This is my 100th post on Wannabemaven. Three years and 100 posts, that’s the longest I have stuck to any hobby. Many persistent efforts later, the blog is getting noticed. Occasionally travel brands reach out and if it interests me, I am always willing to collaborate.
Earlier this year, on the Independence Day long weekend, I headed to a rural town in Maharashtra called Phaltan. How many of you have heard of Phaltan? I’ve been born and bought up in Maharashtra and claim to have seen a major part of the state. Yet I hadn’t heard of Phaltan until a mail hit my inbox to visit Jakson Inns. Curious, I decided to give the place a go. My list of places to see in Maharashtra was getting exhausted and I needed to look beyond the ordinary.
Yours truly was driving down from Mumbai to Phaltan. For a change, I asked a colleague (I’m going to call her C) to join me on this trip instead of a close friend or a family member. Both of us are avid travellers and were looking to get out of the city. I was also looking to be around someone I knew but not close enough.
Somewhere on the state highway, 7km before Phaltan city, we spotted Jakson Inns. On stepping in the premises, we were taken by a very pleasant surprise. The boutique property is huge, the porch grand, and the lobby chic. Olivia at the front desk greeted and treated us to a glass of fresh sugar cane juice. Gautam, the General Manager met us and discussed the plan of action for the weekend. We also interacted with a host of other staff over the next two days – from Ditesh who gave us a property show-around to Shubham who toured us in and around Phaltan.
Jakson Inns, Phaltan
We were shown our room and quite honestly I was floored. The lawn and the stretched out fields of Phaltan were real views from my room and not any painting on the wall. Jakson Inns wasn’t any run down property we typically see on Indian highways, but a proper 3 star hotel with 5 star-like amenities. I’m talking 60 rooms and 4 suites, an ADA compliant (disable friendly) room, one room on each floor for the female solo traveller, a fully equipped gym and a spa.
THIS view from my room <3
The Green Bean multi-cuisine restaurant is huge and the menu is elaborate. But I’m going to talk about that special breakfast set-up not in the restaurant but outdoors in the premises under the sky. Of course, the food tasted good, but the weather was perfect too (not too sunny, thankfully!) and conversations with C flowed with ease, all of which ended up creating a memorable experience.
Spanish omlette, anyone?
Dinner was no different. The Full Toon lounge had an outdoor seating where we ate kebabs and drank sangria under the night sky. Well, actually C had two rounds of sangria while I had a whiskey sour and a recharged iced tea (Shubham’s version of long island iced tea – try it!). Post dinner, C had called it a night while I went cycling around the property at 1am (I wasn’t high…just saying :P)
A princely state
Not many would know but Phaltan was a Maratha princely state of British India. On day 1, we were strolling around the Rajwada, the royal home of the Nimbalkars who ruled Phaltan from 1860 to 1916.
The Rajwada was all about understated elegance. Rich oil paintings of the royal clan adorned walls, and the grand dining room looked lovely. I’m told, the aangan or courtyard at the Rajwada has been a set for many a film shoots like Bhool Bhulaiya and Khatta Meetha. Apparently, the current heir is in politics and resides in Delhi. But the family tries to meet in Phaltan at least twice a year for private gatherings.
Windmills and Sunset
Our next stop was the best part about this trip. A windmill farm in a village called Pusegaon. I’ve always wanted to see a windmill up close. I think it started with my father’s stories about his travels in Holland where he often saw these lovely windmills in the country side. Standing underneath a windmill was wishing for too much I thought until Jakson Inns literally took us there. The sight was awe inspiring. We looked like playful ants walking underneath these giant fans. The sky had a beautiful orange tinge coupled with the silhouettes of windmills making for a perfect picture. Imagine watching a sunset from there? We did that!
Windmill farm, Pusegaon
Behind the scenes, Jakson Inns had arranged for sandwiches, juices, cakes and muffins at the site. On the way back, the music scene was brilliant too, listening to Rehman classics like Urvashi, Patti Rap and Mustafa along the narrow winding roads in the countryside.
The rural way of life
Did you know, Phaltan is the largest producer of Sugarcane in Maharashtra? Their quality of pomegranates is one of the finest in India. And the first sugar factory in Asia was set up in Sakheradi in Phaltan. Isn’t that cool?
Farming is big this side of Maharashtra and Jakson Inns is keen on promoting rural tourism in the region. This visit introduced me to rural tourism of a different kind. I mean I’ve had my taste of rural celebrations like the time I was throwing turmeric on locals at the Bhandara Festival in Jejuri or watching young men jump into wells in North Goa during the Sao Joao festival, but never have I strolled around tomato, marigold and sugarcane fields, milked a cow, played with a wild hare, took a bumpy bullock cart ride and then a tractor ride too, fed chickens, pet a goat and drank water straight out of a hand pump.
At the Nalwade’s farm on Day 3, we were also given sugarcanes as souvenir but my teeth just weren’t capable enough of biting into one.
On Day 2, we drove down to the Thosegar waterfalls about 80km from Jakson Inns. It was extremely crowded unlike the previous day where we were touring lesser known gems around Phaltan. Thosegar is one of the most popular waterfalls not just in Maharashtra but India, and monsoons are the best time to visit. Our drive was scenic with heavy rains changing the landscape to a darker shade of green. There were three waterfalls of up to a 500 meters drop. We fought a sea of population to get a glorious view and click a quick picture or two, but it was worth it. Maharashtra never ceases to surprise me.
On the way back, the awesome weather called for a cup of hot chai and bhajji pao while we stood near our car (in what seemed like an endless wait) with our driver nowhere in sight – not that we were complaining!
A hill fort
Day 2 ended with a visit to the Ajinkyatara Fort in the heart of Satara city. The fort sits on the Ajinkyatara Mountain at a height of 3300 feet. Ajinkyatara Fort is a brilliant vantage point to view the entire city of Satara. Walk a little further down and you’ll reach the very-hollywood-inspired Ajinkyatara sign. C did her signature jump shots here while I had several awkward attempts at getting that perfect jump. Shubham meanwhile took charge of the camera as our official photographer.
Satara city from Ajinkyatara Fort
very Hollywood-inspired, but I like 😀
Like all good journeys come to end, this one did too. On the morning of day 3, C and I were presented two Jakson Inns coffee mugs as memento (both of which are proudly displayed on our office desks as travel souvenirs). We also planted two coconut saplings around the property. C suddenly discovered her hidden farming skills; I was clumsy as usual.
Phaltan is 250km from Mumbai and 110km from Pune. Jakson Inns is a 3star property in Phaltan, 7km from the city centre. The hotel offers day trip packages to all the locations mentioned above, and beyond like Fratelli Vineyards, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kaas Plateau and Aundh Museum. For more information, visit their website.
Note: I received an invitation from Jakson Inns. Thoughts are my own, Promise!
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