Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unforgettable Lavasa

Lavasa is the largest hill city located in the midst of the verdant green Sahyadris around 40Kms from Punes-chandani chowk. It is supposed to be spread amidst 25000 acres of lush landscape with sixty kilometers of lakefront. It is promoted by HCC and few others.


The road is pleasant if you are driving around monsoon. The toll plaza after Chandni chowk charges you 27/- for return journey and 18/- for one way. The road is enjoyable once you cross Temghar Dam and is pleasure after you cross Lavasa Entrance Gate. The Dasve valley view is amazing just near the gate. At various locations you will Notice that they have built valley watch points.
The Nice little Helipad is just few Kms after the gate.
Link road on the dam is amazing and you would love to watch speed boats fizzing in the Dam water.
The area near the town hall is almost developed and it almost looks like you are walking across a European town. The information Center is amazing complete with Auditorium and Touch Screen kiosks.

Unfortunately there are very less options for food if you going for a day outing without stay option. There are no regular restaurants and I could notice only 3 hotels which are all 3-4 star category. Watershaw and Fortune hotels are right near the town hall but they seem to have limited options and a very high cost. You could book Buffet lunch at Ekant Retreat.
Ekant Retreat is amazing and you would love it right from its parking lot. From Parking you almost get 270 degree view of back waters and Dasve town far below. The hotel has nature trails and some activity places in near by mountains and it should be really fun to stay at this place.

Overall a must visit and best time would be after few showers. Everything seemed to very high end, well thought and neatly planned- right from watch towers, security stuff, villa and apartment locations to piped gas across the town.
- September 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Visapur

Visapur is a huge fort built to gaurd Lohegad and should be one done in rains to enjoy it to fullest. Visapur and Lohagad are dual Forts situated near Lonavala near Malavli Railway Station, next to Bhaje caves. Usually Lohagad is visited more often than Visapur Fort. Shivaji Maharaj captured almost all the forts in this region till 1660. However, he lost the fort again to Mughals in the treaty of Purandar in 1665.The British troops in 1818 had bombarded Lohgadh continously from large canons on Visapur, forcing the Marathas to leave the fort and both forts felled into hands of British.
How to reach from Pune: Travel by Old Mumbai-Pune Highway and then take a turn to Malavali or Travel by Local train and get down at Malavali Railway station. Malavali is around 70 Kms from Pune and a stop just before Lonavala. Cross the Railway lines and follow the road on expressway overbrigde to village. You will need to park your vechicles here.
This was second time I was visiting in monsoon. It was a corporate trek and we had been there with a private bus. We started late around 7.30 and had breakfast at Malavali.

A steady climb along the long well built road of just small rocks (non motorable) will take you to junction of lohegad and Visapur. The Visapur stands on the left and you will see majestic Lohegaod in front of you.

After taking the turn for Vispaur you have to almost follow the traverse at the base and the fort appears like huge wall to your left. In monsoons you would see 3-4 waterfalls from the top of the fort and is a amazing view.
The trail through green grass leads you to small elephant statue which indicates you have to turn on left inside the thick bushes. The path now goes through a gushing waterfall which starts from the top of the fort.
The most memorable climb of around 0.5 hrs is through huge boulders bathing in enthusiatic joyful hurrying water desperate reach the streams below. From the base village to top fort will almost take you more than 2 hours depending on climate.
The top area is huge and strong well built fortifications are still intact. Two roofless buildings/house surrounded by outer or veranda walls said to have once been Government offices. It takes us more than two hours to walk along the fortifications.
This time since we were running short of time we immediately returned to the base. We came back to Pune by 8 PM.
- July 20, 2009.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kaas-Bamnoli

Type: Roaming in wilderness ideal for Family visit
Near: Satara
Where: 120 Kms from Pune
When to vist: Sept to early Oct only
Time visited: Sept 2009, Oct 2010, Oct 2011
Time to see around: 2-3 hours
How to reach: Just before the tunnel near Ajinkyatara theres a road to right which goes all the way to Kaas Plateau. Theres probably a State Transport bus too. Check on Satara ST stand for details.
What to carry: Water bottle, cap and some food items.
Warnings: Reach very early AM to avoid traffic jams. Police will fine you if you pluck flowers or try to wander in flowering areas or are found destroying the flowers. Avoid walking in the flowers.



Kaas Plateau


After visiting Thoseghar-Chalkewadi we came back to the Tunnel and started for Kaas. The road gradually climbs up and entire view of satara city can be seen from above. Due to lack of time we postponed visit to Yawateshwar, the famous and old shiv temple which is about 5Kms.


The road goes across several hilltops with suru and other tall trees on both sides of the road.


The picturesque environment enthralls you with the calm blue backwaters far below on both sides, clearly replicating the cloudy skies above and lush green mountains on the edge fading into the clouds beyond.


Around 15Kms from satara city, Kaas/Kas is a volcanic plateau where millions of tiny flowers bloom in late monsoons.


While magenta-purple flowers forms the majority of the designer green carpet by the roadside, the beds of Blue, Lilac, broad petal yellow, tiny white flowers try to fight for thier own share in between.


If you start walking on the right towards the cliff, it’s as if with every 20 feet the color of flowers changes.



On the cliff you will notice large white colored flowers popping out from the green shoots and dancing lazily on tunes of misty winds.



The windy misty fog playing hide and seek really adds to charm as you walk in silence of calm.
.

Nature studying groups mention that there are more than 100 varities of flowers that bloom during this season.



Updates for 2010: Last year it was so isolated that we had to go back and forth finding this place. Also since it was earIy september it was foggy. I was shocked to see a huge rush this year. I had been there on sunday in early October and at 10 AM there were close to 75-100 already cars parked and more and more mini vans and cars kept on coming! Hats off the to 8-10 police personnel who were managing the traffic on the small road and ensuring no body is disturbing the peaceful atmosphere. They were charging 200-500 rs fine too if you were found to pluck flowers. I could see sign boards at various places requesting people not to do photo shoots in flowerbeds or tramp/pluck the flowers. Could locate at least 2 Vadpav vendors inside... Last year we had seen a muddy trail going parallel to the tar road. It seemed this was pretty well built this year, although still muddy, where you could walk 2-3 kms ahead and keep on exploring the vast blooms. I could see more yellow flowers this year. Last year there were more magenta and whites. The tranquility still prevailed in the hot sorching sun...

Updates for 2011: Had been slightly late this time. Again this year too there were more yellows. Harly any blue flowers. Visted the area on left side. There is beautiful lake.

See pictures with more closeups here...


Kaas Lake


As you driving down the curves climbing down from Kaas Plateau you see a sign on left saying - Kas Talav. It is a natural tranquil Kaas lake surrounded by dense forests. To the left of the lake lies Sajjangad fort and Kanher Dam is to the right. You can park you car on the roadside and a 5 minutes trail leads you to the edge of the lake. It’s horizontally spread and is a more than 180 degree view. There are few rooms and huge shade nearby. Some of people had been cooking food over there and it seemed a popular picnic spot for day outing and large groups seemed to enjoy gatherings.



Bamnoli




15-20 kms further Kaas lake, on thes bank of shivsagar lake formed by koyna dam lies the sleepy village of Bamnoli. The dense forest and the smartly shining roads washed under showers of rain make the drive enchanting. Throughout the ghat you get to see amazing view of backwaters below.





Once you reach the village the breathtaking view of expanse of the lake that spreads for hundreds of square kilometers amazes you. Except of noise of hundreds of bats swinging on the high Nilgiri trees all you can hear is the few silent waves slapping on the shores.






A boat ride deep inside the lake would do wonders if you have time.There are 2-3 eateries out here but hardly offer anything to eat except Vadpav and Omlette. You will have to go back to Satara for food. Bamnoli has a great potential of becoming a tourist destination. But sadly with that there is always of risk of being spoilt with litter and garbage. The road continues further to Tapola which is 30 Kms from Bamnoli. Bamnoli and Tapola both are situated around backwaters of Koyna Dam. Bamnoli is called- New Mahabaleshwar and in true sense you would fall in luv with this facinating place!



This trip would indeed be mesmerizing and I would cherish forverer the verdant green hills and the mist laden lakes.

Sajjangad-Thoseghar-Chalakewadi
- September 06, 2009

Sajjangad-Thoseghar-Chalakewadi

Last week we decided to cover amazing places around Satara. We visited Sajjangad, Thoseghar, Chalakewadi, Kaas and Bamnoli. We started a bit late by 6.40 AM this time and after Vadpav at Shirval we preceded towards Satara. After crossing the Tunnel we proceeded to Sajjangad.


Sajjangad

Sajjangad is the place of spiritual importance and final resting place of Sant Ramdas, a saint and social reformer in 16th century. Previously known as Parali, it was renamed to Sajjangad after Shivaji Maharaj donated it to Sant Ramdas to set up his permanent monastery. Currently care is taken by Shri Ramdas Swami Sansthan trust.

There is small village on the fort with few shop selling books and other articles and temples of 'Samarth Shishya' and Bhaktanivas. Right next to the main temple is 'Samartha shejghar' where few items are displayed used by Swami Ramdas. Ram mandir has Samadhi of Shri ramdas swami. After a 10m minutes walk after the temple you get see amazing view of Urmodi dam beneath.

How to reach: Take a right into Satara, continue to Ajinkyatara, cross the Tunnel (Bogda as it is called) and continue towards Thoseghar. Sajjangad is situated around 15 kms from Satara. On the way you will notice a sharp right turn going up the fort. 10 minutes road will lead you to the cark park. You can park vehicle here and a flight of around 100 stairs will take you to the top.


Thoseghar
Further down 8-10 kms from sajjangad is amazing waterfall called Thoseghar, a very famous spot for nature’s extravaganza in its true meaning. Two huge waterfalls on Tarali River gush into the valley in the calmness of green.


Even eagles wander down this gorge to see super white foamy water, to soak in the thousands of rebounded water droplets and hear the amazing sound of water falling. It is said that the main waterfall is 500 meter high. There is a forest department office here, with a space for car park. The forest department has put up railings and a balcony as such to enjoy the sight. There are 2 spots to view as such. A 10 minutes walk along the muddy trail next to forest department office will lead you to balcony allowing a spectacular view of both the waterfalls and the entire gorge. Continue railing on the right to the top of the first waterfall. You can climb further upstream from here. There are leeches out here, so venturing into any bushes or water might prove risky. Best time to visit is of course monsoon!




Chalakewadi

Chalkewadi is famous for wind energy farm. It is just 3 kms kilometers further uphill from thoseghar waterfall. Cross the chalakewadi village and still drive few yards uphill. You will see lot of windmill here. In the monsoon, the area is covered with fog and mist. You can go very closely and feel the giganticness of a windmill and hear the swoosh of the rotating blades.

We procceded for Kaas.
Route: Satara-Tunnel near Ajinkyatara-Sajjangad-Thoseghar-Chalakewadi-Tunnel near Ajinkyatara- Kaas Plateau-Kaas Lake-Bamnoli. Total distance is 120+ kms starting from Satara.


- Sept 06, 2009