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Old 14th September 2014, 19:08   #1
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Default Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Monsoon - the season when everything suddenly starts looking lush green and refreshing. Dry burnt landscapes turn into beautiful meadows in about 2 weeks. The drop in temperature and sound of waterfalls add to the overall relaxed feeling of the season. That's why I look forward to monsoon drives all through the year. I plan to cover at least 3-4 places in the rains.

Some of last year's experiences are recorded here:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...londa-etc.html (Monsoon 2013: Freshness reloaded (Ratnagiri, Dabhosa-Jawhar, Shilonda, etc))

This year wanted to visit different places. Had lots and lots of places earmarked. Every alternate week we could head out to some magical place. Lots of day-dreaming. Then reality struck. Rains started very late this year. By the time the season picked up steam, son's term exams started. Work situation ensured that weekends around the month-end has unpredictable professional commitments. And then when finally things started to fall in place, I fell sick.. again and again. In short, all plans remained day-dreams and nothing really materialized.

I also ended up missing Malshej Ghat drive by Mum-Pun BHPians and was getting really irritated with the season passing by. Then out of the blue, one weekend opened up where there was no real obstacle. I was recovering from viral fever and runny nose, but I thought its not a big deal as long as I don't plan to get drenched in a waterfall. Malshej Ghat was pending since ages and so decided to go to Malshej Ghat on 3rd of Aug.

PS: Situation improved in the month of Aug and managed to do Tamhini Ghat and Bhandardara as well in the same month. Would cover that as well in this thread. But Malshej Ghat first.

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Old 14th September 2014, 19:42   #2
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Sunday: 3rd Aug 2014

The plan was to start early, reach Malshej ghat before the rowdy crowd takes over, have lunch and then start back. My nephew also decided to join us. Woke up at normal time and realized that I am not feeling well. Upset tummy. Oh boy, what to do. After a long long time an opportunity had presented itself and everybody was so looking forward to the drive. I weighed my options and decided to take a risk.

The route goes through Kalyan and we wanted to get out of that area before the regular traffic chaos starts. Started on time and we were around Kalyan. Time was around 7:30-7:45 am I guess. Then another problem. Daughter started complaining about feeling uneasy. She has a problem with the XUV. Not sure if it is the plastics or the mold in the AC system, but unless we let lots of fresh air circulate in the car at the beginning of the journey, she gets a headache. May be its got to do with wet hair and the stress on eyes due to trying to focus on moving objects. We are not really sure. Same thing happened this time as well. She had a vomiting sensation as well. We almost panicked. A solution that has worked in the past is camphor. A few tablets tied in a small cloth hung over the AC went gives strong smell of camphor in the entire car and that tends to solve my daughter's problem. So there is always a pack of camphor in the XUV. The car had recently come back from 20000km service and so it was emptied out. Most of the stuff was in a bag that was in the kept in the car. I pulled over the car and frantically started looking for camphor in that bag. No luck. No camphor in the car. What to do now? It was too early on a Sunday morning for the shops to be open. We proceeded with caution and I asked my wife to keep a eye on both sides of the road for a general store from where we can get some camphor. The mood in the car had soured and we were heading towards Malshej slowly with eyes searching for the right type of shop. After a few failed attempts (stopped the car, inquired at a shop, no camphor), finally we got camphor at one particular shop. The regular solution was put in action and daughter started feeling better. In the mean-time my tummy started growling.

I started looking out for a medical shop now. In next 15 minutes, I realized that finding the camphor shop was easier. On and on and on, we drove.

Saw a couple of signs for Vitthal Kamat and pulled over.
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Dosas, utthapas, misal, idli, wada-pav and what not. I was worried about eating food and disturbing the balance in my tummy. But what to do, I was hungry. The extra sweet coffee provided the much-needed sugar-kick.
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After about 40 minutes, we were back on the road towards Malshej Ghat.

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Old 14th September 2014, 20:03   #3
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

A few more KMs down, I managed to get generic medicine for my tummy problem. My daughter had also settled down by then. The food did the trick and induced drowsiness in the passengers. When we left all the semi-urban area behind and just when the beautiful section of the road from Naneghat onward starts, my daughter, son and wife dozed off. Beautiful, clean road. Nice sweeping turns. It goes through some beautiful dense green section. I enjoyed the drive, but obviously could not click any pics. Mental note to self: Buy a proper dash-cam soon.

Soon we were climbing up the ghat and the overall surrounding changed drastically. From Mumbai till now, for more than 2 hours, the rains had evaded us. But once the ghat starts, its rain and fog everywhere. And waterfalls. Countless waterfalls.

Enough blabbering. First stop.
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The fog cover opened up for a brief minute or so and we were surprised by the sheer height of the mountains around us.
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Old 14th September 2014, 20:14   #4
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

We moved ahead. Found dense fog at our second stop.

When I pulled over, there was just one car there. But slowly a few more vehicles stopped
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It was some scenic point from where you can see the beautiful valley or something. We couldn't see a thing besides this creepy looking tree with a few crows on it.
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But the place was blissful. Almost magical. Light drizzle, cold breeze.
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We saw this BMW bike.
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Got bhutta to much on.
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After a light spell of rain, the fog became thicker and engulfed everything.
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Old 14th September 2014, 20:36   #5
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Stopped at a couple of more places. We saw the section of the ghat which is most famous with lots of waterfalls by the road-side. Some waterfalls pour thousands of liters of water directly on the road and it was fun driving through that downpour. We were practically at the top of the ghat and it was raining quite heavily.

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The crowd was getting thicker by now. And the rain got us drenched. So we decided not to take any more stops and head for lunch at the Malshej Ghat MTDC resort.

Thick fog in the resort.
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We reached the place before the lunch crowd started and were expecting prompt service. But no, the service was sloppy and we ended up wasting a lot of time before the food arrived. The MTDC restaurant is a lousy place. The food was not bad, but the table-chairs, plates and everything else in that place was old, shabby, poorly maintained. Don't know how the rooms would be.

After the lunch, we explored the same route for a few kms ahead.
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Took a U turn and turned back. Started the return journey around 1:30pm. Encountered significantly more crowd at the major waterfalls section and as expected they had gone crazy by then. A few were drinking right on the road. Quite a few more were bathing in the waterfalls. Even more were dancing in the middle of the road with those waterfalls dumping water everywhere on the road. Quite a crazy scene.

Going through the natural car-wash was quite a new experience. With people on the road and more than half the road full with people, cars were moving slowly. When the car is directly under a waterfall, such a huge quantity of water is coming down that for a few moments you can't see ANYTHING. Had a heart in the mouth moment when I was inching forward my car in such a waterfall and noticed a faint figure through the thick downpour ... it was a woman in the middle of the road barely inches from my car. Can't these people understand that the drivers in those cars can see zilch and you can easily get run over by a car. Never mind. I drove very carefully through that section and headed home. Didn't stop anywhere. Reached home at a decent hour. Ordered food from outside and called it a day.

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Old 14th September 2014, 21:41   #6
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Default Drive 2: Tamhini Ghat

Monday: 18th Aug 2014

It was a long weekend and we decided to utilize only the last day of that long-weekend so as to avoid crazy crowd associated with long weekends. There was a 8kms long traffic jam at the Khalapur toll on Mum-Pune Expressway on 15th Aug and I sort of felt relieved about not having stepped out on that day. Anyways, so where to go on 18th ? Had heard about the Tamhini Ghat and was on the cards (just like Malshej ghat was) for ages. For Pune folks, its a neat one day drive. But for Mumbaikars, its a bit hectic with 375 kms to be covered in a day. Here's what I had in mind: Expressway to Pune, leave the Pune-Bypass at Chandni Chowk, then Pirangut to Paud to Tamhini Ghat. Then continue straight on that route till it meets NH17 somewhere near Kolad, continue northbound on NH17 and then take the right on Pali-Khopoli Rd.. and then back to Mumbai through Expressway.

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Fellow BHPian and good friend Dodge_Viper helped me with the details about the route and especially the tricky Chandni Chowk exit.

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Old 14th September 2014, 22:10   #7
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

7am start from home. Took extra care to ventilate the car well before starting and had a healthy dosage of camphor dangling in front the AC vent to avoid any problems with my daughter. Stopped right before the expressway starts and had McBreakfast. The kids like it and so a good mood was set for the entire day. Mental note: Remember the good psychological effect McD-breakfast has on my kids when we step out of the city next time.
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The expressway was bone dry. A familiar tunnel.
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The whole expressway is so familiar now, that nobody even clicks a photo. No traffic jam in Khandala section. The view of the Kune falls from the expressway was magnificent. A white City gave good company and then towards the end of the expressway another XUV demonstrated how to drive a burly monster fast

Proceeded briskly through the Pune bypass. The 'right' at Chandni Chowk was indeed tricky: you take left, take right from 'under' the expressway and then climb 'above' the expressway level to head towards Pirangut-Paud.

The section till Pirangut was very ordinary with unplanned villages on either side. We stopped just before Pirangut for a quick break. There was a chai-tapari just next and we had some much-needed tea. Now we were really outside the city-madness and the nature had started showing its true beautiful colors.

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Old 14th September 2014, 22:38   #8
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

After that short tea-break by the road-side, we got back on the road. Soon the Mulshi river starts giving you company on the right. Unfortunately all access to the river is blocked by private fences put up by people who own the land. I was getting tempted to find a spot to dip the feet in the water and I kept on looking for a suitable place from where there would be a relatively easy access to the water. After some time, I found the perfect spot.

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Sunny day. Huh? Wasn't this supposed to be a monsoon-drive?
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A bit of muddy route, but not too difficult.
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Cold water and partially submerged trees.
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I envy the guy who has that beautiful house with that fantastic view of the river. Spot my red XUV in the overdose of green.
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There it is!
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Old 14th September 2014, 22:58   #9
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

The water was refreshing. Calm surroundings, not a soul in sight, fresh cool air in the lungs. Heavenly feeling.

We moved ahead. The Tamhini ghat is a 'drive'. There are no 'destinations' and 'places to see' as such. You keep on driving, enjoying the scenery all around you and stop wherever you feel like taking a break and getting closer to the nature.

A few kms ahead, we found another such spot. This time a stream under a small bridge.

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Back on the road to nowhere in particular.
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You just drive and stop when you finding something beautiful.
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Old 14th September 2014, 23:15   #10
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

The sky used to get overcast for some time and it used to drizzle a bit once in a while. But most of the time, it was just a bright sunny day. As we approached the actual Tamhini ghat, that changed. More consistent drizzle and cool breeze. Found a spot which was absolutely heavenly. Brilliant view of the valley and beautiful climate at that time.

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Old 14th September 2014, 23:31   #11
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

It was almost lunch time. We had skipped a few shady looking places till now, but now there were no food places in sight. And then suddenly out of the blue, we saw the Orchard resort. Very very decent place and good food. Highly recommended.

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2:00pm : Lunch done. Return journey starts.
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While I was headed straight to meet NH17, found this interesting sign which said I can bypass NH17 and directly join the Pali-Khololi road. Wow!
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The view of the Saras-Gadh at Pali brought back memories of the last year's trek.
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Had a quick darshan at the Pali Ballaleshwar temple (no pic)....
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... and headed straight back to home.

That concludes the 2nd drive.

Time permitted, the third drive - a two-day one - "Bhandardara redux" would be coming up shortly.

Cheers
SDP

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Old 15th September 2014, 00:08   #12
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Excellent pics Sanjay. The road to Malshej is indeed great!! We guys also enjoyed the drive when we went for the meet in August. Lovely weather. Great roads. Perfect!

And that waterfall resulting in a downpour on the car was amazing!


Cheers
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Old 15th September 2014, 12:39   #13
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Brilliant photos with the most soothing natural beauty. I really liked the many shots taken just before your break at Orchard resort with the mountains on either side, waterfall and dash of beautiful green patch. The whole article was so green and makes me very envious, dying to go on some drives.
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Old 15th September 2014, 14:07   #14
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Default re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

As usual, an amazing travelogue. Bookmarked for future reference right away.
I have some questions, but will ask them offline when we next meet up.
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Old 15th September 2014, 21:07   #15
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Default Re: Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014

Sat & Sun: 23/24th Aug 2014

Place: Bhandardara

We have been to Bhandardara in the rains 2 years back and were amazed by the beauty of the place. It was also one of the first trips after we got the XUV and so has a special place in the heart. Hope some of you remember this snap.
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You can read my Bhandardara experience in 2012 here ->
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-igatpuri.html (An unplanned long-weekend trip to Bhandardara-Igatpuri)

I am not going to write about Bhandardara all over again. Words can hardly do justice to the place anyways. So, would be mostly sharing the snaps and talking about the differences from last trip.

Our last Bhandardara trip was unplanned. It was a long weekend and there are anyways very very limited stay options at Bhandardara. So we had a pathetic stay experience at Hotel Amruteshwar. We saw the MTDC resort last time. The place is pretty average, but the location is to die for ... bang on the lake. So booked a room for 23rd Aug in May sometime.

Started from Mulund at 7am, picked up some breakfast at Thane McD and headed in the direction of Nashik. Fifteen minutes later, daughter started feeling weird and ended up throwing up before I could pull over at a safe place. We pulled over, cleaned her up, cleaned the floor-mat, waited a few minutes for my daughter to settle down and then started again. She hadn't eaten anything since morning and wasn't keen on having the McD stuff that we had picked up. So I decided to stop again after some time ..at Shahapur.
Found Domino's there and picked up daughter's favourite garlic bread and some new stuff.
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Back on the road again.
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At Kasara ghat, took the exit that goes through the scenic route and joins the highway again directly at Manas Resort-Igatpuri.

Does that place look familiar?
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Here are some pics of the first halt at Ghatandevi temple.
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Last time, the temple was getting renovated. This time it was complete.

Goofed up the camera setting and ended up overexposing many shots. Here are a few that I could salvage.
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We heard a train, but couldn't see one passing in front of us (like last time).
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Even that observation tower seems new. Don't recollect it from last trip.
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Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014-dsc_1700.jpg

Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014-dsc_1702.jpg

Revisiting the Greenery - Monsoon drives, 2014-dsc_1703.jpg

It was pretty hot. No signs of rain and I was wondering if this 'monsoon' trip is again going to be like the Tamhini Ghat trip.

Last edited by SDP : 15th September 2014 at 21:21.
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