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Old 7th October 2017, 01:06   #1
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Post Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

Since the day Bluebird entered the family, the itching to take it out for a road-trip intensified (had excel itinerary ready even before delivery of car). Since the car was only a month old decided to do a short trip. Researched few close-by locations from Mumbai like Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala etc, decided to take blessings at Shirdi followed by drive to Bhandardhara and Iggatpuri. The reason to select this place was tranquility and peace. Stay options at Bhandardhara are limited to MTDC and few other private hotels. Since MTDC was booked-out and private hotels looked either shabby or were exorbitantly priced, decided to stay at Iggatpuri. Iggatpuri has significant number of options to choose from, went through the travelogues on team-bhp and found mention of Hotel Ashwin near Mahindra plant, which is pocket friendly and adjacent to highway (one chink in the armor discovered later). Booked the hotel, took leave of one day(sick leave) on friday, so had 3 days at disposal to take Bluebird on her first exploration, ghats in monsoon.

Teaser
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Initial Plan:
D-1: Visit Shirdi and Bhandardhara
D-2: Rest of Bhandhardhara
D-3: Iggatpuri and back to Mumbai

D-1:Shirdi & Events
So the D-day arrived, been raised as a punctual and disciplined child, i am always up and ready as planned. Loaded the luggage in boot at 4 am, eager to drive on Mumbai roads sans traffic, left home at 4:15 am only to discover that the two words, Mumbai and traffic-free does not rhyme even in odd hours. Truck traffic snarled the movement, accentuated by heavy downpour which started as soon we joined Eastern expressway. Oh i forgot in the excitement, i was joined by my wife who is always ready to join me on trips, thanks to her travel bug, my dream of solo pan-India drive may remain unfulfilled. So we crawled till thane post which i was able to maintain some decent speed. The highway is designed to test the 'thud-bearing' capability of the vehicle and make champions of 'spot the pothole' contest. Add to it the widely acclaimed 'candle light' headlamps of S-Cross, i was literally driving with my chin resting on the windshield to avoid the death-traps of Yamraj. Day-break gave me some hope of survival and i jumped of pure joy on seeing a chai-tapri open. Gulped 2 cups of tea and moved ahead, determined that the drive should not be boring, it so happened that we took a wrong route after Sinnar, even though we both spotted the correct signage. Drove through some rural roads and reached the temple. Everything was normal and we somehow did not like it, this time while closing the boot the strap of luggage bag got entangled in the latch and congratulations, since the sensor was not detecting the boot as closed, the central locking system refused to arm the car. Tried opening the boot but it did not budge. Ok, so the first time use of manual locking the car done. Entered the temple, saw the serpentine queue long enough to go round the earth twice, scratched my head and remembered why its advisable to buy online privilege pass. After false solace to myself that the queue will move quickly, joined the queue. Great, post hour and half of joining the queue we are near the sanctum and all of a sudden we are pushed out by the security guards. Finally completed the darshan, we looked for another opportunity to fool ourselves. This time the privilege went to the shopkeeper, who made us buy all sort of sweets/souvenirs/pooja material. Had lunch in a restaurant and moved out of the religious town to the hotel at Iggatpuri since it was already 3 pm and not much time left to visit Bhandardhara. The hotel was as described on team-bhp, neat and clean, in-hotel parking. Only disappointment was the food.Nevertheless, it was an excellent value proposition.

D-2:Bhandardhara
The next morning we started for Bhandardhara. It was only than i realized that the location of the hotel with respect to the Ghoti toll was such that i had to pay toll for visiting Bhandardhara as well Iggatpuri (chink in the armor). The first destination was Wilson Dam, Bhandardhara/Arthur lake. The lake was full to the brim with water spilling over the gates.Monologue should stop and let nature mesmerize you all !
Wilson Dam
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Downstream Garden view
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Dam Close-up
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Full to the brim
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Downstream
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After admiration of the engineering marvel (i learnt it is one of the oldest masonry dam in India), went for boating in the lake.

Arthur Lake
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Done with the clicks, next spot was Rudradhari falls. It is a scenic waterfall as well a place of religious significance. It was drizzling continuously and had short bursts of high intensity rains. The trip finally was turning out to be as desired !

Rudradhari Falls
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It was around 3 in the afternoon and the discussion was whether to go for Ratanwadi temple or not. Since Ratanwadi is at quite a distance (added rough topography) as well it is not a populous place we wanted to be back before it gets too late. The decision went in favor of the heart and bluebird started climbing. It was this route when i first realized that this engine has its limitation(coupled with weight of S-cross unlike other Maruti) and i cannot expect a movement from standstill on incline and need momentum to overcome steep inclines. The downpour was getting heavy and i was worried since the roads were washed out. The road engineers just laid the road like applying butter over bread, without any consideration to incline/decline angles, curves or bent. The route was nearly deserted with a vehicle sighting in 15 mins, also there are few villages along the route.Luckily, we happened to stop at one of the shop where the local villager was serving Kadhi and Dhaniya chatni along with rice roti. Believe me, it was one of the best food i tasted in some time. If you happen to visit ratanwadi do stop at this place, its just below this waterfall (sorry there is no marker other than this landmark that i remember)
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Enroute Ratanwadi

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Finally reached Ratanwadi temple. It is a nice and quite place. The temple was built in 12th Century AD. It is Lord Shivas' temple and the 'shivaling' remains submerged under water(learnt it is only such temple in India). Could only faintly see the submerged Shivaling since the lighting was very less, could not capture it in photo.

Ratanwadi temple

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Submerged Shivaling

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After bowing to the Almighty we started for our hotel at Iggatpuri, drove non-stop and stopped just before the highway to have dinner at Sai Hotel. Dinner was good, tea was very refreshing. Done for the day, went back to the hotel, transferred the images to the laptop, watched 'sooryavansham' of Life Ok, Savdhaan India and went to sleep.

D-3:Iggatpuri

Last day of the trip, checked out of the hotel and dumped the luggage in car. The day started with visiting Dhammagiri Vipasana Centre. It is a meditation centre for Buddhist. Beautifully landscaped, calm and serene. Pics below:

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Post the visit we started for Upper Vaitarna Dam. It is not a frequently visited place so it fits in my list perfectly. The road to this place has topography of all the nine planets. What we suffered in road was made up by excellent views and green carpet.

Musk:Mars is already colonized !

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Shades of Green
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After getting free massage on the roads, rolled towards camel valley/ashoka valley on the mumbai highway. Unfortunately the entire area was engulfed in fog and we could not see the valley. Since we stopped, so had a corn (i follow 'aaya hoon toh kuch toh leke jaaunga' philosophy of crime master gogo) and started drive back home.
All in all it was a wonderful first trip with my birdiee Bluebird, will keep travelling and will keep posting !

Last Pic:Camel Valley Site

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Cheers,
07
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Old 9th October 2017, 11:35   #2
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Default Re: Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

Nicely written travelogue . Thanks for sharing!

The S-Cross must have been beautiful on that highway. After you pay the 100 buck toll, it's a dream for cars with good dynamics. I prefer this highway over the boring expressway.

3 days was perfect for the circuit you did. The next time you're on this road, try the Indian food at Dhingra Dhaba (~30 minutes after you pay the toll). The subzis & biryani are lip-smacking good.
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Old 9th October 2017, 14:40   #3
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Default Re: Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

Amazing narrative and pics - thanks for sharing this. We love our road trips in my house and I must make it a point to try this sometime.

My riding buddies went to Vaitarna dam this Sunday. I didn't realise the roads are this bad. Must have been a challenge for some of the lower bikes.
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Old 9th October 2017, 21:35   #4
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Default Re: Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Nicely written travelogue . Thanks for sharing!

The S-Cross must have been beautiful on that highway. After you pay the 100 buck toll, it's a dream for cars with good dynamics.

Thanks! You are spot on in identifying the best character of S-Cross, the driving dynamics. Yes the 'twisties' are enjoyable. Recently did Gaganbawda route, and i was like a kid again seeing the loops uphill.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
3 days was perfect for the circuit you did. The next time you're on this road, try the Indian food at Dhingra Dhaba (~30 minutes after you pay the toll). The subzis & biryani are lip-smacking good.
Surely will try it next time ! Had lunch at Greenland while returning, i liked the simplicity of food there.

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Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
Amazing narrative and pics - thanks for sharing this. We love our road trips in my house and I must make it a point to try this sometime.
Thanks ! Bhandardhara is beautiful. Make sure you visit during the monsoons to have the best of it. Make sure to visit Ratanwadi, drivers' delight sans bad road. Could not make it to Ghatghar, which you can try, and do post pics

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Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
My riding buddies went to Vaitarna dam this Sunday. I didn't realise the roads are this bad. Must have been a challenge for some of the lower bikes.
The road to Vaitarna is patchy, in part beautiful smooth roads and washed out entirely on some stretch. But the views make up for all the agony and the guilt for roughing up your beloved car.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:18   #5
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Default Re: Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

Very nice travelouge. Last time I was in Bombay this June, was bored of work and took ditto this same route for 2 days of break and self drove with a friend in his Ciaz. Lovely places... not too many pics but here are a couple I clicked of lake Arthur while trekking into the Jungle nearby one morning.

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Serenity there was amazing and I was one of the only tourists at the MTDC resort, may be it was an off-season. Enjoyed it very much. Thanks a lot for sharing and showing how the place looks during monsoon.
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Old 10th October 2017, 16:00   #6
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Originally Posted by Bluebird_7 View Post
Rudradhari Falls
Attachment 1682932
Some wonderful pictures there Bluebird_7. I assume yours is 1.6 S-Cross, so much fun to drive specially on ghat roads.

Just one query - Is Rudradhari Fall also called as Randha Fall? Or these are two different Falls in the area.
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Old 10th October 2017, 19:03   #7
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Originally Posted by yogesh.8984 View Post
Some wonderful pictures there Bluebird_7. I assume yours is 1.6 S-Cross, so much fun to drive specially on ghat roads.

Just one query - Is Rudradhari Fall also called as Randha Fall? Or these are two different Falls in the area.
From the pictures i can see 1.3 Scross.1.3 can not match 1.6 fun factor but i am sure Scross have handled the bad roads effortlessly.
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Old 10th October 2017, 21:58   #8
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Very nice travelouge. Last time I was in Bombay
Thanks Ace ! The place is surely very serene and calm. There are camps as well which are setup near lake to enjoy nature by being in lap of it. Will surely camp there next monsoon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogesh.8984 View Post
Some wonderful pictures there Bluebird_7. I assume yours is 1.6 S-Cross
Thanks yogesh ! Wish had the budget to afford 1.6 but nevertheless it is quite capable if not enthralling !

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Originally Posted by yogesh.8984 View Post
Just one query - Is Rudradhari Fall also called as Randha Fall? Or these are two different Falls in the area.
Yes its the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sahiltodankar View Post
From the pictures i can see 1.3 Scross.1.3 can not match 1.6 fun factor but i am sure Scross have handled the bad roads effortlessly.
True Sahil ! 1.6 is a hoot to drive.
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Old 11th October 2017, 11:18   #9
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Default Re: Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri

My GOD, looking at those garden images i am so excited to visit place. @BlueBird_7 could you please help with the return route details you took. I also intend to cover Naneghat, Ozar and Lenyadri.
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Old 12th October 2017, 21:22   #10
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My GOD, looking at those garden images i am so excited to visit place. @BlueBird_7 could you please help with the return route details you took.
Thanks Invictus. The route i took was Bhandardhara to ghoti (via Bhandardhara ghoti road) which joins the Ghoti- shirdi road near darna river reservoir, continue from there till ghoti, take left turn onto mumbai nashik highway and then its straight to mumbai via kasara and bhiwandi.
Below is the route map.
Monsoon Drive : Bhandardara & Igatpuri-untitled.png
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Old 16th October 2017, 21:51   #11
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Thanks Invictus. The route i took was Bhandardhara to ghoti (via Bhandardhara ghoti road) which joins the Ghoti- shirdi road near darna river reservoir, continue from there till ghoti, take left turn onto mumbai nashik highway and then its straight to mumbai via kasara and bhiwandi.
Below is the route map.
Attachment 1685039
Hi. Nice travelogue! Congrats on ur new purchase. I am planning to bosit bhandardara this week in my maruti celerio.

How is the road condition frm ghoti to bhandardara? Is it doable in a hatchback car? And how is the road condition frm bhandardara to ratanwadi temple? Again is it possible to drive in a hatchback?
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Old 18th October 2017, 22:30   #12
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Hi. Nice travelogue! Congrats on ur new purchase. I am planning to bosit bhandardara this week in my maruti celerio.

How is the road condition frm ghoti to bhandardara? Is it doable in a hatchback car? And how is the road condition frm bhandardara to ratanwadi temple? Again is it possible to drive in a hatchback?
Thanks ! Ghoti till bhandardhara is a mixed bag. Some enjoyable drives and some bad patches, but that is what you expect from a state road. Yes it surely is doable, just need to be little cautious. Road from bhandardhara to ratanwadi is a crawl (based on my travel experience of Aug end), again its doable but be ready for some very sharp incline/decline on curves.
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Old 25th November 2017, 10:45   #13
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Thanks ! Ghoti till bhandardhara is a mixed bag. Some enjoyable drives and some bad patches, but that is what you expect from a state road. Yes it surely is doable, just need to be little cautious. Road from bhandardhara to ratanwadi is a crawl (based on my travel experience of Aug end), again its doable but be ready for some very sharp incline/decline on curves.
Hi. Thanks for your inputs. I went to bhandardara last month in mid October. My wife and I drove down in our celerio. We went on a wednesday and came back on thursday. From Navi Mumbai to Ghoti, the nashik highway was in decent condition but there were quite a few potholes, some very deep and one has to play ‘dodge the pothole’ contest. Heavy truck traffic till bhiwandi. After ghoti when we take the right turn towards bhandardara, the road gets bad. We had to slow down every now and then to avoid crashing into potholes. We visited Amruteshwar temple in Ratangad after lunch. There was practically no road. The tarmac was completely broken and the 18 km distance took 1hr 15 mins!! The road was absolutely pathetic and deserted. We passed a few small hamlets. Took the same road while returning. I would advise people not to go to Ratangad unless the roads are repaired.
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