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Old 30th December 2013, 11:35   #1
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Default Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

The upcoming Christmas and New Year Holidays for my Kids and Wife made us plan for a road trip. This is the 1st such trip in my Airavat (read Scorpio VLx 4*2). Did a lot of research on Team-BHP and also spoke to friends who had visited these places. What follows is my own experiences and thoughts.

Dates: 21-Dec-2013 (Sat) to 28-Dec-2013 (Sat)
Vehicle: Mahindra Scorpio VLx 4*2 (a.k.a Airavat, Colour- Jawa Brown)
Number of People: 2 Adults and 2 Children (9yrs. & 6 yrs.)
Places Visited: Mahabaleshwar, GanapatiPule, Badami (Pattadakal, Aihole)
Total Distance: 1958.9 kms.
Total Fuel (Diesel): 131.79 lts. (approx.)
Mileage: 14.86 km/l (approx.)
Cheapest Fuel: Hyderabad, Rs. 58.50 (Indian Oil)
Costliest Fuel: Kolhapur, Rs. 62.94 (Indian Oil)
Repairs: None
Toll Tax: Rs. 332
Tourism Tax: Rs. 90 (Panchgani – Rs. 50 for car, Rs. 20 per adult), Rs. 90 (Mahabaleshwar - Rs. 50 for car, Rs. 20 per adult). This was useful since we were crossing in-out of the two places. This is valid for 7 days.
Greatest Help: MMI (Map My India ZX 250) GPS. Just followed the exact route it showed without asking any questions anywhere – Big thanks to MMI…..

The Journey
Mahabaleshwar: Day 1 (21-Dec-2013)
Tanked up my Airavat on 20-Dec-2013 to get an early start on 21-Dec-2013. Started on 21-Dec-2013 @ 4:30a from my Begumpet residence.
Route: Hyderabad – Solapur – Indapur – Baramati – Wai – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar
Distance: 587 kms. Approx.
Drive Time: 10hrs. approx.
The early start was good and we did a quick job to till Zaheerabad on NH9. I think that where the 4 laneing ends. Not much traffic at. We also did a quick job to get into Karnataka as well. Stopped for breakfast (30 min.) I think somewhere on the outskirts/bypass of BasavaKalyan town. Treated ourselves to a local dish Susla (puffed rice – muri/murmura mixed with some onion, tomatoes and green chilies) – this was good. My whole family enjoyed it, topped it with Chai. The road till Solapur is OK – no 4 laneing, but the roads in the Karnataka sector were really bad – took quite a long time to go thru. The road is better as you near Solapur. But it was a good drive with nice scenic beauty all along – lots of sugarcane fields and all being harvested, lots of Corn/Makka fields as well. We came across a very nice Fort close to BasavaKalyan, Karnataka – took a few pictures. Reached Solapur in time for lunch. Took the Solapur Bypass and got onto the Solapur-Pune Highway. This is an excellent road – 4 Lane. Stopped at a Dhabba on the bypass for lunch (45 min.). Hit the road and used the Indapur – Baramati Route, this route is really nice and all along nice scenery and fields – a photographer’s delight (I am not one of those……). Once you are off the Highway near Indapur, the road is a Single Lane road – but nice one (not much of broken road).There are tolls all along this route on the Solapur Bypass, Indapur, Baramati and Wai. Stopped for a quick chai @ I think Nira. Most of the road from Indapaur onwards appears to be Hilly/Ghat and winding roads – not flat roads like the Pune-Solapur Highway. As you near Wai (NH4) you will suddenly be hit by lots of traffic – that caught us since all this while there was minimal traffic. This is where the Ghats begin to start. The VAS (Voice Assist System) in Airavat told me a while back that it was running on low fuel – so decided to tank it up @ Wai. The Wai-Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar route is great – nice scenery, very winding roads. It being a Saturday there was lot of traffic. As we entered Panchgani – we were stopped for Tourism Tax – Rs. 50 for vehicle and Rs. 20 per adult (they did not charge for kids). This is valid for 7 days. Keep these receipts intact since each time you get in and out they will ask and you can just show the receipt and pass by. Similar tax had to be paid at Mahabaleshwar too. Roads in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar are very narrow and lots of traffic – but be a good driver and you will have your way. Most roads in Mahabaleshwar are one way – so be careful, good idea will be to park at a safe place and walk around, there are designated park&pay places at most places. Finally arrived at Mahabaleshwar @ abt 4:00pm and checked into my hotel. Weather was cold more due to the wind – the woolens we took helped my Wife and Kids (I did not need any winter ware)
Hotel: Grand Resort. Nice property and well mannered staff. They have fixed timing for b’fast, lunch, evening tea and dinner. Food was really good all of us enjoyed it (my kids also liked it – that was a relief)
After a quick tea, visited the local market. Good indoor games and swimming pool as well. They have a magic show every Saturday evening and we were in time to see it.

Day 2 (22-Dec-2013)
Hit the road after breakfast by about 9:00am. Visited Venna Lake and did paddle boating for 1 hr. A quick horse ride (MBBS and Facebook – names of horses we rode) was also a nice one. Children used some rides in the nearby amusement area. Time for Go-Karting – My Son did it all alone, My Daughter and I used a twin seater cart. Next visited the Mapro Garden nearby – they have a chocolate making unit here (Mazaana brand of chocolates). It was a nice place and also had Lunch here. Then proceeded to try our hands on the Dirt Track – ATV Drive. Again My Son did it all alone, My Daughter and I used a twin seater. Did some Strawberry shopping and eating. Came back to hotel since kids wanted to use the Swimming Pool. Later went to see the Lodwick Point and Bombay Point (Sunset Point). Relaxed in the evening playing badminton and table tennis. Ate lots of fresh strawberries.

Day 3 (23-Dec-2013)
Today the plan was to visit Table Land @ Panchgani and the Mapro Factory @ Wai. Hit the road after breakfast and drove to Table Land @ Panchgani (second longest mountain plateau in Asia). It is an amazing sight from here. From here you can see the Krishna and Savitri rivers as well. We took 2 horses (Prem and Rock – names of horses we rode) to see the entire 6km. radius – it is amazing. There is also a small cave and a Lord Shiva idol there – nice to visit, but steep steps to get in and out. It takes a while to do this whole trip and then we drove the Mapro Factory @ Wai. Did a factory tour to see the Juice, Jam and Crush making/packaging – this is a free tour. Had a lunch, did some purchases at the factory outlet. Drove back to the hotel. Ate lots of fresh strawberries.

GanpatiPule: Day 4 (24-Dec-2013)
Started drive from Mahabaleshwar to GanaptiPule after breakfast @ 9:00am.

Route: Mahabaleshwar – Poladpur – Chiplun – Sanghameshwar - GanapatiPule
Distance: 192 kms. Approx.
Drive Time: 5hrs. approx.

The whole route is ghats and very winding and narrow roads. Till Sanghameswar you are on the Mumbai-Goa Highway which is very good and after that you get onto state highways. The SHs are not good, some places it is pretty bad/no roads i.e. only mud and gravel. The entire SH is single lane, but not much traffic. Arrived at GanapatiPule by about 2:00p in the afternoon and checked into Hotel Landmark. The route is again very picturesque.

Hotel: Hotel Landmark. Huge property but old and not very well maintained. Well mannered staff. They have a regular restaurant and room service as well. Food was good.

After a nice lunch and rest drove down to the beach/temple. Huge crowd and difficult to park the vehicle. Best choice is to leave the car either outside on the road or in my case the Hotel (it is very close to the place). Headed straight to the beach – boat ride into the sea and playing on the beach. Did some snacking and called it a day.

Day 5 (25-Dec-2013)
Christmas started with a visit to the Ganapati Temple on the beach 1st thing in the morning. This is a swaymabhu ganesh, no long queues – quick nice darshan. This time we walked rather than take the car. Had breakfast and then drove to see the Jaigadh Fort. Nice drive – OK roads, some places totally battered and only sand and gravel. The Fort has nice view points but by itself is a disappointment – no display boards/placards or guides to tell you anything about the fort. Jindal Group (JSW) is constructing a port nearby. Back to hotel and time for a swim in hotel pool. Had lunch and a quick nap. Evening walked down to the beach again – did 2nd darshan of the temple (wife’s command….), spent time on the beach and visited the local market/exhibition organized by the handicraft/rural welfare department.

Badami via Kolhapur: Day 6 (26-Dec-2013)
Started out to Badami via Kolhapur after breakfast by 9:00am

Route: GanapatiPule – Kolhapur – Nipani – Sankheswar – Gokak – Bagalkot/Belgaum Rd. - Badami
Distance: 400 kms. Approx.
Drive Time: 10 hrs. approx.

Road from Ganapati Pule to Kolhapur is pretty nice. Arrived ay Kolhapur by about 12:30.

Kolhapur: Idea was to visit the Mahalakshmi Temple (one of the Shaktipeethas) – drove straight to the parking lot of the temple. It being a Thursday the day of Goddess Lakshmi and also some last auspicious day for poojas there was lot of rush at the temple. We finish our darhsan by about 1:45pm. Time to get Airavat onto the road again. Filled the diesel tank and started the drive to Badami at about 2:30

Out of Kolhapur the road is fine for some distance and then we get onto SHs. Once you are onto the Gokak road the roads are not very good and once you are off the Bagalkot/Belgaum Rd. the SH is pathetic. The entire stretch all the way to Badami is under construction – widening. You cannot see any road – only red dust and sand. Fortunately very less traffic. The last about 30-40 km nearing Badami is very horrible. Best bet will be to take a road from Kolhapur – Bagalkot – Badami, this road is much better since I used Badami – Bagalkot on my return journey. Badami is a very small town and very dusty due to the bad roads. Checked into Hotel Mookambika Deluxe by 8:30p –very tired and horrible driving experience (Thanks to my Airavat we all were safe and comfortable – it took all the beating).

Hotel: Hotel Mookambika Delux. Nice hotel, pretty new. The room I got was nicely done. There is not restaurant in the hotel, so you need to walk across the road to eat. Food available I basic and tastes fine, do not experiment with food.

Day 7 (27-Dec-2013)
Today was primarily visiting the world heritage sites – Pattadakal and Aihole. Pattadkal is abt 20km from Badami and Aihole another 20km from there but the time take is more due to the very bad/non-existent roads.
Pattadkal – Amazing place. All temples to see in one complex/area. Hired a guide to help understand details – it was worth it. Take quite some time to see the whole thing and take pictures.
Aihole: Yet another amazing place. Drove from Pattadkal to Aihole. The roads are very bad. Aihole is very spread out when compared to Pattadkal. So you can see the main complex and then drive around the other temples/monuments (that’s what I did).
Badami Tourism- In addition to the above there a few more things to see, the hotel guy will give you the list. We visited the Shree Mahakuta Temple and Badami Caves (very nice). There are a few more places but family was tired of the bad roads and drive times.

Came back had an early dinner and decided to rest for the long haul the next day to Hyderabad. Requested a boy to wash my Airavat – lots for dust cover made it look very dirty.

Day 8 (28-Dec-2013)
Started early by 6:30a from Badami to Hyderabad

Route: Badami – Raichur – Mahabubnagar - Hyderabad
Distance: 450 kms. Approx.
Drive Time: 8 hrs. approx.

Roads are pretty good. Some distance from Badami abt 30-40 km is not very nice but after that the entire stretch is a single lane but well laid road. Stopped for breakfast @ Lingsugur town (30 min.) and also tanked up my Airavat, was home for Lunch @ 2:30p. Road thru Mahabubnagar town take time to cover.

In Conclusion
Very picturesque/scenic routes all way along.
  • Carry cash – most places do not accept credit/debit cards. There are ATMs at most places though.
  • Loads of photo opportunities – factor time for photo shoots. Ensure battery backup for your camera.
  • All along the route there are Surgercane, Corn/Makka, Cotton, Sunflower fields – very pretty sight. Harvesting season, so we did see loads of sugarcane being cut and taken to factory.
  • Most places food is basic - stick to basic and know stuff, avoid experimenting.
  • Most state highways (SHs) are in bad shape, although distances are small time take is more. The roads are also mostly Ghats and winding as well.
  • Avoid driving in the night, due to bad roads and poor visibility.
  • If travelling with kids keep in mind their needs as well – do not have a packed itinerary to see everything.

Airavat has been very reliable and the family was very comfortable travelling. Driving it was a pleasure, I did not feel the strain of driving. The entire drive was memorable. The best friend on this trip was my GPS (MMI ZX250), just followed every instruction it gave.

Hope you enjoyed reading this and find it useful. Care for nature, put your seat belts on and drive safe.

Note: Will post a few pictures shortly. Due to the upload limit I am uploading only a few pictures. If interested send me a note and I shall send you an external link with photos.
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Last edited by samnemani : 1st January 2014 at 17:17. Reason: Minor edits to Day 8 and uploaded some pictures as well.
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Old 30th December 2013, 12:59   #2
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Default re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

I am not sure if I am jumping the gun a little too early but dude, where are the photographs?

Pardon me if they are coming in later post of yours' but nevertheless eagerly waiting for the photographs to surface from the woodwork.
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Old 31st December 2013, 15:11   #3
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Default re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

Good travelogue, short and crisp! I am assuming you were the only driver.

While Mapro Garden is a must visit place, I found the separate vehicle entry tax for Panchgani and Mahaby a nuisance. In addition, we also paid some small amounts for seeing the points.

I recently visited Panchgani and Mahaby for a weekend, we stayed at Saj Resorts. Please upload pictures of your trip.

Last edited by Ritzvxi : 31st December 2013 at 15:16. Reason: Sharing more information.
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Old 1st January 2014, 17:22   #4
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Default re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

Originally Posted by BeingCynical View Post
I am not sure if I am jumping the gun a little too early but dude, where are the photographs?

Pardon me if they are coming in later post of yours' but nevertheless eagerly waiting for the photographs to surface from the woodwork.
Some pictures are posted.
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Old 7th January 2014, 14:37   #5
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Default re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 7th January 2014, 19:52   #6
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Default re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – Ganapatipule – Badami

The mileage of 14.86 Km/l as mentioned by you is really phenomenal. considering that you drove on ghat roads also. BTW what was the avg speed that you maintained.
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Old 9th January 2014, 09:27   #7
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Default Re: Road Trip: Mahabaleshwar – GanapatiPule – Badami

Originally Posted by ADI_77 View Post
The mileage of 14.86 Km/l as mentioned by you is really phenomenal. considering that you drove on ghat roads also. BTW what was the avg speed that you maintained.
You are right lots of Ghats and bad roads too. I think the average speed was about 60-70 kmph. There were very few stretches where you could stretch your legs as well.
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