Pune -> Sinhgad -> Pune -> Lavasa -> Ajanta -> Ellora -> Aurangabad ->Mumbai
Continued from here
After a well-deserved rest at our hotel, we headed confidently to the bus stand to take our bus to Mumbai, only to realise we had made a booking gaffe. Thankfully, some quick action later, we were on the right bus and on our way while not losing too much money on our incorrect booking for the next day! I spent the night being thrown across the sleeper berth from one end to another and an unhappy spine in the morning. We, therefore, after reaching Mumbai, took some time off the morning to rest.
In our hunt for breakfast (our hotel was very snarky about the whole early-check-in thing), we passed by a doughnut place but decided we didn’t want something so sweet early that morning. A long walk ahead and we reached a tiny Udupi restaurant. I ordered misal again and yet again was disappointed. Sinhgad had really raised my expectations of the dish. I nibbled at my food, and just managed to have one of the 2 pavs which led to an unanticipated, overwhelming and embarrassing amount of concern from the staff at the hotel who were so worried I didn’t like the food and offered to get me another dish! It was an excellent example of the fact that sometimes places that we pay a ton of money for are not necessarily the most welcoming in a city. We thanked them and finally did get back to the friendly staff at the doughnut place because what I’d eaten was too less for a meal.
Satiated, we headed to Sanjay Gandhi National park to ensure we have a relaxed day after all the walking at Aurangabad.
As luck would have it, we took a cab to the place and the had to pay an entrance fee for the cab too. Just as I wondered why we needed the cab ‘inside’ the park, I realised the park also housed the Kanheri caves that were 6kms from the entrance! He took us all the way to the caves but there was a lot of climbing involved and I’ve to admit I had cave-fatigue by now and had really been looking forward to a lazy day. So I plonked myself at cave number 72 (not numbered in order) just a little ahead of the start while Anand, , the brave explorer went ahead in the blazing sun to see if there was anything interesting for his camera amongst the 100 more caves that made up this group.
He came back soon enough and we walked down only to realise there were only 2-way vehicles! Ie., one had to take a vehicle at the entrance that would wait till people were done and would take them back. We picked up some refreshments that were hearteningly provided only in paper bags to avoid littering of plastics inside the national park. Note : the monkeys have learned how to look oh-so-cute and ask for your food, and well, we succumbed too. Since it was a tree lined road inside the national park we decided we were the type who would actually walk it out, yes, the whole 6 km!
My strong will did not mean I was chirpy about the whole thing! Anand proved to be quite a champ narrating the stories of 2 whole horror movies in detail the whole while to keep my spirits (no pun intended) up. It’s not every day we get to walk amidst trees on a pretty path, so I trudged on despite the chance of asking the passing cabs to take us too. We took frequent breaks as needed, and at the last one almost towards the entrance, we sat down and he nudged me to look behind. We were rewarded with a view of 4 spotted deer calmly going about their grazing and resting just a few feet away from us. Walking through loveliness sure has its rewards. We spent a while with them and then got back to the exit.
For lunch, we went to a nice place, Café Moshe’s near our hotel and then headed to the famed Prithvi theatre to get our tickets for the play that night. The play in Hindi was called ‘Peela scooter wala aadmi‘ and was performed in a nice cosy space in a semi-circular setting around the stage itself. The play was about a writer trying to write amidst questions from his childhood haunting him. One of those deep intense tales elevated by the right performers. We decided to lighten up the mood by heading out to the Juhu beach just behind the theatre, though the beautifully lit café at the theatre was also tempting.
Of course, we absolutely had to have the pani puri and it didn’t disappoint! We hadn’t seen the menu of course, because who sees the menu for pani puri. However, if we had, we would have been saved from an unexpected brain freeze because it was called ‘Ice cold pani puri‘. Nevertheless, it was brilliant and all that we wanted it to be, and I picked a cola flavoured gola and Anand, picked some more filling pav bhaji with dollops of butter to call dinner. It was interesting to see families and people from all backgrounds out at the beach that late at night. The next day promised to be an interesting one with Bhavya and Lout taking us around the city.