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Old 14th November 2006, 13:28   #1
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It was the day after diwali. The previous day was significant in many ways. It was the first diwali shivali and me were celebrating together after our marriage in 2005. All that good food the previous day had made me sleep like a log and I was a trifle bewildered when I saw that the clock showed 10am. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and we had a lot to do before we left for Dajipur. Btw, if this name sounds unfamiliar, Dajipur is a secluded spot in the Sahayadris about 300 odd km away from pune, renowned for its wildlife. The great Indian bison or the gaur as it’s commonly known is found here. These are said to be the largest and most majestic of all the bison's found anywhere in the world. They can grow to a size of 6-1/2 feet and can be quite intimidating in their natural habitat.

After all the work got done and the homely chores were out of the way, we set out for Dajipur at 11.05am. At 11.15 hrs, we tanked up at the petrol station right next to the Symantec campus at Baner. We put in 42.5 liters at 55.5Rs a liter and set out for the NH4 bypass. At 11.50 hrs, the Katraj ghat started and by 12.06 we had showed our backs to Katraj. After a blazingly quick drive, we hit the Khambatki toll naka at 12.45hrs, toll amount Rs 13. For the discerning driver, Khambatki offers a great place to test your driving skills and this is exactly what I had in mind. But alas, there was too much of traffic and we were forced to take a traffic break so that we could take the ghats the way we wanted to. I have to mention here that never have I seen this ghat so crowded with cars and we attributed this congestion to the holiday season that Diwali and Eid together brought in.

The car had just finished its 40,000km service and it showed. Overtaking was bliss and quick downshifts with throttle blips startled the truck drivers and I saw many a head giving us queer looks. We sped into the horizon and hit the next toll naka at 13.20 hrs. This made the car lighter by Rs 25. The next toll plaza greeted us at 13.56 hrs and we decided to take a little break here to beat the monotony of the good roads. Pune roads require constant driver involvement and this can become a big pain on the highways as we tend to take things a little easy and of course Murphy lurks just round the corner waiting for his moment. This toll plaza took away Rs 82 from my wallet and was supposedly the last one we had to encounter. This would take us till Kolhapur. I found this logic of having to pay for decent roads quite strange. We pay our taxes on time and what do we get...bad roads all over and just when we get something that resembles a road, we are charged for it. Democrazy probably!


At 14.42, we decided to break for lunch at Hotel Sai International enroute. I would recommend this place to any NH4 highway traveler as it has loads of space and a decent menu. After tucking into large portions of chicken with dal thadka and rotis for company, we clicked a few snaps and the left Sai international for the Kolhapur leg of the journey.

Rankala is a place inside Kolhapur and can be considered an Aundh in Kolhapuri terms. We hit this spot at 16.30 hrs after enduring bad roads from the NH4 turn off at Kolhapur. The road leading from Rankala to Radhanagari is the SH 133. Dajipur is 80kms away from Rankala and is 20 odd kms away from Radhanagari. At 17.56 hrs, we took a tea break at Radhanagari. The only incident worth remembering was the simple lives that people led in this part of our country. The other worry I had during this break was to tackle a small girl who kept trying to pull my car door handle apart. I had to constantly frighten her away or else the door handle would have found a place in her home...


The road from Radhanagari to Dajipur is nothing to write about and I was wincing most of the way as the car got a solid beating in this stretch. The left door stoppers had come loose and I was becoming rather concerned for the suspension as well. We barely escaped bottoming out on more than one occasion. The most remarkable thing about this drive was the forest cover that surrounded us. It was really weird to drive through thickly wooded forest roads with all the animals around and the only clue to their existence being the eyes glimmering in the dark when the car headlights fell on them. It was one of the most memorable drives I have ever had. As we blitzed through the forests at breakneck speed, we suddenly came upon a couple of shops with lanterns in them and whoa... this was Dajipur. The whole place was engulfed in darkness and not a soul was in sight. We caught sight of one villager and enquired about our destination..."The Bison jungle resort". He pointed into the darkness and murmured something. We did not have a choice and went in the direction indicated and came upon an old withered signboard that read "Bison Jungle resort". This was the place and by god....what a place. There were no lights and we could see nothing. But the address was correct and we had reached our destination. Confidence had a major boost when I tried to park the car and saw a nice little alto with a Pune registration parked there. Little did we know that a tight bond would grow between us and that family as days went by?

Dinner was very basic as one would expect in the midst of the jungle but was very tasty. We gorged on excellent chicken and veg delicacies and listened to the sounds of the jungle. The time was only 8pm but the whole area was covered in an eerie silence. Vikram, who ran the place, told us not to venture out without lights as there were chances of trampling on snakes. The jungle resort gave us the perfect setting to dream about the days ahead.

We jumped out of bed at 6am the next morning and set out for the forests on foot. This morning walk was there on every visitor’s wish list. The Radhanagari Lake in front of the jungle resort greeted us with its tranquil waters and I managed to steal a few snaps of the sun rising behind the mountains in the distance. Shivali was also trying a lot of photography and managed to make me look good in some snaps and making me look good is no mean achievement. Then the most interesting thing happened. A dog started following us all the way into the jungle. It followed us loyally even after we had walked a couple of kms. The walk was a little frightening to say the least. Not a soul was in sight and we had ventured deep into the jungle and had only a dog for company. The dog would periodically stop and its ears would stand upright listening intently for any sounds from within the bushes and we would also stop and listen too. The prospect of running into a 61/2 feet bison in the middle of the jungle was not my idea of an ideal holiday. After prowling around the place for a while, we hit the old Radhanagari dam. This was a popular watering hole for animals in the jungle and a nice place to catch sight of wildlife.

After enduring the dangers of an early morning stroll in the jungle, we decided to head back for the resort. Once we got back, we had a sumptuous breakfast and then decided to take the car out and drive to the nearby phonda ghats. These ghats presented an awesome view of the sahayadris and we tried to identify points from atop the ghats on the sprawling konkan landscape. We drove till the phonda village and then filled gas and shopped around for handicrafts. The most surprising fact was that a quick mileage calculation revealed that we got 16kmpl as average for the Pune-Dajipur trip. This was with AC on all through and was nothing short of phenomenal as I was traveling for most part at 130-140kmph.

This was followed by a remarkable lunch at the resort where I had infinite number of chapattis and chicken. After an afternoon siesta, we headed for the Ugwaai Devi temple just 2 km from the resort. I have never seen a spookier temple than this. Nothing happens here and it is all nature and an old temple. It required guts of steel to walk in there and explore the place. There was dense foliage all around and the temple was in the midst of this entire wilderness.

This exploration brought the evening rays of the sun and then it was time for us to catch the sunset at the phonda ghats. It was an astonishingly beautiful sight and we tried to get all of that on camera. The only problem was that the rain gods did not oblige and it started raining heavily. At 3900ft any rain brings in a chill and only a cup of hot coffee could fight it and that is exactly the way we fought it. The moment daylight disappeared; we were trapped in an eerie darkness again until the next morning.

A forest safari is something that does not happen to everybody and we were very lucky to have got one. The safari opens only form 1st of Nov till the 1st of June and we really could not have gone for one. It was only because an acquaintance with some clout that had done all the hard work before turned up at the opportune moment that we could join for the safari. I can never forget the two watch towers, towering above the jungle, the ‘konkan darshan’ that we had, as well as the ‘great Indian bird of paradise’ we saw, in the jungle. This coupled with information of herbal leaves supposedly for cancer cure being smuggled out of the jungle made the whole safari very adventurous. After tucking in a healthy breakfast at the resort, we decided to leave for panhala, a hill station 100 odd km away.

Getting to Panhala was a breeze but it was evening by the time we got there. Checked straight into the MTDC resort at panhala. The rooms were good but food was nothing compared to Dajipur bison jungle resort. Panhala is a quaint hill station not very large in area with a lot of historical significance. The great Shivaji had made this his plotting point for various attacks after which the English also occupied the fort and laid claims to Panhala. Lata Mangeshkar has a getaway here and visits the place often. We took a stroll in the twilight and visited some spectacular places like the “Sajja koti” and the sunset point. “Sajja koti” was where Shivaji imprisoned his son Sambaji, as punishment for his errant ways. Sambaji later escaped from here only to fall into the hands of his father’s foes and got killed. We drove around Panhala in the night and enjoyed the place.

The next day was going to be hectic as Shivali wanted internet connectivity to do something urgent and this was the last place that had one. We decided to rush to Kolhapur and then find a café and do the necessary work before hitting the NH4 for pune. When we reached Kolhapur, I as usual was directionless and could not find any place to surf the net. We jumped of the car and got into an auto and told him to take us to a computer café. Since it was eid day, not many places were open but at last we found one and got our work done. It was time for us to head back home.





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Old 15th November 2006, 15:57   #2
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Thats a nice writeup. Would be better if you could put some comments on the photographs too.
You have a VTEC?
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Old 23rd November 2006, 18:29   #3
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yes. I have a VTEC. Give me a little more time and let me see if I can make the pictures more contextual.
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Old 24th November 2006, 20:10   #4
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Wow...that sure was a lovely trip....well written! very breezy!
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Old 25th November 2006, 01:59   #5
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Beautiful write up i just wish myself in your place.......2 questions,

sambaji was killed by whom?

and what happened to the dog???did you feed him or..........

please do continue the story as such things give you good idea of various places in our great land and i second the motion on pictures....ALL of them
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Old 27th November 2006, 13:49   #6
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thanks guys. Sambhaji got himself killed through Afzal khan and that dog came back with us to the bison jungle resort.
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Old 27th November 2006, 16:03   #7
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Nice report Megazoid, wish the images were bigger.

BTW, there are no Bisons in India, they are Gaurs. Check this thread (Which was the best drive of your life?) for an earlier argument.
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Old 27th November 2006, 17:36   #8
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Guys,

I have put in some more pictures. Have a look.





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Old 26th June 2008, 10:44   #9
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Hi.. Your travelogue has really enticed me and I am looking forward to visit this place. Can you let me know few points about the resort?

1. Quality of rooms
2. Rate
3. Road to this resort especially in rainy season
4. Facilities in the resort
5. Contact number of the resort

You can contact me on 9881476369, I am from Pune.
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