Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One for the rain...

It was a couple of weeks back in a mini get-together of 1 current and 3 ex employees of my previous company, that the idea of an outing on 30th August was put forth by Ankur and seconded and thirded by me, Ankush and Amit. The day was fixed but the location, which was deemed to be an unimportant aspect of the journey, was not.

Come 29th Aug and the list had changed. It was to be myself, Amit, Ankush and Vindy. Ankush came down to Pune from Mumbai for the trip and after very few deliberations it was decided to head in general direction of Satara and beyond to Thoseghar. It was also decided to make it a bike trip instead of a car drive as the rain gods were not so happy during past few weeks. The meeting point and time were supposed to be end of flyover on katraj by-pass near Sinhagad road and 8.00 AM respectively.

Ankush called me up at 7.15 AM from Aundh and told me they were on their way, with Amit riding his Pulsar 180 and Ankush his pillion. I told them to take it easy as the meeting time was 8. Vindya came to my place 5 mins. before 8 and we headed towards the bypass and were at the end of flyover 5 mins past 8. Server calls later Amit and Ankush finally reached there at 8.30, supposedly confused by some statements made by Ankush regarding breakfast, hence taking a halt at Chandani Chowk where Amit filled himself up.

After a round of some abusive language and a cup of tea for each, we were on our way on NH-4 with Ankush now riding pillion to me on my red thunderbird and Vindya on his 8 year old CBZ which has clocked only 12000+ KMs. Ankush seemed lost as he failed to recognize the new bypass road to the old bypass which basically takes one right on the other end of Katraj Ghat through a long tunnel.

The first halt was some 20KMs later at a Company operated BP Petrol Pump where we tanked up enough gas to last through the trip. It was decided there to take a breakfast halt at Shirval. So we did after about 15 mins at "Shriram Wada Pav". Just as we were digging into our Wada-pavs three big buses full of school children stopped and amidst the general hyper-activity of the young, it was agreed upon by all to get out of there as soon as possible.

The journey from Shirval towards Satara was good at steady pace of 80-90 KMPH with greenery around and very little traffic and only a few clouds in the sky. It did invoke some memories of Karwar trip which, for most part, was on NH-4.

I was not sure where to exit the NH-4 for Satara but Vindy was waiting for us at the exit. So in we went on what I felt was the section of old 2-lane NH4. Post some enquires we were driving through the small gullies of Satara heading towards the base of Ajinkya-tara fort. Here we took a right turn and rode on to the end of that road which basically takes one through a small tunnel.

Once out of tunnel we halted for a butt-break. It was 10.45AM. The road here bifurcates to left and right. The one on the right takes you to Thoseghar falls and Chalkewadi. It was a bit of a dampener here to read a notice board saying "Road to Thoseghar Falls is closed to traffic." After chatting to a villager there, we found out that the road was really closed but the two-wheelers could pass.

All this while, we were looking for a place to have a cup of tea but driving through those small and narrow roads in Satara, no one felt like stopping there. So next few KMs of the journey were a bit slow-paced primarily to locate a tea stall somewhere. The formation was changed now with Amit as my pillion and Ankush driving his Pulsar 180. The road was ok and actually more fun to ride on compared to NH-4 which gets a bit monotonous after a while. We finally located a tea stall and took a break there. After a round of "Special Tea" and biscuits plus some photography efforts by Vindya and Amit for good measure, we moved on. The sun was still shining and it was getting hotter.

But after a while we were negotiating the curves of Ghat road. One could notice the sudden drop in temperature and the change of scenery. The road was good with greenery all around and few leftover signs of rock and land slides here and there caused by heavy rains few weeks back.

Driving along, leaving "Sajjan Gad" on the right we suddenly came to a spot where quite a few four wheelers were standing. This is where we realized why the road was closed. Whole section of road approximately 15-20 feet long had given way due to heavy rains and the repair work was in progress. There was a small platform built for pedestrians and one could push the two wheels over to other side where few more four-wheelers were standing.

After crossing the platform one at a time we started our journey again. I was leading this time and missed the "Thoseghar Falls" board and rode on. Now we could notice a lot of wind mills. We were approaching Chalkewadi, which is famous of its wind mill farms. The time was approx 12 PM when we reached there.

The view of so many windmills is really good. After some normal and very creative photography, we decided to go back to Thoseghar falls.

Once at Thoseghar falls, we ordered some Pithla-Bhakri and some more items on the menu at the only hotel around and headed for the falls. Apparently quite a few people have lost their lives at these falls as was apparent from all the notice boards advising the tourists to exercise caution. There were two separate sets of stairs and we took one on the left which led us to a platform where one can see the bigger of the two falls descending down the valley beneath. After absorbing the scenery and few clicks later we took a trail which went through shrubberies and bushes and lead us to another set of steps.

These led to a smaller water fall; smaller in terms of height. There was some group enjoying the waters there. Ankush and Vindya removed their shoes and got their feet wet. Amit and me preferred staying dry. Amit couldn't help but comment on the group there. The fact that everyone from that group was in the water and all were wearing "baniyaan" amused Amit to no end. :-)

After some more snaps, we headed back to the hotel. It was 1.30PM now. The food was really good and everybody got up from the table with a deep feeling of satisfaction.

On our journey back, we again crossed the platform and decided to go to Sajjan Gad. We went up to the parking lot at SajjanGad but no one except Vindya was in any mood to climb all those steps, so after few mins. we started heading back. We noticed that the roads were wet but there was no rain. I concluded that we are trailing the rain, which was a bit disappointing. But just as we were nearing the Satara tunnel a very slight drizzle started and I was glad to finally see some rain. But it stopped as soon as it started.

Again passing through the narrow lanes in Satara, we finally hit the NH-4 and opened the throttles and started our journey back to Pune. Suddenly there was a huge drop in temparature and a few mins. later, out of no where, the rain started, so waited under a tree by the road till the rain stopped. The road was wet and we were driving a bit slower now, getting spray-painted all over. The road again started drying up, meaning that there was no rain here. But when the Khambatki Ghat mountain range came in view, we stopped right then and there. There was only a slight drizzle where we were standing but we could notice a huge down-pour near the ghat.

While we were diciding on the PoA, Amit was the first one to speak up. "Aare, tithe bagh kaslaa paaus padto aahe. Tithe gelo tar..." Even before he could complete his sentence we were suddenly bombarded with huge water droplets and suddenly the sky was falling. It must have been a funniest scene for a bystander to watch the four of us trying to kick our bikes to life and scamper to the nearest possible shade. It was 3.30 and after some tea and chit chat we decided to move on at 4.30 irrespective of the rain.

At 4.35, the rain had died down significantly and was a steady drizzle. After shuffling of wallets and mobile phones in the plastic bags, we started again passing through the Khambatki tunnel and some 10 KM down the line we were on dry roads again. It was a weird feeling to have water in your shoes and driving at 90 KMPH on dry roads.

After negotiating the thickening traffic from Shirval onwards, we finally reached the tea stall near the flyover on katraj by-pass where I remember having being served with "vanilla" flavoured tea after our Karwar ride. Another round of tea and it was time to say good-byes and stuff. Amit and Ankush headed towards Aundh on the by-pass and Vindya and I headed towards Sinhgad Road.

That's when my bike started wobbling and I realized why I have never had this feeling on my bike before. It was a first for me and my bike. After owning the bike for more than 3 years and nearly 25,500 KMs my bike had its first puncture. The front tyre was flat. Luckily, it happened at the end of journey and that too in city and at very low speeds. It took another 30 mins and some weird techniques by the puncture-guy to get the wheel off before it was fixed and I reached home by 6.45 PM.

As always, it was a great ride covering nearly 270 KM in varied climatic conditions and lots of good memories.

Read another version from an experienced blogger here. Check out the snaps here.

No comments:

Post a Comment