MONSOON ESCAPADES – 5 PLACES FOR MONSOON LOVERS IN GUJARAT

The Monsoons are the most loved season for many of us in India. We eagerly await the first showers which bring with them the fragrant smell of the wet earth, the joy of getting drenched and the feeling of renewal and bliss.

The rains for me are synonymous to reading a good book, a cuppa coffee and sit by the window staring as water pours down kissing the ground. I simply allow myself to soak in the beauty of the world.

Having been home during this monsoon; which presently is close to Surat, Gujarat, I am sharing some of my monsoon discoveries from in and around that can be visited to enjoy this season:

  1. My first adventure trail took me to Parnera Hill and Temple a few kms off Valsad To reach the top; one has to make a climb of 486 steps (yes a good exercise for legs). The way up leads to many small temples and an old broken down Fort. The Parnera Top and Fort have a lot of history attached to them from the time of Maharaja Shivaji. The climb is through dense forests with trees on either side. But the view from the top is completely worth the climb. A short and peaceful day trip during the rains!
Morning misty view from top of the Hill!

Morning misty view from top of the Hill!

  1. Saputara – Saputara is known as the only hill station in the Sahyadri range of Gujarat. Saputara is a breath of fresh air, lush with flowers, a pristine lake, thick forest covers and a peaceful location for a perfect weekend getaway. I stayed at the very comfortable & beautiful Aakar Lords Inn . It offers a variety of experiences for all tourists – trekking, sunset points, temples, museums and boating…there are a plethora of activities to choose from.

I had a lovely time walking by the town, relaxing and enjoy the scenic view it offered. The drive to Saputara crossing the Dang Forest is spectacular. . For any more details you can also look up, (http://www.saputarahillstation.com/index.html)

Bird's eye view of the Saputara Valley..

Bird’s eye view of the Saputara Valley..

  1. Dandi beach – This famous beach which came into light when selected by Mahatma Gandhi for the Salt March. The beach is closest to a town called Navsari. The beach is not as crowded as compared to other beaches and yet offers a unique and tranquil experience. I went by, to experience a sunset during the first showers and was completely awe struck by the colors in the horizon.

  1. Gira Waterfalls – These waterfalls was an unplanned discovery during my monsoon adventures. They are breathtakingly beautiful and I was pleasantly surprised to find something as wonderful so close to home. They are located at about 3km from Waghai town and are a 30m natural drop into the Ambica River. Small tea and corn stalls make for a perfect snack while you enjoy the view.

  1. Valsad – Valsad is a popular town in Gujarat and has quite a few touristy attractions. Tithal Beach s a tourist attraction in the coastal region of Valsad. There are some grand temples such as Shri Sai Baba and Shri Swami Narayan along the sea coast. Food stalls – bhajiyas, dabeli, coconut water, dense forests, great architecture and a walk by the sea sums up my monsoon visit to this region of Valsad.

Hope this post pushes you to discover places closer to home.

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MY REASON TO TRAVEL – EARNING 5 GIFTS FOR LIFE!

I quit my job over a year ago to travel and take some time off from my hectic work schedule.

Ever since, I have been asked by many about what keeps me motivated in taking off every few months; what it is that travel means to me? I believe we all have our reasons for every choice we make in life.

To travel was one such personal choice and I have gained immeasurably through this journey!

However, I’d like to point out that travelling like everything else also has its flip side – it is hectic, unsafe at times, with difficult living conditions. And there is a constant need to learn and adapt.

But while all of this stands true for me, it also has become a passion that I thrive on, it is what makes me a better human being and helps me grow at every step.

Here are my 5 precious gifts that I have earned through these journeys:

1. LOVE – Love has been redefined for me by my travels. From the love that local strangers show, love that my home stay’s hosts treat me with; Love, which I have experienced for nature, animals and people. I have made bonds that I would not imagine, had I not explored out of my comfort zone.

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At my home stay in Spiti’13- absolutely adore and love this little one!

2. GRATITUDE – My biggest lesson has been- to be in constant gratitude. Gratitude to be alive, to experience the beauty of this universe. I have been touched by many lives and places and have always returned with a sense of gratitude for being blessed and fortunate in so many ways that I may have not appreciated earlier.

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A view to die for…glad to have witnessed many sunsets at this place in Uttarakhand.

Read more about one such day in my life (https://freespiritedwanderer.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/awake-alive-a-day-in-spiti-valley/)

3. TRUST – It is not easy for us to trust ourselves, let alone people we meet during our travels. My journeys have had a larger share of good judgments of trusting people but one can’t always be right. I have also learnt from my mistakes. But more than always, it has been this faith in people that has helped me connect with them, the places and my instincts. It has given me the ability to trust my own judgments and be aware of my surroundings.

4. PATIENCE – Patience is truly a virtue. Travel has taught me many levels of patience. Not just with people, but with nature and the way things pan out – the universe has conspired in so ways to teach me this valuable asset. I have finally understood the meaning of – “to go with the flow”. My plans have not always been as desired but I learnt to be patient with myself and enjoy through those moments.

5. INSPIRATION – My last but biggest gift after every travel journey has been – being inspired. People that have crossed my paths, travelling-partners and local communities, they have all shown me a spirit that I respect. It has made me return home rejuvenated. I have been inspired to enjoy the gift of life. My recent experience in Uttarakhand made me aware of  undying spirit and shown me that hard work does pay off!

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Inspired by this 90 year old vibrant and gorgeous Chanda nani running “Vyas meal service ” in Jaisalmer – and feeding us with fresh home cooked meals!

And for these and many such reasons, I travel. I guess, this is my answer to all those who want to know the ‘why’ behind me being travel-smitten.

There is a quote that puts my answers across in one statement, – “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta