Sunday, October 27, 2013

ADLABS IMAGICA - Incredible India Incredible Imagica!!!

The weekend is here! This time it was all the more special since my mother in law was in town and we had to think of a place that has something new to offer and can be enjoyed by her. So as usual, scouting for a nice getaway deal or a day trip away from Mumbai’s hustle bustle is a huge task particularly after visiting the likes of Khandala/Lonavala/Aambey Valley, Alibaug, and Mahabaleshwar etc several times earlier. One could hit these or some more hill stations but not anymore, since a  brand new international standard entertainment destination has opened its doors in April 2013 for the  public For years, we have needed a truly world class amusement park. And our wish was fulfilled with Adlabs Imagica. Though it’s still in the making and will take some more time for completion, Imagica has garnered great reviews ever since it opened doors. Since  April, I have been wanting to go and see what it has to offer but glad I  remained patient and waited for this time to come wherein we all could go and enjoy!

Wondering what it is, right!? Adlabs Imagica is a truly world class theme park, located along the Mumbai – Pune Expressway, about 20kms before Lonavala while traveling from Mumbai. Adlabs Imagica officially opened its doors on the 18th of April, 2013. The Theme Park has 21 major attractions/rides in total; out of which 16 are Already Operational. After My Experience at the Adlabs Imagica, on 21st-September Saturday, I would say it lives up to the hype and hoopla created in short span of time. The Park itself is divided into several zones; like Viva Europa, India, Asiana, Americana, Arabia and Jambo Africa. Each Zone has its own Specialty and has something unique to offer. In the “India” Zone, you would find attractions like, Mr India the Ride. In the “Americana” Zone, you will find Imagica’s Most Thrilling Rides and Roller Coasters. In Europe Zone, you would Victorian Style Lamp posts and Cobblestone Pathways. So, It’s pretty safe to say, Adlabs Imagica is India’s First True Theme Park. Most of the park is Wheel-Chair Friendly.

Getting there

We traveled by car and took Mumbai – Khopoli route. With break at our favorite Mc Donald’s we managed to reach in 2 hours covering almost 75 kms to be precise with least difficulty with the help of Imagica’s signboards.

Ready to ride!

The amusement park has been divided in different zones, so you have Americana, Viva Europa, India, Arabia, Asiana and Jambo Africa. Americana being the one with the most dare-devil rides, whereas India and Arabia are super fun. Our agenda was to see as many thrilling attractions as possible first and then sit on rides. So we began our adventurous journey with attractions first coming on our way one after the other.

I for India attraction is nothing but an aerial view of India’s geographical diversity that you watch on a giant screen while being suspended about 20 to 30 feet in the air. This one will probably prompt you to visit some of the places shown in the movie. It surely did to me and that’s how I decided on my next destination for the coming year – Leh/Ladakh… (Laughs)
Tip: Grab a seat in the center for a better view of the aerially-shot movie.

The Prince of The Dark Water which looks super cool from the outside, is essentially a 15-20 minute animated movie shown in an Imax Dome theater format. The animated movie is a about a mermaid trying to save her underwater world from an evil power-hungry merman. The graphics are decent, however, the story leaves much to be desired, the volume is too loud making it unclear to understand what is being said. This one’s mainly meant for kids who enjoy Hindi cartoons.

The Rajasaurus River Adventure is a water ride that is supposedly super fun and quite refreshing that translates you to the world of ferocious dinosaurs by riding this unnerving water boat adventure packed with sudden twists and ambush turns.

Salimgarh is a haunted house ride that is super fun and scary too. Again, the highlight of this place would be in the attention to detail. It involves riding through a tunnel, being witness to a sad love story and being creeped out in some fun ways ending in a surprise element.

Wrath of the Gods is not a ride but rather an adventure of an archaeologist who discovers this cave when the three elements of nature (wind, fire, water) come alive. The decor is marvelous with stone carvings like those in Elephanta Caves. However, there is little else that impressed us.
Tip: Stand in the center of the main hall to avoid getting drenched due to the water works.

The Alibaba Aur Challis Chor attraction in Arabia is basically a shooting game. As you enter the place it’s beautifully decorated like you would expect a plush Arabian town to be. You sit in a four-seater trolley with attached laser guns with which you are supposed to shoot at fluorescent green lights located at numerous places throughout the ride. These florescent lights are placed on strategic places like on the bandit’s chest, animals, weapons, treasure chests, pots, etc. You win points accordingly depending on what you shoot.

What strikes you the most about this attraction is the attention to detail — the decor, the clothes of the thieves, the objects, the market place, etc. everything is designed in an authentic, impressive manner. Alibaba Aur Challis Chor is not a thrilling ride but sure was an absolute stress-buster ride for us.

Fortunately we finished all the attractions well within the time, thanks to Express ticket. Now the time was to scan some of the rides this place has to offer. Barring 3 of its most popular functional rides namely (Scream Machine, Gold Rush Express and D2 Dare 2 Drop), we sat on all the other major rides one after the other.

Scream Machine

Scream Machine - Thrill ride that will rise to steep angles of 120 degrees and push you to the height of 148 feet above ground level and then surely this one will make you scream your lungs out

Gold Rush Express - Coaster drops from the height of 66 feet and send some speeding through tunnels and abandoned gold mines at a thrilling speed of 65 km/h) , we sat on all the other major  rides. But those who don’t feel scared at all , they  must sit on these rides at least once

The D2 Dare 2 Drop - the one with the dark blue scaffolding in the picture above) isn't that scary as it seems and the ride barely lasts for 2-3 minutes. The anxiety waiting for the drop to happen drives you nuts and the few seconds when you reach the maximum height on the ride, you feel you’re in slow motion watching the entire landscape in front you. And with the drop, comes the adrenaline rush. Too bad this ride barely lasts a few minutes.

Nitro is a massive lengthy roller coaster ride which was under demonstration. This architectural marvel of sorts is still under construction, and thankfully I didn't have to worry about my heart breaking out of my rib cage from the resulting rush and fear, had I sat on it. The ride is now operational.

Nitro (Latest ride open to Public)

While cruising around at Imagica, there are many people scattered all over the place to entertain the crowds and happily pose for pictures. For example there was a clown, cowboy, soldier, ginger bread man, etc. Having seen and sat on all the major attractions/rides now was the time to satisfy our hunger pangs.

For food , there are  5 restaurants serving different cuisines in Imagica — Red Bonnet American Diner, Zeze Bar + Grill, Roberto’s Food Coaster, Armada Tapas Bar and the Imagica Capital. We headed to the local restaurant offering Indian/Italian/Chinese menus to choose from.The best part here is that the actual food items are neatly displayed openly or in plates wrapped in cling film, giving you a clear idea of what the food items are, how they look and its quantity.

Overall, Imagica is a must-visit adventure park. It is something one-of -its-kind in India and by all means at par to international standards .The staff here is extremely good , well – spread , being well-trained, kind and helpful, which enhanced our experience at Imagica. Kudos to them. Though the tickets are priced on the higher side, we had a blast, leaving us super keen to visit again till more rides are completed and functional.

 Handy Tips:-

# Buy Express ticket. With an additional Rs 700 per person, one gets to avoid long queues to enter any attraction/ride.
# Check their websites for several offers which they run from time to time like family packs/college packs etc. Alternatively, touch base with agents who deal with Imagica tickets. At times they offer some discounts for group packages.
# Plan trip in such a way that you can stay till the end and enjoy evening shows as well.
# Carry umbrella/cap/sunglasses as it get too hot during afternoon. Even if u forgets either, there are enough stalls selling caps.

Quick Facts about Adlabs Imagica, Mumbai
  •  Opening date:- 18th April, 2013
  • Total Area : 300 Acres
  • Location/Address of Park : Sangdewadi , Pali –Khopoli Road ,  Khopoli , Maharashtra - 410206
  • Owner : Adlabs Entertainment Ltd, A Company of ADAG
  • Ticket Prices: Rs. 1200/Adult, Rs. 900/Children from Monday-Friday, Rs. 1500/Adult Rs. 1200/Children on Weekend for normal tickets. For Express – Rs 1500 for weekdays and Rs 2200 for weekends. Tickets can be booked on
  • Other Charges:-
Parking Rs 100 for full day
Stroller/Wheelchair - Rs 150 (Kid/senior citizen)
  • Park Timings: 9:00 AM to 09:00 PM.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Getaway to the Land of Strawberry - MAHABALESHWAR!!!

Being a travel enthusiast, planning a holiday to me is to first scan the days on which the major occasions (birthdays/anniversary) falls. Fortunately, this year it was all the 3 major occasions falling over weekends. Could not have asked for anything better than this....Really. Having celebrated the two in style, it was time to plan for the special one (despite three decades, I still like to celebrate my birthday to the hilt with someone really special) and having thought a lot on the location, zeroed on for a weekend trip to the beautiful land of strawberry – MAHABALESHWAR. Best part with this place, no pains of taking holidays and searching for the cheapest possible flights (Marwari mind after all).Laughs. All we had to do was to identify hotel/resort and board Vento express which was a cake walk for me after travelling to numerous places.
Mahabaleshwar with its magnificent scenic view points, the perennial springs and waterfalls of Mahabaleshwar plateau along with the salubrious weather it enjoys truly lives up to its reputation of being the 'Queen of Hills'. At an altitude of 1372 meters, this hill station offers a wonderful climate and a soothing location away from home.This place has something for all – young and old, trekker and stroller, shopper and foodie or maybe someone who just loves to laze around. Therefore, you will find families, backpackers, moony honeymooners, all doing their own thing and generally having a good time.Strawberries, Mulberries and carrots are the specialities of Mahabaleshwar. One should not forget to try strawberry cream, corn patties and corn grown locally available in both roasted and boiled form with masalas.
Day 1 – (31st August 2013) -Mumbai – Vashi – >NH4 –> SH63 =>SH72 = Mahabaleshwar – Total distance – 275 km)
To ensure that we beat the crazy traffic, we set out from Mumbai at 6:00 am and it sure was a breeze driving on the broad (no need to turn on ac, that’s another advantage to kick-start journey early in the morning), traffic free roads. However, got somewhat stuck on Vashi bridge for some time (so if someone wish to avoid this much traffic also, perhaps start even earlier by 5) The roads all along were in great shape and we covered the 230kms in just under 5hours including a leisurely halt for breakfast at our favourite place – Mc Donald’s, Vashi. After an excellent breakfast, we moved on without any further breaks.Then the ghat section began with narrow roads and continued right through to Mahabaleshwar. As the traffic was sparse, the narrowness of the roads did not pose much of a problem. Just had to look out for the mini-trucks that were driven by F1drivers! The ghat is steep at places and is winding which could pose problems for people suffering from motion sickness.

Scenic beauty all throughout

The road to Mahabaleshwar on the ghats.
 Before you know it, you will be facing a checkpoint where they collect ‘Pollution tax’ from all vehicles entering Mahabaleshwar. It is at a T-junction. If you want to stay in MTDC or the PWD cottages turn right, otherwise for all private Hotels like Club Mahindra, Citrus etc. turn left.
 We had our reservation in Citrus Chambers, heritage property so with the help of some people out in road (who were doing their job to help people with hotel booking) we went and checked in.Only thing there were no signboards to be seen throughout so it is better to have your GPS on or keep asking the passer-by for the directions. Landmark for this place is Aram Marg.Citrus is very close to Veena Lake and just a couple of kms away from the main market.. We were lucky enough to get the renovated suite among all the other suites available.

Citrus Chambers


This place is absolutely fantastic for a quiet relaxing weekend. Far away from the hustle-bustle of the cities, but be prepared you might not want to leave the resort at all!! The suites are luxurious and comfortable and spread all over the property…there is enough greenery to make you feel you are living right inside the forest. If you wish to have your suite next to the restaurant to avoid walking , then this is the suite for you…Just walk few steps , you will reach restaurant and then further few to hit reception. . Add to that the most professional, courteous & warm staff I have EVER seen!!! They catered to our each & every request in the most professional way. Well there's no real downside to this place, the only upgrade that can be made is to maintain swimming pool area. The entire place makes you feel as though you've entered an era long gone by. You can hear the rusting of the leaves in the trees, the soothing music in the background, bask in the sun, or simply stroll along in the vast expansive property. Truly a heritage place

Citrus Restaurant
 Post having sumptuous lunch and power nap , we decided to go for some sightseeing tour.Instead of taking our own car, we preferred to hire a cab instead for sightseeing, So our driver cum guide (which we later came to know for the kind of information he had about the place) advised to go ahead with monsoon points which are open (points which can be seen clearly in evening till late max 6:30 pm) like Kate point, Elephant Head, Needle hole point etc.So we decided to go with him as the same was suggested by our resort representative also.
 We reached a place where all these points could be seen together one after the other. We visited Kate’s point and Needle-hole point first. It offers you a view of Krishna valley and dam. Kate’s Point is along the Duchess Road. It is at a height of 1,290 metres. It is one of the greatest points and no tourist would like to miss it. The distance of the point is 6.8 km. The view from the point is clear and splendid that it was difficult to take our eyes off.




Kate's Point


 Needle hole point is located near Kate's Point. One can see a natural rock formation with a hole in between, thus giving the name Needle-hole.

Elephant Head Point
 Next we saw The Elephant’s Head Point and it is truly one of the best points to be visited. The cliffs which overhang resemble an elephant’s head and trunk. Thus the point got its name as the Elephant’s Head Point.
The point renders breath-taking views of the surroundings. The mountain range of Sahyadri is also visible from this point and it is bewitching to watch. It is the extreme end of the mountain range.


The Lingmala Waterfall is a fantastic sight to watch. It presents an enrapturing view of cascading water. It disperses from the top of a steep cliff. The water falling down looks like thin silver streaks.
 After spending some time with nature , clicking some pictures as these points provide plenty of photo opportunities (In other words , it’s a visual treat )we went back to hotel as it was turning dark. And the rest of the evening followed with dinner (alacarte as per our meal plan) and my birthday celebrations.
 Day 2 (1st- September 2013) – Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani – Wai – Pune – Lonavla – Mumbai)
Next morning, we checked out at 12:00hrs had a leisurely buffet breakfast at our resort. After some relaxation in the form of wonderful massages, courtesy: resort’s massage chair and clicking some resort pictures, we started our journey back home via Panchgani. Since our Panchgani points were left so on the return trip took the Panchgani-Wai-Pune-Lonavala-Mumbai route. This route is longer by about 50kms but due to the expressway, it is quick and the roads right through are very good.


Veena Lake

First spot which was hardly 4 km from our resort was Veena Lake.It is the centre of all activity, and is filled with people and boats…To our surprise there was not much rush as compared to the previous evening and  we got boat also very easily without any waiting. Best part weather was just about perfect with no rains/sun.The Venna lake located between the Mahabaleshwar market and Kshetra Mahabaleshwar is surely the lifeline of sorts of tourism in Mahabaleshwar as it is called by the local people there.
 Mapro Garden is a well maintained production, point-of-sale and entertainment hub, in short nice place to visit. All their products were on display across long counters and freely available for tasting. The ladies at the tasting counter took turns to prepare small portions of of the Mapro shakes or juices. At the retail counters there were teams of young men and women explaining the contents of each Mapro labelled jar and in the process, politely soliciting a few of them.

There is a decent cafĂ© specializing in Pizzas, sandwiches and strawberry with cream, although we didn’t eat anything. The on campus chocolate factory was made visible through windows on one side. While walking down from one end to the other, you could see the fundamental stages and processes involved in making a bar of chocolate, just from loose cocoa beans. Packaging was done behind the scenes and the packed products (Mazaana - Mapro's new product line) fine dark chocolate) were sold on the floor below. They sell 3 varieties, chocolate coated raisins, chocolate coated cashews and chocolate coated peanuts in 2 sizes. They are reasonably priced.

 Next came the wonderful spot called Table Land. To reach, one just need to move straight and straight and simply follow the signboards (which one rarely misses).It is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. From here one can get a great scenic view of Panchgani hill station it’s true that it’s a 6.5 Km Long Table located at high altitude. Getting there is not an issue but parking surely is.One is definitely in for an adventurous experience as far as parking is concerned
 Typical of Hill station you can see the river flowing backside and good view from the point. One of the good point to click images and enjoy the landspaces No special drive required as it comes on way back and after few distance came yet another point called Sydney point – Just another point , nothing special and one can easily avoid to stop here.

 After finishing most of the Panchgani’s prominent must see points, we head back to Mumbai with just one coffee break at CCD.Reached Mumbai at 1800hrs after a leisurely drive following a rejuvenating holiday in Mahabaleshwar.
Brief snapshot of the finances incurred.
1. Citrus Resort – Rs 8500(suite) including taxes and all meals.
2. Petrol – Total distance travelled – Around 550 – Rs 2500-3000 depending on the car/mileage.
3. Toll – Rs 300
a. MSRDC Vashi toll plaza – 30+30 = 60
b. MSRDC Kahalapur toll plaza – 165
c.Khedshivapur Toll Plaza- NH4 - 75
4. Mahabaleshwar pollution tax: INR 30/- (For Car)
5. Mahabaleshwar Entry tax: INR 20/- per person (valid for 7 days)
6. Panchgani Entry/Vehicle Pass – INR 20/- per person.(valid for 7 days)
7. Panchgani pollution tax: INR 50/- (For Car) – Valid for 7 days.
8. Car parking: INR 10 to 20/- (You have to pay everywhere)
 Thank you all for taking out your valuable time and reading my first travel blog...Appreciate if you could leave some feedback as well.