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!

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.

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

Inspired by the ‘daily’ or the morning newspaper, The Daily Bar and Kitchen (formerly known as simply ‘The Daily’) used to be a popular watering hole just behind Shoppers Stop in Bandra. Since they’ve undergone a renovation late last year, there’s been a lot of changes taking place at this restaurant – the latest being that they’re open for lunch all week long!

Bar comes before Kitchen at the Daily and that’s because they’ve got their drinks down to a science. While experimenting with classic drinks like Sangrias, they’ve also got refreshing cocktails and mocktails and an impressive range of alcohol!

the daily bar and kitchen

The new menu is fresh, healthy and downright delicious! Vegans will find plenty of options here –salads like Three Watermelon, Herbed Quinoa and Poached Pear & Baby Arugula is just the tip of the iceberg!

AMBIANCE

While there’s no dearth of bars and eateries in the area, the Daily Bar and Kitchen has been a long-time favourite thanks to its ability to stand out with quality and consistency. This monochrome themed restaurant has an alfresco section that’s slightly larger than the a/c section. The theme of the restaurant is upheld by posting various news articles all over, similar to the viral ones you see on Buzzfeed. Overhead as well, you’ll find sheets of news hanging from the ceiling. They have a great choice of upbeat music too.

SERVICE

The service was particularly slow on the weekend that I visited. When I entered, the place was empty and our first dish came to us quickly. From there on, the place filled up and service lacked in almost every aspect but politeness. The staff seemed a little scattered and dishes took painfully long to arrive. At one point, we were so bored that we ordered French Fries. After having main course (which again took an eternity to arrive), our French Fries arrived along with dessert.

the daily bar and kitchen menu

I will give them full marks for their recommendations though. A couple of times, we went with their selection even though we had mentally crossed it off and it was spectacular!

FOOD

Price-wise, the menu centres around Rs. 300 to Rs. 450, which is quite reasonable for the quality and quantity served. But like I said, the food took forever and a day to arrive but in most cases, it was definitely worth the wait!

Mocktails

I ordered the Midas Touch (super sweet) and Tiffany Twisted (pretty good!)

Haloumi Cheese and Watermelon Bites

I LOVED this dish and it was one of the better starters of the day. It was pretty to look at, fun to eat and was an explosion of flavour and texture. The figs give it a fabulous meat-like, yet nutty taste; the cheese was flavoursome and watermelon was sweet and juicy. Decorative dots of various sauces all over the plate and mango salsa made it visually appealing and added more flavour.

haloumi cheese and watermelon

Pan-Seared Tofu Stir-Fry

I didn’t like this one! It had a weird after-taste that was off-putting but we ate all the yummy baby bok choy on the plate.

pan seared tofu stir fry

Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich

Loved everything about this sandwich! The bread was buttery and toasted to perfection. The pork is said to be imported and I must say it was spiced wonderfully! I wouldn’t have thought that pineapple paired well with pork but it added a whole new depth of flavour. Every bite of this home-cooked-like sandwich was a pleasure!

slow roasted pork sandwiches

Buerre Noisette John Dory

I hadn’t even considered ordering this but did so on the strong recommendation of the wait staff. This was the best one at the Daily Bar and Kitchen. A Pan Roasted Australian white fish served in plum tomato and kafir lime risotto with a butter-line sauce! The tanginess and tartness of the sauce was complimented by the delicately seasoned, perfectly cooked fish. The perfect crispy skin on the fillet was brilliant and we couldn’t stop digging in. Highly recommended!

Buerre Noisette John Dory The daily bar and kitchen

Nutella Sea Salt Pancakes

The pancakes looked like more of a cake than a pancake and had more flour than nutella. It was delicious, nevertheless and I could get the saliva-inducing taste of sea salt mixed in with the chocolate. Only, after a large meal, a heavy dessert like this one was a struggle. I’m not sure if it was the long wait time or the hot pancake, but the whipped cream on top melted into a puddle of milk by the time I got it.

nutella pancake the daily bar and kitchen

Dark Chocolate Chip Waffles

The dessert selection is limited to 4 heavy items namely waffles, two kinds of pancakes and French Toast. I’d have loved to see something cream or chocolate based on the menu such as a cheesecake, sundae or panna cotta. Anyway, the waffles were decent. Could have done with some chocolate sauce!

waffles the daily bar and kitchen

Drop in for a Sunday Brunch or weekday lunch and you’ll have the place all to yourself. If you drink, you’re bound to love it!

Price for 2 – Rs. 2000 with alcohol

Address – Ground Floor Behind Shoppers Stop, SV Road, Linking Road, Bandra West

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Have you ever been to a traditional bakery shop in Goa? I’m talking about the ones in villages or in the little lanes of Mapusa market that are called St. John’s Bakery, St. Joseph’s Bakery and at least a dozen St. Peter’s Bakeries?

The staff moves painfully slowly – even slower than the rattling fan hanging from the tiled roof. Since these heritage bakeries have been serving loyal patrons for decades, everyone is a familiar face. Most of the time, you can’t wait to grab your brown paper packet, head home and bite into your flaky puff with a mug of tea. And if you have to wait until after ‘saibin’ to eat them, you drool all through the prayer session that precedes snack-time!

Looking at St. Anthony’s Bakery in Thane, Mumbai gave me all the Goa feels. I accidentally found this place while riding through tiny lanes off Ghodbunder Road.

st. anthony's bakery thane

I don’t remember the last time I had those familiar Goan snacks in Mumbai and was overjoyed to find this little gem quite by accident. Being over 75 years old and passing through the hands of the newer generations, it looked nothing like the charming little ones in Goa. It was peppier, brighter and had more buzz! The display was stocked full of sweet goodies like creamy-looking chocolate cakes and cheesecakes, patties, brownies and red-velvet pastries.

st. anthony's bakery mumbai

What makes St. Anthony’s Bakery stand out is their separate café-like seating in a room next door. Patrons can order off the menu in the main bakery and wait for their snacks to arrive. From the menu, you can choose from a massive range of burgers, pizzas, pastas and wraps, among other things – all made fresh and hot in the kitchen at the back.

st. anthony's bakery seating area

What’s surprising is that this little bakery also serves up Chinese food like noodles and Manchurian, American food like chopsuey, Italian dishes like Stroganoff as well as sizzlers and subs alongside our desi faves of kheema pao and biryani!

st. anthony's bakery brownie

st. anthony's bakery chicken patties

I tried out both their variations of chicken patties and a chicken bolognaise pizza. The lemonade was a little too sweet for my liking, but on a hot summers day like that one, I’d drink anything.

st. anthony's bakery pizza

Apparently, during the festive month of December, patrons flock here for the plum cakes and one can even place orders for stuffed chicken, roasted chicken and smoked chicken.

Here’s where you can find St. Anthony’s Bakery (you WILL need GPS to find it):

171, St. Anthony’s Bakery Building, Kolbad Road, Khopat, Thane West

Opening Hours – 9 AM to 11 PM

Cost – Approx 500 for 2

Subscribe to That Goan Girl for more food finds! I’m sure you’ll love this travel find – Phoebe’s Farm in Mumbai. Read more about it!

Bye for now!

After opening two restaurants bearing the same name in Dehradun, husband-wife duo Manoj and Ekta recently launched Best Buddy’s Café, close to Mega Mall in Oshiwara, Andheri. Here’s a look at the sunny café from my perspective!

best buddy's cafe

AMBIANCE

A large picture window allows streams of light to flow in, but that’s only the start of what makes me feel warm and happy inside. The adorably quaint restaurant has interiors that are a mix of wooden finishes, colourful thread cushions, white chandeliers and blackboards all around with motivational phrases written on them.

best buddys cafe

To add to the mix, there’s a neon sign that flashes ‘bla bla bla’ and a ‘naughty corner,’ both of which brought a smile to the faces of everyone who visited. Even the tables have a colourful mix of glasses with various condiments in bottles of various shapes and sizes. To add to the laidback-vibe, there are a board-games like UNO and Jenga to ensure you keep your phone aside and enjoy some quality time with your friends and family.

best buddys andheri

best buddys cafe

SERVICE

The service could definitely be improved. The waiters weren’t very attentive and seemed to be engrossed in each other’s company. However, the restaurant is very hygienic and the owners do make small talk with patrons whenever they can.

that goan girl best buddys cafe

FOOD

I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of food offered at Best Buddy’s Cafe. Hot and cold drinks, coolers, slushes, shakes, smoothies, pancakes, eggs, salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, small bites, meaty dishes and more feature on their menu.

Kit Kat Shake

Kit Kat, like Nutella, is wonderful on top of anything! This incredibly irresistible milkshake is a creamy, smooth concoction that pairs so well with cheesy conversations with old friends.

best buddys kit kat shake

LAD Sangria

I’m not sure what LAD stands for, but this fruity drink is a great substitute for those wanting to skip indulgent shakes and coffees. It comprised of pink lemonade with a melange of fruits and herbs.

LAD Sangria Best Buddys Cafe

Peanut Butter Shake

All through childhood, I detested peanut butter. Thank God I got over that because I wouldn’t have missed this delicious shake for the world! It was so decadent that one would need a nap after drinking it. A great guilty pleasure, I must say!

Peanut Butter Shake Best Buddys Cafe

The O-Ring Shorty

After French Fries, Onion Rings are my second favourite munchies! I had given up hope of finding another place that served them after Pizza Hut took them off the menu. The only other place I’d found them at was Cream Centre, which was oily and bland! On the other end of the spectrum, Best Buddy’s Café’s Onion Rings were even better than Pizza Hut! Wonderfully spiced, so crispy and not a drop of excess oil! They were served with thick sour cream. Don’t they look good enough to make you want to lick your screen?

O ring Shorty Best Buddys Cafe

BBC Chicken Wings

These Chicken Wings in BBC’s signature BBQ sauce were sweet, smoky and sticky enough to make me very, very happy! Chicken wings are usually difficult to eat with a fork and digging into them like carnivores are the preferred way of getting all the meat. Surprisingly, these were so tender that one cut made with the fork was enough to get all the meat out. That’s saying something!!

BBQ chicken wings best Buddys Cafe

Texas Toast Sandwich

Substantial enough for a mid-day snack, this Texas Toast sandwich comes in three variations – paneer, chicken tikka and BBQ grilled chicken. I tried the Paneer one that came loaded with fresh, lightly-spiced paneer, cheese and fresh veggies. Very wholesome indeed! The golden potato wedges that came alongside were seasoned and fried to perfection too!

texas toast best buddys cafe

Chicken Shawarma

I’d say the Chicken Shawarma was one of the average dishes of the day. Not because it had anything wrong with it, but because the other dishes set the bar high! While it was creamy with a generous amount of chicken stuffing in the grilled pita roll, I missed a few things that traditional shawarmas have. The garlic taste coming through in the sauce and pickled beets inside, to name a few.

chicken shawarma best buddys cafe

Pizza Chicago Style

Thin Crust. Crispy Edges. Loaded with meat and cheese. The trio that makes a pizza great! Check out this one – ticks all the boxes, doesn’t it? It was loaded with chicken ham, sausage and salami, tender onion rings and bell peppers, olives and a few leaves on top to take away that guilty feeling.

chicago style pizza best buddys cafe

Alfredo Style Pasta

In my opinion, this dish was a bit of a let-down. Perhaps I’m more of a “pasta-so-rich-and-creamy-it-will-stop-your-heart” kinda person. I felt this one needed more cream, more garlic and more cheese.

pizza alfredo best buddys cafe

BBQ Chicken Steak

An outstanding dish right at the end. This succulent chicken breast was stuffed with olives and jalapenos and is the kind you don’t want to share. I personally loved the creamy spinach sauce at the side and would eat it like soup if I could! The mashed potatoes could have been way better – along with the plating.

chicken steak best buddys cafe

WHAT I LOVED:

The ambiance and games! Definitely a great option to hang-out with friends!

Affordability – Best Buddy’s Café seems to have got the pricing right. Most of the items are very affordable and offer value-for-money in terms of quantity.

Apart from one or two dishes (which were above average), the plating and taste of most of the items were wonderful!

french fries best buddies

WHAT COULD BE BETTER:

Better service

A washroom in the premises

I didn’t get to sample any of their desserts, but since none of them are prepared in-house, I didn’t feel like I missed out on much. I definitely recommend you give this place a visit when you’re shopping in the Lokhandwala area or passing through Andheri West.

Cost – Rs. 800-1000 for two

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Pre-planning a trip with your friends almost never works out. There are always uncertainties, disagreements over destinations and of course, last minute cancellations.

When my girl-pack and I decided to take a trip a few weeks ago, we made it an impromptu one. We wanted something low-key. Just a good excuse to get out of town – away for the weekend – and do nothing but lay around by the pool, consume awesome food and leave thoughts of work behind.

My friend Dipti took control of the trip. She’s never short of ideas and can plan an elaborate trip in 15 minutes if she had to. The rest of us just floated along and it turned out to be one of the best weekends ever!

GETTING THERE

The 8 of us were spread all over Mumbai – some on Western Lines, others on Central and Harbour Lines. And we converged at Panvel Station after around an hour and a half of travelling. From there, we took rickshaws and reached Aayush Resort in around half an hour. The heat was absolutely unbearable and after having stopped for some road-side nimbu-soda, we arrived at around 3 PM.

 

AAYUSH RESORT

Located on the old Mumbai-Pune highway in Panvel, Navi Mumbai, Aayush Resort is a place to go to when you need a break from noise and pollution.

This massive property is spread over 35 acres and is built to provide recreation to city dwellers as well as provide facilities for a memorable wedding celebration.

On getting off at the main gate, we walked around a kilometer or so until we reached the inner gate that had a large, naturally-lit lobby to our right. We couldn’t help notice the sign-boards that showed the direction of many of the resorts facilities upfront. We checked in and were then taken through a maze of pathways, past the restaurant, disco, a tiny zoo, bird sanctuary, rooms, and more rooms before arriving at ours, besides the pool.

The resort has everything needed for a large business conference, family holiday or social gathering and its magnificent palace set-up is a stunning spot on which Bollywood movies can be shot.

OUR ROOM

Aayush Resort has a total of 110 rooms ranging from super deluxe to executive and royal cottages to tree top rooms and at least a dozen other options. We chose a Premium Cottage by the pool and it was squeaky clean, spacious and had 4 large double beds so that we could spend as much time together as we could. The room had good air-conditioning, a couple of cupboards and 3 washrooms so we never felt that we had to wait in line to have a bath.  Filtered water and glasses were provided, along with basic toiletries.

AMENITIES

When we first crossed the pool to go to our rooms, we noticed that the water wasn’t very clean due to leaves and flowers falling in. However, it was much better when we actually went in after about 2 hours. The swimming pool is quite large and has a few water slides. There is also a smaller, empty pool for a rain-dance that had sprinklers on top and music blaring to which a group was having a gala time.

The entire resort is full of spots where one can click a ton of Instagram-worthy photos! And click we did! In front of colourful walls of some of the smaller cottages, on the grass in front of a huge Jaipur-fort like structure and all over the palatial movie setting that scenes Badrinath ki Dulhaniya was shot. I clicked the picture below when we got lost on our way back to our room and stumbled upon this magnificent sight. Such a fairy tale moment!

There’s something therapeutic about walking and lying on grass! The space in front of the fort-like wedding stage was great for having a picnic, watching the clouds go by or having a cricket match, which a bunch of guests were doing!

If you’re wondering how to spend time once the pool has closed, Aayush Resort has that covered too! They have an impressive nightclub inside the premises, complete with a great sound system and party lights. We got all decked up to dance the night away, and when we got there, it was empty, except for a couple of guys sitting in the corner. Major mood kill. We left in 5 minutes.

that goan girl

aayush resort club

Overall, the pool could be much better maintained. But the rest of the amenities were pretty neat and can easily keep you occupied for a day.

THE FOOD

Whatever food we ate at Aayush Resort, we loved! Be it the simple but delicious vada pao and coffee at 4 pm on the day we arrived, or the elaborate dinner planned for us that night. Since Aayush Resort is a vegetarian hotel, meat isn’t allowed on the property. We were taken to a spot a little further away from the inner entrance of the hotel (though still inside the property), and the pre-decided food items prepared were bought and served.

We were a little creeped out at being taken to a distance away from the hotel and guests, in a large room with one table and 8 chairs like something out of a horror movie. But once the food arrived, we stopped discussing worst case scenarios and escape plans – and enjoyed the food instead.

A mix of Indian food (Naan, Dal, chicken curry) and Chinese food (Noodles, Gobi Manchurian) and dessert comprising of Gulab Jamun were among a few items on the menu. We had around 4 waiters to cater to us and we had a lovely dinner without having to order off the menu!

The next day, we walked over to the restaurant for the buffet breakfast, which was pretty decent as well. For lunch, we didn’t want to head over to that sinister room on the outskirts for non-vegetarian food, and decided to go veg at the restaurant again. Like the rest of the food, this meal too lived up to expectations! Still remember how delicious that chaas was!

A lot of photos were clicked on the movie set, as you can see 🙂

WHAT I LOVED:

What’s nice about Aayush Resort is their 24 hour check-out policy. Since we arrived at around 3 PM, we left around the same time the next day. That means no rush during hotel’s general check-in and check-out windows.

The entire resort is like a photo booth and everything you look at is clickable!

Affordability – We were 8 people and spent 2500/- each for one night, inclusive of food and use of all amenities.

No mosquitos in spite of all the greenery and water bodies.

WHAT COULD MAKE IT BETTER:

A warm welcome to guests. A welcome drink, some personal interaction by the manager, or simply, acknowledgement by turning on the A/C in the lobby!

Space to dry clothes – with such a huge room and pool just outside, there are bound to be a lot of wet clothes.

I recommend this place if you ever want to get out of town for a couple of days without having to go too far. Can’t wait for the next trip with these girls!

Read about another fun weekend I had at Phoebe’s Farm, a human-friendly pet resort in Mumbai.

– Jade