At the last trek event, Manas the ‘biker’ had put a request for a bike ride, then I’d said I’d probably be at Bangalore, but if I’m back we could plan one to Malshej Ghat, which would be a wonderful ride on the NH 222. So faithfully, Manas called at 9.30pm in the night, checking if I’m available, and I was, instantly – Next day @ 8.00am plan was fixed. Vj (moronzkreacionz) couldn’t make it. So with just 2 of us, it was on my bike, Honda Unicorn (150 cc, 13.3 bhp @ 8000 rpm) was to lead us to Malshej on 18 September 2010.
Manas made it to my house on time, and we left instantly after a tea. I was the first to ride till Kalyan-phata, where we took a right for Murbad. We stopped at a local Udipi restaurant to have a tea break, it was 10.30am. There on we moved through the outskirts of Kalyan reaching Shahad where the NH 222, Kalyan, Maharashtra to Nirmal, Andhra Pradesh was waiting. I let Manas ride.
Just after Murbad one of the lovely local town en-route to Malshej, there was a रास्ता बंद demonstration, by locals to criticize the inefficiency of the local govt, police to prevent thefts on the road. The whole road was barricaded with burning tires. Luckily being on a bike, we were able to circumvent after moving ahead of a kilometer long train of parked cars, buses and trucks. The road was a little bumpy, probably rains doing its damage near the earlier end of the ghats. But it smoothed out later. The sudden view of the big Malshej ghat region in front of us was captivating.
As the ghat started, so did the streams, waterfalls around the road. As we moved ahead, one waterfall right on the top of the road cooled off the heat and the grime that we had collected. We moved ahead, both of us were hungry. It was almost 12 in the noon. We moved towards the tunnel, where we stopped and went towards the needle point. Enjoyed a few snaps and back on the bike. I chose to move right towards Khubi phata, where the nostalgia inducing roads of Harishchandragadh awaited. Still further we went right to the gorge that divided the view of PimpleJoga Dam and the Madh village on the other side. We returned back from that gorge and were lucky to find a shade of a tree well made to sit. And as if that luck wasn’t enough, there was a Hand pump as well. We cleansed ourselves and went back to the tree where we had the तिखट मिठाच्या पोळ्या and Orange juice.
We decided to even clean our bike, so filled a plastic bag with the water at the hand pump and chilled the black seat of the bike and the engine. Yet again on the bike, we moved ahead checking which waterfall should we spend some time and have a clean shower! We went pass through 3 falls, until we spotted one just on the road, which had no one. And the fall came from atleast 30 feet above the road. We drenched ourselves in the cold water and mounted ourselves us again for the trip back to Mumbai. We left the ghat around 2 with Manas riding the bike and me as a pillion.
On our route back, luckily the road block had cleared near Saralgaon (सरळगाव), and we moved ahead towards Kalyan. At Shahad, we exchanged our seats and zoomed till my place where we reached by 5pm.
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
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
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.