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Old 16th September 2012, 17:49   #1
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Default Diwali trip to Toranmal

This is a long planned, but delayed travelog to a very small and less known hill station in Maharashtra called Toranmal. I was looking around for a suitable place to visit during the Diwali holidays last year and Google maps showed up Toranmal, which is close to the MP and Gujarat border. I did a search of Team BHP to seek information about travels to this place, but I was surprised to see that nobody had written about visiting this place. Even today, I have not come across any travelog to Toranmal on Team BHP. There were a few reports of people who had been to this place.

Toranmal, elevation 1150 meters, is located in the northern part of Maharashtra in Nandurbar district and is part of the Satpura range. Toranmal has a saucer shaped flat top about 40 sq. kilometers. Like in most hill stations, Toranmal has its own Yashavant lake about 1.59 km2 and has a maximum depth of 27 meters. The water is very clean and there is no boating or horse riding around the lake.

Toranmal is about 55 kilometres from the town of Shahada in Maharashtra. The last 25 kilometers is delicious ghat road and a pleasure to drive on.

Me and wife drove from Ahmedabad to Surat to visit relatives and started for Toranmal on the morning of October 28, 2011. The plan was to drive through Bardoli, Vyara, Songadh, Uchchhal in Gujarat on NH 6 and turn northwards on Gujarat state highway 80 parallel to the Ukai lake up to the Maharashtra border to Shahada.

NH6 is under four laning and is generally ok except in places. SH80 is two lane and is a quite country road with not much traffic. This road skirts the Ukai lake and is quite scenic.

Here are a few pictures of the road to Nizar.
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Old 16th September 2012, 18:19   #2
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The road from Uchchhal to Nizar is bordered by farms growing dwarf papaya trees on both sides. These are closely planted and the fruit grows just a foot above ground. Some distance away we came across farms growing chilly. We had gypsy tribals on the move for company. Nizar is a very small town near the Maharashtra border. We stopped to have Gujarati snacks at a small restaurant.

We crossed the Tapti river into Maharashtra and traveled on the not so good roads to Shahada. About 25 km later, the ghat road starts with forest on both sides of the road. The road is narrow, but reasonably good. There are several small villages on this road.

We had not booked accommodation in Toranmal and were not sure if any hotels were available. And being Diwali, it was sure to be tough to find any place to stay. But we carried on with hope that some place would be available.

Here are some pictures of the lovely road to Toranmal. The last picture shows the sunset point in Toranmal.
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Old 16th September 2012, 18:47   #3
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Default Re: Diwali trip to Toranmal

We enjoyed the drive upto Toranmal and reached just after 4pm. We saw some vehicles returning from Toranmal. The first impression of the place was the absence of houses except for forest rest house and a pwd rest house. All others were huts of the tribal population. Toranmal does not have any town to speak of, and in this was similar to Ponmudi near Thiruvananthapuram.

It was a delightful place with the road bordering the lake. We drove around the place and found a hotel called Toranmal Hill Resort. Inquired at the reception about accommodation and was surprised to hear that somebody who had booked had met with an accident on the way and had cancelled. We took the room, which was one of the costlier ones and after a tea break and refreshments went around to the sunset point which was a walkable distance away.

There was quite a crowd, mostly from Surat and a few from the rest of Maharashtra, but nothing like the crowds in Mt Abu in Rajasthan during Diwali. We watched the sun set in the Satpura range from the sun set point along with a few other families.

Some pictures of the sunset point, sunset in Toranmal and a lovely walking path on the western side of Toranmal.
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Old 16th September 2012, 19:18   #4
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After sunset, we went for a walk around the lake. Most of the visitors had by then left for the plains. There were no street lights and the night sky was very clear and we could see thousands of stars which we had not seen for a long time. My Airtel mobile did not have connectivity in the hotel, but near the sunset point it was able to pickup intermittent signal.

Dinner options were limited and we chose to return to the hotel and have dinner there.

Woke up early next day to watch sunrise and go for a walk along the western side. We discovered a lovely path leading up to a good view point. There was no body around on this road.

The next pictures show the road taken to the view point and further down to the lake.
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Old 16th September 2012, 20:49   #5
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Walk down from the observation point to the lake. There were beautiful wild flowers growing there.
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Old 16th September 2012, 21:15   #6
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More pictures of the lovely road by the side of the lake.

This is the lady of the lake !!.
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Old 16th September 2012, 21:20   #7
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This is the hotel where we stayed and it is quite ecofriendly.
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Old 16th September 2012, 21:43   #8
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We found hundreds of dragonflies hovering above the road around the lake.
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and another walk around the place, we checked out of the hotel and drove out of Toranmal after 11am. Did not visit the other places of interest in Toranmal, as we had a long drive ahead to Rajpipla in Gujarat through some very uncertain roads.

Some pictures of the same ghat road on the way down to the plains. There is only one road leading to Toranmal. And there are no petrol pumps in Toranmal.

We had a full tank of petrol filled from Surat, and did not top up enroute.

Distance from Surat to Toranmal was 300 km and it took us more than 7 hours including a brunch stop and several photo stops.
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Old 16th September 2012, 22:14   #9
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We followed the same road down (Maharashtra State highway 2) upto a village called Mahsawad and then turned north into State highway 1. The plan was to drive through the forested Maharastra-Gujarat border and drive to Rajpipla. We passed through villages such as Dhadgaon, Kathi.

This road had very little traffic consisting of Maxxi pickups, some two wheelers and a few autos. Road condition was reasonably good, but it was a narrow two lane road. The road passes over the Satpura range and we drove through some ghat sections. There are practically no facilities available on this route.

We did not take any photos of this route as there was nothing of interest.

After the ghat sections, the road constantly climbs and dips and we entered very sparsely populated regions. There wasn't much of agricultural fields too. There are lots of sitafal trees (custard apple) seemingly growing wild and occasionally we came across people selling baskets of the fruit. We stopped at one such place and asked for the price. It turned out to be very cheap (20 Rs for about 2 kg) compared to the prevailing price in Ahmedabad which was about 50 a kg. The fruit was fresh and a little green, but we found it was delicious once it ripened several days later. He wanted to sell us the whole basket, but we didn't want so much.


This is the photo of the sitafal seller and the children. They were so happy to see their photo taken.
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Old 16th September 2012, 22:31   #10
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Thanks SajiNSalin for reviving my memories. I had been there in the early 1990's via Edlabad, Dhule (both on NH 6), Shahada and finally Toranmal. My halts were in Dhule and Shahada, from were the villages and towns in the Mah- Gujarat border were covered.
Dhule is a well connected, big town both on NH 6, while Shahada is a small town.The climb to the Toranmal peak is through the picturesque Ghat section. Its nature and only nature once the climb begins. I remember the lake on the top of the peak in Toranmal- may be having a few pictures that I can post here. I had known about some holiday homes at Toranmal through sources, but these were found to be dilapidated way back then.Maybe the authorities wanted to develop the place as a tourist destination.There is scanty public transport availability and unless one has his own automobile, its unthinkable to go here.
In connection with my work, I had been to many other areas in the vicinity on the Maharashtra - Gujarat border. The Narmada river is quite close, after forests are traversed. There is a place Dhadgaon, where I had also been. Virpur is also in the vicinity of Dhadgaon. Tribals are found here abundantly. seems you too have been to Dhadgaon.
I also went to Surat from Dhule following the State Highway, returning the same day. This is an important bus route, but this road was not so good way back then.

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Old 16th September 2012, 23:45   #11
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The road was reasonably good till a village called Kathi. We were hungry but could not find any restaurants enroute. The petrol tank was emptying at a fast rate and we hoped that the next village would have a petrol pump, but there was no sign of one. We wondered how all the two wheelers we saw filled up, but didn't stop to ask. The drive was not very fast as the road twisted and turned and was narrow too.

After Kathi, the road progressively worsened and was caved in at several places. There was practically no traffic on the road and we were alone for half hour at a stretch. Villages were also few on this route.

At one point, we saw a mini truck with a Gujarat registration ahead of us. We had to wait till the road widened enough to overtake him and ask him for directions to Rajpipla. He advised us to take the road to Dediapada. We thanked him and proceeded.

The road became an unpaved one at several places. There were only a few Maxxis carrying lots of people, even on the roof. This seems to be the only mode of transport.

The scenery was good with meadows, hills, some agriculture and very small villages of just a handful of huts. In many places, small children were frightened seeing the car and would start crying and running off the road.

There were no road signs indicating direction and distance but since there was no fork in the road, we assumed that we were on the right track. After climbing a series of hills, the road suddenly ended. We were surprised and went to the nearby building to ask about the road to Dediyapada. There were only children there and they were afraid. After some time a man arrived and he told us that we had taken a wrong turn some 5 km behind.

The petrol tank seemed nearly empty and it was about 5pm. We drove back very carefully looking for the right road to the Gujarat border. Found a small and bad road turn to the right and it was not at all noticeable. We stopped and inquired and found it was the right one. Some distance ahead we found a small shop with some wafer and biscuit packets and we hungrily ate these as we had nothing to eat since breakfast. Inquired about petrol and they said they had some. Bought two liters and proceeded across a nearly dry river to cross the border to Gujarat.

The roads in Gujarat were much better, though narrow and we drove fast through the very scenic Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary to Dediapada. Reached there by about 7pm and first went to fill petrol.

After a tea break and some snacks drove to Rajpipla which was our halt for the night.

The next day visited the Sardar Sarovar dam and in the afternoon left for Ahmedabad.

This was a very interesting drive through tribal regions.

Here are some pictures showing the road condition.
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Old 16th September 2012, 23:50   #12
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The road had caved in at several places. We were wondering if we could pass through the next one. At some places the road was muddy and filled with water and we had to carefully drive through this.
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Old 17th September 2012, 22:23   #13
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Thanks, Anjan. You are right, Toranmal is difficult to reach without your own vehicle. We found that the place was popular with the Surat crowd. The stay options include the only hotel plus a forest guest house as well as a PWD guest house. Since it was Diwali day, we did not attempt to get a room in the govt guest houses as they are always full on holidays.

The border areas have a charm of their own due to the very beautiful scenery consisting of meadows, rolling hills, valleys and lack of any large towns or villages. We were a bit anxious because of the unknown terrain, people and lack of petrol pumps and hotels. But afterwards, we remember this as a unique trip and would like to visit again.

Regards

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Old 9th August 2014, 14:38   #14
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That was a nice informative write up on a very less explored place which is in close proximity to Surat & Baroda. From the pictures I feel this is a better place than Saputara which most people flock to during monsoons.

BTW did you also happen to visit the Zarwani water falls which is an eco site inside the Shoopnaeshwar sanctuary near Sardar Sarovar dam ?
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