With no treks in monsoon, one was due, Rajoba planned for this relatively simple trek to Kothaligad for 11 September 2010. We were to meet @ Dadar’s ticket-window spot around 4.40am and board a train for Karjat around 4.58am.
For the first time all made it on time, I was happy. But Vj was still worried, Hanjoo, the President of my ex-company was yet to make it. Rest all of us, Vj, his wife, Deepak Airy, Vijay Gupta, Anshul Pandey, Digvijay Singh, Amol Rajoba were present. Manas couldn’t make it as he was late to get up. Me and Vj ran to get Hanjoo @ the cab junction, while others moved for the platform. When we reached back @ the platform, the train had already left, and the next one was at 5.37am. So we called Manas and checked if he could still make it. He did without a “cleanup” !
At Karjat station, we grabbed a ST bus for the Ambivali village. This was the base, from where our trek was to start. 1.5hrs ride to Ambivali village with everybody managing to catch hold of some sleep. We started our journey from there to the base of the pinnacle, the Peth village. This was about another 1 hrs walk, climb through a very rocky road.
The climb/walk was more of fun, as everybody with their respective stamina, and passion for photography, or should I say for Orkut-ology or newly Facebook-ology were trailing behind. Hanjoo the eldest of us, was quick. We navigated through most of the shortcuts, cutting straight through winding roads and take you up earlier, but not without extra-climbing. We split in 2 groups (naturally) with quicker and the slower. The quicker moved around the green meadows waiting for their compatriots, while the compatriots reached the Peth village!
At the Peth village we had a few refreshments, a cold drink bottle costing almost 1.5 times that of the MRP! There we hired a kid to take us to the pinnacle, where there were caves. Another 1 hr climb, this time really a climb, no walk! we reached the caves with relatively clean area. The गांववाले must be keeping it clean. But the other parts of the cave were stinking with Bats! so horrible the smell was that we could hardly breathe. We decided that we would have our food/lunch over here. Vj and his wife started pulling out the ‘Wax Stove’ and Maggi noodles, while others helped in getting water, arranging Newspapers to sit. Hanjoo was restless.. didn’t know what to do. The kid, Anil, said there were 100 steps that lead from the cave to the top of the pinnacle. Hanjoo said, “I’ll be back” and started climbing, while I kept asking the kid if there was any place where I could swim or have bath with good clean water. After checking a few cisterns infested with toads, frogs, rats, etc. I dropped my plan. I decided I too must go through the inner-carved steps out into the open. Each step was about 1.5 feet tall, almost reaching the knee, after some panting I was there! Open ! Hanjoo was checking out the beautiful Sahyadri. It wasn’t very windy out there, I decided I need to remove my Tshirt, others who had followed me to the top too copied … few of us without our T-shirts with our President! shirtless! enjoyed the breeze which teased us.
After a small thought of Manas, Hanjoo that beer should’ve been a great companion @ the top, we moved down having our staple trek food of Bread, butter, cheese slices and the Hot Maggi. Around 3 we started our descent from the caves and reached to the base of Peth in 30 mins. From there one the climb down was little boring as it was a rocky road. Around 5 all were there at the base near the bus stop. We waited near a “Hotel” few had tea. I enquired if there was a hand pump or something where we could clean ourselves, A villager said there was a big pond of fresh water, but if we made to it, we would lose our bus ride back to Karjat. Plan dropped! 🙁
The bus arrived around 5.30 pm, and we reached Karjat around 6.40pm. Manas the only guy without a return ticket had to run as there was a Fast train already waiting to release its brakes. We just managed to grab it and reached Dadar around 8.30pm. Home sweet home was by 8.45pm.
Get down at Karjat Station, Central Railway
A ST bus or Tuktuk to the base village of Ambivali, 1.5hrs of ride
There on 1.5 hrs of climb to the pinnacle’s base, Peth village
Approximate Time of Trek: 5-6 hrs from and to the base village of Ambivali
Not always you hit the dirt and get to breeze past cold mountain wind
Not everytime a tired body is nourished by soothing calm water
Not always a tired soul is cheered by nature
But with a comparatively cold January end of 2010, and with the roaring bikes over the silky smooth roads; The above always tends to be true.
Jan 30, 2010
The wait is over, I could barely sleep with all the excitement of filling my Unicorn to the brim for the day’s ride to Bhandardara. Rajo too couldn’t keep with the excitement, he was already @ Khar station while I was having my bath. I took off with my now ‘heavy’ bike with Rajo to Mulund Check naka where I was to meet Danny (Dinesh) and another of his friend.
Danny was late, he was treading through Aarey colony while we were already closing in on Godrej Soaps near Vikhroli. I decided to use the extra time to start off with my Canon PowerShot S3IS. A few snaps of the bike, the riders and the Vikhroli sun rising over the Vikhroli mangroves and we were moving. At the checknaka a few minutes of wait and another biker on a new Red Pulsar 180 came in.
तुम लोग दिनेश के लिए रुके हो क्या?
The biker introduced himself as Rajesh, Dinesh’s friend. We had thought his friend would come in the car accompanying Danny, but bikers can’t be tied down behind those seat belts. Soon BJ-92 was there, Danny’s Turquoise-Green Wagon-R. Next stop was to meet Ankush under Majivda flyover and then head towards the destination of Bhandardara Dam!
Ankush was late, it was almost 9.00am when he made at the junction. Except me and Rajo all were hungry without having any breakfast. So we decided we’d have it on our way and the 2 Pulsars, a Unicorn and a WagonR raced aheads towards Nashik on NH 3 – Mumbai Agra. Soon everybody’s idea was clear, to hit the road hard averaging above 70 kmph. But all of us stayed within visible distance. It was at Kalyan phata near Bhiwandi, we decided that we should have our food by taking a de-tour towards Kalyan.
We found an Udipi Restaurant close by and had our stomachs full with Idlis, Wadas, Upma and Uttapams. The ride for all of us was really fuss free as all our baggage was loaded on the backseat of Danny’s car. From there on, it was just the accelerator, brakes and the clutch working in sync. NH3 is an absolutely fantastic road, negotiating small hills, turns through quite an arid landscape. But the route itself is quite picturesque.
Me and Ankush had adorned our Leather jackets. I was riding around 75kmph few kms ahead of Bhivandi and the overall resultant of the speed and the wind was outdoing the stability of the bike. My jacket was full of air and was fluffed to its extent. Every small gush of wind made me sway, I felt like I was a sail of the bike. At times it was so difficult to move at the speeds that I had to drop the speedometer’s arrow well below 60kmph till the bike was steady enough.
At Shahpur we took a halt for few minutes, took a leak, stretched. And I made sure that I wasn’t carrying along with my jacket. Shoved the piece of leather in Danny’s back side 😛 or his back side of the Car. The speed was much much easier to control then. Moving ahead thru high-class new-age Dhabas with the many times the double-way median-divided road merging into a single one for the other side was being re-laid. We moved on.
Kasara ghat soon was ahead of us, the road now spanned the entire view ahead of us as it slowly started to climb. We took a small halt and had many pictures. There on the most inviting thing for bikers was ahead us, curvy, smooth, grippy roads in the ghats which enabled us speeds upto 50-60kmph. All that I could see myself doing was leaning all the time to adjust the turns and the weight of the bike to help navigate the bends. It was awesome. Ahead I could see Ankush sliding to the either side of the seat like the pros do in MotoGP. As the best things never last long, so did the ghat.
Igatpuri was closing in fast, as he moved towards it, I remembered the road and the small exit for Tringalwadi trek. Everytime me moved closer to Igatpuri we kept a close look on all the milestones and sign-boards to make sure that we don’t miss out on the turn at Ghoti just ahead of Igatpuri. We saw Ghoti (to right) at 3km before which there was an old Toll-naka. Crossing the naka, we saw a right exit where started to change the lanes. Ahead we saw Danny roaring and he missed the turn and went ahead straight! He had missed the turn. We took a right and stopped at a nearby tapri. I called Rajo who was in Danny’s car.
भेंचोड तुमलोग क्या नासिक जाओगे क्या?
अरे !! हमलोग आरहे है
with no shortage of @#$@$! and #$%^@#! other local फोडणी. Soon BJ-92 was standing besides us.
The ride to Bhandardara which was about 20km from Ghoti was not too smooth. First we took a halt @ Ghoti for tea and Parle-G biscuit snack. Then Rajo and Ankush had to withdraw money from the only ATM in the locality. It was Saturday, and the ‘market’ was full! Had to wade through bad traffic to get clear of the village where we met not so inviting roads. A typical State highway with bad patches advancing on the well laid surfaces. The climbing road didn’t help. But somehow we made through the otherwise lovely weather and scenery. It was almost 1.30 when we climbed at the junction to the Bhandardara MTDC resort. Rajo was there with Danny clicking on our entry.
Our first task at hand was to fix up the night’s stay. MTDC was full as expected, but another local closeby ‘lodge’ was cheap and interesting enough to grab our attention. @ Rs. 800 for a room a night with 5 beds was more than a bargain. Next up was food! MTDC Resort had a restaurant, it was 3pm and only thing available was ‘Thali’. Only Rajo had a Non-Veg Thali with कौआ chicken. We wanted some sweet, we ordered 3 dishes of Gulab jamun that we thought we’d share with all. But the sweet-balls were so soft and tender that we ordered more and the whole array of tastes satisfied our tummies’ lust.
It was time for Ankush to sleep and rest since he had come directly from the night shift. But we all decided we could roam around and enjoy the neighbouring landscapes. First stop the Bhandardara dam. Me and Rajo remembered this place where we had enjoyed the August rains during the Hostway Engg. picnic. We crossed the wall and moved along it. The scene on the other side was way too inviting, exceptionally calm waters the 4.00pm’s cool but still warm sun planning to settle in the mountains of Ratangad behind the back waters, everything was perfect for a dip! Rajo shouted to Danny to get the car in the front and get the bags with towels, etc @ the water. A quick change and me and Rajo were swimming in the backwater, I was swimming after more than 2 months or so, Rajo probably more than a half-year since our Andheri Sports complex pool had shutdown due to Mumbai’s water shortage woes. I shouted @ danny to make sure that he didn’t miss out on our snaps while swimming. Danny and Rajesh soon joined us but not for swimming but just till the water was waist high. I then took my chance of snapping these guys in the silhouette with the sun now almost ready with its lovely Orange hues.
All of them dried themselves, Ankush was still laying back on the rock completing his sleep. He too couldn’t miss the lovely sunset. We had decided that it would be better enjoying the sunset over here rather than roaming, finding other places while the sun slid below the earth. Danny was at his best, he was not the one who would miss out on the boat ride. There were 2 boats waiting, one of them a rowing one while the other a motor boat. During the ride, Danny asked one of the two rowers to swap the positions, now Danny was enjoying rowing. We managed to click the final pictures of the diving sun and then returned back to the Room/Hotel.
Danny wanted to enjoy the night around the bonn fire, so @ the hotel Rajo and Dinesh managed to organise a bonn fire near the lake side. For dinner we thought of getting a parcel from the MTDC resort and having it by the bonn fire. The plan didn’t succeed immediately. First the guy who was to manage the bonn fire, said he couldn’t organise for the firewood. So at the restaurant we asked the manager if he had any resources that he could allocate, there was an eager boy standing and rest was easy. However the parcel never came early. It was about 10.15pm when we got the parcel and moved down to the lake’s bank to have food, chaknaa and … Dinesh was hysteric as usual kept saying.
Isn’t it wonderful spending time here in the cold night around the bonn fire and being besides this wonderful lake!?
Raised his glass of pepsi and ‘Cheers’ and he went on :-@
Back @ the room, as we laid the beds, the extra ones had extra amount of dust and smell as well. Dinesh, Rajo and Rajesh decied they’d sleep down while me and Ankush on the bed. The bedsheets were ‘unclean’. That would be the cleanest adjective that I could give. We laid back talking and Danny laughing as loud as he could. One of the adjoining customer actually knocked and said.
भाई सहाब ज़रा आरामसे
We still continued laughing, while Rajo घोडे बेचके सोगया
Back to Mumbai
Jan 31, 2010
It was close to 8.00am when Dinesh rose up with his tall figure and cried
अबे किसीको उठना नही है क्या?
Nobody actually paid any heed, but slowly started rising. I looked out of the window, and there was a lovely mist ahead in the mountains, creating a very distinct layered pattern. This had to come in the camera. We finished our ‘business’, bath and rest other stuff, packed and left the room around 10.30. Checked, cleaned our vehicles and headed back into the market for some नाश्ता. Around 11.am had Misal pav, Vada misal and kanda bhajia at the local restaurant/dhaba in शेंडी (Shendi) or Bhandardara (Bhandardara is alternatively called Shendi).
There on we cross-checked our route to Malshej ghat and back to Mumbai via NH 222. But our first test was to reach NH 222. We were to move straight into the east towards Rajur, take a right for Kotul. As we headed the 11.30-12.00pm sun was not as taxing as we thought. Instead I still remember the cold air gushing inside my T-shirt. The route was partly patched, not excatly a paradise but manageable. The route was a constant hill climb and descend. This is what we had come for. Just 3 bikes and car following in a file on these roads is what etched our memories. But first we had a ghat section of about 3-4 km with very bad roads. At Kotul we checked with the locals for the direction of Malshej ghat and they confirmed that it would be through Oture via Brahmanvadi. The road to Brahamavadi too was a mix of good the bad and the ugly. We reached Brahmanvadi around 12.30pm. Another confirmation of route and little stretching. It was around 15km from here to Oture, the junction of the State Highway and NH 222. Route was on the plains so it was not difficult to ride @ 60kmph. We reached Oture around 1.30pm which was town/village right at NH 222. We decided that we wont’ be having any lunch there as we were yet full from the misal pav. But refreshments couldn’t miss us or vice-versa. We had sugarcane juice and were back burning our engines on the exceptionally smooth NH 222.
Our first stop was Pimplgaon Joga Dam. We moved up into a gorge and looked down below a lovely descending road and right ahead in the very expanse the dam! We halted at Madh for a few snaps and a leak. Just few minutes ahead we saw the famous Khubi Phata, the point where trekkers alight for the famous Konkan Kada and Harishchandragad. For me and Rajo it was something that we knew in the back of our mind. Few weeks earlier we were able to identify it as ‘Khubi Phata’ and not ‘Savarne’ right in the dead of the night around 00.00am. This place always brings back lovely memories of the trek to Harishchandragad. The road now was climbing a little and we soon were in the main Malshej ghat area, we never zoomed our bikes here, rather just rolled it around 40kmph in the topmost gear, Danny even driving with the parking lights on, enjoying the beauty. MTDC resort was on the right. We thought for a moment about lunch but a ‘no’ was vetoed and moved ahead. Next up was the needle point. We parked our vehicles on the highway, while I persuaded Ankush to take the bike to the right end of the needle. The view from the needle was fantastic, with 3 sides blocked by the mountain and the other side a valley. On one end we could see MTDC looking from above. We climbed the needle to make sure we didnt’ miss the shot in the frames.
It was 3.00pm when we finally took off from our last tourist spot. We decided we’d have food at Murbad the next big town/village on our route to Mumbai via Kalyan. The ghat was all descend now, we still continued to descend cruising slowly till we first saw a glimpse of Konkan kada from far away where we took some snaps, and then till Naneghat base. At the base we decided we need to भगाओ our bikes as it was already 3.45 and we were now getting hungry. There on it was averaging 75-80 kmph. Just prior to Murbad me and Anksuh saw some good hotels, but since we had decided to meet @ Murbad bus station on the highway, we moved on. At murbad we didn’t find any good hotels and we rued our opportunity to have food at the hotels before. Then we were moving slowly trying to find a decent dhaba/hotel for our stomachs. But all in-vain. Further me, Ankush and Danny missed Rajesh somewhere and waited for him called him. And he said he already had reached Ulhasnagar thinking that we were ahead of him while we actually waited way behind. He finally met us at Ulhasnagar and we decided to have food at Kalyan as it was starting to get little busy on the streets.
In Kalyan too we couldn’t find a good hotel on our side of the lane, the route towards Mumbai led through the outskirts of Kalyan towards the Bhiwandi-Kalyan phata. Anksuh decided we should have food in the same restaurant where we had our breakfasts the earlier day. At the restaurant, Rawa Dosas, Mysore dosas, uttapam, pav bhaji, grilled sandwiches, etc were ordered everybody pouncing on whatever they could manage, it reminded me of गिद्ध भोजन (Vulture’s dining 😛 ) It was around 6.30 and getting dark when we left. We stopped before the Majivda flyover where Danny, Rajesh and Rajo left via Godbandar road. While me and Anksuh went further ahead where Ankush forked under the Cadbury junction and I raced on the highway towards Mumbai.
As I rolled my bike into the building compound I saw the odometer, the last 3 digits were reading 558. I remembered when I left the earlier morning it showed around 143 or so. It had been a long but an exceptionally beautiful bike ride of about 400km in 2 days. It was much more adventurous than the previous bike ride of Lonavala
Here is another blogpost about my Harishchandragad trek via nali chi vaat. I’ve kept a different idea of writing this blog post, its more of the thoughts zooming out as I jot down the trek. This writeup moves in and out of present and past tense.
This post is somewhere between the normal blog and far away 140 chars tweet.
Fri, January 8, 2010
* Karjat train for kalyan, sandwiches Mallik brought
* reached Kalyan about 9.00pm
* bus for Nagar , dropped us at Khubi phata instead of Savarne as both the conductor and the aspirants dozed off!
* took 2 trucks back to savarne, my truck driver advised to stay near the police chowki and be aware of the villagers at savarne
* almost 12.30 when we reached @ savarne, Mallik, Rajo and Vj followed after 10 mins
* decide to sleep near the police chowki, in our sleeping bags, till the alarm rang at 4.45
* got ready, and started to move in the dark to find ‘Walivare’ or Belpada. Asked a old fellow in Savarne, continued towards a plateau like hill, crossed it, and down, to walk further following a white tank.
* at 7.0am Belpada well, also saw the concrete road that came around the plateau (could’ve saved our climbing efforts)
* refilled water bottles and cleared the ‘stomach bottle’, and started for the Nali by 7.45
* Meet a thane group, enroute to Nali
* our first stop is around 8.48 at the ‘Big step’, have boiled eggs, watermelon, yes Mallik managed that in his ‘super’ heavy bag
* the first group cross us till we have our food, Mallik is panicked! need to get ahead of them in the nali, otherwise we’re jacked
* nali.. starts soon
Rock patch #1
* rock patch one, a first group, from trekdi.com is seen ahead pulling bags, etc on a rope-line
* we soon reach there, Mallik climbs ahead, throws a rope, and pull bags
* others too climb ahead, Swati is a confident climber!
* the treacherous terrain starts, with loose crumbling rocks, no good hand holds or even foot holds, the base is full of small pebbles, sliding down
Rock patch #2
*the trekdi group is busy lining up their equipment and anchoring stuff. Mallik is quick to climb and go ahead, Rajo follows without a bag, the bags up are called up..
* I tie Swati a bowline, and she starts ahead confidently and moves up, next is me, I too tie a bowline and move ahead.
* Bad scree above, rocks fall one big one falls about 15cm in diameter falls on Rajo’s head, he ducks, but still scratches his spectacles and falls bang! on his right knee, more rocks follow, rajo runs towards me, I somehow manage to keep him anchored !
*Vj comes in at the last. All 5 of us are out while trekdi is just begining to start actual ‘people ferrying’. Advantages of a small group in such terrain.
Rock patch #3
* further moving up, and things get worst, extermely bad scree, loose footing! And we are at the final patch 3, trekdi’s local / village guide throws rope, Mallik climbs ‘commando’ style pulling the rope with the bag, sits, hoists our rope, and asks Swati to be next, Rajo is unable to tie the bowline or even a endman’s knot.. finally ask him to tie a ‘desi’ knot and Swati moves up! very confident. मल्लिक कि बहन जचती है!, Bags are ferried up. Rajo is next, then its me. Vj tries to come with the bag, but is difficult, so sans bag!
Rock patch #4
* then cross a kind of ‘dangerous’ traverse to the right, and back to left towards another side, move ahead and see which seems like another patch where ropes could be necessary.
* Mallik says, this is definitely land-slide, cause last time when he was with Mei and Sanjay, this wasn’nt a problem, either ways we move up again with the same pattern of ferrying bags and the people, that was patch 4, Mallik says that this is officially the end of Nali
* little ahead, there is another a little dicey maneuver, we adopt a similar pattern for Swati, while rest of us make with our bags.
* with that we are almost just below the final konkan-kada’s reach, but for that we have to climb a litle of 10 mins and we’re at the exhaustive expanse of the kada, we wait there rest for a while and move out to explore the kada, Vj and Swati the first timers for the Konkan kada and they need to see more of that than rest.
* Move up to the hole near the edge and enjoy some time over there.
Harishchandragad Temple and bath
* Finally leave for Harishchandragad, its another 20+ minutes in the hot sun, feels like we’re not really walking but as Mallik states ‘zombies moving’. Another small hill to climb, which is a big big pain!
* The pain pays off, when we finally reach the temple, its just 3.00pm, we’d started our journey around 8.00am, its been 7 hours since Belpada and around 8.5 hours from Savarne. The sole of my legs are really hurting, Mallik is tired to death, and nothing different for others.
* We keep our bags near the cave in the temple, and finalize that as our night-halt point. Then we leave for a dip in the cistern
* its extremely cold as we expected and I barely manage to be there for a minute inside, Mallik and Rajo do 3/4th round around the shiv-ling and come back, Vj is last for everything, after all of us are out, he finally goes in and stays there for about 5 mins
* All are extremley hungry, we decide for some tea first. Mallik cant have enough patience to wait for the tea and then have hot Maggi soup.
* At the cave, Mallik prepares for the soup in the kadhai that Rajo got with Vj’s wax-stove. But we wonder how we’d have it,
* I decide to check if I can borrow some glasses from the tea fellow, and end up purchasign 5 plastic glasses from him.
* We start with bread, mayonnaise and cheese slices as we wait for the soup, after teh dip in the cold cistern, our bodies have cooled down, and the early Jan air is cold around 4.30pm. * The soup is read, me and Mallik gulp down it hot! aah ‘Bliss’ as we both agreed, Swati is wasteful in losing the ‘heat energy’ of the soup, while me and Mallik are gulping the hot liquid as it goes down heating our throats, inner linings of the gullet which we can feel and rather enjoy that feeling.
* also eat chocolate cake and chocolate cake roll, Most of us are kinda full, but me Mallik and Rajo are eager for some more heat down the gullet, and I make sure atleast 2 maggies or Top Ramen noodles are prepared to satisfy our lust for piping hot gulps. Vj is full, but manages to have some maggi, and soon all the maggi has met its destination, the stomachs.
* we move out again to wash hands, fill water bottles, when we see the trekdi public standing outside
* as opposed to inital plan, there wont’ be any dinner, this was all, All that we now needed was rest. Rajo had asked a local to arrange for some firewood, and he starts teh fire with Swati right in the cave ! A decision that all repented later as the cave is full of smoke, and everybody is tearful, we wait for about 0.5 hrs till the cave is warm, we wait around edge of the cave listning songs on the mp3 player, where its not that ‘tearful’ atmosphere.
* Finally around 8.00 we start preparing for sleep, while Swati curses us to be boring to sleep so early
* Rajo asks me if I’m interested in ‘paani maarke aanaa’, I agree and we move out to see a very beautifully lit starry night outside
* We call Vj outside and we try some snaps, before we finally go to sleep.
* 5.00am is the alarm time set
Sun, January 10, 2010
* Rajo’s alarm rings, he wakes up Mallik, Mallik is just ‘hmm.. uthgayaa main, still lying’ Rajo sleeps back
* 5.30 am Mallik’s alarm rings, and we finally wake up
* 6.45 we move off for Khireshwar via tolar khind, Rajo Mallik is just surging ahead, while rest of us are just following, Vj and Swati lagging behind.
* At the tolar khind rock face, Vj is angry that he still has to carry his load of ‘Maaza’. So finally Mallik has a sip or two and then he leaves us behind while he races ahead alone, he’d go to Hotel aishwarya and get ‘pohe’ prepared.
* we continue easy, a big DRDO group is coming up, Hi, Hellos, greetings fly by!
* around 9.00am we are @ the hotel, enjoying Pohe, Now I need to download
* after the ‘weight-lessner’ we take a very bumpy jeep ride to Madh, and then walk to Khubi phata where we spot a bus
* home is still not close by, as the ST stops @ Murbad probably for lunch break, my lunch was @ home when I reached at 2.45pm
Get a train for Kalyan (Central Line) from Dadar (or where ever you are)
Get a S.T.(State Transport) bus for Nagar, make sure its going from the Malsej Ghat (I don’t think there is another route though, just to be on safe side)
Alight at Savarne, make sure you let few commuters know where you are going. Make sure u tell the conductor its NOT KHUBI PHATA
Walk from Savarne towards Belpada, the base village
5.30 am, Its 5.30 and I cant resist my bowel movement. I need to shit… aagggh!!! my stomach needs an overhaul. By 6.00 Vj’s alarm is ringing, but we decide to cut it off, my head is aching and I don’t feel very healthy, my head is aching a bit, we decide to go back to sleep. Finally around 7.30 we wake up, but it is dark outside, I wonder if its a morning or an evening. Its raining, heavy clouds over the Hrishikesh. We prepare for our ‘check out’. At 9.00am we are at the ashram office, Vj finalizing the details, its raining. I hope it does not rain on the Ram jhulla where we would have no cover to run for. 15 minutes later, ‘Parmarth Niketan’ settlement is over and we move for the Vikram stand on the other side of the river. Things weren’t lucky for us on this trip, and my fear comes true, we were just at the halfway of the bridge and the clouds break lose. The heavy drizzle turns into a torrential downpour. We are left with no option but to run with the big bags till we find ourselves with other fellow tourists under a shop shelter.
We wait well over 30 minutes and the rain has gone from bad to worse. Few more minutes and luckily its back to the ‘heavy drizzle’ and we move on. By 10.15am we get a Vikram for Haridwar which is approximately 28kms from Hrishikesh, just a hour plus journey. Around 10.45 and we are in the Motichur forest zone close to Rajaji National park and the rain is now insane. It continues well till the borders of Haridwar. As if heavy bags and wet clothes were not enough, a huge traffic jam at one of the national highway junction is added to our misery. It takes about quarter of a hour for that to clear and we reach ‘Har ki pauri’ by noon.
Noon, We were lucky enough to find a cycle-rickshaw to port us to our local stay at the Gujarati Ashram. The poor fellow waded uphill amongst bustling streets full with cattle, people, cars, pulling around 170kgs of payload just for Rs. 20. At the ashram, luck seemed to be on ourside, when we got a decent room (for a trekking nomad) with an attached toilet/bathroom. We dry ourselves and rest. I’m for sure not feeling normal. Seems like I have temperature. Mallik calls, with bad news, his train is cancelled and now has to fly back to Mumbai. We move out to find food, same old ‘bhojanalayas’ with big fat tandoori rotis and spicy curries, we didn’t want those but weren’t spared. At food, we wondered if we should stick to original plan of the train or book the flight tickets, finally we too decided on shortcut route, flight. We tried to find a cybercafe on the main road, but couldn’t some of the vendors didn’t even understand what we were searching for. Haridwar in this context is quite backward to Hrishikesh, which due to its more foreign influx has somehow kept itself updated. Luckily we find a cafe just close to our lodging. We were lucky to find some tickets vacant for the Mumbai bound flights and book it.
It was almost 4.00pm when we reached back to our room, with nothing to do, we decided to rest. We had planned a evening aarti at Har ki pauri had it been our original plan, but now after booking for a 10.00pm bus to Delhi from Haridwar, that idea was out. My head was still aching and some body was tired, we decide to sleep. 7.00pm, I can’t sleep anymore, perhaps I’m uncomfortable for a sound sleep. In the balcony its cool breezy evening with beautiful colors at the horizon of Haridwar. We click our final snaps of our tour from the balcony of the Gujarati ashram. Go get back on the streets around 7.30pm to have tea and cancel our rail tickets. Vj gets a shave from a local saloon and feels better. By 8.00pm we were packing our bags for the final time, it was more than 12 days back when we had packed our bags for the next day flight for the very first time, wondering how we were gonna make the trek with the 10kg + bags. The chapter was finally on its last few pages.
9.00pm, After checking out of the dharamshala, we were at the travel agent’s shop waiting for a cycle rickshaw to pick us for the bus stand. We wait for almost 30 minutes, getting restless that the travel agent is just not willing to arrange for the cycle rickshaw. Finally he arranges one by 9.30 and we were on our way to the bus stand, in pitch black darkness somewhere around the corner there was a pack of buses, where the fellow asks us to get down, the cycle-rickshaw fellow checks with other fellow who gets a sheet of paper and probably ticked at our bus seat numbers. The bus is full of Gujaratis, Vj jokes he has no respite from them. It feels like being in a bus from Rajkot to Junagarh. Around 10.30 the engine whines and the tyres roll taking us into a new day for the last journey in our trip, back to Mumbai!
Day 13, 20 Jun 08
The seats of the bus are not ‘ergonomic’ a word we really didn’t care at the begining of the trip, but with the last moments with a tired body it made a lot of difference. My neck was aching, the bus stood still, I woke up, the bus was waiting at a restaurant for the tourists to break for food/washroom. It was 2.30am in the morning. After a few minutes its rolling again. I make a head rest out of my wind cheater and luckily have some sound sleep till 4.30, when the conductor of the bus calls for ‘Last Stop, ISBT !’.
That meant we were in Delhi, the bus was circling around some big area lighted with tall lamp posts, somewhere I saw ‘ISBT’. We were circling around the Delhi bus stop, ISBT. Few minutes later the bus stopped and our bags were yet again on our backs, for the last time. There were many auto-rickshaws offering a ride to the airport, with ranges of Rs. 150 – 300. We decided to check at the bus stop. Luck couldn’t favour us more, in front of us we saw slick bus with electronic signboard ‘IGI Airport’
5.00am, The bus moves and we move through the Delhi’s posh and wide roads, circling many government buildings, the Red Fort till we reached the Airport by 5.45. We have some biscuits to soothe our burning stomachs and wait. With us there was group of foreign models probably from Eastern Europe, opposed to us they were very well dressed, with their make ups and energetic. We at the other end were tired, dirty from night long bus ride. I decided to brush my teeth and take a dump at the Airport. Felt a little better, but my body ached, fever for sure, we waited restlessly for our call of ‘Indigo’ flight for Mumbai.
Around 8.30, we checked in our luggage and waited for boarding. By 9.15 we were in the fuselage. As I took my seat my memories returned when all 6 of us were in a similar plane all enthusiastic for the 2 week trip. Around 10.15 the plane took off. We didn’t have much to chat and discuss, both of us tired. As I put my head on the head rest, every single moment of the Dodital trek raced through, Mussoorie, Dehradun, Hrishikesh and all. By 12.15 the plane landed and it took us almost 1.30 before we ventured on the roads in the rickshaw, Vj’s friend came to meet at the airport and I hugged him thanks and all that for the trip and we to split into our own directions. The streets of Mumbai felt familiar but somewhat strange, from the lovely hillocks of the north, crisp clear skies, cool winds and snowy caps, I was back into Cement jungles and tar roads, nevertheless felt very happy to be back Home!!!
3rd May, 2008
A bike ride to Borivali National park, with Mallik, Vj and Bertram ! Bertram and Mallik were there on their ‘non-motored’ bikes while me and Vj on our motored ones.
Along the ride in the park towards Kanheri caves there was a wonderful bridge over a supposed rain-water river flowing beneath it. I’m sure had it been monsoons, we would have not left the place. However we reached Kanheri caves and entered with a Rs. 5 ticket.
The Kanheri caves have about more than 100 individual caves, some of them big like a court while some small.
Kanheri Cave photos
Reach to Borivali Station (Western Railway), get down at the eastern end of the station, catch a rickshaw its just 5 minutes ride to the park gate.
A bike ride makes you feel something that is not imaginable. It makes u know, feel, the love between the road and the tyres, the affection between the suspension and the forks, the life-like hum of a cruising engine, the kiss between the piston ring and cylinder lining, and so much more. And its this feeling that makes u ride, makes u vrrooom.
I’m yet another bike lover, and its impossible to separate this addiction from any biker. I’m not the only one, there are many others as well. Vijay (Vj), Ankush, Sudeep, Hemant to name a few who were dying to get a Road trip organized. It did finally, on 3rd Feb 2007, and the destination was Lonavala. Lonavala being the closest to Mumbai and linked with exceptionally good roads.
Ankush had come from Pune, and was to pick his friend, Poonam, from Malad @ 5.45am. Vj had to meet him @ Uncles’ Kitchen close to 6.00 and get Hemant along the way to finally meet me @ Vakola Signal on the highway. But nothing goes as planned. I called Vj in the morning around 5.30 to know that Hemant had dropped from the plan. We were left with only 3 bikes, Vj, Ankush and myself. Luckily we had only 6 total riders, with Sudeep and Amol Rajoba joining Poonam as the pillion riders. Fine.
Vj called me around 6.10 that he and Ankush were now on the highway and would be there at Vakola, Santacruz(E) in another 10 mins. I lept off my couch, where I’d been watching FA Cup Football since 5.30. Got into my jacket, shoes, helmet. Put the bag on my shoulders… and there I was… heading for my first bike trip. At the basement, I got my engine firing, felt its vibration on the fuel tank, and put my Honda Unicorn into gear heading towards Vakola.
I’d been waiting for not more than 3min. when I got a call from Vj, he was searching for me. I looked behind, as expected he was on the other side of the crossing, I waved back at Anksuh and Vj, Sudeep spotted me. Soon we were cruising well above 60kmph along the Western Express highway. Amol Rajoba was waiting at the KalaNagar stop since 6.00, when we met him, it was close to 6.45. Full on capacity, our bikes were ready to move ahead without a stop. We rode only till Sion where Ankush had to take a leak, I joined him. Its always good to join friends on good deeds 🙂 We introduced ourselves there near “Sulabh Sauchalaya”, what a place to greet each other in the Morning.
Good deeds done, We were on Eastern Express highway then pulling off from the highway towards Chembur that led us towards Vashi. As soon as Chembur had gone past us, the road became clear and our bikes started pulling us faster (thanks to the accelarator). We were moving around 70+ kmph on the Mankhurd-Vashi bridge. With trucks, cars and other vehicles, we all enjoyed the feeling of power under our seats. Ankush’s baby, Bajaj Pulsar delivered a displacement of 180 cc, while that of Vj’s TVS Apache and mine displaced 150. Enough to make u feel the power
At Vashi, Ankush moved away from the main road, towards Palm beach road. This was it, my first attempt to go 100+. And the road was helpful. We all instinctively raced ahead with all the power that we could muster, raging ahead. Within seconds, I looked at my speedometer’s arm, it was moving towards 100, and soon it was just ahead. I was thrilled, excited, rather I don’t have any words to describe it. With the gush of wind so strong that can blow u away. I had gripped the handle hard enough, and the accelerator even harder 😉 . Oh !!! Heaven… I tried to gauge how much more I could accelerate. There was little, but still there was something. The turns were very light, making sure that the speed need not be dropped. But as always good things have to come to an end. The Palm beach road had to meet the Panvel city.
As we crossed Panvel city, and back onto the highway, I could see the sun just peeping over the hills, the Orange bulb, just brightening things around. We all decided we had to make a small stop for some snaps. I’d got my new Canon PowerShot S3 IS, just the last day. Ankush too captured the moments in his Sony H2.
Sudeep was interested in riding my bike, So I asked Rajoba to move on Vj’s bike and I became the pillion rider, with my camera hanging on around my neck. We moved ahead, straight into the sun, when I managed to capture this photo. We were riding over 70+, When I somehow managed to get this snap.
As we moved ahead, I kept the camera with me, instead of the bag and grabbed some more moving images.
We then cruised smoothly on the beautiful Mumbai Pune NH 4, with Sudeep enjoying the power. We took a small stop just ahead of Panvel where Ankush got his fuel tank quench its thirst. Later… it was so smooth, bliss. Smooth roads, calm, yet humming engine, and the road. In an hour or so we were close to Khopoli, where we had a stop at “Genuine Vada Pav”, I don’t know what was genuine about it, but the vada was good. With more vadapavs, the staple food of a Mumbaikar, and sweet tea. Our guts were happy as well.
I got the control of my bike there, cause I always wanted to ride the ghats. Soon enough, we had a tunnel, a small one but still wonderful to drive through, with our headlights blazing … and speeds over 70kmph. Further ahead we joined the Mumbai Pune Expressway for the Ghat section. Now this road was even wider, better, smoother. That just raised our adrenaline to go even faster. All this time I wondered why are we moving so fast, is it safe. I bet those who rode along, knew it was safe enough (That was for all non-bikers 😉 ). I and Ankush were ahead when we couldn’t’t see Vj anywhere around. so we decided to stop and take pics at the Khopoli ghat, We parked our bikes at the side. After 10min or so, Vj came. With bad news. He and Amol had slipped near the ghats, luckily nobody was injured, apart from slight bruises. Vj’s fork was bit misaligned, but rest was good.
Lonavala wasn’t very far away from there, another 15-20 min. of ride took us there, amidst all the Chikki, Fudge shops. Poonam had to go to Pune, so we let her off at Lonavala station. I too had my fuel tank full, while we decided on our next destination. Pauna dam, Ambe valley or the Tata Power dam. We decided to go to Pauna dam, and later on the way towards the Tata Power dam.
We took a shortcut for Pauna dam, which was a typical village road, have paved, with rocks, pebbles, etc. but we managed to move ahead. We saw ourselves climb a mountain, Ankush pointed out Lohagad’s “Vinchu kataa”. We were on the back side of Lohgad. The route was very serene, calm. Yet again I managed to get the Cam, and we had some more shots.
As we moved closer to the Pauna dam, we could see the huge water body surrounded by mountains, on the way I got a snap of a beautiful Temple, I think that it was.
As we reached Pauna dam, we had some more shoots. And the dam was closed. we couldn’t get in. and to add to the misery, Photography was not allowed. But we’d already got some snaps before reaching the dam. We halted there, had water and lots of Chocolate that Vj had got.
We decided to move ahead on the highway back again towards lonavala. Ankush knew a Dhaba where we could have lunch. So back again on the village road, winding, turning, sometimes bumpy. We saw many villas and probably one of the owners rushing Audi that almost came into us. We reached the highway where the road stretch was the best that we’d experienced so far. A nice tar road, which seemed to be laid recently. And the road itself was along the hills, winding. Broad road. We cruised to our hearts extent on that one, till we came to the Dhaba, Sunny’s Dhaba. Was more of a wide hotel, than a actual Dhaba.
We parked our bikes in its shed, and refreshed ourselves, and ordered for food. We were having our food when we all looked behind to see what was causing a strong roar of an Engine, we thought it was some truck. To our amazement came in 3 bikes, Kawasaki Ninja (I guess), Honda CBR and Suzuki Hayabusa. The bikes were amazing, and so was its roar. 3 middle-aged guys jumped from it. We still kept staring.
With some rest and more gazing at the bikes, we finally decided to move on. Our next stop was going to be Tata power dam. It wasn’t far ahead, we took a right on the road which led us to its gate. At the gate we were disappointed to know that no cameras were allowed. So somebody had to stay back, Since I and Anksuh both had been to the dam before, we decided to stay back, while Vj, Sudeep and Amol went ahead. I and Ankush laid on a बाकडा (bench) listening to songs on Amol’s mobile. They came back in another 15 mins, and we hoped on our bikes back on the road. In the main Lonavala city, Ankush said that we could still go to Ambe valley, which was not accessible to visitors, but the road towards it is good. No one refused. Ambe Valley.
Yet again, the road didn’t disappoint, a very steep winding road along the valley, that kept climbing, it was around 12km from Lonavala, all of it in the ghats, and yet neat road. Ankush wanted to ride my bike, so he was the rider on Unicorn and Sudeep on his Pulsar, racing ahead. The ride was good, apart from a small incident when I and Ankush were on a steep turn, when we suddenly stopped cause of a truck, and Ankush lost his balance, and I’d to jump back from the seat, and support Ankush to stabilize the bike. There on, we came to Lions’ point, where Sudeep was waiting, and more snaps.
We went ahead to Ambe valley, where we had water at its gate, and then decided to return back to Mumbai, it was close to 4.10. On the way back, yet again down the hill we enjoyed the ride, this time I was alone on my Unicorn. We stopped at a chikki shop where we purchased some sweets, etc. We decided that the next stop would be nowhere before Panvel, but… everybody needs to take a leak, within a minute, we parked our bikes on side…. hmm… everything calm…
Back on the road, @ 80+ kmph, we enjoyed every moment and movement. In another hour and half’s time we were in Panvel where Ankush had a little petrol into his bike. Even after all this long, we coudln’t satisfy our hunger for speed, yet again we moved towards Palm Beach road, for which we even got lost. But the road waited for us, so did the dial to meet the pointer @ 100 kmph. … vroom….
At Vashi, we halted for a second, where we bid Ankush good bye, he moved straight ahead towards Thane, while we took a left for Mumbai. The road till Mankhurd was great, But then the Mumbai traffic caught us, it never left us till we reached home. At Bandra, I parted with Vj and Sudeep who’d to go ahead till Borivali, I dropped Amol at Bandra reclaimation, and I reached home close to 7.30.
A good, smooth, fast ride for the day had come to an end.