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Old 3rd September 2012, 02:04   #1
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Default The waterfall trip to Jog and other places

I was waiting for this trip to happen since last year when I had gone to see Jog falls around this time late in August, see my previous travelogue http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...jog-falls.html (A road trip from Mumbai to Jog Falls)

As they say what matters is the journey and not the destination we were all excited for this trip which started on Fri, 3rd Aug from Mumbai in my Swift now 2 years young. In these 2 years this car has stood the test of many roads crossing 37000 kms and feels happy to be taken out on road trips every time. So it was me, my brother, my mom and my road trip savvy car all revved up to leave 7am. Plan was to first visit the beautiful Kaas plateau aka Maharashtra's valley of flowers where my old friend Hrishikesh and his family would also join us. To add to the excitement we left a day early to also include Panchgani in our itinerary, a small hill station, near the bigger hill station Mahabaleshwar as it's not too far from Satara where Kaas is, just about 50 kms so it fitted well in our plan. In no time we were on the Pune expressway headed for the first leg of our trip - Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar and Kaas. And so the journey had begun...

I was a bit tired from work previous day so my brother took over the wheels. We reached Panchgani and checked in at our hotel Mount View Executive around 12.30 pm. This is one of the valley facing hotel and you can get a nice view from your room if it's facing the valley. Being Friday we were lucky to get booking in this hotel easily and as such almost entire Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar were empty. Clouds had taken over entire Mahabaleshwar and transformed it to a place in wonderland. The rains added to the beauty and also a dip in temperature as it was quite cold walking around the streets of the Mahabaleshwar market which was delightfully empty. We felt as if the shops were open only for us. After doing some tafri in the market we had a hot and delicious lunch in Sher-e-Punjab dhaba. If you are a non-veg foodie this place is for you. There is another dhaba called Nukad just before Sher-e-Punjab which is also good but couldn't spot it earlier due to fog. With our stomach's full to heart's content we started our drive back to Panchgini with some sight seeing on the way. We passed through the Venna lake which was overflowing with water, had some nice ginger masala chai over there. There is also boating that happens from here but due to rains and less crowd it was closed I guess. Next we went to Kate's point and echo point which is a little ahead from Venna lake towards Panchgani but that was closed too possibly due to rains. The drive to the point was good though there are some rough patches in between and on the way you can see Brightland's resort. The point is worth seeing as it provides a breathtaking view of the valley with enough reasons to click. Not sure if there are also any waterfalls here but we could spot a couple of waterfalls earlier, one on the way to Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani and the other one which we could see from our room at Mount View. On the way back from Kate's point we visited Bagicha an open air Maharashtrain eatery known for its awesome corn tikki's and kanda bhajji's and strawberry bomb's and crush. Interestingly some celebrities have also been here and the owner has happily put some pictures too. From Bagicha we headed back to our hotel in Panchgani and on the way hopped in to the Mapro garden just to have a look if we could grab something interesting and we did

We left Panchgani by 8am and started for Satara. We took the Sartale village road instead of going from Wai and then taking NH-4. The road overall is good and scenic passing through small villages and beautiful fields on both sides. It's worth mentioning at this point that if you are looking to goto Kaas directly from Mahabaleshwar you should take the Mahabaleshwar Kaas road or if you have gone to Tapola you can also take the Bamnoli Mahabaleshwar diversion to Kaas which comes on the way to Tapola. Both these routes are extremely scenic and provide for a great drive cutting across the mountains of Mahabaleshwar to finally meet at the Kaas plateau. The latter one is more tedious due to the innumerable curves on the winding road and can take more time to cover especially if you are going in the rainy season as the whole place is covered in fog. I am not sure of the present condition of these two routes but would like to know if anyone has been to Kaas from here recently.

We reached Satara around 10am where we checked in our hotel Maratha Palace. The hotel is close to NH-4 and about 2 kms from the Satara city main chowk. Must say that this is one of the best hotels in Satara if you are planning a stay. The rooms are spacious and well maintained. The hotel also has a ambient restaurant with Indian and Chinese cuisine. We all liked the food here. Other popular hotels near Satara main chowk are Hem palace, Rajthadri and Maharaja inn. We had a light breakfast and started our drive for Thosheghar waterfalls. The drive down there and the same applies for Kaas is mesmerizing at best. The whole landcape is doted with wild flowers on your way and green pastures all over giving you a countryside feel. Butterflies cross your way every now and then and you just fall in love with the place once you are there. The Thoseghar waterfalls are most beautiful in monsoon and falling from a height of around 250 ft they look spectular. Surrounded by thick greenery and dark woods spread all over the hill, the falls culminate into a narrow gorge below giving rise to a beautiful stream adding to the serenity of the place. After seeing the Thoseghar falls we headed back to our hotel where I would meet my friend Hrishikesh. Our next plan was to go to Kaas but after having some lunch as we were all hungry. So we all had a feast of sort at the Maratha Palace restaurant Dwar Mahal. After having a sumptuous meal we were all set to start our drive for Kaas which is about 30kms from Satara. On the way we were greeted with heavy rains at regular intervals and clouds all over the hill. It was almost certain that we were a bit early to come to Kaas as the flowers generally bloom late in August or September till early October when the rains have retreated. Nature studying groups mention that there are more than 100 varities of flowers that bloom during this season. 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 their own share in between. Since we had time we drove through Kaas and went downwards on the other side of the hill to catch a glimse of the Kaas lake. As you are driving down the curves climbing down from Kaas Plateau you see a sign on left saying - Kaas 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. Itís horizontally spread and is a more than 180 degree view. There are few rooms and huge shade nearby. 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. 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. The road continues further to Tapola which is 30 Kms from Bamnoli. Bamnoli and Tapola both are situated around backwaters of Koyna Dam. Since we couldn't see the flowers as such I am planning to go again in September to complete the experience however I have put a few pictures from my visit to Kaas last year.

That was the first leg of our trip. In just 2 days we had seen some tranquil lakes and waterfalls, enjoyed the beautiful rains in Mahabaleshwar and most of all the drive through the lush green mountainous terrain with clouds for company. The fun did not end here as there was much more to come ahead. We bid goodbye to my friend Hishi in Satara as he had to return back home that day after seeing Thoseghar and Sajjangad fort while we were to go to Karnataka where we would stay at my friends farmhouse in Dharwad. For those interested can read my earlier travelogue and get a glimse of some vintage bikes and cars credited to his dad. We took the NH-4 from Satara at around 8am and started for Dharwad. The route Satara - > Kolhapur -> Belgaum -> Dharwad straight through NH-4 is 300 kms and can be covered easily in 5 hours or less due to the excellent road which is a part of the golden quadrilateral. On the way we halted at Sai International hotel about 30 kms before Kolhapur for some chai and naashta which by the way is very good here. Missal, poha, upma, wada pav, south indian you get all. A good place to stop and take a break from your long drive if you will. So after having some yummy food we started again for Dharwad. Note that after you cross Kolhapur you would enter the Karnataka state so it's a good idea to fill up your car as the fuel is costlier in Karnataka by a good 3-4 Rs.

We were at my friend's place by noon. I don't think mere words can describe the simplicity of this place which makes it so beautiful. The next two days that we would spend together touring the farmhouse, having some great local food, chatting about life and Karnataka, seeing the town Hubli and of course visiting the gorgeous Jog falls all would remain etched in memory.

Route to Jog

Dharwad -> Kalghati -> Yellapur road - From Dharwad we took the Yellapur road via Kalghati. Very scenic road with forest on both sides.

Yellapur -> Magod falls -> Jenukallu Gudda - From Yellapur we took a diversion about 15 kms to see Magod falls, another beatuiful sight. From Magod falls while coming back you can also see a place called Jenukallu Gudda. Jenu means Honey, Kallu means stone and Gudda means hill. This place is a viewpoint in the Western Ghat, which offers a panoramic view of the hills packed one behind the other. The Bedti River from Magod falls cuts across the green hills and bounces all the way to join the Arabian Sea beyond the hills. The breathtaking view of the valley is worth a visit.

Yellapur -> Sirsi -> Sidhpur -> Jog
We were hoping we would get to see a clear view of Jog as many times it is shrouded in fog when monsson is at its peak. However after reaching the falls we almost gave up all hopes as all the four falls were hidden by clouds. We waited for some time and luckily there was a rush of wind clearing the fog and suddenly Jog was in sight. Almost everyone was clapping and yay'ing with joy. In the end we were happy to have been lucky to see Jog.

On our journey back the same day
Jog -> Sirsi -> Mundgod -> Hubli -> Dharwad

I was happy to see the roads in Mundgod improved to a large extent compared to last year. Almost the whole stretch is now in good condition so would recommend to travel via this route if you want to see the tibetan monastary in Mundgod. Being the second largest tibetan settlement it is worth seeing this place. Couldn't go here this time as it was quite late in the evening when we reached Mundgod. You can see some pics from my last year's travelogue and know more about the place. In all we traveled about 535 kms through the day. Both Yellapur and Mundgod roads make for an awesome drive, you can never get enough of what it has to offer.
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