Archive for the ‘Motorcycling’ Category

Went for a small and simple mobike ride on 6th June – Sunday. The trip rounded off to approximately 400Km, so was a nice ride considering the varied essence that the terrain and the surface offered.

It was the smooth tarmac of Mumbai-Pune highwar, the well banked curvatures at Amby Valley & Lavasa that counter-posed the rough roads alongside Mulshi backwaters and the inner arterial kaccha roads.

My rear wheel has a slight play in it and I was well aware of it. Plus the skiddy nature of the new wheels that I had just put on was very much threatening; so sharp cornering on sharp curves required a bit of restraint and slightly early turn-ins that helped me to bank at a safe angle most of the times.

The ride plan was very late, as I wasn’t aware that the TST guys were going along the same route and that I was to join them. Raj, my pillion just got the stuff ready previous night, at 1.30 AM .. the helmet and stuff.

The plus point of the ride was that my bike was very stable on the corners and very responsive on even roads, albiet the steep terrains and pillions added weight caused it to gruntle a bit. But for its power it fared really well.

Clicked some pics, learning a bit of photoshopping on experimental basis, trials and errors that spiled most of my pics and yet manged the guts to upload it on Picasa.

Most importantly, the group and the people were really nice.. Deepak, Glen, Vaibhav, Sanket, Salil, Kanti and ofcourse my pillion Raj.

Was a good ride!

I commute to work daily on my mobike, from my residence at Kalyan to Andheri and back. Yesterday, on my way back home I had an encouncter with the incorrigibles.

A triple seated sawari, seemingly the rider took himself for streethawk, albeit without a helmet and riding gear. Promptly revved up arrhythmically, displayed his zig-zag stunts, wooed at other snail-paced vehicles following the stupid concepts of lane and then suddenly I had to hit my brakes as hard as I could as the three of them tumbled across with a slight misjudgment; of course the misjudgment of the adjacent tempo (yeah the street hawks will never err).

My front wheel screeched as it resisted the brakes, coming to a halt barely a foot away from the neck of one of the pillions as he fell. Behind me, a Maruti Suzuki swift came to a swirling halt and then less dramatically the other snail pacers in my lane followed the suite.

So the trio tumbled, and then tried to gather themselves throwing cuss words at the tempo driver, licking their bruises, oblivious to the fact that they were so lucky to be still breathing. I waited for one of the Street Hawk to get up, clear the way and then zoomed off … I had to reach home.

Pray to the God for the well being and long life of the hawks, henceforth.

Aaram se.. like we had all the time in the world we started at 9.00 AM from Bhiwandi bypass. Why? Well a soul from Goregaon did not want to break the sakhar-goud (sugary-sweet) sleep at 5.00, so early in the morning to make it by 7.00 at Kalyan. So we decided to make it 8.00 AM at Kalyan. Did I tell you the team comprised of just great souls – nothing more and nothing less. Yes, another one from Dombivali just about lost and found his helmet outside an ATM and further delayed the proceedings by good one hour. So it was 9.00 AM by the time all the riders met at Bhiwandi bypass. That wasn’t the end of it. Picture toh abhi baaki hain mere dost!

The motorcycle ride was always going to be fun and when the destination is Bhandardara, the entire affair was going to be a fairy-tale affair and we were well aware of this part of it. But the other part with mobike rides is equally interesting / frustrating and even though we were aware, like all bikers tend to, we too overlooked it.

So we started at 9.00 AM and covered good ground in about 2 hours to make it to Manas resort at the upper end of the Kasara ghat. 11.00 AM was it then. The ride was dull for most part of it. The highways dug for repairs, trucks lining the mono-laned highways, fumes, pot-holes and some waywayd rickshaws marred the riding pleasure till Kasara. But once the ghat began, the foggy ambience coupled with lush green and intermitted rains livened up the moods and we began to see the better part of it.

Past Manas the ride was enjoyable. We reached Igatpuri and then Ghoti in no time. The traffic at Ghoti is diabolic as always and there is no escaping it if one has to reach Bhandardara. We manouvered our mobikes through the potholes and sea of men dotting the lanes in Ghoti and escaped past the maddening traffic – relatively quickly. Soon after we mae our first halt for some pet-puja. Misal pav, alu paratha, tea and milk was all that we savoured at the dingy stall-like restaurant past Ghoti.

It was raining for the good part of the ride so far and past gGhoti the story was no different. The rains made sure that tiny droplets accumulate on our helmet visers and make matter difficult albiet spicing up the entire journey with excitement and relishment.

We zipped on the curvy tree-lined roads on thr Ghoti-Rajur road for some distance before taking a right turn. This is when the beauty of Bhandardara starts to give its glimpses for the first time. The other wise dark volcanic massifs had turned green and rendered hazy due to the overpowering mist. Also running along the steep slopes and tracing a thing white line, disrupted at places, were the gushing waterfalls and rivulets further beautifying the entire affair.

On one side was the valley which was deepending with every revolution that our type made towards Bhandardara. ANd on the other side was the montane bliss garnished with waterfalls and green. We moved along the two mystiques on a relatively  well laid tarmac.

Reached Bari in no time. Stopped for a while to sneak peek at Kalsubai. In vain as the clouds refused to budge. At Bari we also realised that one of our rider accomplice had a punctured tyre, however it wasn’t completely deflated. We were aware that Shendi was  not too far and we could get it fixed it there. SO without much delay we made it to Shendi (Bhandardara). We lost a good one hour to get the tyre fixed up – attribute that to the archaic process of fixing the puncture and the long hours of power cut that has become a routine in the villages of Maharashtra.

We decided to go to Randha waterfalls, lying 10 kms ahead on Shendi-Rajur road. We reached Randha in about 20 minutes, parked our bikes and gazed at the awe-inspiring facade of Randha falls as it cut through the rocks and bore into the rocky bed below. The gushing falls, roaring noise and the altitude lend that typical feel to Randha. The water cuts through the gorge to make its way ahead.

We spent around 1 hour near Randha including some garma-garam Bhaji and chaai. And it was time when we decided to retrace the road taken and get back home. In between we made a compelling halt ear the Bhandardara dam wall to have a look at the vastness of Aurthur and the magnificence of Wilson Dam, what is popularly known as Bhandardara. Anandvan is the MTDC resort that caters to tourists here. The breeze was over powering our balance. A beautiful 10 minutes before we hit the saddle again.

Took on the curvy roads once again and started revving the throttle.  Prashant (he guy who had his tyrep punctured earlier in the day) really had an off day. One the way back we had to ride through half-way of the knee deep waters and that was enough to dampen he spark plug of his CBZ and take the spark out of the engine. The bike halted and refused to ignite again. Sandeep went back to Shendi once again, brought a mechanic and got it fixed. One more hour lost (2 hours of the day – Prashant ke naam ka bill faada!)

Well, it was 5.00 and we were still at Bhandardara. We had to move quickly and quickly it was. The ride back was a zipper. Heavy fog, pricking rain drops, strong winds and the speedo hovering at 85-95 kmph. In no time the Kasara ghat was descended and routed through the zig-zag traffic of the Kasara-Bhiwandi section. Many a times the never ending work has rendered this highway mono-laned and cautionw as necessary therein,especially when the visibility was significantly reduced. 7:30 PM it was by the time I made it to Bhiwandi bypass. And called my friends to enquire about their whereabouts. I learned that they were still at Asangaon. No poin waiting for them then, I revved up further dropped my friend at Goregaon and made my way back to Kalyan again. It was 9.30 PM then when I reached home and ripped my wind-cheater of my body.. soul..? What???

Soul was still lurking around somewhere near Bhadardara.. Randha… vroom.. Oh yes.. I clocked somewhere around 403 Kms yesterday.

I had a leisurely bike ride (a bit too leisurely) and a small hike to the hill-fort of Sarasgad near Pali last week. Shri Ballaleshwara Ganapati at Pali being one of the sacred Ashtavinayak deity, the religious sentiment attached couldn’t be underplayed.

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The group comprised of 6 riders and 5 pillions, most of them more of trekker and less of rider. As we always did on our previous rides, we decided to meet up at Panvel bus stand at 11.30 PM on Saturday night. The time schedule was surprisingly not manipulated too much and we managed to set the throttle revving at 11.45 PM. Some of the indolent ones managed to skip their home made meals and forced a halt at Palaspa naka, famously known as the Dutta Snacks junction.

Some Chinese menu was quickly savoured and we moved on towards Pen, taking one of my favourite routes, NH 17 linking Panvel in Maharashtra with Edapally in Kerala. This 1269 km long road passes through the western coastline of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. However, we had not even 10 percent of this route to be covered and we quietly moved through the smooth boulevards.

As such most part of the route is good and enjoyable, but the curvatures and banking offered by the stretch of road as one approaches Karnala is surely one of the best rides and a treat for any rider. Not only is this portion specklessly smooth, but it also offers ample of curvatures with wide flanks to run-in hard and enjoy the tilt. Couple that with the undulating gradients and it just is… Awesome! Also this stretch of the road is peculiarly characterized by cooler ambiance.

Passed the stretch in in a jiffy and moved on further. Another few minutes of revving and came Pen. Aniket, one of the pillion, has a weekend home (which is reduced to year-end home) at Pen. We decided to take a nap and move on towards Pali early in the morning. 11 trekker, riding over a weekend, a night halt, all geared up for a trek after a long time and did I think of having a quick nap? Absurd! Most of the time went by chirping away at some pointless banters. And when the sleep penetrated the ambiance, it was already 6 AM. 22 sleepy eyes freshened up and hit the saddle.

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Rolled leisurely till Wadkhal, helped ourself with some misal pav and tea and then rolled even more leisurely till Pali. It was 8.00 AM by the time we reached there and a further delay of 30 minutes saw us stepping out to climb Sarasgad just when the Sun was starting to get hotter. Cameras were out, and I was busy with my handycam. SOme photos, some masti and the stroll kept on nearing the Sarasgad bastion, which appeared atleast somewhat closer than what it did 30 minutes earlier then. The sun was shining harsh on us by the time we managed to scramble up the upper slopes and enter the fort through the wonderfully carved entrance.

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We reached the base of the upper cliff and lay for a cooler break under shadow cast by the overlooking massif. Lying nearby is a huge water tank scarped in the belly of Sarasgad massif. The tank does hold water, but is not potable anymore thanks to   the mindless visitor who have converted this place in to a dumping ground for plastics. It was just 10.00 AM now and we had plenty of time in our hands to manipulate the schedule as required. We decided to make the best use of time on hands by indulging ourselves in the tank cleaning process. The water was shallow which allowed us to enter the tank without much trouble. We tried and removed as much plastic we could then – it amounted to 3 big bag-full of plastic. We removed substantial amount of waste from the tank and packed it in plastic bags so that we could easily carry it till the base for disposal. We could not clean the tank completely, but we definitely removed a hell lot of plastic debris and initiated a small process towards it, thereby feeling good.

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We moved on further circumnavigating the massif. There are numerous rock hewn caves, some big and some small in the belly of the massif along the circumference. The fortified walls and crumbling bastions evoked a blended emotions flavoured with the nostalgic pride and neglected present of such magnificence. After completing the circuit we moved up to the top of the massif by 1.30 PM. It was really hot and humid then. We paid our obeisance to Lord Shankar in a temple atop and later relaxed for a while under the shade enjoying the cool breeze. Off went the sweaty T-shirts and it was just pure pleasure to enjoy the cool breeze bare bodied. After some wafer and other snacks being gulped, we started on our descent. The descent was nothing to write about, under the hot sun, over the scree slopes and some thorny bushes. We completed the descent and reached Pali at around 3.00 PM; visited the temple and soaked ourselves in the sanctity of the place.

Lime juice, buttermilk, amla juice and so on rehydrated our parched souls as we recuperated ourselves. Got a pack of Kandi pedha as Prasad and moved on towards our parked bikes to hit the saddle once again. We embarked on our return journey at around 4.30 PM and by then the sun was getting mellow. The ride was quite steady and pleasant with stopovers at Pen for the famous Ramwadi tea. As always riding through the Karnala boulevard was a pleasant experience once again.

Reached Kalyan at around 8.00 PM and after a cold shower hit the bed to drench into the rigmarole awaiting me on Monday. The memories as always are ever fresh!

Mumbai – Diveagar – Shrivardhan – Harihareshwar
Total Distance – 436 Kms
Bike - Honda Shine 125 CC

Top speed – 100 Kmph
Onwards breaks – Wadkhal Naka (Breakfast)
Return breaks – Panvel (Lunch)
Districts involved – Thane, Raigad
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Cusping on the months of February and March, this particular bike trip bade farewell to winters and embraced the approaching sweltering summer with elan. The temperatures were not exactly cool and pleasant, neither was it biased on the side of unbearable heat. It was just as neutral as it could be – offering neither too much nor leaving much to be desired.

Also this trip saw me making my onwards journey on NH 17 during the day for the very first time. Plus my rear wheel has taken a slight beating on earlier trip to Malvan, so the curves and braking had to be smooth and easy. It was long time back and a bike trip was beckoning me for some time. This was ideal get away for two reasons – relative proximity for a leisure bike trip and the Konkan stretch on either side of this strip (Alibaug to Murud and Bankot onwards) had been done number of times earlier with this strip remaining to be visited.
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Late morning departure -
Started at 8.00 Am from Kalyan on Saturday, quite a late start by previous comparisions. Anyways, the steed was ready and the mile munching began. The road was bathing in teeming traffic and the ride was no different from my daily commuting ride to Andheri, until I crossed Shil Phata and headed towards Panvel. The Shil – Panvel road as always is not the best ride with loads of trucks on those uneven roads, however it made me feel away from the suffocating traffic atleast.

Panvel bypass –
One can take a panvel bypass from Kalamboli circle by proceeding straight instead of taking a left turn. The left turn take through Panvel city. We took Panvel bypass and further to Wadkhal for our breakfast at Hotel Aamantran. A paper dosa and cup of coffee and we set again.

Hotels –
Datta Snacks at Palaspa phata (Closed at night) is a famous landmark now
Hotel Amantran at Wadkhal Naka

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Vijay Automobiles, Kalamboli, Mumbai-Pune Rd, Panvel.Ph: 022 7452525, HP. Facilities: Lubes, snacks, coffee vending machine, music cassettes and clean toilets.

Dharamkar Motor Store, Vadkhal Naka. Ph: 02143 9008, BP. Facilities: Puncture repair shop

Plus -
The stretch of road from Panvel to Pen, specially near Karnala is very good.

Minus -
Traffic, speed breakers, pollution, dust and haphazard crossing makes Kalyan Shil phata road a not a pleasurable experience.
Road near Shil Phata is the worst stretch of road that one may encounter, potholes and crater ridden. Care for your vehicles, drive in first / second gears.
Traffic in Panvel city can be unnerving (If one does not take the Panvel bypass)
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Wadkhal to Diveagar -
Before taking a right turn from Mangaon, We crossed Nagothane, Kolad, Indapur within no time. The road goes via Morbe. The road is quite good and offers an enjoyable ride.

After about  a 45 minutes ride one reaches Mhasala. From Mhasala proceeding straight will take one to Shrivardhan. However, our destinationwas Diveagar and hence we took the right turn from Mhasala. In another half an hour we reached the tranquil setting of Diveagar via Borli.

It is a nice place to spend your day relaxing along the calm and serene beach gracing the Arabian sea. Also other attractions are the Suvarna Ganesh temple (A Ganesh idol made in Gold – courtesy Govt. of Maharashtra) and Rupanarayan temple at Diveagar.

The Diveagar beach is a beautiful beach with calm waters and offers a delightful swim. We spent the rest of the day at Diveagar.

There are plenty of accommodation facilities available at Diveagar. Lodging starts from as low as 300 bucks to most of the decent ones costing well over 1500 bucks per day for a two bedded room.

We stayed at Hotel Dhanraj, who started with 1200 Rs for a days stay, but saw a surprising scale down to 700 Rs when we started to walk away. The food and service provided with the typical ‘Wadi” feel makes it a very good place to be.

Hotels -
Plenty available on NH 17 till Mangaon.Hotels and snack corenrs at Mhasala
Plenty of restaurants at Diveagar.

24 hour Petrol pumps –
HP petrol pump at Mangaon. Rest room facilities available.

Plus –
Wonderful stretch of road from Wadkhal Naka to Mangaon. It is a straigh stretch of road with minimum hassles.

Minus -
Traffic at Mhasala and rough arterial roads from Mhasala to Diveagar.
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Sunday calling –
Sunday saw us waking up a bit early. A qucik refresher, breakfast and we started towards Shrivardhan  at around 8.00 Am from Diveagar. Shrivardhan is just 19 kms from Diveagar. One can reach there taking the road along the coast via Shevadi. However, the road from Diveagar to Shevadi is in a bad state (around 8-10 kms). But the entire stretch being along the shore line really make it a ride worth doing once. We reached Shrivardhan in around 45 minutes.

Shrivardhan -
Shrivardhan, the home town of the Peshwas is famous for it serene ambience, the historical significance attached, beautiful beach and temples that it houses. We had a quick lok around the town, had a beach ride and then moved along towards Harihareshwar.

Harihareshwar -
Harihareshwar is 18 kms from Shrivardhan. The road again is not in the best of condition. It took us nearly 40 minutes to cover the distance. Harihareshwar is a holy place – called as Kashi of the south. A beautiful Shiv temple, decent beach and rock cliff overlooking the relatively rough waters of Arabian Sea. It was nearing 10.30 when we reached there. The Sun was beginning to get harsh, before we completed our Harihareshwar look around.

Lots of coconut water, snacks and some sweets before I mounted on my steed once more. It was nealr 11.45 when we started from Harihareshwar. The tar on the road beneath was pretty much heated us and so was the temperature inside my helmet. I was really starting the feel the summer well before the anticipated schedule.

Return –
We retraced our route till Jasavli before taking a right, which took us straigh to Mhasala over some not so wonderful roads. From Mhasala retraced the road upto Mangaon before hitting NH 17 and back towards Mumbai.

We reached Panvel by 3.15 PM and headed straight to a hotal for lunch break. A continuous ride of 3.5 hours at 80+ kmph in hot conditions called for a engine respite on my modest Shine. Also we did not want to stretch our hunger pangs till Kalyan.

A nice lunch and we headed towards Kalyan. Enroute picked up a water melon and cooled ourselves with some juicy bites before reaching Kalyan and to the comfort of my home sweet home.
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Note –
Fill your Petrol well before bifurcating from Mangaon. No petrol pumps enroute upto Mhasala.

Mumbai – Sindhudurga Tour

Posted: December 15, 2008 in Motorcycling, Travel
Tags:

Total Distance – 1076 Kms
Bike – Honda Shine 125 CC
Top speed – 105 Kmph
Onwards breaks – Wadkhal Naka, Poladpur, Sangameshwar
Return breaks – Lanja, Mangaon
Districts involved – Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurga
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It was the month of December and the winter chills had not yet set in, at least across Mumbai and suburbs. We (Me and my pillion) decided to experience if our hinterlands in Konkan have some winter chills in their depot for us. None better than a breezing bike across the smooth boulevards. It was not a surge to escape the mundane, but the real passion for driving long distance that led to our Sindhudurga bike tour being realized. The enchanting and exhilarating beauty of the trip was overwhelming.

Embarking bytes – Departure from Kalyan 9.30 PM
As always with most of our bike tours, we started off from Kalyan well past the sunset with and sunrise aeons away. It was 9.30 PM when me and my pillion saddled on my Shine and embarked on our long tourney.  The street of the suburb was still bustling with activity and the deafening decibels were effectively at work as always. However, a cognizance of leaving behind all the mundane madness was reassuring and we revved our way towards our destination.
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Wadkhal Naka break – 11.00 PM to 12.00 PM break; Distance covered – 60 Kms
The ride to Wadkhal Naka took us just an hour and a half to cover. It was 11.00 PM when the ignition key was turned off and the side stand pulled out for.  It was not a long journey or an exhaust break that demanded saddle rest and a quick refresher that forced us to halt the engine at Wadkhal Naka, but the hunger pangs in my pillions tummy. A prawn thali was just the perfect dose for my pillion, while I enjoyed sipping on a hot cup of ispeshal chai (special tea). The expected chill in the atmosphere that we expected in the month of December was conspicuously absent.

Panvel bypass -
One can take a panvel bypass from Kalamboli circle by proceeding straight instead of taking a left turn. The left turn take through Panvel city. After a short while, the bypass meets JNPT road. From this point a left turn meets at the Datta snacks corner (Palaspa Phata). It is just 2 kms longer than the Panvel city route.

Hotels -
Datta Snacks at Palaspa phata (Closed at night) is a famous landmark now

Hotel Amantran at Wadkhal Naka

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Vijay Automobiles, Kalamboli, Mumbai-Pune Rd, Panvel.
Ph: 022 7452525, HP.
Facilities: Lubes, snacks, coffee vending machine, music cassettes and clean toilets.

Dharamkar Motor Store, Vadkhal Naka. Ph: 02143 9008, BP.
Facilities: Puncture repair shop

Plus -
The stretch of road from Panvel to Pen, specially near Karnala is very good.

Minus -
Traffic, speed breakers, pollution, dust and haphazard crossing makes Kalyan Shil phata road a not a pleasurable experience.
Road near Shil Phata is the worst stretch of road that one may encounter, potholes and crater ridden. Care for your vehicles, drive in first / second gears.
Traffic in Panvel city can be unnerving (If one does not take the Panvel bypass)
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Poladpur break – 1.45 AM to 2.15 AM; Distance covered – 115 Kms
A left turn from Wadkhal Naka and the true essence of riding on NH 17 is experienced. The smooth roads with a calming influence is always a pleasure to experience.  We comfortably breezed between 80-90 Kmph mark and made good distance. We reached Poladpur in less than two hours covering a distance of 115 Kms. Enroute we bypassed Nagothane, Kolad, Indapur, Mangaon, Veer, Lonere and Mahad. At Pladpur we rested our saddle with a short tea break and also a quiescence to the Honda engine. There was still no sign of any chills in the ambiance.

Hotels -
Stalls at Poladpur offer Bhurji Pav, Omlette and hot tea to the travellers.

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Doshi Automobiles, Mumbai-Goa Highway, Mahad. Ph: 02145 22387 BP.
Facilities: First-aid, lubes, adjoining restaurant and clean toilets.

Plus – Wonderful stretch of road from Wadkhal Naka to Poladpur. It is a straigh stretch of road with minimum hassles during the night. However during the day, it can be crowded at the abovementioned town destinations.
Minus - Nothing really
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Sangameshwar break – 4.00 AM to 4.30 AM ; Distance covered118 Kms
A short 30 minutes break at Poladpur seemed to be more than enough. We were really not feeling tired or sleepy after nearly 4 hours of gazing past the uppers on oncoming vehicles. We decided to continue further from Poladpur. The atmosphere was still pleasant, albeit a slightly cooler than where we stated from. Just as we move past Poladpur there is a chowk with a statue in the centre. A left turn from this junction goes to Mahabaleshwar, which is 42 Kms away via the Ambenali ghat. The road straight led to our destination.

Ghat sections enroute -
Kashedi Ghat -
Immediately after Poladpur the long and curvaceous Kashedi ghat begins. The ghat road extends for about 8 Kms. There are some blind curves along the ghat, but wide smooth roads with appropriate banking renders it enjoyably safe.

Baste Ghat and Parshuram Ghat -
Post Kashedi ghat the road is relatively comfortable for 20 km and past Khed before beginning of the Baste Ghat. Baste Ghat extends for around four Kms and continues the sharp corners and hair pin bends before the curves of Prshuram Ghat takes over. Parshuram Ghat extends for further 6 kms before reaching Chiplun.

Post Chiplun there are another couple of short curvy ghats before reaching Sangameshwar.

Hotels -
There are lot of Hotels available for food and accommodation at Khed, Chiplun and Sangameshwar.

24 hour Petrol pumps -
HP Highway Services, Bharna Naka, Khed Taluka, Ratnagiri district. HP.
Facilities: General store, STD booth, reasonably clean toilets.

G B Mehta and Sons, Chiplun. Ph: 02355 56060.
Facilities: Lubes and puncture repair shop.

M/s Yashodhara Services, Mumbai-Goa Road, Sangameshwar, Ratnagiri Dist. Indian Oil. Facilities: Lubes, adjoining restaurant.

Plus – Beautiful roads and pleasurablr riding experience
Minus – Lot of ghat roads in this section,. although not a minus point but just a word of caution
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Reaching Vijaydurga at 8.00 AM; Distance covered – 175 kms
This was the longest non stop ride of the onwards journey covering a distance of 175 Kms and requiring about three and a half hours to do so. The tea wallah at Sangameshwar had warned off the heavy fog that settles in the region early in the morning then and requested us to stay back till the mist clears. The thick fog cover is as a result of close proximity to Bhima river, which runs parallel to the road for some distance. It reduces visibility to a considerable extent

However, we did not want to waste valuable hours waiting for the fog to recede and we decided to move on. We briskly moved on the mist laded roads and crossed approximately 3 kms of the curvy roads of Nivli ghat before reaching Hatkhambe. (A road bifurcates for Ratnagiri from here).

Past Lanja there are couple fo short ghat sections in Vanked ghat (2 Kms) and Vatul ghat (7 Kms) before reaching Rajapur. It was daybreak by the time we reached Rajapur at around 6.30 AM.

We experienced chill in the atmosphere for the first time in the ride so far only in this section. A short ride of about 30 minutes further brought us to Talera village. From this point we left NH 17 and took a right turn for Vijaydurga (around 42 Kms). The road is not so good and one feels this especially after riding on wonderful smoothness that NH 17 offers. Around 14 Kms before Vijaydurga is Padel village. This is the junction for reaching Kukeshwar, Devgad or Malvan from Vijaydurga.

Hotels -
Roadside dhabas and restaurants along the way at Hatkhambe, Pali, Lanja, Rajapur and Talera.

24 hour Petrol pump -
Mangal Agencies, Bombay – Goa Road, Rajapur. Ph: 02353 22074. Indian Oil.
Facilities: First-aid, toilets, ambulance available, adjoining hotel (veg).

M/s WY Pokhale, Kasarde. Ph: 02367 32634.
Facilities: Clean locked toilets with key on demand for customers only.
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Vijaydurga
Invincible fort of Vijaydurga that has withstood the testing times and weathering of the lashing waves still presents a very imposing picture. Numerous bastion, tall strong walls, fortifications, guarded entrance and everything about the fort seems to narrate the indomitable strength that it possessed in the days of yore.

It takes around couple of hours to have a look at the fort. Vijaydurga does not actually provide quality accommodation, but since we rode continuously for around 11 hours without a major break, we decided to have a good sleep. We rented a room at Hotel Suruchi. They also provide satisfying meals. Although the accommodation was not very good, it was much needed.

The charges were -
Double bedded room – 300 Rs with Common toilet and Bathroom
Double bedded room with toilet & bathroom attached – 650 Rs (larger & well maintained)
Contact – 02364 – 245335 / 9423053777 / 9420260464

Meals -
Veg Thali – Rs 40
Non Veg Thali (Chicken) – Rs 50
Fish Thali  – Rs 60

A good rest (4 hours sleep) at the hotel and a relaxing lunch (1.00 PM) saw us refreshed for the visit to Vijaydurga  in the evening. We whiled our time having a look at the humble village before being mesmerized by the marvel of fort Vijaydurga. A beautiful sunset over Arabaian sea made for the perfect finish before retiring for the day.

Garage -
Mustafa provides baisc garage services at Vijaydurga village. For majore troubles one has to hire garage services from Padel (14 kms from Vijaydurga)

Petrol pumps -
No Petrol pump at Vijaydurga. Nearest petrol pump is at Padel (14 Kms)

Plus – Beautiful fort
Minus – Lack of quality accommodation at Vijaydurga
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From Vijaydurga to Malvan – 9.30 AM to 11.30  AM; Distance covered – 86 Kms
Next day had an early start. We woke up by 6.00 AM and proceeded with our breakfast and other refreshments. We had another look at the fort and clicked some nice photographs. After a quick wrap up at Vijaydurga we bid farewell to the town and traced the road back till Padel village (14 Kms). From Padel a right turn takes one to Devgad, Kunkeshwar and Malvan via Achare. There is a beautiful Rameshwar temple 1 km off Achare which can be covered enroute.

Devgad and Kunkeshwar are both 8-10 Kms oof the Vijaydurga – Malvan route. Both can be covered along the way.

The roads are narrow but relatively in good condition. It took around two hours to reach Malvan, including a visit to Rameshwar temple off Achare.

Hotels – None along the inner roads across villages, one may find small dhabas, stalls enroute.

24 hour Petrol pumps – None

Plus – Close proximity of major tourist destinations like Kunkeshwar and Devgad
Minus – Nothing really, can’t expect major hotels and petrol pumps across inner arterial network of roads in the hinterlands.
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Malvan – Beautiful location, good accommodation and exotic cuisines
Small town amidst beautiful setting. Malvani food is famous for it exotic cuisines, predominantly sea food (Malvani). It provides good accommodation and good food. Coconut, Rice and fish assume prime significance in the Malavani cuisine. Malvan is also known for Malvani Alphanso mango. It is also known for sweets such as Malvani Khaja (Sweet made from besan flour & coated jaggery) & variety of Malvani Ladoos.

There are plenty of accommodation facilities ranging from expensive luxuries like Sagar Kinara (Rs 1600 for two bedded room) to affordable ones like Sonchafa (Rs 300 / 400 for a two bedded room)

Government guest house are vailable, but the bookings for are to be done from Swantwadi and no direct accommodation is provided, which we thought was a bit of tedious service.

Look out for the very famous Zantye’s cashenuts at Malvan and their range of cashew sweets and products. Also products like Kokam and other Malvani treats if the foodie in you displays an insatiable quotient.

Hotel Sonchafa – Lodging, boarding with parking facilities
Landline No: 02365-251144/253375
Contact Person: Mr. Laxman Prabhu
Contact No: 9423053920

Restaurants -
Ruchira restaurant – Provides authentic Malvani food with good & clean service

Swami restaurant – A bit modern-sih restaurant for those who want to have a flavour of Chinese, Punjabi or other cuisines. They also provide Malvani cuisines.

-
A couple of Kms further away from Malvan bus depot enroute to Kasal
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Sindhurdurg fort – Boat services and alternatives
State government provides regular boat services from Malvan jeety to Sindhudurg isle fort. It is merely a 15 minutes boat ride. The charges are Rs 27 for a return ticket. However, they povide just one hour to have a look at the entire fort and I believe it is too sort a time to have a look at the fort completely. Also the boat services are only for Sindhudurg fort.

There are three more forts – Padmadurga, Rajkot and Sarjekot near Sindhudurg which are not covered in the boat services provided thereby. Hence if one has a sufficiently large group, they can hire the services of local boats and strike a good deal for all these forts to be covered leisurely at ne’s own pace and not rush through the things.
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Tarkarli beach – 6 Kms from Malvan ; Devbaug beach – 12 Kms from Malvan
A very short ride from Malvan is a very beautiful beach at Tarkarli. The beach is lined by pine trees that adds all the more to its already enchanting beauty. The white sand dissolving in the blue waters of Arabian sea make for a perfect eye treat.

Accommodation is available at MTDC beach houses, but these are a costly affair. There are a couple of private lodging facilities available nearby. The enquiry for these can be done at parking facilities provided near the beach. However we thought that it is better to stay at Malvan and visit these nearby places.

Slightly further ahead is Devbaug (12 Kms from Malvan). Devbaug Beach offers an enthralling sight of hundreds of seagulls flying simultaneously. It also provides avenues for boating.
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Return journey – 6.00 AM start, 9.00 AM Breakfast at Lanja; Distance covered 161 Kms
We had an early start for the day as we aim to reach Mumbai as early as possible. At around 6.00 AM we start from Malvan towards Kasal. Kasal is 32 Kms from Malvan. The drop in temparature was evident and for the first time in three days we were actually shivering while riding. With clenched teeth and frozen fists I continued to rev towards Kasal.

From Kasal we turn left on the NH 17 towards Mumbai. Further ahead enduring the cold winds we managed to reach Lanja. We halted here for a much needed warm break. A leisurely breakfast with Dahi Vada, Sheera, Kanda Bhaji, Mix Bhaji and a cup of tea provided the much needed warmth after 3 hours of chilled ride.

Hotels -
Numerous hotels and refeshments available at Kasal, Kankavli, Rajapur, Lanja

24 hour Petrol pump -
S B & V B Samant, Kankavli. Ph: 02367 32028.  Facilities: Puncture repair shop and clean toilets.

Plus – Beautiful roads, less traffic
Minus – Nothing
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Lunch at Mangaon – 1.30 PM to 2.30 PM; Distance covered – 238 Kms
This was the longest non stop riding stretch of the entire tour so far. It covered 238 Kms in 4 hours, all attributed to non stop speeds of 85-90 Kmph on smooth and relatively traffic free roads of NH 17. The saddle was partly numb and screamed for a rest. The breaffast from Lanja was well digested and our tummies began to crank their demands for another dose of filler.

We had our lunch at Sugran restaurant at Mangaon. The food was decent and tasty in the form of Veg Kolhapuri, Chapatis and a Chiken thali for my pillion. We wrapped up quickly and began moving towards our destination – Mumbai.

Hotels – Lots of them along the way

Plus – Wonderful roads
Minus – Crowd at the township areas enroute, cautious driving required
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Completion of the tour – Total Kms clocked 1076 Kms; wonderful memories to cherish
Tracing the way back from Mangaon to Kalyan was more of a nostalgia. A always nearing the concluding stretches of ride on any long tour presents with a mixed sort of emotion, the satisfaction of completing the ride is blend with the feeling of end of the journey. Breezing past at 90 Kmph saw us reach Panvel in no time. I bid farewell to my pillion here and continued on my way back to Kalyan.

The traffic became evident, pollution, road congestion and all came back flooding and corroding the pleasures of riding on NH 17 for past three days. It was all back to routine as the smooth runways gave way for congested arteries in the city.

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Some useful information -

Refreshment Stops -
Misal Corner, Goa turn-off after Panvel. Awesome misal pav and strong tea, just what you need to prepare you for your drive ahead.

Hotel Open Umbrella Mangaon, Ph: 01240 63879 Indian, South Indian and Konkani food. Konkani thali costs Rs 40.

Hotel Ruchi Garden, Outskirts of Mahad, Splendid views of the Savitri river.

Motel Visawa, Mahad, popular stopping point with a general store and all kind of snacks.

Taj Gateway Chiplun, excellent food but at a price.

Hotel Swad Sangameshwar, excellent Maharashtrian food and non-veg thali.

Neelams Countryside, 24-hour coffee shop with continental snacks and rooms for an overnight halt
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Note of caution -
Slow moving rickshaws and bullock carts aplenty near villages.
Numerous Accident Spot signs on the road. Take them seriously.
Bridges over rivers have speed breakers before and after them.
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Ghats to Cross -
Kashedi Ghat between Poladpur and Kashedi
Baste Ghat after Khed
Parshuram Ghat between Khed and Chiplun
Nivli Ghat between Sangameshwar and Nivli
Vanked Ghat between Lanja and Rajapur
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As always, a satisfaction on completion of a long ride is unparalleled and difficult to express verbally. I hope the log would be helpful for people planning rides in these areas. Have a good time.

Happy, Infinite and safe riding

~Cheers~

Total Distance - 526 Kms
Bike - Honda Shine 125 CC
Top speed – 100 Kmph
Onwards breaks – Kolad, Poladpur
Return breaks - Mangaon
Districts involved – Thane, Raigad
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Raigad - a marvel of a fort and Pratapgad – a page etched in history books with golden letters, both bring out the nostalgic moments that glorify the Maratha history. Well, emotions and nostalgic moments apart, the very underlying fact that it took a genius in Shivaji Maharaj to built these two marvels can never be over estimated. The brilliance of vision hat designed these forts is clearly evident and it was our desire to capture some of these in our viewfinders. Or more apt would be to surrender ourselves to be mesmerized and captured by their beauty.

Hey amidst all these glories, never ever forget the mobiking flames burning inside us. Reaching out these on our bikes was instinctive decisionl but be rest assured that even if it was planned, we would have done nothing different. Vroom vroom we revved on in the winter chills of November 2008.
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Embarking bytes – 12.00 midnight departure from Kalyan
It was a late night start. Our destination, Pratapgad, not being a far distance away to stretch our biking journey till the day break we decided for a late start and long breaks in between. The temperature was pleasantly cool for pedestrians, but as we moved out of Kalyan city the traffic thinned out and the drop in temperature was very evident and cruising at 70 Kmph in those conditions was not exactly pleasant. Still the city conditions, pollution and relative congestion around provided dingy warmth and made it bearable.

Hotels -
Numerous dhabas and restaurants provide 24 x 7 service near Shil phata
Konkan Ratna (Pure veg family restaurant), Konkan King (Family restaurant and bar) and some others provide decent sevice

Plus -
Nothing specific to write about any plus on this stretch of road

Minus -
The pavement blocks at junctions and over those narrow bridges are really irritating as these gives enough bumps even at low speeds.
The bridges over the rail tracks are really narrow and speed breakers are unmarked at number of spots on this stretch
Lots of dust and emissions from surrounding industries can be obnoxious
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Panvel – 1.00 AM; Distance covered 40 Kms ~

We moved cross Shil phata and every time the name crops up I cannot help but warn the riders of the big craters and pot holes that mars the riding experience, besides harming our bikes. First gear, at the most second gear and anything beyond that could have been injurious to my bike’s health and dangerous for my pillion. Enduring bad patches on the way we made our way to Palaspa naka via Kalamboli circle and through Panvel city. Since it was very late in the night the traffic in areteries of Panvel was non existent.

From Palaspa Naka (famously referred to as Datta snacks corner) we turned right and the pleasure of NH 17 (Mumbai – Goa highway) began.

Panvel bypass -
One can take a panvel bypass from Kalamboli circle by proceeding straight instead of taking a left turn. The left turn take through Panvel city. After a short while, the bypass meets JNPT road. From this point a left turn meets at the Datta snacks corner (Palaspa Phata). It is just 2 kms longer than the Panvel city route.

Hotels -
Tapris and some outlets near Panvel ST depot provide tea and some snacks
Some restaurants between Panvel and Palaspa naka are open 24 x 7

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Vijay Automobiles, Kalamboli, Mumbai-Pune Rd, Panvel.
Ph: 022 7452525, HP.
Facilities: Lubes, snacks, coffee vending machine, music cassettes and clean toilets.

Plus – Nothing really

Minus -
Traffic, speed breakers, pollution, dust and haphazard crossing makes Kalyan Shil phata road a not a pleasurable experience.
Road near Shil Phata is the worst stretch of road that one may encounter, potholes and crater ridden. Care for your vehicles, drive in first / second gears.
Traffic in Panvel city can be unnerving during the day (If one does not take the Panvel bypass)
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Wadkhal Naka - 2.15 AM – 2.45 AM; Distance covered – 70 Kms ~
The road, NH 17 as always was a pleasure, and we got the glimpses of it on the Karnala stretch and beyond, but the extreme chills in the air made riding really unnerving. The fingers seemed to be frozen and clutch sensations feebled away. Then came Pen and some roght stretches of road in between actually proved to be a respite from the cold as I had to lower my speed to avoid the bumps. The cold was quite bearable at speeds of 40-50 Kmph. After Pen, a short ride over relatively uneven road led to Wadkhal Naka.

There are 24 x 7 restaurants at Wadkhal Naka, but we decided to give them a skip and move on. From Wadkhal Naka the road just evens out to perfectness and the high speeds are just inevitable as the throttle opened up under the grasp of my fist. The road zipped under the wheels as we neared Nagothane (23 Kms from Wadkhal Naka). We crossed Nagothane and moved further ignoring the roadside kiosks that seemed to be inviting for a cup of hot tea. That was a mistake perhaps on my part. The chills got unbearable and I started looking out for a tea break. Nagothane was left behind and next probable spot for a tea break was Kolad 16 Kms further away and those 16 Kms seemed aeons away then.

The enigne revved and the speedo constantly hovered around 80 – 90 Kmph mark for another 15 minutes before the dim lights of Kolad tea stalls infused a new lease of life in my frozen soul. A piping hot cup of tea was just what the docter ordered and I relished it whole heartedly.

Hotels -
Hotel Amantran at Wadkhal Naka (Closed at Night)
Number of restaurants at Wadjhal Naka open at night

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Dharamkar Motor Store, Vadkhal Naka. Ph: 02143 9008, BP.
Facilities: Puncture repair shop

Plus – Amazingly smooth roads

Minus – None
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Poladpur break – 4.00 AM to 5.00 AM; Distance covered – 75 Kms
The tea break at Kolad proved to be really helpful, but as they say, sweet moments always seems very short, however long they may be and it was perfectly true at that instant. A 30 minutes break away from piercing through the cold winds was enough to shake the numbness away from my fingers, but on the saddle again was very unwelcome thought. I was shivering when I turned the ignition on and the ordeal began once again; inevitable it was.

Such was the effect of cold that even before riding I decided to halt at the next sight of a tea stall. The options were aplenty then, I knew very well; at Indapur, Mangaon and so on. But little did I knew the urge to finish it once for all was strong enough to ignore the stalls at these junctions and continued to zoom at 90 Kmphs past these. Fllowing a SUV sometimes and mini bus at other provided some respite mentally; I did not know how it mattered then, but now I cannot relate to it at all. Chlling numbness had penetrated my thought process as well then.

Past Mangaon, Veer, Lonere and Mahad in numb senses I continued further. The thoughs of next halt was obscure and moving on was the only thing on my minds. However, at Poladpur the inviting aroma of Bhurji Pav and warmth of cup of tea seemed a bit too much to resist. Off went the engine and on came Bhurji Pav. One thing surely dawned upon me then – The extra spice of green chillies with Bhurji pav can be best enjoyed after enduring the chills of a winter night ride. The warm sips of tea was just an icing on the cake.

Hotels -
Stalls at Poladpur offer Bhurji Pav, Omlette and hot tea to the travellers.

24 hour Petrol pumps -
Doshi Automobiles, Mumbai-Goa Highway, Mahad. Ph: 02145 22387 BP.
Facilities: First-aid, lubes, adjoining restaurant and clean toilets.

Plus – Wonderful stretch of road from Wadkhal Naka to Poladpur. It is a straigh stretch of road with minimum hassles during the night. However during the day, it can be crowded at the abovementioned town destinations.

Minus – Nothing really
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Kashedi ghat - 5.45 AM; Distance covered – 16 Kms ~
Since Pratapgad was very near and we did not want to venture on Ambe Nali ghat in the dark, we decided to stop there a bit longer. That is when the idea of doing Kashedi ghat came to my mind. Actually, a right turn immediately past Poladpur leads towards Paratpgad and Kashedi ghat, which lies further ahead on Nh 17, was not a part of our planned route.

But coming so near and missing the wonderful curvatures or Kashedi was not really happening and we decided to cover the ghat route and turn back towards Pratapgad. We started at 5.00 AM from Poladpur and continued further. The approximately 16 Kms (8 + 8) of ghat section was a wonderful ride to do and we headed back towards the Mahabaleshwar bifurcation a lot happier than what we would have been if we had given Kashedi a skip. It was still dark when we did Kashedi ghat, but the curves and inclines remained the same and it was a pleasure as always.
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Pratapgad – 7.00 AM; Distance covered – 42 Kms
Post Kashedi ghat ride we took the bifurcation for Ambe Nali ghat and towards Pratapgad. The uneven roads were immediately noticed, especially after a smooth ride on NH 17 so far. It was day break at around 6.00 AM when we left Poladpur behind.

Ambe Nali ghat is a nice one as far as curves and inclines are concerned, but the enitre joy of ghat riding is reduced to zero due to the pathetic condition of the road. There are plenty of craters right in the centre of the road and across all along the ghat route. After a bumpy ride of around 35 Kms ~ we took the Pratapgad bifurcation. After negotiating Ambenali bumps and steep gradient of reaching Pratapgad base, we finally reached there at 7.00 AM.

Pratapgad attracts a lot of visitors owing to easy accessiblity and historic importance that it carries and this day was no different. Families, friends, groups, sholl picnic all crowded Pratapgad today. We quickly had a look atop Pratapgad, clicked some pictures, enjoyed the scenic views from the top, relished the hot plate of Kanda Bhaji and Chaas at Pratapgad before moving towards our destination next –> Raigad.

Hotels -
Food and accommodation facilities available at Pratapgad

Petrol pumps -
No petrol pump enroute Ambenali ghat and at Pratapgad. Fill your tank up at Mahad to last the distance and the steep inclines of the ghat.

Plus – Scenic views along Ambe Nali ghat

Minus - Pathetic road condition of Ambenali ghat
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Raigad – 12.30 PM; Distance covered 85 Kms ~
My wrist watch clocked 10.00 AM as I started my bike and started back towards Raigad. The thought of enduring the bumpy ride of Ambenali again was contantly playing at the back of my mind and was proving t be irksome – 42 Kms of bumps and roughness again.
Cursing the roads I moved on and I was relieved a bit to reach Poladpur junction and tread again on the smooth runways of NH 17. Another short ride before be reached Mahad.

Moving further we took a bifurcation that led towards Pachad, the base village of Raigad; 23 Kms away from Mahad. The road is narrow and usually with with lot of local pedestrians crossing. We have to keep an careful eye. Also the road condition is not optimal with unexpected pot holes greeting us on the way. The final stretches of the road climbs up the steep inclines and sharp curvatures along the ghat. Steep inclines, sharp corners and rough roads really deems alertness on this stretch. Just before Pachad the road bifurcates. Road on the left leads to Pachad 2 Kms away, while that on the right rleads to Raigad.One must visit the Jija Mata samadhi at Pachad village.

I reached Raigad and parked my bike at pay and park sevice available there. It was 12.30 PM and the sun was shining over head. A sleepless and a chilling night ride made a hot water bath and a good sleep absolute essential. I quickly purchased the rope way tickets (Rs 100 One way; Rs 150 Return).

Hotels -

Food and accommodation facilities available atop Raigad

Petrol pumps -
No petrol pump enroute Pachad. Fill your tank up at Mahad to last the distance.

Plus - Nothing to write home

Minus – Pathetic road condition
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Raigad -
I stayed at Raigad, got much needed rest, hot water bath and a heavy lunch. Had a good look around the fort the next day as well. Clicked a lot of photographs and retired for another day on top of the fort. It was a long stay atop Raigad and a complete end to end visit with lots of photographs was realized.

Hotels -
Bhavani Mandap – Rs 50 Veg Thali
Deshmukh Khanavala – Rs 40 Veg Thali
Zunka Bhakar, Thetcha – Rs 20 Per plate (1 Bhakri) provided by villagers staying near Shiv Samadhi if told in advance

Accommodation -
MTDC resorts, Zilla Parishad rooms, Raigad Ropeway rooms and Bhavani Mandap

Plus – Decent accommodation and food availability

Minus - It is difficult to get MTDC accommodation on weekends and public holidays.
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Return journey -
Nothing much or special to write about return journey. I had a late start from Raigad, descended via Chitta Darwaja route, visited Waghbil and then moved towards the parking lot to hit the saddle once again. Bidding farewell to Raigad I proceeded towards NH 17 again. Returning was a monotonous ride with no anticipation or expectation. I had a good lunch at Mangaon, Hotel Sugran and then hit the road once again.

Indapur, Kolad, Nagothane and Wadkhal Naka whizzed past and the congested roads of Panvel appeared sooner than aniticipated. Traffic, pollution and haphazard roads welcomed us once again and I reached Kalyan via Shil phata. It was around 6.30 PM then and the sun was just beginning to setting low beyond the horizon, with memories of past few days mingling merrily in my thoughts.

Cheers ~

Shivneri bike trail

Posted: November 3, 2008 in Motorcycling, Travel
Tags:

Kalyan – Shivneri bike trip
Total Distance – 257 Kms
Bike – Honda Shine 125 cc
Top speed – 105 Kmph
Onwards breaks – At Murbad for a cup of much needed hot tea to kill the chills
Return breaks – None
Districts involved – Thane, Pune
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Starting blues – Malshej ghat horrors
Do not go there after dark, are you nuts? Don’t invite trouble, stay back! My friends were concerned about me riding at night on the Malshej Ghat. For those who don’t know, Malshej ghat is notoriously infamous for dacoits and murders at night. So, doing a bike ride, that too with just two bikes was never going to be a safe option and could not be digested by my friends.

Change in plan – Early morning departure in killing chills
Their assertive requets and a bit of inhibition induced in me saw me rescheduling my Shivneri bike ride. I postponed it by 5 hours. We were actually supposed to start out at 11.00 PM from Kalyan. However, the trip was rescheduled to 4.00 AM the next day (Saturday). As always, the alarm went on and on before we finally crept out of the comfort of our blankets and readied ourself for the ride. It was the month of November then, the winters of 2008. Well, it was not the chilliest winter that I witnessed, but certainly, starting at 5.00 AM in the month of November and zooming around 80 kmph is never pleasant. The cold winds started getting prickier as we left Kalyan behind and hit the deserted roads towards Murbad.

Numbness gripping us – Seeking warmth at Murbad; Distance covered – 30 Kms
The feeling of numbness started gripping the fingers and holding on to the throttle and intermittent clutch pulls were purely mechanical with no sensation whatsoever. The speed hovered around the 80 mark. The dawn still held itself and the daybreak was nowhere near. The dim light and the mist settled over the landscape coupled with numb sesnsations made it increasingly difficult to ride. In about 30 minutes we reached near Murbad and the first sight of a tungten bulb some 500 metres from us came as a rescuer in the killling chill. Even from so far a distance it seemed to infuse a warmth with its tungten filament throwing a glow that pierced the mist laden landscape. It did not see us hitting the neutral gear and order cuppa of a cutting chai. We were holding onto the glasses for long before we took the first sip. The hot bevearage helped us to regain some of the numbed senses, albeit only partially.

Hotels -
There are plenty of options available at Murbad during the buzzing hours of the day. But late night and early mornings won’t provide you with much other than some anda bhurji and tea. Even the bhurji wallah is not guaranteed after the wee hours.

Plus –
Good stretch of road and relatively uncongested after crossing Ulhasnagar; specifically the Tabor Ashram.

Minus -
The roads are congested and very narrow just after crossing Shahad near the Ulhasnagar – Tabor Ashram stretch. During day time it can be a pain to ride through, early hours made it easy for us.

Note -
Fill your tanks, if not already done before at Murbad. This is the last petrol pum for a considerable stretch; nothing available through Malshej right upto Madh.
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Through the Malshej ghat - Cold defusing our enthusiasm; Distance covered – 80 kms ~
Hitting the saddle became more difficult now for us. We could not come to terms with the fact that we would have to move away from the comforting warmth of the tea stall and hit the roads again, cutting through the pricking morning chill. We had to anyways. By the time we reached Saralgaon the dawn had given way to daybreak and the thin traffic and smooth roads saw us revving up further. We soon zoomed past the imposing Nanacha Angha and took over the turns of Malshej ghat. It always is a pleasure to ride through this ghat and somehow it never ceases to cater that particular zing for the riders.

Ghat sections enroute
Malshej Ghat – Long route, curvy roads, wonderful views. Total length of ghat road is approximately 43 kms.

Crossing over Madh we moved towards Junnar. The stretch in between Madh and Junnar was the worst chills we experienced since the ride began. We reached Bankar phata and taking a right turn from here reached Junnar in a short while. As always, a chai, a tarri wala misal pav and a cream roll to finish with saw us satiating our appetites before making our way up to Shivneri.

Hotels -
You can find some Dhabas at Tokawade. The none until Akshay near Khubi Phata and few tapris at Madh

24 hour Petrol pumps
Petrol station at Madh provides 24 hours service, tyre service

Plus -
Malshej ghat and the view it offers along with its curvy course is always a treat. Smooth roads for most of its length

Minus -
A very small patch of rough road post Madh. Then the right turn from Bankar phata till Junnar is not a pleasant drive as well with intermediate pot holes and overall rough roads
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Reaching Junnar – Breakfast, tea and a brief break and Shivneri visit
Shivneri is beautiful fort with number of fortificated structures still in decent conditions, including the seven entrances and Shivjanmasthan. Badami Tank, Ganga Jamuna Tanks, Kadelot, Kamani Masjid and Ambarkhana are some of the other old structures worth seeing on the fort. MTDC has built Shiv Kunj on top of the fort for the visitors. If one wishes one can descend via Sakhal Danda route (Chor waat) to add some thing more and see some rock hewn caves along the scarp of the masif.  But since we had parked our bikes we decided to descend via the same route; but not before clicking loads of pictures.

Lunch and returning back -
We hit the road once more. We were really hungry and a nice restaurant near Junnar helped us fill our tummies with Veg Kolhapuri, rotis and butter naan. Post lunch, we hit the roads again and returned via Ganesh Khind (thus avoiding the circuitous route, which we took while coming) and reached Madh. From Madh it was gain the same roads being traced back till Kalyan. However, return journey was much pleasant as there was no chill to kill.

It was near sunset by the time we reached Kalyan. Tapan had joined me from Goregaon. Bidding him farewell, I turned towards the cozy comforts of home sweet home. Mom, as always, was happy to see me back again and then Monday awaited another mundane.
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Completion of the tour – Total Kms clocked 257 Kms. A short and sweet ride kissed with the wonderful architecture and historical significance attached with the Shivjanmasthan – Fort Shivneri
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Note of caution
Do not drive at Malshej ghat during the night; its well known for dacoits and killings

Have your tank full at Mumbai itself, it would be sufficient for the entire ride
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Although a short ride, a ride is a ride and it is always a satisfying experience, an unparalleled one with the flavours of revs, kms, rpms and everything attached.

Happy, Infinite and safe riding

~Cheers~

The ride…
250 km for some and 300 km for some… either ways it doesn’t get any easier on roads more curvaceous than a spiral and as narrow as it can get. Well, the rains just added that extra bit of zing for the slippery sheen on the smooth tar that MSRDC has commendably laid to the remotest possible corners in Maharashtra and couple that with the crater-i-form texture that the torrential rains usually leaves on the surface! Whoa.. it was some biking trail visiting the remote and hilly talukas of Jawahar, Wada and Mokhada in Thane district.

The speedo hovered around 50-60-70 kmph for some on the dry stretches of sharp curves, and 40-50 on wet and descending curves with constant pedal on the rear brakes..well the discs where hardly put into action and only when the rear where a bit insufficient to prevent the slide off track! Well that wasn’t the top speed by any means since on the roads that were straight and smooth speedo did not shy away from the three figure mark!

Starting out…
We had a relatively early start and all were present at the scheduled meeting point- Bhiwandi Bypass at 8.00 AM. We were 7 riders in all with 3 pillions and 4 riders on the tourney. A 150 cc Pulsar from Panvel, a 125 cc Shine, another 125 cc Discover and the best of them all the 2-stroke power house 100 cc RX 100! Hot cuppa of tea sips at 8.00 AM and embarked on our journey we!

The circuit as decided to be completed in the day was Bhiwandi-Wada-Suryamal-Khodala-Mokhada-Jawahar-Wada-Bhiwandi - and so did we! The odometer for the day on completetion of the circuit gathered up around 275 kms plus, where as for the Panvel guy it matched exact 300 for the day!

Reaching Wada…
The road from Bhiwandi to Wada is pretty much straight forward and nothing much to excite about when a rider has to negotiate with the smokes and fumes that the trucks and buses emanate and we dodge and zoom past as overtaking opportunity crops up! The ~35 Kms ride is nothing more to write about. Double that with Bhiwandi’s diabolic traffic and pathetic road sense we the ride till Wada is a mediocre experience for any rider..we weren’t spared either. But as always riding in itself offers so much for the seekers that everything else is just a pit lane where there are no pit stops!

Wada junction and another cuppa of tea for us, mere 35 kms on the saddle… oh such a leisure..well that’s what we out on Sundays! A 5 minutes break and we headed towards Khodala, enroute Suryamal. Bifurcating from the junction on the right takes one to Khodala via Parli! Well and that is exactly the route which magnetised us towards this trail. The total distance from Wada to Khodala via Suryamal is ~ 50 Kms and it is a treat! The traffic deviates on the left from the junction and the right trail which we followed is just a ride that any rider would yearn for!

Khodala trail…
The cooing of the birds, gushing of the streams- numerous streams that you pass over the narrow bridges, the lush green and thick forests in between that fight hard and successfully prevents the penetrating suns rays to hit the ground, the drizzling rains that just leaves a sheen on the black road the intermittent pits, rumbles and villages, the sun and the shade and just about everything that makes this route a treat. The road tries hard, but fails against the terrain and struggles to keep straight even for 100 metres. The intervening curves and gradients are what that makes the route even more interesting!

The magic of nature…
12 km enroute is Mandwa village which we bypassed and further ahead 5km was our next halt.. 17kms from Wada is a tranquil village setting: Parali. We stopped our roaring phat-phatis and let the silence creep in the tranquil ambience and the content filling our hearts and souls. The green offered some perfect landscapes to shoot. A quick gaze around and we headed for Suryamal. On the way a couple of stops were just inevitable as the Garjai river criss-crossed our paths and kept inviting us for a dip in the thickets surrounding it! It definitely tried to compete with the Amazon, but alas you know this might be a hyperbole! Well.. it isn’t anyless and a visual treat in its own right: Garjai river bed was amazing and the view overhead was just wonderful as we spread out our arms from the edges and embraced the flowing breeze!

Suryamal retreat…
Not long ago before we reached Suryamal – The highest point in the region. Suryamal is a now a quite well developed village place. There is a large enough school (Up to 10th grade) being managed by a Ashram Sanstha that provided education and boarding facilities to more than 500 students from the nearby tribal areas. It is indeed heartening to see these developments in remote areas and that the slate-n pencil is penetrating in these areas too! We had a brief chat with the superintendent of the Ashram school before leaving for a biped trail on the vast expanse of the lush green plateau. We came across numerous Nachani (Red Millet/Ragi) fields on the plateau. There were number of wells dotting the landscape too! All in all the plateau is well favoured by the rain Gods and abundant irrigation facilities makes it quite a suitable place for Nachani cultivation.

We traced our foot steps right up to the edge of the plateau of looking the Garjai River bed and the route which we gradually scaled from Wada to Suryamal. The enchanting landscape filled our visions before we decided to head our way back to our motorbikes.

Khodala batata wadas…
Suryamal-Khodala is quick route and not long before we reached there, mostly a descent! Khodala is well to do township and you can help yourself with some snacks and lunch here. We savoured cuppa of tea n khari and hot batata wadas as usual. There is no petrol pump in the vicinity, but one can actually get it in black (Rs 60 p/l) in the nearby areas! We moved ahead filling our tummies!

If one wishes one can cut short the journey and head for Kasara from Khodala and get back to Mumbai via NH3. We were however not satiated with the offering so far! We continued ahead towards Jawahar. On the way just 3 kms from Khodala is a beautiful Ganesh temple at Deobandh. There is a beautiful serene river flowing right behind the temple barely 10 metres away. A wonderful ambience and perfect setting for a days outing if one doesn’t wish to roar their engines further! We paid our obeisance at the temple and moved ahead on our tourney.

Bumpy ride…
The worst part of the road was yet to greet us and we soon realised it just as we moved past Deobandh. The road is riddled with just so many pits and craters that the bikes just rollicked up and down over the rough terrains and bumpy tars! My pillion had a rocking time I must say as I refused to get my hands of the throttle. Oh did he have some goose bumps? Well..he did!

Jawahar palace…
Not long before we reached Jawahar junction. A left turn from here and a wonderful silken smooth road ahead say us covering the following 222 kms in a whisker of the time frame. The road is absolute beauty from here..wonderful curves, but butter smooth surface..and especially after the just passed bumpy terrain! Reached Jawahar!

We made our way to the Jai Vilas palace, the huge palace of the then King of the Warli tribe. The Palace was built and furnished dating back to 1940. Its still very well maintained and has actually attracted many prosperous bidders to take its possession..but to no avail as the owner is not lured in by the bids amounting to even by the tune of 100 crores! A quick visit to the palace and not time for the lunch break awaited us.

We had a good meal in one of the restaurants at Jawahar. It was raining hard and heavy as we were under the cozy shelter of the Dhaba. Another 45 minutes in there and it was time to head back to Mumbai. We made our way over the smooth roads towards Wada again. As always I say and really feel the return journey is a pain..pain because we just don’t want to get back to the urbanized lifestyles..still a next weekends reconciliation is good enough to raise the throttle and move back!

Returning back…
~6kms from the Palce is Dhanu phata. A right turn from here leads towards Dahanu and the straight one leads to Wada. We kept straight and moved further. The road is pretty much a nice drive amongst thick forests surrounding, but well tread! On the way we came across a junction. The route from the right (30 km) to Wada via Vikramgad and is around 10 kms more than the one on the left that directly leads to Wada (20 km). We took the shorter one as we wanted to get back to Mumbai before it before it became too late. A 20 kms of smooth ride got us back to Wada.

Another cuppa of tea, probably the last one for the day together before we headed towards Bhiwani bypass. As in the morning, the Wada-Bhiwani ride was nothing much to write about and through the traffic again we reached Bhiwandi bypass: from where we were to bid adieu. Two bikes headed right towards Mumbai from the bypass where as two headed for Kalyan. It was 9.00 Pm by the time we reached Kalyan.

Adieu time..
Well.. a wonderful trail for the day and as always I would like to say thanks for the wonderful company that I cherished with my friends.. precisely Amod, Pravin, Akshay, Vishwa, Vinita and Shalini… A wonderful day we had together!

The prelude…
Standing on the edge of the bastion I was embracing the cool winds flowing offshore on one of those coastal forts in a serene village of Konkan, as my visions were filled with the seamless blending of the emerald green of the Arabian Sea and the Sapphire blue of the clear skies. The gushing sound of the water seemed to dissolve the golden sands on the shores of Suvarnadurga isle as the green frothed into effervescent white and the gold quietly surrendering to the might of the invading sea waves. Such was the magnificence of the beauty that nature bestowed us with in these two memorable days.

Two days, 570 kilometers, six forts and three tranquil villages is the concise material description of what we experienced on the just passed weekend. However, the real essence of those moments is just beyond vocabulary to express.

W all started out on the night of 30th May 2008 on our Konkan biking trail, which was supposed to cover six forts and nearby places of interest in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. It was a long drive that we chose to embark on those dark nights on the Mumbai-Goa highway. Of course not many would recommend it, especially with the blaring lights in your eyes that the heavy vehicles throw and rush perilously close to the lining two wheelers. Unless you have the endurance to bear and keep your sights steady against those blinding headlights and endure through the sleepless night, please do not undertake such long night drives on two wheelers. We supposedly possessed these qualities and with a sane head on our shoulders decided to embark on the same tourney.

Embarking from Kalyan…
We stated from Kalyan at 11.00 PM on Friday, 30th May night. It was me with my 125cc Honda Shine and Shailendra with his 125 cc Bajaj Discover starting from here. Raj was pillion to me and carrying a heavy backpack on his shoulders. We started out with cognizant minds of the long drive that the dark night had in store for us through those secluded roads. After a drive through traffic filled Shil phata-Panvel road, we reached Panvel at around 12.00 in the midnight. It was at Panvel that we were joined by Nilesh and Rohan Karande, the remaining two riders on the trail. Nilesh was pillion to Shailendra, while Rohan Karande was the lone rider.

So here was the complete team that grouped up and adjusted their backpacks and bikes and was ready to go. Shailendra with a patient head was supposed to stay in front and me in the rear, while Rohan Karande, the lone rider in between us. The pack quietly moved out of the Panvel city and that is when they began to feel the thinning density of road traffic and growing seclusion and darkness. Once they treaded along the Goa highway after bifurcation from the Mumbai-Pune road, it was a cool and calm ambience greeting us with in between glares of the opposing vehicular traffic. As planned earlier, we quickly saw Pen being left behind and approached Wadkhal Naka. We decided to have a break at Wadkhal Naka and helped ourselves with simmering hot cup of tea to stay alert and awake, not really J!

Reaching Mandangad…
After a brief session break at Wadkhal, we started on our journey further. Our next destination for the scheduled halt was supposed to be Mangaon. The metalled road of the highway quickly slipped under the tyres of three motor bikes as we breezed past Nagothane and Kolad. Moving across the lonely roads at a brisk pace and enjoying the cool winds under the twinkling stars was a treat, yet caution was of utmost importance. In a few while we reached Mangaon for our second round of tea. So did we, after nice filler with Omlette Paav we cherished the hot tea and geared up for further journey. Our next destination was direct halt at Sade village, approximately 11Kms from Mandangad. Sade village was our base for the entire two day trip and more importantly it is the native village of Rajendra.

We reached Lonere and breezed past it and in a few while reached Veer Dasgaon. From Veer, we had to take a right turn and so did we. After few quite kilometers over a bit rough patch, we reached a bifurcation which indicated us a left turn to reach Mandangad via Mhapral village. A road was not the best we had seen so far, but surely was a lot better than the one we had in our stores for the next day.

We moved past Mhapral village and at a point, which indicates Mandangad as 11 Kms away, known as Shinale we had to leave the road towards Mandangad and take a left turn towards Sade village. After a bumpu ride of about 7 kms, we reached Sade and the native village home of Rajendra. It was 5.00 AM dawn and the village was up and awake. We were eagerly awaited and welcomed at Rajendra’s home by the neighbours. We dropped our sacks, stretched our stiffened backs and immediately went flat on the floor. It was a 180 Kms long drive on the dark boulevards and the last stretch being quite bumpy.

Rest awaited us and a much deserved one!

Reaching Dapoli…
We tried to sleep, but forget it. It was 7.00AM in the morning and we quickly woke up towards freshening up for a long day ahead: Consumed by biking.. fort visits… villages.. and much more!

Our next target was Dapoli via Mandangad. After a nice Tandulachi Bhakri with delicious Khobra-Mirchi cha thecha, we moved out on our bikes. We visited the Gaondevi mandir in the village and started towards Mandangad. One way towards Mandangad, one comes across Dapoli Phata to the left indicating a distance of 42 kms for Dapoli. We followed this route and it was bliss. The road was decently even with occasional bumps, but the lush green on either side of the road made it a perfect boulevard to ride on. The green and the intermittent cool breeze made it a pleasant experience.

After winding turns and ups and downs, 42 kms were rolled by and we reached Dapoli. Dapoli is quite a developed township and caters good facilities for tourists. We had a quick tea break and further moved on towards Harnai port, which was 13 kms further away from Dapoli. Actually, when we left the tea stall not many were actually impressed by the thought of further biking! Few kms more and we reached Harnai port.

Witnessing the Grandeur of Suvarnadurga…
We reached Harnai and for a bargain of 400 Rs in exchange for boating us to Suvarnadurga and back we hired a boat. Suvarnadurga looks magnificently secluded with its imposing tall fort walls and structures. It is not much far away from the shore and merely takes a 15 minutes boat sail to reach the shores of Suvarnadurga isle. As one steps on the golden sands of Suvarnadurga, one is amazed by the grandiosity of its architecture. The Mahadarwaja is nicely hidden and the fortifications quite intact. The landscape was perfect and the view just surreal. To know more about Suvarnadurga fort, click here…

http://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/anjarle-suvarnadurga-kanakdurga-goa-and-fattegad/

After being mesmerized by the marvel of Suvarnadurga fort, one really wonders why this fort could not gain as much popularity like Janjira and Kulaba and such.

We sailed back towards Harnai port constantly turning back to see the imposing architecture of Suvarnadurga.

Kanakdurga, Fattegad and Goa fort…
The Sun was blazing harsh on us by now and it was nearing mid-day. The sweltering heat saw s perspiring profusely, but we made sure that we had adequate intake of fluids as well. After being charmed by Suvarnadurga, we quickly wrapped up the trio of Kanakdurga, Fattegad and Goa fort. Nothing much is to be seen and said about these three forts, other than that they must have served as mere watch towers and protection for Suvarnadurga. Kanakdurga is devoid of any ruins and now houses a Light house and few quarters for the staff manning the light house. Fattegad is completely non-existent and is now a densely populated Koli hutment. Goa fort does offer some nice views and has a Balekilla, which offers a topographic view of the fort as well as Kanakdurga and Suvarnadurga. Some ruins and a magnificent Mahadarwaja are all that is remaining on Goa fort.

We visited these three fort sand moved towards Anjarle village.

More about these forts at
http://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/anjarle-suvarnadurga-kanakdurga-goa-and-fattegad/

Anjarle cha Kadya varcha Ganpati…
Anjarle is a small village nestled in the lush green Konkan belt of Maharashtra famous for its Kadya Varcha Ganpati Mandir. Just 4 kms away from Harnai port, we reached there in a jiffy. Later it was renovated during 1768 to 1780.

The temple at Anjarle is considered to be Jagrut devasthan and has one of those rare Ganesh idols with his trunk curved towards the right side (Ujvya sondecha Ganpati). The cliff offers a fabulous view of the landscape including the Suvarnadurg Fort. Beside the Ganesh temple there is a small but beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and a nearby pond with turtles and number if species of fishes. After quick visit to the temple we had a pure Konkan delight with simple poli-Bhaji-Chatni and Amti Bhat served in our dish. The Kairi-Khobra chatni was a treat. We had no less than a mini feast out there and at an amazingly economic price of Rs 40 per plate, and that too unlimited. The Kokam sarbat to top it was delight as well. After a heavy mid day meal, a 30 minute nap time saw all others except me and Shailya sleeping!

Reaching Bankot…
It was 3.30 Pm when we decided to have a move on. The road from Anjarle to Bankot was one of thw worst we had experience so far on this ride. We were surprised to know that it was actually a mud road with Tar craters in between. It was pathetically rough and able enough to loosen our stiffened bodies. An hour and half over these bumps saw us to Bankot village. A steep ascent riding on increased fuel consumption saw us near Bankot fort.

One hour was enough to have a good look at Bankot. The chor Darwaja, Mahadarwaja and all the ruins besides interesting history associated with Bankot saw us refreshed for a good Sun-set at Velas. We moved on towards Velas village.

Velas…
From Bankot village, proceed towards Velas village along the road which runs parallel to the coastline. Velas, the birth place of very diplomatic Nana Phadnis of the Peshwa is a very tranquil village merely two km from Bankot. The residence of Nana Phadnis, even though now in ruins, still bears testimony to the great person that Nana was. Calm beach and the perfect village setting make it surely worth a visit.

There is an old temple of Shri Bhairi-Rameshwar and in this temple all twelve months water is made available taking the benefit of favorable geographical conditions. A statue of Nana Phadnis is present outside his house. In Velas Mahalakshmi temple and Nana Phadnis house are the places to visit.

The Sun set through the Pine trees on the horizons of Arabian Sea was a treat to our eyes.

We retraced our way back to the comforts of our base at Sade village by 8.00 Pm and after a nice dinner of plain Varan bhaat with chatni, we retired for a good nights sleep.

To know more about Bankot fort and Velas click here
http://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/bankot-for-and-velas-village/

Sunday morning wake up call…
Early morning rise up at 7.00 AM seemed a bit too early after a long previous day. We quickly had the morning freshener with black tea to liven up the spirits. We set of towards Mandangad fort. With a mud road now trailing right up to the summit of Mandangad, we were quite ready to do it in a jiffy in spite of the previous two hectic days. We quickly moved out of Sade village and reached Mandangad, where a nice Misal Pav helped us to fill our tummies. After a quick breakfast we moved towards the steep grind of the winding mud road that took us to the top of Mandangad fort. The fort now is in ruins and except for a Ganesh temple a Thorla Talav next to it, there is nothing much atop except a few ruins. A ride up and down the mud trail was no less than dirt track driving and carefully negotiating the pebble strewn path was a fun to be experienced.

To know more about Mandangad visit http://itrekz.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/mandangad-fort/

After visiting the fort we moved back to the well trodden metalled road and started on our return journey with halts at Mangaon and Wadkhal respectively. The luncheon at Wadkhal was too heavy with nice Punjabi dishes on the platter. We bid farewell to each other at the end of a wonderful biking tourney and visits to some of the most wonderful forts on the Konkan coastline waiting for its due share of recognition and to be thronged by the tourists.