Ride to Gaganbavda, Kolhapur

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,

The riders:
Apoorva, Kapil, Naijo and Deepak

The place:
Gaganbavda, Kolhapur

Gaganbavda- a cool place perched somewhere in midst of the beautiful Sahyadris, the thrilling serpentine roads leading to the destination, the joy of riding through the breathtaking scenery of the Konkan region- similar to the refreshing fragrance of a fresh cup of morning tea, though still cool as a shade of a tree under the hot baking sun. If words leave something to be desired, the images of the place fill it up. The ride through Ratnagiri was simply out of this world. How rightly is it said “Swapn nisargaache sundar, hirvi dharti, taambdi maati”- it’s a phrase I came across while riding back. That’s Konkan for you.

I didn’t need any reason to cancel plans for Ganpatipule and head straight to the peak called Gaganbavda. Grateful to Kapil, for his immediate affirmation, meaning that I wouldn’t be riding alone, to Apoorva - who turned out at the last minute and was the centre of all the fun and jokes on the journey and at the destination, and finally to Naijo-aka-Purushottam, who had plenty of related experiences to narrate all along the way.

Our route concluding a distance of 990 kms both ways:

Mumbai- Panvel- Wadkhal- Poladpur- Khed- Chiplun- Sangameshwar- Ratnagiri- Lanja- Rajapur- Vaibhavwadi- Bhuibavda Ghat- Gaganbavda.

Return from Gaganbavda via Karul Ghat to Talera heading to Rajapur again towards Mumbai.

The ride was good enough for an experience- all the delays in the world arising out of a flat front tyre in midst of nowhere- locating a puncture shop to find the repair guy absconding. Carry the tyre some 10 kms away for repairs only to come back again to fix the wobbly mount on the rims. Apoorva heading and losing himself in some different direction. The waiter at the restaurant almost starving us to death by delaying lunch as much as possible. Riding through some unknown winding roads in total darkness with lights on our bikes and stars as the only visible objects on earth at that point of time. A ride encircling an ascend in a happy mood, later becoming a scary memory knowing the route we passed through was one of the deadliest ghat sections standing- that’s Bhuibavda Ghat connecting Vaibhavwadi to Gaganbavda. Narrow enough for not more than a truck to drive, meager boulders along the way with ample rock falling signs and at an altitude and vertical drops enough to scare the guts out of you if you happen to ride during the day- we were sure that we couldn’t do that stretch in daylight, darkness helped us accomplish the feat- the scary identity of the section hidden under the blanket of the night.

Gaganbavda was chilly as would any other place at a high altitude- not a tourist attraction- rather a kind of a pilgrim spot- one of the abodes of Shri Gagangiri Maharaj. Not much options for accommodation sparing Chavan Lodge, a miniscule MTDC barrack and the Ashram right at the top. Found a place at Chavan Lodge for 310 bucks with extra two mattresses adding up another 100 to the amount- that’s pretty cheap for 4 people getting down to the divided average amount with good facilities like a good working colour television- which didn’t show anything more than two channels. Hot water for morning bath, which wasn’t put to use either. Food was ok from the taste point of view, but attractive enough for being served hot on a chilly winter evening. Swallowed whatever was served till my stomach could take it no further.

Everyone had sufficient and a comfortable sleep at night. A good oily breakfast and roll to Gagangad in the early hours of the morning to kick start our day. Again a front flat tyre putting in some more hurdle of delays- but finally leaving the place through one of the most thrilling ghat sections I have been, the Karul Ghat which connects Kolhapur with the Konkan region. Some 20 kms of a thrilling and equally scary ride descending down to the plains. Again an out-of-the-world riding experience through Ratnagiri, blessed with curves and curves to add delight to a biker’s journey. Kapil and Apoorva swished ahead and I stopped occasionally for some clicks. Naijo decided to stay back at Ratnagiri to make most of his available leaves from office in visiting Ganpatipule and nearby attractions. End of the day’s work for the sun and night to take over- enjoyed riding in the dark, confidence of NH17 showing up for the fun. Took as fewer stops cutting down on time to reach home. Finally Vashi comes at 11.00 p.m. and Kapil leaves for his home- I head with Apoorva to his place to see the pics on a bigger screen. An unforgetful ride, the joy of rolling on great roads one could ask for. A satisfied mind and body finally bidding good bye to a dream with finishing touches from memories of the ride in the form of pictures.

Thanks again to all you three for the wonderful company making this a truly memorable trip. The hangover of an intoxicating ride is still alive, I blink my eye and I see images of those places flash in front- maybe I need to ride there again, don’t I?

Well that’s pretty long reading, now its showtime…. Enjoy the pics HERE!!!

A Trip Way Round

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , , ,

Had been to Satara this Sunday to attend my friend's wedding. Was a good excuse to ride for some distance too and luckily got an off from office for Monday so that I could ride out as I had planned it.

This is what my route was like.
Mumbai- Lonavla- Pune- Satara- Khatav- Satara- Wai- Panchgani- Mahableshwar- Pratapgad- Poladpur-Mumbai.

Total distance covered both ways:
832 kms

Left on Sunday morning around 8 am and reached Khatav at 5.00 in the evening. Rode at my own pace, took stops wherever and whenever the surroundings or even the roads asked me to click a few memories. Thought for some thrill on the Khambatki, but the stretch was flooded with trailers and buses. The Pune-Satara road is a great one, but the roads from Satara towards the village were fantastic, no more than 15 feet wide- but not an inch of a bump. Loved cruising all the way keeping my neck and eyes busy on the ride through the countryside.

Once the wedding was over, got out wandering to get a clear and that amazing view of the sky which here in the city is separated by blankets of pollution. It was extremely cold, more than the ridiculous morgue-like AC-cooling in office, but enjoyed every bit of it. Not a ray of light in the dark, nor a sound of a pin drop and the sky studded with heavenly jewels- a telescope was missing here :) What a serene experience that was!!!

Got up next morning and left for the remaining part of the route. Once again riding back through the village in the morning was amazing. Took to Panchgani via Wai and fell in love with the Pasarni ghat section, funny quote this- but even the straights are zig-zagged. Enjoyed every inch of riding till Panchgani. Rode on the table mountain - was my second visit there, but still amazed at the flat structure, nothing short of nature's wonder. Some sight seeing of distant places like Kamalgad and Raireshwar, but through the binoculars. Left for Mahableshwar after some moments.

Reached Mahableshwar lingering around for some time before leaving for Pratapgad- time was on the shorter side. Nightmare struck when the front forks started leaking oil and somehow made their way onto the disc resulting in non-existent braking even with full force on the brake lever. Had to vigorously wipe the disc to avoid any mishap ahead. Thankfully that didn't happen again, though I was continuously keeping a check by feathering the brakes.

Reached the foothills of the historic and impregnable fort of Pratapgad. The view from down below is as ecstatic as the view from up there. Its like an Emperor seated on its throne served by the hills looking skywards in all its pride. A standing testimonial to the bravery and wit of a great ruler Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj. You people would have come across the story during your school days, so not going on a history lecture ;) Didn't take much time getting up there and the bike goes right up till the entrance of the staircase. Tried to scan and see each and every corner of the fort and the view around from up there, but still missed out on the backside- realized this when descending the ghats. Finally after a walk-through and state of satisfaction, thirst and hunger broke their silence. Not even a drop of water went inside since the start of the day. Looked out for a good place to eat and finally found one. What best to have than what the mavlas used to? Pithale Bhakri complemented by stuffed brinjals, onions, pickles and spicy ghati masala. Ate up till the brim of the stomach and finally sealing it off by a glass of cool buttermilk.

Started back home by 4.30 p.m. riding through the scenic but not so well-surfaced Ambaneli ghats, stopping occasionally for some pics. A halt at Poladpur for some tea plus a respite for the back and butt. Rode continuously till Karnala to again stop for some hot batata wada and tea to take me in a fresh and awake mood ahead. Wish I had a more powerful headlight and a new visor :( Reached home by 10.30 p.m. taking a much needed hot bath and dinner before dozing off with fresh memories in mind.

Thanks for reading a looooooong mail. Wish you like the pics- I know they aren't
clear, but that's the best a phone cam can do. HERE they are.