Monday, 31 October 2011

Klassic Konkan - October 27 / 28 / 29, 2011

It was a long as well as planned family trip. Since Sneha was getting married in November, we decided to visit our Kula-Daivats in Konkan togethor. We were 5 of us plus Arnav. Hence we hired a Tavera instead of our car.

We set off on October 27, 2011 morning 6.15 and took the old Satara Road from Swargate. Our first pit-stop was Shri Ram Wade-wale at Shirwal, obvious and unanimous choice.

There are 3 routes to Konkan on that stretch that I was aware of. One the most famous Varandha Ghat road via Bhor. Second the Mahabaleshwar route. And third just before Karad (from Umbraj) via Kumbharli Ghat, Koyananagar.

We took the 4th one, known to Satish Kaka, our Driver. Just after Karad take exit from NH-4 on left and the road goes from below the highway towards right to Ratnagiri. It is the road via Kokrud and Aamba Ghat.
View from Aamba Ghat

By 1.00 in afternoon, we stopped for Lunch at a place called Warool (वारूळ). It was a place that served home cooked food, rice-plate.

16° 57' 06.22" N   73° 51' 57.29" E

After a brief tea-stop at Pali at 3.30 pm, we reached Karhateshwar (कर्हाटेश्वर) by 5.00 pm. Karhateshwar is our Kul-daiwat (our family deity). It is situated near the village called Nandiwade (नान्दिवडे).
17° 17' 18.00" N   73° 13' 15.74" E
Karhateshwar - Shiv Linga
Karhateshwar Temple
वार्‍या-वरती गंध पसरला नाते मनाचे
माती मध्ये दरवळणारे हे गाव माझे
Nandiwade was our native village where our (Bhogale's) fore-fathers used to live about a century back. They mortgaged everything and came down to Pune for work and settled down here. Visiting this place was nostalgic. Especially when I knew that this was our real native. I felt somewhere connected to it.

I had visited here with family about 15 years back (of course my wife and son were not there; my grandmother was there though)

There was a major make over. Except the Temple and the Go-mukh below, every thing has been changed - from its surroundings to the access road. Will post that old snap later after I scan it.

Now there is this big coal based Power Plant by JSW developed here resulting into major change in this area.

Came across this on a websiteShri Narayanbhau Jog, a Ramdasi, has described the place in these words --> 
The deity of Karhateshwar rests at this beautiful lonely place, at whose feet the roaring sea is there for ever.

After taking the darshan we went downwards towards sea. There is this Go-mukh (गोमुख) where sweet water flows all year round. And this is just 10 meters away from the salty sea water.

Further we went to Ganpatipule (गणपतिपुळे). The route we took from via Malgund was beautiful; it was a coastal road with seashore on side of the road.

We had done the booking for our stay at MTDC. The resort is nice. Its USP is its location --> Next to the Ganesh Temple by the beach. When we entered our room, the view from the balcony was awesome. If you lose on to the service, MTDC scores on its location, room conditions, toilet cleanliness, etc. (17° 08' 50.26" N   73° 16' 00.98" E)

We had dinner at "Bhau Joshi's Bhojanalaya (भाऊ जोशी यांचे भोजनालय)". They serve Maharashtrian food not in a Rice Plate manner, but separate vegetable dish manner (A-la-Carte). Taste was excellent, and very cheap.

Next morning at 6 we reached the beach for a stroll. The early morning blue sky with the pink temple was looking awesome.

Ganpatipule beach

Pink Jewel

प्रदक्षिणा मार्ग
We returned back to our rooms by 7. By 9.30 am we went for the Darshan. There is this Pradakshina Marg (प्रदक्षिणा मार्ग) which is made around the hill. This is about 1.5 kms. Normally we take this प्रदक्षिणा around the diety or the sanctum sanctorum. This is something unique about this place.

After this darshan and a breakfast of Pohe we proceeded for Pracheen Konkan - this is sort of an exhibition depicting lifestyle of Konkani people in early days.

It is worth watching the near human sculptures within the blanket of thick and green trees; ticket of mere 15 Rs per person, with a guide explaining about the whole history for a group of 8-10 people. However it will be tire some for elderly, since the terrain is hilly.

From here we proceeded towards Guhagar (गुहागर). Ideally to go to Guhagar, one has to take the complete round over the Bhatgaon of about 120 kms due to the Jaigad Creek.

However, Satish kaka inquired about the possible ferry service from Jaigad Jetty which might be useful for us to go to Guhagar.

There is one ferry from Jaigad to Tarsaal (तरसाल) and then to Guhagar via road. This reduces the road travel to 30-40 kms.
We reached Jaigad jetty by 11.00 am, put our Tavera in the ferry and moved towards Tarsaal.

From Tarsaal we started our road journey to Guhagar. Enroute we took a stop at Hedvi (हेदवी), a Ganesh Temple. It is the idol with 10 hands - Dashbhuj (दश-भुज). Its a very small temple, but very beautiful.
दश-भुज गणेश, हेदवी
After the darshan, we marched towards Guhagar and reached by 1 pm for lunch. We had it at Hotel Suruchi (near Vyadeshwar temple, on the main market road). Phone nos are: 9421137937, 9420051737. Food was nice - rice plate Maharashtrian thali. They serve Ukdiche Modak based on prior orders. Stay facility is also available (; we had already booked our stay at Hotel Rajgadh from Pune itself. I had searched the accommodation through internet. Some of the details are below:

Hotel Rajgad       02359240524      We stayed here.
                       9028813334, 8975009848, 9764665775

Hotel Kautilya     9423048234        But they do not take advance booking

Hotel Nilambari   9423048250

We stayed at Rajgad. Was kind of an OK place. The beach side cottages were actually awesome, but we didn't got them. They were occupied. They also had a dining area where tea, breakfast and meals were served (Veg / Non-veg).

After a nap for about couple of hours and a cup of tea, we set for Velneshwar. This is about 20 kms from Guhagar. A Shiva temple and a Beach.
Sunset on Velneshwar beach

Velneshwar temple
By 6.30 pm we turned back and reached Guhagar. We visited Vyadeshwar Temple. It is right in the town. Then we went to Durga Devi Temple, again in Guhagar a bit away from main market place towards Dapoli road.

Durga Devi temple
In the morning we moved towards Pune. We decided to take the Chiplun route so that we can go to Derwan (Shiv-Srushti) and Parshuram on the way.

After a brief stop at Derwan, we reached Parshuram. Here we need to descend about 100 steps to reach the temple. On both sides there are shops that sell Pooja items, Kokan Mewa (eatables), toys, Lunch Homes. We had our lunch at one such place - Pethe Vishranti Griha. Nice taste.

Vaasishthi River - a view from Parshuram Ghat, Chiplun
Parshuram temple

From here we headed for home. We left Parshuram at 2.00 pm. By 8.00 pm we were at our house.

Odometer readings are:
Day 1
0            Pune City (Narayan Peth) – we took the NH-4 (Satara Road) from Swargate.
50          Shirwal (Shri Ram Wada Pav) – via Nasarapur, Kapurhol
152        Karad toll
167        Bridge on river Koyna
169        Paachwad phata – take exit (to Left) from NH-4 – towards Right under the bridge – there is a board for Ratnagiri just prior to this exit (this Paachwad is apart from the one which is just before Satara). This is SH-80 to Ratnagiri.
              Villages like Ond, Undale, Y joint; take Right, another Y joint; take Left, Yelapur.

200        Shedgewadi, take Left, join SH 111.
206        Kokrud – take Right towards Malkapur and Ratnagiri.
208        Y joint; take Right ascend towards bridge on Warana River – straight will go to Kolhapur.

223        Malkapur – Kadvi River – Take Right on a T joint – Left will go to Kolhapur.
241        Aamba ghat – NH 208 – this ghat is of about 17 kms.
287        Pali – on NH-17 (Mumbai-Goa Highway) – not the one with Ashtavinayaka near Khopoli and Pen.

298        Hathkhamba phata – ahead of Hathkhamba village – straight goes to Ganpatipule, Chiplun, Jaigad – Left goes to Ratnagiri, Pawas.

302        Nivali Phata – Y Joint – Left goes to Ganpatipule, Jaigad – Right to Chiplun – SH 106

              Jakadevi, Chafe
350        Karhateshwar
              While returning back for Ganpatipule, on the same road before Chafe, comes a Y joint – Left will take back to Chafe and Jakadevi (from Chafe also one can go to Ganpatipule) – Right will take to Ganpatipule via Malgund – villages like Varvad, Reel, Tiwari Bunder will follow before Malgund. This road is better compared to the earlier one via Chafe; as this is along the coast line and hence is very scenic.
375        Ganpatipule – MTDC

Day 2

375       MTDC
397       Jaigad jetty
397       Tavsal
408       Hedvi.
433       Guhagar
454       Velneshwar (via Palshet, Adoor).
477       Guhagar (returned back - same route)

Day 3

491        Shringar Tali – SH-78 (Chiplun – Patan Highway)
504        Marga Tamhane
509        Rampur
516        Malghar – take a Right turn on a Y-section (Ganesh-khind phata) on an ascend for Derwan (this is a short-cut) – straight will take you to Chiplun on NH-17

520        another Y section after Kharwate – take Left
523        Dahiwali
530        NH-17 (Mumbai-Goa Highway) – take Right
              Savarde village – take immediate Left – Board for Shiv-Srishti, Derwan is available – also board for Walawalkar Hospital is available.

533        Derwan – Shiv-Samartha Gad (Shiv-Srishti)
              Same route return – take Right on NH-17 towards Chiplun.
552        Chiplun - Bridge on River Vaashishthi - Parshuram Ghat starts
564        take a Right ascend on a Y section towards Parshuram at the top of the Ghat
565        Parshuram – same route return towards Chiplun
              Take Left after Vaashishthi river bridge - straight goes to Ratnagiri, Right goes to Chiplun city.
              Kherdi, Shirgaon, Pophli, Kumbharli Ghat (20-22 kms)
              Y section after the ghat ends – take Left – straight is a Koyanagar bypass, but road is not good enough and we wanted to have a cup of tea at Koynanagar that would not have been possible by that bypass road.

637        Patan
              Malharpeth – then a toll booth – take Left for Umbraj for going to Pune; straight goes to Karad (both on NH-4).
665        Umbraj – join NH-4 (Mumbai-Bangalore Highway) and take Left.
809        Pune City (Narayan Peth).

View Larger Map

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mystic Malshej – September 21 - 22, 2011

Nitin & Sharad suggested celebrating their promotion parties as over-night trip instead of the routine Hotel Parties. Nice idea.

Now started our hunt for the venue. Pawan-Khind, Koyana-Nagar Dam, Raigad Rope-way and Malshej Ghat. We were 8 of us. And this time luckily nobody backed out at the last moment.
We came to our company at Pimpri in our company buses. We had booked a Tavera from our company gate at 5.00 pm in the evening.

We left at 5.45 pm – 8 of us – Nitin, Sharad, Tushar, Vishal, Mayur, Sagar, Sourabh and myself. From Moshi we joined the Pune-Nashik Highway (NH-50). We desperately wanted some snacks as we haven’t had anything after lunch. We took a halt at Hotel Vedant – just before Rajgurunagar – about 20 kms from Pimpri. Vada-paav and Tea were nice. Overall restaurant was also good.

There are two ways how we can proceed to Malshej Ghat. Take a left from Narayangaon (30 kms from Rajgurunagar) or else go ahead and take a left from Ale Phata (45 kms from Rajgurunagar). The overall Pune-Malshej distance is 120 kms for former route and 140 kms from latter route.
From Narayangaon - 120 kms
From Ale Phata - 140 kms
However since we were unaware of the road conditions from Narayangaon route we decided to take the longer Ale Phata route. This is the NH-222 (Kalyan-Ahmednagar); being a highway, road conditions might be better. But both the roads are in good condition. Hence it is better to go from Narayangaon route. Distance is anyway less by 20 kms; but there are good possibilities of food joints (hotels) since you pass from Junnar.

We had planned that we would be having Dinner near Ale Phata as we were not sure of good hotels on NH-222. However, there are no any good hotels either near Ale Phata. The hotel we went was pathetic – Hotel Ashoka Palace (about a km before the Ale Phata cross road on right while coming from Pune). No ambience, pathetic food, extremely slow service.

At Ale Phata, take Left towards Kalyan, Murbad. There are very few hotels on this route. Even petrol pumps are scarce the one we saw was just before the Malshej MTDC (about 40 kms away). Better you have your tank full on NH-50 itself.

The MTDC resort is 45 kms away from Ale Phata. Just before the Ghat descend starts there is a board for turning to Right side when coming from Ale Phata.
19° 20' 28.96" N   73° 47' 26.90" E

We reached MTDC at 12.00 am. Nobody was there. Even we ourselves opened the gates, parked the vehicle, started roaming in the resort to find somebody. We woke him up and then we completed our check-in formalities. We had booked a 15 bedded dormitory through MTDC website. However, the phone number mentioned never works or even if it rings, no one attends to it. So if it’s a family trip, better to call MTDC office in Mumbai, Pune or any other. We had gone directly and our booking was there.

Room was nice, 15 beds with pillows and sheets. Most importantly & surprisingly for me bathrooms were clean. If one is comparing MTDC with some Starred Resort, it will be disappointing to you. But the reason of booking it here you will come to know when you get outside towards the valley to have a breath-taking view of the Ghat. And secondly, there is no other place to stay in the nearby area. Only one we saw was the board of Hotel Su-Shant. But don’t have any idea about it.

After much TP, a round of dance and jokes we went to sleep by 1.00 am.

Next morning at 6 am, all of us were awake, surprisingly. After getting freshen-up we went for a stroll. This was the most amazing experience of the whole trip. What we could never though of or expected in the dark yesterday when we came, we saw those emerald studded mountains and valleys, waterfalls in between, sparkling yellow flowers all across, fog appearing from nowhere sometimes. And all this at a stone throw distance from the Resort.

MTDC location

MTDC Restaurant

MTDC inside passage

MTDC cottage

MTDC play area

MTDC Restaurant inside

We came to know that this area is used in many film and advertisement shootings eg. The Fevicol Ad Shoot,

This was mostly a photography session for me. After about couple of hours, we retired back to our room, had a bath, got some tea and biscuits and then we decide to take round in the ghat.

We took about 11 kms descend in the ghat and back. On the way our photographic appetite was being satisfied by the tunnel in between, a water fall, a thumb rock which just by the side of the tunnel (just a caution: we came across a snake on that rock, Sagar was on the rock for a photograph, when Tushar saw it. It was I think a Rat Snake - धामण). We had a Vada-Paav and Tea in between on the road side.
Golden Emperor Moth

A Rat Snake (धामण)

Then we decided to go for the Khireshwar which is about 10 kms from Malshej Ghat. It is the base village for Harishchandragad Fort. Vehicles can go till here and then there is a jungle trek. We had no intentions of a trek but there is temple of Lord Shiva which we though we can see. 2-3 kms ahead of MTDC towards Ale Phata there is a Left turn on the banks (baandh) of Pimpalgaon Joge Dam. The road was extremely bad. Better you think about it if you have a car (less ground clearance). UVs is ok. It is 4-5 kms travel. At the end on the T junction, left is the Khireshwar village, but while going there we decided to skip it instead as the temple that we were seeing was not that exciting enough. Though I was of different opinion, but since majority wins we decided to take Right and go towards Otur instead for Lenyadri and Ojhar. Khireshwar, I’ll come sometime later surely.
Malshej MTDC to Khireshwar

Pimpalgaon Joge Dam

Khireshwar Village

Pimpalgaon Joge Dam
Road from was nice; narrow but plain. This road connects the NH-222. From here Right is Malshej and Left is Otur, Ale Phata. What could have been a mere 10-15 kms travel, we landed up doing some 20-25 kms due to Khireshwar. However, photography opportunities were available. Dams are the great place for photography really.

Just before Otur, there is a cross road named Bankar Phata. We took right for Junnar. There is Right again in between for Lenyadri, one of the Ashtavinayakas.
Khireshwar to Lenyadri

Parking space is available. You need to climb about 300 steps. I counted 302 to be exact. You need to be extremely of monkeys. Keep you belongings properly, if possible do not bring hand bags with you. Careful if you purchase any Coconuts, Flower Garlands for Lord Ganesha. Monkeys were mostly interested in that. Obiously one needs to take care of the camera.

Dolis are also available for carrying elderly worshippers. Rs. 300 per person are the charges. There is a vehicle entry fee of Rs. 10 and another Rs. 5 per person before climbing the hill. Steps are however very well maintained.
Steps outside the Sanctum Sanctorum - towards right is the Ganesh idol
On the mountain there are about 30-40 Buddhist caves used as halls for prayers and for living. Immediately after you climb on the top there is cave with Buddhist Stupa carved inside. Above this cave is one big cave with the Lord Ganesha. All other caves are simple rock cut rooms.
View from Lenyadri Hill
19° 14' 26.44" N   73° 53' 14.42" E

There are shops that sell toys, photos and photo-frames, decorative articles, Pooja Material, etc at the bottom of the hill.

Lenyadri to Ojhar (through Junnar) --- 26 kms)
From Lenyadri, we decided to go to Ojhar. Actually Lenyadri-Ojhar is some 10-12 kms, but since it was already 1 pm we decided to go to Junnar first for Lunch and then to Ojhar. This made our journey to about 20 kms.

next to Junnar S T Stand
Shivneri Fort --- seen from Junnar

There is very good hotel just next to Junnar S T Stand – Hotel Poonam. Taste was good and service was quick.

We then moved ahead to Ojhar. I’d been there some time in 2000-2001 on two-wheelers. Hence I was able to recollects few things. The place has been extremely well-developed. A Bhakt-Niwas is made next to the temple. Cleanliness needs to be applauded. There was not a single scrap of paper seen on the streets. Water of the Yedgaon Dam by the side was clean as a crystal. I could see that the temple has been renovated from inside. Rs. 20 per vehicle that they collect at the entrance is being put to correct use.

Bhakta-Niwas --- see the level of cleanliness on streets

the level of cleanliness on streets

Temple complex view over Yedgaon Dam
Similar to Lenyadri, here also there the shops that sell almost the same articles outside the temple.
19° 11' 27.60" N   73° 57' 19.99" E

Ojhar to Narayangaon
From here we decided to get back on our return journey. We moved towards Narayangaon and on NH-50 marched towards Pune. Just after Rajgurunagar there is a nice hotel by the name Indrayani (on right side when going towards Pune). We had a cup of tea here.

Then after dropping to our friends at Pimpri, we moved towards Pune. I reached by about 7.15 pm in the evening. We clocked about 320 kms this journey.

Odometer readings are:
Day 1
0            Pune City.
20          Tata Motors, Pimpri.
41          Hotel Vedant (about 8 kms before Rajgurunagar)
65          Khed Ghat
81          Narayangaon (Left from here also will take you to Malshej GHat via Junnar)
94          Ale Phata (Take Left; Straight will take you to Nashik, Right to Ahmednagar)
              A road from Junnar joins about 8-10 kms prior to MTDC.
              There are no Petrol Pumps on this route. The only one we saw was of HP just after this Junnar road connect. Also Hotels are scarce on this road. Better to have food near Rajgurunagar / Narayangaon.

140        MTDC, Malshej Ghat

Day 2
22 kms round in the Malshej Ghat
162        MTDC
164        Left for Harishchandragad & Khireshwar (along the Pimpalgaon Joge Dam)
At the “T” section Left goes for Harishachandragad; Right to Otur via the same NH-222. We took Right.
At the connection to the NH-222, take Left.

192        Bankar Phata (Before Otur). Take Right to Junnar, Shivneri, Ojhar, Lenyadri, Nane Ghat, Chavand, Jeev-dhan. Straight takes you to Ale Phata.

201        Right for Lenyadri (3 kms) and Shivneri Fort.
202        Right for Lenyadri; Straight to Shivneri Fort (8 kms) and Junnar, Ojhar
There’s an entry fee of 10 Rs per vehicle.

204       Lenyadri (at the foot of the hill); you need to climb 300 odd steps.
Return back on the same road after the darshan and take Right for Junnar, Ojhar, Shivneri.
At “T” junction take Left for Junnar.

210       Junnar S T Stand.
About 2 kms ahead towards (NH-50; Nashik Highway) there’s a Left to Ojhar
At “T” junction take Left

226        Ojhar
There’s an entry fee of 20 Rs per vehicle.
After Darshan take the same road back for Narayangaon. This is where we join the NH-50.

270        Rajgurunagar
277        Hotel Indrayani
310        Nashik Phata on NH-4 (Mumbai Pune Highway); only note that we came via Akurdi, Pimpri on NH-4 as we had to drop some of our friends.

322        Pune City.