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Old 22nd October 2016, 17:21   #1
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Default Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Here's another edition of Dizzy Drive®

Introduction

The thought of driving northwards from Bengaluru beyond Hubli (at least to Pune, Mumbai and thereabouts) has always been on the back burner and has never materialized so far. A good friend now works in Mumbai and visits Bengaluru at least every six months or so and each time we meet, we try to plan a trip with our families. This somehow has never seen the light of day, closest the plan came to fruition was last year when we’d decided everything and then Boom!

I had to travel to Mumbai on business around the same time as our proposed trip, so had to re-plan the entire trip to Mumbai by flight after I returned from my business trip there…but I’m digressing now as that was a very enjoyable trip too and I still haven’t found time for that travelogue!

We also have a small group of friends back from our college days who still manage to stay in touch and meet sometimes, especially when the Mumbai wala is visiting Bangalore. Over the last couple of years, the foodie in me has managed to convert those meets mostly into breakfast meets exploring good eateries around Bengaluru (typically old/heritage ones or newer ones that are good). At these meets, the topic of going on a trip with the gang inevitably comes up, obviously everyone has more than one suggestion usually for a place within 200Km from Bengaluru, then we talk about a “plan” and the trip never sees the light of day

My Mumbai wala friend traveled to Bengaluru on a short business trip in July this year and we again “discussed” our plan! This time he had couple of days off from work after his business conference ended, so he stayed back at Bangalore to spend time with extended family and friends. He asked if we could go on a day trip and luckily I could also take a day off and we visited some off-beat but very scenic places around Hassan like the Mavinakere temple, Ramadevara Katte and Shettihalli Rosary Church - travelogue of that trip is here.

That evening, on our way back from Hassan, he again brought up the topic of that elusive trip that was long pending! We decided to get back to our homes and then discuss it again with our families and guess what - This time though, the spouses had a surprising proposition for us and suggested we go on the trip ourselves without the families in tow as it was becoming difficult to sync our time away from work, holidays, school vacations for children, etc.

Now, my friend had a brainwave and suggested we use this opportunity to go on this trip with our good old group of friends, so it would be 3 of us from Bengaluru and our dost from Mumbai.

After my friend returned to Mumbai, I used my “TBHP time” to read a lot about the places we can include for a visit on this trip and do the planning since that part was entrusted to me.

By early August I’d done some reading on the internet and made a list of possible places to visit during our trip - here.
Around this time, there were heavy rains and landslides in the area and the tourist points had been “closed”, not good news at all!

About ten days later, my friend checked with his local contacts in Mumbai who visit Mahabaleshwar quite frequently and they mentioned that it’s fine to plan for a trip in late September. We zeroed in on the dates for Sep 22-Sep 25 and booked rooms at The Grand Legacy, Mahabaleshwar. We opted for the tented accommodation and used some coupons for a discount, worked out to about Rs.4500 per day.

I continued to work on the plan and by early September I had a fair idea of the route to be taken and places to visit, Thanks to folks like @paragsachania, @ampere, Dodge_Viper and @vivek95

When we started discussing the trip plan, I had Kaas and Bamnoli on my mind but wasn’t sure if we’d have the time for it, given we had 4 days end to end ex-Bengaluru for this trip. Mumbai wala friend calls me one day when I’m at office and says his colleague visited Kaas plateau and the Kaas Lake the previous weekend and he was amazed seeing the pictures of the place and asked me if it’s possible to include that in our itinerary - Hmm, this was exactly what I was yearning to hear!

*To make it easier to jump to specific sections of this travelogue easily, I'm including this Table of Contents/Index.

INDEX
Introduction (this post)

Initial Plan

Prep Work for Trip

Day 1 - Bangalore-Kolhapur Bypass

Day 1 - Wai

Day 1 - Dhom Dam, Menawali Ghat, Mahabaleshwar

Day 2 - Bombay Point, Lodwick Point

Day 2 - Wilson Point, Venna Lake

Day 2 - Echo Point/Kates Point/Needle Hole Point

Day 2 - Lingmala Falls

Day 2 - Mapro Garden

Day 3 - Bhilar View Point, Parsi Point

Day 3 - Sydney Point

Day 3 - Harrisons Folly

Day 3 - Kaas Plateau of Flowers, Kaas Lake

Day 3 - Bamnoli

Day 3 - Bamnoli-Satara-Kolhapur Bypass

Day 4 - Kolhapur Bypass-Belgaum-Bangalore

Day-Wise Route Information

Trip Statistics


Last edited by Rehaan : 27th October 2016 at 16:33. Reason: Don't thing indexlink works beyond the 1st page very well. Replacing links to 2nd page posts...
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Old 22nd October 2016, 17:25   #2
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

When Mumbai wala and I had discussed the trip plan on numerous occasions in the past, he had suggested we meet at Wai and proceed to Mahabaleshwar and then drive to Pune and Mumbai. However, due to our revised plans last year we visited Mumbai and spent time with my friend's family as well, so we decided we will not visit Pune and Mumbai on this short trip. Having been an ardent reader of travelogues on TBHP, I'd read about Wai and thought that we could visit the temples at Wai (not for the religious significance) and the Dhom Dam at least.

Given our work commitments, we had to time box the trip, so we decided that a total of 4 days would be our target and we can do our best to visit as many good places as would be possible.

Initial Plan

My initial plan was like this, thanks a lot to all the informative posts and travelogues by TBHP members, there’s a treasure trove of information right here…if you search that is!

Day 1
  • Three man Bengaluru Team (Team B) does Bangalore-Wai (about 800Km). One man Mumbai Team does Mumbai-Wai and we meet somewhere inside Wai town
  • Visit Dholya Ganapathi Temple, Kashi Vishweshwar Temple, Menawali Ghat and Dhom Dam
  • Drive to Mahabaleshwar via Panchgani, enroute visit Harrison’s Folly, Sydney Point, Table Land, Parsi Point in Panchgani. Definitely seemed like a stretch but what’s life without ambitious goals ?
  • Check in to hotel at Mahabaleshwar

Day 2
  • Sunrise at Arthur Seat
  • Mahabaleshwar Temple, Origin of 5 rivers
  • Wilson Point
  • Venna Lake
  • Mumbai Point/Sunset Point
  • Lodwick Point
  • Echo Point/Kates Point/Needle Hole or Elephant Point - all share the same entry point
  • Lingmala Falls
  • Late lunch at Mapro Garden
  • Back to hotel

Day 3
  • Drive to Kaas on the Mahabaleshwar-Medha-Satara-Kaas route
  • Visit Kaas plateau of flowers and Kaas Lake
  • Drive to Bamnoli, Boat ride if possible
  • Drive from Bamnoli to Satara
  • Say goodbyes to Mumbai friend, he (Team A) drives back to Mumbai
  • Team B drives to Belgaum (had blocked rooms at Sankam Residency). Plan B for Team B was to halt overnight somewhere near Kolhapur (thanks to @ampere for this very practical suggestion!)

Day 4
  • Team B drives from Belgaum or Kolhapur to Bangalore

As always, we’d need to re-plan things due to any exigencies and there were a few mostly due to the weather and slightly optimistic driving time estimations! What’s life without on-the-go Plans B and C ?

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 09:59.
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Old 22nd October 2016, 17:27   #3
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Prep work for the trip in the days leading up to D Day

Dizzy®
Dizzy® was serviced at 70K Km in late August, so it was in good shape with new front shock absorbers and a new drive shaft - turned out to be the first real major “part” replacements for Dizzy® other than filters, spark plugs, etc on earlier occasions. Dizzy® also got a new set of MGP horns after the Bosch OEM horns (the "Skoda" type horn) gave up recently. After the service, I’d visited Madhus Enterprises for wheel alignment and balancing, so that was taken care as well.

Day D - 1
Headed out for some shopping - Mumbai wala dost had a specific request for snacks from his favorite sweets and savories shop in Bangalore, Santhanam Sweets & Savouries, Shivajinagar. Along with the visit there, also stopped at a super market and picked up some fruit juices and water bottles for the trip.

Tanked up Dizzy® and also checked Nitrogen levels in the tyres - all were fine, no drop after the last top up at Madhus.

By afternoon, the only thing on my mind was the trip and I tried to optimize the plan a bit to avoid any possible delays that could impact our trip in any way. Called my friends, one of them agreed to stay overnight at my home to reduce travel time around the city in the morning, so 2 guys were taken care of, just one more to be picked up en route but that shouldn't be too difficult as he stays closer to Tumkur Road.

I’m a noob when it comes to packing things for a trip, wifey is the expert in that department so she did all the packing for me . My friend arrived by evening and we did a round of washing the car, filling up washer fluid and then loading our bags into the car.

Later that evening, we had a quick telecon with the group and we were excited that the trip was finally all set to become reality.

The Chariots for the Yatra
#Team A from Mumbai - Safari Dicor
#Team B from Bangalore - Dizzy®, the Swift Dzire

Cameras, etc
We did not take any great camera gear, one of my friends prefers his iPhone over his Nikon DSLR these days! We had our mobile phones and a Canon P&S digital camera.

One of the best decisions was to carry my old Bushnell Binocular, helped us enjoy the sights at the various view points.

Others
We also “armed” ourselves with this amazing post by Parag, the one-stop summary of information for food and fuel on the Bangalore-Pune/Pune-Bangalore route:
Parag's Post

In addition to bookmarking this post on our phones, I also had a printout of it just in case

Parag had also given me detailed directions and landmarks for the turn off from NH4 near Panchwad with the precise coordinates, so that part was crystal clear.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:00.
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Old 22nd October 2016, 17:29   #4
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

D Day/Trip Day #1 -> Bangalore-Kolhapur bypass

Woke up to the alarm going off at 2:30am and we were ready to leave from my home by 3:15am after a good cup of piping hot coffee, again thanks to Wifey.

We headed out to the other friend’s home and in the excitement I ended up missing couple of turns and had to take a few detours to reach his place, easily wasting 10 minutes. We picked him up finally and were on the Tumkur road near Jalahalli by 4am, not bad I thought!.

Next, I made a blunder by entering the service road before the elevated road down ramp toll plaza and had to endure truck traffic, many super big humps and a diversion for road work which forced us to the service road on the other side before finally being able to enter back into the main carriageway of NH4…damn! Easily wasted about 15 minutes here.

From here, picked up decent highway speeds and were on our way. Somewhere after Tumkur, there was light rain too so I kept to lower speeds. Our target for breakfast was between 8:30-9am at Kamat, Ranebennur in the Reliance bunk campus. To keep our hunger pangs in control, we munched on some biscuits.

Windmills of the gods, somewhere near Chitradurga
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Around Davanagere, the guys were getting impatient and wanted to stop at any roadside eatery which I dissuaded them against and then by 8:15am we were at the Kamat, Ranebennur.
A good, sumptuous breakfast ensued, everything was fresh and piping hot, there was just one other family there at that time.

Kamat, Ranebennur
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Sumptuous, Piping hot Breakfast with Yummy Ksheera
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We were back on the road around 9am. The guys spoke to Mumbai wala and based on our progress, we estimated we will reach Wai around 2pm and he said he will plan accordingly to reach Wai around that time.

We continued making good progress, using FasTag at the tolls where it was functional. The 2 laned stretch between Hubli-Dharwad was not so bad since we got stuck behind a 3-truck slow moving convoy just once and were soon on the Belgaum bypass which was excellent. The sun was out in full force and around 10:30 we tanked up Dizzy® at the HP outlet and then stopped at the Coffee Day outlet next door (this is opposite Dharwad High Court at Mummigatti on the Dharwad bypass). For a change, we decided to indulge on some cold coffees which tasted good but took a lot of time to get made. The staff were excruciatingly slow in making them and this break took about 45 minutes.

CCD at Mummigatti, Dharwad bypass
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Dizzy® parked under the only tree in front of the CCD. Loved the shadow of the tree that was swaying due to the crosswinds
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Cold Coffee indulgence at CCD
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En route we passed by the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha and my friend got a picture, rather a fleeting glimpse of it from the car
The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, Belgaum (Belagavi now)
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More Reading - Suvarna Vidhana Soudha

As we headed closer to Kolhapur, traffic got denser with more 2 wheleers, goods-carrying autos and the like so had to cut down to much slower speeds and this affected our progress. On the way, there was an accident that'd happened few minutes before we reached that spot and my best assessment was that it could have been very bad if the trucker had not miraculously managed to stop the truck and restrict it to just a kiss on a Santro (it was perpendicular to the road, so the guy probably tried to dart across to the other side of the highway when this happened), very lucky escape for the Santro guy. This took another 10 minutes away.

After the Kini toll plaza, there was a diversion for some road work on a bridge so traffic was diverted to the oncoming lanes which had been converted for 2 way traffic on a 2-3Km stretch. Around this time, I was expecting to stop for lunch at Sai International and found it just a little bit further on right side. While I was parking the car, our Mumbai friend calls saying he has reached Wai Phata from where he will turn right towards Wai.

This meant that he was just about 10Km or about 20 minutes away from our proposed meeting place at Wai somewhere inside the town. We told him that we’re about 2 hours behind schedule and should be there around 3pm. We had a quick lunch at Sai, the place was very neat, food was decent - we tried Misal Pav, Paav Bhaji and some Veg. Biryani (on triple sharing basis!). The restrooms were very well maintained so this is an ideal family friendly stop if you’re looking for one near Kolhapur. They have ample parking space all around and even lodging facilities at the building adjacent to the food court.

The food court at Sai International
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The lodging section at Sai International
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Last edited by Rehaan : 27th October 2016 at 15:48. Reason: Removing an abandoned "center" tag
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Old 22nd October 2016, 17:31   #5
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued...
Trip Day #1 -> Wai

After lunch, we managed to leave around 1:50pm. The guys called up Mumbai wala who had by then settled down for a power nap below a tree on the Wai-Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar highway a couple of Km away from the busy Wai town. Another auto enthusiast like all of us here, he always prefers to park his car in a safe place away from crowds and traffic.

We made good progress till Satara but after that, the diversions due to incomplete and work in progress flyovers slowed us down and we finally reached Wai at 3:45pm almost 2 hours later than we’d originally estimated in the morning. Quickly exchanged greetings with Mumbai wala, some jokes were cracked (including about me on things like my enthusiasm for driving, trip planning, routes, etc), few pictures taken and then we decided to park Dizzy® outside a hotel on the main road as it seemed safe there and all of us bundled into the Safari (and forgot to carry the Garmin GPS device that was inside Dizzy®).

Soon we were at the parking lot of the Dholya Ganapati Temple on the banks of the River Krishna.
This place is beautiful, the temples are beside the river bank and surrounded by hills and also considered a holy place (Dakshin Kashi).

However, as with many such places in our country, the neglect and apathy is very apparent with the maintenance of the place. The river itself is quite polluted, there are shops surrounding the temple, litter strewn around (papers, wrappers and the like). Very sad to see such a beautiful place in a state of neglect. We spent 5-10 minutes sitting on the steps by the river bank, went around the temples for some pictures and then visited the Dholya Ganapati and Kashi Vishweshwar temples that are adjacent to each other. There are few other small temples around the river bank and on either sides of the bridge that leads to these bigger temples.

The Dholya Ganapathi/Mahaganapathi Temple from the parking lot
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The idol inside was huge and majestic and decorated very well, obviously no photography inside the temple premises.

Smaller Shiva temple and Nandi beside the Ganapati temple
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Kashi Vishweshwar Temple on right side of Ganapati temple
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Some sites on the internet mention that this is an ancient temple, but I feel it may not be that "ancient" really and is possibly from the Shivaji era. There is even a video on You Tube here with a walk inside the temple:


The temple is beautiful and should be on your must-see list if you travel this side.
Interesting part is that there are 2 pillars on either side of the Nandi, these pillars are like the Gajasthambhas seen in most Indian temples but the unique thing about them is that they have leaf like structures (possibly to place little diyas/lamps on them ?, I’m not sure).

We enquired with the security guy posted there and he said we can take pictures inside but we decided against taking any pictures in the inner sanctorum and just took a few pictures in the outer courtyard.

The Majestic Nandi/Bull
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A mantap/hall in front of the Nandi (possibly for devotees to sit/functions) - it had ornate work around the pillars
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The temple from the outer courtyard
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Notice a small opening/ventilator on the wall at the side of the temple ? The entire design of that grill is shaped as a snake in black stone and the body of the snake coils around to form the entire grill with the head of the snake somewhere in the middle - Superb! And if one looks through that grill, the idol inside the sanctum sanctorum is visible. Unfortunately, I could not take a picture of it!

The ornate Pillar/Stambh in the background and the Man (possibly like the Kalabhairav in south indian temples who symbolically guards the temple ?)
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Closer view of the Pillar. Isn’t it beautiful ? Notice the Lotus at the top of the pillar
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After a few minutes we came out of the temple after our darshan.

Smaller temples around the banks of River Krishna
There are smaller temples like these around the river bank, one temple even seemed to be inside what looked like a dilapidated fortified place on the other bank of the river, again neglect was very apparent.
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Parting Shot - Krishna River flows beside the Dholya Ganapati Temple
Behind the Dholya Ganapati temple, the River Krishna flows through the valley and somewhere up ahead is the Menawali Ghat which was also in our list to places to visit.
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Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:03.
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Old 25th October 2016, 08:06   #6
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued..

Trip Day #1 -> Dhom Dam, Menawali Ghat, Mahabaleshwar

Back to the parking lot, we had a routing decision to make - do we take the road in front of the Dholya Ganapati temple (Dhom Dam Road) to visit the Dam or do we take the road behind the temple (Menawali Road) ? Both these roads go almost parallel to each other on either side of the Krishna river that flows between them.

My suggestion was to take the latter as it was around 4:30pm already and seemed like it may rain. This way we could visit Menawali ghat and Dhom dam on the same route. The Dhom Dam Road leads to Boriv village and there is a boating point there from what I've read online, so I think our decision was good since we got to see the other side of the dam from Dhom village and there were hardly any people (read tourists) there.

On the Menawali road, we could not spot the turn off to the ghat so decided to go ahead to Dhom village and visit the ghat on the way back on the same road.

When we reached Dhom village, there were absolutely no signs for the dam and in hindsight I think it’s good if left that way, our tourists are usually way too brash and spoil most good places with litter and garbage. God help us!

At Dhom village, we stopped to ask for directions which was a funny episode.

We reached the dam and had to climb over the embankment to get to the top. By now it had started drizzling lightly and the clouds were almost at arms length and the beautiful sight of the green waters surrounded by green hills was ethereal, felt like another planet altogether.

There was just one other family who seemed to have spent some time there and left few minutes after the drizzle got a bit heavier. We now had the entire place to ourselves and just took in the sights of the wonderful place in peace, the air felt so fresh and clean away from all the polluted air we breathe every day in our city lives.

Dhom dam embankment - it was a green carpeted meadow
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Pano of the green meadow
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Cows grazing, green all around on the ground as well as the surrounding hills
It was an amazing blend of various hues of Green.
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Really feel jealous of the Dhom residents, they have such a beautiful place surrounding them!

Pictures of the green colored water at the Dam’s catchment area
Oh, my friend tells me the green color is not from the algae or weeds but the reflection of the green colour all around (greenery on the hills) due to the sunlight.
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Notice the broken/missing street lights
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All the street lights were broken, heck even the main electric junction box had all wires disconnected and there were signs of litter and broken bottles around, again substantiating my view on tourists.

When the drizzle got heavier, we hurried up to take shelter in a small watch tower with 3-4 steps. About 5 minutes later, I was the first to get down to enjoy the rain and the rest of the gang followed. We don’t get to experience rain in such beautiful environs daily, so getting drenched wasn’t an issue, would be nice actually! But soon, the drizzle stopped and morphed into a light mist and no words can describe how beautiful the place was, we walked the entire length of the dam and then decided to head back before it got dark.

From the watch tower, taking shelter from rain
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On our way back towards Wai, we again missed the turn for Menawali ghat and had to ask people there before finally finding it. There is a Nana Phadnavis community centre building and that is where one needs to turn.

Almost before the road ends, there is an open space where one can park and then walk down to the ghat. Right in front of the ghat is an old building called Nana Phadnavis Wada (Palace or large residence). Some local folks told us that the Wada is used by film crews as a “Bhooth Bungalow” for films. Overall, the ghat is another beautiful place that is neglected and dirty, very sad. The place around the ghat was very slippery due to the rain and slush and my almost new shoes didn’t help, it made matters worse by being extra slippery, it was like being on a dance floor or snow clad slope! There were some locals who were fishing and some were washing clothes. We took some pictures there and left in about 15 minutes.

More Reading - Nana Phadnavis

The temple at Menawali ghat
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Nana Phadnavis Wada in the background
Notice how the door from the back of the Wada leads to the ghat (the Wada is at a higher level and the door is almost like a fort door).
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Pano of the Nana Phadnavis Wada from the ghat
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En route we stopped near the Dholya Ganapati temple for a cup of tea and one of our friends also shopped for a pair of flip-flops at a local store nearby!

We then headed back towards the Mahabaleshwar road, found Dizzy® to be safe where I’d parked it and began our journey towards the hotel in Mahabaleshwar, The Grand Legacy.

It was past 6:30pm and darkness descended quickly accompanied by light rain. The drive though was very enjoyable, roads got rougher after Panchgani and towards Mahableshwar, lots of potholes courtesy the recent downpours.

Obviously, the darkness ensured that we could not visit any of the view points en route near Panchgani, but we had enough buffer the next day, or so I thought!

By 7:30pm, we reached our hotel which was just off the main road, via a small lane going uphill beside a few other properties.
Trip meter read 830Km, this was by far my longest drive in a single day, surpassing my Rameshwaram-Bangalore drive few years ago.

We completed the check-in formalities and soon we were in our tents named Mercury and Venus. On a premonition, I quickly went around to check the names of the other tents and yes there wasn’t a Saturn (Shani)! Confirmed my view that hoteliers are superstitious

The Tented Room. It was nice, cosy and comfortable
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The balcony/patio outside the Tented room
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The view from the balcony/patio - a large garden in the quadrangle
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I checked with the folks at the reception regarding a drive to Arthur seat to view sunrise the next morning and they said there will be heavy fog so not a good idea, damn there goes another plan!

Tired from a very long day of driving and sight-seeing, we freshened up quickly and ordered food by room service. The hotel was a vegetarian place like many others in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar (I guess due to the Gujju influence/owners). The food was excellent and the best dish was a revelation - Cheese Pakoras/Pakodas, like the Burger King Jalapeño Cheese Poppers and the Cream Centre Cheese Poppers but much more tastier! Thanks to my friend who ordered it since he knew it was a popular dish locally. The cheese just melted in our mouths, farm fresh stuff.

Rest of the evening was spent over some banter, reliving old times spent together at college, listening to music and catching up with some cricket news on TV.

I was still hopeful that we’d be able to visit Arthur Seat for sunrise, so told the guys that I will give them a wake up call if things went as planned. We called it a day and dozed off quickly around 11pm.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:06.
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Old 25th October 2016, 10:40   #7
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Trip Day #2 -> Bombay Point, Lodwick Point

I suddenly woke up thinking I’d overslept and missed the 5:15am alarm on the phone! It was just 5am, quickly went out of the tent and saw that there was heavy fog with almost no visibility. So, that slim ray of hope I had for a drive to Arthur seat for sunrise was gone. I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep and woke up finally at 7am. The other guys woke up around that time too so we had coffee and went out of our tents. The heavy fog was still there and nothing beyond the close vicinity of the hotel was visible.

We were ready by 8:15am and headed to the restaurant for breakfast. The breakfast spread was decent and everything tasted great. We had a relaxed breakfast and headed out around 9am, the fog was still there though it had reduced a bit. The guys at the reception suggested we leave around 10am when the fog reduces further, so we went around the property looking for photo opportunities.

Views from outside our tents at 8am
The cottage opposite our tents looked nice.
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The Swimming Pool and other buildings at the back of our hotel
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Hills in front of our tents
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Pano of the hotel - tents on left, main Red building in front and other cottages on the sides, garden in the quadrangle
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At 9, the fog had reduced a bit
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Better visibility at 9:30
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Much better at 10, time to start our visits to various view points
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Dizzy® and Safari parked next to each other, Dizzy® will get a day of rest today as we planned to use the Safari
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We headed out at 10am and went past Venna Lake boating point towards Arthur seat. It was then that I realized, we’d forgotten to take the Garmin GPS from Dizzy® (again!), so we had to stop and ask locals since most signs were not legible or confusing - the one in Hindi and the one in English were usually contradicting by pointing to different directions! Add to this, cell phone reception was bad and we did not have offline maps, Bah! What a predicament!

We decided we’ll go to Bombay Point (It’s popularly known as the Sunset Point but we just ignored that!). There was heavy fog and visibility was restricted to about 10-15 feet, it was like a scene from the Zee Horror Show with dilapidated old buildings surrounded by trees and heavy fog. Along the way, we ended up taking a turn into the MTDC resort - the place was so beautiful and huge with cottages spread out all over the property and there was not a single soul around, I even thought it may have been closed down/abandoned. We managed to get out of the MTDC property and find our way to Bombay Point finally.

Ah, it’s Mumbai Point after all This seemed like a newer signboard
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The entry to the view point was surrounded with beautiful trees, like this moss covered one
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A pano of the trees to one side, eerie and beautiful, except for the garbage strewn around by tourists
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Entrance to the view point
The view points that we visited in Mahabaleshwar had the same theme - paved with Large Red Clay Bricks (the type we see commonly in Kerala and coastal regions).
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About Bombay Point - etched in stone (see it’s not Mumbai here ?)
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My shoes were acting up again, slippery as hell, at some places I barely escaped skidding and falling.

Views from Bombay Point, nothing more than some trees were visible in the dense fog
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Headed out and again captured the trees (on camera of course!)
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Our next stop was Lodwick Point that was nearby. When we reached there, this was the scene
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The cars ahead were making U-turns as the security guys said the place is closed down due to landslides and maintenance work.

While heading out, there was a fork with a road to the right and the sign said “Sydney House Road”. We decided to check it out. Wow, that road was amazing - narrow road engulfed in thick fog and trees all around, seemed to be leading to some awesome place. Another couple of Kilometers and we saw that the road ended at a private property with a huge barricade. There is possibly some big farm house in there but we could not see anything, made a U-turn and headed back.

Few minutes later, we reached the Old Mahabaleshwar junction and saw the SH58 road to Satara, that was the one we planned to take next day for our visit to Kaas.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:34.
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Old 25th October 2016, 10:47   #8
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued..
Trip Day #2 -> Wilson Point, Venna Lake

Our next destination was Arthur Seat and the signages there were confusing, some of the roads were marked one way as well. At the turn off near Old Mahabaleshwar, we ran into a “broker-cop”, details of that incident here.

Just a little bit ahead we saw a signboard for Wilson Point so decided to go there first. A narrow road led to a rocky plateau on top of a hill.

There was a lone guy at the watch tower (he was local who was a freelance guide as well) who rambled away in Marathi before we told him we don’t understand the language and with great difficulty he switched to Hindi. This place was also beautiful but due to the heavy fog, visibility was low, we could not see the Pratapgad fort etc that is visible from here.

The narrow road circles around the plateau and reaches the main road again at another junction. The guide told us it is meant to be used a one-way so the road we took is the one to enter Wilson Point and we need to Exit by continuing on the same road to reach the main road again. We explored the plateau and surroundings for a few minutes before light rain descended. The rocky terrain (Basalt) is quite similar to the one in Kaas, little colorful flowers sprouting here and there in clusters, there were also water puddles.

Even more interesting was what looked like remnants of some old structures (the guide told us there was a Jail in the British era, don’t know how far that is accurate), there were even some cast iron rings on the slabs, possibly to chain horses ?, the guide said convicts were chained there!

The Watch tower/viewing deck at Wilson Point
There is another one on the other side as well as we exit the place
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The narrow road we took to reach Wilson Point
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Views from the deck, heavy fog in the distance
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The rocky (Basalt) plateau
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Vegetation on the rocks!
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Colorful flowers growing in clusters, like in Kaas!
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Some interesting plants we saw
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Remnants of some old structures on the plateau
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Slab with Cast Iron rings on one side
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By now it was past noon so we had to rethink our plan. The guide was very confident that the drive to Arthur Seat will be disappointing as the fog would be heavy so he suggested visiting the temple at Mahabaleshwar.

We decided to skip the visit to the temple and instead head to Echo Point.

En route, we stopped at Venna Lake boating point. It wasn’t very crowded, there were few shops selling roasted and boiled corn, so we stopped there for some corn and a few pictures. There were some guys offering horse rides for those interested. We decided to skip the boat ride, got some corn and headed off towards Echo Point.

Some pictures from Venna Lake Boating Point
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Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:08.
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Old 25th October 2016, 10:59   #9
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued..
Trip Day #2 -> Echo Point/Kates Point/Needle Hole Point

To reach this place, one needs to drive just a little beyond the Brightland Resort. These viewpoints are adjacent to each other and share the same entry point and parking lot.

The fog was playing hide and seek and would envelop the place for some time and then clear out suddenly offering breathtaking views. It was fun waiting or the fog to clear every 10 minutes or so.

The binocular was the biggest boon here and we loved viewing the sights through it’s eyes.

Entry to the view points
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Description of each view point
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These view points offered excellent views of the Krishna river, the Balkwad Dam, the hills all around with verdant greenery and the Needle Hole and Elephant Head formations in the Rocks.

Pictures do not do justice to the beauty of this place, do not miss if you visit Mahabaleshwar.

Beautiful Views all around from the view points
Balkawad Dam can be seen in the pictures.
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The water fall at Needle Hole point is a stream/spring known as “Vultures Water” and originates at the top of the hill here
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Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:11.
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Old 25th October 2016, 11:05   #10
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued..
Trip Day #2 -> Lingmala Falls

It was now past 2pm, so we headed towards our next stop - Lingmala Falls.

We quickly reached the main road again from Echo Point and the turn off to Lingmala was also nearby and we reached the entry point in about 15 minutes.

This place again, was paved with the Red Clay Bricks just like the other view points around Mahabaleshwar (Except Wilson Point which had old viewing towers/decks).

Paid the entry fee and started walking down the steps.

Entry fee counter and gate
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Soon, we see a stream of water from the Venna River flowing across the stairs under a small bridge and we can hear the sound of water pouring down somewhere nearby.

Stream of water from the river flowing downhill
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The steps have been laid out beautifully here and the height of each step is very consistent and the climb is gradual so it should be quite an easy trek for most people. Then we came to a point where we saw this:

Left for the mini waterfall and right for the main waterfall
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We decided to take the right side to the view point for the main waterfall and it was a nice walk on the steps, again very easy to walk down to the falls as the climb isn’t steep anywhere.

The trail towards the main waterfall
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The stream of water flowing down gets wider and speed of water flow increases
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We see this old bridge with metal railings on the left of the stairs..
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Go up to the end thinking it leads to the other bank, but it’s tough and unsafe to go there so we return
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We see some other properties on the other side of the stream
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Further down, we see a part of the waterfall
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Then we get a glimpse of the valley/gorge below
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We then see several streams of water all around the gorge, beautiful sight unfolding
All of them drop the waters down to the gorge below, beautiful sight this.
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Surrounded by lots of vegetation and flora and some fog to enhance the beauty of the place
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First view of the main waterfall
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The main waterfall described
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The waterfall is majestic, see how the water thunders down in stages..
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..before reaching the valley below
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</EOV>Ok, that’s the very end of the view point!
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One more view of the water in the valley meandering along it’s curvy course, heavenly!
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After enjoying the visit to this beautiful place that is also maintained quite well (Ok, if I really have to nitpick it will the the proximity of some properties to the waterfall as I feel it may be a threat to the falls in terms of possible pollution and there were enough signs of it already), we decided to head out.

And then, the gods decided to bless us with a rainbow at that precise moment for a parting shot, AWESOME!
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Don’t miss this place if you visit Mahabaleshwar, it's too good to be missed. Apart from the main waterfall, you can see several other falls all around the gorge.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:13.
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Old 25th October 2016, 22:36   #11
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued..
Trip Day #2 -> Mapro Garden

It was almost 3:30pm when we reached the parking lot, now we were feeling a bit tired and hungry, so the next very obvious destination was for food at Mapro Garden.

As we headed back towards the main road, I realized that the waterfall wasn’t too far from our hotel, in fact almost right opposite but with no direct public access of course! And we need to actually get to the other side of the waterfall & gorge to be able to view it

We reached Mapro Garden around 4pm and the fog had starting getting denser.
Mapro Garden, a very popular place swarming with people and buzzing with lots of activity
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Very well maintained property as can be seen here
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They bake their own Sandwich bread in this Glass enclosure!
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And churn out tons of sandwiches, wait for your order number to be announced on the PA system!
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The wood fired oven for Pizzas
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Yay, we get our food, the soups first - Minestrone and Tomato
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Then we gobble down sandwiches and french fries,
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followed by Strawberry ice-cream (they were gone before we could get a picture!)

The dining area at Mapro Garden
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After polishing off the yummy lunch, we visited the Mazaana Chocolate Factory where we can view the chocolates being made and packed (from the glass wall outside), an interesting place.

We also did some tasting of Mapro’s products like the Sitaphal/Custard Apple Crush and Whole Strawberry Crush (mmmmmm….yummy!!!) and bought some of these to take back home.

It was now about 5pm, and with the fog not showing any signs of clearing, we decided to head back to our hotel, mission mostly accomplished for the day.

The fog ensured that we wouldn’t be able to visit any other places around Panchgani
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Oh, before I forget.. the sign inside the restroom at Mapro Garden, they don’t want anyone to fail, especially when it comes to flushing
Link

Taking Stock and Re-planning
After a well spent day we were back at the hotel and one of the first things to do for me was to tweak the plan based on what places we’d managed to visit in the first 2 days. Tomorrow, if we head out to Kaas on the Medha-Satara route, we would miss the view points near Panchgani but what if there is heavy fog again ? We decided we’ll take a chance by going on the Panchgani-Wai-Satara route again and we’ll start at least by 9am from Mahabaleshwar.

Another evening of banter, laughter, jokes and a very sumptuous, tasty dinner followed (the Cheese Pakoras were there again!). I’m not a great fan of Baingan Bartha but it was something else here - super stuff and went very well with the Tandoori Rotis. Food was excellent at the hotel and value for money as well, even with the room service pricing.
By 11pm we were fast asleep as we had a long day tomorrow!

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Old 25th October 2016, 22:59   #12
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Trip Day #3 -> Mahabaleshwar, Bhilar Waterfall View Point, Parsi Point

By 6:30am all of us were awake, after a cup of coffee we decided to check out the cottage (wooden cabin) in front of our tents - since it was vacant we were sure we wouldn’t be disturbing anyone.

The cottage/cabin looked like one of those wooden cabins from old western movies!
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Even had some nice chaise lounge furniture, tables and chairs around
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Today, the sky was much clearer than the previous day so at least we could see the greenery and hills around the hotel clearly.

The hills in front of the hotel (Lingmala falls gorge is just behind that building)
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One of the waterfalls in the distance
This is on the opposite side of the main Lingmala Waterfall, almost where the view point ends. We were able to see the stairs at the view point using the Binocular.
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Parting shot from our hotel in Mahabaleshwar - a tree inside the campus
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By 7:30am we were ready with bags packed. Mumbai wala and myself went down to the cars with as much baggage as we could carry. One of the biggest advantages on a long trip is the huge boot in the Dzire, I had absolutely no problems with space. I got a carton box from the hotel to pack the stuff we’d bought from Mapro the previous day. Hoped that these would remain undamaged during our journey. The other guys too joined us shortly with some more bags and we were all set. We then headed to the restaurant for breakfast which was excellent again, and the service was great too, loved this place.

We settled the bill at the reception and headed out by 9am as planned.

En route, stopped quickly at the Bhilar waterfall view point.

Signboard for Waterfall View Point
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Waterfall far away
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Zooming in a bit
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Few minutes later we reached Panchgani and our first stop was at Parsi Point. This place has a nice park and offers great views.
Parsi Point Entrance - why do vendors spoil the place with such encroachments ?
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The Park
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Scenic views from the View Point
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We left Parsi Point after spending some 10 minutes there. Some distance ahead, I saw a convoy of cars making a right turn towards Table Land, by far the most popular place in Panchgani. Today was a Saturday and the tourist crowd had started flowing in, good that we were heading out.

Decided to skip Table Land and instead go to Harrisons Folly later.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:17.
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Old 25th October 2016, 23:08   #13
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued...
Trip Day #3 -> Sydney Point

Next up, was Sydney Point with a turn off to the left from the highway.

At the entrance of this view point, there was some construction work in progress to spruce it up. We parked here and walked up the steps, this place also offers some great views.

The walkway inside the view point
There was work in progress at the entrance/parking lot of the view point. Place is quite well maintained.
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The paved walkway seen in these pictures in on the road leading to the View Point, nice place to just walk around
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Spectacular views from Sydney Point
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Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:18.
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Old 25th October 2016, 23:14   #14
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued...
Trip Day #3 -> Harrisons Folly

Our next stop was again a turn off to the left of the highway for Harrisons Folly. A muddy, slightly slushy path leads to the view point and can be done easily on any car. This place seemed to picking up on popularity what with vendors selling various eatables hanging out there, even a lone Camel for rides to tourists! The views around this place were full of green, green and more shades of green! Beautiful place, just hope it doesn't get spoiled, saw few water bottles and wrappers thrown around.

Green, Serene Hills around the View Point
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Vehicles parked on the periphery of the view point, vendors in the middle and lovely bluish backdrop
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Camel ride anyone ?
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Towns/Settlements in the valley below, not too far away
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Parting shot - Goodbye Harrisons Folly
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By 11am, we were out of the place, heading towards Wai, Panchwad, Satara and then Kaas.

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:44.
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Old 26th October 2016, 11:18   #15
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Default re: Dizzy Drive®: Bangalore - Mahabaleshwar - Kaas - Bamnoli in 4 days (1,700 km)

Continued...
Trip Day #3 -> Kaas Plateau of flowers, Kaas Lake

We took the Wai-Panchwad-NH4 route to Satara. At Satara, we turned right towards the town and about 5-6Km later crossed the Shivaji circle and turned off towards the Kaas Road. There was a bit of city traffic inside Satara but on the Kaas Road it was quite peaceful (calm before the storm!). The weather was beautiful and the surroundings were serene, one feels like stopping everywhere to savor the views and to take pictures..and we were still a few Kilometers away from Kaas.

View of Satara city from the beginning of Kaas Road
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Satara-Kaas Road
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We stopped en route to buy some boiled peanuts from a roadside vendor and then proceeded towards Kaas. Ampere had cautioned me about huge crowds during weekends and holidays but we hadn’t seen them yet so we were optimistic. Suddenly I see a huge SRS Travels Bus with KA registration and college students inside, ah so there goes! From here we could see lot of people walking along the sides of the road, then we were in very slow moving traffic, No Parking signs notwithstanding, there were several cars and 2 wheelers parked on the sides of the road causing the slowness.

Somewhere on the way when we stopped to buy peanuts
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Little Orange flowers along the roadside
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The fog was dense too and all along we could see the little flowers in small clusters on the rocky surface. Both sides were fenced off with No Parking signs and there was one main entrance for people to see the flowers and that was overcrowded to say the least. There was a visitors fee of Rs.100 (the official Kaas site mentions it is Rs.100 on weekends and holidays and Rs.50 on other days). Since only one of my friends was in the car we paid Rs.200. The other 2 guys were in the Safari and they did not have to pay the fee as the guys said MH registered vehicles are exempted, now this isn’t mentioned anywhere on the website!

At Kaas Plateau of flowers - Entry Fee Point
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It seemed like the entire Pune population was there (most vehicles we saw had MH 11 and 12 registration plates!).

After paying the fee I saw vehicles parked in front (in the opposite direction) so it looked like the end of the road and there were parking lots on both sides of the road. We turned left to get into one of the parking lots. The surface was rocky with grass thrown in for good measure, wasn’t easy to park and we saw several vehicles struggling with wheel spins.

Luckily, I found a parking spot and my friend suggested backing up the car into that spot - one of the best suggestions. It wasn’t too steep nor too slippery so I could backup and park quite easily and safely with good gaps separating the cars on either side. Meanwhile, Mumbai wala had a mini scare - the 2 WD Safari suddenly had wheel spins and parking it wasn’t easy. The other friend had some experience with such situations so helped him park safely using some stones found nearby.

More Reading About Kaas
Kaas Plateau Wikipedia
Kaas Official Website

The Kaas Parking lot - gave a lot of drivers nervous moments!
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View of Kaas Lake from the parking lot
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Now, instead of heading towards the flowers (to avoid the crowds), we headed towards Kaas Lake which was just below the parking lot. We trekked down to the place jumping out of the parking lot onto the road below and reached the Kaas Lake. By now there was mist and even light rain and we enjoyed a walk down to the waters of the lake.

We discussed quickly on what to do next (a visit to Bamnoli lake was in our plan) and they suddenly seemed to have lost their enthusiasm and were like, why not head back ?

The Kaas Lake
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I asked a cab driver about Bamnoli and he said it is about 9Km away, roads are very narrow and it will get very dark when we return so not advisable to go there. I was like Damn, why did I even speak to such a Naysayer ?

Another person overheard our conversation and he said the road is just like how it is right here, pretty decent single lane road and definitely not as narrow as the cabbie mentioned.

What was running in my mind now was how do we get onto this road from the parking lot ? After all it was the end of the road near the parking lot ?

Then it struck me that we were actually on the road near Kaas Lake which is just one hair pin bend after the parking lots! Quick check confirmed that the traffic going uphill from Kaas Lake was stuck near the Parking lots due to vehicles entering and exiting! Damn!

I then convinced the group that we shouldn’t miss a visit to Bamnoli having come so far with an 800+ Km drive, why miss it for just 8Km or so ?

I told them that the pictures I’ve seen on Team BHP travelogues were amazing, so we must go there. Finally saw some excitement on the faces of the guys and they agreed. We decided we will leave the Safari at the parking lot and all of us will go in Dizzy®.

The only problem was how do we exit the parking lot with the traffic jam at it’s peak ?

There were a couple of others thinking on similar lines and we saw them exit the parking lot from the other side but they had to navigate a roadside drain/ditch to get on to the road. The ditch was filled with small rocks and one cabbie in a Force Traveller navigated it slowly and quite easily in the end, with precise turns and acceleration. Would Dizzy® be able to do this ?

This was definitely going to be a task for me and I wasn't very confident, so I handed over the keys to Mumbai wala who is an expert driver.

With guidance from all of us, he very skillfully navigated Dizzy® out of the place without burning the clutch and sans any hits to the underbody. The Dzire’s GC helped too, and all of us got out of the car to further reduce the weight. Wish I had a picture or video of this!

The Force Traveller who was our pilot showing us how to navigate out of the parking lot
This was after he reached the road and was heading on his way out of Kaas.
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Took these pictures on the way back from Bamnoli when crowds had reduced a bit.
Flowers at Kaas - there were lots of little clusters, but apparently not as dense it can get sometimes
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Parting shot of flowers at Kaas
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*Some people we spoke to at Kaas, told us we should visit again in October to see more flowers - For sure I'm definitely not going back on a weekend or holiday!

Last edited by NPV : 27th October 2016 at 10:44.
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