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Central Konkan Holiday Package

The Central Konkan Coast runs from south of Mumbai till Guhagar, and is famed for its sublime beaches, lovely hills and forts aplenty! You may stumble upon a small and pretty village next to a quietly noisy river, cobbled roads, chirping birds, chattering wildlife and delectable appetizers, on this Central Konkan Holiday Package!

The first destination is Karnala a great place for family and friends, as you explore the Karnala Bird Sanctuary where you can enjoy thick forests, entwining vines, wild ferns,chirping birds, frolicking squirrels, flitting butterflies, swinging monkeys and the shrill and call of the jungle fowl!  The intriguing hill fort of Karnala is a magnet for trekkers.

Move on to Alibaug and discover its charisma in the small town scenic beachside and the sea fort of Kolaba, both of which owe their existence to the Maratha Empire!  The Alibaug beach is the centre of attraction in the evenings as horse-driven buggies offer rides, and vendors sell pani puri, bhel puri and chaat on the shore! The Kolaba Fort is located on a rock jutting out into the sea and dominates the landscape of the beach and the imagination of its visitors. Around low tide, the water becomes shallow enough for people to wade or take horse rides. There are many other beaches that you can visit near Alibaug, such as the Akshi beach, Nagaon beach and the Versoli beach.  The Khanderi and Underi forts are also worth a visit and you may hire a local boat to reach these sites. Kihim, Awas and Sasavne beaches are located further north of Alibaug!  In the evening, the beach chokes with chaat papdi, paani puri, bhel puri, Chinese and South Indian dishes, for visitors to satiate their growl in their eager digestive system!

Further on, Kolad is a sleepy town with its inhabitants, offering lush valleys and wetlands to the travellers! You can hike up a hill to the majestic Dholwal Dam and also visit the Ghosala Fort. The Tamhane Waterfall is an exciting place and the Kuda Caves are located on a small, secluded beach here, with fun opportunities for both adults and children. The Tala Fort and the Gaimukh a pilgrimage centre is exotic and nature lovers can also have a look at the Bhira Dam or the Tata Powerhouse Dam, which has a beautiful canvas and a waterfall! There are a few lush farmhouses just outside Kolad, the main ones being the Greenacre Farms, Camp River Wild and Anjali’s Whispering Grove! There are adventure activities like bird watching, boating, trekking, rafting and kayaking!

Drive on to Kashid a small village on the Alibaug-Murud road and the beach here is a daylong playground, and you have weekend runaways for picnics here. The Korlai Fort gives amazing views as it lies on a narrow strip of a hill that juts out into the Arabian sea at the edge of the

Revdanda Creek, highlighting the fort and the village along with beach! The Murud beach is a sheltered stretch of sand surrounded on all sides by some stunning hills. Every evening crowd converges here to enjoy the breeze and the daily spectacle of the sunset! Of course, the Janjira Fort and the Padmadurg Fort are the main reasons for visiting Murud! The fascinating Janjira is the sparkling citadel occupying an island close to the Murud coast, which was built by the Siddis, trade-warriors from Abyssinia, who ruled this region for centuries, and were instrumental in the origin of the two main Forts!

Raigad is famous for its Fort, which Shivaji built when he called himself `Chhatrapati’ and this Raigad Fort was also called the `Gibraltar of the East’,  a historical reminder with its ruins!  Mahad is a small town from Raigad, popular for the Chawdar Tank right in the centre of the town. It was BR Ambedkar who broke the caste hierarchy when he drank water from this tank, previously reserved for the upper castes. Thousands of people had gathered for this event and it became renowned as the Mahad Satyagraha! It would be the most pleasant experience to take a dip into the hot water springs at Sav Unala! Also there are caves at Shivtargad, next to a tantalizing waterfall, so treat your eyes on the Central Konkan Holiday Package!

Shrivardhan is what every devout sea-lover looks for and offers a picturesque view of the sea that you feel as if the rock you are standing on is in fact dancing with the waves, and the water stretches on to the horizon, wherever your eyes go! The Kondivli beach is Shivardhan’s pride. Apart from taking walks and swimming on the beach, it is a sheer enigma to watch the black-brown sands caressing your feet and blowing away softly with the breeze, ringing music into your ears! Another joyous spot is the Bharadkol beach. A short walkaway is the Laxminarayan Temple and other holy shrines such as the Bhairav, Jivaneshwar and Kusumdevi temples. Visitors continue to trickle in to the Peshwa Smarak Temple which is a landmark in its own right!

Hariheshwar is recognized for its temple but you may travel there as a bonafide beach buff! The land is an Om-shaped beach, and nearby is the residence of the local deity, the Kalbhairav temple, abuzz with a lot of visitors!

Their proximity to each other has earned them the name of `twin beaches’ of Harnai and Murud! There is solitude here and its quiet shore is the very antithesis where even the waves pulsate with the urgency of fish auctions! You may discover the Anjarie Beach in the morning, and go for a swim at the palm-fringed Murud Beach and then head to a fish auction at Harnai, in the evening! For a stupendous sunset sojourn, drive down to Karde. You can also go dolphin spotting to a nearby Lotus Beach Resort, aboard a small motorboat in the morning.

Chiplun, is another place where you can put your feet up in water, and gaze at the wide green vistas and drive towards exquisite points. The Pethe Parshuram Village has a dreamy, times-gone-by air, which belies the respect that it commands through centuries! There are many things to do by the Vashishti River which meanders along a wayward course in this region. Drive down to the jetty and take a boat ride in the river, on the Central Konkan Holiday Package! Be careful, as you might spot some crocodiles in the river.

Get on to Guhagar, which earlier was a tiny village and not the bustling town-in-the-making that it now is, after the Enron project came here. Nearby, Velneshwar with its quiet beach, a small fishing village, an old temple and bobbing boats, now holds claim to that worthy title of an earthy,  rustic and developing village-town! Most visitors come to Guhagar for the unusual beach with its heap of sand sloping towards both the village and the sea, and also for the eye-catching Wyadeshwar Shiva Temple. A few kilometers away from this village, you may also drive towards the ancient Gopalgarh Fort, on the Central Konkan Holiday Package!

After this nature-driven sites, move on to the exotic Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, a National Park, and a wildlife sanctuary, tropical, deciduous, dry forest harbours and its biggest asset is the possibility of frequent wildlife sightings.  You may also go to the Tadoba Lake, dedicated to a local Gond eminence called Taru, who fought with a tiger! This is a lush forested area with a variety of tree species, bamboo thickets appear to contain infinite mysteries, little streams gurgle and mahua is everywhere with its distinctive smell! You may sight some tigers here including mammals, panther, bear, flying squirrel, cheetal, sambar, nilgai, chousingha, barking deer gaur, birds, butterflies and crocodiles. The waterholes dotted around the reserve are a   beacon for animals, especially in high summer.

Your extended journey backwards would be towards the exotic Ajanta and Ellora caves, merged with the Konkan sector. These brilliant Caves are always rhymed together for their architectural similarity and location, as both are masterpieces of a unique artistic blend and bear testimony to the versatility of ancient artists, as their murals are chiselled with exquisite carvings adorning the ceilings and walls, depicting a remarkable synthesis of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples.

This is the place where you can touch history, painted in glowing plant and mineral colours, marveling at their mammoth excellence!

Declared as a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the paintings and sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious design, have had a great influence in the development of art in India. These caves are considered the greatest masterpiece of Buddhist art and architecture and contain plenty of other specimens to support their uniqueness and importance in archaeology as well as history, which is enough to endorse their authenticity. The creative use of colour and freedom of expression used in depicting human and animal forms makes the cave paintings at Ajanta one of the high watermarks of artistic creativity. The Ellora, is preserved as an artistic legacy that will continue to inspire and enrich the lives of generations to come. Not only is this cave complex a unique artistic creation and an excellent example of technological exploit but also, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, is illustrative of the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India, which is more than enough to stun the spectators touring the complex. All the paintings appear to be the work of painters at least as used to decorating palaces as temples, and show a familiarity with, and interest in details of the life of a wealthy court. The compositions are not laid out in horizontal compartments like a frieze, but show large scenes spreading in all directions, from a single figure or group at the centre. The ceilings are also painted with sophisticated and elaborate decorative motifs, many derived from sculpture.

Besides these caves, you could take a short trip around the other sites in Aurangabad as the curves of a bygone era enhance the youthful flush of this tourist driven economy, which could take you to the rambling fort of the city or the sun-bleached dargahs that promise to be the retainers of its prodigious history that sustains the city in its pride and honour! The important tourist sites in the town are the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, an elegant structure, locally called the twin Taj Mahal, Panchakki, which is a water wheel and Daulatabad, a coveted stronghold of its times. A wonderous mix of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves along with the Central Konkan Holiday Package!

Shopping:

 At the coastal side, you could artifacts, souvenirs and jewellery made with seashells, combined with wood, metal and stone, and cane craft! In the Aurangabad sector, you could find a blend of fabrics, saris, puneri and nav vari saris, dresses, handbags, slippers, shoes, clips, silver jewellery including artistic silver nose pins, cane shops with canes for the elderly, batons for policemen, long sticks for school masters, diversity of dresses and head ornaments for your idols at home. There are plenty of magnets of the caves, paintings, and posters as well as statues of Buddha and sculptures in stone, metal and wood, to be carried as gifts or souvenirs.

Cuisine:

Konkani cuisine, also called Malvani cuisine is a gourmand’s delight! Undoubtedly it has a strong bias for sea creatures and is distinctive in its liberal use of tart, plump kokum berries and spicy- sour flavours. The use of farm-fresh ingredients and fish that comes straight out of the nets heightens the epicurean experience!

Here you will come across names such as Chamchamit masali tikhle, zanzanit kombdi sukhe, kurkurit bombli, and the famous Bombay duck! The second is the succulent dry fried pieces of chicken, while chamchamit is pomfret or sumai or bongda in a tangy masala, spicy, just like the Malvani language! Shellfish is made with an ambrosial masala of kothmir or coriander finely ground with coconut and tamarind pulp. Kolambi or prawns, inflamed by a magical concoction of Malvani spice

The restaurants around this coast are laid out with  semi-Maharashtrian fare but offers dishes for the South Indian taste buds, as well as Marwari, Gujarati, Indian, tandoori, Mughlai and Chinese food, besides thalis and snacks. On most of the beaches, eateries are lined up with chaat, pani puri, bhel puri, chips, cold drinks, tea, coconut water, Maggi, omelettes.  Food outlets offer konkanese food, seafood and local vegetarian curries. There are locations offering vegetarian thalis and fish curry thalis, both decent non-vegetarian and vegetarian Malvani and Konkani, continental and Gujarati and Punjabi cuisines, good soups, surmal fry and other curries. The temple town of Guhagar serves only vegetarian meals!

Climate:

Winters from November to February and the monsoon from June to August are the best seasons to travel to this Coast, even though the sea might get a little rough during the rains! Yet a thoroughly enthralling exploration, even you choose to go during the summers or any time of the year, that suits your schedule!

Recommended for a visit throughout the year, be it summer, winter, rain or sunshine, as the glory would keep the tourists spellbound even in the toughest of weather conditions, returning back with the desire of going back again to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves!

A treasure of everlasting tempting memories jingle along as the tourists  catch their flight to get back to the daily grind from this super-terrific blend of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves on the Central Konkan Holiday Package!


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