Monday, September 30, 2013

Chasing the monsoon - Part 4

The first set in the Chasing the Monsoon series went very well and in those trips we had made several goals and achieved those. But the most cherished ones would be those achievements which weren't planned and which occurred to each one of us at a personal level. I crossed various personal goals and comfort zones while criss-crossing the roads and rail lines.

After the highly adventurous start to the monsoon season, many of my friends and family thought I was at the peak of my craze. But I was far from being done. It was time for another chase. This time the ideas were wilder and plans more elaborate.

The new target was the charming town in the heart of the Konkan belt, Pune and I was already tempted by the imagery and narration given by my friend.  I had my eyes on the green lands of Maharashtra for quite long, and here was deliverance. The rough plan was in place and team handpicked in a couple of days. Only three of us were in for this, due to the discrete nature in which the plans were formulated. Apart from that and the daily build up of excitement, there was hardly any arrangements done until the last few days before the trip. We had no clear idea of what we would be doing in the four days earmarked for the trip.

The journey from Bangalore to Pune and backward was planned to be in bus and bookings were done early on. The adventurous and wild trips were supposed to begin only after reaching Pune. But I seemed to have regained my charisma for surprises, as they once again came looking for me. I was supposed to catch the bus to Pune from Madiwala(30kms from my office) at 7.45pm and I was stuck in a meeting till 5.40pm, fervently glancing at my watch and almost begging my manager to reach a conclusion.
That day was ahead of a 4 day holiday for everyone, and I needn't press anymore about the nature of traffic on the road. On top of that it even showered for a while. I need you to shower me with sympathy at this point :). I now only remember rushing through the traffic to get home 8kms from office, packed and left by 6.10pm. I was on the first available bus to Madiwala soon, puffing and panting after sprinting with the heavy luggage. On any other day, I was safe. Not today..

In an ocean of vehicles, and with rain as a constant companion, I was still 15+ kms away from my destination at 8pm. Conversing fervently with my friends who had been holding back the bus at various stops, I was begging with autowallahs in the pouring rain to take me to my destination. None seemed interested until a kind soul agreed to drop me somewhere on the way so that I can reach before the final ultimatum issued by the now-barking bus driver on the other end of the phone elapsed. After various adventurous moves, and realizing my plight, the auto driver dropped me right in front of the moving bus, a full half hour behind schedule. Phew, for the first time in my life I felt completely content to hand over whatever charges an auto wallah demanded.

We opened our eyes next morning to the famed greenery that filled the sides of the highway. Hill after hill rolled by us, and the greenery never seemed to end. We were all getting recharged. Pune itself was refreshingly calmer and better organized compared to Bangalore, except for a few streets which were dug up for new constructions. Stay was arranged with a friend of one of us and we went about with the next stage of the plan, which was to acquire bikes. After many tries, we were able to arrange some within Pune itself.

Next day, we were off to our first destination, Mahabaleshwar well behind schedule due to the delays in acquiring bikes. Once outside the crazy pedestrian traffic of Pune, it was pure bliss riding through the green valleys that decorate the Satara road leading to Mahabaleshwar(120kms).

I don't know for how long I would keep repeating this line over the course of this trip but here goes - "The roads were inviting, and the scenery blessed with heavenly greenery, while the cool showers kept on drenching us to the point of bliss".

3 awestruck idiots

Meanwhile we kept our tummies filled with the staple food of the region, Vada Pav.
Once atop the hills of Mahabaleshwar, we discovered that there were several view points and a lake there, much like Ooty. The lakeside was brimming with cars and people moving around in the thick fog. There was a line of eateries on a side selling all kinds of chats and eatables. Loaded up on yet another Vada Pav, Frankie and Chai, we started checking out the place.

The boating in the eerie fog covered Venna lake didn't look inviting initially, but would have been a big miss if we had ignored it. At Rs 300/- per boat, we felt transported to another world and refreshed after the stressful delays.

Many of the other main view points were closed due to the heavy rains and the thick fog was rolling in by 4pm. We went onto the next open view point, which was Kate's point. It was then that we realized that Mahabaleshwar's quiver was far from empty. We were bowled over by the beauty that we experienced over there. It was a double point. From a point, you can watch the beautiful stream dropping through the greenery partially covered up fog. Walk to the waterfall and look back to realize your previous view point is shaped like an elephant.
credits: Pranav Photography

There isn't much I could express here in words, so I would let the pictures talk.

Hey, whats there?
I couldn't help myself from exploring the spot, walking off on myself away from the tiny crowd, looking for breaks in the fog and trying to determine the edges of the precarious rocks.

I had no wish to leave the spot and I had to be literally dragged out by my friends, the light was fading out fast from the spot. A false move could have landed one into the rocks hidden in the unfathomable fog..

Day 1 was up. We were entertained, exalted, thrilled, curious and exhausted, as we took the saddle again to get back to the den for a well deserved rest. The big league was yet to begin..
the ride continues..

Tips for those interested in visiting
* Bangalore-Pune is  850kms approximately through the NH4.
* Bikes are available for rent in Pune from various sources. Some dealers have limits on distance, places you can visit, and so on. Clarify these properly early on to avoid last minute confusions. Make sure you acquire helmets and ride safely, even though Pune doesn't enforce the helmet rule apparently.
* If you are not someone with an appetite for two wheeled adventures, head out on an adventure in an SUV preferably.

Please be ecologically responsible while traversing the country side, as the balance is already at stake at various places due to illegal constructions, mining and irresponsible tourism. It would be a sad fate to see such places fade off.

Update:- This blog post is a runner up for the Safari Storme "I am Explorer" contest, conducted by Indiblogger.
I am Explorer - Runner-up!


  1. Half of the blog narrated your Rush Hour story ! LOL ! Well described Day 1 ! Hurray !

  2. Half of the blog described ur Rush Hour Story !!! Good account of Day-1. Screwing up of bike should be the next main topic !!! I swear, wat a climb it was ! LOL !

  3. Hell yeah, hence I broke off to give it the significance it requires. Day 2 was the best for all reasons :D