We decided to start real early as discussed the last night. The plan was to explore the area around Panhala and then head to Anuskura Ghat. Since MG had to be in network zone after 8, we got up pretty early so that we can explore some areas and then MG could return to the highway and be in network zone.
We got up around 5:00 A.M and unfortunately it was still raining. Honestly we were disappointed to see it. Rain means limited photography options and limited visibility. However without delaying any further we packed up and were ready to roll in the next 40 minutes. It was still dark and we slowly and steadily pushed through the darkness into the dawn. Well I feel that’s how life should be you ride from darkness to darkness with a short span of daylight in between.
Thanks to MG’s ATM scouting trip last night, he was pretty well aware of the point where we needed to leave the NH4 and take the internal route to reach Panhala. The locals had suggested that we leave the NH4 near Vathar and take the route via Warananagar to Panhala, as that is the quickest and best route.
Well, we believe in what the locals say and hence took the route as directed. To my surprise the route was actually good. The road surface was smooth and pretty less traffic, well it was too early for even the locals to get on the road. We stopped after crossing Warananagar for photos at around 6:30 A.M. The good thing was it had stopped raining and the cool breeze made it just the perfect weather to ride.
After a quick photo break we decided to hasten up as MG had to be back on NH4 before 8:00 A.M. We continued on the scenic single lane road with some twisties. We had to stop a couple of times to confirm the route. We rode through small towns and villages and a few kms after crossing through Mithadwari we got connected to the NH204 at Apati, which connects Kolhapur with the coastal city of Ratnagiri.
The NH204 is a biker’s paradise, good smooth tar road with lots of flowing corners. We knew that we won’t be riding on the NH204 for long so we tried to make the most out f it. Soon we stopped in one such curvy rod for yet another photo break.
It was around 7:00 A.M. soon after riding a few more kms we took a diversion from the NH and went into some country road. We then started to enquire about the places of interest from the locals and they suggested visiting a nearby plateau. We kept riding through the narrow winding road that went through a small village and brought us to a vast flatland out of nowhere.
While riding along the road we came across some interesting landscapes. At some places we were riding along farms of yellow flowers, and sometimes we were climbing steep slopes through the small houses of the villagers, after crossing the village we rode through a small forest and then the road started to climb up again. We stopped multiple times for photos, well when nature opens up itself before you, all we mere mortals can do is stop and admire and make futile attempts to capture those vistas forever within the sensor of our camera.
The last few meters of the road was in very bad shape, and people were shocked to see people riding bikes through that section. Once we were atop the plateau, all we could see was a muddy road cutting through the otherwise grass filled plateau. Mg stopped for some pics, while I decided to go ahead and look for flowers as we were told by some people. I went a few kms ahead and returned in around 10 mins.
It was already around 8:00 A.M and MG had to start his return journey, so we decided explore the nearby areas of the plateau and luckily we found a very good spot. It was kind of a dead end of the plateau and below we could see a couple of cluster of huts and a few farms. The place was perfect for taking some poser shots of our bikes. We were engrossed in clicking when out of nowhere we saw a thick layer of fog approaching us and in no time the visibility was reduced to a few hundred meters.
MG finally started his return journey at 8:30 A.M. and I decided to continue exploring the grand “Masai Plateau”. I kept following the ‘kaccha rasta’ and went out of it whenever I found something interesting. I didn’t find too many flowers as I had expected but to be honest I still enjoyed it. Riding in the Sahyadris have made me used to twist and turns and here I was where I could see for kms altogether. There were small sections where I could spot some flowers and since I had the entire day with me and with not to many kms to do I decided to give Masai Plateau the time it deserved.
There was a small temple in the middle of the plateau and surrounding it were some water boodies. At one point of time I felt like returning from there but then decided to take my bike to the farthest point possible. I believed that I wouldn’t have to retreat via the same route and was hopeful that there would be an alternative route to go down the plateau, but alas I couldn’t find any. While returning to the temple I saw a herd of cattle on my way, I passed them without even honking, but I don’t know what agitated one of them so much so that it started to chase me. I was shit scares and I guess that was my fastest ride in bad roads. I just wanted to get out of there. Finally after a few km when I looked in the RVM I was glad to notice that the bull had given up the chase.
Well the roads were not that friendly but I somehow managed it all thanks to my beloved NS. This plateau is not commonly frequented by humans I believe as most of the birds here were oblivious of my presence and even the sound of the revving engine was not enough to scare them away from the road. They seemed pretty fearless and won’t fly away till I was about to hit them.
I stopped again to take some pics of birds with my not-so-useful 18-55mm lens. Then I saw a couple of eagles hovering in the sky and another one on the ground. I tried to get closer to the one on the ground but it flew away, I kept clicking it during its flight only to realize that it had caught a snake and was holding onto it using its claws during its flight. It was this moment when I wished that I should have a telephoto lens.
9:40 A.M: I decided to move out of the plateau and carry on with the rest of my plan for the day. Actually I was pretty hungry too, as I had no breakfast yet. I joined the NH204 at the same point where we had taken off from it. I kept riding ahead looking for a place which would serve me breakfast, I rode for another 8-10 kms and then finally I could spot a restaurant around Bambavade. I had freshly made Poha and Chai all for Rs. 17. Now I was fit to ride till lunch, the plan was to go to ‘Anuskura Ghat’ as decided by MG, who was almost back home by that time. The pre-decided plan was to ride till Malkapur on the NH204 and then take a left and head to Anuskura ghat. After riding a few more kms I stopped before Shahuwadi to confirm the directions as there were no distance boards to Anuskura. The place I stopped had a small artery road on the left, and even before asking the road for Anuskura I asked “where does this road go?” The locals said that the road would connect me to the highway on the other end and would also take me to Anuskura, but they advised me not to take the road as it is in bad condition. I smiled on hearing this, thanked them and took the road.
The first few kms of the road was seriously in bad shape, but then it started getting better. It was not smooth but it was surely in ride-able condition. One can easily maintain 50-60 kmph speed in this stretch. I rode through small almost non-existent villages and kept moving on without taking any breaks as I was getting the feeling that I was running behind schedule. Another major thought that was playing at the back of my mind was I needed to get back to Mumbai by night and I was far far away from it. It had been almost 2 hours since I clicked my last shot but till I decided to stop only I find something really worthwhile. Little did I Know that I will find the best spot of my trip within the next 10 mins.
The road ahead was having a left hand turn and owing to the bad surface I slowed down a bit, and then what I saw on my right was just ‘cannot-be-put-into-words’. I hope the pics below would give you a better idea of the place.
I spent around 40 mins clicking the place and my bike from different angles and then started towards Anuskura Ghat. The road ahead was in pretty good shape. I stopped a couple of times to click the vistas and soon I got connected to SH111. This meant that I could cover distance more quickly now as the road condition was SH111 was far better than the road I have been riding on till now.
Now I could see a couple of boards for Anuskura and I kept riding on SH111 and soon came to a village named ‘Anuskura’. I was kind of surprised and I asked the locals about the Ghat and they instructed me to continue straight or a few more Kms. I did as instructed and I was surprised to notice that on both side of the road there was a thin carpet of flowers. It wasn’t as dense as Kaas or Masai but yes it was enough to make you notice it. I was running behind schedule and I decided to click these on my return journey.
Once I reached Anuskura Ghat I understood why MG wanted to come here. It was one hell of a ghat, narrow roads and extreme curves. I spent some time there clicking the ghat and water held by ‘Arjuna Dam’. It was a wonderful sight, the water body on my left and a thick forest on my right, the shadows of the scattered cloud above gave it a different feel.
It was time to start my return Journey and I knew that I had to hasten up this else I would be in trouble, also it being a Sunday there would be dense traffic post Satara. On my way back I stopped a couple of times to click the flowers and then decided to head straight to the NH4 and stop there for lunch.
This time I took the route via Malkapur. Stopping only once in between for a click and rehydration break. The rest of the journey was the normal boring NH4 ride which is has nothing to be described here.
I reached Pune and went to a friend’s place to show him the pics and he insisted me to stay back but I had to be in Mumbai as I had to fly to Bangalore the next morning for official work. After showing the pics and discussing the ride and taking ample amount of rest I started back for Mumbai. I do this route twice almost every week. I expected it to be another boring ride. It was drizzling lightly and I was riding slowly in the range of 65-80kmph. After crossing Khopoli the roads get better and I guess I became less attentive and paid the price. I crashed. There was an unmarked speed breaker and I failed to notice it and went over it at around 60 kmph, all was well till then, but then I suddenly noticed a vehicle crossing the road infront of me and I had no option but hit the barkes while I was airborne, next thing I know was my safety gear were kissing the tarmac. Well I can write in detail about this but I guess I will make a different post sometime about the importance of ATGATT.
This was the way my riding season ended, this crash ensured that I won’t be riding for the next two months. However I was happy that this happened at the end of the monsoons and not in the start or middle of it. Well as they say all well that ends well, and I guess that this was not a bad ending to the riding season, I escaped with a uprooted nail, well that’s not that bad I guess.