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Old 5th July 2017, 19:37   #1
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Default Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Total Distance: 1700 kms
Total Time: 72 hours
Total Time behind wheel: 50 hours
Total Fuel consumption: 134 liter

A picture to set the mood for the trip.
2am-Duster and that Haunted tree.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2662.jpg
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2663.jpg



After the recent trip from Ooty, Vizag, Gandikota I felt that I was not doing justice the word “symmetry”. The map of India is one huge equilateral triangle according to me. The more you drive the fact hits you back India has so much left to explore.

How it looked.
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How I wanted it to look
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Finally this is how it looked (couldn’tinclude places like Vizag and Coonor due to google map stop limitation)
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Here are links of recent road-trips.

Hyderabad-Ooty
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...uster-awd.html (Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD)

Hyderabad-Aaraku
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...uster-awd.html (Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD)

Hyderabad-Gandikota
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...uster-awd.html (Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD)


We all have been travelling for a while now and it gives me immense joy whenever I plan a trip even to the place I have been already. Lucky for me my parents adored travel and probably that’s where I get the obsession from. My better half is equally a catalyst to keep the momentum going. Back when I was a kid the planning phase was long and brought along loads of fun, Hotel bookings were made four to five months in advance. Fellow travelers would agree planning for the trip was one of the most memorable part of any trip. We never had google maps back then and the route was drawn manually referring the ATLAS and decided along with all the family members. Things have changed for good nowadays. With online hotel booking options you can plan a trip just few hours earlier, fill up the tank and hit the highway. Route planning takes roughly few hours thanks to teambhp and google map. Rest of the planning materializes in the car.

Day-1
We had been to Mahabaleshwar earlier for a rendezvous with schoolmates. Fellow bhpian Suryaonwheels had cited that the mountain ranges have a different charisma altogether during the monsoons. This time I planned to cover Lonavla, Khandala and Malsej as well.

With some light evening snacks we headed for Mahabaleshwar at 6pm from Hyderabad. Touched ORR at 7pm. Before plunging into the narration of the trip let me share the route details.


Route Details
Hyderabd-Zaheerabad-Naldurg-Sholapur (310km ,7 hours ,Average Speed ~44kmph)
Road conditions have improved a lot from the last time I went in 2016 but from what I understood it is going to take another 1.5 to 2 years to bring up the average speed to 55+ kmph. There are a bunch of small town and villages on the way so I opted to drive post 9-10pm.
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Sholapur-Mohol-Pokhrapur-Koregaon-Satara (275kms in 5.5 hours with Average speed of 50kmph)
Please note google map suggests three routes and all of them are scenic and wonderful. Keep an eye for minor potholes and some rattling speed breakers. This is the second time for me on this route and I feel the sooner you get off from the Sholapur-Pune highway towards Satara, faster is the route.
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Satara-Medha-Varoshi-Mahabaleshwar (57km in 1.5 hours, Average speed 37kmph, the theory of pre judging the road condition from average speed does not apply here as it was Ghat section.)
If you have a great handling car, I would suggest the route above, since Duster behaves well at hairpins and ghats we went for the Varoshi route. From Asansi to Navali you would get 17 kilometers of pure Ghat fun. Altitude rise is steep and I got a blocked ear. It was raining heavily and few places in the ghats were under re construction and broadening. I was in 2wd and the duster was skidding on loose rocks. I almost forgot about the Auto mode, changed to auto on the fly and things were back to normal.
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We had put up at Hotel Js Excellency last time and was happy with the courteous nature of the staff and the parking space. Booked the same hotel via clear trip. We reached Mahabaleshwar at 5am in the morning. Check-in time was 9:30am but the guys made the necessary arrangements. Slept till 9am and headed for Pratapgarh fort. It rained the entire night and was still raining. Clouds and fog made it difficult to drive on the hills but again the driving sense of people at the hills is colossal and that made things easy. We had seen the fort and knew the history of the place but the foggy circumstances made the view even more beautiful. There are somevantage point in Mahabaleshwar like Eliphinstone, Aurther’s seat. We went to all the viewpoints but after Pratapgad fort we were confident we shall not get a chance to see the majestic peaks but the over saturated greenery and the beauty of the roads made up for everything.
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Boating was stopped at Venna lake due to heavy fog so we had to skip, after Lingmala waterfall we headed for Mapro. The Pizzas were great and so was the sandwich, French fries and the strawberry ice-cream. Headed back to Js Excellency and was obstructed by traffic cops for entering one-way more than once. It was a fact the roads never mentioned one-way anywhere. I showed them the dash cam, was ready to playback for them just to see the road sign. They were descent enough to let me go all the time. We were not able to see any of the points due to heavy fog but the oversaturated greenery all around made up for everything.

The Maratha king Shivaji commissioned Moropant Trimbak Pingle to undertake the construction of this fort in order to defend the banks of the Nira and the Koyna rivers. It was completed in 15th century.The Battle of Pratapgarh between Shivaji and Afzal Khan was fought below the rampants of this fort on November 10, 1659. Pratapgad continued to be involved in regional politics. Local guides confirmed that Afzal Khan's Body was kept at Pratapgarh while his Head was taken to Raigarh Fort close by.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratapgad

Entrance to Pratapgad Fort (2016)
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-pratap-old.jpg

Sunset At Pratapgad Fort(2016)
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-pratap-sunset-old-.jpg

Aurther's Seat(2016)
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-aurthers-seat-old-.jpg

Elephants's Point or Needle point. (2016)
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-needle-point-old-.jpg

If there is more details needed, here is my previous post, hope this helps.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...baleshwar.html (Road-Trip: Hyderabad to Mahabaleshwar)

There is a fuel station in the market area and a new Fuel IO pump (COCO) at the outskirts of the market area. We reached back to the hotel at 7pm, ordered dinner from hotel and it was great. Called it a day.

Short Video of the Valley



Few Images from Day One.
I decided to park outside to avoid waking up people, I had plans to leave early the next day. The parking spot of the Hotel is descent and manages to fit 6-7 cars.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-1.jpg

The fog made the ride remarkable but the pictures meh.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-2.jpg

Valleys on the way to Pratapgad
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-3.jpg
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The entrance to Pratapgad Fort
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-4.jpg

The area receives pretty heavy rainfall and that gives way to several streams and water bodies along the roads .
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-6.jpg
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-1-7.jpg

Last edited by ARAY : 7th July 2017 at 19:17.
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Old 5th July 2017, 20:18   #2
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Default re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Day-2
To start with the weather in the valley didnt budge.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2693.jpg

River Crossing on the way to Lonavala.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2691.jpg

After a lot of planning hither and thither finally came up with this plan the previous night. Special thanks to fellow TeamBhpian Suryaonwheels for guidance en-route.
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Mahabaleshwar –Lonavala- Khandala –Malsej.
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We started early from Mahabaleshwar next day to avoid the morning rush and to reach Lonavala early. Google map showed 3.5 hours via Pune. I wanted to take the route via Mangaon and Kolad as I heard the route is extremely scenic. Due to time restriction decided to go Via the Pune route. Had a quick morsel at Lonavala and then headed for Bhaja and Karla Caves. Went for Bushi dam next and finally the Sunrise point. Due to immense fog I was not able to click any pictures.

Bhushi Dam was built in the late 1860s for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a source of water for their steam engines. As of 2014 it is owned by the Central Railway zone of the Indian Railways, the successor to the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Its a dam mainly made out of brick and stone. Its a gravity dam, which means the structural rigidity of a section is independent of another section of the dam.

Bhushi Dam
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-2.jpg

View Opposite to the Dam
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-3.jpg

The famous Pune express way.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-4.jpg

NOTE: Mumbai-Pune expressway is a cemented road. Due to monsoons I felt a massif drift due to hydroplaning ( much more than that of a tar road). There is an elaborate discussion in TeamBhp on the same.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...e-quality.html (Concrete Highways and Tyre Quality)

Sunrise point Khandala – Malsej ghat (130 km in 3 hours with average speed of 43kmph)
43kms before Malsej a bridge had wrecked and we had to take a deviation via beautiful paddy fields. This place so reminded me of North Bengal. We lost 1.5 hours but it was totally worth the drive. Drove over a barren but muddy field, a bolero loaded with passengers was coming from opposite side, allowed it to pass engaged auto, made sure my tyres fall at same place as that of bolero and drove through the field. It was a fun experience.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-3.png

Before entering Malsej found this beautiful site and engaged in some mud bath.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-5.jpg

You could actually view this swollen river by taking a short diversion to the left.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-6.jpg

Couldn't resist and stopped quite a number of time just to embrace the greenery.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-7.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-8.jpg

When you have a vehicle with higher ground clearance and mild off-road capability you do tend to look a lot over your shoulders and think for split seconds, can the Duster go there. Well, at Malsej it was less of thinking and more of doing.

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-9.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-2-10.jpg


Short video of the "doing"



Finally arrived at Malsej, tourists were very exultant and every one was taking a bath under the many water falls that filled up the entire stretch. Duster was already pretty muddy from the drive over last few days so I thought of getting a free car wash. I charged for the waterfall that was pouring just in the middle of the road and soon I realized that the roof could collapse. I was sitting calmly inside and the first thought that crossed my mind was the scene from “The Spy” when Wet Nellie enters the water.
Google map suddenly said “You are on the fastest route and you will reach by 5:20pm”. No, I am not listening to her today, no way. Malsej is awesome but the joy of washing your car is short lived as out of the many waterfalls, there is technically only one that you can appreciate and drive through. Went further to see if anything else was there and finally took a ‘U’ turn and came back for that same fall. I knew I would be driving a good 80+kms more but Duster screamed “MORE”. Took the route via Khopoli just to experience some more scenic beauty of that region.

Some more Malsej Ghat.

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-20-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-20-3.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-20-2.jpg

Finally the purpose of this entire trip 30 seconds free car wash


Malsej-Karjat-Khopoli-Pune. (216 km in 6 hours, took some long routes as the roads looked beautiful and challenging)
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Previous night at Mahabaleshwar I was looking for a hotel near NH65 on Eastern Pune. Earlier the plan was to drive back to Hyderabad from Malsej but the weather and the scenery didn’t permit so. Most of the major Hotels were on the Western Pune. After a lot of hunting we found a Treebo Hotel at Cleartrip.

Google was pretty helpful in identifying hotels near NH65
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The Hotel/Staff/food was superb to say the least. I was trying Treebo for the first time and boy was I impressed. They generally convert un-used apartments into very comfortable home stays.

Probably this will be overkill, but here are some images of the room or rather rooms we were allocated.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2728.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2729.jpg

Last edited by ARAY : 7th July 2017 at 19:27.
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Old 6th July 2017, 21:46   #3
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Day-3
We started from the hotel at 7am to avoid the rush hour, since it was a Monday . Till Sholapur we made good progress. After crossing Sholapur we were cruising at rather low speeds, to our astonishment to the left we saw this massive fort. Naldurg Fort. I had missed it in the last trip as both legs were done at night. There are two ways to enter the fort from I understood after speaking to the locals. One involved getting inside Naldurg town with very constricted roads. The other was mild offloading while getting down from NH65 entering the fort from the other end. I prefer driving on rough roads than driving in traffic.
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Naldurg Fort - Historical Background :
Naldurg fort is named after Nalraja who built the fort in medieval architectural style. The unique feature of the fort that it encloses a knoll of basalt rock which juts out into the valley of the small Bori River and with a long fortification wall with many bastions. Another attraction is of Panimahal which offers fantastic view of flowing water of Bori river from top of Panimahal.
Naldurg which was formerly a district headquarter is situated about 50 Kms. south-east of Osmanabad. The fort which is an interesting place has enclosed a surface of a knoll or plantain of basalt rock which is jutted out into the valley or raving of the small river Bori. Along the rest of the cliff on three sides ran fortifications. bastion firmly built out have deseed basalt and are large enough to carry heavy guns. The entire circumference is about a mile and a half.
The interior portion is covered with ruined walls and a half, the interior portion is covered with ruined walls and a vide road running up to the centre. The fort has many bastions amongst which are upli Buruj, which is the height point in the fort paranda Buruj , nagar Buruj, Sangam Burug, Sangram Buruj, Bands Buruj, poone Buruj, etc. Inside the fort there are remains of the walls and some of the building such a Barood kotha, Baradari, Ambarkhana, Rangaan mahal, Jali etc. Though the buildings are in ruins the remains give a impression that there night have been at one time the specious buildings, There are two tanks in the fort known as machali guns amongst which important are the “hathi toph” and magar Toph”, The hathi Darwaza and the hurmukh and the hurmukh darwaza are the main gates of the fort. The most interesting building which connects the fort and the Ranmandala is the dam constructed across the bori river, the dam and the” pani mahal, which is built underaatch and in the middle of the dam were, constructed. During the reign of Ibrahim Adil shah II. The fort is said to have been originally built by a Hindu Raja who was a vassal of the Chalukya kings of kalyani. It was latter included in the dominions of the Bahamanis and was subsequently taken over by the Adil shahi kings of bijapur, from whom it passed in the hands of mughalain the year 1686.A.D.
Source : http://osmanabad.nic.in/newsite/tour...aldurgFort.htm



The entrance to NalDurg Fort.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-1.jpg

After parking the Duster inside the Fort Premises.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-4.jpg

Few constructions stood out like a sore thumb and were clearly showing signs of recent renovation. Spoke to the guys who was kind enough to allow the Duster said the renovation lease was for 15 years and the inauguration was scheduled for 6th July 2017.

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-6.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-7.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-8.jpg

A Masjid inside the fort.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-9.jpg

There are few places to explore on an AWD or 4wd outside the fort.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-10.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-11.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-14.jpg

Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-15.jpg


The Fort is massive to say the least and just 40 minutes is not enough.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-12.jpg

In my last Gandikota trip I had mentioned about giant wind turbines and how trucks are seen in groups of 3 carrying the massive blades.

Here is the wind turbine from my Gandikota trip.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-img_2521.jpg

... and here is the Duster for reference.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-16.jpg

Finally an (not so sharp as I was at the wheel) image of the Duster while trying to exit the Fort gate to give the readers a perspective and that you would need to be careful and precise while trying to enter or exit. For reference the Fort gate was 2000 mm ( as confirmed by the renovation guys) and duster is 1820mm, so I had just 180mm to play with.
Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD-day-3-13.jpg

Video of the Duster entering the Fort gate and then climbing up the stairs. Towards the end of the video there is a tractor parked. They take the same gate to enter the fort, so if they can even a Duster can. It was a very close call but you gotta go where you gotta go.



All the pictures have been undersaturated by 50% to bring down the level of green. MH has so much to explore. Will be going there again pretty soon.
I hope the route details and other helps fellow travelers.

Last edited by ARAY : 7th July 2017 at 20:58.
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Old 8th July 2017, 11:32   #4
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 8th July 2017 at 11:32. Reason: Bump
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Old 9th July 2017, 20:25   #5
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Awesome..you guys are lucky..wonderful videos and pictures
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Old 9th July 2017, 22:34   #6
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Rated five stars.
Excellent Travelogue. I specially like the way of narration with sufficient photographs.

Regards,
Arnab.

Last edited by Eco_love20 : 9th July 2017 at 22:44. Reason: Mistake in writing.
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Old 10th July 2017, 08:38   #7
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Nice compilation of your travelogue with pictures and videos. Love the way AWD Duster so effortlessly gets off road. I especially love the background soundtrack that is running in all your videos. Care to share the name of the Artist/Album information ?

Quote:
Finally the purpose of this entire trip 30 seconds free car wash
I have had the similar experience in Amboli ghats enroute to Goa last year
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Old 10th July 2017, 09:10   #8
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Monsoons sure do bring things alive. Look at the lush greenery all through
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARAY View Post

Bhushi Dam was built in the late 1860s for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a source of water for their steam engines. As of 2014 it is owned by the Central Railway zone of the Indian Railways, the successor to the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Its a dam mainly made out of brick and stone. Its a gravity dam, which means the structural rigidity of a section is independent of another section of the dam.

Bhushi Dam
Attachment 1654639

Attachment 1654640

View Opposite to the Dam
Attachment 1654641
Sorry but the pics aren't of the Bhushi dam but of the Lonavala Lake. Bhushi dam is further around 5 kms from this lake.
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Old 10th July 2017, 13:24   #9
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Nothing really beats the monsoon rides in the western ghats. That video with the waterfall shower shows how beautiful the place would be. I am sure no camera can ever capture the beauty as good as our eyes.

Awesome pics and thanks a lot for sharing and taking us through the ride to such a beautiful place.
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Old 10th July 2017, 16:20   #10
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

What an excellent compilation with nice pictures! The video really makes me thinking about planning for a drive soon in the monsoon rain. The photos look awesome! Thanks for sharing such a nice travelogue!
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Old 10th July 2017, 21:21   #11
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Excellent TL, and beautiful pics. I think you have covered all the weekend getaways in one trip that we Pune/Mumbai folks plan for different weekends
Malshej is famous for this special waterfall car wash.
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Old 10th July 2017, 22:13   #12
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Stunning pics and excellent write up. The way you and your bong duster are going places, it looks like with in next two year both of you will cover the whole of India! If am not wrong a trip to Kerela, Rajasthan, Ladakh and North east India will do it all!

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Old 10th July 2017, 23:51   #13
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Awesome write-up Aray, the pictures are so beautiful. True Malshej Ghat is heaven in rains.
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Old 11th July 2017, 19:07   #14
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

wow, simply wow. The best time to travel the country is the monsoons, nothing like the greenery to perk you up. Wonderful photographs to prove the point.
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Old 15th July 2017, 17:01   #15
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Mahabaleshwar - Malshej Ghat in a Duster AWD

Great trip mate, you crossed Pune twice when I was asleep!

Happy to help, always. Excellent pictures, looking forward to more such inter-state trips!

Cheers,
-surjaonwheelz
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Monsoon masti: Malshej ghat, Jivdhan fort and Naneghat. ASHISHPALLOD Travelogues 52 4th August 2009 15:34
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