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Wine I Was In Nashik

Chapter 1: Hum Kis Galli Jaa Rahe Hain

Find the grape!
I boarded the 9.15 am LTT-Lucknow Pushpak Express from platform number 4 of Kalyan station on a cold Friday morning. My day ahead was highly unplanned. The only thing confirmed was my seat and that my train would reach Nashik 10 minutes before 12 pm. It didn't though- I alighted at 12.15 pm at the Nashik Road railway station. I almost had an entire day before I could meet my friend who would be coming from Pune. After having a heavy but not exactly fantastic lunch nearby, I caught a local bus to Nashik CBS. I had decided to go to Sula vineyards first. The rest of the things will be planned later.

I started hunting for cabs which could drop me to Sula but I only got some super high quotes in return. The Nashik district court is just adjacent to the CBS. A rally in progress was approaching towards the court. Policemen were clearing off the road for the rally to march ahead peacefully. I crossed on to the other side because I didn't want to be stuck besides the rally. On the other side just opposite to the district high court main gate, I saw this new delicacy, probably a Nashik specialty– the Pav Wada. Huge buns were being dipped into besan and then straight into the huge kadhai – the view was stupendous! I didn't take much interest in tasting the thing because I had just refilled myself at lunch and after all it is just a pav coated with besan and without their best buddy – Potato!

I looked up Uber and Ola estimates to Sula and decided to book one of these. Little did I know that I was making a big mistake!

A vineyard just in front of Sula's administrative office.

Chapter 2: Solo at Sula

Sula Vineyards - 0 km!
A driver named Karbhari picked me up at the CBS. Sula was a 15 km ride from CBS. In my notebook, I noted down happenings and my activities throughout the day which I could list down on my blog. This notebook was primarily for a writing workshop here in Nashik which would happen over the weekend. It was for this workshop that I was in Nashik. I keep attending such gatherings and workshops related to writing. These kick you in the right place and give you the right inspiration to continue writing. I decided to come in the morning and go tripping around Nashik instead of reaching at night. This was a Marathi writing workshop which is why I had thought of writing this post in Marathi earlier. But the workshop was an eye-opener for me in terms of the people and effort involved. There were people who had published over 10 books in Marathi and still attended the workshop. Apart from the inspiration to write, what I learned was that I had loads to learn before I could start writing again in this language. I was spellbound when people started giving their introductions. And when it was my turn, my entire 6 years of experience in IT was summed up in merely three words – मी आयटीत आहे

Sula is a beautiful and a peaceful place. They have touring and tasting sessions in batches. The tour costs Rs. 100 and wine tasting costs you Rs. 250 in which you get to taste and know six varieties of wines. My tour session started at 2.30 pm followed by wine tasting at 3. The tour only concentrated on the wine making process but it would have been great if they had also showed us some of their fields and demonstrated about how the different types of grapes are cultivated. I loitered around the place for about an hour and got out of Sula.

During the wine tasting session
There is no facility to go back to the city. No autos, no buses or cabs. I waited at the gate for an hour when luckily two cabs came in and stopped by. I asked one of them and set out back to CBS. So, coming to Sula in a pre-booked vehicle which can drop you back to the city would be a good idea.

My friend was en route at 5.30 pm from Pune and his estimated time of arrival in Nashik was not before than 10.30 pm. I reached back CBS at 6.30 pm in the evening. In a quick chat with the cab driver on my return, I decided that I shall go to Trimbakeshwar – one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and the origin of the River Godavari – my family kuladevi.

The big one!

Chapter 3: Har Har Mahadev!

It was pitch black dark at 6.30 pm and I was half way away from the holy temple. There is a separate bus terminal for Trimbakeshwar from Nashik called the Mela Bus Stand and buses are plied continuously on this route. There was already a bus ready to go but there were no empty seats. Many people were waiting out for the next bus but there was no queue. I took popcorn and started munching. The next bus came after about 15 minutes.  People started rushing towards the bus even before the bus stopped. I somehow took a good position and went inside the bus. I could see many empty seats inside but they were all hypothetical. There were two types of empty seats – One booked by handkerchiefs or backpacks and the other booked by good friends. The number of seats booked by friends has no limit – a school girl had booked the entire last row for her friends – brilliant! One more popcorn!

The main entrance at the Trimbakeshwar Mandir
When the next bus arrived, I was in mucho spartan mode. I saw to it that I got a window seat before any friend, handkerchief or a backpack. An old lady had pushed in a huge luggage bag somehow through the window to book two seats. Nobody knows how many seats does a handkerchief or a backpack book because they don't tell you that. The teller - in this case, the old lady wanted two seats but a man fought for one of the seat. After much argument, of course the old lady won!

At Trimbak
I had already heard many accolades of winters in Nashik so I took both my jacket and my sweater. Cool breeze flowed in through the small gaps of the ST bus window panels. I reached the Trimbakeshwar at 8.00 pm. Luckily for me, the place wasn't very crowded and there was a very limited queue inside the temple. No one is allowed to take mobiles, camera and bags inside the temple and good arrangements have been made for the devotees to safely secure their belongings before they enter the temple premises. This division of technology and spirituality is very necessary, especially now a days because taking the photo of the God or the temple matters more than actually perceiving God and the place itself. And then of course there are un-silent phones, loud talkers on calls and all the unwanted noise.

After lunch, nothing had gone into my stomach apart from the masala popcorn at the bus stand. It was time to eat. I was missing a vada pav from long – a good and a hot vada pav. I could see stalls with vadas and the pav vadas that I had mentioned earlier but I wanted hot vadas. I stumbled upon a street vendor who was just doing that – ready to get those golden hot vadas out of the kadhai. Perfect timing! I ordered one. But my excitement was only till that first unfortunate bite. He said chutney but he put farsan inside the pav along with sweet chutney. I didn't know a vada pav could taste so grotesque till this point in my life. This guy had successfully devastated a legendary Mumbai delicacy.

There were 'garma garam kesar doodhs', 'chana jor garams', bhelwalas also on the street but then the vada pav had suppressed all my urges to eat any of those. I could smell farsan in all of them. I found a hotel - asked him whether the food would be hot and ordered the blissful dal rice.

Chapter 4: Visiting Some More Gods

The taste of Nashik.
A street vendor near Kala Ram Mandir
Nashik is called the grape capital of India. With the same might, it can also be called as the God capital of India. There are many Gods here. I along with my friend and my friend's uncle at whose house we were staying, met up after the day 1 of our workshop ended at 6.00 pm. From there we went to a place called Panchvati. We visited Kala Ram Mandir which a huge and old temple built by the Peshwas. According to a legend in Ramayana, during vanvas, Rama and Sita stayed here in the Panchvati. There is also cave known as Sita Gufa and the place where Rama killed Mareecha. Physically, this is the closest that I have ever been to mythology

Not the kondaji chivda that every tourist in Nashik buys and takes home - this time I bought Vijay Bhel from Madhavji Chivda. We got to visit all good places and eat the nice and right things because of my friend's uncle who is a local in Nashik. He was extremely helpful and cordial. I also learned new games of cards at night courtesy my friend and his uncle.

The next day, after wrapping up the day 2 of workshop, it was time to leave. My return journey started at 8.45 pm and I was home at a super fast speed by midnight. 


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