23rd November 2012
I got up at 5:30 A.M, it was still very very dark out there, and the window panes were cold. I started blogging and soon the sun rays started to clear out the darkness. I stepped out to click the sunrise, surprisingly it wasn’t too cold, I mean I was just in my Wrangler jeans and the specially designed True Wanderers t-shirt, I didn’t even need the jacket.I just took some minutes off from blogging to relish the freshness of the first rays of the sun. The sun-rays slowly and sluggishly made its way through the small hill in front.
After a few minutes, I decided to move ahead as the road ahead was not in good condition, so without wasting any more time I packed my luggage and went for breakfast and was on the road soon. The cool breeze blowing across my face made me realize what we miss in Mumbai, the winters. I stopped a couple of times for clicking pics and then moved ahead towards Saltar, a small village around 8 kms away from Aamby Valley.
The road turned from good to bad to worse, well I don’t have a problem with bad roads if they take me to some place that is quiet, quiet enough to allow me to listen to my inner self.
In search of that place I took every trail that came on my way, often I returned empty handed from a dead end. In one such trail I found the place, my kind of place, the place which I call ‘The quiet place’, the place where not only the world stays silent, but also the inner unwanted screams stay silent, the place that makes you happy, makes you smile, makes you realize how lucky you are to have a companion in the form of a motorcycle to take you to places like these’
I spent some time there thinking about the wanderer life that I will lead for the next few days, and entangled in these thoughts came a thought that a wanderer must move on, he doesn’t belong to a single place, with this thought I started again. Soon I came upon a fork in the road, the right one had smooth tarmac, while the left one had loose gravels. I had a feeling that the smooth tarmac one will lead to some small village, hence I took the road which most of us wouldn’t, the one with no tarmac on it. As I moved ahead I turned into something else. 🙂
I kept following that route and en route I meet a villager and asked him directions of Tamhini and he advised me to continue on the same route. Soon I was rewarded with a splendid view of the rocky Sahyadris. It was vast, these kind of huge structures makes me realize how small we humans are. I like the place and I was surprised to hear the sound of water gushing through the rocks. I started looking for the waterfall and finally found one. I was truly amazed and was happy that I dared to take this route rather than the comfortable NH4.
I kept moving ahead and again I found a trail on the right, as usual it was a non-tarmac dirt track. I felt that this was the road that was being constructed to connect Tahmini to Lavasa. The other way to Lavasa was to go via Pirangut. I decided to take the dirt track. As always it turned out to be more scenic than the normal highway.
Roads avoided by masses leads to something really good
The images shows how exciting the road was, after lots of struggle I made my way to the top and then the road was much much better. But soon I came to a roadblock, I was disappointed on seeing it but I somehow made a way out of that. And then finally I reached Lavasa. I didn’t want to waste any time in the popular tourist attraction and hence decided to move on. My choice for non-tarmac road took me to Panshet via the road along the Varasgaon Dam. Riding all along the water gave me immense joy and somehow hinted at the amount of enjoyment I was going to have in the next few days.
12:00 Noon: I was at Panshet and was damn hungry, and hence went into the first hotel I found. Had good freshly made food and again hit the road that would take me to my yet-to-be-known-destination.
I headed towards Pune, and then found a branch road on my right, obviously I turned right. But unfortunately I ended a bit too soon in a village. I turned back and again took the road to Pune. In a few kms I saw a board with distance to Velhe and pointing towards the right. I took that road. Again I took a detour. There was a very small road on the right at the start of a village.
I soon realized that this road was travelling along the boundaries defined by the accumulated water of Panshet dam. The road surface was good and it kept continuing along the banks of Panshet dam. I was happy once again that I was moving away from civilization. I was not able to cover distance at quick pace, well when you have such beautiful panaromic view alongside, it becomes difficult to concentrate on the road. These kind of open roads with beautiful views are the roads I crave for.
I was constantly on the lookout for a trail that could take me close to the water. But unfortunately I found none for quiet some distance. The road is sparsely used by those rare people who live in the villages ahead. There is just one major village ahead, which comprises of, I guess 15-20 houses. I stopped for a photo break yet again as I had spotted a dam. As soon as I hit the engine kill switch, I could hear the sound of some other engine and then I noticed that it was coming from most-probably a resort, which had speed-boats.
The road that got me here
As I kept riding ahead, the vista kept getting better and the road kept getting worse. All through my travel I have learnt that you need to take these bad roads, if you want to get close to nature. Hence I smiled at the bad roads and headed ahead. I came to a point which again forced me to stop and take a pic, it was a small island, well I know I cannot call it an island but still. I wondered if anybody goes there, what it must be over there, for a second thought of inquiring about it. But then reality struck me, here I was in a place with no network coverage and the last person I had seen was about 7-8 kms away. I gave up the idea of ‘inquiring’ and moved ahead.
After about 2-3 kms I finally found a trail that could take me close to the banks. I was overjoyed on seeing that and raced towards it, like a kid runs to his dad when he spots a gift in his hands. This was one of the best spots of the day till now for me. The water was crystal clear. I spent a lot of time here. Sat down, pondered, clicked, urinated, did almost everything. Very near to the banks I spotted the remains of the framework of some tents/huts. Probably they were built by the nomads who keep travelling, to be honest, sometimes I also feel like living the life of a gypsy, and I guess a part of that is coming true in this True Wanderers ride.
The remains of the Huts of The Nomads
I realized that I was stopping very frequently to click pics and now decided to cover some distance as I had no idea what liea ahead of me, but I had a strong feeling that if I continue this road then I will get back to Panshet. My decision of ‘not-stopping-for-clicks’ took a serious blow very soon when I came to a dried-up water crossing and saw a under-construction bridge with boulders all around. I crossed it and soon I came to another one and in a few kms I hit the third one. This time it was a major one and I had to actually think of the best possible route to cross it, as I was alone and didn’t want to get stuck there. Getting stuck there would mean that I would have to either wait for help for eons or walk to the nearest village which was now around 20 away.
The First One:
The Second One:
And Finally the Third one:
After crossing the third one, the road got better suddenly for a few kms and was covered with a canopy of bamboo trees. I spotted some villagers, they were cutting the bamboo trees and suddenly one came on the road and indicated me to stop. I was kind of scared, but tried not to show it on my face. He came up to me and asked “ how did you come here? The roads are too bad for this kind of bike to come here. And where do you want to go?” I felt relaxed on hearing these questions and smiled on his amazement on seeing me on a yellow colored bike there. I answered him and asked, “Does this road go to Panshet? And where else can I go if I follow this?” He said yes to the first question and said that this road will also take me to ‘Ghol’.
I moved ahead and what I saw ahead made me happy and sad at the same time. I will let the pics tell why I was happy. At the same time I felt that the road might end soon. But then I recollected that the villager had said that this road DOES go to Panshet. I wanted to capture this part in video hence made a juggad with the point and shoot I was carrying. Using a lot of tapes I fixed it at the disc-brake oil containing box on the right handle bar.
The grass on either side was so high that they were actually touching the handle bars. I kept moving through the invisible road. The grassland finally gave way to a clear view and soon I was at another water crossing. This time I was happy as I could see a small bridge near it, but soon I realized that the bridge is actually the relics of a once-upon-a-time bridge. I saw a villager there and he told me that this is the way to cross it, by pointing towards the stony river bed. I noticed that he was trying to do something with a stick in the water, I was sure it cannot be fish, soon I saw him dragging the stick towards him and then he put his other hand in water and voila, he had got hold of a crab and he put it in the sack he was carrying and moved ahead to catch another. I crossed the river bed very cautiously and proceeded ahead.
The video was still being recorded, and soon I reached a another water crossing. Seeing this only one word came out of my mouth, I literally shouted “F**K”. I could see that my dream run has come to an end ans I will have to return via the same route. I got down and checked the water level, soon i realized that the stones beneath the water are very slippery. I still decided to give it a try and finally found a way to cross the hurdle.
After crossing the big Hurdle
I somehow managed to cross the water-crossing, but after that I was panting for breath. My bike actually got stuck in a puddle in the last moment and I had a hell of a time taking it out from there. I had sweated so much that needed water. I took out my water bottle only to realize that it had just few drops of water left in it. Looking at the water stream I thought this water looks pretty clean, why not try it. I filled my bottle and tasted the tasty natural water and then started to move ahead.
After this point I started climbing the slope and meet a lady in some distance, asked her for directions again and soon I came to a smooth patch of tarmac, I knew this road, this road leads to Ghol. Passing through some rocky terrains I made my way into Ghol. Thanks to “pradhanmantri gramin sadak yogna” the roads were super smooth.
Roads That lead to Heaven
Ghol Village (You can see the trail I did in the distance)
In Ghol I met Vikas and had a small conversation with him. (conversation changed into English for wider acceptance)
Me: *pointing towards a trail in the opposite mountain* How to go there?
Vikas: You cant go there with this bike, normal bikes can go but not this.
Me: what is a normal bike?
Vikas: Hero Honda.
Me: Do you go to School?
Me: How do you go there?
Vikas: ST bus.
Me: how Frequent is it?
Vikas: It comes here in the evening carrying people from Pune, stays here for the night and then goes to Pune in the morning and halts in Pune for the entire day.
I was stunned on realizing that they have just one bus to go to the city, staying in Mumbai, where you have locals every 2 mins, buses every 5 mins this was a surprise to me. But I guess the village is small hence this once a day bus system.
Vikas (finally agreed to pose after lot of persuation)
I started back and took the trail. But after about a km or so I had to turn back, I guess the pics justify my return.
I decided not to stop anywhere now and headed straight to Panshet. I reached Panshet at around 4:00 P.M. and decided not to move ahead. I didn’t want to travel via the NH4. I soon recollected that Velhe is not far from there, and Velhe should have some lodges, as its the base camp for many trekkers. Without wasting time I headed out. The road goes through a ghat section. I was happy to see the mountains, the Sahyadris and stopped for a very brief photo session.
The Only Means of Transport here
On reaching Velhe, I still had some daylight left and hence asked a local that if not in velhe where I can find a lodge next. He suggested me to go to Bhor and directed me to the NH4.
I asked him to give me a way so that I can avoid the highway, he was surprised to hear this but directed me well. I kept riding on the unknown roads. I was very hungry by now and stopped at a stall at Kodawadi. The shopkeeper said that he had just Bhel, but I asked him to give me tea first. He replied that he doesn’t keep tea at this hour, but gladly offered me warm milk and some biscuits. It was around 7:00 P.M and he said that it was time for him to close his store. I asked him why so early? and he said that its not early here, the village sleeps by 9:00 P.M. so it was justified.I asked the directions to Bhor and after confirming I started towards. En route I could see nothing, I even didn’t know what lies beside the road, my world was limited to the area illuminated by my headlight.
A Bikers world
On reaching Bhor I struggled to find a lodge which could offer me a room. All rooms in almost all lodges were booked for the staff of a Marathi movie shooting. People suggested me to go to Pune for the night as it was not far and the Nh4 would take me there in no time. But i decided to search for some more time. After lots of searching found a room in a lodge, the only room that was available didn’t have a TV and a bathroom attached to it. I was dead tired after riding through the bad roads and needed some rest immediately and said Yes to whatever room they had. Had a quick dinner and then started blogging and slept at around 12 o’clock, but sleeping was not easy, thanks to the shouting and screaming of the occupants of other rooms. Finally plugged in my ear phones and went to sleep
Total Kms done on Day 2: 230 kms