Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kas A.K.A Kaas Plateau Pictures

A little yellow beauty outside Satara
A typical Sahyadris landscape in late monsoon
Looking back enroute. Look at the winding road.
The scenic road. Right the edge of plateau

Kas lake waters
Part of a big blue carpet on Plateau
A purple one this time.
Taken from a chai shop. Typical red soil. The plateau to right.
My partner my Dhanno

Kas A.K.A Kaas Plateau

I don't remember how I set out for this one, neither do I remember any of the details. Since I am writing it down after almost a year. Although, the idea was to capture the late monsoon beauty of the Sahyadris, esp. the wildflowers. Places like Raireshwar, Kaas/Kas have always been much cherished places on the list.
I had almost completed the quote of 10+ this season plus an earlier outing to Thoseghar gave an additional familiarity with the Thoseghar-Kas region.
On the judgment day three more friends of mine and I set out towards Kas.

Edit: Courtsey - Mu a dear friend who was a partner in crime. We read about Kas in TOI. Typically come monsoon and you have these newspapers flooded with tips for monsoon outings and some such things for the wannabes. We latched on that piece of information and maybe set out with expectation that we are going to witness a spectacle a-la Valley of Flowers.

Now for the direction seeker from Pune :
* Reach Satara by NH-4 or whatever ways you prefer. Enter Satara by taking a left on NH-4. There are clear directions once you enter the city, else take the route towards Ajinkyatara. By the base of Ajinkyatara continue on right towards Kas. Memory beats me but must beAround 15 odd kms from here.
The road is absolutely absolutely fun for a drive, no potholes no problems. PMC has lot to learn from these guys.

Kaas/Kas is a volcanic plateau that becomes home to millions of tiny flowers in late monsoons. The whole spectacle is beyond words. There is a little lake thats formed by the catchment of rainwater. The road continues to Bamanoli towards Koyana backwaters from here. Thoseghar coupled with Kas is a much much recommended for anyone looking for a nice stress free drive, some good pictures and anyone looking to catch few leeches :D

Monday, September 17, 2007

Torna A.K.A Prachandgad Pictures

The Hone[y] Collector
Unknown to me - Flower of Sahyadris
My Dhanno - My partner in crime
Karvi flower - Blooms once every 7 years
Swades - HE the people
Torna framed - The way to top through Karvi
Sept - Oct is the time for numerous of these flowers
Another view of Fort Torna
Another unknown to me flower of Sahyadris
The entrance

Torna A.K.A Prachandgad

I have couple of places left on my agenda for the end of this monsoon. I am not one of the winter trekkers, mostly due to my work schedules and more since I have always believed that Sahyadris are at their best in monsoons. If you are keeping abreast with news related to Sahyadris, you might have noticed that there has been a lot of talk about Karvi blooming. This plant is abundant in Sahyadris and blooms once every 7 years, after which the plant dies to be born again from the seeeds. I had been to Lavasa last weekend for a ride and I did spot the flowers, though I wanted to see the flowers in the full glory which saw me and S ride towards Torna early Saturday morning. If you are looking for a piece of history etc. Google can be of great help. I wouldn't reinvent the wheel here, more so since most of us know it and its easy to get it and is out there.

Easy to reach here from Pune :
1] Take NH4 till Nasarapur [ A little past Natraj ] and take a right from here all the way to Velhe which is the base village.
2] A little secret : Reach Donje Phata [ Sinhagad ]. Take a right towards Panshet and just past Khanapur, take a left to Velhe. The road is not in a great shape so if you are looking for a boring ride, take option 1. If you are one who is always on a lookout for something new this is the way to go. Takes little time as well.

We started climbing 10'ish. To utter surprise, we found 3 chicks trying to figure their way to top. They were IT profressionals and had taken a bus from Pune here. Who said there was no incentive in hiking when you have damsels in distress to save :-) Last time I was to Torna was around in 2002, and lot has changed since then. The temple has been renovated, there is railing now at the rocky part. We ran into some weirdos from Mumbai here. Ran into an enthusiastic father from Pune with his kid who was here to witness Karvi. You can spot as well as identify Rajgad and Sinhagad from here clearly. We finished our Good-Days, visited Konkan Darwaja, looked around a bit, frowned over the drained camera battery and headed back. Took option 2 on the way back and I guess we made it back in 1.5 hr. The Karvi is in full bloom here, too bad to miss it if you care at all because the next bloom will be in year 2014.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thoseghar Pictures

Breakfast time for a bug just outside Satara
Sajjangad - Numerous flowers like these bloom in Sahyadris in Late August
Thoseghar - F1
Thoseghar - F2
F2 - Closeup
Another Wildflower of Sahyadris
One of the many windmills - Chalkewadi
If it gives any idea about the size
Floors of rice fields - Chalkewadi
Left - Sajjangad, Right at distance - Ajinkyatara


By now, people had started giving up on an outing every weekend. I was tired. It turned out on judgment day that it was just me and B for tomorrow. We agreed to bike, though in the morning the whole laziness in me got us moving in my car towards a Thoseghar for a drive. Thoseghar is around 35 odd km from Satara and is home to two beatiful waterfalls that plunge down the Sahyadris. Around 5 kms from Thoseghar is a place called Chalkewadi plateau thats home to thousands of windmills that generate around I guess 350 MW of windpower which is I guess quite a large wind energy installation as such in entire India.

To get here : Reach Satara via NH4 from Pune. Take a right into Satara, continue to Ajinkyatara, cross it to continue towards Thoseghar. Enroute, one hits Parali dam and Sajjangad [ 12 Kms odd from Satara ].

We continued till Thoseghar. There is a forest department office here, they have put up railings and a balcony as such for tourists to enjoy the sight. Ironically, there is no clear access route to the base so one has to live with the sight, savor it and be happy with it. Crossing these railings is dangerous and is not advisable, dont attempt to get into these waters for there have been quite a lot of deaths here.

Importantly, there are leeches out here, so dont - dont at all venture into any bushes or water as well. I got at least three of these on me. I had not seen a leech for my life, though the first encounter did not prove to be a nice one. We continued to Chalkewadi from here. Though since it was real cloudy, there was a little opportunity to spot all windmills at once. These windmills are massive and quite scary and huge if you reach the base of one. These are spread till Patan from here over the length of Sahyadris. The Koyna backwaters are just 1/1.5 hour of leechful trek from here though visibility is a big issue due to clouds here in rains. Maybe some other time...

P.S. I have moved from Imagestation to Shutterfly as they are closing down soon. I am struggling with image sharing options of Shutterfly so no album this time till I figure that out.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Avchitgad Pictures

Some smaller variety of Hibiscus I guess. Dishas Dhaba, Mulshi
A dryer cloudy humid day at Tamhini
The humble beginnings of Konkan Railway near Roha.
The lush landscape Konkan Railway runs through
Kundalika river - Revdanda creek
The sole canon on the fort
The western end of the fort. Our guide reflects.


We were tired of biking this time around, so we decided to head somewhere far off with a Sumo. After some discussion we headed to Avchitgad. This entire week had been dry and we knew it was going to be tough. As headed towards Tamhini, the non-muddy blue waters of the dam shining in bright sunlight gave us some idea about the hardships ahead. Typically, a good sign is muddy tea waters and little sunlight :p

To get to Avchitgad :
1] Start from Chandni Chouk, take Paud road to Mulshi, get down via Tamhini. At Vile take the right to Kolad instead of left to Mangaon. After reaching NH17. Take a right followed by an immediate left to Roha.
2] Take Expressway-NH4. Take left from Khopoli to Pali. Proceed to Roha. Stop at Medha or Padam before Roha.

There are multiple ways to get onto this fort. One can climb from Medha or a village called Pingasai or a place called Padam. We were adviced by the locals to attempt it from Padam, which though a much lengthier route, proved to be a good decision. From Medha or Pingalsai, the route passes through really dense vegetation and its very likely to loose way unless you have a local to assist you. We met a bunch of fellas from Mumbai who took the route from Medha and lost their way.

We chose to seek some local experts this time. The sun shined brightly, add to the proximity of the creek and sea made things humid and worse for us. After a while as we got onto the top of the mountain by the side of the Roha Paper mill things got cooler. From here one sees the fort far away at the end of this range. Though the walk consists of a flat walk on a plateau and is not that great a deal.

From the top you can spot, Roha, Kundalika river, the backwaters of Revdanda creek the villages of Medha, Pingalsai, the begining of Konkan Railway and miles of lush rice farms. There are good traces of the fortification. Sole Canon. Our guide fellas complained that the villagers in Medha pushed two in valley, probably with the intention to sell it. There is a Mahadev/Shiv Mandir on the top. The villagers have constructed a shelter out here for the same. There are some water tanks. Ones near the temple with potable water. No arrangement to stay on top though. The flower carpet had just begin to set this time around. Typically late August/first week of September is when the numerous wild flowers start to cover the otherwise bare naked mountain slopes of Sahyadris.

The Paper mill at Roha/Padam was closed 25 odd years ago. As you start climbing from Padam, you climb by the guest house of paper mill. Its quite spooky and locals claim has a ghost who calls out to you if you go around that place at night. If you are looking for some ghostly adventure, maybe worth a try. Not my cup of tea, I dont quite get along with ghosts that well :-)
Check out the complete imagestation album here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Visapur Pictures

Waterfall enroute Visapur just outside Bhaje
Fortification - Fort Visapur
Plenty of good stuff for stomach on the way.
Disintegrating fortification.

Lohagad from Visapur.
The faint traingular pinnacle is Fort Tikona. Pawana dam to right.
The faint pinnacle is Fort Tung with Lohagad to the right.
Bhaje village and Karla-Malavali valley.
Mumbai-Pune Expressway


We had some time constraints this week. Keeping that in mind, we thought we went somewhere around and not spend much time traveling. This got M,B,GD and me travel towards Visapur 7.30ish.
For people who are looking for directions - To get here :
1] Start from Pune, travel on NH-4. Take the left towards Malavali - Bhaje past Kamshet as you are travelling towards Lonavala. Cross the guarded Railway crossing - bridge over expressway and park your vehicles at Bhaje.
2] Travel from Chandni Chauk to Paud to Jawan, proceed towards Pawananagar and keep asking for way to Lohagad. I havent done this one yet but this is one piece of information I got this time. Try it if you are an adventurer and find the monotony of traveling on the highway boring.

We reached Bhaje 9.30ish. To our surprise, there wasn't a single soul or lovebirds seeking shelter enroute. We continued our journey after modeling for the Liril ads etc. to the bifurcation at the base of Lohagad where we took the left to Visapur. We made it to the top in about 30 odd mins. Again this time we had heavy rains pounding us just after some time as we reached atop. Visapur as such has a huge huge area and take quite some time to cover.

One can spot Tikona to the left, Pawana Dam in between and Tung, and Lohagad to the right in that order from the top. On the other side one can spot the base villages and Mumbai Pune Expressway. For history of this place etc, read the Gazetteer or Google it up.

PS> The locals informed that, the previous week the deputy CM paid a surprise visit to Lohagad with 150odd cops and the cops gave quite a generous beating to the Somras fans out there. Alcohol is banned around here per them. So all you boozers out there, watch out. Cheers :p

Those who wonder what happened to the good old Hotel Lohagad-the only place for the foodies en route : I asked the guys here this time around and I was told that some boozers beat up the old man and his wife and didn't pay for the food etc. The poor couple left the place for their native place Ratnagiri.

Check the complete set of pictures here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Koregad - Korigad - Koraigad Pictures

Waterfalls enroute Ghusalkhamb from Mulshi.
View of the Mulshi Lake. The semi-circular wall is visible.
The tall cloud covered mountains enroute.
Numerous water sources like these empty in Mulshi Lake here
View of the Northern arm of Mulshi Lake.
The steps to Korigad.
One of the numerous wild flowers of Sahyadris.
Fortification - Korigad
A mushroom - I caught it inside a hole in the fortification