Trek to Tandulwadi Fort

Tandulwadi 17

Tandulwadi fort is located near Saphale, north of Mumbai at a distance of about 50 km from the bridge over Ulhas River at Ghodbunder. The fort can be reached by road via NH8, with a turn off towards Saphale. At a height of 1524 feet, it provides some beautiful views of the surrounding towns of Saphale, the Zanzorli lake and the confluence of the Surya and Vaitarna rivers. On a clear day, the nearby forts of Takmak, Kohoj and Asherigad can also be seen.

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Cycling to Vandri Lake

After taking a last look at the lake, I headed back towards NH8

Vandri Lake is the second of the three lakes that are along the Mumbai Ahmedabad highway NH8. It is located near Saphale. The first one is Pelhar lake near Virar, and the third one is Kurze reservoir near Dapchari. I cycled to Vandri first in 2014 when I started my exploration of lakes in and around Mumbai, and found an idyllic lake that was rarely visited by tourists and other visitors. I repeated the route another time in 2016 to practice open water swimming in preparation for the Goa Triathlon.

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Cycling to Fort George – the last remaining vestige of Bombay Fort

I went up to the restaurant in the hospital and managed to get this angle of the fort

Having started my project to cycle to all the forts in and around Mumbai, there was one fort that was on my list that was left to be discovered – and ironically it was one of the most iconic forts of Mumbai. Fort George is the only remaining vestige of the Bombay Fort that was built by the British. As the map below shows, It was originally a smaller but better protected part of the larger Bombay Fort, that extended from Fort George to Dock Yard. 

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Fruit Bats in Mumbai

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Though Mumbai is a city full of congestion and traffic, there are pockets of green in several places in the city that attract birds and animals like bats. Fruit Bats have been feasting on mangoes left over from the mango season on trees in Mumbai. We were lucky to be able to photograph one just outside our window in Andheri East!

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Badlapur Step Well – a rare historical site

One self photo for the record!

I came to know of a rare historical site not too far away from Mumbai – in a town called Badlapur. I got this information from a fellow wanderer and avid history buff – Amar Reddy.

Having seen his photographs of the well, I was keen to cycle to Badlapur and locate the well. I got the approximate location and directions from Amar, and went on an exploratory cycling ride to Badlapur.

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History of Byculla’s Central Railway Hospital

Byculla Railway Hospital

Byculla, a bustling area in South Mumbai is famous for the Zoo, and the Bhau Daji Lad museum located in it. But just across the road is another lesser known landmark located inside the Central Railway Hospital compound – the Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial Hospital. It is an old building and normally one would easily miss it. But its impressive architecture has an interesting story behind it!
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Cycling to Pelhar Lake and Dam – an idyllic weekend ride!

Pelhar Lake 145

Pelhar Lake is located just off the National Highway 8 towards the east at Vasai. Surrounded by gentle hills of the Tungareshwar National Park, the lake is an ideal picnic spot, and is frequented by residents of the towns located nearby such as Nalasopara and Vasai.

The dam was constructed across a tributary of the Abma river in 1975. The dam is 26 meters high and 701 meters long, and provides over 10 million liters per day (MLD) of fresh water to the Vasai-Virar area.

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Cycling to Banganga Tank and Walkeshwar Temple

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Banganga Tank is one of the oldest sweet water tanks located in Mumbai. Before Mumbai got water supply from the Vihar and Tulsi lakes, the only source of water were several tanks built within the city. There were eleven tanks in all, of which Banganga is the only tank that has been present since ancient times. It is a great destination for a weekend cycle ride. The distance from Andheri to Banganga is just over 25 km one way.

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Cycling to Kondhane (Kondane) Caves

Cycling to Kondane Caves

Kondhane caves is located about 15 kms further south from Karjat, a popular holiday destination just 50 kms south from Sion along the Mumbai Pune National Highway 4. The caves are in the Sahyadri hills, and overlook the Ulhas river very close to its origin, in a valley north of the Rajmachi hills formed by mountain streams draining the northern slope of those hills.

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NJ Transit makes a perfect Thanksgiving weekend possible!

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We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day in Houston, spent with the Smalley family full of wonderful food, lots of family time, laughter and of course football. After experiencing a traditional Thanksgiving for the first time in our lives, we were in a great mood when we were fling back to New Jersey on our way back to India. But I did not know what awaited me next would potentially turn a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday into a nightmare!

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Revisiting Madh Fort (Versova Fort)

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I had visited Madh fort on 1st January 2013 as a result of my new year resolution of cycling to all the forts and other historical sites in and around Mumbai. Madh fort is normally kept closed and is not open to visitors. However they do let out the fort for shootings of films and television serials. On this weekend I had the pleasure of riding with my cousin Hemant who was visiting from the US, and we did a short ride to Madh via Marve. I could not resist taking him to the fort, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was open and preparations were on for the shooting of some television serial.

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Choosing a NoSQl Database – technology comparison matrix

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The big data technology landscape consists of such a large number of choices, that often the most critical step in successfully implementing a solution is choosing the right platform that will address the requirements of the problem at hand, and that is sustainable in the long term.

With such a large number of choices though, doing a feature-wise comparison of all individual platforms is just too complex and time consuming. However, it is possible to group these options based on the data models they support. 

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

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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!

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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

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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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