Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Hidden Gems of Konkan - Ganeshgule, Kasheli and unexplored area near Mervi

 The year 2020 was a covid-19 year. Everything was new for everyone and as covid cases go down, we all started with new normal life. Travelling and exploring new places is my passion. Considering the situation, we decided to arrange a small trip for relaxation and explore some untouched Konkan beaches. My first priority was to visit Ganeshgule as my friend owns a beautiful hotel and the place is always less crowded. Our (Me and Wife Renuka) close friend Himanshu-Ketki and their daughter, Ameya, Ashutosh-Sanjana, and their kids were co-travellers. Another couple Tushar-Neha joined us there as coincidently they were on their Ratnagiri trip.

Devghali Beach or Kasheli Beach
Devghali Beach or Kasheli Beach

About Ganeshgule, Kasheli, and surrounding places:
             Ganeshgule, a village few kilometres ahead of Pawas offers you a beautiful untouched beach. Not much explored by tourists hence it offers a sandy beach with crystal clear water. Ganeshgule beach is a km-long beach blocked by mountains on both sides. It offers you peace of mind & freedom to stroll and bath in the blue waters whenever you feel.
Ratnagiri city is the nearest port city to Ganeshgule on the Arabian Sea coast. It is a main city from the Konkan region and famous for its Alphonso Mangoes, Birthplace of “Lokmanaya” Bal Gangadhar Tilak, prime leader of India’s freedom movement, and Shivaji’s Fort. There are many tourist points in the Ratnagiri district that are blessed with untouched and beautiful beaches.

The route to reach Ganeshgule from Pune is –
Take National Highway 48 (Old Number 4) – Drive till Karad city on the highway – Cross Karad and drive for a few km – after Karad, look for the first flyover on the highway – Do not take flyover route – Take right below the flyover – Drive on State highway – Malkapur – Amba – Sakharpa – Pali (Do not confuse with Pali from Ashtavinayak locations) – Drive towards the south for few km on NH – Take left after crossing Patergaon – Ganeshgule.
Alternate route is Pune – Amba ghat – Sakharpa – Ratnagiri – Pawas – Ganeshgule.

The total distance via this route is around 304km.

Other routes are Tahmini – Mangaon – Mumbai Goa national highway OR 
Pune – Umbraj – Koyanagar – Chiplun – Ratnagiri - Ganeshgule.

Day 1: 26 December 2020 - Pune to Ganeshgule
              We woke up early in the morning and left home at 6 AM with our friends. We wanted to avoid the highway traffic and enjoy the morning breeze. Before Khambatki Ghat, we took a pit stop for Wada-pav at Shriram hotel. We decided to go by the Amba ghat route. After crossing Karad, we took right from the Amba ghat route. We had our lunch in Hotel Kasturi which is close to Amba ghat. Considering the number of travellers, there were multiple pit stops and we finally reached Ganeshgule by 4:30ish in the evening. 

Ganeshgule Beach
Ganeshgule Beach

             We reached Oceano Pearl home stay resort. The resort was a mixture of Konkani-modern style with a lot of greenery and with a huge farm of different trees (Wadi in Marathi) like Coconuts, Alphonso, and many more. They have AC rooms and one treehouse (Not in Function due to Covid and maintenance), close to the beach. Management and staff from the resort welcomed us with a smile. We booked 3 AC rooms which were cleaned with all required amenities. When we used to visit the Ganeshgule, there was not a single hotel but now there are a couple of more Homestay/hotels available

Oceano Pearl resort
Oceano Pearl resort

              We took tea coffee and then went to the beach. Ganeshgule beach is around 1.5-2 km long beach and gives you a feel of a private beach. With white soft sand all over the beach, it was very neat and clean. Water was so clear that we were unable to stop ourselves from going into the water. It was a good evening to spend time with friends and their kids on the beach. We had our dinner in Oceano Pearl hotel before our day ends. Ashutosh and his family have stayed at the nearby homestay. 

Sunset from Ganeshgule Beach
Sunset from Ganeshgule Beach

Major Expenses:
  • Car Fuel: INR4000/-
  • Resort Stay: INR4000/- per Room per night for 3 people with breakfast
  • Lunch at Kasturi restaurant, Amba Ghat: INR160 for Veg Thali and INR200 for chicken Thali
  • Dinner: INR2700/- for 3 people with veg and seafood dishes.

Day 2: 27 December 2020 - Ganeshgule, Kasheli
               We woke up early morning and went to the beach. Ganeshgule has a long, scenic, unexplored beach. Only we were on the beach with only the sea waves for a company and it was like we were on our private beach. We spent around an hour on the beach. There is a Small Mountain on the right side of the beach. It takes hardly 20 min to reach the top of the hill. The location of the rocky plateau on the mountain makes this place a perfect location for peace where you can only hear sea waves. One wave after another was seen on the rocky area as if they were trying to climb the rock to meet us. The location is covered by sea from 3 sides and a beautiful sunset on the horizon. The view of the sea from here is breathtaking and this is the best place to witness the sun on the horizon spreading orange-red colour all over the sky. This is one of my favourite places from the Konkan coastal area.

Morning Time on Beach

               We came back to the hotel for breakfast. Today we planned to visit Kasheli. Kasheli is a coastal village in the Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, with a secluded, unexplored Devghali beach with an amazing view. Kasheli village is especially known for Shri Kanakaditya Temple. Distance from Ganeshgule is around 22km whereas 40-42km from Ratnagiri. 
              You can visit the Purnagad fort which is on the bank of the River. We skipped this place as we all visited earlier. On the way, we took a pit stop at Gaonkhadi beach. Beach is untouched, very cleaned, and maintained by villagers. No tourists and food stall which makes this place very clean and beautiful. The small hill is just aside from the beach so if you want to have a look at the entire beach then a small hill climbing can fulfil your wish. 

Village near Gaonkhadi Beach

              We reached Kasheli and went to Temple. Sri Kanakaditya Temple is one of the few temples situated in Maharashtra that is dedicated to the Sun God. The idol from the temple is 800 years old and is made out of black stone. The temple is rustic with a big sabha-mandap of local architecture. There is a legend about the standing idol of Lord Sun in this Mandir, where a sailor from Saurashtra, carrying the idol of Lord Aditya in his boat, couldn’t sail beyond the sea waters of Kasheli. He had to leave the idol in a cave in the adjacent hills, wherefrom a lady devotee got messages about the idol’s location in her dreams and the villagers found the idol there.

Sri Kanakaditya Temple, Kasheli
Sri Kanakaditya Temple, Kasheli

              Our next spot was Devghali beach which is also popularly known as Kasheli beach. It is around 10-15 min away and you can reach the top of a mountain by car. There is no proper road built up till the parking point. You have to climb down to reach the beach. Beach is very small and nestled in between rocky shore. There is a small cave on one side of the Beach. There are proper steps laid to climb down. At the midpoint, the sunset viewpoint is built to enjoy the sunset. 

             Beach has soft sand, clean water, and a well-maintained area. Better to avoid swimming in the water due to rocky areas and sudden depth in water. Soaking in water is definitely gives you a refreshing feel. We spend around 30-40 min on the beach. you may feel tired while climbing steps to the top. 2 local shops offer you local drink and water.

Kasheli Beach or Devghali Beach
Kasheli Beach or Devghali Beach

              We were hungry by the time we reach the top. We decided to stretch a bit and travel back to Pawas for lunch. We had our tasty lunch at the restaurant Aradhya. They serve tasty veg, non-veg, and seafood thali. After a delicious meal, we came back to the hotel. 

Seafood meal

              We spend the evening on the beach. Kids were enjoying the making of sandcastle and sea waves. we witness the beautiful sunset from the beach and came back to the hotel. Today's dinner was planned at the Atharva cottage where Ashutosh and their family were staying. The food was good in taste. After dinner, we went back to the hotel for a rest.


Major Expenses: 
  • Lunch at Aradhya: INR1575/- for 9 people (Veg meal INR100, Chicken meal INR120, egg meal INR100, Kingfish meal INR350, Pomfret fish meal INR450)
  • Dinner at Atharva: Approx INR2500-3500/- for 9-10 people (veg and fish meal) along with Modak in Sweet
Day 3: 28 December 2020 - The unexplored area near Mervi 
              As part of our ritual, we woke up early and went to the beach for a morning walk. Post breakfast, We decided to explore the beach which is south of Mervi. Beach is not listed on google map and there is no road to reach the beach. We took Ameya's UV car which was a good option for off-roading. Our target was to explore 2 beaches, one on the north side of Mervi and another one on the south of Mervi. By the end of our exploration, we land upon exploring one beach whereas we spot the route for the second beach. (By the time my blog is published, someone tagged both beaches by the name Mervi which is not the case). I have shared a tentative GPS coordinate in case someone interested to visit. We Cross Jambhul aad village and then took right turn for Mervi Village. after a certain point, we left the road and started off-roading with XUV car. The entire area is a flat rocky plateau and then we climbed down to reach the beach. We saw an Indian wolf during our off-roading.

Untouched Beach

             We parked the car at a certain point and then climbed down the hill to reach the beach. There is no route/trail to climb down hence take proper care and mind your steps. Beach is small and rocky. Beach was flat and clean. There are plenty of rocky patches hence not recommended for swimming. It's not easily accessible for anyone. Kids are not recommended on this beach. As there is private property from where you can access this beach. Stepping down and again climbing up is not that easy for everyone. Indeed it was a wonderful treat for us to get this opportunity to visit this beach. You can take a walk on the north side of the beach to explore the next beach which looks like Om.

Unknown beach near Mervi

               After exploring this untouched beach, we travel back to Pawas for lunch. We had lunch at the restaurant Aradhya and did a quick visit to Pawas.  Pawas is well known for the Ashram of Swami Swaroopanand and is a few km from Ganeshgule village. Pawas is a prime spiritual place in the Ratnagiri district due to a very long stay of Swami (saint) Swaroopanand. He was born on 15th December 1903 at Pawas. At the age of 20, he had received the initiation (Diksha) from his Guru Sadguru Babamaharaj Vaidya from Pune. From this point, his journey in the spiritual world had begun. At the age of 70, on 15th August 1974, Swamiji took Samadhi (self-immolation) at Pawas. The temple in Pawas is very clean and well maintained.
            For evening time, we went to rocky hill from Ganeshgule beach. Watching the sunset from that point is a treat to the eye. After spending some time on the beach, We returned to the hotel and had dinner. It was a good relaxation break which we are looking for for a long time.

Sunset from Ganeshgule Beach

Major Expenses:
  • Lunch at Aradhya: Approx. INR 1300/- for 5 people
  • Dinner at Atharva: Approx INR1800/- for 8-9 people

Day 4: 29 December 2020 - Ganeshgule - Pune
           We left Ganeshgule via the Ratnagiri route by 11 AM. We took our small break at Ganeshgule temple. This temple is older than Ganpatipule. The Ganesh idol in the temple is the "Swayambhu" (i.e. formed naturally) idol with its trunk turned towards the west. The statue of the mouse in front of the temple is very beautiful and made up of metal alloy. You can see a beautiful valley view from the temple. There is an old ancient well opposite the temple. Local believes that Well was built in Pandava's era.

Ganeshgule Ganesh Temple
Ganeshgule Ganesh Temple

We travelled via Amba Ghat – National highway 4 and reached Pune safely by 10 PM

GPS locations:
  • Oceano Pearl beach homestay, Ganeshgule - 16.870456, 73.294762
  • Restaurant Aradhya: 16.875762, 73.323787
  • Kasheli Beach: 16.726635, 73.310179
  • North Mervi Beach : 
  1. Off-Roading start point - 16.836203, 73.306283
  2. Car parking spot - 16.839083, 73.294883 (Note, you need a good ground clearance car to reach this point)
  3. Beach - 16.838442, 73.294181
Contact Numbers for your References:
  • Oceano Pearl beach homestay at Ganeshgule: 02352-237800, 02352-219400, 8605599789, 9405340784
  • Restaurant Aradhya: 9168522797
Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 2

Amongst the ups and lows of life, between all challenges, one gets a sweet peaceful space which reenergizes life. This North-East was one such. It was a customized package tour by our well-wisher where I and Renu chalked day-wise itinerary with the help of holiday partner Prena travels. Considering the wedding anniversary's occasion, They Booked a trip to Assam and Meghalaya. This trip helped us to bounce back from our tough time.
Travellers for this trip were Me and Wife Renuka.

               To avoid the length of my travel blog, I have divided it into 2 parts. In this part, will like to share my travel experience at Shillong and Kaziranga.
To read my previous Blog, click on Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 1

About Seven Sisters:
               7 States of India's North-east Part is known as Seven Sisters. Seven sister states are Assam (Dispur), Meghalaya (Shillong), Manipur (Imphal), Mizoram (Aizawl), Arunachal Pradesh (Itanagar), Nagaland (Kohima) and Tripura (Agartala). This name was used by journalist Jyoti Prasad Saikia in 1972. Seven States have similarity on Geographical, Economical and tribal culture. There are different views on the reason behind the name. But what I Feel is they are an integral part of India and blessed with lovely nature and rich culture.
Our trip was focused on Assam and Meghalaya. Assam shared the state border to rest north-east state and hence it is known as Gateway to North-East India. Dispur is the capital of the state but Guwahati is the primary entry point for Assam. Assam is situated just below the eastern Himalaya foothill. The state is famous for tea, Silk, one-horned rhinoceros, tourism and culture.
Meghalaya (Name meaning Home of Clouds) is a hilly state. Shillong is the capital of the state whereas Shillong is also known as Scotland of the East. Meghalaya is the wettest land of India with around 70% of the forest. The state offers you tourism throughout the year as per interest.

Our Day Wise plan:
Trip Plan
Day 1
09 February 2020
Pune to Guwahati via Kolkata.
Local Sightseen
Day 2
10 February 2020
Guwahati to Cherrapunji via Shillong.
Cherrapunji Sightseen
Sohra (Cherrapunji)
Day 3
11 February 2020
Double-decker Live root Bridge & Rainbow fall trek.
Day 4
12 February 2020
Dawki River and Mawlynnong Village
Day 5
13 February 2020
Local Sightseen
Day 6
14 February 2020
Shillong to Kaziranga and local Sightseen
Day 7
15 February 2020
Forest Safari and then Back to Guwahati
Day 8
16 February 2020
Local sightseen, Evening flight to Pune

Two Sisters

To read my previous Blog, click on Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 1

Day 4: 12 Feb 2020: Dawki and Mawlynnong:
             We woke up by 7AM and had a tasty breakfast in the hotel. We spend some time in their garden which was beautifully decorated with a variety of flowers. Our driver came by 8:30AM and we left Shillong for our planned sightseen. Our first destination was Umngot River from Dawki (it is famous by name Dawki river). The entire journey was in Ghat with smooth and wide road. Road gets Narrow near Imngot river. We took a pit stop at Latara viewpoint. After a quick coffee break and photo, we left for our first destination.

Latara View Point

              We reached our first destination i.e. Umngot River by 11AM. It is considered to be one of the cleanest Rivers of India. When we reached the Umngot River, our Car driver booked a boat ride. You can see Bangaladesh land on the other side of the River. Many Bangladeshi people came on the riverside (from their part) for either picnic or to sell food items to Indian people those are on a boat ride. We spend around an hour for a ride which was good but definitely not to add in the must-to-do list. Our boatman took us on Bangaladesh side (might be their routine, so we may buy products) but we were not interested and came back. River water is very clear and you can see the river bed easily. Too many boats for a ride looks worry point for us even though all boats are Non-Motorised.

Umngot River
Umngot River

Umngot River...a.k.a Dawki River

Bangladesh Land across Umngot River

               After the Umngot River visit, we headed towards Dawki-Tamabil check post which is crossing the border between India and Bangladesh. This border is used to transport coal and stone to Bangladesh. We took some photographs at the border check post and had word with our brave BSF. We had been to Wagha border, Border Pillar No 609 from Rajasthan (India-Pak Check post which not allowed for civilians) and visited another border check post.

At India-Bangladesh Border

             We took our Lunch at Ka Bri War restaurant which was suggested by the driver. Panjabi food was tasty with quick service. Post Lunch, we visited Mawlynnong Village. The road leading to the village was not very smooth whereas road construction was in progress. Though the roads in the Village was clean and very smooth. Mawlynnong Village won the cleanest Village of India award in the year 2005. Till date, the village is considered as one of the cleanest villages. The village was maintained very well and all most all home from village offers Homestay. To maintain its clean village status and high tourist flow, they made a lot of changes in the village due to which it looks artificial. Many homes are converted into a bungalow which lost the charm of Khasi Village. If you are seeking for peace then you can prefer to stay in the village. More or less, you will find Meghalaya's villages are pretty clean. No regrates even if you miss this place.

Mawlynnong Village
Mawlynnong Village

               After Mawlynnong Visit, we started our return journey to Shillong. We took a pit stop at Balance rock viewpoint. It is large size rock perfectly balanced on a small-sized rock. There is an entry fee to view the Balancing Rock. Our driver Suggested one more point i.e. Nohwet Live root bridge. It is mainly known as Mawlynnong Bridge but it is actually in Nohwet Village. Though we had visited unique and wonderful Double-decker and single live root bridge at Sohra (Cherapunjji) we decided to visit this Live root bridge as well. It just required 10-15 min of a climb down trail hence popular in tourists. The root bridge is wide and sturdy. There is no stopping on the root bridge for pictures. They have a second parallel bridge constructed next to the root bridge, where you can stop and take pictures. There are plenty of shops to buy snacks and gift crafts.

Balance Rock

Live Root Bridge

               We started our journey to Shillong and reach by 6PM. We took a stroll at Police Bazar (Market) for some local item shopping. The market is also famous for local street food, although we didn't try any dish. We did some shopping and had our dinner at City hut family Dhaba restaurant. We loved the ambience and food. We celebrated our wedding anniversary with tasty pastry and went to the hotel for rest.

Day 4 Expenses:
  • View-Point entry (Latara Fall): INR 20/- for 2 people
  • Khasi Dress rent: INR 200/- for 2 dress (Male and Female) without print Photo.
  • Dawki Boating (Long Ride): INR 1200/-
  • Tip to boatman: INR 70/- (Its an optional)
  • Lunch at Ka Bri War: INR 581/- for 2 people
  • Mawlynnong Village Parking: INR 50/-
  • Balance Rock point: INR 20/- for 2 people.
  • Live Root Bridge parking: INR 30/-
  • Live Root Bridge entry: INR 80/- for 2 people
  • Live Root Bridge Camera: INR 20/-
  • Chicken Momo at Stall: 60/- for the dish (6 pics)
  • Dinner at City Hut family Dhaba: INR 926/- for 2 people. (Starter, soup, Veg and Non-veg Momo, cold drink, 3 types of dessert cakes)
  • Cab to Hotel: INR 140/- (Normal rate for this distance is INR 100)

Day 5: 13 Feb 2020: Shillong Sightseen:
              We kept a few points for sightseen so we can have some rest and time for local shopping. We left for sightseeing after breakfast. Our first point was Shillong viewpoint. It is around 10-11 km away from Shillong market. This place comes under Indian Airforce so you have to clear security checks. After security checkpoint, photography is not allowed whereas you can use your camera at Shillong viewpoint. The viewpoint gives a spectacular bird's eye view of Shillong. The city looks most attractive from here only when the sky is clear. There are many local shops for snacks, traditional clothes and souvenirs at the viewpoint area.

Shillong View Point

             Our next destination was a sacred forest. It is around 25-26 km from Shillong. When we reached there, there was a vast stretch of open land and on its another end vast tall green canvas as if someone has drawn it to the scale in a straight line. It is also known as Mawphlang Sacred forest ( maw = stone, phlang = grass) which means Stone Grass. It is because due to heavy rains, high moisture and heavy morning dew, every rock and the rocky surface have a very thick coating of green moss which appears grass growing on the stones. There are two types of forest trails available with guides as a Half trail (30 Min) and full trail (1 hour). we took the full trail of 1 hour and our guide was Kerri Mame (A high school talkative smart boy)

Standing Stone represents Khasi men whereas Flat Stone represents Khasi Woman

            The forest is considered sacred by Khasi people. Gods are given sacrificial offerings at specific places by Khasi King marked by stones placed in a circle. During that era, if leopard appears after gods deity then it was considered as a good omen and if snacks appear in the forest then its bad Oman. No forest produce or product can be taken out of the forest though now local people started selling Rudraksha at the ticket counter. They believe that only Rudraksha is safe to take home as it is a blessing of God. The nature trail is beautiful. There are many varieties of trees which guide explains you during the trial. The guide was an enthusiastic photographer and took our pics using leaves and forest backgrounds. Weather was cloudy with freezing wind when we were about to finish the trail.

Sacrificial Offering place inside Forest

             We started our return journey to Shillong. Air force Museum was the next destination but we skipped it. The museum has old Indian air force's aircraft at display in open space. We reached Shillong during Lunch time as we had lunch at Bamboo Hut restaurant. Food was good in the taste. We went to the hotel for some rest in the afternoon. Shillong has a museum named Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous culture which presents the tribal culture and cultural history of the northeast. The museum features an impressive collection of indigenous articles and artefacts that depict the cultural richness of the region which gives overlook to the whole of North East India. The museum has seven floors and encompasses a total of 17 galleries that have artefacts, paintings, figures, sculptures, and much more on display. You need at least 2 hours to view the entire place.
              Ward's Lake is an artificial lake with a beautiful garden and walkways around it. There is also a boating facility available. Small Cafeteria is available which sells snacks and juices. After a quick visit to Ward's Lake, We went to Police Bazar (Main market place of Shillong) for shopping. You can buy local stuff, souvenirs, Cloths and many more item. All items are at High price so your bargaining power matters a lot to buy anything in Market. We purchased some local items from Emporium and had our dinner in the nearby restaurant. 

Day 5 Expenses:
  • Shillong Viewpoint Entry: INR 60/- for 2 people
  • Shillong viewpoint car parking: INR 30/-
  • Sacred Forest parking: INR 30/-
  • Sacred Forest entry: INR 20/- for 2 people
  • Sacred Forest camera: INR 50/-
  • Sacred Forest trail Chargers: INR 500/- for the full trail (INR300 for the half trail)
  • Lunch at Bamboo Hut, Shillong: INR 734/- for 2 people
  • Taxi to Market: INR 120/-
  • Ward's Lake Entry: INR 10 per person
  • Dinner: INR 525/-
  • Taxi to Hotel: INR 120/-

Day 6: 13 Feb 2020: Shillong - Kaziranga:
              We left Shilong by 9AM after breakfast. Today our plan was to reach Kaziranga before Sunset. Distance between Shillong and Kaziranga is around 260km. We took a pit stop at Umain Lake viewpoint. When we entered Assam, the road becomes wider and smooth. We took halt for lunch at Anurag Dhaba. It serves Delius Assami veg and non-veg meal. The ambience is simple and the restaurant was clean.
            After a few hours of drive, we entered in Kaziranga area. You may spot rhinoceros in the open fields. For safety, there is electric fencing on both sides of the highway. We stopped at one point which was around 15-20km before Kaziranga. We saw 3 rhino and wetland birds. After a quick 15-20 min break, we move ahead. we Reached Kaziranga national orchid and biodiversity park. Due to lack of time (orchid and biodiversity park closed at 5PM) we decided to see a few sections. Orchid and Biodiversity Park is located at the distance of about 2 km from the Central Range of Kaziranga. The park is spread in the area of around 6 acres and is considered as the largest orchid park in the Northeast belt of India. has different sections. Each section has guides who will explain to you the exhibits free of cost. The Orchid Park has more than 600 varieties of wild orchids of northeast Indian states. The whole variety of orchids is preserved in a greenhouse together with some hybrid varieties; some of them have been exclusively collected from the local region of the state. There are various galleries depicting local plants, animals, living style, culture etc, which is really a matter of attraction for tourist. We purchased an evening dance show ticket which starts at 8PM.

Orchid Park, Kaziranga
Orchid Park

Orchid Park, Kaziranga
Orchid Park, Kaziranga 

                We return to our hotel for the check-in process. We booked Tent stay at Mandu the escape hotel. The hotel was newly built. Property is beautiful and well maintained. Tents were clean with all the required facilities. After some rest and Coffee, We left for Culture dance show at Orchid and Biodiversity Park. Culture show performed by professional locals was fabulous. We really like the show. There were 7-8 types of cultural dance which ends with traditional Bihu dance.

Assamese Instrumental

Bamboo folk Dance

Bihu Folk Dance

               After the lovely performance, we came back to the hotel where our dinner was ready. They served our ordered dinner outside the tent. Weather was cold but the heater inside the tent helped for better sleep. we slept early as we booked 6AM Elephant Safari followed by 8:30AM Jeep safari.

Day 6 Expenses:
  • Tip in Shillong Hotel staff: INR 200/-
  • Lunch at Anurag Dhaba: INR 650/- (1 Veg meal, 1 Duck meal, cold drink and sweet dish)
  • Orchid & Biodiversity Park entry: INR 200/- for 2 (130 per head entry)
  • Orchid & Biodiversity Park Camera: INR 50/-
  • Orchid & Biodiversity Park Car parking: INR 20/-
  • Culture Show: INR 400/- for 2 Tickets.

Day 7: 14 Feb 2020: Kaziranga - Guwahati:
               We got the wake-up call by the Hotel staff at 4AM. We had lots of forest safari's in the past 7-8 years that we are used for an early wake-up schedule. Our driver came to the hotel by 5AM for pick up. Before 6AM we were at the starting point of Elephant Safari. This was our first safari experience on the elephant.
               Best Time to visit Kaziranga is from November to March. The park can also be visited from April to June but those months are a lot hotter and can make exploring the park much more tedious. Forest is not accessible during the rainy season from June to August. During this season, the monsoon is in full swing and causes the nearby Brahmaputra River floods its banks, sending water flowing into the park. Kaziranga National Park enjoys a tropical climate for most of the year. In total, the park is home to 2,400 plus one-horned rhinos and 100 plus tigers.

Welcome to Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga Forest
Kaziranga Forest

              Total 4 people can seat on elephant for safari. Safari time around 45 to 60 min and their target is to roam around 3-4 km from starting point to spot the Rhino. They take you very close to Rhino and then back to start point via some different route. They are least bother to show other wildlife during elephant safari. The ride is definitely not smooth due to elephant walk on an uneven surface. We spot around 5-6 Rhino in elephant Safari. There were a mother and calf Rhino which we saw from a very close distance. Rhinos were busy with their routine activity and nothing disturbed them just like elephant safaris are now part of their life. We return to the start point by 7AM. Personally, we didn't like the elephant safari for 2 reasons. one, Elephant rider hit the elephant with the Bamboo rod if they fail to follow a command or take extra time to pick some plant branches/Fruits from Trees. and second is you hardly get a chance to see/capture other wildlife.


             We came back to the hotel for breakfast. After Breakfast, our Safari Jeep came to pick up us for our planned safari. Our safari was booked in Central zone of Kaziranga. Even though Rhino and Tiger was the main attraction for us, we were not fixated on stars like tigers; other inhabitants of the forests were a delight to observe too. It was a cold morning and the entire zone was in silent mode. After the security check at the post, We entered the Forest. Kaziranga forest mainly inclusive of vast tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, and the numerous small bodies of water.

Serpent Eagle

              Forest landscape was beautiful. forest route goes through a different part of the forest. We saw many groups of Hog Deer and wild water buffalo. After a few kilometres, we saw Rhino. Spotting Rhino is quite easy in Kaziranga forest. Rhinoceros are majestic animal.

              When I saw them for the first time, I just kept on looking and I could not able to move my eyesight. His skin folds across its flanks give it look of the armour-plated body. The horn that they have is actually a thick substance made up of keratin (Hair and Nail like material). It grows throughout life and can be regrown if broken. It is considered to have medicinal properties. That is a reason why they are poached and it is a reason behind them getting endangered. As a habit, they follow regular paths and defecate at the same place creating piles of dung. This makes it easy for poachers to find out their location and hunt them down.

               During Safri, Driver/Guide will drop you off at certain lookout points. You can view open marshland and spot mammals and birds. At one point we saw a variety of birds and mammals on open grassland. We were carrying our binocular so we can observe their activity. We took such breaks near marshland, River canals or Waterbodies.
             We saw many residential and migratory birds on our route. We were able to spot lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, Asian openbill, painted stork, spot-billed pelican, lesser white-fronted goose, Pochards, Greater spotted eagle, white-tailed fishing eagle, serpent eagle, Pallas's fish eagle, lesser kestrel and many more birds during our Safari.

Lesser Stork

Spot Billed Pelican

             The best part of our Safari was when huge Rhino cross the route in front of our jeep and stopped at the side of the road for a couple of minutes. We saw swamp deer, spotted deer, barking deer and Sambar which are available in the forest in good quality. Watching Rhino every time during safari was a treat to the eye. Rhinoceros in Kaziranga are about 70% of the world's total rhino populations.

Rhino crossing

Wait till I cross the road...

              We were inside the forest for around 2 hours 30 min and we enjoyed each and every moment. The cold breeze, Beautiful landscape, Tall elephant grass and wildlife was a real treat. While returning to the gate, the driver observes some activity in huge Grass. Initially, we were unable to spot anything but soon we released that it was a wild Elephant. Grass in Kaziranga is such a tall that even elephant can easily hide inside it and hence it is called as Elephant grass (giant miscanthus). Considering such rich vegetation of the forest, It is really difficult to spot Bengal Tiger. Kaziranga offers you great biodiversity in terms of flora, fauna and vegetation.

Beautiful Kaziranga Forest

              We return to the hotel by 11:30AM after quick tea powder shopping in the local market. We had some snacks and left beautiful Kaziranga. The journey from Kaziranga to Guwahati was around 4-5 hours. We didn't take any break in between and reached Hotel landmark before 5PM. We had some rest and went out for our dinner cruise.
              There are multiple cruises which offer sunset ride (1 hour) or Dinner cruise ride. Our booking was for a Dinner ride on Alfresco Grand cruise. We boarded at around 7:15PM and the tour started at 7:30PM. It was good to go if you have spare time. They serve you Started (Very limited), one Mocktail and Dinner. The sand art video and voiceover depicting Assam’s great warrior Lachit Borphukan vs Mughal (battle of saraighat) history was good. There was a culture program but it was loud and bit commercial and not traditional. We attended a culture program in Kaziranga which was far better than the program on Alfresco Grand. There was karaoke which was of average quality. Few items from the meal were good in taste and ambience was okay. They also serve liquor Drinks at cost. We are non-alcoholic so no idea on rate and type of liquor. We enjoy the dinner tour Though, whether it's worth of INR 1300 per head or not is up to you.

Alfresco Grand Dinner Cruise

Tips for Kaziranga National Park Safari
1. You can book Jeep Safari on the spot. Sharing jeep is allowed so you can join the other groups to save money. However, We recommend booking private (No sharing) jeep is the best experience to explore in your terms if you can manage it.
2. In case you are on a budget trip and wanted to share the jeep, better to reach Ticket window 45 min prior to your safari timing which will give you more chances to look around for sharing groups.
3. For private Jeep safari (Non-Sharing), better to book forest permit in advance and if possible ask your hotel manager to arrange Jeep in advance. 
4. Carry ample amount of the Indian currency as at the most of places they prefer Cash. Big hotels/Restaurants and Shops accept cards or Open baning methods such as Google pay/Paytm etc.
5. We were staying at Kohora (Near Central zone) and we saw a couple of ATM machines as well.
6. There are 3 (Central, Western, and Eastern) different zones and each zone offers you unique and some animals pop up in higher concentrations in certain ranges. But all zones have good number is Rhinos
7. The boat safari is also available in the Brahmaputra river. check with the hotel or at Forest office for more details

Day 7 Expenses:
  • Elephant Safari: INR 950 per person (Booked by Friend)
  • Jeep Safari: INR 3050/- (It varies based on Zone and Time)
  • Permit fee: INR 200/- for 2 people
  • Staff welfare per vehicle fee: INR 300/-
  • Safari Road Toll: INR 100/-
  • Safari Camera fee: INR 200/- for 2 Camera
  • Tip to Jeep driver: ₹200/-
  • Snacks for lunch: INR 200/-
  • Dinner at Alfresco Cruise: INR 2600/- for 2 people (Booked by Friend)
  • Stay at Hotel Landmark: INR 3500 - 4200/- with Dinner & breakfast (Booked by Friends)

Day 8: 15 Feb 2020: Guwahati - Pune:
Our flight was at 3:45PM. The morning was free for us so we went to Fancy Bazar for some quick shopping. We wanted to visit Uma Nanda Temple which is located on the Island in Brahmaputra River. We skipped the Island visit due to cold foggy morning and lack of time. We visited the statue of Lachit Borphukan. He is known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat. In the honor of Lachit Borphukan, The best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy, Pune has conferred the Lachit Borphukan gold medal every year from 1999.

Lachit Borphukan Statue in Brahmaputra River

              We took a stroll on the bank of Brahmaputra river which is 9th largest river in the world. We had a tasty meal in the famous Paradise restaurant which serves authentic Assam local food. Ambience and service were good and we love the taste.

Assam local Non-veg meal

              Our driver dropped us to the airport. Airport was very crowded due to Bollywood stars as they were travelling back to Mumbai after attending Filmfare award on 14th Feb. We saw many actors-actress inside the airport but we avoided photo with them as they were surrounded by other traveller and even airport staff. We had our next connecting flight to Pune from Kolkata after 4 hours of layover time. We board the flight by 9:45PM and reached our sweet home.

Day 8 Expenses:
  • Uber to Fancy Market: INR 85/-
  • Uber to Restaurant: INR 90/-
  • Lunch at Paradise: INR 755/- (1 Veg meal and 1 Non-veg meal)
  • Uber to Hotel: INR 66/-
  • Car rent chargers: Not aware as Car was Booked by friend
  • Dinner at Kolkata airport: INR 600/-
  • Pune airport to Home by Uber: INR 230/-

Small Video from Our Assam and Meghalaya trip

Contact Number for Reference:
1. Hotel Landmark, Guwahati: 0361 2455248
2. Hotel La kupar Inn, Sohra (Cherapinji): (John +919856680199 / Bansan +919615093898)
3. Hotel Aerodene Cottage, Shillong: (Ronan: +9181198 07072 / Sharlene: +9197740 65366)
4. Hotel mandu the escape, Kohora, Kaziranga: (+919435150277 / +917002510432 / +919711801387)
5. Car Driver Bubhul: +919577746711
6. Khasi emporium, Shillong: +919612659653/+919612609891
7. Ka Bri war Restaurant, Dawki Road: +919366321258 / +917002035078.
8. City Hut Family Dhaba, Shillong: 03642220386.
9. Bamboo Hut Restaurant, Shillong: 03642501542 / 03642503430.
10. Restaurant Paradise, Guwahati: +919435548812, 03612666628.
11. Anuraag Dhaba, Nagaon (Guwahati-Kariranga highway): +919954506051 / +919101719674.
12. Pranab for Kaziranga Jeep Safari: +917002263443

Places which we missed due to lack of time:
1. Umananda Temple
2. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji temple
4. Navagraha Temple

1. Laitlum Canyons
2. Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures
3. Lady Hydari Park

1. Arwah Cave
2. Dain-Thlen Falls
3. Wei Sawdong Falls
4. Wah Kaba Falls

1. Majuli Island Village
2. Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary or Hoolock Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Nameri Village for birding and butterfly

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni