‘Once you live in Mumbai, no place else will ever be good enough.’
I feel exactly the same way about Bandra – Queen of Mumbai’s Suburbs. Having lived most of my life here, I have seen Bandra undergo a metamorphosis into the thriving, contemporary suburb it is today. But the Bandra I knew and grew up in was different. It was not the hipster Bandra filled with clubs and high rises we know now. It was slow, lackadaisical and relaxed. It was filled with tiny bylanes and arterial roads flanked with picturesque bungalows on either sides.
The sprawling Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Nature Park in Panvel is home to over 222 species of birds. If you are a nature lover – this place is paradise! It’s a different feeling altogether watching the birds in their natural habitats calling out to each other, amidst a variety of trees and shrubs that we city dwellers rarely see. Karnala Bird Sanctuary makes for a pleasant retreat, and is a wonderful spot for a one day picnic close to the city.
Karnala Fort and Sanctuary is located off the Mumbai-Pune national highway, 12 kms from Panvel. Turn on Google Navigation and you shall have no problem if you are driving down. It’s a 90-120 minute drive one way, depending on the traffic. Otherwise, take a bus or an auto from Panvel station, though this may add to your travel time.
I am one of those people for whom ‘Bombay’ will always remain ‘Bombay’ – an emotion more than a city. The marvelous structure now known as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, was introduced to me as Victoria Terminus back then. A structure I drove past on many occasions as a child, looking out of the window in awe and admiration at the giant structure. A sea of people gushing in and out of this intricate building is what my earliest memories of CST station hold – and nothing has changed over these years.
CST station is a historic structure constructed in 1888, and has been christened as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. But not a lot of people know that the 128 year old station houses a railway museum and also conducts heritage tours for those who’d like to get up close and personal with this beautiful structure. I enrolled for the CST Station Heritage Museum Tour one weekday afternoon, and I felt like a tourist in my own city.
Rajasthan has been calling out to the traveler within me all this year. After a beautiful Jaipur holiday which I took in July (read more about that here), I got a wonderful opportunity to re-live the royal Rajasthani experience yet again during a short getaway to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer symbolizes everything the state of Rajasthan is famous for – the desert, the camels, the folk music and dance, the forts, and the food! A visit to Jaisalmer may be the best way to experience Rajasthani culture at its best, something that makes that five-hour, back-breaking drive from Jodhpur totally worth it! There is so much to see, and so much to do, but here are my top five recommendations for that perfect Jaisalmer holiday.
‘The train had been making good progress, and towards half-past twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence the passengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is also called the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan.’
An excerpt from Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.
I must have been twelve when I first read Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and accordingly heard about the Dead Sea. A water body so saline that even the heaviest of objects float in it. A water body christened ‘dead’ because not a single living creature can survive in it owing to the extreme salinity. It is at the age of twelve that I dreamt a little dream, and hoped that I’d get to float in the magical waters of the Dead Sea someday.
Last month, my mother and I took off for a vacation that was going to mark a major milestone in our lives. We were off to the mysterious and mythical country of Jordan to experience Middle Eastern culture, history and to soak in the Dead Sea, of course. Little did I know that our recent holiday to Jordan would help me strike three major items off my bucket list, including this dream that has been harboring inside of me since the past sixteen odd years.