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Old 27th August 2011, 16:46   #1
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Default The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

It had been a considerable time since our last long trip and with Independence day on a weekday, we thought of a week long trip and this time, we headed north instead of the conventional god's own country trips.

It was uncharted territory and we decided to go to Maharashtra. Our initial research revealed a huge number of locations! However, we narrowed it down to a couple of places on the coast and the Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani belt along with Lonavla - Khandala.

The main stretch of our journey was covered by the NH4. We headed on the NH4 to Kolhapur and then took a deviation to hit the coast. We started around 1PM on 14th Aug and reached Belgaum for an overnight stay. The hotel was so-so (Durga Residency, if I remember). However, we compensated the lousy room by having sumptuous food at one Pai restaurant. The next day we headed towards Kolhapur on the NH4. The monsoon has ensured that every vegetation seen was green! Both sides of the highway look stunningly green!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4703.jpg

From Kolhapur we took a deviation towards Ratnagiri. The Kolhapur - Ratnagiri route was very bad in the begining. But gradually, the tarmac quality became better and the surroundings became awesome! Hills covered in mist, greenery everywhere and twisty black roads! It was driving bliss, especially with the Fiesta 1.6 'S'!
The two wheeler traffic was annoying in the beginning. But later it reduced after we passed a place called Panhala. It was one of Shivaji Maharaj's forts and the location was simply awesome!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4711.jpg

We headed forwards. The traffic reduced and greenery became greener!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4737.jpg However, the road wasnt great... In a short while, things changed. The road became better and proper markings also appeared. The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4742.jpg (Pardon the bad photography, the windscreen wasn't clean!) And, then, it rained! The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4745.jpg

We started gaining altitude on the western ghats and entered the misty zones. The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4755.jpg The combination of twisty wet roads and greenery along with the Fiesta 1.6 S made driving such a pleasure! The car is simply brilliant!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4767.jpgThe "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4765.jpg

And, close to Ratnagiri, we reached the NH17 and took a detour to Ganapathiphule. It was 30 km stretch that wasn't the best of road we'd seen that day! Lots of potholes! Anyway, we went past lots of hillocks and fields and it was 9kms from the town and yet, we had no glimpse of the beach! We headed on and it became 2kms and still we could see no sea!!
and then, all of a sudden, the road dipped downward and took a steep left and overlooking the cliff was the splendid Arabian sea... The picture below doesn't do justice to the height decent needed to reach the sea!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4790.jpg

We stayed at Abhishek beach resort, which was a 10 minute walk to the beach. The view from our room was splendid! (off season rates were great! 2k for a room for 4, else it is 5k for the same room!)
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4773.jpg
We also found a wonderful "bhojanalay" to treat ourselves to great Maharashtrian food including sabudana kichidi.

The next day (16th Aug) we went a little further on the coastal road and found this!!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_06281.jpg

The next day, we started back to the NH17 to head towards Murud-Janjira. The problem in Maharashtra is that the highway connecting the coasts is about 25-30 kms away from the coast and hence, it takes more time to go from the highway to the coast. Plus, you have to retrace your route back to the NH17. And, the highway doesn't have great roads at all times. At one point, we had to crawl at 20kmph for a strech of 20kms. (And, the worst was yet to come!) We did get glimpses of several water falls along the highway which was as always surrounded by greenery.
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4803.jpg
Suddenly, the road would become super awesome! But anyway, it kept us awake! The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4804.jpg We crossed several more hills and valleys, although at slow pace. The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4810.jpg
We had to change our plans as Murud-Janjira was very far and at our pace, we would be very late and tired if we would've gone to Janjira. Hence, we changed our plans and headed towards Mahabaleshwar.
This was the worst road we had on our trip! From Khed on the NH17, Mahabaleshwar is just 40 kms away. We estimated a 90 minute drive on our car. However, the road was so bad that we took 4 hours to reach the top! and it was past sunset. The picture below was taken when the road was at its best quality. And it lasted some 5 minutes
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4860.jpg
We can never complain about the surroundings. It was simply splendid!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-dsc_2881.jpg As we started climbing, we were engulfed in mist and the last 10 odd kms was completely covered. The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4871.jpg
We reached Mahabaleshwar around 7 PM. And the whole town was covered in mist! The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4875.jpg
We took shelter in a spooky hotel, in a dingy room. We left early next day, just to escape from that hotel!
We started towards Panchgani and found lake Venna enroute.
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We also stopped at Kate's point. It was awesome!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4911.jpg

We reached Panchgani and settled into Mount View hotel which was very cozy and not very expensive. When we woke up on 18th Aug, there was a shooting party at our hotel to shoot for some Boro plus add! The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_4990.jpg
Heading towards Pune, we went to a table top where vehicles were allowed. Panchgani is very famous for Table tops, one of which is so huge it'll take a couple of hours to walk around.
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-dsc_2959.jpg

We then headed towards Pune. We visited Sinhgad fort (which is very very huge!) and then headed past Pune to Lonavla. We found some decent accommodation at off season price and settled for the night.

Next day we headed towards Ambi valley, whose route goes via Lion's point and Bushi dam. The lion's point has some amazing views!
The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-dsc_2980.jpg
The road to ambi valley is brilliant! The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore-img_5082.jpg

After ambi valley, we headed to pavana dam, which was also a brilliant place! Then we headed back to Lonavla. The next day, we headed back to Bangalore.

The problem we faced in Maharashtra was the lack of boards to show us to the tourist spots. We had to rely on Google! Also, the roads weren't all that great. Karnataka seems to have better roads. And overall, Tamil Nadu has the best roads I've driven in South India.

Anyway, the surprise package was in store on our return journey.
We had throttled the Fiesta 1.6 S quite liberally throughout the trip. We thought we'd do a mileage run. So, we decided to limit the speed to 80-100kmph. We left Lonavla at 6:30 AM on 20th Aug. We never went above 100kmph. We full-tanked at a Shell outlet in Pune and continued. We reached Hubli around 2:30 PM, for lunch. And the distance to empty meter showed 400kms left. We calculated that even with best FE, we can't reach Bangalore on a single tank. Just, to be sure, we filled 10 liters of petrol and headed towards home.
The magic with driving at 80-100kmph is that we get ample time to gauge braking distances and avoid braking. Thus, we almost never brake. Hence, we are saving a huge amount of fuel. Also, since the vehicle speed is quite low, the fuel injectors aren't also spewing fuel in large quantities. We reached Bangalore at 8:30PM. It was 14 hour journey, with two breaks for breakfast and lunch and also few other short breaks plus the stoppage at the toll booths. Our average speed for the trip was 66kmph! and our average speed from Hubli was 80kmph! and we never crossed 100kmph speeds!! The next day when I refilled my tank, it took only 38 liters! So, from Pune to Bangalore, the car had consumed 48 liters! That's an incredible 18kmpl mileage for a 1.6 liter petrol car, that doesn't compromise drive ability!

All in all we had done about 2500kms in about a week and had done a wonderful mileage run to finish our trip as well! And my car completed 10k milestone and 11k milestone during the trip. The 10k ownership report will follow soon, but I have to say that the Fiesta 1.6 S is ever so impressive.
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Old 27th August 2011, 18:25   #2
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

I am surprised to know that it took 4 hours to cover from Khed to Mahabaleshwar.
The poladpur ghat is mess now but didn't know that it went so bad in this season.

''Mahabaleshwar mey ghuma phira ki nahi?.''

Btw, MTDC resort in Ganapatipule is the best, you could have better deal at MTDC.

Last edited by ASHISHPALLOD : 27th August 2011 at 18:32.
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Old 27th August 2011, 19:16   #3
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
Btw, MTDC resort in Ganapatipule is the best, you could have better deal at MTDC.

Amazing account there. This is something which
I have been wanting to do for a long time.



1. Which is the right season to cover these places?
2. Coupling Pune/Amby Valley with Panchgani? You come back to NH4 for
a run to Pune or is there another route?

In this part of the circuit which is a good plan? Stay at Amby Valley?
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Old 27th August 2011, 23:03   #4
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

@AP: yes, the road was really really bad! Abhishek wasn't bad at all! very clean rooms and sea view. Only the Television in our room made some crackling noise.
And, we did all the locations that were present enroute panchgani. And of course the strawberry cream at mahabaleshwar Yummy!

@Ampere: Thanks!
Inspite of the bad roads, I'd still recommend the monsoon time if you like mist and driving in the rain. However, post monsoon also the greenery will exist. So, October - Jan would also be good. However, the hotel rates would rocket and the tourist locations would be full of people.
Btw, normal people can't even enter Amby valley, let alone stay!
Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani is just 120 kms from Pune (detour comes before pune from bangalore side) and the ghat section road is good. And you can cover Lonavla if you have time. Its 60kms from Pune in Mumbai's direction. Don't miss Vada pav anywhere in maharashtra, especially in Lonavla!
Also beware, the NH4 goes through Pune and Hinjewadi (the IT hub of Pune) and the traffic is very high. So, time your entry\exit of Pune to avoid driving in peak hour and save time.
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Old 27th August 2011, 23:50   #5
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Quote:
Originally Posted by lambdaplus View Post
@Ampere: Thanks!
Inspite of the bad roads, I'd still recommend the monsoon time if you like mist and driving in the rain. However, post monsoon also the greenery will exist. So, October - Jan would also be good. However, the hotel rates would rocket and the tourist locations would be full of people.
Btw, normal people can't even enter Amby valley, let alone stay!
Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani is just 120 kms from Pune (detour comes before pune from bangalore side) and the ghat section road is good. And you can cover Lonavla if you have time. Its 60kms from Pune in Mumbai's direction. Don't miss Vada pav anywhere in maharashtra, especially in Lonavla!
Also beware, the NH4 goes through Pune and Hinjewadi (the IT hub of Pune) and the traffic is very high. So, time your entry\exit of Pune to avoid driving in peak hour and save time.
@lamdaplus, Thanks. My initial thoughts were just to cover Kolhapur, Ganapatiphule, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani and back.

Thats when I realized, I would be missing out on Lonavala and Amby Valley.
Sorry I am not much aware of rules/law governing Amby valley. Did not realize about exclusivity of the place!
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Old 28th August 2011, 11:09   #6
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
1. Which is the right season to cover these places?
2. Coupling Pune/Amby Valley with Panchgani? You come back to NH4 for
a run to Pune or is there another route?



@ampere,
as lambdaplus rightly quoted, oct-jan is the best season to visit those places.
MTDC at Ganapatipule is the best for stay, you can book it online.
Five day itinerary can be bangalore-kolhapur-ganapatipule-mahabaleshwar-banglore.
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Old 28th August 2011, 18:04   #7
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Lambdaplus, wonderful pictures and write-up. Good to know that your Fiesta had a heavy Feast this time.

I remember our last trip to Valparai with me on my Bullet trying to follow the 100 mighty horses on the ghats. Excellant car to drive especially on a ghat section.

Drive Safe !
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Old 29th August 2011, 10:52   #8
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Wonderful pictures. Indeed green everywhere. I wish the world is as green as your pictures. Especially, I liked the venna lake covered with mist. An ideal candidate for a calendar shoot.
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Old 29th August 2011, 11:13   #9
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Default Re: The "Maha" trip: Bangalore - Ganapathiphule - Panchgani - Lonavla - Bangalore

Nice write-up and very good pics. Had done BLR-Pune-Shirdi last Diwali in my ex car (Ford Ikon 1.6NXT ZXI) where we had been to Lonavla, Khandala, Bheemeshwar and other places. The drive is real good all along and its great fun.
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