Cycling to Dahanu and Tarapur Forts – a beach and history holiday!

Dahanu Tarapur Cover 002

The coast of Maharashtra are lined with over 90 forts all the way from Dahanu near the border of Gujarat down to Tarekhol at the border of Goa. The two north-most coastal forts are Dahanu and Tarapur. They are both located at picturesque locations along pristine beaches, and make for a great holiday destination. Accessible via road or by rail, both locations are close enough to each other to combine in a single visit.
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Riwa Fort or Kala Killa – hidden in the slums of Dharavi

Rewa Fort, Sion - Kala Killa

Dharavi is well known as one of the largest slums in the world. The slum was founded in 1880s in part because of the expulsion of factories and residents from the peninsular city center by the colonial government, and from the rural poor migrating into urban Mumbai (then called Bombay).

But till then, Dharavi was just a marshy land at the coast of Mithi river (Mahim creek) that separated the British controlled Bombay island from Salsette island controlled by the Portuguese. In 1737, Salsette was captured by the Maratha Empire and most of the Portuguese provinces in Bombay were ceded to the Marathas (ref). Perhaps in response to that, John Horne, the governor of Bombay commissioned to build a fort at Dharavi to protect the border of Bombay from the mighty sea-faring leader of the Marathas – Kanhoji Angre. The fort is variously called as Riwa Fort, Rewah Fort or simply Kala Killa.
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Kamandurg – an ancient fort near Vasai

Kamandurg

Tungareshwar is a well known temple and a weekend getaway near Vasai that is also a nice and easy trek. But there is another little known trekking destination – an ancient fort called Kamandurg. An ideal destination for a cycling cum trekking expedition that provides some nice off-road patches and a trek that passes through some dense forests to provide a wonderful view of the Vasai plains with the Ulhas river meandering towards Vasai creek.
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The anxieties of big data – Kate Crawford

BigBrother

The very mention of big data conjures up the image of an Orwellian world where large governmental organizations like the NSA or its British equivalent GCHQ are monitoring the lives of ordinary citizens through the digital footprints they leave on the Internet. The increasing adoption of social media and permanently connected mobile devices by consumers and the urgency with which organizations are adopting big data technology seems to only validate this image.
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World of Mathematics – interactive ebook – a piece of art!

World of Mathematics - Introduction and Credits

The World of Mathematics is an interactive eBook available online and on mobile devices. Created by Philipp Legner, it is nothing short of a piece of art! A must-see for anyone interested in Mathematics – and more so for those who hate Mathematics. The eBook contains 30 of the most exciting, interesting or useful areas of mathematics arranged into five chapters. Go take a look!
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Cycling to Jawhar Fort and Jai Vilas Palace

Jawhar Jai Vilas Palace

Jawhar is a relatively lesser known holiday destination that is not very far from Mumbai (166km) and Nashik (80 km). At an altitude of approximately 1500 feet above sea level, it is also cooler than the plains below and is also amidst thick forest cover on all sides, making it an excellent weekend getaway from Mumbai or Nashik. But for me the attraction of Jawhar was to explore the historical fort and palace there, which has been a destination on my map of historical sites in and around Mumbai.
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Goecha La Trek – experiencing Sikkim at its best

Goecha La Trek

There is no better way to experience Sikkim than to do one of the high altitude treks in it’s mountains. The most well known trekking route in Sikkim is the Khangzenchenzonga (Kanchenjunga) Trekking Trail that leads from Yuksom to the Goecha La pass. Starting at the highest motorable road in Sikkim at Yuksom, a quaint little town at an altitude of 5670 feet above mean sea level, ending at Goecha La pass at 16,207 feet above mean sea level. With a total altitude gain of over 10,000 feet, this trek is not for the faint hearted. But it is a trek that anyone can do with a little bit of determination and patience!
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One Day Visit to Sedona and Grand Canyon

Phoenix - Grand Canyon

While on a business visit to Phoenix, Arizona in March this year, I managed to take off on a Sunday to visit the Grand Canyon via Sedona, and got a whirlwind tour of one of the natural wonders of the world. After doing a bit of online research, I found that we could also rent a cycle at the Canyon and ride around. However, getting there without a vehicle was infeasible. So I had to settle for a pre-arranged tour, but that turned out to be the perfect option for just one day that I had free.
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Trek to Asherigad – protector of the Palghar region

Trek to Asherigad

Palghar is a beautiful coastal town that is nestled between the sea to the west and the mountains to the east. The Palghar region in Thane district the maximum number of forts as compared with other regions in the district. Some of these are sea forts located along the coast such as Paankot or Alibaug Fort, Kelve Fort, Bhavangad Fort, Mahim Fort, Shirgaon Fort and Tarpur Fort. While other forts are on the top of the hills that lie to the east of Palghar – such as Tandulwadi, Kaldurg, Asava, Asherigad and Adsul.

We had covered most of the sea forts in Palghar in a previous expedition, but the hill forts were yet to be explored. This weekend, I joined a group of trekkers to cover two of these hill forts – Asherigad and Kaldurg.
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Why do so many people hate Mathematics?

Frenkel-photo

After I graduated with an integrated Master’s degree in Mathematics from I.I.T. Kanpur, I was faced with the prospect of applying Mathematics to make sense of the seemingly random set of events and objects that make up life in the real world. And I had a great time doing that – and was fortunate enough that others valued that ability to help me make a living.

But like most kids, I did not really enjoy Mathematics in school. I started enjoying Math only in college – and a new world opened up for me. So I completely resonate with the views expressed in this interview by Brady Haran of Professor Edward Frenkel, from the University of California, Berkeley. Author of Love & Math. Professor Frenkel attempts to answer the question – Why do so many people hate Mathematics?
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A framework for categorizing and comparing cloud platforms – OpenStack, AWS, Heroku, CloudFoundry!

Cumulus_cloud

Thanks to Alex Popsecu’s NoSql blog, found a well articulated thesis by Johan den Haan, CTO at Mendix. Johan proposes a framework that describes the various layers of cloud platform services starting from virtualized hardware up to end-user software applications. This framework can also be used to categorize various cloud platforms such as OpenStack, Amazon Web Services, Heroku and CloudFoundry.
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Cycling to Barvi Dam and Lake – Bird Watching Paradise

Cycling to Barvi Dam and Lake - Bird Watching Paradise

Barvi Dam is located about 90 km from Mumbai, and just over 66 km from Andheri – perfect for a weekend ride to explore what looked like a huge lake on the map. It is located on the road from Badlapur to Murbad. The reason for choosing this destination was a combination of the distance and the location considering it looked all green around the lake on the map.

But what I discovered when I reached there was breathtaking – and I discovered after doing some more research after I got back, that it is indeed a bird watching paradise!
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Cycling to Mumbra Devi Temple – in search of Parsik Fort

Mumbra 004

Among the various forts that I have listed in the Historical Forts in and around Mumbai, one obscure fort about which not much information is available, is Parsik Fort. There are references to it in accounts referring to the Anglo-Maratha Wars such as this one:

War in the Konkan – Kalyan and Malanggad

The war started by the capture of Parsik fort, on the Ulhas river, leading to Kalyan. Captain Campbell captured this on 12th April, 1780. Captain Lindrum captured Belapur and Panvel – both these places had reverted to the Marathas after the Treaty of Wadgaon.

- page 59, Battles of the Honourable East India Company: Making of the Raj by M. S. Naravane

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Ramanujan sum of natural numbers – intuitive conundrum!

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan FRS (22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920) was an Indian mathematician and autodidact who, with almost no formal training in pure mathematics, made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. Living in India with no access to the larger mathematical community, which was centred in Europe at the time, Ramanujan developed his own mathematical research in isolation. As a result, he rediscovered known theorems in addition to producing new work

Here’s an amazing mathematical result derived by using Ramanujan summation:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + ... = -1/12 (R)

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Trek to Takmak Fort – a story of the boy and his dog

Trek to Takmak Fort - Sandeep and Tiger take a break

Of the many forts in the Thane region, all of which were primarily built and managed by the Portuguese during their reign of Bassein (Vasai) in the 16th century. Takmak Fort is on a hill to the north east of Virar, on a hill at a height of 2000 feet and it provides some amazing views of the confluence of the Tansa and Vaitarna rivers to the west of the fort, and of Vandri lake near Vajreshwari to the north-east.

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Cycling to Uran – Dronagiri Hill Fort – Migratory Birds

Trekking to Dronagiri Fort - another front view of the cathedral

Located on the Karanja peninsula across the Dharamtar creek to the east of the Mumbai, Uran is actually quite an odd place – a small fishing village but also hosting Asia’s first power plant run on gas by ONGC and neighbor to the largest container port in India – JNPT or Nhava Sheva.

But there is another attraction in Uran that is not quite known – on a hill top near ONGC lies Dronagiri Hill Fort. We planned to cycle from Andheri to Uran, see the fort and return back the same day – a total distance of about 120 km. I was accompanied by the dynamic young Saurav Singhal better known as Sam K Singh – who added the much needed conversation and humor to the otherwise quiet solo expeditions that I normally undertake.

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New Year Celebrations at Snehasadan – shelter for homeless kids

New Year Party at Sneha Sadan

To celebrate the new year’s eve of 2013, a group of friends and their families came together at Snehasadan, a shelter for homeless children at Jogeshwari, where 45 boys from the age of 6 to 20 live with their house-parents – the D’Souzas. Laden with lots of goodies including yummy snacks and gifts, the volunteers spent their new year eve with the boys and played lots of games and made friends with them.
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Cycling to Nalasopara – Buddhist Stupa and Chakreshwar Mahadev Temple

Nalasopara 24

Ever since I started the Mumbai Historical Sites Cycling Association project, I have started receiving a lot of feedback and suggestions on sites of historical significance in and around Mumbai.

A few months back, the multi-talented Shweta Gupta – nature lover, traveller, cyclist, professional patent agent and business development executive for a pharma company and who is also studying archaeology wrote to me:

hi!! keep reading yr blog about u cycling to heritage places around mumbai
recently visited a temple close to chakreshwar talav in nalasopara which has a few 9th century idols & also one agni idol probably dated to 2nd century
thought it might interest u to cycle there

I did a little more digging around about Nalasopara and also came to know about a Buddhist Stupa that is located there. Two historical sites close to each other was just too good to miss. So earlier this month, I set out cycling to explore Nalasopara.
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Cycling from Mandwa to Murud – Janjira Fort and Khokari Tombs

Murud

Ever since I cycled to Korlai fort along the Konkan coast from Mandwa, I had wanted to continue along the same route south to the next big fort near Murud – Janjira fort – the Siddi stronghold. It is just 30 km south from Korlai fort, and at a total distance of 71 km from Mandwa. I did a two day ride with an overnight stay at Murud, giving me enough time to explore all the historical sites around Murud.

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Dealing with a teenage kid is learning to be an adult

Rohan

Having crossed an important milestone in my own life – completing half a century – seems to coincide with a big challenge in life – dealing with a teenage son. Everybody warned me that it was a critical phase in their life, and I need to be careful in bringing up teenage kids. But I believed I was quite capable, and did not really pay any special attention to figuring it out.
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Cycling to Sewri Docks and Sewri Fort

Sewri 8

Taking off on our cycles early in the morning with no other plan than catching the sunrise, we ended up riding to Sewri Docks, and I got a chance to re-visit one of my favorite forts in the city – Sewri Fort. I had first been to Sewri Fort in January this year, one of the first when I began Mumbai Historical Sites Cycling Association (MuHiSiCA).
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Cycling to Korlai Fort – Morro de Chaul

Korlai Fort 24

Korlai Fort is located on the Konkan coast, on a hill that juts out into the sea just south of Revdanda. Built in 1521 by the Portuguese as a companion to their stronghold in Chaul, the fort lies at the mouth of the Kundalika river that flows down from the Tamhini Ghats via Kolad. The hill on which it is built is called Morro de Chaul and which now also hosts a well maintained lighthouse.

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Review of Women’s Skechers Gorun 2 by Shimul Bijoor

shimul_running

Shimul Bijoor, my daughter is a middle distance runner specializing in 200 and 400 meters. She was invited by Skechers to try out and review their new running shoes. Excited by the idea of getting a free pair of shoes to try out, she went ahead and attended their presentation and got back a pair of shiny new running shoes.

Here is the review she wrote after two weeks of trying them out:
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OxFam Trailwalker 2013 – an experience of a lifetime!

P1030900

We finished the OxFam Trailwalker! 100 kilometers of mostly off-road trails through beautiful countryside around Mulshi lake, winding its way through the hills, meadows and forests – an amazing experience! A physically grueling trail that is supposed to be one of the most difficult OxFam trails around the world, we were thrilled to have completed it in less than 31 hours well within the 48 hour limit – though none of us have walked continuously for such a long trail ever before!
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Cycling to Ambernath Shiva Temple (Ambreshwar)

Ambernath Shiva Temple

Ambernath was just another station that one passed on the way from Mumbai to Pune that came between Kalyan and Neral (actually between Ulhasnagar and Badlapur). However as part of the Mumbai Historical Sites Cycling Association, while researching into historical sites in and around Mumbai, I found references of an ancient Shiva Temple located in Ambernath, that seemed to be at the ideal distance of approximately 47 kilometers from Andheri. So one of the weekends in October this year, I set off early one morning with my cycle to investigate and find this ancient temple.

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