Ramzan Eid which fell on a Saturday activated the travel mood of my family plus the on setting monsoon inspired us to take the benefit of planning a monsoon picnic. We took our time to discuss and finally shortlisted the union territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. We have been to Daman few times but somehow we hadn’t ventured into Dadra & Nagar Haveli till now. Instead of booking the hotel online, we decided to take our chance by going directly to the short-listed resorts.
We left home at around 7 am. The weather was very pleasant with occasional showers. Though the monsoon was not in its full form, still we could see fifty shades of green everywhere.
Fifty Shades of Green
After taking a pit stop for breakfast near Dapchari on Mumbai Ahmedabad highway, we left highway in Talasari for Khanvel. We could see locals working in paddy fields. Once we entered into D & N Haveli, the quality of roads improved. Let me introduce first about Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
Dadra Nagar Haveli (D. N. H.) is a union territory of India landlocked between Maharashtra & Gujarat. Silvassa town is the shared capital of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. D. N. H. was a Portuguese colony till 1954 & it was merged in India in 1961. The territory outside the Silvassa town is mainly inhabited by tribal communities like Warli, Kokana, Koli etc. The Warli community is famous for their traditional art called as Warli paintings.
Apart from Silvassa which is an industrial & cosmopolitan city, fifty percent of the region is under forest. The topography is marked by Damanganga River & its tributaries with hilly terrain of Western Ghats. This makes the territory immense in natural beauty with exotic flora & fauna.
Prakruti Parichay Kendra, Khanvel (Silvassa)
Our first stop in D. N. H. was Khanvel. Khanvel is known for Van Vihar Complex & Prakruti Parichay Kendra. Prakruti Parichay Kendra is dedicated to the flora & fauna of the Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Kids were very happy to visit this place as they could grasp the information on various animals, birds & trees. It’s beautifully set amidst a garden on the banks of a river. We got all the information about the geographical location, forests, people, culture, flora & fauna of DNH here. There were many life sized models of animals which earned brownie points with kids. There was one panel where we could hear the calls of different birds and it was truly exciting for kids. The garden itself is very beautiful with Warli paintings displayed on the walls of the exhibition centre in the garden. We climbed up the watch tower with kids to get a bird’s eye view of the nature’s untainted beauty. The Van Vihar Complex was also an added attraction with a deer park, cactus garden & butterfly garden.
Kids loved the Khanvel Prakruti Kendra
Prakruti Parichay Kendra, Khanvel (Silvassa)
After Khanvel we moved towards the main attraction of Dudhni Reservoir situated at 20 km from Khanvel. The road from Khanvel to Dudhni was very scenic with lots of greenery around. We saw the glimpses of tribal life, their huts.
Glimpses of Tribal Life
The terrain was hilly with scenic vistas of valleys, meadows, backwaters of dam, palm trees. I couldn’t resist stopping our car & clicked few pictures from view points. We turned off the car AC & rolled down the windows to get the fresh unpolluted air. It was like getting drunk on fresh air.
Vistas on way to Dudhni
Green Meadows with palm trees
Backwaters of Dam
This journey ended near Dudhni Jetty. Dudhni is a very beautiful water reservoir in more beautiful settings of Western Ghat ranges. There were many water sports options available. We hired two shikara type boats for Rs 250 each for a 30 minutes trip. It had a manual rowing and our local boatmen were doing it effortlessly. The nature was at its best. The wind was gusting with full force. We could see green hill ranges of Western Ghats around. Locals were grazing their cattle on the shores. Kids started revising their lessons of domestic animals.
Shikara type boat
Kids Loving The Shikara Ride
When we came back to the jetty it was 1.30 pm & all of us were very hungry. So we decided to reach Silvassa for lunch. On our way to Silvassa we enquired for Vasona Lion Safari & Deer Park. To our bad luck, both these places were closed due to rains. Kids were upset as I had promised them earlier to show lions & deers. However, I assured them that there is another surprise waiting for them. Hearing this, kids were back in their travel mood and were ready to tame their rumbling and growling tummies. We had a delicious vegetarian lunch at Kutty’s at Silvassa. After lunch we decided to have a quick visit to Madhuban dam (5 km). It is one of the scenic dam sites I have ever seen.
My boy at the Madhuban Dam
When we came back to Silvassa there were huge traffic jams on the streets due to Rath Yatras of Jagannath Temples in the city. As most of the sightseeing was done so there was no point in night stay in Silvassa. As usual google map came handy in that situation. We zeroed on beach town of Bordi (42 km) in Maharashtra. We crossed NH8 at Bhilad & moved towards Bordi via Sanjan.
My gal at the Bordi Beach
When we hit Bordi there was still ample sunlight so I dropped kids & family on Bordi beach. Kids were happy that I fulfilled my promise of another surprise. While they were enjoying the beach I set out in search of the stay options. After few enquiries I reached Tapovan Retreat at Bordi. It was love at first sight. It’s a century old Heritage Parsee Bungalow called Maneck Villa converted into a hotel. This place was full of surprises.
Heritage Parsee Bungalow called Maneck Villa
Our big family room had a spacious veranda with a traditional swing, a carom board & many antique furniture items. After relaxing for a while in the room & premises we had a sumptuous dinner of sea food at Crazy Crabs in Bordi. We drifted off to sleep while discussing the next day’s plan.
The next morning we hit again to the Bordi Beach which is just across the road from Maneck Villa. We spent some tranquil moments on the beach. Kids built sand castles & gathered seashells as souvenirs.
After returning to Maneck Villa we freshened up & had breakfast of Pohas. We decided to return home via Dahanu( 20 km) & Jawhar (80 km). Both these places are very nostalgic to my family as my late maternal grandpa was posted to these towns during his forest service & my mum’s schooling was mostly here too. The approximately 20 km road between Bordi & Dahanu runs parallel to the beach with Chickoo Orchards & old Parsi bungalows on the other side.
After Dahanu we crossed the NH8 again at Charoti & went straight to Jawhar. The journey of 1.5 hrs was again through the hills & green paddy fields of newly formed Palghar district of Maharashtra. We reached Jawhar at around 12.15 pm. Jawhar is a lesser known hill station in Maharashtra, ideal for a weekend trip from Mumbai.
Dabhosa Waterfall near Jawhar
My memories with Jawhar are from the age of five. My maternal grandfather worked here for many years with the State Forest Dept. The Warli tribe resides here & in the surrounding area. The Jai Vilas Palace is the main attraction of Jawhar, attracting many tourists each year.
The Jai Vilas Palace
The palace situated on a hillock among extensive cashew plantation was once the home of the tribal royals known as Mukne. It’s also a favourite location for Hindi films shooting. The central or Darbar hall of the palace consists of many portraits of the Mukne’s family. One can also see the tribal antique furniture & stuffed Indian Tigers.
Back view of Jaivilas Palace, Jawhar
We walked through the cashew plantation towards the palace. The palace is losing its charm due to poor maintenance but one can still imagine the bygone glory of this palace. We watched the extensive vistas of the valleys from the backside of the palace.
Then we had a lunch of Chicken Dum Handi & Nagli rotis (Finger millet) at Shivneri Dhaba. After lunch we continued to explore the viewpoints around Jawhar like Hanuman Point and Sunset Point.
Chicken Dum Handi & Nagli rotis (Finger millet)
View of the Palace from Hanuman Point
Vistas from Hanuman Point, Jawhar
Thus we completed our own customised mini triangle itinerary of these off the beaten track places around Mumbai. We explored UT of Dadra Nagar Haveli, stayed in a heritage Parsee bungalow near Bordi beach, rekindled family memories in the lesser known hill station of Jawhar. Such weekend family trips make you forget the stress of urban life & relax for a while.
The Desi Vagabond