Day 1: Search For The Perfect Camping Spot

Ride Date: 26th July, 2014

The idea for the day was to explore some country roads and then camp out for the night. We had a lot of distance to cover so started early. We met as usual Fountain Hotel at around 6:30 A.M. Rahool was the first one to turn up, thanks to a delayed start at my end, Chintan and myself reached to see Rahool waiting for us and in some time Himanshu also turned up. We decided to halt at some pocket friendly dhabba for breakfast than having the super expensive food at Fountain hotel. It had started drizzling slightly, all of us were carrying raincoats but we didn’t feel the need to stop to wear them. The droplets of rain started getting thicker and heavier but we thought to ourselves that we would continue till the breakfast point and then when we start again we would use it.

NH8 lets you cover distance at lightening speeds if you want to, we were in no mood to waste time on the modern 6 laned highway. After a quick stop for re-fueling we started ahead and stopped for breakfast. Ordering and trying to eat the ‘Aloo parathas’ was a painful and futile attempt on my part thanks to the painful wisdom tooth. I could hardly chew it. Himanshu, once upon a time a pharmacy student suggested me to keep some cloves in the epicenter of the pain, cloves are supposedly medicinal and help in relieving pain. The guy in the restaurant was kind enough to give me enough of the medicinal spice that would supposedly keep the pain away for the next two days.

We reinitiated our ride on NH8 and proceeded as per plan. We decided not to wear our rain gear and enjoy the rain. Soon it started to rain very heavily and it seemed we 4 were the only ones on two-wheels and the rest of the two—wheeled world had taken shelter to save themselves from the torrential rain. It was fun riding in the heavy downpour, until that moment when it you feel the first droplet inside your undies. We soon reached the junction from which we were to bid adieu to the lavish NH8 and start enjoying the torn and tattered country roads.

We were supposed to take the first major right turn from NH8 after the Dhanau-Jawar junction. Upon reaching the junction we were taken aback by a board which said “The road from here to Khanvel is in very bad condition, please take the road via Talasari.”  Personally I was pleased to see that. That board corroborated my assumption that there won’t be much tourists in this route and it’s going to be a peacefully scenic ride. It was almost 9:00 A.M and we decided to stop for our first photo break. We spent around 15-20 minutes clicking our beloved steeds, some poser shots and the farmlands. The on-and-off rains were still on and thanks to the umbrellas we were carrying, we were able to click despite the rain.

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We crossed some yet-unknown-to-google villages and time and again stopped for some random clicks. A few kilometers ahead we understood the significance of the ‘Bad roads’ signboard. It was fun riding through those pot hole filled roads. Trying to dodge some of the pot holes, diving into some of the water- filled ones without knowing the depth of it, braking hard to save our precious cargo at times. Since it was the rice sowing season and we could see Autorickshaws plying to and fro the village roads filled with rice saplings.

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Our plan was to spend majority of the time in exploring areas around the Madhuban reservoir, but sometimes you are helpless and change your plans momentarily, this time the helplessness was bought about by the vast green grassland by the side of the road. Just before we spotted this piece of ‘photographic-paradise’, I along with my bike, was bathed in mucky water, thanks to a pre-planned and well executed effort by Rahool, who plunged into a water filled pothole right by my side while overtaking me, blinding me momentarily. Trust me the water didn’t taste well at all…

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We fought our way back through the extremely slippery mud road that had taken us to the grassland and were finally on our way to Madhuban reservoir. Shortly the road changed drastically from the crater filled one to a smooth, well-marked two laned road till Khanvel. The road made us feel that we were heading to some major town but were hopeful that post Khanvel we would get the charming traffic-less roads back. However contrary to our belief the good roads continued and soon we were riding by the side of the Madhuban reservoir. This part of the road had some limited but super exciting corners, we wished for dry roads and cautiously made our way through, stopping once to make an attempt to click the reservoir. The wired barricade by the side of the road didn’t allow us to get good pics and hence we started to move ahead. Within a couple of kilometers we found a good view point and there was a road leading to the water. I have been on this road some months back and knew that this road would take us to a ‘boating point’ which rarely get any tourist.

To our delight there was no one there, maybe the rainy season was not suitable for the business. After spending some time clicking our bikes from all possible angles we decided to move on. We spent another 15 minutes to turn the bikes thanks to the condition and amount of road-space available. We stopped once more to click the reservoir from a point which provided a pretty clear panoramic view of reservoir.

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Satisfied with our clicks we headed to the ‘Dudhani Jetty’. Once we were there I started to feel hungry, while the others had stuffed themselves during breakfast and hence were not keen on having lunch at that point of time. However on enquiry we learnt that the route we were supposed to take from there would not have any eateries and Dudhani was the last point where we could treat ourselves with a proper lunch. There was only one proper Hotel where we headed and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, and charged our mobile phone and camera batteries. I was very excited about the next part as this was the start of the ride for me, I had done the previous part but I was unaware of what lays ahead.

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It was almost 2:00 P.M. on the clock and when we started from Dudhani and now we wanted to hurry up a bit as the plan was not to ride after 5:30 P.M. The primary reason for that was we wanted to pitch our tents while we had ample amount of daylight left to enable us to spot the right and maybe safe place for our night stay.

Moving ahead we branched off from the main road into a smaller road which took us to a very scenic spot by the side of the water. As always we were looked upon as extraterrestrial entities by the natives. We spent a lot of time here clicking till we were satisfied.

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This road was not bad at all. I mean it had a layer tarmac all over it, may be not a smooth one but good enough to ride in the 60-70 kmph range. The vistas made me stop time and again and fill up my SD card with some Raw files. We took a left turn shortly after Umarpada. All the while we were asking for directions to Trimbak, and every time we asked this, the person on the other side would suggest us to go via the ‘good roads’ from Khanvel. Most of them were unable to understand our decision of taking bad roads leaving behind the good roads that most city people prefer.

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We were now riding along the river, amidst green rice paddy fields. All through the way we saw innumerable villagers sowing rice saplings and may be praying for optimum rainfall for a good harvest.

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This section has roads which makes you feel like you are on a roller coaster ride, the visibility is reduced due to a sudden dip in the road immediately after an elevated part. Dodging the rain and the not so smooth roads we kept pushing ahead and now we knew we didn’t have much riding time for the day left as we needed to look for a suitable camping spot in daylight. Soon enough we took another diversion and came to a village. Seeing us a villager approached us and started talking to us. He informed us that we were still in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and then he pointed his fingers to a group of houses not far away and said “That is Maharashtra”. Then he started praising Modi for all the good work he has done for the village. He kept praising while we prepared to leave. Finally we said good bye to him and started ahead. We also clicked a couple of pictures of some curious kids who encircled us.

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We were getting late and hence decided to be discreet on our Photo-stops. We kept continuing on the same road and trying to spot a camping location. We wanted to stop and enjoy the lush green fields and the fresh air, but right then we knew that we need to push hard and not stop. Then there comes a turn in the road and the view you get from there makes everything you had thought and planned a vague memory. This was very close to the road to Dhabosa waterfall.

 

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We still hadn’t found a camping spot. So we looked upon the map and decided to head to some place near a water body. We narrowed down our camping location to a visibly large dam on the map and decided to proceed to that place. Enroute we kept looking for back-up camping spots. After a lot of looking-into-the-map, wrong turns, asking locals we finally made it to the village, named Kharvand, by the water body. We tried to ask a native if we needed permission from someone to camp there and if he had any suggestions for a good camping spot, to which he replied that he isn’t from this village. We decided to move ahead towards the Dam and we found a spot just near the Khadkhad dam, but then we were not sure if we were allowed to camp there. Unfortunately we couldn’t locate a living soul to clarify our doubts. Hopelessly we moved ahead and then we came to a Y junction. We decided to split into two groups. Each group would go for 4-5 kms looking for a suitable camping spot and return to the same point. Himanshu and me went ahead and found a camp-able spot after a village. The view of the valley was breathtaking from this point.

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I clicked a couple of pics and then returned only to find that Chintan and Rahool had found a good camping spot hardly a few meters away from the junction. We decided to camp there. We were still looking for some natives so that we can take permission for the same. We saw a guy on a motorcycle heading to the village from where Himanshu and I returned. All apart from me went to speak to him and after a long discussion they returned. The guy on the motorcycle confirmed that we could camp there, at the same time he also suggested us that rather than camping so close to the road we could actually go up and camp on the dam wall itself. It would also provide a good view, besides the contractor’s concrete house would act as a backup rain shelter, in case we needed it at night due to the torrential rains that are common in this part of the country during the rains.

Rahool went to do a recce of the spot and once he returned we decided to camp on the dam wall. The road to the spot was not a proper road and we moved cautiously and reach the top. Enroute Rahool kissed the unpolluted mud once. We quickly decided on the exact spot and the orientation in which we would set up the tents and got onto in without utmost haste. Within the next 20 mins both the tents were up. We unloaded our luggage from the bikes and put them inside the tents and then went on a shooting spree, shooting the tents from all possible angles in the world. It was cloudy and we could sense that the rains would start soon.

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The guard of the dam soon came and approached us and inquired about our intentions. We explained him everything and also told him about our conversation that we had with other villagers. He suggested us to shift to the concrete building, we politely convinced him that we would be safe here and would go to the building if the need arises. He also asked us if we needed food as he could source rice, tea and chicken for us. Since we were carrying our food we decided to decline his generous offer.

Soon light started to fade away and we got engulfed in the darkness. If we put off our camping lights then there was only one source of light several kms away that was visible to us making us still feel that we were in the world we belong to. We had got two plates of veg biryani packed from the hotel we had lunch and soon we settled our stuff and got inside one tent to enjoy the food. It was drizzling outside. Chintan seemed to be the most prepared for the biryani party, he had in his possession a plate, and a spoon. We the rest started devouring the food with our hands. We still had lots of food at our disposal. Chintan had also got biscuits and Theplas, whereas Himanshu was also carrying some food items and those coupled with the fruit cakes and juice I carried made sure that we would not starve to death in what seemed to be ‘wilderness’. After some time we were done with almost all the Theplas and were full and ready to sleep.

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Himanshu and Chintan adjusted themselves in one tent and myself and Rahool took the other. While Rahool got busy on the phone I decided to call it a day. The light drizzle had now intensified and I was just praying that it doesn’t start raining any harder.

I woke up in the middle of the night just to realize that Rahool had also woken up, reason being the heavy rainfall, it had started pouring like hell and the droplets were hitting the tent like bullets. We just hoped that the raincover of the tent should hold up till tomorrow morning and went to sleep again.

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