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Panhala to Vishlagad trek 2008 – A log

Posted by itrekz on August 28, 2008

The historic episode etched in golden hues in the pages of history – Shivaji Maharaj’s escapade from the fortress of Panhala to the fortress of Vishalgad is a perfect example for the phrase ‘against all odds’. Although not to be calculated in the same scales, our biped venture following the same trail was nothing else than against all odds, albeit the odds being of the lesser magnitude.

An approximate route of 75 km to be completed in 3 days, was the task we set ourself for the long weekend. We did not manage to reserve the train tickets for Kolhapur, but alternatively we got our bus tickets booked.  We were lucky for our return journey as we managed to get the reservations done for Mumbai bound Mahalakshmi express. So the travel was taken care of, headcounts estimated and grocery purchased, al the schedules worked out and all geared up were we. It was going to be long trudge and yes we all were very well aware of the fact and were well prepared, until the rain played the spoilsport.

The met department hit the nail right on its head and their predictions of heavy rains across Maharashtra proved very correct. As always is the case with Panchaganga River near Kolhapur, water logging affected large areas of the city. Dams filled till the brim and threats looming large with the impending gate opening.  Newspapers and news channels flashed news stories about submerging Kolhapur and Karad regions. Fields, villages and roads submerged under the murky waters of overflowing Pnachaganga. Our well wishers from Kolhapur also suggested that if the situation continues then all our plans of the trek would be jeopardized and it would have to be cancelled.

With all the reservations made and efforts put in, it was a hard call to make, but rather than finding ourself stranded in flooded areas, we had prudent enough choices. So we decided the cancel the event and even informed the participants about it. Many disappointed faces, until we decided otherwise and took the chance of proceeding with our plans as charted out. Another round of calls followed and everyone was informed about the trek and its proceedings. So it was on and final now after a round of ruckus. It did not end here though!

So it was 9.00 PM, the time we were supposed to meet at Thane on 14th August. Very well and keeping a safety margin we boarded the local train from Kalyan and headed for Thane. Some of the participants had already reached there and were eagerly waiting for us. Mind you, we had all the tickets and reservations with us, leave aside the trek route information and planned charts. Fate had something else in its mind. As we crossed Dombivli station, our train halted and ceased to move for a good hour or so. We were stranded between Dombivli and Diva stations, with darkness and open spaces surrounding us. I cannot describe how intimidating and instable those 60 minutes of static upheaval were.  The scheduled bus departure was at 9.45 PM and we were still waiting for the train to move even as the clock ticked 9.55 PM. We could not have made it to the bus depot before 10.30 PM and we were well aware that it was going to be impossible to board the bus and all our plans were going down the drains with flooding at Kolhapur, not exactly – but with the mess that the slow track on the suburban lines of central railway has to offer.

We asked others to reach the depot and try and explain the situation to the bus driver and conductor and ask them to wait for some time. The conductor refused to budge and set the time to 10.00 PM. It was going to be impossible. Finally the clock ticked 10.00 and it moved, well not the bus but our stranded train. It was another 20 minutes before we reached Thane and another 10 minutes from there to reach the depot.  It was 10.30 PM by the time we managed to reach the bus and thanks to some good convincing and generous requests made by others the bus kept waiting for us. After a lot of ruckus, reservations, rains, floods and then train delays we finally saw the entire team seated in the Kolhapur bound bus – a total of 18 souls, on the trek. The trek began; finally!

Not often you see that even before the first step of the travelogue is written, you find nearly 800 words already occupying the space; that just explains the initial hiccups – the hurdles that we all had to counter to get there. After the entire circus, we set our feet on Kolhapur depot at 7.00 AM on 15th of August. One of our participants was supposed to meet there directly and she arrived an hour later; hour filled with refresher and tea and weight distribution. Everyone arrived and the next as per the schedule was a bus journey to Panhala, which lies at around 20 km from Kolhapur. As the bus whizzed beyond the city limits, we actually saw what havoc had the uncontrolled flow of Panchaganga caused. Floods everywhere, villages submerged, trees uprooted, fields devastated, roads blocked. Even the normal bus route to Panhala had to be diverted and it took nearly 45 minutes extra for us to reach Panhala. Already the bus delay and further extensions saw us lagging by a good couple of hour behind our schedule.

We saw Panhala fort after our breakfast session atop Panhala. Panhala is a Taluka place and actually has lost the charm of a fort with all the tar roads penetrating to every corner on the top. All the sites are now reached by vehicles and it is no more of a hill station rather than a fortress. We quickly wrapped with Panhala fort seeing all the possible and interesting fortification and structures atop and moved on further towards Vishalgad. We exited the fort from Raj Dindi, just before Pusati Buruj (Bastion) from the west. A quick descent of 20 minutes brought us to the lower slopes of the fort and a further walk of another 15 minutes brought us to Turukwadi.

From Turukwadi we started ascending on a ridge falling to our left. Within 15 minutes of gradual climb we reached Mahalunge village. We were well aware that this is the last village that we will see until crossing over and descending the vast expanse of Mhasai pathar.  A 20 minutes climb brought us to the unending expanse atop the rocky bed of Mhasai Pathar – one of the largest plateaus in the Sahyadri ranges. The plateau is actually stretching the the East-West direction, but is very narrow in the North-South direction. The plateau is connected to the mass of Panhala by a small intervening col. We crossed over this col and reached the plateau.

It would be fair to say that we were favoured by the weather and rain Gods this time as the sun shone it light on us and the clear weather allowed us to have our orientation maintained. We all were heading for the first time on this route and a slight misdirection on the plateau can leave us walking in completely wayward direction. We were aware of sticking to the left edge and continue walking till we reach the Mhasai temple. Actually the trail is very well marked now and it is very difficult to miss the trail.  After a walk of an hour and some minutes we reached Mhasai temple. A nice pond of accumulated rain water spreads in front of the temple with a lush green cover occupying the rest of landscape. We decided to have our lunch here. Tiffin were unpacked, chapattis and sabjis with the spice of pickle served for a good meal. Good one hour break before we proceeded further.

We continued on the cart track further until we came across very ancient caves hewn in the belly of the northern slopes of the Mhasai plateau. These are some series of rock cut caves – the Pandavdara leni. However, the caves are now inhabitable with grass and marsh occupying most of them. However, some caves still have dilapidated remains of the carving and lithographs inscribed on their walls. A quick look at these from the exterior and we moved further. A short walk from here brings in sight the only and relatively large tree on the northern edge of the plateau. We descended from here and with in 15 minutes reached a small hamlet – Varewadi. Another 30 minutes walk over the marsh tracks took us to Kumbharwadi village. Actually if we would have continued further on the plateau and then descended from the ridge we would have skipped Varewadi and directly would have reached Kumbharwadi.

It was nearly 5.30 by the time we reached Kumbharwadi and the day still held enough light in its store to allow us to trek further and reach Chapewadi. Chapewadi was supposed to be our night halt for the day. It was a mere 4 km distance and should have ideally required less than an hour, still it took us more than an hour and half before the last member of the group reached there.  It was not the day long trudge that caused the delay or any whiling away on the way, but for the knee deep wet mud and marsh that encountered. Every step saw most of us submerged in knee deep marsh and retrieving without loosing our footwear was a task to handle. Soiled clothes, lost balance, searching for footwear, tired legs and all along some funny incidences saw us through the 4 km long puddle and reach Chapewadi (Also called as Khotwadi) finally at 7.15 PM. A nearby handpump provided the much needed cleanser with clothes and faces washed to drain away the mud.

A quick change of clothes before the kitchen was setup. A hot cup of tea spiced with talks and chats filled the class room of the village school as we occupied them for our night stay. The tea session was quickly followed by moong khichadi, pickles and papad and then the sleep time started invading the ambience. Day long walk with the last few hours including knee deep puddles had drained some of them and a good dinner saw them dozing before anyone realized. Others chirped their way through before eventually falling asleep.

16th August had an early start.  Saturday it was and it was supposed to be the longest and most strenuous part of the trek. Long distances had to be covered to make up for the lost hours on day one.  We started at around 7.30 after a quick session of morning tea and some breakfast in the form of bread jam, biscuits and snacks. It was also supposed to be the most eventful day ahead with treks through the leech infested trails.

Our next destination was Mandlaiwadi, which is a good 1 hour walk away from Chapewadi. One most welcome change was that the path was nowhere near what we had encountered the day before. It was quite firm and not marshy, with maximum depth soiling barely upto our ankles. Knee deep marsh was left way behind and that really helped us to cover distances quickly. We reached Mandlaiwadi at around 8.45 AM and moved further. Arrow marked helped us on the way, as we covered distances between Dhangarwadi, Ambewadi, Malewadi and Patewadi relatively quickly. It took us nearly 4 hours to reach Patewadi and just beyond the village at around 2.00 PM we had our snack – cum – lunch break. A quick refresher and we moved towards Pandhrepani, our supposed night halt for day two.

The intriguing thing that we noticed on day two was the fact that Pandhrepani seemed to be just two hours away right from 1.00 PM, until we finally managed to reach there at 5.30 PM. It is a good 4 hours walk from Patewadi, but villagers in the intermediate wadis seems to have some other ideas and their relative mis-information dazzled us quite a few number of times as our expectations of getting there were always being wrecked with another couple of hours added to it at the next wadi. All along the way we walked over leech infested grassy plateaus, over the bunds of the fields, through the forests of shallow-rooted Nilgiris that were uprooted due to loose soil at its base, flat terrains and so on.

Leeches played a nuisance for some of us. All along the day long trudge leeches managed to suck quite a few from most of us, especially those who were in floaters and shorts. The bare fingers exposed through their floaters offered a good avenue for those tiny leeches to hang on and have satiated their appetites. The worst part – the injected anesthetic doesn’t let us sense the pain and the leeches quite hideously manage to do the job, secondly the anticoagulant injected doesn’t allow the blood flow to cease and bleeding may continue for hours after the leech drop away.  It actually led to everyone checking their pants and shoes/floaters every 10 minutes of so to see if there is that small bug sticking to their feet and sucking on. Some found out, some didn’t.

It was Raj actually who found the first sign of leech infestation and immediately brought to notice the trouble that lay ahead for those who did not bother to wear full pants and shoes. It was one specific person – Vinita.. who has some special affinity for the leeches it seems – somehow manages to invite leeches at the least likely places! She was terribly drained with all those bugs sucking on her RBC’s every now and then. Few others had minor niggles with the suckers too, but manageable!

So after a brief lunch break (sort of) and after 4 hours of walk though the forests and grasslands, over the bunds of fields and terrains we managed to reach Pandrepani at 5.30 PM. The last 45 minutes walk is on tarred road and can be really quite boring to tread on after a day long walk. The distance from Chapewadi to Pandhrepani is really a long one and we covered good ground to make u for the delays on day one.

After sipping on hot cuppa of tea at a local village shop at PAndhrepani, a poha session spiced up the fun talks and masti. We managed to get a cosy stay at one of the houses in the village. The warm ambiance after the day long drench was the perfect compliment anyone would have asked for. Poha was followed by some munching on snacks and after some chit chats; however the long day saw everyone quickly setting up their carry mats and sleeping bags quite early.

Day three it was and the last day of our trek. We had to cover the distance from Pandhrepani till Vishalgad and head back to Kolhapur to board the Mahalkshmi express back to Mumbai. So another long day and more importantly time frame was much more important today as getting back to Kolhapur in time was imperative. So after tea and breakfast session we moved at around 8.15 AM from the village. The day began on confusing note with different people giving different opinions about bus timings and their frequency. Irrespective of all the jumbles, we decided to walk the distance of 6 km till Pavan Khind. The entire route follows the tar road and we briskly covered it in an hour.

We managed to reach Pavan khind at 9.20 Am and really – a glance at the narrow gorge and one just can’t help, but go back and salute the Guerilla warfare tactics of the Maratha and the ingenuity of Baji Prabhu Deshpande. The narrow gorge, then known as Ghod Khind provided for the perfect location to stop the march of the chasing army and allow for the escapade of Shivaji Maharaj to Vishalgad. The narrowness, the terrain and the relative trap-like location proved very effective and with the sacrifice and valour that Baji Prabhu and the fellow Mavlas exhibited, Ghod khind was rechristened as Pavan Khind. We had a brief session at the gushing waterfall that adds to the beauty and enthralls the visitors with its flow. This is actually the origin of Kasari River. There is a project (Kasari Prakalpa) that is being worked on and is being converted into a reservoir. We payed our obeisance with a typical Shivgarjana recited by Amod, a group photo and moved on towards Visahlgad.

We retraced our steps back to the tar road. Vishalgad was still 15 km away from here. The clock now ticked 11.00 and the time crunch began to raise its head. We waited for a bus as informed by the villages, but another person came up and informed that there were no buses available at that time of the day. So we just continued to march on our feet further. The tar slipped under our feet at a brisk pace and it was nearly and hour and quarter before we made our way to Tembhurne wadi.

Just when we were thinking of skipping Vishalgad – Vishalgad is at a distance of 8 km from here – fortunately, we got a jeep from here that was ready to take us to Vishalgad and then back to Amba. Amba is a well connected to Kolhapur. So without wasting much time we all crammed into the jeep and reached Vishalgad after a bumpy ride of 20 minutes. It takes mere 10 minutes to reach the top of the fort. The fort looks nothing like a fort, but is only a crowded settlement of the local villagers. Filth now mars the beauty of the fort and irregular and haphazard houses build on the fort just dims the entire spirits. We roamed around the fort for around 45 minutes or so before retracing our steps down and boarding the jeep.

The jeep took us to Amba within one hour. It was nearly 4.00 PM by the time we reached Amba. As everyone was quite hungry then, we decided to have a quick bite of Misal pav, which unfortunately was not very quick. After the entire chore, we waited for the bus. But since after a wait of nearly 20 minutes bus did not show up, we decided to reach Malkapur – 10 km from Amba – by jeep. We reached there by 6.00 and an immediate connecting bus took us to Kolhapur by 7.30 PM. We reached there barely an hour before the scheduled departure of the train. We managed for some dinner (Veg Biryani) and after a sumptuous dinner, we all headed for our respective berths reserved in the train. Let me tell you, it was an experience to have all 18 people together at the dinner, after a 3 day long trudge. It was so satisfactory to have the entire group together, sharing a good laugh and talk about the trek, completed route and everything, specially after all the stuff – rains, delays and all we had at the start…!

It will always be one of the memorable ones, for various reasons, but cherished nonetheless.

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Lonavala to Bhimashankar.. A Trek!

Posted by itrekz on July 28, 2008

Hello everyone..
Lonavala to Bhimashankar trek cannot be described anything other than Lost-n-Found sorts!

We did it in less than 2 days.. albeit the last 2 hours eluded us..
We completed.. Lonavala-Valvanda-Kondeshwar-Kusur pathar-Kusur-Savle-Talpaiwadi-Wandre Khind-Pardyarchiwadi-Lower plateau of Bhimashankar in less than 2 days.

That includes lots of missed trails… disoriented trudges in hope to find some village.. some shelter for the night.. never ending.. cloud cover reducing visibility to barely 10 metres.. heavy rains.. Same atop the Bhimashankar plateau the other day and a long walk back to Wandre..

Total distance covered.. approximately 75 kms.. inclusive of all missed trails and sorts..

Heavy rains.. thick fogs.. fully loaded sacks..!

A truly tough venture… and we resisted and stuck it out to our scheme of things.. by not taking a vatadya and roughing it out on our own .. in a terrain completely unknown that was further rendered hostile by incessant showers and reduced visibility!

Kudos to all those who participated and it was each of those 10 members who stuck it out in most adverse conditions..!

Pics… hmm; You must know that we all love our cameras.. and givern the heavy rains. pics were impossible!

Travelogue.. sure.. will follow sooner!

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Biking trail to Wada-Mokhada-Jawahar

Posted by itrekz on July 7, 2008

The ride…
250 km for some and 300 km for some… either ways it doesn’t get any easier on roads more curvaceous than a spiral and as narrow as it can get. Well, the rains just added that extra bit of zing for the slippery sheen on the smooth tar that MSRDC has commendably laid to the remotest possible corners in Maharashtra and couple that with the crater-i-form texture that the torrential rains usually leaves on the surface! Whoa.. it was some biking trail visiting the remote and hilly talukas of Jawahar, Wada and Mokhada in Thane district.

The speedo hovered around 50-60-70 kmph for some on the dry stretches of sharp curves, and 40-50 on wet and descending curves with constant pedal on the rear brakes..well the discs where hardly put into action and only when the rear where a bit insufficient to prevent the slide off track! Well that wasn’t the top speed by any means since on the roads that were straight and smooth speedo did not shy away from the three figure mark!

Starting out…
We had a relatively early start and all were present at the scheduled meeting point- Bhiwandi Bypass at 8.00 AM. We were 7 riders in all with 3 pillions and 4 riders on the tourney. A 150 cc Pulsar from Panvel, a 125 cc Shine, another 125 cc Discover and the best of them all the 2-stroke power house 100 cc RX 100! Hot cuppa of tea sips at 8.00 AM and embarked on our journey we!

The circuit as decided to be completed in the day was Bhiwandi-Wada-Suryamal-Khodala-Mokhada-Jawahar-Wada-Bhiwandi – and so did we! The odometer for the day on completetion of the circuit gathered up around 275 kms plus, where as for the Panvel guy it matched exact 300 for the day!

Reaching Wada…
The road from Bhiwandi to Wada is pretty much straight forward and nothing much to excite about when a rider has to negotiate with the smokes and fumes that the trucks and buses emanate and we dodge and zoom past as overtaking opportunity crops up! The ~35 Kms ride is nothing more to write about. Double that with Bhiwandi’s diabolic traffic and pathetic road sense we the ride till Wada is a mediocre experience for any rider..we weren’t spared either. But as always riding in itself offers so much for the seekers that everything else is just a pit lane where there are no pit stops!

Wada junction and another cuppa of tea for us, mere 35 kms on the saddle… oh such a leisure..well that’s what we out on Sundays! A 5 minutes break and we headed towards Khodala, enroute Suryamal. Bifurcating from the junction on the right takes one to Khodala via Parli! Well and that is exactly the route which magnetised us towards this trail. The total distance from Wada to Khodala via Suryamal is ~ 50 Kms and it is a treat! The traffic deviates on the left from the junction and the right trail which we followed is just a ride that any rider would yearn for!

Khodala trail…
The cooing of the birds, gushing of the streams- numerous streams that you pass over the narrow bridges, the lush green and thick forests in between that fight hard and successfully prevents the penetrating suns rays to hit the ground, the drizzling rains that just leaves a sheen on the black road the intermittent pits, rumbles and villages, the sun and the shade and just about everything that makes this route a treat. The road tries hard, but fails against the terrain and struggles to keep straight even for 100 metres. The intervening curves and gradients are what that makes the route even more interesting!

The magic of nature…
12 km enroute is Mandwa village which we bypassed and further ahead 5km was our next halt.. 17kms from Wada is a tranquil village setting: Parali. We stopped our roaring phat-phatis and let the silence creep in the tranquil ambience and the content filling our hearts and souls. The green offered some perfect landscapes to shoot. A quick gaze around and we headed for Suryamal. On the way a couple of stops were just inevitable as the Garjai river criss-crossed our paths and kept inviting us for a dip in the thickets surrounding it! It definitely tried to compete with the Amazon, but alas you know this might be a hyperbole! Well.. it isn’t anyless and a visual treat in its own right: Garjai river bed was amazing and the view overhead was just wonderful as we spread out our arms from the edges and embraced the flowing breeze!

Suryamal retreat…
Not long ago before we reached Suryamal – The highest point in the region. Suryamal is a now a quite well developed village place. There is a large enough school (Up to 10th grade) being managed by a Ashram Sanstha that provided education and boarding facilities to more than 500 students from the nearby tribal areas. It is indeed heartening to see these developments in remote areas and that the slate-n pencil is penetrating in these areas too! We had a brief chat with the superintendent of the Ashram school before leaving for a biped trail on the vast expanse of the lush green plateau. We came across numerous Nachani (Red Millet/Ragi) fields on the plateau. There were number of wells dotting the landscape too! All in all the plateau is well favoured by the rain Gods and abundant irrigation facilities makes it quite a suitable place for Nachani cultivation.

We traced our foot steps right up to the edge of the plateau of looking the Garjai River bed and the route which we gradually scaled from Wada to Suryamal. The enchanting landscape filled our visions before we decided to head our way back to our motorbikes.

Khodala batata wadas…
Suryamal-Khodala is quick route and not long before we reached there, mostly a descent! Khodala is well to do township and you can help yourself with some snacks and lunch here. We savoured cuppa of tea n khari and hot batata wadas as usual. There is no petrol pump in the vicinity, but one can actually get it in black (Rs 60 p/l) in the nearby areas! We moved ahead filling our tummies!

If one wishes one can cut short the journey and head for Kasara from Khodala and get back to Mumbai via NH3. We were however not satiated with the offering so far! We continued ahead towards Jawahar. On the way just 3 kms from Khodala is a beautiful Ganesh temple at Deobandh. There is a beautiful serene river flowing right behind the temple barely 10 metres away. A wonderful ambience and perfect setting for a days outing if one doesn’t wish to roar their engines further! We paid our obeisance at the temple and moved ahead on our tourney.

Bumpy ride…
The worst part of the road was yet to greet us and we soon realised it just as we moved past Deobandh. The road is riddled with just so many pits and craters that the bikes just rollicked up and down over the rough terrains and bumpy tars! My pillion had a rocking time I must say as I refused to get my hands of the throttle. Oh did he have some goose bumps? Well..he did!

Jawahar palace…
Not long before we reached Jawahar junction. A left turn from here and a wonderful silken smooth road ahead say us covering the following 222 kms in a whisker of the time frame. The road is absolute beauty from here..wonderful curves, but butter smooth surface..and especially after the just passed bumpy terrain! Reached Jawahar!

We made our way to the Jai Vilas palace, the huge palace of the then King of the Warli tribe. The Palace was built and furnished dating back to 1940. Its still very well maintained and has actually attracted many prosperous bidders to take its possession..but to no avail as the owner is not lured in by the bids amounting to even by the tune of 100 crores! A quick visit to the palace and not time for the lunch break awaited us.

We had a good meal in one of the restaurants at Jawahar. It was raining hard and heavy as we were under the cozy shelter of the Dhaba. Another 45 minutes in there and it was time to head back to Mumbai. We made our way over the smooth roads towards Wada again. As always I say and really feel the return journey is a pain..pain because we just don’t want to get back to the urbanized lifestyles..still a next weekends reconciliation is good enough to raise the throttle and move back!

Returning back…
~6kms from the Palce is Dhanu phata. A right turn from here leads towards Dahanu and the straight one leads to Wada. We kept straight and moved further. The road is pretty much a nice drive amongst thick forests surrounding, but well tread! On the way we came across a junction. The route from the right (30 km) to Wada via Vikramgad and is around 10 kms more than the one on the left that directly leads to Wada (20 km). We took the shorter one as we wanted to get back to Mumbai before it before it became too late. A 20 kms of smooth ride got us back to Wada.

Another cuppa of tea, probably the last one for the day together before we headed towards Bhiwani bypass. As in the morning, the Wada-Bhiwani ride was nothing much to write about and through the traffic again we reached Bhiwandi bypass: from where we were to bid adieu. Two bikes headed right towards Mumbai from the bypass where as two headed for Kalyan. It was 9.00 Pm by the time we reached Kalyan.

Adieu time..
Well.. a wonderful trail for the day and as always I would like to say thanks for the wonderful company that I cherished with my friends.. precisely Amod, Pravin, Akshay, Vishwa, Vinita and Shalini… A wonderful day we had together!

MORE PICS???

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Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal Trek

Posted by itrekz on June 29, 2008

We were five of us for this (Naneghat – Jivdhan – Bhoranda Nal trek) and let me tell you it was just more than a fascinating one!

Naneghat as usual offers a good and leisurely hike.. whereas the Khadaparsi, Kalyan Darwaja and Ghatghar route in monsoons just doubled up the bonanza for us.

Bhoranda Nal is a very lesser know Nal descending from the plateau towards Bhorande village and it offers just a obscure path and a long steep Nal descending..just a much needed change from the well beaten track of Naneghat!

All in all.. it was just a wonderful trek…

Photos would be uploaded soon…!

A brief travelogue…

Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal trek

The prelude…
I pledged my self before taking on to write this piece: It mustn’t be too long a piece..oh keep peace, it won’t be I guess
.

It has been to long since I had been to Naneghat-Jivdhan: precisely some years plus a decade back. Well, visiting Jivdhan was like rekindling an old love affair, and in what way did it happen! Five wonderful friends, lush green and few moments that can challenge even the funniest of bones. Oh and that unique Chameleon just made for a perfect finish line. The fresh green perfectly camouflaged the reptile, the slow stylish gait, the grip quite un-peculiar to any reptile, it seemed so very different!

Jivdhan is always a pleasure in any season, leave aside monsoon. Infac it can get a bit tricky if taken a bit casually and the thickets combined with the blinding thick fog can just leave even the localites from Ghatghar guessing their way (they say it, not meJ). Yeah, the fog can leave anyone completely disoriented, Couple that with the sheer vertical cliffs mocking at you, and you often wonder: Hell! Where is the way from? It is there, just in front mates! Go and find it.

Delayed start…
The start wasn’t the most punctual one: well past 8 AM and still reeling at the Kalyan ST depot. Oh we had a day ahead, a long day awaiting our trudge. And the wait eventually ended when our ‘Lal Dabba’ embarked on its journey. A couple of nifty moments passed before we reached the milestone indicating the way towards Naneghat. Alighting from the bus, rucksacks loaded on the backs and five souls wandered along the trail, glancing up every now and then towards the peaking thumb shaped pinnacle of Naneghat: hiding behind the clouds as we glanced up.

Quick wrap of Naneghat…
As one is well aware, Naneghat is now a highway with arrow marks indicating the way every few metres, oh so… a well marked highway, just unmetalled albeit. It was just a couple of hours and we saw ourselves in the fabulous cave keeping a keen eye near the top. A look around the cave barely lasted few minutes (as all of us having already seen the cave number of times earlier). Every time the Brahmi script doesn’t cease to admire me. Moving further through the narrow gorge we moved ahead to embrace the expansive plateau overlloked by the majestic Jivdhan fort. Yeah, Jivdhan and Khadaparsi solicited our visions as the cloud carpet cleared for a brief while. Afternoon lunch and Jivdhan called us, once again, perhaps more eagerly this time!

Towards Jivdhan…
As planned we marched towards Khadaparsi (Vanarlingi) pinnacle. Fog engulfed us and still the footsteps did not hesitate to move on, blinded of course. Perhaps the fog got a bit lenient on us as it uncovered its carpet and we soon realized that we are exactly right angles away from our route. We made the cut and not long before we entered the forest we started our guesswork of the probable path. Numerous cattle trails can be a bit misleading here.

However, a bit of search here and there and just about 30 minutes before we reached the flight of rock cut steps. Moving up and then a comfortable trail leads to the Darwaja in another 30 minutes. Oh the fort is beautiful..old affair rekindled!It was around 3.15 PM now.

Khadaparsi awe…
Before reaching the Darwaja, we also made a brief visit to the base of the Khadaparsi pinnacle (Vanarlingi) and it was just the most amazing view. The base, tall pinnacle humbling our raised head and vertical visions, the breeze and the wonderful narrow cave at the base. Oh check the pics to be uploaded sooner!

Wonderful Jivdhan…
Moving further up, our sights were blessed with some old ruins singling the glory of bygone era, Jivai Devi temple, a shivling… and of course million dollar water tanks quenching our thirsts!

Some brief moments of wandering and look around before we started descending towards the Ghatghar side. On the way we further came across the beautifully constructed Granay still holding the ashes of the 1818 ravage by the British. The granary is exemplary in its architecture. Some more water tanks, Buruj, fort walls and ruins before we traced out steps for the descent. The fog went thicker and rains heavier. We spent a toal of around 2 and half hours looking around and allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by the beauty.

The view from top includes Durg-Dhakoba, Naneghat, Siddhagad, Gorakhgad, Macchindragad, Malshej ghat..of course at the weather’s mercy!

Ghatghar descent…
Carefully we negotiated the tricky blasted steps and a small easy patch demanding proper care. A bit of descent over the mud trail and a total one hour’s descent saw us in the cozy ambience of the Ghatghar village. A hot cuppa of tea, biscuits, spiced up with masti chats and comforting shelter under one of the many rooms that Ghatghar houses; followed by dinner before everyone retired for the night.

Bhoranda Nal beauty…
Next day (Sunday) saw an early rise of 6.00 AM, before everyone quickly woke up and marched for the descent via Bhoranda Nal. Turning our backs towards the Jivdhan fort, we moved straight ahead keeping the Navri and Varhada cliffs to our right. The Nal descends straight towards Fagane/Bhorande village near Moroshi.

The rains made the Nal quite a bit slippery and few obscure trails made our task a bit like trial and error. We guessed, reoriented and kept moving along the Nala: negotiating intervening treacherous patches and boulders. We finished the Nala and then a well marked trail leads straight towards the Kalyan-Ahmednagar highway in another 45 minutes. It is one this trail that we came across the wonderful Chameleon described above (see top).

Adieu friends…
A 10 minutes walk to Bhoirwadi/Fagane bus stop and we boarded a Kalyan bus. A couple of hours ride say us in Kalyan at around 3.00 PM. A good and heavy lunch followed by the thing that I hate the most.. the adieu time.. I hate to bid tata-bye bye to my friends as the trek concludes! Well, it gives me a reason to smile too… as every adios is surely to be followed by a warm welcome, probably a week or fortnight later invariably!

Hail to the Sahyadris (mountains in general) and a bow to all my wonderful friends (Raj, Amod, Vinita, Kinjal) who once again etched some wonderful memories in my grey mater!

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Raireshwar-Kenjalgad trek

Posted by itrekz on June 18, 2008

The ups and downs…
Heavy rains lashing out from every direction on us and visibility reduced to few feet. We were searching for a shelter on the slippery slopes of Kenjalgad and the village below seemed aeons away. We adjusted for the time being in a small concavity near the belly of Kenjalgad massif and after a brief moment, calmness penetrated the chaotic scene, as we managed to find a nice cave, a warm and a dry one for our night halt.

It is not always the easiest of task to write a positive note when everything goes haywire right from the word go; however I am still inspired to do so plainly because of the fact that everything just concluded so very nicely.

Embarking bytes…
We were 7 of us venturing out for a trek in Bhor region and take on the stormy winds and lashing rains of Raireshwar-Kenjalgad. We were infact alarmed by few friends and well wishers that it wouldn’t be an easy task as it rains pretty heavy and strong winds makes it exponentially effective in this part of the country. However, we embarked on the journey as decided on 13th June, the Friday night.

The Parel-Bhor bus departed from Parel bus depot right on schedule, 00:15 AM on 14th June. We boarded the bus just by a whisker of time cushion; moments before its departure. The next six hours were going to be along the long winding route to Bhor and everyone was well aware of the fact. After adjusting their rucksacks and themselves on the reserved seats, everyone settled into a comfortable position. Some brief exchange of words with some effervescence of fun and masti bubbling out followed pretty soon. Just a little while before everyone went asleep.

Reaching Bhor…
Bhor arrived pretty much earlier and it was just dawning at 5.30 AM when the bus rolled in at the Bhor ST depot. We all alighted and helped ourself with a nice cup of hot tea and plateful of lemon garnished pohe before our connecting bus to Korle arrived. The bus for Korle is scheduled at 7.30 AM from Bhor depot. The morning scene at Bhor was nothing less than refreshing and a near timely departure of Bhor-Korle bus saw us rejuvenated. It’s approximately an hour bus ride before we reached Korle village.

Korle is a small, but well equipped with some amenities and nestled between the slopes of mighty Raireshwar plateau on our right and the fort of Kenjalgad on our left. We reached Korle village at approximately 9.00 AM and started on our trek. There is now a well laden cart track going right upto the Shwandara route and ends in a ladder propped up against a cliff to aid the villagers and trekkers to scale to the top. This is a long winding route and some 30 minutes on this boring trail saw us bifurcation somewhere in between and taking on the slopes of Raireshwar plateau midway, no route as such.

The Raireshwar scramble…
We had left the Gaydara route behind and now we were somewhere between the Gaydara and Shawandara route, scaling up and negotiation the boulders, thick bushes and streams along the way. The electricity poles all along the Gaydara route served as a guide and we could see them right our heads, alas hundreds of feet above though. And in between lay the steep slopes flowing from the top of the plateau riddled with vertical cliffs. We decided to scramble atop on one such slope, which seemed fairly scalable. And scalable it was, but for a newbie, it seemed a bit too demanding.

After the scramble, we came across the Gaydara route calmly heading its way atop the plateau and within 15 minutes on this route we reached the top. The total ascend took us around 3 hours from Korle village. Once on top we prudently followed the overhead electric wires and in another 15 minutes reached Raireshwar village. We paid our obeisance to the famous temple atop Raireshwar and headed towards one of the Jangam family; Dagdu Jangam to be precise, for our lunch.

Towards Kenjalgad…
Having a sumptuous meal of Jhunka Bhakar, Pickles and Dahi with some rice, we all felt our bodies cooling off and before the blood ran cold, we quickly decided to head further and start on our trek to Kenjalgad. The route towards Kenjalgad goes via the Shwandara route. A 15 minutes walk from the temple brings one to the iron ladder. Strong winds can make this descent a bit tricky, but we were spared of this by the wind God. We carefully negotiated the rungs of the ladder and headed towards Kenjalgad massif, which was directly lying in our front somewhere, but completely invisible hidden beyond the thick clouds and lashing rains.

The wrong turn…
After 30 minutes walk over the ridge, we came across a junction. The road to left leads to Korle village, the one on the right leads to Ghera Kenjalmachi and the straight one leads to Kenjalgad. We continued straight, until, we did what was probably the impacting wrong turn on the trek. Unsure of the path straight on, we decided to turn right and seek the route from a Hamlet lying below on our right. After a descent on the scrambling slopes of the hill, we reached Ghera Kenjalmachi village. We were informed here that the road to Kenjalgad is actually over the ridge along the hills, which we had left back.

We decided to continue further now towards Kenjalgad as directed by the villagers, albeit at a lower level now. We kept skirting the base of Kenjalgad keeping it to our right, but in vain as the thick fog made visibility poor and the trail continued skirting Kenjalgad massif without leading anywhere to the top. The clock was ticking too fast for our liking and the winds getting stronger and stronger sufficient enough at times to throw us off-balance. The rains too was lashing pretty hard now at us.

The slopes became more and more treacherous and slippery and for couple of us it made matters worse. Unsure of their stepping slowed down things further. Fatigue ran in their souls and the wet clothes, day long rain drench and long walk had already sent chill running down their spines. The route unsure, visibility nil and the stormy atmosphere made the situation dilemmatic.

The decision…
It was at this point when we decided to look for shelter on Kenjalgad and skip the plan of Kamalgad the next day, as it would have been too late to start from Kenjalgad and do Kamalgad the next morning. The decision was made, but not yet gulped down too readily by some. The reason; Kenjalgad massif want’ still visible and played hide and seek beyond the clouds. Rains got heavier and heavier. Energy and confidence lost by a few. Some how and some motivation for the warm shelter saw the group moving towards the probable route for Kenjalgad. After a while, cloud cleared a bit, and the massif visible; but the in between lay the steep and slippery slopes of Kenjalgad. By this time we were pretty sure that this wasn’t the route but we had to alternative to take on the slopes and move ahead.

The scorpion-Khekda debate…
We moved on, skirting the slopes and ascending along the trail. The newbie Arun had some issues along the way and so did another guy, who wasn’t a newbie, but just as it sometime happens to the best of us. Each step seemed to be treacherous them and the territory alien and hostile. Our support managed them all along and they were willingly moving ahead. Kudos to their sprits under the conditions that alienated them completely. On the way, there was this scorpio-Khekda debate ;). Seems funny eh?

Well, it goes like this.. I was lending my hand to one of my companion on the trek and showing him the stepping. That’s when he refused to step and started reiterating, “Tithe Khekda aahe! Meaning there is a crab over there and I won’t step there. I was bamboozed as I couldn’t see any one there and kept on urging him to step further. He was adamant about the crab and refused to step. The slope were slippery and my feet slipping as the loose mud under our floaters slipped away,, slowly but surely. He kept o insisting and told me that Khekda was behind my leg and that it was approaching me feet. It was then I decided to pay heed as crabs usually do not come close and shy away from human feel. So I turned around and was taken a bit by surprise to find a black-blue scorpion of around 3-4 inches in length approaching my exposed feet and well within the stinging range, barely couple of inches away. I first wanted to yell at my friend and educate him to zoology regarding the difference between a crab and a scorpion. But the striking distance, in which the scorpion was, made me instantly move my feet away and woosh away the scorpion with a dried twig.

The rest of the trip was nightmare for my friend as everyone seemed to keep on asking him the difference between a carb and a scorpion. Lolz.. whatever, it was his insistence on the subject matter, irrespective of the way he perceived it, that made me woosh way the stinger! Thanks you mate!

Reaching the cavern…
A further scramble and we reached the final slopes. The concavity in the Kenjalgad massif seemed like a cave and we had a sigh of relief. Two of the, went ahead and made sure that they reach the place and see if it was really a shelter for the night. Out of the remaining five, two were struggling to scale the final slopes and it was now when the first timer’s ventures required me to actually use the sling to pull him out and see him atop the treadable path. A 10 minutes scramble saw us reaching what seemed like a cave from below, but in fact a mere concavity in the massif. The wind was still strong and rain lashing. The chill increasing and everyone was a bit disillusioned by the fact that shelter was nowhere near and to be seen.

However, the cavern allowed a brief respite from the winds and rains and for the moment allowed everyone to gain back some sanity and instill the same in the ambiance.

Finding the majestic rock cut steps and the shelter…
While others rested, me and one of my friend, Vinita went ahead in search of a decent shelter. We traversed the Kenjalgad base on one side first and couldn’t find anything there. Then we traversed the other side and after a brief easy walk reached the base of steps and a habitable and warm cave nearby. We were quite relaxed on seeing it and finding it suitable for the night stay. We climbed some rock cut steps to reach the top of the fort. The top is devoid of any shelter and houses a few ruins and a potable water source. We had a look around on the top and made our way back to the cavern.

We took everyone to the cave and on the sight of it, everyone was rejuvenated and words started filling the quite space of the warm cave. Everyone dried themselves and changed to a dry pair of clothes.

The warm tea…
After changing and arranging stuff, we collected nearby partially dried wood and attempted making a fire out of it. We some how managed to light the fire and made a nice warm cup of tea for everyone to savour. The term ‘Hot’ would be in appropriate, but ‘Warm’ was more than welcome in the conditions mentioned above. A brief snack of farsan, cakes, tea, biscuits and such saw the empty tummies filled.

A small while passed before the darkness engulfed and the sparkle of the candle lit ambiance filled warmth and content in the rugged concavity of the rock cut cave, right near the belly of the Kenjalgad massif.



Goodnight wishes… followed after a brief chatter time!

The next day was more or less of return journey and no where near as exciting as the one before. We had a look atop the fort and everyone saw what Kenjalgad was like. The ruins, the fort walls, the view, the water tank and such. A chiwda session, few mango bites (thanks to Amod) and some munching we made our way towards Khavli village near the back waters of Dhom dam.

Reaching Khavli was a monotonous following of the paaywat and it did not take longer than and hour and the half. Metalled road greeted us and glimpses of human civilization seemed so long since last 20 hours or so. Vinita was gladly seeking the chirps of the aves and trying to capture their soaring flights and spread wings in the sensor of her Olympus.

Kenjalgad was smirking on us standing tall overhead while the fort of Kamalgad still seemed to invite us on the other side of the Dhom backwaters. It is definitely inviting and a visit sooner is inevitable.

The return journey…

We boarded a wai bus from Khavli and an hours bus ride took us there. We had a good lunch and further boarded the Swargate bus from Wai. After a few delays and snags we got into the Mumbai central bus and alighted at Panvel at around 10.30 PM. It was farewell time by now and we all headed home from here.

The tata, bye-bye, adios and adieu all came and went, however it left us with a rising desire to come back and see each other again and continue our tryst with the mountains together.

Special thanks to..
Vinita, Raj, Amod, Tapan. Arun, and Devendra..well that rounds off one and all isn’t it?

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Konkan bike trip: A Travelogue

Posted by itrekz on June 3, 2008

The prelude…
Standing on the edge of the bastion I was embracing the cool winds flowing offshore on one of those coastal forts in a serene village of Konkan, as my visions were filled with the seamless blending of the emerald green of the Arabian Sea and the Sapphire blue of the clear skies. The gushing sound of the water seemed to dissolve the golden sands on the shores of Suvarnadurga isle as the green frothed into effervescent white and the gold quietly surrendering to the might of the invading sea waves. Such was the magnificence of the beauty that nature bestowed us with in these two memorable days.

Two days, 570 kilometers, six forts and three tranquil villages is the concise material description of what we experienced on the just passed weekend. However, the real essence of those moments is just beyond vocabulary to express.

We all started out on the night of 30th May 2008 on our Konkan biking trail, which was supposed to cover six forts and nearby places of interest in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. It was a long drive that we chose to embark on those dark nights on the Mumbai-Goa highway. Of course not many would recommend it, especially with the blaring lights in your eyes that the heavy vehicles throw and rush perilously close to the lining two wheelers. Unless you have the endurance to bear and keep your sights steady against those blinding headlights and endure through the sleepless night, please do not undertake such long night drives on two wheelers. We supposedly possessed these qualities and with a sane head on our shoulders decided to embark on the same tourney.

Embarking from Kalyan…
We started from Kalyan at 11.00 PM on Friday, 30th May night. It was me with my 125cc Honda Shine and Shailendra with his 125 cc Bajaj Discover starting from here. Raj was pillion to me and carrying a heavy backpack on his shoulders. We started out with cognizant minds of the long drive that the dark night had in store for us through those secluded roads. After a drive through traffic filled Shil phata-Panvel road, we reached Panvel at around 12.00 in the midnight. It was at Panvel that we were joined by Nilesh and Rohan Karande, the remaining two riders on the trail. Nilesh was pillion to Shailendra, while Rohan Karande was the lone rider.

So here was the complete team that grouped up and adjusted their backpacks and bikes and was ready to go. Shailendra with a patient head was supposed to stay in front and me in the rear, while Rohan Karande, the lone rider in between us. The pack quietly moved out of the Panvel city and that is when they began to feel the thinning density of road traffic and growing seclusion and darkness. Once they treaded along the Goa highway after bifurcation from the Mumbai-Pune road, it was a cool and calm ambience greeting us with in between glares of the opposing vehicular traffic. As planned earlier, we quickly saw Pen being left behind and approached Wadkhal Naka. We decided to have a break at Wadkhal Naka and helped ourselves with simmering hot cup of tea to stay alert and awake, not really J!

Reaching Mandangad…
After a brief session break at Wadkhal, we started on our journey further. Our next destination for the scheduled halt was supposed to be Mangaon. The metalled road of the highway quickly slipped under the tyres of three motor bikes as we breezed past Nagothane and Kolad. Moving across the lonely roads at a brisk pace and enjoying the cool winds under the twinkling stars was a treat, yet caution was of utmost importance. In a few while we reached Mangaon for our second round of tea. So did we, after nice filler with Omlette Paav we cherished the hot tea and geared up for further journey. Our next destination was direct halt at Sade village, approximately 11 Kms from Mandangad. Sade village was our base for the entire two day trip and more importantly it is the native village of Rajendra.

We reached Lonere and breezed past it and in a few while reached Veer Dasgaon. From Veer, we had to take a right turn and so did we. After few quite kilometers over a bit rough patch, we reached a bifurcation which indicated us a left turn to reach Mandangad via Mhapral village. A road was not the best we had seen so far, but surely was a lot better than the one we had in our stores for the next day.

We moved past Mhapral village and at a point, which indicates Mandangad as 11 Kms away, known as Shinale we had to leave the road towards Mandangad and take a left turn towards Sade village. After a bumpy ride of about 7 kms, we reached Sade, the native village home of Rajendra. It was 5.00 AM dawn and the village was up and awake. We were eagerly awaited and welcomed at Rajendra’s home by the neighbours. We dropped our sacks, stretched our stiffened backs and immediately went flat on the floor. It was a 180 Kms long drive on the dark boulevards and the last stretch being quite bumpy.

Rest awaited us and a much deserved one!

Reaching Dapoli…
We tried to sleep, but forget it. It was 7.00AM in the morning and we quickly woke up towards freshening up for a long day ahead: Consumed by biking.. fort visits… villages.. and much more!

Our next target was Dapoli via Mandangad. After a nice Tandulachi Bhakri with delicious Khobra-Mirchi cha thecha, we moved out on our bikes. We visited the Gaondevi mandir in the village and started towards Mandangad. One way towards Mandangad, one comes across Dapoli Phata to the left indicating a distance of 42 kms for Dapoli. We followed this route and it was bliss. The road was decently even with occasional bumps, but the lush green on either side of the road made it a perfect boulevard to ride on. The green and the intermittent cool breeze made it a pleasant experience.

After winding turns and ups and downs, 42 kms were rolled by and we reached Dapoli. Dapoli is quite a developed township and caters good facilities for tourists. We had a quick tea break and further moved on towards Harnai port, which was 13 kms further away from Dapoli. Actually, when we left the tea stall not many were actually impressed by the thought of further biking! Few kms more and we reached Harnai port.

Witnessing the Grandeur of Suvarnadurga…
We reached Harnai and for a bargain of 400 Rs in exchange for boating us to Suvarnadurga and back we hired a boat. Suvarnadurga looks magnificently secluded with its imposing tall fort walls and structures. It is not much far away from the shore and merely takes a 15 minutes boat sail to reach the shores of Suvarnadurga isle. As one steps on the golden sands of Suvarnadurga, one is amazed by the grandiosity of its architecture. The Mahadarwaja is nicely hidden and the fortifications quite intact. The landscape was perfect and the view just surreal. To know more about Suvarnadurga fort, click here…

https://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/anjarle-suvarnadurga-kanakdurga-goa-and-fattegad/

After being mesmerized by the marvel of Suvarnadurga fort, one really wonders why this fort could not gain as much popularity like Janjira and Kulaba and such.

We sailed back towards Harnai port constantly turning back to see the imposing architecture of Suvarnadurga.

Kanakdurga, Fattegad and Goa fort…
The Sun was blazing harsh on us by now and it was nearing mid-day. The sweltering heat saw s perspiring profusely, but we made sure that we had adequate intake of fluids as well. After being charmed by Suvarnadurga, we quickly wrapped up the trio of Kanakdurga, Fattegad and Goa fort. Nothing much is to be seen and said about these three forts, other than that they must have served as mere watch towers and protection for Suvarnadurga. Kanakdurga is devoid of any ruins and now houses a Light house and few quarters for the staff manning the light house. Fattegad is completely non-existent and is now a densely populated Koli hutment. Goa fort does offer some nice views and has a Balekilla, which offers a topographic view of the fort as well as Kanakdurga and Suvarnadurga. Some ruins and a magnificent Mahadarwaja are all that is remaining on Goa fort.

We visited these three fort sand moved towards Anjarle village.

More about these forts at
https://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/anjarle-suvarnadurga-kanakdurga-goa-and-fattegad/

Anjarle cha Kadya varcha Ganpati…
Anjarle is a small village nestled in the lush green Konkan belt of Maharashtra famous for its Kadya Varcha Ganpati Mandir. Just 4 kms away from Harnai port, we reached there in a jiffy. Later it was renovated during 1768 to 1780.

The temple at Anjarle is considered to be Jagrut devasthan and has one of those rare Ganesh idols with his trunk curved towards the right side (Ujvya sondecha Ganpati). The cliff offers a fabulous view of the landscape including the Suvarnadurg Fort. Beside the Ganesh temple there is a small but beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and a nearby pond with turtles and number if species of fishes. After quick visit to the temple we had a pure Konkan delight with simple poli-Bhaji-Chatni and Amti Bhat served in our dish. The Kairi-Khobra chatni was a treat. We had no less than a mini feast out there and at an amazingly economic price of Rs 40 per plate, and that too unlimited. The Kokam sarbat to top it was delight as well. After a heavy mid day meal, a 30 minute nap time saw all others except me and Shailya sleeping!

Reaching Bankot…
It was 3.30 Pm when we decided to have a move on. The road from Anjarle to Bankot was one of thw worst we had experience so far on this ride. We were surprised to know that it was actually a mud road with Tar craters in between. It was pathetically rough and able enough to loosen our stiffened bodies. An hour and half over these bumps saw us to Bankot village. A steep ascent riding on increased fuel consumption saw us near Bankot fort.

One hour was enough to have a good look at Bankot. The chor Darwaja, Mahadarwaja and all the ruins besides interesting history associated with Bankot saw us refreshed for a good Sun-set at Velas. We moved on towards Velas village.

Velas…
From Bankot village, proceed towards Velas village along the road which runs parallel to the coastline. Velas, the birth place of very diplomatic Nana Phadnis of the Peshwa is a very tranquil village merely two km from Bankot. The residence of Nana Phadnis, even though now in ruins, still bears testimony to the great person that Nana was. Calm beach and the perfect village setting make it surely worth a visit.

There is an old temple of Shri Bhairi-Rameshwar and in this temple all twelve months water is made available taking the benefit of favorable geographical conditions. A statue of Nana Phadnis is present outside his house. In Velas Mahalakshmi temple and Nana Phadnis house are the places to visit.

The Sun set through the Pine trees on the horizons of Arabian Sea was a treat to our eyes.

We retraced our way back to the comforts of our base at Sade village by 8.00 Pm and after a nice dinner of plain Varan bhaat with chatni, we retired for a good nights sleep.

To know more about Bankot fort and Velas click here
https://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/bankot-for-and-velas-village/

Sunday morning wake up call…
Early morning rise up at 7.00 AM seemed a bit too early after a long previous day. We quickly had the morning freshener with black tea to liven up the spirits. We set of towards Mandangad fort. With a mud road now trailing right up to the summit of Mandangad, we were quite ready to do it in a jiffy in spite of the previous two hectic days. We quickly moved out of Sade village and reached Mandangad, where a nice Misal Pav helped us to fill our tummies. After a quick breakfast we moved towards the steep grind of the winding mud road that took us to the top of Mandangad fort. The fort now is in ruins and except for a Ganesh temple a Thorla Talav next to it, there is nothing much atop except a few ruins. A ride up and down the mud trail was no less than dirt track driving and carefully negotiating the pebble strewn path was a fun to be experienced.

To know more about Mandangad visit https://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/mandangad-fort/

After visiting the fort we moved back to the well trodden metalled road and started on our return journey with halts at Mangaon and Wadkhal respectively. The luncheon at Wadkhal was too heavy with nice Punjabi dishes on the platter. We bid farewell to each other at the end of a wonderful biking tourney and visits to some of the most wonderful forts on the Konkan coastline waiting for its due share of recognition and to be thronged by the tourists.

MORE PICS???

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