Kolkata: With eminent authors returning Sahitya Akademi awards to protest rising intolerance, union minister Bandaru Dattatreya said it was their individual right and intellectuals were free to act as per their wish in a democracy.
“It is their individual wish and India is a democratic country,” the minister of state for labour told media persons here on Tuesday while attending an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Nearly two dozen authors have announced their decision to return their awards as a mark of protest since a man was lynched in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri area allegedly for consuming beef, and in the wake of murders of writers in the country.
Asked about Monday’s incident of Shiv Sena cadres pouring black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the think-tank Observer Research Foundation, Dattatreya said, “The political leadership of BJP has already commented on it and my stand is the same as that of the national leadership.”
A group of Shiv Sena cadres poured paint on Kulkarni to protest launch of a book by Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri at a function in Mumbai on Monday.
The floods in Mumbai have been in the news lately, an annual chaos that seems to have become part and parcel of life in the country’s financial capital. However, the monsoons are not a season to dread and just outside the city, as the curious traveller ventures higher into the Western Ghats, there are some picture-perfect destinations for the season. Here are some top recommendations.
Lonavala would be on top of the monsoon destination list for most Mumbaikars. Wrapped in fog, this historic region gains a completely new avatar in the rains as the forested mountain slopes regenerate and the waterfalls come to life. One of these is Kune Falls, which roars amidst a pristine verdant scenery.
The Lohagad Fort has always been one of the most captivating sites on this route and the monsoon mist gives it an allure straight of a medieval-theme video game or movie. A trek to Liones Point is recommended – the season would require special precautions like monsoon-ready footwear and waterproof clothing. While in Lonavala town, a visit to the lake is not a bad idea.
Just next to Lonavala, one can reach the quaint hill town of Khandala, perched at close to 2000 feet above sea level. The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make this place an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro, not to mention the splendorous drive on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Some of the popular viewpoints here are the Tiger’s Leap and the Amrutanjan Point. Other attractions here include the Buddhist cave temples at Karla and the calm and placid Bhushi Lake.
A jewel tucked in the lap of the mighty Sahyadari Mountains; Mahabaleshwar offers visitors a curious mix of colonial heritage and striking Indian history. Built by Shivaji, Pratapgad Fort has an enigmatic presence in the landscape here, a site of many important events.
Those looking to enjoy some of the high elevations will love a trek to the summit of Wilson Point, famous for its panoramic views of the valley below. The Needle Hole Point is another famous place to catch a glimpse of the scenic landscapes. Venna Lake is another centrepiece attraction at Mahabaleshwar while the hilltop Krishnabai Temple is famous for its architecture and Krishna statue.
More and more travellers are choosing a car rental over public transport. Rates are increasingly affordable and self drive gives total control over the pace of the journey. One can make impromptu stops and detours and there is complete privacy.
Finding a car rental in Mumbai is as simple as a few taps on an app. With platforms like Zoomcar, registered users can book a vehicle in a matter of minutes. One can choose from a wide range of cars – maybe a hatchback or sedan for the family getaway – or maybe a large SUV for the boisterous group road trip. 24/7 on-road support is one of the assurances that self drive rentals offer.
The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel.