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Little known charms of popular Indian destinations

Last updated on: November 30, 2013 11:30 IST

Little known charms of popular Indian destinations

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Nisha Jha

5 must-sees when you are in Goa and Maharashtra if you are bored of the tourist-circuit

I am sure when you decide on a popular destination for your vacation, you must be looking at the places to see, things to do etc. What if you are in love with some destination but are in a situation of ‘been there, done that’ and looking for something new?

We take you through little known charms of some popular destinations.

Bubbling Lake in Goa

Once you are through with the beautiful beaches of Goa, a visit to the Bubbling Lake could be a change from the sun. Though it is called a lake, its small size makes it look like a tank.

Deep inside the lush green forests that border Karnataka, is a temple in Netrawali dedicated to Lord Gopinath. By its side is a kund (tank) that releases bubbles ever so often. The cab driver asks me to clap my hands. When I do that I see the bubbling activity increase. The louder I clap the more bubbles come out.

There maybe scientific reasons but they are not so fascinating. Myth has it that there is a sleeping demon under the tank and whenever we make noises, his breathing quickens and hence the bubbles!

The water is clear and one can see plants at the bottom and also lot of fishes. The driver was adventurous enough to fill up his water bottle and drink it. Upon his saying it is potable, I too had a mouthful and I am still alive!

Whereas the temple structure looks new, the tank looks ages old. It is said that the pond is over 1,000 years old. Probably the temple was rebuilt. The only other person in the vicinity, was the temple priest, he performed the prayers and gave us ‘Prasad’. On being asked about the age of the temple, he just said “it is old, very old, much older than myself!”

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Image: Bubbling Lake, Goa
Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Lonar Lake, Maharashtra

If you are in the precincts of Aurangabad visiting Ajanta and Ellora, take a day off to visit this lovely, scenic, breathtaking view of Lonar Lake. It is 136 km away from this world-famous tourist attractions of Ajanta and Ellora.

Lonar Lake is the third largest meteorite crater in the world, but the good thing is, it is not a touristy place. The lake was formed by meteorite that hit earth around 50 thousand years back. The water is alkaline and does not support life forms in the lake, not even bacteria. The outer diameter of the lake is 1.83 kilometers and the circumference is around 6-7 km.

When you view the lake from the rim, you see lush green crater walls carpeted with green plants and trees and in the middle an almost round lake. It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen.

Other than a handful of tourists, this place is visited by researchers, geologists, scientists and serious nature lovers from all over the world.

The crater floor is home to a myriad variety of flora and fauna which you can witness should you decide to circumnavigate the lake. There are said to be twelve temples around the lake, not all of them functional on daily basis but good enough to make a halt during your hike.

Good time to visit is during or just after monsoons.

Best way to reach here is to take state transport buses or hire a car from Aurangabad.

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Image: Lonar Lake, Maharashtra
Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Pariyon ka Talab, Maharashtra

Pariyon ka Talaab, meaning the ‘Lake of Fairies’, lies near Shuli Bhanjan on way to Ellora from Aurangabad.

The first thing you’ll notice about the place is its slight isolation and absolute calmness. It is somewhat deserted and is also not covered by many tourist buses or taxis.

The complex is quite big comprising a lake, a temple, a mosque and lots of open spaces. The lake is situated near the tomb of sufi saint Sheikh Jalaluddin Ganjerawan. There is a legend that he had brought a branch of a tree with him, using it as a staff. He was very poor and wanted to settle somewhere. Sheikh was told wherever he plants that staff, if next morning he sees sprouting of new leaves he can make that place his home.

And after trying thrice earlier, this was the place where his staff got new leaves. He knew he had to make this as his home.

That branch has become a big tree now whose fruits are believed to cure many ailments. It is said that the women who are unable to conceive, eat those black berries and become pregnant.

The lake commands scenic beauty. It is a large lake with steps on one side and a stage like platform which bears great resemblance to the ancient roman amphitheater.

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Image: Pariyon ka Talab, Maharashtra
Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Works of Mario Miranda, Goa

Who does not know Mario Miranda, the famous Indian cartoonist and painter from Goa? Though his favourite topic included various aspects of Goan way of life and culture, he has depicted daily life from all the places and countries he has visited.

While visiting the newly renovated Fort Reis Magos, after inspecting the ramparts, cannons and such, I enter a hall and what greets me is what I had been searching for! Talk of serendipity!

An extensive exhibition of Mario’s work is presented on the walls, on the table, spread across three halls. It’s hard to forget his style of the rounded figures in his caricatures. One can see a series of cartoons in which he has depicted all his friends.

Awesome is the word!

All his published books are also kept here.

You can buy various pieces of merchandise like mugs, plates, calendars, postcards etc. with his works printed on them. Don’t forget to check out this exhibition when you go there next time.

You can also admire his work in the form of murals on the walls of the municipal market, on the walls of Margao Railway Station and my favourite, Walls of Mondy’s (Café Mondegar) in Colaba, Mumbai.

Mario Miranda is not with us any more but his art will continue to entertain us.

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Image: Works of Mario Miranda, Goa
Photographs: Nisha Jha

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Let’s go to Mumbai now. Marine Drive, Juhu Chowpatty, Gateway of India, all done. What next?

I suggest you go to Mani Bhawan, home to Mahatma Gandhi in Mumbai. It was an integral part of India’s freedom movement. Just a few minutes walk from Grant Road station; this is a museum and research center that now houses a reference library with over 50,000 books and a photo exhibition of the Mahatma’s life.

One of the most valuable possessions of Mani Bhawan is the charkha or the spinning wheel that Mahatma Gandhi used. This is kept in a room which used to be Gandhiji’s living room and working space and has been preserved as far as possible in its original setting.

The main attraction of this museum, however, is the life of Mahatma Gandhi being portrayed thorough hundreds of well-crafted figurines.

The craftsperson who made it possible is Susheela Gokhale Patel, known for her portrayal of the history of the freedom struggle through hand-made figures which are now part of the museum Mani Bhavan.

What I observed was I was the only Indian visitor that day; all others were foreign nationals. Does that mean we are well saturated about our country’s history? Just a thought!

Entry is free and the museum is open on all the seven days of the week.

Nisha Jha is one of the very few Indian solo women globe travellers, having travelled to around 25 countries. She vouches for voluntourism and nothing excites her more than learning and relishing life's simple little pleasures about new places, people and cultures. She calls her website "Le Monde - A Poetic Travail", where she writes about her sweet and sour experiences around this globe.

Want to share your travel story and pictures? Simply write in to travelpicsga@rediffmail.com (subject line: 'My Travel Story'), along with pictures of the destination you're writing about. We'll publish the best ones right here on rediff.com!


Image: Mani Bhavan, Mumbai
Photographs: Nisha Jha

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