|| Trip to the Monsoons ||
Making an instant weekend trip can always be done. But being in Maharashtra (Mumbai) and during the monsoons, it should be mandatory to visit the sheer beauty of the nature.
Thus, the trip to Nashik was planned (or rather unplanned). After I boarded the train towards Pune from Lokamanya Tilak Terminus station at 5:30 a.m., I realized that the trip is going to be a nature’s treat. The train windows were having beautiful slide shows through the water droplets over it.
Ok, this trip was not only a Nashik visit, but also a meet-up with a childhood friend. So, after a journey of around approximately 5 hours, I finally reached Nashik and we met at the station. Local auto-rickshaws were abundant, one of which took us to our pre-booked hotel.
Getting a cab for the rest of the day’s trip was our priority and after some consultation at the hotel desk, we got a cab for the sightseeing of the day. Doing all these took us to the later part of the day and hence Pandavleni caves was the nearest option to start our trip.
As per Wiki, Pandavleni are a group of 24 caves carved between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, representing the Hinayana Buddhist caves and has nothing to do with the characters of Mahabharata (the Pandavas). Most of the caves are Viharas except for the 18th cave which is a Chaitya.
Since the caves are East facing, one should visit in the early morning to view its grace. But during monsoons, we saw a different beauty of the city from the top as the cool breeze was combing through the hair. Also, the water streams at the entrance of most of the caves were a part of the attractions. The lush greenery was an add-on to the small elevated road towards the caves.
After this we were taken near to the Godavari river as we told our driver to show a waterfall. Maharashtra, specially Nashik, has its name for beautiful waterfalls during monsoons and hence we didn’t want to miss a chance of the thrill. As we proceeded near the Godavari bank, the noise started posing as a huge pandemonium among the crowd, rain and the water falling.
The river was boisterous and turbulent, roaring and raging from the top plateau to the lower one towards its direction. The magnanimous waterfall was worth many pictures and going close to it for a view was worth the slight risk too.
This area is near to a temple, which we didn’t find interesting for a visit though. After spending around 15-20 minutes, our next destination was the famous Sula Vineyards for wine-making tour and tasting.
The entry to the Sula Vineyards (a drive of around 15 kms from our hotel) was too gracious as it gave a feeling of entering a royal garden (or grapes). The plants were planted in rows from North to South direction so that all the plants get an equal distribution of sunlight throughout the day. (I got this piece of information later in the guided tour). The place has a well-maintained restaurant with a great view over the vineyards. Since it was a weekend, the place was as usual crowded. So, we dropped the idea of trying the food over there.
As we had booked a wine tour and tasting plan (@375/- per head), we had to wait for our turn. This was the time to roam around the place which was extremely vibrant and photogenic. There were full of graffiti and decorations with wine bottles.
After the wine tasting sessions, we bought few varieties of wine before returning to our hotel. They had all the varieties in that shop. As a whole the day was well spent with few activities and lots of chats.
Here are more glimpses to the vineyards:
Where we stayed: Hotel Hi5
Tips before you go:
- For Pandavleni caves, try to go as early as possible and take care of the shoes you wear
- There are proper stairs though and the trek is easy for aged people too
- Ticket price is Rs. 15 per head for visitng Pandavleni Caves. The caves are well maintained and clean
- Please keep the area clean as well
- For Sula Vineyards, be in your senses as a wino would not enjoy to the full