Khandale village amidst lush green surroundings and chirping of insects, on a flat terrain with gradual inclination till you reach a small stream. A gentle dip of feet in these waters and you are all charged up for the ascent that lies ahead. We highly recommend dipping feet in this stream, so that you can enjoy a fish spa totally free of cost.

Photo of Khandale By Mastane Musafir

The ascent is relatively easier in the beginning with a proper staircase showing you the way. Around 20 mins of a hike on this route and you will reach the base of Dhondhane Falls. These falls are love at first sight. A double-layered fall with a massive drop in the middle of lush green makes these falls a visual treat. And the best part about them is you can actually go behind the falls, something you don’t find often in India.

The trail to the top has proper markings in blue, indicating the directions towards the fort. Passing through a village in between; you can flex your muscles a bit, splash fresh spring water on your face and gear up for the final stretch of the trek. Once you cross the village, it is more of a ridge – walking in a single file with a gorgeous valley on one of your sides and tall trees on your another. The final stretch is a bit tricky if you are a beginner. For an experienced trekker, it won’t make a difference. However, caution must be exercised.

Photo of Sagargadh - Built with Strategy, Erased in History #maharashtratreks By Mastane Musafir

You will be standing in front of a 4 m tall wall on the summit and there’s literal wall climbing to be done to move further. Trust us, it is an experience one must have in their life. The summit has a vast plateau and it is so green, we wish we could just replicate this all over our planet. On the top, the winds are strong, like very, very strong. But you feel awesome as you brave these winds to inch ahead and explore the plateau.

From one corner, you witness the dense forest valley and a punishment point known by the name of Varnatok Peak. From the other corner, if the skies are clear, you can sea the mighty Arabian Sea. The summit serves as a perfect vantage point, overlooking both the sea and the land.

The winds are so strong, if you are lucky, you can witness reverse waterfalls on the summit. Right next to these reverse falls, is a water tank that is fed by fresh spring water through a snout that is in the shape of a cow. That water was the best I have ever had after the spring water of Manali.

We stayed on the peak for a long time, taking in the beauty of nature around us. We kept on wondering, how a strategically built fort, overlooking land and sea, is lost in the magnanimous history of our country. However, with all the offerings which Sagargadh Trek provided, it easily qualifies as the most memorable trek of the monsoon.

Best Beaches of India

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Beach? Sand, surf and sun are the most common words that people spell out when they hear the word beach. And it is true also. But beaches have more to offer than these. To us, the beach signifies magnanimity, poise and grandiose. There are many shades of the beach. Some are calm, some are verbose. But the beauty remains the same no matter what.

For a person who just loves the beaches, it is great to be born in the country that boasts a coastline of 7516 km, stretching from Gujarat all the way to West Bengal, covering 9 states altogether. And when the coastline is this vast, there’s bound to be beautiful beaches all along. Here are the best beaches of India, in no particular order.

1. Ganeshgule, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra

If you love to sink in your feet in soft sands, if you wish to see through the ocean floor, if you love to breathe in fresh oxygen and if you enjoy solitude in nature, Ganeshgule is place to be.

Absolutely marvellous, this hidden gem will remain on our all time favourite places list. Its simplicity and pristine beauty will definitely hit the right chord on your heart. To know more about the beach, read here.

How to reach:
By Road: 350 km from Mumbai
By Rail: 30 km from nearest Station, Ratnagiri.
By Air: 350 km from Mumbai Airport

2. Kapu Beach, Manipal, Karnataka

There are some places with which you have millions of memories associated with. Kapu beach is that place for us. It is the charisma of the beaches with lighthouses. For the ship lost at sea, a lighthouse gives it hope. When a person sees a beach with lighthouse, the tranquillity of the scene has similar effect on his mind.

Mere sitting on the rocks at the base of the lighthouse facing the mighty ocean with cool breeze ruffling your hair is quite an experience in itself. And from the top of the light house, all you feel is “Alive & Awesome”

How to Reach
By Road: 10 km from Udupi
By Train: 15 km from Udupi railway station
By Air: 50 km from Mangalore Airport

3. Cola Beach, Goa

Ever heard the phrase ‘Stealth Mode On?’ If not, drop a visit to this glorious beach to know exactly what it means. A bumpy road from Cola village leads you to the point when you are facing a wall of coconut trees. But once through it, Voila! a beautiful beach is at your perusal.

Add to that, just on the next end, a pool formed by the backwaters of the ocean gives you a personal lagoon kind of experience, something not many beaches in India offer it to you. It is an absolutely instagrammable spot. Read more about lesser known Goa

How to Reach:
By Train: 32 km from Margao railway station
By Air: 55 km from Goa International Airport

4. Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

When a beach is given the accolade as one of the best beaches of Asia, no question arises regarding the magic it weaves on your mind. The turquoise blue waters and white sands add to the astounding beauty of the place. A serene and impeccable ambience that it provides continues to attract travellers from across the globe to its shores.

How to Reach:
Port Blair airport is connected to all major cities of India. From Port Blair, frequent ferry boat services shuttle passengers to Havelock Island.

5. Kudle Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka

The charm of hidden beaches is just exquisite. It ignites a little spark in your mind as you make inroads through the ferns and foliage only to be at the receiving end of unaltered beauty of the ocean.

Perhaps, one of the best sunsets we have witnessed ever was at this beach What attracts you is the calmness in the surroundings, as if you are left with the ocean to have a tête-à-tête.

How to Reach:
By Road: 485 km from Bangalore
By Train: 5 km from Gokarna railway station
By Air: 230 km from Mangalore Airport

6. Tithal Beach, Valsad, Gujarat

First experiences of anything is very special and dear to heart. Tithal was my first experience of the sea, sand and everything related to it. The black sand and beef wood trees on the shore add to the sheer elegance of the beach.

And the sea, oh the sea, shows all its avatars, from a peacefully calm to roaring violent as you enjoy them with refreshing coconut water and a plate of hot pakodas.

How to Reach:
By Road: 100 km from Surat, 250 km from Mumbai
By Train: 5 km from Valsad railway station
By Air: 250 km from Mumbai Airport

7. Lakshmanpur Beach, Neil Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

A trail that passes through area with huge, literally huge (read: gigantic) trees and leads to a rocky beach formed out of volcanic craters. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. As you proceed further towards the sea, you find yourself looking at a natural rock cut bridge on the far end, standing still giving picturesque scenes for the visitors.

How to Reach:
Port Blair airport is connected to all major cities of India. From Port Blair, frequent ferry boat services shuttle passengers to Neil Island.

8. Ottinene Beach, Byndoor, Karnataka

How do you feel when you discover a secret beach? Excited, elevated, contented or delighted? We felt a little of all these emotions when we unearthed this gem. A completely off the course and secretly hidden will just give you good and positive vibes as the beach welcomes you with open arms.

But the secrecy is not its USP. There’s an estuary which leads up to the beach, where river Suvarna meets with the ocean. The view is worth the most precious gem on earth, perhaps even more than that. And one of the best sunset views ever.

How To Reach:
By Road: 440 km from Bangalore, 5 km Byndoor town
By Train: 85 km from Udupi Railway Station, 20 km from Bhatkal railway station, 5 km from Mookambika Road Station
By Air: 130 km from Mangalore Airport

9. Cabo de Rama, Goa

Secluded beaches in Goa are a reality. Yes you have read it correctly. Cabo de Rama strikes straight to your heart by its beauty and exclusivity. This one was a kind of show stopper for it offered a setting similar to a Bollywood Song Location. A rocky plateau that opens up to the beautiful Arabian sea.

Nothing better than sipping on a chilled beer with a view like this, isn’t it?

How To Reach:
By Train: 26 km from Margao railway station
By Air: 50 km from Goa International Airport

10. Murudeshwar Beach, Murudeshwar, Karnataka

Ever thought of experiencing fun and spirituality together? A weird combination, isn’t it? A divine feeling sets in as you approach the premises of Murudeshwar temple. Standing in between the 20-storeyed Gopura and huge Shiva idol, the heads go from right to left and back, in amazement and awe.

The view from the Gopuram is even more fascinating. 20-storeys above the ground, a realization occurs that the shrine is surrounded by water from 3 sides. 3 windows, 3 directions, 3 jaw-dropping views. And all three views are unique in their own aspect.

How to Reach:
By Road: 490 km from Bangalore
By Train: 118 km from Margao railway station, 111 km from Udupi railway station, 70 km from Gokarna railway station
By Air: 210 km from Goa International Airport, 158 km from Mangalore Airport

11. Marvanthe Beach, Karnataka

Sometimes, you find happiness at places you least expect to find. A beach, from out of nowhere, running parallel to the National Highway. We’ve always dreamt driving parallel to the sea on The Great Ocean Road in Australia. Well, Marvanthe gets you similar feels.

And there’s something better, river Suvarna runs parallel to the sea on the other side of the road, so you just absorb on the beauty nature has to offer.

How to Reach:
Best way to reach is by road. Marvanthe beach is right on the highway connecting Mangalore and Murudeshwar.

Special Mention: Marine Drive, Mumbai

As iconic as it gets, this two-and-half kilometre stretch right next to coast, is one of our favourite beach experiences.

Time and over, we have visited this place and it gives us the same amount of joy watching the sun go down behind Malabar Hills as it gave for the first time we saw it.

Some of you would have visited these beaches, some of you would have visited even prettier ones., as mentioned earlier, India has 7516 km coastline. But one thing is for sure. Beaches, they are pretty. They are so similar in nature, yet so different from one another. Each beach has its own story. And as sun sets over the beach, it conveys a very beautiful message, “Sometimes, endings are beautiful!”

Top 9 Things you should know before you Travel to Seychelles

Dreaming of Emerald waters, soft sands and mystical forests of Seychelles? Planning to visit the lovely islands soon? Here are top 8 things that you should know before you travel to Seychelles.

1. Currency and Exchange Rates

This is Travel to Foreign Land 101. The official currency is Seychellean Rupee, but they accept Euros across the country. However, if you owe them change, you’ll receive the same in Seychellean Rupees. That’s where you need to be aware of the exchange rates. 1EUR ~ 15 SCR, however, some places give a conversion rate of 14 SCR too. So, make sure you inquire before making a purchase.

2. Choosing the time of visit

Seychelles has a tropical climate, but they have 2 monsoon seasons. The North West Monsoon that stretches from November to March and the South East Monsoon which is from June to September. That leaves April-May & October-November as the best months to visit the islands with less possibility of showers ruining your holiday.

3. Going for sightseeing? Hire a Self-Driven Rental Car

It is the most convenient and most cost-efficient way of travelling. A hatchback will cost you around 40-45 EUR per day as opposed to a taxi which costs 100-150 EUR per day. The cars are auto transmission and it is very easy to navigate on roads as they drive on the left, just like India.

4. Restaurants there are expensive

Tourism being the primary economy, the restaurants and eat out joints are very expensive and will easily cost you somewhere around SCR 500 to 1000 per meal for 2 people. If you do some research, you’ll find some great take away places, that serve lovely food at a half or one-fourth cost.

5. Inter island Ferry & Flight have almost similar rates

For inter-island transfer between Mahe and Praslin, you can opt for either flight or ferry. However, both modes have almost similar rates, ~100 EUR per person. So, if you want to save time, go for the flight.

If you opt for ferry, be ready to experience some rough seas. Also, the queue start forming up 1.5 hours prior to the departure and seats are on 1st come, 1st serve basis.

6. Restaurants do not serve you drinking water

Save water, drink beer

You will not find drinking water being served at your table in restaurants, not even on the breakfast table of your own hotel. Carry a keg of mineral water from the supermarket, this will cost you around SCR 40 for 5-liter jar. It is enough for 2 people for 4-5 days. The more quantity you purchase, cheaper will be the rate.

7. There is no night life

The shops and the markets are shut close by 5 PM and the restaurants are open till 10 PM. If you are looking for a night life experience, you are looking at the wrong place.

8. Seychellean are leisure loving people

We have experienced that island nationals are leisure loving people. Sundays are entirely off. You would not find any market, shop or transport service functional on Sundays. Make sure you do avoid making any plans on Sunday.

9. Cellphone networks are not very good and data card is expensive

Cellphone connectivity is good in Mahe and Praslin, however the network reception is not very good if you are travelling to adjoining islands or hiking up the trails. Apart from the local calling card, Airtel provides calling and data services. Our suggestion is to avoid purchasing the same since the tariffs and data costs are very high, around SCR 500 for 7 days of data and calling. Most hotels, restaurants and coffee shops will have Wi-Fi, you can always avail that.

Seychelles is a lovely place, and if you get the above things covered, you are sure to have a ball of a time in the island nation. Warm months are coming near, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and enjoy the sun and surf in Seychelles.

Madurai Food Tour: What to Eat, Where to Eat

What would a small, sleepy temple town in South India offer in terms of culinary treats? A common response would be the same old monotonous idli, dosa, wada and rice. Stereotyping 101. And Madurai gives a perfect answer by breaking this stereotypes. A food lovers paradise, here’s a list of all interesting things to eat and where to find them in Madurai.

What: Fluffy Idlis with Ensemble of Chutney
Where: Murugan Idli Shop
So much to choose from

Why: The best idlis we have had till date, their idlis are so soft and so delicious, you just can’t have one. And with the varieties of chutney they provide with it, these fluffy soft idlis are one hard thing to resist.
How Much: INR 30/- per plate of Idli (2 pieces)

What: Madurai Biryani
Where: Panamarathu Biryani Kadai/Street Shops in Goripalayam
Source: The Hindu

Why: If you are a biryani lover, then your day will begin on a great note since the Madurai Biryani is available in the morning from 8 AM to 11 AM in the streets and restaurants of Madurai. Greasy and flavorful, this biryani is different in taste and texture from all others we have tried thus far, and definitely leaves a lasting impact.
How Much: INR 150/- to 200/- per plate

What: Madurai Special Thali
Where: Heritage Madurai Resort/ Patti Kadai
All in one, One definitely enough for Two

Why: Short on time but want to experience everything? Madurai Special Thali is what you would look forward to. An amazing 3-course meal spread that will make you eat to your heart’s content, and a little bit above it. The dish will mesmerize your senses, totally.
How Much: INR 400/- to 600/- per thali

What: Bun Parotta
Where: Street Shops at Aavin Junction, KK Nagar
Source: Ritz

Why: Fluffy, soft, sweet and delicious. Perfect evening snack, made with eggs, milk, butter, sugar and bananas, kneading all into a dough and beating them for hours makes them extremely soft and fluffy. Again, makes you keep coming for more.
How Much: INR 50/- to 100/- per plate (4-6 pieces)

What: Keerai Vadai
Where: All road side shops in evening
Source: Sail Us Food

Why: A popular tea time snack prepared from the green leafy vegetables in lentil batter and deep fried. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, this evening snack is very healthy due to presence of green leaves and helps keep cough at bay.
How Much: INR 50/- per plate (3-6 pieces)

What: Kari Dosa
Where: Konar Mess
Yummy Kari Dosa

Why: A signature Madurai dish, it is something you just cannot miss if you are in Madurai or even passing through the city. A three layered dosa whose base layer is thick plain dosa, middle layer is omelette and top layer is minced meat. Extremely delicious, to be savoured with curry or sambar.
How Much: INR 150/- per piece

What: Kola Urundai
Where: Kumar Mess
Source: Yummy Tummy

Why: Another culinary highlight of Madurai, minced mutton balls prepared with lots of spices, making them crunchy on outside and melting from within. Savoured dry or in a curry, they will have a burst of flavors in your pallets and will keep on lingering long after you have eaten.
How Much: INR 150/- to 200/- per plate (6 pieces)

What: Jigarthanda
Where: Famous Jigarthanda Shop
Happiness is A glass of Jigarthanda

Why: When you want a coolant for your body after all the heavy influx of meat and spices, a glass of Jigarthanda definitely helps in ceasing the fire in the belly. Chilled milk with a rabdi like consistency, with crushed Gondh (Tree Gum) and topped with a scoop of Ice cream. In literal sense it is Jigarthanda, one that cools your gut.
How Much: INR 60/- for full glass

What: Madurai Famous Halwa
Where: Prem Vilas Halwa Shop/Murugan Idli Shop
Source: Native Special

Why: It is soft, it is smooth, it is full of ghee and it tastes yum. There isn’t a better way to end your gastro journey. You need to try it to understand its rich taste. Hands down, Highly Recommended!
How Much: INR 350/- to 400/- per kg

There you have it then, a place in South India, known for its temple, yet offering culinary treats that pleases everyone who visits. Do try these places when you visit next and let us know which one is your favorite.

Madurai – Not just another Temple Town

Madurai – The first thing that runs across your mind when you hear this name is the city’s association with temples, with Meenakshi Temple being the most obvious answer. We were also of the similar opinion, recollecting a little bit from the history textbooks we skimmed through in school days. However, a recent visit to South Indian town completely changed our notion of the place, as the city continued to pull out surprises one after the other, just like a magician pulls out rabbits from the hat. Here’s what you can do if you happen to visit Madurai.

Get Mesmerized by Meenakshi Amman Temple

Built in 10th Century, Meenakshi Amman Temple is considered to be one of the oldest temples in India and has one of the biggest temple complexes in the world. Each and every corner of this gorgeous temple exudes architectural marvel. The 4 huge Gopurams in four directions outline the temple complex. Each of them are adorned with idols of Gods & Goddesses, a rough estimate is a combined total of around 3000 idols. Vivid and vibrant colours of immediately grab your attention towards them.

The temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar, and is believed to be their place of wedding. The hallways of the temple have their trademark style on display. The immensely serene atmosphere of the temple will bring you in a state of bliss, as you pass by the magnificent Puthu Mandapam and glorious 1000 Pillar Hall. The Celestial Wedding Hall is all about the grandeur of the place and the temple where the deity is established will bring you at peace amidst chaos.

Remain Awed by the architecture of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal

The more we see the ancient structures, the more respect we garner for the architects and designers. Built 450 years ago, Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace is one stunning piece of design. A classic combination of Dravidian & Islamic styles of architecture, the King’s line of thought and love for art is clearly visible in the design.

Huge pillars ornate works surround the Royal Courtyard and there is no dearth of photogenic spots in this magnanimous palace. It is said that the palace was 4 times the present structure, and we leave it to the imagination to mold the thoughts around the look and feel of the palace in its heyday. The aura of the place is just amazing, enough to keep you spell bound for a long time.

Experience Heritage stay at Heritage Madurai

You seldom come across the places that look chic on the outside but have maintained a classic connect to the heritage from within. Heritage Madurai Resort is one such place. A one of a kind resort, it showcases a classic blend of vintage decors with modern amenities.

Cozy stays, peaceful environment and delightful setting is all you are set to experience during your stay at this marvelous property. We highly recommend stay at here, to know more about the experience and property, click here.

Enjoy a Stroll along Mariamman Theppakulam

A symmetrical pond in the center of the city is a great place to spend the evening with family and loved ones. A temple stands in the middle of the pond is quite a sight to behold for the days to come.

Explore the Dedicated Markets

One fascinating thing we found about Madurai was the markets. You name a thing and they have a dedicated market only for that thing. Don’t believe? Check the pictures below to believe.

The flower market is a place that bustles in the wee hours of the day. As fragrant as it can be, we bet you can find a flower of the colour you name. Madurai’s famous Malli Flowers, marigolds, roses, champa, and hibiscus are a few flowers we could recognise in the market, the scent of the surroundings still tingle in our nostrils.

For the first time in our life did we see an onion market. Yes, an onion market. And we came to a conclusion that people in Madurai are rich, going by the amount of onions that were there on display.

And then. there was this Banana Market.

Appreciate the Art at Vilachery

If you love art works and believe in supporting local & cottage industries, Vilacherry Village is the place for you to be. Known as the Vilachery Art Village, it has upheld the tradition of making clay dolls that are set up on display during Navratri in Tamil Households. Vibrant colours of these dolls definitely brings a smile on your face.

Just in the next lane from where these beautiful idols are made, is a place where beautiful sarees are hand woven. The weavers here have been carrying on the tradition for generations. We were delighted to see the process of weaving, the complex layout of the machine and the beautifully set manual algorithm that weaves a particular design at fixed intervals. Fell completely in love with it.

Hog onto the finger licking delicious local cuisine

The best surprise that Madurai pulled out, which literally swept us off our feet, was the extensive use of meat in their staple food. Yes, this temple town is a Non-Veg Lover’s Paradise. The flavours of the dishes have a dash of Chettinadu Cuisine and will definitely leave a lasting impression on your taste pallets.

Begin your day with fluffy soft idlis at Murugun Idli Shop, hog on to the melt-in-the-mouth meat balls at Amma Mess during lunch, taste the soft and creamy bun parotta on streets near Meenakshi Temple in evening and relish the lovely Kari Dosa with Elambu Roast at Konar Mess for dinner. To top it up, cease the fire in your belly with Famous Jigarthanda, highly recommended, and not to forget the Madurai Halwa. And if you are short on time, indulge in the Madurai Thali and get a chance to explore a flavor burst in your taste palettes. Find out more in detail about What to eat, Where to eat in Madurai

It is so amazing to see a place that is known worldwide for its temples, has so much more to offer. We loved the surprises Madurai kept throwing at us, making our first trip of 2020, a great and a memorable one!!