6 ways to have a Green Diwali this year

Diwali is the festival that the whole of India celebrates together. Celebrated across many Asian countries with much fervour, diwali is a celebration of love and light. A promise of success and prosperity, diwali has also essentially been celebrated with bursting wonderful looking firecrackers. We remember this from our simpler childhood in the small town of Durgapur,  when the rising AQI wasn’t in our peripheral understanding of the world.

Today, only about 10-15 years from those fiery, happy evenings, we are worried, concerned about leaving a planet with insufficient breathable air to our next generations. Let us admit it that we all caused it. In small ways, however, if each of us can start making changes with their personal choices, the world would definitely try to breathe again. So this Diwali, like the last few, we will celebrate only with candles and lights instead of burnt paper and gunpowder producing poisonous gases and adding them into our ecosystem. As it is, the others are not going to stop, are they?

We bring a few recommendations of saying no to one time use products and instead choose a #GreenDiwali for yourself and your family this year. Hoping to be the first of many years to come.

Go cracker free – This is the most basic item on our list and should be on yours too. We know it feeds the mouths of little children in remote villages, but it also worsens the air they will grow up in. Make a choice, Say no to crackers. If not just for the air, for the poor pets who are currently preparing to get under the couch or crawl up on the bed to feel safe. Choose #poonchoverpataka this year instead!

Say NO to chemical products and offer healthy gifts to friends and family. Choose cruelty free products from The Eco Trunk – India’s first vegan, cruelty-free portal for lifestyle products that is kind to animals and humans alike. You can purchase a variety of products from apparel to home decor on their website.

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Price Range: Rs. 190 – Rs. 7,500

Gift Plants!

Make your home’s air pure with some plants. You can get them potted or choose to buy your own style of pots that goes with your home decor. Spoilt for choices, get a pack of air purifying plants from online websites or from your nearest nursery. We are nurturing our plants and they add much needed greenery and positive energy to our home.

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Price Range: Rs 600 – 1500

Availability: Nursery Live or Ugaoo

Personal Care with love

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If you are looking for a personalised gift boxes that resonates with someone who loves using Ayurvedic items, check out Amrutam Official’s self love gift collection. Amrutam Self Love Gift Box contains Ayurvedic recipes for your skin and hair care, made with a blend of more than a hundred herbs. Each of them carefully chosen for your health and beauty. A personal recommendation, once you use their products, you will not want to go back to your shelf products.

Availability: Amrutam Official

Price Range: Rs. 500 – 3800

Consumable Gift Hampers

Diwali with Marriott

With the festive fervour setting in, Marriott has curated a selection of indulgent festive delicacies to celebrate the season with its unique offerings under “Diwali with Marriott”Handcrafted to perfection by Marriott’s own chefs, this bespoke limited-edition artisanal hamper will raise the temptation quotient for the perfect celebrations.

From pralines, bonbons, cookies, florentines, tarts to traditional favourites like the Nankhatai and Laddoos, this uniquely crafted delicacy box features an array of interesting and creative fusion of modern and traditional treats. The hamper is available for a limited period at select properties in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Bengaluru & Pune for INR 5,000++.

Availability: Call on +91 90046 16506 or log onto www.diwaliwithmarriott.com

Celebrate with candles and lamps instead of wasting electricity. Use battery powered LED lights and cruelty free rangoli colours to add festive touches to your home!

And something special for Delhi since they will be engulfed in dangerous smog post the celebrations:

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DETTOL SiTi SHIELD  PROTECT SMART MASK  AND MICRO FAN

Have a very happy, safe, prosperous and green Diwali! 🙂

Love,

The Moonchasers

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Organic farm living only 50 Kms from Mumbai

Arwa1Retirement is somehow supposed to be a scary thought, something to plan for years. We have seen our parents evolve post retirement and become avid travellers, at least from what they used to be! They even love going on hikes despite the age and failing health. Suppose we had it in our genes to start blogging and pick travel as our genre. It is true it wasn’t the plan, but from what its worth, let’s make retirement exciting !

Living a city life becomes imposing to so many, after spending years even! A somewhat similar concern drove the owners of Arwa Farms to think seriously about the land they owned in Dahanu. Situated amidst rice fields and sparse village huts, the sprawling landmass was waiting to be cultivated. Veteran photographer and journalist Fawzan Hussain decided to dig back into his family ancestory and bring back the profession of the great-grandfathers back to life. Yes, farming. Because not only does it provide you with chemical free, organically grown fruits, vegetables and cereals; it allows them to learn on the land everyday and produce fruits and vegetables to sustain life at the farm.

Cycle Area

We were invited to visit the property and understand how a completely organic farm works. Fawzan showed us the organic dung fertilizer that they make at the farm itself to be used on the produce. The range of items he cultivates at Arwa is simply fascinating. From papayas, mangoes, custard apples and sapota, cereals and paddy also finds space.

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Whats more! The farm can accommodate 14 guests at a time, making it an ideal destination for a calm family weekend getaway or even for groups of friends. Plastic is completely banned on the premises and Fawzan ensures the guests get the right vibe of being organic in the smallest details. The bathrooms have organic soaps and shampoo, kitchen sports clay pots and pans, plates and glasses sourced from the heart of Mumbai city, Dharavi.

Lobby Area

Spending a night under a skyful of stars sitting at the terrace having hot pakodas with him gave us an opportunity to experience the real farm life. The comfy beds and especially the one with the garden view was the boy’s absolute favourite for a night time stargazing. We are so thankful to the amazing staff at the kitchen who made delicious food, made from the fresh farm produce. An equally appetizing breakfast coupled with organic green tea refreshed us before the drive back home.

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If you are interested in learning how to farm, do visit this place. Fawzan also organises workshops and to introduce kids to the idea of farming and crop cutting seasonally. A seasonal visit may also allow you to grab a bagful of ripe mangoes to take back home! We brought back some organic stevia for our diabetic parents because whats better than an organic replacement of sugar, right?

You can book Arwa Farms on AirBnB  or Booking.com

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is a must watch at IMAX Inox

Today it is 21 years since the first Harry Potter book was published by J.K. Rowling and it has been a world of adventures for kids and adults since then. There are probably a handful of 90’s kids who haven’t used a HP reference in their lives or been exposed to the world of magic through books or movies from the #HP series. Now, Harry’s story is over and Rowling has helped us understand the background of her magical renderings through the prequel story in her latest books.

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We have to say, it is one of the best things that could ever happen. A world of fantasy that draws comparisons with Narnia or LOTR by J.R.R.Tolkien, cannot just be left to go into oblivion, right?

We are so thrilled to have seen the second edition of Fantastic Beasts on a large screen with phenomenal surround sound in the cozy comfort of Inox theatre. While you may have your tickets booked already for the new release today or for the weekend, here is a little dope on what to expect without being too revealing.

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Drawing from where we left of in ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’, the story starts with a series of events leading up to yet another adventure by Newt Scamander, obviously commissioned by none other than Albus Dumbledore. Fantastic Beasts 2 is however not so much about the younger Dumbledore, played by the phenomenal Jude Law. It is a story of untold emotions and memories, finding new creatures that will take your breath away as Newt sets on a journey to Paris to find Credence, the obscurus.

A few refreshing new faces add charm to the storytelling where you see Theseus Scamander, Newt’s elder brother come into the picture as a devoted yet headstrong Ministry Official. A turning point will come with the introduction of Leta Lestrange, played by the beautiful Zoe Kravitz. You may remember her from the role of Toast from Mad Max: Fury Road. The Lestrange family has been a key element of the plot even in the HP series and it is only admirable that the backstory is woven so well with Leta’s past having a serious impact on Credence’s questions about his identity. One more interesting addition is the character of Nagini, played here by the slender and pretty Claudia Kim. You know who Nagini is, don’t you? (Hint there)

The star-studded cast has Johnny Depp as Grindelwald who predictably does a marvellous job of being dramatic where its needed. Honestly we would have liked a little more of Jude Law as the charming middle-aged Dumbledore, but resting assured that there will be more of him in the next edition. That is all we are going to tell you about the story, period. Expect to have comic relief amidst the serious turn of events leading up to an unfathomable discovery of Credence’s true identity, as elaborated by Grindelwald which leaves us shocked and stunned. To tell you the truth, we still haven’t been able to digest, relate, emancipate or understand it. But we will leave it to you to believe or not.

Coming back to the wonderful movie experience at INOX, here is what we loved!

  1. Big screen – The Zouwu (You will know what it is when you watch the movie) looked so extravagant. The graphics of the movies is superb, which was made so much better on a jumbo screen at IMAX!
  2. Quality of the image and surround sound – A graphical, VFX heavy movies is not enjoyable if these two things are compromised. So glad we chose IMAX for this.
  3. Food & beverage – We could barely look away from the screen throughout the movie. It was keeping us hooked so thank to the staff at Inox, we had filled ourselves with huge tubs of popcorn and snacks while gorging on the crazy visuals.

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We watched Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald at Inox R-City Mall, Ghatkopar in Mumbai. It is a special theatre because of the beautifully lit lobby area which automatically transports you to a fantasy world. The interiors are absolutely gorgeous, especially the lighting design. Its a 7 star luxury experience of theatres, we would say.

So book your tickets now and go watch this much awaited fantasy film with your family, friends, kids of friends and everyone else at Inox!

Disclaimer: The Moonchasers attended a secret screening of the film on invitation and opinions expressed in the article are our own and not sponsored by the brand.

 

Heritage travel and ecotourism comes together at Phaltan

Uncharted places that are not on the map as a designated tourist destination often show the potential of a unique experience. That is exactly what Jakson Inns has achieved for the almost forgotten Phaltan, located 110 kms from Pune.

A highway ride is common for Mumbaikars, usual destinations being Pune, Kaas Pathar, Lonavala, Goa, Ratnagiri coastal lines and more. On a roadtrip to nowhere in particular, Jakson Inns just happened to us for a stopover initially. Phaltan is one of those places where you may stop for a night before continuing your journey, but it gives you a neat, functional and enjoyable itinerary. Variety of experiences curated together by the hotel entices you to stay back.

What started as a journey in search of an offbeat experience, turned out to be a complete weekend getaway at a highway side hotel. May sound odd, but you need to read this article in full to know how The Moonchasers found a weekend, worthy of sharing with you as a recommendation.

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Satara district marks a historically and economically significant side of Maharashtra, also known for its forts, waterfalls and religious festivals. Lands that host major industrial facilities also caters to 60% of the states sugar production, thanks to sugarcane farming all around the plateaus. Only about a four hour drive from Mumbai, Phaltan is an amalgamation of sustainable energy with agriculture and history. From solar farms and windmills powering an entire industrial belt and a 3 star hotel, Jakson Hospitality brings a piece of ecotourism on its very premises spanning 6 acres.

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The property is a proud LEED Platinum Rated Building, harnessing its energy from natural resources. The hotel has 69 deluxe rooms, 4 suites, a contemporary bar, a vibrant multicuisine restaurant and a luxury spa. It also has a gorgeous pool and basketball court, and bicycles (We made good use of it for a midnight track race) suited for families. A full service gym is also open for guests.

Apart from providing a wholesome Malvani cuisine, the staff ensures you get a taste of the local culture. We were taken to a beautiful windmill farm to watch sunset over the plateaus sipping on an exquisite Sauvignon on the first day.  The giant machines start screeching and creaking to pick up speed with the evening breeze, adding a bit of charm to the whole setting. We also made a new friend at the table top!

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A barbecue night followed on the hotel grounds, prepared by the chefs on the spot. They went an extra mile to prepare a giant Khakhra for us (Baked thin crackers made of mat bean and wheat flour). Sumptuous food calls for a good end to an amazing day and we had a very comfortable room, again carefully and professionally serviced to get a good night’s sleep.

KhakhraJK Foyer

Breakfast awaited us by the poolside on the second day. After gorging on mango shakes and masala omelettes, our destination was Thosegad Waterfalls. Maharashtra comes alive with the monsoon and this waterfall too shows its true beauty ripe with the rain water. However we had a fun time walking up to the lake and made a mental note of coming back here again in a couple of months as the rains intensify.

Stories of emperors, conquerors and rulers fascinate the reader. But what happens when you get to walk into the homes once inhabited by the characters from the pages of history books! An experience curated only by Jakson Inns that needs a special permission, made the highlight of the trip.

Phaltan is known in history for being home to Sai Bai, Shivaji’s first wife as she hailed from this once prosperous taluka. Manmohan Rajwada, was named after Mudhoji Manmohan, who ruled the Phaltan State between 1860 to 1916. It was once the maternal home of Sambhaji Maharaj, son of the founder of the Maratha Empire.

An architectural delight, the Rajwada palace compound consists of the main residential building, an ancient Ram Mandir, spacious courtyards and long halls called chowks. The interiors reflect rich heritage design with intricate hand-carved wood work in the columns and arches. The rich colour palette in the paintings and tapestries across the palace exude a royal yet contemporary selection of art. All rooms open out onto a central courtyard, or a chowk, demonstrating a common feature of period Indian architecture, allowing air circulation for hot summers. It was an obvious delight for J for his love of symmetry and marvellous architecture. On the other hand, I was marvelling at it’s spaciousness and rich historic elegance which oozes out with every step you take within the premises. Every turn opens up to a corridor full of footprints of the Royal family of Phaltan.

All of this, coupled with a Maharashtrian chulha made lunch and a pomegranate plucking session where you can taste the sweetest fruits right on the field, we feel Jakson Inns has successfully merged the business of hospitality to boost the local economy as well. To understand the actual potential of rural tourism, eco tourism and farmland visits, it is a great way to spend a weekend here instead of just stopping over. The richness of experience makes itself a desirable destination. Where else can you get a private sunset sipping wine with your loved one, walk about vast pomegranate fields and sugarcane farms, go into the very rooms where once queens lived and feel the wind in your hair ?

This place is an inspiration for travellers seeking to do something new, know something more about a place and have a great time. In fact, MTDC has Phaltan listed as a heritage and eco-tourism destination.  Taste the perfect contemporary bohemian lifestyle with a touch of history at Phaltan. At the same time, enjoy sustainable hospitality with a comfortable stay for your next weekend getaway from Mumbai or Pune.

Note: The Rajwada stands as a private palace and is not a tourist spot, nor does it allow anyone to get inside other than guests of Jakson Inns.

Here is a video showing you all about Phaltan: