Tag Archives: Lonavala

Ritz to Rajmachi – Off-roading Adventure

Foggy Morning

These are one of those trips that you always wish you had taken a while ago, and at the same time, not taken at all… Many a times we’ve been trekking to various destinations and most of the times, we take a car to the base-camp… Earlier it was a bike and now it’s a car, thanks to my friend Swapnil… His Ritz I must say has done a lot of miles in the couple of years that he’s been on the road with it. Long stretch of lands across various states to weekend getaways that have been really bumpy and super sleek at times. From grazing dirt tracks inside villages of Vidarbha to stretching a two day trip all the way to Indore and back to Mumbai.  And of course, the Alibaug, Kashid, Murud-Janjira is something which has become a routine. Lonavala – Tiger Hills is of course a destination which we do most of the times in the monsoon, but this time around we did something else… And of course, this had to be the brainchild of my ever enthusiastic best friend, also my college mate Swapnil himself. For those who don’t know him yet, well, we’ve been friends for over 12 years now and right from college both of us have been auto enthusiasts, me being the lesser one and almost every other time just being on the listening end of his aspirations and stories from various rallies, so much so, that I’ve taken up interest in Formula 1 only cause of our animated conversations and his total interest in the sport which he rubbed on to me way back in 2001.

Most of the times our trips have been adventurous, luxurious, crazy, tiring and bewildering… But none like this. It was a Saturday morning and Swapnil, Mangesh and I decided to leave early in the morning on this trip in his Ritz…

Swapnil & Mangesh

“Let’s take this baby all the way up to the basecamp.” That’s what Swapnil said…

“What?? You really hate your car don’t you?” was my first reaction…

Apparently not… Now this could certainly be a good exercise for Maruti guys to test their vehicles and maybe build an entire campaign around it… Anyone seen the Woodland shoes ad?? 😉

For regular trekkers, they take a 15km hike to the basecamp or most of the times we get people bike it up till the base camp. Of course, the villagers or people who have to go back and forth, might at the most have Jeeps which can take them that far, especially during the rains…

For a Ritz to go up there…. Was quite a task, a task like most others, which we always end up achieving… This is where we went and boy o boy, don’t ask us How??

Bumpy rides, dirt tracks, steep turns and a whole lot of rocks and stones to test us… This was quite a ride. There were uphill and downhill roller coasters on our way, so much so, I couldn’t shoot or take pics. Steady is not what I could expect at all…

Most of the time it didn’t rain throughout our uphill journey and we finally did reach one spot, where there is a small stall. That’s not even the base-camp. A guy usually cooks Maggi, Bhaji-Pav and stocks loads of biscuits and other snacks. Well, since we reached this spot at around 7 AM, we had to wait…

As luck would have it we discovered, there was a small waterfall near this place… But we had to go down to really get below / under the water and it was a downhill slope and had to trek down a few yards to get there… Well…. IT HAD TO BE DONE!

That's where the falls were...

…And when we say ‘IT HAS TO BE DONE’… we 99% of the time mean it…

Well, It had to be done... 😉 so...

So, anyways, that’s just the half of it… We haven’t even got started… Thankfully, by the time we were done with playing around the waterfalls, getting soaked in that foggy morning and enjoying the cold water and by the time we came up… the guy from the hut had opened his shop… What more did we want?

Mr. Kekda Khan

Certainly not this crab to bite us… 😛 Meet Mr. Kekda Khan, who happily posed for my camera.. Add to that he was really enthusiastic when the camera zoomed on to him. So much so he did the Kekda Dance, moving his claws up and down…

Maggi... Never fails you... wherever you go

But yes, eating HOT Maggi early in the morning is certainly what we wanted… Well, that’s what we thought at that time…. We really didn’t know what was in store for us…

So we move ahead and head towards the base-camp… Lo behold… There was this huge rock on the road… Mangesh said it wasn’t there last week. He’s a regular trekker and was there by foot last week. It was a landslide and there was very little space for the car to squeeze through… On the other side of the road was a cliff… and it was also blocked by rocks, if not as huge as the one fallen, at least huge enough for us to make them budge…

“Every problem can be solved…” That’s always our motto when we go out on these adventures…

We tried moving smaller rocks, whichever we could squeeze through and tried to make some space… Well, it was a little better than before, but not enough to let the car go by… If nothing else, the car would just go down the ravine or scrape some metal on the huge rock… Now, that’s something we didn’t want to happen. Add to that, it was a muddy track, so couldn’t quickly skid through that part.

Then we took on the task to move the bigger rocks on the side… Tried sliding it, lifting it… Reminded me of that episode of Dhani Tackles the Globe, where he goes to Scotland and lifts huge rocks as part of a competition. Heck you might even have watched Worlds Strongest Men doing these antics for a living… But we certainly weren’t them and we needed some one else to help us out on this…

What more do you want?? Of course, we needed a few people to help us… There were a couple of guys who came from the other side… the village or the base camp, but they were villagers who were going to work in town… We sure didn’t want their hands dirty 😛

As luck would have it, just like our most other situations, we met a bunch of trekkers who thankfully agreed to help us out… And within a jiffy, we moved most of the huge rocks making enough space for the car to go by…

Between a Rock and a Hard Place...

What happened after that is not for me to tell you in this off-roading chronicle, but certainly this experience was quite different from most of the trips we’ve ever taken. Have you ever been in any such situations?

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Lohagad – An escapade truly to remember

Trekking (definition) : To make a slow or arduous journey on foot, especially to hike through mountainous areas…  But… “A trek is never a trek if there ain’t a little fun, little adventure, some moments to cherish and of course a little mishap here and there..’ That’s where the ‘arduous’ part comes in…

9:00 PM and we are still at work?? Come on guys let’s pack up and get the hell outta here… That was what was going on in my mind… but I guess, we had to make sure that everything was in order before we left for the trek.

On a chilly December night, trekking at 2:00 AM in the morning was no mean feat. Yep, that’s exactly when we reached the village called Baje, it served as a base camp for us. Parked the car over there and started hiking up towards the footsteps near Lohagadvadi… While there is another route to reach the footsteps where even cars go, it wouldn’t have been fun for us to take our car there and then climb up… as the trek time would have been just 15-20 minutes.

Anyways, at the end of it all, the hike up to the place was really worth it… trekking the mountain in the morning, chatting up and singing along for a journey and an experience that we were yet to have… Something told us, this is going to be one of those memories… You know what I’m talking about, now don’t you?

It took us about 2 hours to reach the top… Breezy in the morning, the caves were only warm place for us to feel some comfort.. but that would again defy the definition now, woudn’t it?? So we decided to chill out near the entrance, camp ourselves and make ourselves a couple o drinks to feel better… haha, that’s what you get for the arduousness as a reward. Besides that watching some of them, singing and dancing to ‘Sheila ki Jawaani’ as well 😛

Soon, it was time for the Sun to rise and us to have some really nice Photo session and of course meet our ancestors who made their way up on to the top to find out if we had some food for them. I was wondering why on earth did I even buy a bunch of bananas before we left, now I know exactly why…

The vision of breaking dawn was one I had been waiting for before I could get my hands on my DSLR, and begin my clicking spree… After a lots of fun and frolic, some nice photo sessions, we decided to head towards Vinchu Kaata… Alas, that was not to be…

While everyone was enjoying singing and dancing… we suddenly heard a cry out loud from one of our friends…The slippery tracks from where we had decided to take a detour towards VinchuKaata had made sure that today wasn’t the day, when we were going to be out there…

She suddenly lost her footing, slipped and fell instantaneously… We made her sit down, making sure that we find out what happened to her. Hoping it was not a fracture…we took a look, it looked more like  a sprain and a ligament tear we thought. But we were not sure, didn’t want to take a risk… So finally this is the exact reason why that arduous word came into the dictionary while defining the word ‘trekking’ It was quite a challenge as she was not able to walk…

One of the challenges now, was to find out ways and means to get our friend down.. So, a couple of guys went down to get the car from the other route to ensure that one car is at least downstairs, at the base camp from Baje village… While we were trying to figure out how to get her down.. We tried to make a stretcher with a couple of bamboos and blanket we had… Nope, didn’t work… We had a chair, tried to make a palkhi with the bamboos and a rope we had… nope, didn’t work… What could we do??

We were thinking and trying to figure out a way and that’s when it struck us… This was the only option for now…

The most effective and the most simple way was devised out of a story I remember my grandfather used to read in Chandamama comics, ‘Vikram Vetaal…’ yes, that is and was the only option for us…. So there, the only option left for us was to backpack her (literally) and that could have been done by only one person in our group and I don’t intend to tell you here who it was. For people who don’t know us, it won’t matter but for people at work… you guys should have fun guessing this one! As it turned out later… i.e almost at the bottom of the mountain, we met a guy who took a look at her leg and with the help of acupressure and she was able to slowly walk… Irony I say… Always on all my trips 🙂

That’s exactly the reason why I’ve not included anyone’s names… and precisely why this story ends like this… What happened later was something we all call an escapade truly to remember… 🙂 well, at least until the next one happens.

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Off to Lohagad – The Iron Fort…

People Travel to know the boundaries of the world… The boundaries within their universe, the journey which they want to experience and imagine if ever they thought of living a life they couldn’t. People travel to know more about different people. People travel to experience what their soul will take with them to a different dimension. Sometimes when I think of these quotes of mine, I realize we all have  a desire in ourselves to understand fully what the beauty of this universe lies in. Be it the short trips over the weekend, adventure camps in school, trips and picnics during the monsoon or a great vacation abroad… When we travel, we unleash our inner spirit. One that adds to our charm and the experience of a life we live in. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To me, trekking is one such experience where I can relive the adventure, which I always wanted. Think of nothing but the freedom that I get when I get up there. Be it 4000 feet above or just a mere 1400 feet. Doesn’t matter, one needs to understand that the beauty of all this is in the fact that you have a goal in mind and you go up there to achieve it.

So here we are, bunch of us office guys @SocWav have decided to head to Lohagad, a very easy trek tomorrow night. This would be my second experience trekking at night after one way back in Naneghat. Since, there are a lot of newbies and girls mostly, we decided to trek to Lohagad as its the easiest of the lots. I haven’t yet been here so it should be a great experience. The last time around, my friends ditched me on my working saturday and did a quick drive to Lohagad and got back with great photos and absolutely amazing videos. That was during monsoon though. Don’t know how it will be this time around. Hope the cold and pleasant weather will make up for a little bit lack of greenery I hope.

So we plan to trek at around 10-11 in the night, reach on top about 12:00 – 1:00 AM and camp up there. Hoping to set up a barbecue if we get hold of  a village local. Otherwise we’ll manage with our own Cup Maggi and other snacks.. I mean Maggi should really be the brand for all trekkers. The best part would probably come early in the morning, when we’ll take a look at the awesome views especially the ‘Vinchu Kaata’ and the Ganesh Darwaza… So courtesy Wikipedia here is a bit of trivia for all you folks about the destination.

Lohagad (literally “Iron fort” in Marathi) is one of the many hill forts of Chatrapati Shivaji. It is situated 52 km from Pune in western India. Lohagad is at an elevation of 3,450 feet (1,052 m).

On the west side, there is a long and narrow wall-like fortified spur called Vinchukata (Marathi for Scorpion’s tail; see picture) because of its shape. Lohagad has a long history with several dynasties occupying it at different periods of time:

SatavahanasChalukyasRashtrakutas,YadavasBahamanisNizamshahisMughals and MarathasShivaji captured it in 1648 CE, but he was forced to surrender it to the Mughals in 1665 CE by the Treaty of Purandar. Shivaji recaptured the fort in 1670 CE and used it for keeping his treasury.

How to reach the fort

From Mumbai, you can take a train to LonavlaMalawli is the next station from Lonavla in the direction toward Pune. There are a number of local trains operating between Lonavla and Pune; you can take any of them. From Pune, you can take any of these locals.

From Malawli railway station, the fort is just 9 km away. Vehicles can go up to the foot of the hill. From here, which is near a village calledLohagaon, there are steps to the fort, numbering approximately 500.

When it rains, the top of the fort is covered with mist and clouds and becomes particularly wet. It is advisable to carry protective gear during the rainy season (mid-June to mid-September). Further, food is not easily available on the route. Most of the food stalls sell water, poha, tea/coffee, snacks, and soft drinks.

A panoramic view of the Pawna dam can be seen from the fort. Although it isn’t raining now, hoping to get a breath of fresh air… cold winter air during the amazing trek we take. 🙂

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Tiger Hills – July 2010

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This trip was another one of our impromptu rides, wake up early in the morning and just head off to Lonavala. That’s how generally we go out. Hop, skip and ride/drive to wherever we want to. So my friend called me up early on a Sunday Morning, and there began our plan. Certainly a Sunday during the rains was one of the best ideas to head up to Tiger Hills. A mist covered foggy mountain and some beer with corn bhajiyas… Couldn’t have asked for a  better Sunday morning. So we head off to the place in his car and picked up his bike as  well. We were about 5 people in the car and 2 on the bike. Splendid weather with rains pouring on us and the misty mountains waiting for our journey to come to a halt at the beautiful location up in the mountains.

One of the best things while going up the Tiger Hills, is the beautiful curvy roads that stretch out and the view that you see is truly something you would want to remember forever. Remarkable one at that. The closer you get to the top, the foggier it gets… the altitude is one thing, the views are another. But most amazing thing is, once you reach on top, you enjoy every second of the beauty of the weather, most importantly the cold and serene waterfalls!

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