It’s easy for a tiny country to be lost among two giants, each with a rich and diverse culture and cuisine of their own. That’s Nepal for you. With India and China, two culinary greats by its side, Nepalese cuisine seems almost lost, forgotten. The cuisine itself isn’t one that fights for attention, but is mild and restrained, with simple flavours that wow the palate in a way that Indian and Chinese explosions of flavour cannot.

Nepalese cuisine made a quiet entrance into Mumbai’s competitive food industry just a few weeks ago, off the boisterous Link Road in Andheri. Mumbai’s first Nepali restaurant, called Yomari, is named after the traditional dessert of the land. Not only was it my first time trying the cuisine, but also, the first time I was the only blogger called to review it! Double win!

AMBIANCE

Yomari is a tiny 4-table restaurant in Andheri West, Mumbai and a few steps will take you from the main entrance to the kitchen. A tiled, covered patio in the front suggest that a couple of more tables will be added for outdoor seating. Inside, it is minimally decorated with Nepalese trinkets, a statue of an elephant and over the kitchen door, a wall to wall back-lit image of the Himalayas.

SERVICE

The restaurant being so new, there were no servers been hired yet. I’ll update this section on the service when I visit again.

yomari mumbai

FOOD

The menu features traditional Nepali staples such as Jhol (soups), Khaja Ghor (snacks), salads, ‘tummy full meals’ which comprise of various proteins over rice, Momos (of course!), Sadeko (munchies), Sekuwas and Chhoilas (Grilled/BBQ styled appetizers).

Soya Sadeko – For starters, I was served a traditional cold dish called sadeko with puffed rice, bamboo shoot pickle, and a glass full of some epic chaas! Unlike other soya items that are eaten with rice or roti, you just pop these soya chunks into your mouth. Right from this starter onwards, the food at Yomari kept me guessing what spices and techniques were at work!

soya sadeko yomari mumbai

Chicken Sadeko – While this chicken starter as well as the earlier soya one was novel, I liked this one slightly more than soya sadeko as it had more flavour and was so tempting! Chicken is shredded, tossed and further sautéed in spices and herbs to renew its rich flavour that appears almost like a salad. This was served with crunchy, beaten rice and tart radish pickle that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of!

chicken sadeko yomari mumbai

Shrimp Salad – Seafood in Nepal?? Hmm.. I’m not sure about that one, but I kid you not, these prawns were probably the best I’ve had in Mumbai, and they weren’t even ‘Goa-style’ spiced and fried like the way I usually like my prawns! Cooked to perfection and minimally spiced, the prawns were steamed and served with an assortment of spring veggies, sprinkled over with pepper and herbs and tossed in a delicious, zippy dressing. Bang on perfect!

shrimp salad yomari mumbai

Chicken Chop – I loved how light and delicious these starters were! They reminded me of the ones Mum makes at home, however the spices were much milder like Nepali food is supposed to be. These crumb fried minced chicken and mashed potato chops were served with a spicy chutney and salad and I could have easily eaten half a dozen.

chicken cutlets yomari mumbai

Chicken Momos – From high-end nibble restaurants to dingy bhattis, momos are ubiquitously popular everywhere, especially up north. Maybe I’ve eaten too many commercialized momos, but these seemed a tad too bland for my liking. Either way, the chilli dipping sauce gave it a boost.

chicken momos yomari mumbai

Mushroom and Cheese Momos – These were among the freshest mushroom momos I’ve eaten. They were sooo juicy and the chilli sauce paired well with them, too. Mushrooms being soggier than chicken, all the delicious flavour got infused in the translucent shells as well, making it even juicier!

mushroom cheese momos

Mutton Sekhwa – Sekhwa is a quintessential street food item which is sort of like satay or kebabs, but without the skewer. Like most of the dishes served, this one came with that scary-looking chilli on top, but it wasn’t spicy at all! What was intriguing was that it was neither saucy or dry, grilled or fried – the Sekhwa was just the right mix of everything with fragrant herbs and ground spices! I’ll even go out on a limb to say that kebab’s got nothing on the Sekhwa! It’s easy to see why this is a local favourite. It definitely was mine!

mutton sekuwa yomari mumbai

Mutton over Rice – Maybe I was just a little too stuffed at this point, but I felt that the flavours of the mutton sekhwa overlapped a lot with the mutton over rice. The meat, however, was much more tender as compared to the Sekhwa and the flavours were a lot milder. Served over steamed rice, this one is a meal in itself.

Yomari – Finally! I couldn’t wait to try these fish-shaped dessert dumplings after which the restaurant is named. Available with two filling choices – dried fruit and chocolate, it is prepared to worship the goddess of grain, Annapurna during the full moon after the harvest. I tried the dried fruit one which had a mix of coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and nuts served in a warm, thickened milk. This isn’t one of those indulgent desserts, and it’s mild sweetness didn’t send me on a guilt trip – so thumbs up!

yomari andheri

Food lovers who want to try something unconventional, yet traditional at the same time, round up your friends and head over to Yomari! It wont be long before you’ll have to wait for a table at this little gem of a place!

Meal for 2: Rs. 600

Address: Sterling CHS, Sundervan, Lokhandwala, Andheri West, Mumbai

Until next time!

Goa-based fashion designer Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney is one to watch! This fashion pioneer from Saligao is in the organic fashion space and was recently honored by the Union Minister of State for textile, Smriti Irani from over 1660 designers across the country for her unique use of eco-friendly products, handloom fabrics and dyes. In a state that’s always equated fashion with Wendell Rodricks, quiet, graceful Ninoshka is slowly but surely getting the attention she deserves.

ninoshka fashion designer

Apart from the fact that she stays a few minutes away from my home in Saligao, we also have two people in common – her sister, my classmate – Kim and a professor we both admired in our respective colleges – Rajesh Nambiar who taught Ninoshka during her NIFT days and years later, taught me in a subject in MBA. Strangely, the two of us had never met long enough to have a conversation until my trip to Goa last week when I visited her workshop.

I walked around the Delaney’s house to the back and through their garage till I found myself at their little office in the backyard that was buzzing with activity. A few minutes later, she led me upstairs to a much quieter, spacious room that had two tailors at work on sewing machines and another making necklaces out of fabric that anyone else would have discarded without a second thought.

upcycle ninoshka

We’re both reluctant conversation starters, but it wasn’t long before I’m poring over fabric that’s been printed with… of all things… onion peels!! The fabric and print looks so delicate that it feels as if touching it would wipe the patterns away like powder, but Ninoshka tells me that the fabric is just like any other – can be washed, dried, and worn like normal. How cool is that!

onion peel fabric

Ninoshka explains to me the whole process of how she managed to accomplish something so oddly brilliant and then opens out rolls of fabric that have been dyed with pomegranate, marigold, rose, indigo and pigments given out by beetles!

The label crafts elegantly tailored business, evening and casual fashion made of high quality, sustainable and certified materials. In fact, the brand uses a label that’s trademarked to the India Handloom Brand, meaning the quality of the materials she uses have been tested for a period of 6 months before being trademarked. Why is this important? Because handmade fabric is prone to human error and Ninoshka finds that having her fabrics certified beforehand saves a lot of hassles later on.

I didn’t ask her about what sparked her interest in fashion, her philosophy and all the accolades she’s won, because it’s all available on the internet. Here’s what our neighbourly conversation was like:

What is your personal style?

When it comes to my personal clothing preference, I’ve always opted for organic clothing. Synthetic fabric never appealed to me and I never felt comfortable in them. For me, comfort is paramount and what I others think of my attire comes second. Even when it comes to my hair, I don’t colour it or attempt to hide my greys. I let it be as it is – natural. It may be greying, but that’s something that everyone goes through. Why hide it?

What’s it like running a business like yours with a child?

It’s very tough managing a business with a child. Before Daniel was born, the business was slow and I was happy at the pace it was going. For a year after he was born, it was stagnant and slowed. It’s now that he’s started going to school that I’ve decided to buck up and achieve what I want to. I have a few hours while he’s at school to do the bulk of my work. I won a couple of awards this year that quickened my growth, so that helped too!

How do you manage creativity with commerce?

I don’t like getting involved in money and sales. It stifles my creativity and takes up too much of my time. If I think about sales and price tags, my mind is occupied with thinking about what designs will sell and what won’t. So I’ve left the marketing and sales up to my husband so that all my thoughts and energy go into creating the best designs possible.

ninoshka collection

I’ve read that artisans are your biggest inspiration. Why is that?

Artisans are so content with what they have. If we have a mobile phone, we always want a better one. We want a car. We want more luxury. But I’ve worked with these people and I see how content they are with their lives. They think like children and aren’t influenced by the outside world. At one point, I worked with artisans in Gujarat and we had the theme ‘sky, water and earth.’ One lady embroidered a circle with fish inside, and when asked what it was, she said it was the well outside her home with fish swimming inside. Another person created something and I couldn’t quite fathom what it was. He later told me that it was a constellation in the sky.

All these things exist around us, but we don’t notice and aren’t inspired by them. Our thoughts are so complex and influenced by so many things. That’s why I aspire to be like those artisans.

Goans love to dress up in their finest gowns for feasts and weddings. Since you only wear organic clothes, do you find it odd to wear simple, understated clothes on such occasions?

Not really. For occasions that need formal or showy attire, I pick linen or silk garments instead of cotton. I once wore a linen skirt and organic white shirt for someone’s 50th wedding anniversary – and you know what huge occasions those are! Golden jubilees are even grander than the wedding itself! Everyone was in their beaded, shimmery clothing and I was the complete opposite. I was surprised to have got a lot of compliments that night – and even 3 orders for the skirt I was wearing!

I think Saligao is still more open-minded and accepting of organic clothing. When it comes to the south and the coastal belt, you will find that for formal occasions, everyone looks identical. All the women wear the same, tailor made suit-skirt set or a top and skirt made from the same fabric. It will have some small differences like beads or embroidery but other than that, it all looks mass produced.

ninoshka studio goa

Tell me more about your attempts to revive the Adivasi weave in Goa

My husband and I are working on marketing the Adivasi weave in Goa. We are helping Dr Rohit, a historian to market the weave which is presently being made in Karnataka, as there are no weavers left in Goa. however our aim is to get the weaving industry started in Goa again with the support of the textile ministry.

The Kunbis are aboriginals of Goa and wore the Adivasi Sari, also called ‘kaapad.’ Their way of draping the sari was basic, called ‘Detli’ and involved wrapping the sari around the waist and typing it over the right shoulder in a knot. This style of draping facilitated fieldwork. The sari ended just above the ankle and did not need a blouse or petticoat, although younger women did use blouses with puff sleeves. A white shawl called ‘voll’ was thrown over the shoulder and the pallu was tucked in at the back to form a pocket of sorts.

This weave was compact and made in Goa on handlooms but with the decline of handlooms, the weave stopped in 1985. It is one of our endeavors to get the original Adivasi weave revived here in Goa.

Which celebrity’s personal style do you admire?

I love the way Kiran Rao dresses. She’s always comfortable in sarees and kurtas. In Hollywood, they’re all well dressed, but I like Emma Watson’s style the most.

Where can one buy from the Ninoshka label?

We’re available online on sites like Jaypore, Bunosilo and Peacock Colours along with a handful of retail stores..

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It’s always a pleasure meeting people who enjoy doing what they love and whose benefit to society is their biggest satisfaction. Ninoshka’s philosophy of ‘fashion with a conscience’ is refreshing, to say the least and just goes to show that the future is definitely hand-made!

That wrapped up my chat with Ninoshka Alvares- Delaney! If you enjoyed this one, don’t forget to subscribe!!

Let me know what you think and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Bye!

I’ve always believed that India’s real riches are the diversity of food it offers – food that’s as multi-flavoured as the country itself.

Outsiders may generalize Indian food to be just about curry, whereas even in India itself, we write off North Indian food as butter-chicken-naan and south Indian food as dosa-idli-sambar. But food in India is more than a means to satiate hunger, it is the way to an Indian’s heart. Any Indian!

At the Marriott Goa, the kitchens are abuzz everyday from the 14th till the 20th of August 2017 to bring these different flavours, tastes and associated emotions to life! With one day dedicated to the cuisine of one region, they’re dishing up the most elaborate spread of regional cuisine under one roof! It helps that the team of chefs hails from all parts of the country, and on the day I visited, I had the richest, most decadent cuisine of all – Punjabi!!

Head Chef Pawan Chennam greeted me and introduced me to Chef Gurneet – the man behind the dinner for the day. Punjabi food is luxury, in every sense of the word and the spread of food from salads to mains and even desserts was jaw-dropping! They even went so far as to bring the vibrant madness of Punjab’s streets to the hotel, with carts selling chaat, corn on the cob, golas and chole kulchas!

AMBIANCE

Until now, I had only visited JW Marriott properties. JW Marriott is a tier higher than the regular Marriott brand that recently took over Starwood Hotels. The difference in ambiance was apparent right away. The quiet, luxurious interiors in earthy and gold tones I was used to in Mumbai’s JW properties was absent and in it’s place, loud coloured furniture in red and green. There was a lot of red and blue neon lighting which was a bit jarring at first.

marriott interiors restaurant

The decor had a ‘Punjabi dhaba’ theme that was carried through in the truck/cart styled set up and huuuge utensils of biryanis that I’ve only seen before in videos of the langar (communal meal) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the other hand, the desserts were daintily placed on hanging swings.

marriott interiors

culinary journey of india marriott goa

Given the fact that the theme of the restaurant would be changed every single day in keeping with the region, the level of attention given to decor was impressive! Overall, the ambiance was super casual and noisy, more like a pub on a Saturday night, minus the music.

marriott food festival interiors

marriott punjab food

SERVICE

This was one place where I felt that everyone, from the staff to the chefs, were genuinely happy to be there, doing their jobs and giving more to it than was expected of them. The service was extremely warm and welcoming! They kept checking up on us, suggesting and bringing the next course from the buffet which was a few feet away – right to the table. I was quite surprised to find out that most of them already follow me on Instagram!

FOOD

Like I mentioned earlier, I was glad to have made it for the Punjabi feast! I’m sure the cuisines of other states would have been equally fantastic, but Punjab is a state you can eat your way through. Dollops of ghee, cream and butter, soft, tender meat, rich spices, deep flavours and indulgent sweets – all of it makes for a hearty meal!

Here’s a fraction of the spread during the Culinary Journey of India food festival at Marriott, Goa

buffet marriott goa

gurneet dhaba marriott goa

Never seen a spread of pickles like this before!

pickles marriot goa

salads marriott goa

Coming to the food I actually sampled, Marriott once again leaves me torn when it comes to choosing my favouirte dish. Every time I thought I had found it, the next dish outdid the last.

We started off with Chole Kulcha, a quintessential street food item that I’ve never tried before, simply because I always run straight towards the Chole Bhature. It was a meal in itself! Masaledaar chickpeas mounted on a soft, flour bread called kulcha, garnished with onions, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. For those who love spicy food, this is as good as it gets!

chole kulcha marriott goa

Melt-in-your-mouth galouti kebabs from the Awadhi table followed! What distinguishes this one among other kebabs is that the tenderized minced meat and mild spices are formed into patties and roasted on the tava. My favourite kebabs are Malai chicken – so heavenly!!

galouti kebab

Mahi Amritsari followed. You can tell how crispy that batter is by just looking at it, right? Inside was still piping hot and flaky Mahi fish. Love these bite-sized snacks!

atter fried fish marriott goa

What is a Punjabi meal without Dal Makhani and Naan! Rich, satisfying and so creamy, this delicious mixed lentil dal left me floored and I couldn’t get enough of that naan either!

dal makhani marriott

We tried capturing the steam on camera as we opened the flour casing over this Mutton Dum Biryani and some of you may have caught it on my Instagram stories too! Set in deep silver cauldrons, the mildly cooked mutton is added to the fragrant rice and thereafter fused together. This biryani was low on spice, light on the stomach and makes you want to keep eating it!

dum biryani mutton

My favourite dish was the Rara Ghost! If you ever go to Marriott Goa, ask them to make it for you! It tastes like ROYALTY.. seriously!! It was so good that I tried ordering Rara Ghost at 4 other places during my visit to Goa but none of them came remotely close to this one. The lighter curry in the picture is Dhaba-kukkad or to translate literally, chicken from a restaurant/stall by the highway. Pair it with that flaky Lacchha paratha, and you’ll be on Cloud 9!

rara ghost dhaba kukkad

I’m not a huge fan of kadhi (yoghurt based curry with besan doughballs) so I just nibbled this dish. While the ever-popular rajma-chawal was good, I was too star-struck with the previous courses to pay much attention to it.

kadhi pakoda

*clears throat and points below*

gajar ka halwa

How amaaaazing does that Gajar Ka Halwa look! It had a divine taste and texture of milk, carrots and nuts cooked for hours, and wasn’t dripping with ghee. The dessert spread was actually pretty vast and featured all kinds of cakes (even a gajar ka halwa cake), but I took the traditional route and tried some pinni laddo too! Pinni Laddoo is a traditional sweet eaten during winter and is made of flour, khoya, sugar and nuts. Those who don’t like very sweet desserts would enjoy this one!
pirni laddoo

Last up, Chef Gurneet got me a gola!! Wheee!

Look at that happy face after all that decadent food! Little things like these make my day!

gola

That brings me to the end of ‘Punjabi Food Day’ at the Culinary Journey of India Food Festival! One of the chefs generously asked me to visit everyday to sample every cuisine – and as much as I’d have loved to, I got to keep the waistline in check 😛

I however LOVED the concept of the food festival and it is one that will open your mind along with your taste buds. You will experience a burst of taste as you travel from one corner of the country to another with Marriott Goa. There are 2 days to go, so make your way down to Bambolim soon!

Let me know your fave Punjabi dishes in the comments below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Bye!

P.S. I know the pictures aren’t the best, but I did what I could given the lighting situation. <3

The Rajasthani Food Festival is underway at Grand Hyatt, Goa and ends on the 16th of August. It was my first time visiting the property, which is funny, considering I’m sampling the fare at Grand Hyatt Mumbai every second weekend! I was lucky to have made it to the bloggers table during this visit home and not only sample some decadent Rajasthani food, but also catch up for the first time with some other Goan food bloggers I’ve been interacting with in cyberspace.

grand hyatt goa rajasthani food festival

The Indian restaurant, Chulha was decorated keeping in mind the Rajasthani theme, with standing umbrellas and decorative fans made of colourful fabric. Little dolls dressed in bandhini + mirrorwork sarees hung everywhere and there were dozens of flower streamers for added ethnicity.

We sampled on some vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. I loved both the chicken starters, with a slight bias towards the Banjara Murgh Tikka, having a rich cashew base with a little crunch.

banjara murgh tikka

Although, how delicious does this one look!

chicken tikka hyatt

Bikaneri wadi aur subz ke seekh were looked cute and I couldn’t help but notice how consistent they all appeared. They were melt-in-the-mouth goooood!

shammi kebab

As we relished the starters, the mixologist gave us a live demo as he prepared our cocktails, explaining to us why he paired ingredients together and the inspiration behind them. Since the upper class folks of the Mewar region of Rajasthan enjoyed their whiskey, the Royal Mewar cocktail was made keeping that in mind. It was strange to see cardamom paired with whiskey in this cocktail, but those who tried it, absolutely loved it!

grand hyatt goa cocktails

I was torn between ordering lassi and a ramgarh milkshake and ultimately chose the Rose Milkshake. I’m glad I did because the Hing and Chilli Paneer Tikka proved too fiery for my tastebuds and a fragrant milkshake was the perfect antidote!

hing aur mirch ke paneer tikka

pithod ke tikka

All the Rajasthani classics featured in the main course of the menu and it was indeed fit for a Maharaja! In order to let us sample everything on the menu in small portions, the chef smartly presented it to us in the traditional thali.

We learned that though 75% of Rajasthais are vegetarian, the non-veg food is so legendary that those who eat it, devour it!

One such crowd favourite is Laal Maas (or red meat) – bright red hot gravy made with red chillies and mutton pieces. It was no-doubt, one of my favourites on the menu.

Another dish that had everyone singing its praises was the Maans ka Soweta – lamb chunks cooked in Indian spices, corn kernals, capsicum, red chillies and spices. The meat was so tender and well flavoured that we could tell it had been marinated for a long time! The gravy was amazing and thick too!

rajasthan food festival hyatt goa

What Chole Bhature is to Punjab, Dal Bati Churma is to Rajasthan – a classic with a history that’s as extraordinary as its taste. I loved this quintessential three-in-one-treat with baked bhaati/little dough balls in a spoonful of ghee, spiced dal and sweet, crumbly churma – it’s as fun to eat as it is to mix up!

Other things on the menu that featured in our thali included Ker Sangria (wild beans and local berries in mustard oil), Papad Methi Aloo Mangodi (potato, papad, fenugreek, dry lentil dumplings), Rajasthani Dal Dhokli (mixed lentils, chickpea flour and hing) and jodhpuri kabuli (saffron basmati rice with spices).

Desserts – the section to which my eyes are instantly drawn held only two items, to my disappointment. The Malpua, a deep fried pancake made of khoya and soaked in sugar syrup, served with rabdi, a condensed milk based dish is too delicious for words! I love mine slightly crispy, like the ones they have at Bhindi Bazaar and Mohammad Ali Road in Mumbai.

malpua and rabdi hyatt goa

We were also given a serving of badam ka sheera (a semolina based sticky dish with almonds) that was literally swimming in ghee! While ghee is an essential part of Rajasthani food, it was too rich for me to handle and I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful. I’d have loved to see some more desserts on the menu though – perhaps jalebi, dilkushar or rabri ghevar? Ooooh!!

Make your way down to Grand Hyatt Goa for a taste of Rajasthani Cuisine! We don’t really have restaurants in Goa that serve up authentic regional fare, and if you don’t plan on travelling to Rajasthan anytime soon, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a culinary trip there instead.

There’s a lot more of my Goa adventures to share with you guys! And God, so much food!

I love interacting with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – so come over and say ‘hi!’

xoxo

I know I know…

Vasaiiiiiii…

How did I land up in this part of the world, you ask? Well, why not! If you’ve ever googled about restaurants to eat at or cafes to visit in Vasai, you’ll find Google giving you a blank stare. So I decided to list down the options for those looking to grab a bite in this part of town. Apart from McDonalds, Dominos and Balaji, here’s where you can head:

Vasai East

East Side Café – Finding a proper sit-down gourmet restaurant in Vasai East is no easy task. Among the very few options available, this one is my personal favourite. This tiny restaurant has polished interiors and is a great place to grab a late night coffee (until 11 pm). The menu is limited but carefully curated and no dish you order will ever let you down. I tried the mocktails too and they were absolutely delicious. The drinks are crafted by the owner/manager himself, and with his background in the F&B industry, he takes it upon himself to make it perfectly!

Mad Over Fish – My joy at seeing a seafood restaurant in this part of town knew no bounds! Well, you know what they say about high expectations.. they always disappoint, just like Mad Over Fish did. The restaurant has a lovely, earthy ambiance but the food is pathetic and alcohol, highly priced. I ordered Goan prawn pulao – which, if you have eaten Goan food, know is nothing like this wet, gravy-topped, masala-rice dish in the image below. Goan fish curry, a dish supposed to be having a rich coconut base, had no coconut at all and the spice brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had better Koliwada prawns at the Koli festival in Juhu, cooked in an open stall. These prawns were hard, not too fresh, cooked in cheap oil and tasteless. You’ll have to fish for seafood dishes on the Mad Over Fish menu since they are pretty limited. If you do happen to go, I’d advise choosing off their Indo-Chinese menu – can’t go wrong with that!

mad over fish

Relish – Your go-to option when you’re home and don’t want to cook! Relish is your neighbourhood, no-frills-but-delicious food joint serving a mix of Indian food like butter chicken/kadhai paneer/dal makhni and naan, biryanis, pav bhaji and Indo-chinese staples like fried rice and Manchurian etc. Good food and value-for-money.

Vasai West

Pizzeria Fried Chicken (PFC) – Go here for the Twister Potato! Once you eat it, you’ll want to keep visiting the place every day! PFC has only two tiny tables inside but there are always 5-6 people hanging out and eating their spice coated twisters outside. You’ll also get subs, sandwiches and fried chicken here.

The Social Brew – “Eat here, or we’ll both starve” is the board that welcomes you as you enter The Social Brew. These folks really do have a sense of humour and besides serving up great food, they offer a good time too! Quirky seating options, a rack full of comics and books and the current playlist ensure you spend a decent amount of time at the restaurant. I happened to go there to satisfy a nacho craving and plan to go back to try the pizzas and pancakes!

Junkyard – While Junkyard is easy on the wallet, I wasn’t impressed by the food at all. The pasta sauce had a very glue-like texture, the pizzas were deep dish and hard, and their mocktails tasted worse than medicine. Definitely not going back until there’s a quality upgrade.

Papa’s Cafe – It’s hard to ignore Papa’s Cafe with their sunny yellow facade and glass windows through which you can see every table full, all the time! With a limited menu of flat bread, ciabatta, fries, pasta and dessert, everything here is in the range of 80-150, making it a popular hangout among college kids. The sriracha fried chicken ciabatta was exceptional and the piri piri fries were decent (although could have used some more sauce.) The desserts were a let down, with the red velvet item being served in a jar, looking like gloop and having chunks of chocolate inside, while the baked New York cheesecake had such a soggy base.

papas cafe vasai

papas cafe vasai

Frankie Corner – While the shawarma here is better than that at many other outlets, it can be a gamble going there. Sometimes, they run out of chicken at 8:30 PM, and at other times, they’re happily serving up roll after roll an hour later. You’ll find a lot of quick eats here such as the chicken cheese pav, chicken tikka and the like as well as cold coffee. The price is super reasonable and you won’t mind heading here for a quick evening snack.

frankie corner vasai west

That’s about all for now! There’s still a lot more to explore, and I’ll keep updating this post as and when I try out the latest.

Got any tips on restaurants to visit in Vasai? Comment below!

See you soon!

Who knew that a weekend at Casa De La Luna was exactly what I needed after an extremely tiring few weeks. I snuck away to this picturesque little haven and was swept off my feet with the impeccable hospitality of the staff and the simple comforts of the room.

casa de la luna pool

I sat on the patio outside my room in the mornings with a cup of coffee, catching up on work as the sun blazed overhead, occasionally changing its mind and bursting into drizzle after every few hours. And as the sun would disappear, I’d slip into the pool for a swim until dinner time, floating on my back and admiring the moon, after which Casa De La Luna is named.

jade that goan girl

THE RESORT

Casa De La Luna is a resort-cum-homestay in Alibaug, around 10-15 minutes away from Mandwa Jetty. On entering a tiny lane that opens out into a larger mango and coconut orchard you’ll find yourself on a driveway leading up to a footbridge built over a flowing stream. Step off on the other side of the bridge, and the aura of calmness is apparent right away.

entry to casa de la luna

Manicured lawns, an abundance of flowering shrubs and palm trees are a welcome sight as you enter the property. On both the days that I stayed here, I walked in these gardens, clicking pictures of spotted butterflies and listening to the loud sounds of bird chirping.

The lobby of the resort looks more like the hall in a personal residence. It had sofas facing the TV, a dining table and a door that leads to the kitchen. Walking past the dining table leads you to the other side of the property that houses the rooms, two on the left, two on the right, and one upstairs, all facing an azure blue pool! I had a look at a couple of the rooms on Day 2 of my visit and while all of them were lovely, I liked my room the most – the first one on the right! Design-wise it was the prettiest and it had the sit-out area right outside the door.

casa de la luna garden

THE ROOM

Minimally done, yet tasteful! My air-conditioned room was super spacious and didn’t have any unnecessary items and knick-knacks cluttering the space.

casa de la luna bedroom

casa de la luna room

A simple, comfy double bed in the centre, flanked by two mini bed-stands and a wooden rack on which to keep your bag/suitcase was all the room contained. That, and an impressive painting hung over the bed to lend the room some colour!

that goan girl casa de la luna

A small room in between the bedroom and bathroom held two intricate pieces of wooden furniture, a cupboard and a dresser which acted as a changing room of sorts. What I found interesting (and smart designing, too, actually) was that the bedroom and changing room had a glass window that faced your own personal patch of greenery. You wouldn’t want to, or need to step out into it – it’s too small for that, but it added the lovely freshness and warmth that live plants do, without having actual plants in the room.

casa de la luna dressing room

The bathroom was another interesting element of the room. Open planned and designed in earthy tones, like the other two rooms, a certain portion of it formed the third wall surrounding the little outdoor garden patch, adding to the whole forest-like appeal. However, from here, one could open a glass=paned door to the garden, which one would need to do only to water the plants.

casa de la luna washroom

casa de la luna alibaug

THE FOOD

The food wasn’t a lavish spread, but home-cooked, hearty meals prepared right there in the kitchen. Every morning, Ashish, one of the staff would come over and ask what we’d like to have for lunch, evening snacks and dinner that day. At night, he’d inquire about our preferences for the following day’s breakfast. Since I wasn’t used to thinking of my meals that much in advance, he’d offer delicious suggestions, to which I readily agreed!

I enjoyed all my meals on the dining table in the hall, from where Manisha, another member of the staff would come out occasionally to ask if anything was needed. Poha and aloo paratha on Day 1 and omlete with toast + cheese sandwiches on Day 2 made up our breakfast. While I’m not really a breakfast person (bad habit, I know), I absolutely adored the food, and still maintain that the poha was the best I’ve ever had.

casa de la luna poha

Evening snacks ranged from chicken 65 to veg Manchurian and chicken lollipops on Day 2. Manisha would call out to us in the pool, like a mother would, asking what time we would like to have it ready and call out again when it was served. She was quite the chatterbox and we loved having her around to add a homely feel!

casa de la luna alibaug

casa de la luna chicken

tgg casa de la luna pool

Dinners were delicious too!! And what I loved even more than the food was the fact that the atmosphere was so informal, without being uncomfortable. We’d sit at the table and eat, talking about random things while 2-3 members of the staff would be in the same room, watching a regional program softly in the hall. No frills, no formality!

biryani casa de la luna

This was lunch on Day 2! So good!!

casa de la luna lunch

custard casa de la luna

The best dish of the lot HAS to be the caramel custard! Not saying that because it’s a Goan dessert, but because it was so outstanding, I could write a poem about it – ‘Gone in 10 seconds.’

caramel custard casa de la luna

P.S. If you’d like to cook your own meals, you can do so as well. However, do carry your own cooking ingredients or source the same from the local market.

AMENITIES

Apart from air conditioned rooms, basic housekeeping and food is taken care of at Casa De La Luna. The property also has 24×7 power backup, however during power failures, the a/c doesn’t work. 24 hour use of the pool is one of the biggest plus points that the property has, unlike all other hotels!

A well equipped kitchen to cook your own meals and 24 hour hot water supply in the bathrooms are provided too. In case of additional people, you can request for additional mattresses.

jade that goan girl

WHAT I LOVED

Casa De La Luna is everything I could ever hope for from a villa resort. It is cheerful, has character and is stylish, yet unpretentious. The staff is professional, friendly and incredibly helpful.

jade dsa

The pool is clean! And thanks to the fact that the place has only a handful of rooms, more often than not, you’ll have the pool to yourself! #win

casa de la luna alibaug

It is perfect for two back-packers, a couple or a group of friends who can book the entire place and have a fun holiday. Online entrepreneurs can work unhindered as mobile and internet network are strong.

I was so pleased to find that the room didn’’t have a TV! With a pool available to jump in all day and such stunning scenery, I’d hate to see it go to waste with people watching TV indoors.

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

It would be nice if there was a wall-fixture in the shower area to place your toiletries on so that one doesn’t have to use the windowsill.

Since there are no TVs in the rooms, some board games, books and pool floats could be provided

#TGGTips

Carry your own toiletries and bug spray/lotion. Since there are a lot of plants around, mosquitos in the evening are natural.

If you’re in need of an escape close to the city, I’d suggest heading out for a weekend at Casa De La Luna. I’m already itching to go back.

Book Casa De La Luna on their website, YatraAirbnb or call Aftab on 9022112266. Follow them on Facebook for updates and offers!

You can also read of another fun weekend getaway right here – Phoebe’s Farm, Mumbai. Bye for now!

Note – My stay was sponsored by Casa De La Luna. Views expressed, as always, are my own.

It’s not often that you find a 700 year old step-well in the middle of a bustling business district. It’s even stranger that the place ranks among India’s Top 10 haunted spots!

ugrasen ki baoli delhi

But that’s just what Agrasen ki Baoli is. It is one of Delhi’s oldest monuments and the best preserved baolis in the country. Located 1.5 kms from Jantar Mantar and 2 kms from India Gate, this red bricked monument is was medieval India’s answer to water shortage.

The spot where Agrasen Ki Baoli stands was once the outskirts of the city. As Delhi grew around it, high rises sprung up, leaving the ancient monument completely out of place right in the city centre.

agrasen ki baoli delhi

Over 100 steps lead downwards, flanked by carved arches on either side. Initially, you’re greeted by the sound of gurgling pigeons and then with the ruckus of bats. But if you walk ahead, with every few steps you take, you leave the din of the city behind and enter into a vacuum of silence. The baoli that once smartly tapped into difficult-to-reach water tables underground, now remains almost waterless.

The steps are now dotted with a handful of tourists as the site surprisingly isn’t popular enough for tour guides to have on their itinerary. Nevertheless, the monument has a lot of rumours attached to it. Old wives tales suggest that tossing a coin in the water will pacify a djinn to grant you a wish. Others say that the water, black with darkness somehow attracted visitors to jump in and commit suicide.

ugrasen ki baoli CP delhi

Delhi boasts of a lot of tombs and palaces. But Agrasen Ki Baoli is one-of-a-kind. Visit between 9 am to 5 pm, absolutely free of cost. You won’t need to spend more than 20 minutes here, but it sure is a nice place to see!

By the way, the street that leads up to it is full of funky graffiti! You know how much I love those!!

that goan girl in delhi

Catch you later!!

xoxo

As if on cue, the drizzle began to caress our cheeks as we rode over the threshold of Bhandardara, a rural village in Maharashtra. The days before all seemed to merge into one. That of power cuts, sweat-soaked clothes and laments over the sweltering Mumbai heat (and uncomfortable humidity).

road to bhandardara

Firefly sightings at Bhandardara were said to begin just before the first rain shower. But rain, as always, seemed to be nowhere in sight and just like the pigeons in our balcony, we yearned for grey clouds to darken the skies as May dragged on seemingly forever…

bhandardara roads

hotel deepak bhandardara

On one such unbearably humid night, we decided that, come rain or sunshine, we’d head out to Bhandardara the following day for a short weekend getaway from Mumbai. And at 10 am the next morning, we set off from Mumbai along NH3 to Igatpuri. After around 150 kms, we took a right turn towards Bhandardara and almost instantly, the scenery began to change as we rode along winding roads that led higher, the mercury drastically dropping. The panoramic views of nature, the lack of noise and traffic and the gentle drizzle lifted our spirits and enthusiasm!

bhandardara local

bhandardara views

jade bhandardara

that goan girl bhandardara

Over the next two days, we took in the mellow, picture-perfect village, nestled between the Sahyadri ranges. The air was fragrant with the smell of ripe mangoes that kids would collect and sell on the road, trying to stop bikes and cars as they drove past. The grassy plains rolled on for miles, dull and brown, separated in two by tiny streams. Some places had dry, wiry vegetation interspersed between rocks and at others, lush green forests that plunged into the valleys.

thatgoangirl bhandardara

TGG bhandardara

One of the must-see sights is Arthur Lake, a mesmerizing blue pool of water that is fed by the Pravara River. The shore of the Lake is an idyllic place to unwind and the continuous strong flow of cold wind makes you crave a cup of tea all the time! The spot is popular among campers who set up tents along the shoreline. It was quite dry as it was the end of summer, but the view is so much better during or just after the monsoons.

MTDC Bhandardara is a government guest house that boasts of the best spot from where you can have a fabulous view of the lake! Check out my hotel review of MTDC if you haven’t already.

Since I work remotely, I found that only one spot at the lake had full network and would head over there for a couple of times a day to catch up on emails. The rest of Bhandardara has negligible network and 3G data.

lake arthur

bhandardara winding roads

bhandardara dam

Apart from the restaurants at a handful of hotels in the area, Bhandardara has no other eating joints and food stalls. While scouting the area one afternoon, we climbed higher and higher, and ventured pretty far away from the hotel. Driving back for lunch would have taken more than an hour, and as we were wondering where to stop for lunch, we came across this tiny place with a board indicating that food was available here. It was run by a poor family who cooked in their kitchen and served it on a camping platform a 100 meters away.

restaurant bhandardara

restaurant bhandardara seating

On asking what was available, a man told us that he would make whatever we liked and suggested bajra roti (flat bread made of millet grains) and kadhi (chickpea flour based gravy with yogurt). The food took a good 30 minutes to arrive but the view of the hills and fields, the breeze and sight of naughty kids playing a little distance away more than made up for it. It was a simple meal and as the man said “Rs. 100 mein pet bharke khaana,” (all you can eat at Rs. 100). He meant it, and this is one lunch I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

P.S. You’ll also find spots like these raised platforms in certain locations where campers can set up their tents.

bajra roti and kadhi

We noticed scattered houses far away from each other, which was strange because in a remote village like this one, I’d think everyone would like a neighbour! Shops were a rare sight, and if we ever found one, it was either shut, or the owner was asleep on the floor, oblivious to a customer. We wondered where people shopped for groceries and quite by chance, we found our answer! A little weekly market in the middle of nowhere!

bhandardara market

houses bhandardara

Another spot on our to-do list was to visit the Ratangad Fort, a 2000 year old Fort located 4225 feet above sea level with stunning views of the lake and the highest of the Sahyadri mountains. There are two ways to get there – one by following the road and the other by off-roading through a river and mucky fields. I must admit, I had much more fun off-roading – with farmers, goats and cows walking alongside as the bike made its way through water, rocks and muck.

off road bhandardara

crossing the river bhandardara

bhandardara fields

The videos and pictures I’ve seen show the fort looking mystical – surrounded by mist, with clouds passing through. However on getting there I learnt that it was a 3 hour trek to reach there. Ain’t no way I’m trekking for three hours! So I settled for exploring the Amruteshwar Temple instead.

amruteshwar temple bhandardara

Those who were returning from the trek looked haggard, but swore that it was a sight to behold. A few people choose to camp at the fort overnight, which would be pretty amazing! Maybe I’ll attempt the trek another time, when it isn’t the fag end of the day.

Located at the base of the mountain, the Amruteshwar Temple was built in 900AD and like all Indian temples, the intricate stonework, wall and ceiling murals was incredible! There is a Shivalinga and statues that get submerged in water when it rains (I’ve heard that snakes live in the temple during the monsoons too!)

bhandardara locals

Beautiful vistas of nature await at Bhandardara. It’s an understatement to say that the village is beautiful. Ditch the city this weekend and surround yourself with splendid misty hills and more shades of green and blue than you can count.

Let me know if you enjoyed reading this travelogue! Comment below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

I have so many more adventures up my sleeve for now. Can’t wait to take you along!!

xoxo

Hello again!!

A lot has happened since I saw ten thousand fireflies at Bhandardara! The Finale of World Class India, an international level bartending competition that was INTENSE! And I took you with me to uncover some of the secrets behind restaurant food at Food Service India’s Innovation Lab.

But I’m not done telling you about my trip to Bhandardara just yet. A lot of you have been asking about where I stayed and what else there is to do there. So here are all the deets on my not-so-impressive stay at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Guesthouse, MTDC, Bhandardara.

Getting There:

MTDC Bhandardara is located at a distance of around 45 kms from Igatpuri, 180 kms from Mumbai and 190 kms from Pune in the Shendi Village of Akole.

I tried booking online for a couple of days before my trip and the website showed that there were no rooms available. Still, we decided to try our luck at MTDC on arrival, and if there it was full, we would go to one of the other 4-5 shortlisted hotels.

The Hotel

At the end of a leafy, cobble-stoned lane, MTDC looks like quite charming. A little cottage-like reception is located on the right. Beyond that is a spread of 34 rooms, cottages and dormitories in several small buildings

mtdc bhandardara reception

Location-wise, the hotel is a gem! It is situated perfectly, on a small cliff overlooking a beautiful blue Arthur lake with open views for as far as the eyes can see. Nothing can compare to the strong, cool breeze that instantly clears your head! The government really scored with this surreal spot, but that’s about all that’s worth talking about the place.

The Room

I picked the hotel with the thought that being a Maharashtra Tourism Guest House, a department that spends huge sums on tourism, the hotel would be up to the mark of at least a 3 star property. Sadly not!

We picked a standard room at approx. Rs. 1200 a night, and it was slightly on the shabbier side. We were allotted a non- a/c room that shared a wall with the canteen. So the clanging of plates and sound of talk and laughter carried through from breakfast time until past dinner.

mtdc bhandardara bedroom

The linen was grainy, and the floor, even more so. The only thing that was clean, surprisingly, was the bathroom. It was quite large, spotless and with an overpowering smell of detergent (I’d rather smell detergent than anything else, so that was okay.)

mtdc bhandardara standard room

The bed was comfortable enough for us to rest on after a 4-5 hour ride, however we didn’t use the blankets provided. If the plain cotton sheets were of questionable cleanliness, who knows when the heavy blankets would have been washed last?

mtdc bhandardara sink

The room opened up to a beautiful, large breezy balcony… which we couldn’t leave open to let the breeze in as bugs and moths would fly in in an instant. Overall, since we barely spent any time in our room, the stay was manageable. Wouldn’t suggest if you plan on staying in.

mtdc bhandardara view from room

The delux rooms and Valley View Premier Suites looked pretty from the outside and we tried to get a room in one of those for our second night at the property. It was full, and maybe that’s for the best, as the reviews I read later weren’t great either.

mtdc bhandardara delux villa

Food

The MTDC restaurant , Yashanjali, needs a major overhaul! Sticky surfaces, bad service and a limited menu is just the start of one’s experience. If you’re desperately hungry, pick safe options like an omlete sandwich. Better to skip altogether.

Amenities

Amenities include free parking, room service, a restaurant and small children’s park. Standard rooms have a TV and geyser while the pricier options have a sofa, centre-table, bathtub, a/c, a balcony overlooking the lake and a TV.

If you’re a group on a complete shoe-string budget, staying in one of their dorm rooms for 12 is something you may want to consider. But camping by the lake would be far more preferable.

 

What I loved:

The location’s idyllic nature and views! The day I visited was the day it started raining in Bhandardara. The lake would definitely fill up in a couple of weeks and look even better!

mtdc bhandardara lake arthur

What could be better:

Literally, everything else! Maintenance, Service, Food, Cleanliness, Room Service…

 

The Verdict – Give this place a pass, unless you’re on a budget. You can enjoy the lake-view from a dozen other vantage points.

Instead, give Yash Resort a try. It looks stunning and the reviews are much better. Hotel Amruteshwar is right next to MTDC and we had a couple of our meals there. The rooms are nothing special, but if nothing else, at least the food served at their restaurant, Anandvan is better than that at MTDC.

#TGGTips

If you book online, carry your reservation slip as they have no idea who is coming and when. You also need to pay a refundable security deposit.

The best time to visit is between August to November, when the lake is full. You can even bring your own tents and camp out beside the lake.

Take a trip to Wilson Dam and explore the area for around 50 kms or so – the views are breath-taking. More about that in my next post!

Stay tuned for the last, but most adventurous post on Bhandardara! You’ll want to have a look at those pictures. In the meanwhile, check out this fun, pet-friendly resort in Mumbai, Phoebe’s Farm.

Until then, catch me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

xoxo

Fireflies, or lightning bugs were a memorable part of my childhood. With the onset of monsoons in Goa, evening power cuts were a daily affair. There was no generator or inverter installed at our old Portuguese home back then. No cell phones to while away the dark hours texting on.

So we’d light a candle in each room of the house, sit outside in the balcao (balcony) and listen to the wind whistle through the leaves, bringing with it that cool, uplifting smell of a storm approaching. It was then that we’d unfailingly see a twinkle in the darkness, and then another… and another. As kids, we’d try to count how many fireflies there were in the garden that night and if one happened to be crawling on our old wooden gate or painted balcony grills, we’d watch it up close, eyes wide with awe.

Mumbai has made me forget these memories. We don’t even have time to look up at the stars anymore. If we did, we wouldn’t see them anyway.

I first heard about the Firefly Festival organized by Grassroutes, a community based initiative that focuses on creating a conscientious society through promoting rural tourism. You could choose to go on the firefly expedition through Grassroutes where they will put you up in tents, arrange your meals and the whole experience in general at Purushwadi, another popular spot to watch fireflies. I preferred finding my own way.

On doing some research, I found that the fireflies mating season occurs during the last weeks of May and first weeks of June, just before the onset of the monsoons. Once the monsoon sets in, the droplets falling on their wings make it difficult for them to fly, causing their already short lifespan to end even faster.

The moment I got the news that the rains had started lashing Goa, I knew they’d be in Maharashtra in a couple of days, so I packed a bag and was road-trip ready for the opportune moment I found out that I had no commitments the next day.

The trip to Bhandardara was SPECTACULAR to say the least, and I’ll tell you all about it in a different post, along with the review on MTDC, the Maharashtra Tourism Guest House I stayed at. If you’re a biker or someone who loves long drives, forget planning a trip to Leh Ladakh! Head three hours north for the most breath-taking views of the Sahyadri ranges and valleys.

Anyway, I left Mumbai at around 10 am and reached Bhandardara by 4 pm. The last half an hour got us drenched in the downpour and the drizzle continued for hours. The entire evening, I wondered whether my trip was in vain, since the rain could have washed away the fireflies and my hope of getting to see them light up the forest.

At 7:30, as darkness began to creep in, we headed out again, and just like Goa, there was a power cut, thanks to the rain. It was pitch dark, except for the headlights of cars driving down the narrow lane and halting to spot some fireflies among the trees on both sides of the road. Even in the day, there were plains and valleys for as far as the eye could see, with a few or no houses at all.

It drizzled incessantly throughout but we saw these magical lightning bugs instantly. The forest came alive with bright flashes all around, pulsating with a natural rhythm – thousands and thousands of fireflies looking for mates. It was like a natural disco party, but the only music was the sound of rain on the leaves and dozens of frogs croaking, breaking through the silence.

We stayed out in the rain to watch them until 10 pm, climbing over hillocks in the dark to see if there was an even more surreal view on the other side and riding up and down the 5 km stretch. At times, the fireflies blinked in sync, lighting up whole trees in a flash – and at other times, they were like fairy lights, twinkling to their own tune.

Fireflies

Try as we might, we couldn’t get any pictures of them using an iPhone. I tinkered with every possible setting but it failed to capture a firefly’s blinking in the dark even when it was a few feet away. Clicking an entire tree light up was impossible and one would need a DSLR for sure.

We left to get back to the guesthouse drenched but with memories that only the eyes can capture. The pitch darkness, twinkles of millions of fireflies, the occasional bright flash of lightning that defiantly showed these creatures who can light up the sky better and the smell of rain! Nature indeed puts on the best shows if you have the time to stop and watch.

The next day, the weather was perfect. Crisp, cool air, gentle breeze and not a cloud in sight. We decided to stay on to see if the fireflies would be more in number when the weather was pleasant, as they were supposed to be. It was a Monday, which meant that people had gone back to the city and there would be an absence of that steady flow of traffic and headlights that kept interrupting our lightning-bug gazing experience the previous day.

Was it?

lightning bugs

Not really! While there was a huge drop in cars on the road, there was no power cut. So a few houses had their lights on, the streetlights glowed, the full moon shone in the cloudless sky and in general, the fireflies seemed a little less in number.  Either way, I’m blessed to have witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime experience TWICE!

xoxo

For those staying in South Mumbai, or even Andheri for that matter, Gorai seems like another planet altogether. Maybe we’re so used to everything being a stone’s throw away – entertainment, restaurants, malls…

gorai

But since I’ve shifted houses last month, I’ve started exploring the other side of Mumbai. The side with charming leafy lanes, little creeks and frequent power cuts. It was on such exploration ride that I stumbled upon a dreamy, surreal gold Pagoda rising up like a mirage.

global vipasana pagoda

Global Vipassana Pagoda

This monument turns out to be the Global Vipassana Centre and it’s tall spire made of real gold can be seen from quite a distance, since it is surrounded by undulating hills and grassy flat lands. From the first time you spot it, it takes another 40 minutes or so to actually reach the main entrance, driving along roads as they snake through villages and along the coastline.

global vipasana entry

On the way, don’t be surprised to find a bunch of cops or two, looking for a reason to fine you. If, after reading this blog post, you decide to visit, here’s a tip – carry your helmet, vehicle papers and if your vehicle doesn’t have side mirrors, get those too!

Coming back to the Global Vipassana Pagoda, it was built in the year 2000 and consists of three sub domes. The first and largest one contains the bone relics of Gautam Buddha. The second and third sit atop the first, making it the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars. The 96 meter high stupa is modelled after the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar and is built using the ancient technique of interlocking stones.

gorai pagoda exit

gorai pagoda interiors

There is no entry fee to enter the pagoda and if you love experiences, participate in the free 20 minute Vipassana training in the 8000 seater hall below the pagoda! It is believed that the powerful vibrations emanating from Buddha’s relics provides a serene environment for meditation and it is for this reason that the pagoda attracts thousands of devotees every year. You can even sign up for the 10 day Vipassana course, and having known people who’ve completed it, the reviews are fabulous! Get more information about Vipassana here.

gong pagoda gorai

vipasana pagoda vasai

As you enter through vibrant red and gold sculpted pillars and pass the giant statue of a lion-dog, you’ll find yourself face to face with a huge gong tower. To the right is a beautiful statue of Buddha in a golden robe sitting on an ornate throne which seems to be the centre of attraction here. With several tourists pointing cameras and taking selfies in front of the statue, you may have to wait a while to get a shot sans photobombing.

buddha gorai pagoda

Security at the pagoda is strict, unlike the one at Gateway of India and the many malls we have in Mumbai. I couldn’t help but notice how well maintained the pagoda is even in terms of the vegetarian food court and provision of drinking water facilities.

gorai pagoda lion dog

gorai pagoda pillars

Sadly, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time at the pagoda since I arrived just 10 minutes before visitors were turned away (thanks to the police on the way wasting good 20 minutes looking for a reason to fine us.) If you have your own transport, wait until it gets dark to witness the gleaming pagoda lit up!

gorai pagoda

The pagoda features on the list of “the Seven Wonders of Maharashtra” and is definitely a must-visit if you’re from Mumbai. If you’re just visiting for a couple of days, you may want to give this a miss since the travel itself will take a good chunk of your time.

GETTING THERE:

  1. If you’re travelling by public transport, make your way to Borivali Station on Mumbai’s Western Railway Line. Exit on the Western side and take a bus (number 294 or 247) or an autorickshaw to Gorai Creek, about 4 kms from Borivali Station. You can get either board the Esselworld Ferry and get off at Esselworld Jetty or the regular ferry which is at a fraction of the cost.
  2. If you’re travelling from Thane/Nasik/Igatpuri/Pune/Navi Mumbai, travel on Ghodbunder Road until you reach NH8 – Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway and turn left towards Mumbai. At the Mira-Bhayandar Crossing take a right towards Mira-Bhayandar and go straight until you reach the Golden Nest Circle. Then take a left and stay on the main road until you cross Maxus Mall, after which you need to take a right turn at the end of the road and then a left at the T-junction. From here, simply follow the directions to Esselworld of Global Vipassana Pagoda that you will see before you. When you reach Esselworld, take a right turn and head straight until you reach a Helipad. At the helipad, take another right to the Global Pagoda through the Sanchi Arch.
  3. If you’re travelling from Mumbai City/Airport – Get on Western Express Highway and go North towards Borivali/ Dahisar. Cross the Dahisar toll booth and go straight. When you reach the Mira-Bhayandar crossing, turn right. From here, follow the instructions given above in point 2.

TGG global vipasana pagoda

Hope you manage to take the time out to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda! Let me know if you come across any new discoveries in your city!

Here’s another fun discovery I’m sure you’ll enjoy – Phoebe’s Farm!

xoxo