Mumbai Chronicles – Marine drive- Worli – Bandra

Photos By – Amit Rane

Text By – Jyoti Rane

Website – http://www.myodysseys.com

As on 14th June’14.

 

“Mumbai never sleeps” is a cliché we all know and as I pulled from the bed in the early hours of morning to see the un-slept city rise… much lay in store than thought. Her landmarks, her luster, her people and her possessions magnetize loads to her doorsteps every day. Yet, her richer get richest here and the poorer don’t sleep without at least a wadapav everyday, albeit the middle class just crib and hang on her local’s lifeline.

Marine drive at Dawn

Marine drive at Dawn

The wave fury in Mumbai showcased across news channels last one week caught my fancy and I tagged along with my husband and couple of his photographer friends for screening the roads of Mumbai. We were a part of the event, Kanakia- Mumbai Meri Jaan contest in association with Times of India. The event attracted photographers across Mumbai. This was exclusive Mumbai tour without any shopping errands or work to tag along like always. The detour for my group was planned between Marine drive and Bandra fort. I started as early as 5 am from Navi Mumbai. With the new eastern freeway leading from Panjrapole, Chembur to CST, the 1 hour journey is cut short to mere half by this engineering marvel. Being a Saturday; Mumbai was running on her routine track, the dabawallas, the autowallas, the doodhwallas and Machiwallas all running errands.

At land's end- Marine drive

At land’s end –  Marine drive

I reached NCPA at lands end at 5.45 in the morning. The last night rains had left a somber sky. The grey overhung the whole place. As I stepped out from my vehicle, the sharp saline reek hit my nose and in no time, it was gone or maybe I got used to it. The place was abuzz with people; walkers, talkers, joggers, cyclers, vendors, photographers, the wealthy, the healthy, the miser and the wiser. The sea was quiet and the boats kept gliding. The skyline stood marvelous in the backdrop. The place got crowded with time and to my wonder I saw many local tourists visit this place in such early hours of the day. I was soon asked to move aside by a sweeper on duty, that’s when I observed; ‘this place looks clean’.   #Mumbai Meri Jaan #  Architecture # Professional #  Golden dawn at Marine Drive Amidst the many groups being formed and dispersed as a part of the event, I sat on the parapet for a good slice of the morning. The wind hit my face as the waves hit the boulders below me. The beauty of this place is in spite being in a sea of crowd, you still can be alone. I was transported back to some Bollywood moments of my favorite song shot here. Yes, “O re manva tu to bavra hai” from Wake up Sid, came to me as if it’s being shot here and I am watching it. The beautiful climax of the movie shot at land’s end here against the monsoon backdrop came real as the monsoon clouds had started looming over me. In no time the clouds poured and the sun shone in one go. The sea looked beautiful now with the varied shades of sun and light. The crowds dispersed with the rains, yet the place was abuzz. The promenade draws thousands of people here every day, monsoons being more favored.

The brewing rains

The brewing rains

I moved along to Worli Promenade now. The temperature was sizzling and Bandra-Worli sea-link Bridge was facing the brunt of the massive waves. The haze was evident with the waves splashing as good as 15 feet. It was my first experience with Bandra-Worli sea-link Bridge and of course it was dramatically pleasant under the frothing ravenous waves. I was spared of the traffic and in no time reached the Bandra fort again at land’s end.

Worli - Bandra  Sea Link bridge

Worli – Bandra Sea Link bridge

The Bandra fort an ancient architectural feat stands juxtaposed to the brilliant modern day marvel- the Bandra-Worli sea link bridge. The high tide was to hit at 12.30 pm and the sea had already started churning. The waves hit and retreated sometimes engulfing the whole pillars under the bridge. The Bandra fort was dotted with many youngsters bunking college or the love bugs seeking privacy. The arriving monsoons are charismatic in Mumbai and draw everyone towards the Sea. From the cozy couple to the playful college students, from the chaiwala to the foreign tourists everyone was fixed to this place for the aura it carried. In no time the land below me submerged under the playful waves. I retreated now to move back to the Worli promenade to enjoy the massive waves.

Bandra - Worli Bridge from Bandra Fort

Bandra – Worli Bridge from Bandra Fort

 

A massive wave at Bandstand , Bandra

A massive wave at Bandstand , Bandra

The Worli Promenade was guarded by a constable who kept chasing the street urchins. The waves were hitting hard and raised a good 10-15 feet. A part of the promenade was cordoned by the constable, who gave up after sometime as the enthusiastic kids and elders couldn’t be kept at bay. Once the constable retreated, the street urchins had a gala time in the surging waves. Every wave was an energy pack for them and they seemed to be rejuvenated. It was fun to watch these kids and their activities as one mother came along with a stick to get her son back home. The drenched son escaped his mother’s fury as a big wave hit the mother too. The waves were monstrous as they pulled and hurled the tiles on the promenade under their fury.

The BMC staff and the hiting waves at Worli Seaface

The BMC staff and the hiting waves at Worli Seaface

The unaware photographers hit by the waves.

The unaware photographers hit by the waves.

Many a cars halted and elders too got drenched in the waves. The waves of course got some respite in the sweltering summer. I was eventually famished for food and energy. My skin was salty under the sprinkle of the constant waves. My clothes half drenched under the waves shower, and hence I made my way back to NCPA as my group planned to disperse there.

The street urchins at Worli seaface.

The street urchins at Worli seaface.

Having a ball with the monstrous waves at Worli seaface.

Having a ball with the monstrous waves at Worli seaface.

On the way back, Marine drive was not the same place I left that morning. The sea was rough now under the monstrous waves. The promenade was not a place as I identified from today morning. The litter gone in to the sea was thrown back outside with the high tide.  The place well cleaned this morning was dirty beyond imagination as we know that “the sea doesn’t keep anything to itself”. Ironically “Mumbai Meri Jaan” is what all Mumbaikers say, but what are we doing to live up to that status??

Keywords – Mumbai , Mumbai Meri Jaan , Marine Drive , NCPA , Worli , Worli seaface , bandra-worli sea link , bandstand bandra , Bandra fort, Mumbai monsoons, Monsoons in Mumbai

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Anjarle Beach, Dapoli, Maharashtra

Anjarle Beach, Dapoli – Maharashtra

Text – Jyoti Rane

Photos – Amit Rane & Jyoti Rane

Website- http://www.myodysseys.com

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Anjarle beach as seen from opposite hillock

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The estuary as seen from Anjarle

Anjarle is a sleepy wave beaten, secluded village on the coastal belt of Konkan. Anjarle is set off in an alcove along the hilly terrain of the Ratnagiri stretch. The vast beach is a beauty to be admired, a clean sweep of silvery white sands.

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Birds eye view of Anjarle beach and the beautiful winding roads

Anjarle lies in close reach of Dapoli, Ratnagiri. Bankot marks the start of Ratnagiri. The end of Raigad district is marked by the known Harihareshwar beach which dwindles under the huge presence of the backwaters which demarcate the Raigad and Ratnagiri district. The landscapes here are marked by the huge presence of the alluring sea and roads running parallel to them. There are two approaches to this place 1. Along the Vashi-  Panvel – Mahad – Khed- Dapoli route and 2. Vashi- Panvel- Mangaon – Shrivardhan – Harihareshwar and from Harihareshwar take a jetty to Bankot and drive further 40 kms to Anjarle. The former route is better as saves a lot of time.

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Close-up Anjarle beach

I drove along the Anjarle village and camped up in close vicinity on a hill along the coastline overlooking the Anjarle village and beach. The hills overlooking offered a bird’s eye view of the huge Anjarle beach and surroundings cut off from the hillock by a big estuary running inland. The ivory sands of the boomerang shaped beach were least spotted with people. The mid-day sun also failed to wipe out the light traces of the mist over the beach. The dazzling water swayed with the warm wind. A bullock cart pulled at full speed along the fringes of the beach. Along one side the big estuary was crossed by villagers commuting between the adjacent villages.

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Ferries crossing the estuary

I sat watching this show across the afternoon hours. The sun was all set to meet the horizon, and yet only a hand count of people explored the beach. The cold wind now gushed in my ears numbing senses. The constant lashing of the waves and the wind served liked a reverie which was broken by my daughter’s fighting with her cousin. Having settled the matter and being back to myself, I was again pulled in the embrace, nature had to offer.

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Mihika and me at campsite

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Boys playing against the setting sun

The setting sun had torched on the waters below and a lone silhouetted ship in its radar seemed to be gliding on golden waters. The setting sun left to illuminate the other side of the world leaving the sky here painted in saffron and pink. The wind got chiller and I continued to stay on for a show of stars. Very soon the sky turned ebony and the village on the hill behind me lit up. A feeble blue heavenly light lit the sea floor. The beach appeared engulfed in the darkness. As I waited for the stars to show, the stark black beach below me appeared studded with moving stars. Of course there were people scanning the beach with torch lights, but the view appeared phenomenal. The beach combers who personified the sky on beach were actually fishermen catching shellfish as the high tide had started hitting the shore.

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Vehicle trails and the beautiful blue light after sunset

The stars had just started to turn up, and I had yet another remarkable experience lined up. Amit was practising  star trail photography. The constellations came brighter as the night wore on. Observing the stars was a arresting experience for me , but the kids soon gave up on patience. The cold was biting now and everything around dark and serene. We sat under the star studded sky sharing the last resource of snacks and fruits we had. The kids got busy eating and Amit was spared so more valuable time. The outcome of the star trail photography was of course unearthly. As you can see in the below pic , the movement of the stars and the trails on land are the fisherman combing the beach.

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The kids couldn’t co-operate any further and we decided to go back. The kids spared a lot of time for Amit & me to observe around. I thus moved out reluctant from the nature’s embrace to the comfort of my hotel room. Having spent a day along the beautiful Anjarle has therefore etched as an everlasting memory.

Keywords – Dapoli, Dapoli beaches , Anjarle, Anjarle beach , myodysseys.com , Amit Rane , Jyoti Rane , star trial photography, star trial photography at Anjarle , Travel , Travel blogs, Anjarle blog , Maharashtra travel blogs , photography, travel writing , travel photography , Travel writer , Travel blog , Maharashtra travel , Maharashtra beaches, dapoli , maharashtra

Ladakh Diaries

Photos by – Amit Rane & Jyoti Rane

Text By – Jyoti Rane

What you see is what you don’t see

Having returned from Leh, many inhibitions have changed for me. Inhibitions because of the challenges this place has right in terms of living, breathing, surviving at such high altitude and nature, for city people things are yet simpler. In a quiet moment now, I recollect the raise of the bullet engines, which move in a convoy across Ladakh. The roar of the bikes against the silence of the valley, tempt you into embarking a new journey, this time all geared up for an adventure. Hats off to the spirit and the challenges the bikers choose for themselves.

So the journey begins

The charismatic Leh, Ladakh has hooked me on for years and a trip was undoubtedly on the cards sooner or later. The painted, majestic, rustic mountains of Leh, the golden sunlight and the monasteries kept calling. I yearned for being there time and again, but the final call had to be taken. An initiative from my husband(Amit Rane) set things in place and yes we were booked on a flight to Ladakh in the early August. The gusto started with shopping for woolens and bright clothes for photography. I was all set  with my wardrobe, what I was going to wear against the cyan waters of Pangong Lake, at the sand dunes of Nubra valley and yet not to miss the Khardungla pass. As the trip neared I got more information on the adversity of this place. Our friends who visited there, had a tough time coping. Stomach upset, vomiting, bleeding nose, headache, giddiness, oxygen deficiency were common ailments on their list. Also, as we were flying down unlike people driving from Manali/ Srinagar, we would be directly subjected to high altitude in a mere 3 hour journey (from Sea level to 11,500 feet above sea level). That was another blast and we had to keep up in Leh for a day just getting acclimatized. More to the list of tyranny I read this one blog last moment where the blogger just couldn’t reach Ladakh as his plane couldn’t land due to bad weather conditions. Tucking my daughter in the cosines of her grandma, with all apprehensions Amit and me headed to Ladakh, to take our share of the adventure.

The Rustic Himalayas

The never before form of Himalayas came as peppered mountains, red, grey, yellow mountains of varying hues and colors from the airplane. The unending barricades of huge barren mountains were extremely robust. Occasionally the valleys were a dash of green, more or less like an oasis in a desert. I reached Ladakh in the early hours of August’4 2012.  As I deplaned, the wind hit hard and I suddenly had all the surroundings to myself… unlike the claustrophobia the cities have on us, I had the open sky on me. The golden mountains were stark barren, mounds and mounds of unending scree , rocks and boulders.

Leh Airport

I considered myself fortunate to at least have set foot here without any hassles. My resort was based 4 kms from the airport in the village of Saboo. A quaint little village; again a playground of mud and rocks. Rocks, boulders all strewn across like a battlefield having faced the brunt of a raging war. The resort surroundings were like an oasis, a mere green patch of some acres bordered by lifeless huge mountains. I later learnt that the hail of huge rocks which occupied the land outside the resort had come streaming from the mountains as a result of the 2010 cloud burst. The valley between the hills appeared as swept down by a mighty avalanche.  Such was the impact that, within 10 minutes everything in vicinity was destroyed. Locals still shiver at the mention of the tragedy.

 

Saboo Resort and surroundings

Having been offered a nice breakfast, we were all too reluctant first about eating, as we were warned of not being able to cope up with food. I munched and munched, as I was starving, and after a refreshing coffee started exploring the surroundings. Things weren’t easy and somehow I felt restricted on energy. It was the oxygen that deterred my activities. I was feeling tired with every small activity and decided to head for bed and relax. As evening came things hadn’t changed for me… heavy breathing was part of my life since reaching Leh. After a stomach full of dinner, I retired to bed early. Local sightseeing at Leh was on my cards for the next day.

 

Resort interiors

I set out to explore Leh next day early. Thiksey Monastery remained closed due to the preaching sessions of His Holiness Dalai Lama in Leh. The whole Leh gathered for the religious discourses. In the early hours of morning people streamed in from all nooks and corners. Adults, youngsters, children, infants, old aged people filled the streets of Leh heading towards the gathering. The major crowd were dressed in Ladakhi costumes and appeared delightful. We dropped the idea of visiting the discourse last moment after seeing the huge crowd. I did like to see though, the religious involvement of the locals here.

 

Locals

Monastries always fascinate me for their vibrant colors and their quaint atmosphere. Thikshey monastery remained closed due to the religious discourses. I explored the exteriors of the monastery; the colorful monastery looked beautiful against the blue sky. Shey Palace my next stop, was another gem in Leh.

 

View from Shey Palace

 

 

Statue at Thiksey Monastery

At Thiksey Monastery

Shey Palace

The Lotus Druk School from the 3 idiot’s fame was our next stop. A cafeteria called Rancho’s cafeteria runs in the campus. The school faced the brunt of the cloud burst episode in August’10 and is in restoration state. The huge school is designed beautifully and houses different departments and an open amphitheatre under the cerulean sky.

Thiksey Monastery

The 3 -idiots school -Druk School

The 3 -idiots school -Druk School

The 3 -idiots school -Druk School

The 3 -idiots school -Druk School

What caught my fancy where these white structures through out the town of Leh. These structures are called stupas or chortens and could be seen everywhere in the town. These structures were actually graves of the deceased. The ground opposite the Druk School had an array of them. They looked picturesque bathed in the sunlight against the earth colored mountains. An evening at Shanti stupa and a round at the local market left me drained of all the remaining energy. I planned to visit Tsokar Lake which is one of the high altitude lakes, next day.

Shanti Stupa

The twist in the tale came with the Tsokar Lake episode. Tsokar Lake is a high altitude brackish lake, at an altitude of 15,075 feet, around 155 kms from the town of Leh. The approach is through Tanglang Pass which is supposed to be the second highest motor able road (17,582 feet) in the India after Khardungla Pass.

Tanglang Pass

The way to Tsokar Lake displays unique formations of gigantic mountains. The windswept, rain swept surfaces are a delight to watch. The campsite at Tsokar Lake was pure, and the sky clear. I appreciate the efforts of the orgainsers who run the camp at such high altitude. They brave front to the bone chillings winds , extreme drop and rise in temperatures through out the day, high altitude problems and yet making comfort available to us at arms length.

 

Tsokar Lake

Tsokar Lake

Tsokar Lake

Albeit, the journey to Tsokar Lake was so grueling that I was dangerously down on oxygen level and kept drifting into sleep or un-consciousness. The wind was cold and biting and I kept blabbering something the entire night as my folks say. I don’t remember the entire way back to Leh from Tsokar as I drifted in a deep slumber. I was immediately taken to a Local doctor at Leh Town, who prescribed me some medicines and a whole night of oxygen intake at the Local SNM hospital. We were in Leh for only a week and this activity was not on the cards and was surely going to affect our further plans. Having no choice, I was admitted at the local SNM hospital in Leh for a dose of oxygen. The SNM hospital has created a special Tourist ward. Oxygen deficiency is a common problem here and therefore cases like mine are treated here at no cost. I was accompanied in the ward by an elderly UK citizen and another man from Mumbai. A grueling night, fighting back the apprehensions for my further travel plans and wondering that things shouldn’t get worse in this remote land. After all Leh, Ladakh was a place of my dreams and I couldn’t fall back on my plans. Under the kind care of the nurses, I was discharged in a better condition the next morning.  The reason I am contributing this piece of information here is to share the hospital and government initiative in taking care of the tourist staying in Leh. A good effort very much appreciated. Hoping to see more such initiatives for tourist visiting across India. India is a tourism oriented country and when we are making chunks from the tourism industry, of course these first aid or life support activities should be a government’s initiative across all India.

So Leh wasn’t coming easy on me. But the people at Leh were generous enough. The Nurse who kept checking on my oxygen from time to time came around every 10 minutes to talk to me and remind me to drink more water. My resort owner Mr. Padma who got me a refreshing herbal tea, soup and breakfast early next day at the hospital. Not to forget the chacha (uncle) working at the resort, who always greeted us with a smiling “jule” (Namaste in Ladakhi language). This kind of courtesy is rare to see in our city life. I was back at the resort. My host at the resort Mr. Padma’s parents obliged us by dressing in the traditional Ladakhi dress and accessories. Amit took delight in photographing them. My host was kind enough to let us photograph their typical ladakhi house and kitchen. We left under their generosity back to the resort.

 

A typical Kitchen

Sitting area

I geared for my further journey to Pangong Lake where I passed through Changla Pass, which is the third highest motor able road in the world at 17,590 feet.

Changla Pass

The way to Pangong Lake gets picturesque once you are on the other side of Changla Pass. The brooks, turning in to river carrying the ice cold waters of the glaciers drains down the valley. The entire valley floor was grassland dotted with wild flowers of various types. The painted mountains stood stubborn and the river played its way down the valley. Pangong Lake appeared in distance exhibiting the cyan, turquoise waters. As we neared the lake, the lake waters were again camouflaged with the surrounding grays and browns. An occasional stroke of sunlight painted the lake floor in shades of blue & cyan. Pangong Lake is the place where 3 idiots climax scene was shot. Pangong Lake is a huge lake extending further to China. 70 percent of Pangong Lake stretches in china and the remaining 30 percent in India is but a gigantic affair. A close encounter with the crystal clear waters of Pangong Lake and a Maggi session and we were back on the road to Leh. As we started approaching the Changla Pass the climate turned from the harsh strokes of sunlight to rainy skies, a trickle drizzle and a spray of snow. Unusual though all in the span of a few kilometers.

Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

Near Pangong Lake

Yet what remained now was the Nubra Valley. Nubra Valley was supposed to be a dessert after a sumptuous meal. Dessert after a meal or a real dessert as it was, Nubra valley turned out to be the best outing. Nubra Valley’s approach was through Khardungla Pass, the highest motor able road in the world at 18,380 feet. An arduous journey of hairpins bends and turns, the way up to Khardungla pass is one challenge for every driver, the melting snow on the path is yet another thing to deal. A flat tyre and a break fail was all we dealt reaching only half way to Nubra Valley. My driver arranged for an alternate vehicle for us to reach Nubra.

Khardungla Pass

Khardungla Pass

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

The landscapes kept unfolding like a pandoras box. The gigantic, rugged, windswept planes of the mountains seemed carved in time by nature. The streaks of colors added a twist to the lifeless mountains. The winding roads exposed every angle of the breath taking mountains. The roads descended in the valley which was bathed with ivory sands flooded from the mountains above. A river camouflaged with the sands ran the entire length of the valley. The landscapes here were breathtaking and came unexpected. A waterfall dashed in the valley from between the lifeless mountains. Nubra was like “Save the best for last”.

Nubra Valley

I visited the colorful Diskit Monastery, Maitreyee Buddha Statue  and the Nubra Sand dunes while in Nubra and it kept me mesmerized with the painted landscapes.

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

In all this effort, one person saw to it that we get the best from our journey. I wish to offer my Thanx to Mr. Rahul Rao from Infinite Journeys. Rahul made travel to Ladakh easier for us in terms of stay, transport arrangements and of course with all the useful information and tips he offered us.

Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley

Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley

Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley

Ladakh came as beautiful, iconic, surreal, rugged beauty. As we see most stunning photographs on ladakh being appreciated and commented, but it’s not easy out there. Today I value every breath I take as for the people living in high altitude….life is not that easy and every breath is an effort.

Photos by – Amit Rane & Jyoti Rane

Text By – Jyoti Rane

Bhimashankar – Ahupe

 

Bhimashankar is an abode of god and god’s creations. Bhimashankar lies around 125 kms. from Pune and 250 Kms.  from Mumbai. On Mumbai-Pune highway after pimpri-chinchwad a road to left goes to Nashik, popularly known as Nasik phata. It will take you to Bhimashankar via Rajguru Nagar – Manchar –Ghodegaon – Bhimashankar. Another alternative road from Mumbai is via – Malshej Ghats. But the most popular route for trekking community is from khandas (karjat) via shidi ghat or ganesh ghat. Bhimashankar is 5 hrs. climb from Khandas.

Bhimashankar is famous pilgrimage destination for one of the 12 Jyotirlings in India. Bhimashankar attracts loads of crowd in month of August which is month of shravan according to Indian calendar. One should avoid visiting bhimashankar in August and during Mahashivrathi. Bhimashankar is flocked with tourist across India during August.

Bhimashankar is declared as wildlife sanctuary. The dense vegetation is home to varieties of birds and animals. Leopards, barking deers, langurs, sambhar deers, wild boars, shekhrus (Giant squirrel is commonly known as Shekhru and abundantly found here.), skews (Squirrels without stripes), civet cats (jungle cat), jackals, hyenas are the common inhabitants of Bhimashankar.

Bhimashankar is heaven to bird watchers. Birds like Grey Hornbill ,  babbler, Malabar whistling thrush ,flycatchers( paradise , verditer,ultramarine ), yellow browed bulbul , Oriental dwarf kingfisher, Pipit , peacock, Orange headed thrush , Nilgiri wood pigeon ,black naped monarch, Emerald dove. September –October months are marked by moths and butterflies. The temple wall is dressed with the beautiful hairy-winged beauties. The walls of bhimashankar temple exhibit loads and loads of butterflies & moths of different shape, size and colors. The most common among them are hawk moth, Atlas Moth (Asia’s biggest), Golden emperor, hummingbird moth.

Bhimashankar wears a fairy-tale look in monsoons. The spread of greens are enchanting, the mist rolls over the hills high and low, abundant waterfalls plummet sporadically. Paddy fields marked by thick forest make for wonderful sights. The forest is a treasure house for wildlife lovers and photographers.

Kondwal is the nearest village near bhimashankar. Around 5 kms. before Bhimashankar temple a right turn leads to kondwal village. The picturesque way is lined with dense green forest and meandering stream crossing the roads. The stream further expands into a river and falls into a deep gorge at Kondwal village. This is Kondwal waterfall. One has to climb down the hill to witness the full splendor of Kondwal waterfall. Kondwal waterfall is a powerhouse.

Kondwal is secluded village nestled in between hills. Kondwal remains blanketed in mist and fog for most of the year. The paddy fields intermittent with streams and small waterfalls offer exotic sights. This route further extends to Ahupe (around 19 kms. by walk).The forest between Ahupe and bhimashankar is an evergreen forest and called as bhatti-che-raan.

Ahupe ghat can also be clubbed with Bhimashankar trip. Ahupe ghat lies 50 kms. from ghodegaon, bhimashankar. Ahupe Ghat is a pass leading from Khopiwali village in the Konkan, to Ahupe village in the Ghats. Ahupe village is at a height of about 3855 ft. A right turn to Dimbhe dam wall further leads to Ahupe ghat by road. The criss –cross hilly roads are laden with foggy green hills on either side. The dimbhe dam backwaters adorn the landscape with its blue—green water. The landscapes keep flaunting now and then and you remain mesmerized.

At one point we reach a narrow way dropping on either side into deep valley with the serpentine waters of river on either side. Ahupe is a small and very picturesque village. Ahupe village is the dead end. As ahupe village is based on a height, it remains covered in thick fog most of the year.  Ahupe is often trekked by avid trekkers. There is a hill near ahupe which is termed by locals as Dhag (cloud) since this hill remains covered by clouds most of the year.

An interesting fact about Ahupe village is 60% of the village population is night blind. It is advisable to carry enough food, water and a spare tyre when travelling to Ahupe by road. The beautiful journey is a little too adventurous, but truly appealing. We were caught in a thick blanket of fog with only 1 metre visibility ahead. We took double the time to reach back to bhimashankar, but were content exploring a beautiful destination.

The origin of Bhima River can be seen just behind the bhimashankar temple. A little ahead of bhimashankar is Gupt bhimashankar. A trek down the thick forest for 25 mins leads to a stream. Gupt Bhimashankar is a stone carved group of 5 shivlings under a waterfall. Gupt bhimashankar offers scenes from Jungle book stories, thick canopy of forest with gurgling streams lined by huge rocks. An ideal place to relax.

Bhimashankar has been explored by us all throughout the year. Every time bhimashankar adorns a new look and offers something new. June – September is best period for trekking, September-October is best for citing butterflies and moths, November – March is best time to see migratory birds and March-May local birds are galore as the water resources in the deep forest dry out and birds move out.  For more photos on Bhimashankar birds pls. visit – http://amitranephotography.com/Gallery/Bhimashankar/bhimashankar1.html

Bhimashankar remains a virgin forest in the Western Ghats range. Due to the steep slopes the major forest remains inaccessible to research and otherwise. Trekking routes in Bhimashankar are famous among trekking communities. Shidi Ghat , Ganesh Ghat are the prominent routes. Shidi Ghat is a very steep and difficult route with spine chilling drops and Ganesh ghat is comparatively easier terrain with captivating views. The rich undulating green canopies are truly wild. The landscapes are continuously straddled with shadow and light. Sky touching tress line the path and form a huge umbrella hindering sunlight at places, the land remains damp like an evergreen forest. The forest walk is refreshing. Abundant waterfalls snake here and there and the gurgling knee deep streams keep you company in this beautiful environs. You walk in to a chamber of clouds intermittent with the forest, unaware of the heights you are covering.   

Major attractions – Nagphani, Gupt Bhimashankar, Ahupe ghat, kondwal Village & waterfall, Machan trail, Dimbhe Dam Backwaters.

The best place to stay at Bhimashankar is Blue Mormon Resorts. Blue Mormon Resorts is run by Mr. Valse Patil. The resort offers comfortable living in secluded cottages. Blue Mormon Resort is based 10 Kms. before Bhimshankar at palkhewadi. In winter one can enjoy the strawberry farm here and eat mouthful of strawberries, blackberries. Stroll along the huge artificial lake or feel the cool driving breeze from the valley below. Blue Mormon offer mouth watering food. An ideal destination to stay in bhimashankar. Please book in advance for avoiding discomfort. Blue Mormon Resort can be contacted through – http://yogaatbluemormon.com/index.html or www.bluemormon.com

I have visited bhimashankar ample number of time, but yet bhimashankar remains unexplored. A minimum 2 days trip can only do justice to this place if you are a first timer.

Photos –  Amit Rane & Jyoti Rane

Text – Jyoti Rane

For more photos visit – http://www.myodysseys.com/Trips/Maharashtra/Bhimashankar/Bhimashankar.html

Kas Chronicles

A place I love to frequent ……..kas. With every passing year this place has been and will stay on to attract me. Kas is a surreal destination in the lap of Satara. Nestled between the backwaters of Kaneher dam and Urmodi dam, kas is a land rich in wild flowers.

Kas near satara has been in limelight this year, covered by all newspapers and almost every travel magazine, in-flight magazines. Kas, has opened up doors to more and more of its admirers.

A trip to Kas in the first week of Sept ’10 remained worthless. The rains kept lashing and so the winds. Spotting flowers was far, we couldn’t even gain ground for couple of minutes because of the wind.

The October 2nd weekend was the ideal time to visit kas and we set out on 1st Oct late in the night. We reached Kas at 4 am. We have been visiting kas regularly last 4 years and in retrospect we expected only a handful of vehicles at this serene location. As we reached the Kas plateau we were in between a sea of vehicles, a never before experience.

Kas showcased a lesser bloom this year as compared to before. We went this year with the sole intention of photographing Drossera Indica and Drossera Burmani. It took Amit 1 hour to locate these flowers. They are insectivorous flowers and so minute that one can easily neglect them. Both Drossera Indica and Drossera Burmani are beautiful to the core and no wonder insects fall prey to them.

The vehicles were one thing to deal with and rest the crowd, but everyone wanted to experience their share of this dreamland.  Kas was enveloped in a blanket of grey and sunlight made only occasional appearances making the landscapes lively. The only landscape photographs we managed were during twilight. We scanned the very length and breadth for new species of flowers and returned photographing only a handful.

The list of flowers we spotted –  (following are the local names)

Drosera Indica, Drosera Burmani , Kandil Kharchudi , Deepkadi , Balsam , Seetechi aswe , Nili Papni,  Abhali , Gend , Kawla , Karvi , Jartari , Hirvi habe amri , Gulabi Shevra , Jambhli Manjiri , Chawar , waytura.

On the way back we visited the Kas Dam. A  placid lake, deep blue sky and the hues of green grass  offered striking landscapes.

Photo by – Amit Rane

Text by – Jyoti Rane

For more photos on Kas visit – http://www.myodysseys.com/Trips/Maharashtra/Satara%20Kas/Kas/Kas.html

Previous Blog on Kas – http://jyotirane.blogspot.com/2010/03/flowerland-called-kas.html

Flowerland – Torna

 Torna also known as Prachandagad is a huge fort located in Pune. Torna stands tall at a height of 1406 mts. Torna has been a prominent landmark in Shivaji Maharaja’s empire as it was the first fort he conquered after swearing swaraj at Raireshwar.

 Now that I have covered the facts, let me mention for what I am writing this blog. Lots of trekkers have scribbled important notes on this fort and their individual experiences. I intend to share the flower galore that beautify Torna every monsoon.

 

Trekkers frequent Torna throughout the year. But the real beauty of Torna can be seen in September, when the rains are retreating and the entire fort is carpeted with wild blossoms. The show remains on till October end. The plethora of yellow (sonki) and pink flowers (Balsam) flaunt everywhere. Terda (Balsam) and Sonki mesmerize us across the fort, their heads swaying with the wind. The clouds play another story curtaining the landscapes from us and soft sunlight dances here and there enhancing the green velvety grass.

 

 

Torna is a huge fort and has lot to offer. As we enter the Ganesh darwaza, we are confronted by a huge meadow of flowers spotted by some huge tress and water tanks. The meadow remains covered in a veil of cloud throughout. Moving through Konkan darwaza we reach the Budla Machi. The Konkan darwaza enachants us with yellow blossoms of sonki spreading far and far. Budla machi gives a 180 degree view of the surroundings. The other side of the fort marks a huge drop with the zhunjar machi midway. The 70 degree slant is sprayed with hues of pink terda (balsam) & yellow(sonki) blossoms and is a sight to be witnessed.

 

Torna has other wild visitors like Karvi (purple flowers) which blooms once in seven years. I was lucky to experience it in 2007 at Torna itself. The Budla machi range was painted purple by the Karvi bloom then. Karvi, sonki can be seen all through the sahyadris. Flowers from habenaria family which are wild orchids (Sheput Habe Amri), Fabaceae family (Kawla) can be seen here. Flowers like phulbaji, golgonda, agnishikha, Kena, Kharchudi , Nisurdi,  udi chirayat, abhali, Katechendu, chimine and many others also adorn the fort in sept-oct.

 

  

A different set of flowers bloom in the other seasons across this fort and September remaining the peak season to witness the natural display. I had been to Torna in sept’2005 and sept’2007 and planning for a visit again soon. Torna is surreal. I don’t have anything fresh to contribute and writing from my old diary, because I wish to share with all, a beautiful place which should definitely not be missed in this season.

 

Torna is a medium level trek.Torna is around 65 kms. from Pune. The base village is velhe. A one day stay is advisable to see the entire fort. Menghai Devi temple can accommodate around 30 people at a time. From Swargate one can take a state transport bus to Velhe or can take private vehicle. It’s an 1.30 hrs.  journey from Swargate.

Photos By – AMit Rane , Text – Jyoti Rane

Must see- Menghai devi temple, zunjar machi, budla machi.

My last blog on Torna- http://www.bhramanti.com/pune.html

For more photos – www.myodysseys.com

Trekking groups you can contact –

 Bhramanti(www.bhramanti.com) , contact Mr. Kiran –  kiransarode@gmail.com

 Nature Knights(www.natureknights.com), contact Mr. Asif – asif@natureknights.net

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