Monday, October 31, 2016

Mahuli Sangam & Baramotichi Vihir

Next morning, we got ready by 8 AM, ate some tasty poha for breakfast and left Kaas. Our first stop was Mahuli Sangam (Or Sangam Mahuli as could be found on Google maps). It is a beautiful place where river Krishna meets Venna river. There are a lot of temples around the bank of river Krishna but the most popular one is the Sangameswar temple. If you cross the river, you could reach the other temples.

After spending some peaceful time around there, we headed towards the Baramotichi Vihir, near Limb village known for a well with a palace built within it. It is something unique. There are some intricate work around the well. 

Apart from the well, there is nothing much in the village. The villagers were selling fresh vegetables and spices grown in their fields. 

On our way back to Panvel, we stopped at a Balaji temple a little before Pune. It is a typical South Indian temple. Free food was served for lunch. After having that, we continued our journey back to Panvel. On the way, we stopped at Datta snacks to have some tasty Kothambri vada, Vada Pav and  a sweet called Kharvas.

I had less than an hour to get ready and leave to the airport so I packed and left almost immediately after reaching home. A conversation with the taxi driver, observing an impatient man guiding his family to board the flight and hurrying even before the flight time was an hour away, browsing through the stores, Dealing with a very talkative Uber cab driver back in Bangalore, made up my travel back. 

This trip to Mumbai was so eventful that five days just flew by. Wheter it was the hike up Hatrishchandragad or Walk to different pendals around Panvel, or our kas and Satara exploration, all of it was very relaxed and at ease. There seemed no ru I always enjoy going to Mumbai and now with so many new friends, I think I should visit Mumbai more often. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kaas Plateau

On the 11th of October, Ganesh Bhai, Akki, Deeku, Varun and I left Panvel at around 6 AM. My brother in law could not join us on this trip as he was traveling to China on work the same night. We stopped at Pune to have some delicious Misal Pav. I loved it. We also made another stop at Joshiwala to have delicious vada pav.

We directly drove to hotel Kas Pathar  (Contact Nilesh Mane - 9545149482, 9768223720. Website -  that is situated on the way to Kaas plateau from Satara. Its a beautiful bungalow with three rooms for tourists. The bungalow is situated at a cliff overlooking beautiful mountains. The place is neat and tidy and Mr Nilesh who owns this place is a kind host. He lives in Pune with his wife and kid while his mother and uncle look after the bungalow. On this day though, they were all here. We were allotted two rooms and we took off immediately to the plateau after looking around the beautiful place.

Kas plateau charges Rs100 per person and Rs100 for camera as an entry fee. Vehicle parking is planned poorly though. You have to park about 2 kms away and walk back to the main gate. Hitch-hiking with others who are on their way to park their vehicles would be a good alternative to walking the distance. 

The flowers in the plateau was not in abundance though. Having seen more flowers in Harishchandragad, this place seemed rather unimpressive with tourist pouring in. However, there were a few flowers unique to this location that I had not seen during the trek. 

We then headed towards Bamnoli boat club. We had rice Bakri and Pitla for lunch in a local restaurant and took a boat ride to an island. The ride was very peaceful and I truly felt like I was floating. At least my thoughts were.

At the island, while we sipped some tea with fresh lemon grass flavour, Deeku and Varun took a speed boat ride. 

Returning back, we stopped at a small temple that was a little off track from tourist attraction and thus deserted and peaceful. 

Just before reaching the bungalow, we found this beautiful location where a local was selling maggie, sandwiches and tea. We ordered all of them and sat there embracing the magnificent sight. It was a magical moment, as we sat there watching the sun go down. 

Back at the Bungalow, we had some really tasty dinner prepared by Nilesh’s mother. Chapati, Paneer dish, sabji, Dhal and home made sweet srikand was totally yummy. That just made my day. We chatted for a while and then went to bed. It was a relaxed evening, well spent in a beautiful place. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mumbai Dasara!

After returning from the trek, a day of rest was mandatory. Not just to relax but also to reflect upon such a beautiful experience. Most of the day, I slept. Akki had prepared some tasty Kerala Velliappam for breakfast. 

In the evening, after Akki returned she prepared some delicious paneer Pakoda. Later, Deeku and I went out to try some Khandvi and Moong Dhal Bajia. The foody in me was extremely satisfied. 

Ganesh Bhai came home that evening to discuss our Kaas plateau trip. While speaking to my friend Anupam, he mentioned that he was at a Durga pooja pendal in Vashi and requested me to join. Though tempted to do so, it was late already. While mentioning this to Ganesh Bhai, he suggested that we visit the Pendals in Panvel. That seemed like a great idea. 

Akki, Varun, Deeku, Ganesh Bhai and two other neighbours of Akki - Kadam and his wife, all headed first to the Bengali pendal. Durga idols were very impressive; typical West Bengal style. 

We also visited some other pendals where the Durga idols were more South Indian style. Daandya dance was in full fledge and lot of people were dancing to DJ music. It was a festive atmosphere. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Konkan Kada & Taramati Peak

Continued From Here - Harishchandragad Trek 

Next morning, as usual, I woke up early. The others did too. Warmth of the rising sun began to further enrich the colour of balsams and the yellow wild flowers forming a picturesque sight. This day had some exciting destinations on the agenda - Konkan Kadai and Taramati peak.

After our morning tea, we left to Konkan Kada, a cliff that looks down towards Konkan (Coast). This place is incredible. It was very scary but enchanting at the same time. Mist played around with the peaks and creating a formidable view. We spent a lot of time there trying to capture and absorbing the beauty of nature.

Sanket tried some cool group photo shoot at the cliff with his GoPro. I am glad, Zeeshan borrowed my iPhone and captured some of these beautiful panoramas. 

We headed back for some Poha and more tea. While Jyothi mam stayed back at the cave, we decided to trek the Taramati peak. The trek was a short one. We took less than an hour to reach the peak. A stretch of dense forest gives way to grass route and some steep rock climbs at the very edge of the mountain. Apart from two slightly challenging rock climbs, the trek to Taramati peak seemed pretty straight forward. 

The view from the Taramati peak was as expected, brilliant.

 Picture Credit - Sanket Patil
 Picture Credit - Sanket Patil

At Taramati Peak, I took some long video shots of the moving clouds to turn them into a time lapse video using my iMovie software. Here is what it looks like. 

Thanks to Sanket, we tried some great shots at Taramati peak. Every time we tried to jump, one or more people were still not in air. After almost 10 takes we finally captured this one. Sanket joked - "Last pic;  iske baad sidha niche kud jana." (This is the last picture, If this does not work, next time, try jumping down the mountain.) Except for Dhirendra, we all managed to time the jump well. So, disappointed Dhiru had to be captured separately. 

We got down and decided to leave. Jyothi mam and Rutwik went ahead. Soham, Brajesh and Dhiru enjoyed a bath in the pond and we all began our journey back to Paachnai village. We stopped at the tea stall again for some awesome black tea and Jyothi mam’s portrait photo shoot. 

The village seemed just the way we had left it, the previous day. Not a thing seemed different as though nothing had happened there for a day. Except that the three kids I had observed playing in the swing were out of sight. 

We relaxed for a while, had lunch and left at around 3:00 PM. The lady who had served us food for two days bid us farewell and watched our vehicle pull out of the village. 

We were initially planning on catching the 4:15 PM train from Kasara but that seemed impossible. Our next option was the 5:15 PM train to Thane. Chances of that seemed meagre as well. However, none of us were in a hurry. We were relaxing and enjoying the ride back. 

At a small town, we stopped for a while and Dhiru had a sudden urge to dance. He set his bluetooth speaker on the street and began dancing in the middle of the road. Everyone who had gathered there watched him with amusement. That was truly one of the funniest moments of this trek. I admire his guts to do that and truly it was an impressive performance. 

On our way, we were alerted about the strike on Nashik Highway. At that time, we had no clue of what this strike was about. I only learnt from the newspaper, the next day that the villagers were protesting against an hideous act of molestation by a teenage boy on a child. More than 20 vehicles were burnt. For us that meant deviations and delay in catching the 6:18 PM train. The route we took had a severe traffic jam. Somehow, our driver speeded and made sure we reach the station on time. We reached the station 3 minutes in advance. We got off the vehicle and ran towards the train. Some of us quickly bought tickets. That last bit happened in extreme haste but it was fun. Had we missed that train, we had to wait till 8:15 PM for the next. That would not have been difficult either with this super exciting group that I was with. 

On my way back to Mumbai, I recollected the best moments of the trek and the beautiful images of Harishchandragad, Taramati peak, Konkan Kada reappeared before my eyes. This trek had been an incredible one both in terms of the location and the group. We did not reach the top on time to watch the sunset or go to Konkan Kada on the first day as planned. So what? We went there the next morning. We could not catch the 4:15 PM train, but that did not bother us, we were ready to wait. We were a group that was accepting everything that came by and no body took it more seriously than required because, I think we all knew that in such treks what remains most memorable is that which happen unexpectedly. 

No matter what we plan, how much we organise, any travel is bound to surprise us. And after all, the things we did not plan for are the ones that shall turn memorable, like - Meeting 7 new interesting people, black tea served at a cave, Sitting together at a view point, looking at pitch darkness and listening to music and humming the songs, GoPro photo shoot at the cliff, Our several takes before the final perfect jump at Taramati peak, Portrait shoot at the cave, Dhiru’s dance performance and our run to catch the train, minutes before its departure. So when I see the images of Harishchandragad and Taramati peak along with its spectacular views and flowerbeds, an amalgam of emotions shall also bounce back before my eyes. 

I always feel that travel and treks make me a better person by boosting in me the enthusiasm that perhaps hides in the nature, by developing in me the positivity to accept things as it is and by making me adaptable to anything unfamiliar and unknown. On the contrary, monotony drives me crazy and pulls me down into a ditch filled with limited knowledge and hypocrisy. I wish to travel more; at least once a month, so that the lessons that my travels teach me can flourish into the monotonous side of my life by influencing and inspiring it and also shielding me from its negativity. 

Here is the film on this trek -