Tuesday 16 December 2008
This roadside joint is situated after the Neral-Karjat junction on the stretch leading to Karjat Chowk.
Few years ago the place was like a proper dhaba, it just had a roof with few tables laid, and it much more open and airy. Now with more restaurants coming up in the surrounding area, it has transformed into a proper place with a permit room.
Karjat Dhaba use to serve beer earlier too, except that now steel glasses have been replaced by beer mugs, and its served more openly. You will get Indian and Chinese cuisine here, although we wouldn't recommend Chinese food. Many restaurants have Chinese on their menu, it isn't really the place to eat Chinese. Better to have the local delicacy, vada-pav, instead.
While the Indian fare was delicious, almost all the vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are available. We had beer first then followed it up with Paneer Masala and Aloo Mutter along with hot chapatis, and were quite happy with the food. So we ordered for rice and dal fry, to have a complete, delectable meal.
The place wasn't crowded, so the service was quite prompt. The bill came up to Rs 240, good enough for two people. Next time you visit Karjat, drop by the dhaba for some good food.
Tuesday 2 December 2008
More and more land is being used to develop townships, hotels and bungalows. So paddy fields have given way to new development, and villages also have been acquired for the SEZ plan in Raigad district.
This is pretty evident when you get off the highway and take the left to enter Karjat. You will notice the change in landscape, with both sides of the road filled with slew of hoardings advertising about future development projects or some real estate agent selling land.
Land under cultivation has reduced drastically and the state's agriculture commissioner, Prabhakar Deshmukh, admits that this is a worrying trend. This has been happening in other parts of Maharashtra too.
On our last visit to Karjat, we actually stopped on the way to take couple of pictures of these hoardings. Take a look -
Due to close proximity to Mumbai, the demand has gone up and with it the cost of real estate too in Karjat. Earthsellers, what an apt name to describe the current scenario, piece of land for everyone and less land for cultivation. Another slew of hoardings as we reached closer to Chowk.
Several new townships are coming up as well within and on the outskirts of Karjat. This surge in development only started around 2-3 years ago. Are you looking for a piece of land in Karjat too?
Sunday 23 November 2008
Category: Budget Hotel
Price Range: Rs 750 to Rs 2500
Nature lovers now have an affordable option to stay in Karjat. RiverTouch Resorts, built on the banks of River Pej amidst lush surroundings, offers a good break from the maddening crowd of the city at a decent cost. Located around 10 kms from Karjat railway station in Mandvane village, RiverTouch is partially air-conditioned, with a total of 10 rooms, bungalows, cottages and dormitory.
Category: Budget Hotel
Price Range: Rs 350 onwards
Karjat is an interesting weekend proposition for anyone who wants to have a break from the hectic city life. But affordable accommodation seems to be a problem, but thanks to Pinewood Resort you can enjoy your stay in Karjat without burning a hole in your pocket! Pinewood is situated in Varai village that is 5 kms away from Karjat Station and 65 kms away from Mumbai.
Category: Luxury Resort
Price Range: Rs 4500 to Rs 6000
Prakruti Farms, located 11 km from Karjat station, has facilities for all occasions, groups, individuals and families who wish to spend time in the heart of nature. Surrounded by the Sahyadri range, the farm is spread across 12 acres consisting of fruit orchards, vegetable farm and flower beds.
Dr. Modi's Resort
Category: Three-star health resort
Price Range: Rs 1800 to Rs 3000
According to Dr. Modi, his resort is ideal for weekend getaways, conferences, seminars, training programmes and rejuvenation packages. Dr. Modi’s Resort is spread across 50 acres, has 40 air-conditioned rooms set up in cottage style with its own private patio and garden.
Category: Five-star resort
Price Range: Rs 4400 to Rs 5300
Spread over 26 acres of green landscapes between the mountains of Matheran, Murbad and Lonavala, resort is 12 kms away from Karjat station, 92 Kms from Mumbai and 116 kms from Pune. Rivergate lies on the borders of river Pej, and offers 27 tents and 14cottages, with an air-conditioner, television, and spacious bathrooms.
Piccadilly Country Club & Resort
Category: Four-star resort
Price Range: Rs 3600 to Rs 7600
Piccadilly Country Club & Resort is located in Mircholi village in Karjat, is a three-star category resort located 85 kms from Mumbai. Piccadilly has well-furnished AC cottages equipped with TV sets, bathtubs and a view of River Pej. It can accommodate 4 adults.
Category: Four-star resort
Price Range: Rs 4555 to Rs 6999
Satya Resort spans 52 acres of greenery and is located after Kadav village. Satya offers 34 spacious rooms with high wooden ceilings and attached bathrooms; some with air conditioners, all the rooms have an individual sit-out and garden.
Tuesday 11 November 2008
Located on the tip of a small plateau overlooking paddy fields and villages, the building has a very rustic feel to it due to its bamboo exterior. Bamboo, a renewable resource, is used as the main supporting material, so it blends with its surrounding landscape.
As you can see in the picture below, bamboo columns form a cage around the building. Two bamboos are joined together by steel strips. Bamboo is not only used to support the building, but even the floors are made of half cut bamboo, concrete, finished with a layer of natural stone. Walls are made of split bamboo covered with plaster on the inside.
The construction carried out by Architecture Brio combines natural and local materials - bamboo, wood, steel and concrete - in such a way that it reduces the load on the building.
With the amount of new developments taking place in Karjat, such eco-friendly buildings gives some hope and it is a fine example to spur the change.
Monday 10 November 2008
City Dwellers looking for a weekend break have another reason to be in Karjat, horse-riding. Tudo Cavalo, India's first and only Equine Services Company that provides holistic, skill based and natural entertainment, has opened a fully equipped and professionally run horse riding school - Horsing Around.
Every Saturday, Karjat hosts a vegetable market that attracts thousands of people due to the price and quality. The chance of getting fresh tasty vegetables attracts people who have come just for a weekend visit as well to take home supplies for the days to come. Lets take a look at Karjat's Saturday Bazaar.
We all know the skies around Karjat are clear, the clean air makes Karjat a fabulous place for star gazers. But wouldn't it be even better to watch the stars and learn about the constellations and their movements. Thanks to a group known as the Khagol Mandal, a group of sky observers that have been conducting observation programs for over 20 years at Vangani.
A group of people are trying to protect the local eco-system and encourage sustainable living. Van Vadi, a 64-acre forest farm (as the owners like to call it), on the foothills of Sahyadri, offers a complete rustic experience. That's why it attracts lot of urban dwellers who come to be one with nature, away from their daily chaotic life. They organise Forest Festival where families can participate in nature activites and celebrate the harmony with nature.
You can treat your employees to a day full of adventure and learning in Karjat. The training course is organized by Magic Bus, a NGO that looks after the welfare of under privileged children. The Magic Bus center has a fully equipped ropes course, Jacob's ladder and climbing tower with a zip wire. These courses enable participants to grow at the team and individual levels, explore risk, leadership, communication, problem-solving, and coaching.
A few days ago we had a welcome break from the soaring temperatures in Karjat, with the summer temperature outdoors doing more than 40 degrees celcius, the passing shower was a short respite from the heat.
Bringing a brief respite from the scorching heat, the rain gods put up a surprising show few days ago on April 30th in Karjat. A short spell of heavy rainfall was accompanied by an unexpected hail storm, which lasted for around 5 minutes.
If you have visited Karjat in recent times, you would have noticed that just beyond the city on the other side of the bridge leading to the villages, there is an over-sized dump yard that runs around 100 meters along the side of the road.
Tanaji Malusare city, the mammoth low-cost housing project coming up in Karjat, will have a motorised skywalk connecting all the facilities in the township and to Karjat station. The planned skywalk would be the first coming up in this fast-developing rural area.
The uneven roads are a common sight in Karjat especially during the monsoons. MMRDA has finally decided to improve the roads in four council areas including Karjat, Raigad, Kulgaon-Badlapur and Ambarnath.
As Mumbai can't hold more people, the lack of space and development has forced builders to look for greener pastures. Karjat seems to be the choicest location for builders, with the MMRDA's big plans for the city.
Karjat too has become a victim of rapid urbanisation. More and more land is being used to develop townships, hotels and bungalows. So paddy fields have given way to new development, and villages also have been acquired for the SEZ plan in Raigad district. This is evident with the change in landscape when you enter Karjat.
An innovative bamboo construction is coming up in the valley behind Karjat dam. The 3-storey building, which will be a dormitory for the staff of Magic Bus NGO, has a modern and sustainable structure. Bamboo is used as the main supporting material, so it blends with its surrounding landscape.
The ten-seater tuktuks or rickshaws, which is the common mode of transport for villagers and tourists in Karjat, are facing some competition. Tata Motors is promoting its passenger version of its Ace mini-truck, Tata Magic, in Karjat, ensuring comfortable and safe transportation mode.
The sight of vadas being fried at platform stalls as the train reaches Karjat station is too tempting to miss. But that will soon change, as Indian Railways plan to ban cooking at food stalls on platforms. Due to fire hazards and accidents at crowded station, Central and Western railways will open a centralised kitchen for the stall owners to cook vadas, samosas etc., or even make tea.
Reliance ADAG joined hands with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation to help kick start the OLPC India project in order to educate kids in rural areas. The first of the XO laptop series was distributed in a school in Khairat village among 25 students.
Whenever the government takes land away from the locals it seems like they never live up to their promises. The Morbe dam project in Karjat has affected 11 villages and 776 families. Some of the affected people have been claiming that they have not been given permanent jobs as promised while none of the families who have been resettled get water from the dam.
The Maharashtra Government has been asked by the Bombay high court to provide the necessary infrastructure to open a court of additional sessions at Panvel. This would make it convenient for litigants from Karjat, Panvel, Uran and Khalapur, who currently travel to Alibaug session court for redressal of legal issues.
Karjat has been warming up as a destination for the city dwellers around it, but is Karjat ready to become the entertainment hub of Maharashtra? At the moment there has been a lot of development with regards to hotels and guest houses. Lets take a look at some of the future projects coming up in Karjat.
The villagers of Karalewadi, Mandawane, Bhiwapuri, Hedavali, Ambewadi and Phanaswadi were stranded due to the bridge that joined their villages to the Karjat city collapsed. The reason behind the bridge collapse is blamed on singer Shankar Mahadevan. They alleged that the construction work on an illegal compound wall at Mahadevan's farmhouse located close to the bridge led to the incident.
Tuesday 4 November 2008
Tata Motors is promoting its passenger version of its Ace mini-truck, Tata Magic, in Karjat, ensuring comfortable and safe transportation mode. On our recent visit to Karjat, we noticed a Tata Magic parked outside the rickshaw stand, so Tata is trying to sell these four-wheelers in rural areas.
What makes it different than a tuktuk? Well from the look of it, Magic looks more spacious good enough to fit four to seven passengers, with ample legroom and comfortable seats. We aren't sure of how much it costs to travel in a Magic and what route does it ply on.
Tuktuks are ideally fit for seven to eight people but the driver tries to fit in as many as he can, sometimes we've also seen more than 10 people getting squashed. Tata Magic does seem to be a more comfortable option, next time I am in Karjat, I will surely sit in one.
Tuesday 21 October 2008
Van Vadi, a 64-acre forest farm (as the owners like to call it), on the foothills of Sahyadri, offers a complete rustic experience. That's why it attracts lot of urban dwellers who come to be one with nature, away from their daily chaotic life. It has no electricity, piped water, mobile network, or fancy cottages, simply bamboo huts and mats to sleep on. The land, which was bought 14 years ago with contribution from around two dozen people, is covered by 80% of dense forest and has organically grown vegetables.
Van Utsav or Forest Festival
For the last three years the owners of Van Vadi have been organising 'Van Utsav' or 'Forest Festival,' for six days, and it actually is quite a unique concept. Many families come with their kids and grandparents to participate in this festival to celebrate the harmony with nature. Various activities are included like gardening, planting and working on building a house.
The owners also encourage voluntary workshops conducted by guests themselves, it could be on anything, carpentry, yoga, natural healing etc. Cooking is done on a rotating team basis, using organic food, cereals, vegetables etc, and drinking water can be filled directly from the stream.
There are seasonal streams flowing through the undulating land. There are over 30 uncultivated species growing in the wild and over 35 recognized medicinal plants. Living for a week in such environment will definitely be very refreshing.
New development woes
This is a common concern these days. A new construction coming up on the neighbouring land of Van Vadi is threatening to harm the ecology of the forest land and affect its flora and fauna. The owners are taking up the matter seriously with various authorities and hoping that the damage is minimized.
We are looking forward to visiting this place the next time we are in Karjat and meeting with one of the owners, Bharat Mansata, to know more about this wonderful concept.
How to Reach Van Vadi?
Drive via the old Bombay-Poona highway, turning left at Karjat Chowk, and proceed towards Kashele village, 18 kms from Karjat. At Kashele, ask for the road which leads to Vaara, which is about 8 km from Kashele. The Vaara-Chinchwadi road leads to Van Vadi that comes on the left, beside a roadside hand-pump, just before Vaara village.
Thursday 16 October 2008
On the way we came across a huge abandoned land with a strange signboard that said something in Marathi, more like 'Ayurvedic Healthcare Garden'.
There was a statue placed right in the center of the entrance and the feel of the place was very different. There was a path that had leaves on it as though they were placed there for people not to proceed. This was very inviting a garden that was not maintained, we decided to take a peek.
The statue in the middle of the entrance was of an Ayurvedic Rishi making a mixture of herbs, of course we did not know what it was, will get to that part later.
At that moment the statue fascinated us, we were wondering what was awaiting us as we walked down the path.
We started to get an eerie feeling as we passed by abandoned houses, a water pump that supplied water to this place that looked like an abandoned town. We were beginning to wonder what happened to the people who were living here. We came across different plants and flowers, that did not seem to be a wild variety, of course there were a lot of plants that had flourished due to the monsoons as well, but these seemed different. The path ended gets more dense and leads into the forest. As we walked back, the question pondering in our heads, what was this place. On reaching back we found a bike parked at the entrance. A man was talking on his cell phone and he looked a bit sceptical about us. A broad smile always changes things as we approached him and asked him about this place. He asked us who we were first and then he told us that this land belonged to the Academy of Development Sciences. He said that he worked here for over 15 years, and the 64-acre land produced 500 different species of medicinal plants, which were used in Ayurveda. It use to be a research centre and a nursery, which was abandoned due to lack of funding. People from Mumbai use to come here for a workshop on medicinal plants, that could cure common diseases and even help prevent them. They could also purchase plants, and over 200 people from neighbouring villages were employed here. The place is due to open once again, in a few months time but it could take longer than expected.
The reason why he came here is he saw the car parked and the statue in the middle of the entrance. Originally there were two statues each on the pillar of the entrance gate, someone had broken one and he thought that the car was there to rob the other one. It was an informative half an hour in Karjat, I do hope to get myself some Ayurvedic plants soon.