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Cover photo by Sachin Pakale

routes

& trails

Vol.1 Issue 3. July 2013

cover story

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE photo feature

PUNE HERITAGE WALK twr traveller

MANGO PICKING & TASTING twr calendar

MONSOON EXCURSIONS www.thewesternroutes.com


The Hills Are Alive W

ith the monsoon setting in, the Sahyadris surrounding Pune change colour and convert to a green haven. Hit any road going out of the city and within 20 minutes you are in paradise – lush green forest patches, waterfalls, rice fields and foggy & misty ghats. In this issue of Routes & Trails, we bring you some of our most favourite destinations around Pune which are perfect for a Sunday breakfast ride, a monsoon trek or probably a whole weekend away from the city!


cover

story

Center spread photo by Saruvam Editorial photos by Adwait Keole, Ameya Kolhe, Amit Panariya, Devdatta Mulay, Dhananjay Kulkarni, Kartik Mahajan & Vidyuth Singh Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


Mulshi Lake

Mulshi and Tamhini Ghat Just 40 km on the west of Pune, Mulshi is perfect to spend a rainy day with friends and family, eating kanda bhajis, bhutta and sipping on masala chaai. To reach Mulshi, from Pune, just take the road from Chandani Chowk via Pirangut, Paud and continue on the Mulshi Dam Road. The area is surrounded by the rugged mountains and forests of the Sahyadris and during and post monsoons, the area becomes lush green. The most striking feature of the area during the monsoons, are the numerous small and big waterfalls along the road. The Mulshi Lake in all its grandeur is visible throughout the road journey. During weekends, the area gets crowded, so the best way is to park your vehicle on the road and just walk your way to the lake and explore a new place. If you keep driving beyond the Mulshi Dam, you would pass through Tamhini Ghat. This road further meets the

NH-17 (Bombay-Goa Highway) at Mangaon. The drive is through extremely dense and rich forest areas and plenty of waterfalls and is definitely worth an extended trip. Recently around 50 sq km of this area was notified as a wildlife sanctuary. Tamhini is wildlife heaven - birds, reptiles and amphibians in particular. If you venture a bit into the forest, you might be lucky to see the rare Giant Squirrel! TIKONA FORT During the Maratha reign, Tikona Fort served as a watchtower. In 1665, Tikona was surrendered to Mughal warrior, Kubadkhan, only to be recaptured by the Marathas. Emperor Akbar lived at Tikona for a brief spell in 1682 at the request of King Sambhaji. A small battle fought with the British caused great damage to Tikona in year 1818. Built at around 3500 feet above sea level, the hill and the fort makes for an easy trek.

FORT OF THE MARATHAS Situated in the Maval region, around 50 km from Pune, Fort Tikona gets its name due to its triangular structure. The fort was initially part of the Nizam Empire in 1585. In 1657, it came under the rule of the Maratha King Shivaji when he conquered the entire Konkan region along with the other forts in its vicinity.


Tikona Fort

Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


Bhimashankar


The well-marked trail goes past caves, temples, large doors cut into the rock surface and a massive vermillion Hanuman bust cut into the rocks with the devil, Panvati, under his feet. The final ascent called the Shivaji’s Trail, is through steep steps, but with steel ropes and railings to hold on to make it an easy climb. A few ruins of the fort along an algae-filled pond and a temple dedicated to Trimbakeshwar Mahadev is all that is there to discover on the top, but the vast Pawna reservoir and the spectacular view of the nearby forts of Tung, Lohagad and Visapur are totally worth it. MADHE GHAT Madhe Ghat is a place located around 60 km south west of Pune, bordering the Raigad district. It is in the vicinity of Torna Fort, Rajgad, Raigad Fort, and the backwaters of Bhatghar dam. To get to Madhe Ghat, we would suggest you to take the Khadakwasla road, on to Pabhe Ghat followed by Velhe village and Kelaad village. Madhe Ghat is about 850 m above sea level and situated in dense forests behind Torna Fort. This unknown gem is getting popular by the day for the superb views of the valley and one particular waterfall which drops for almost 2000 ft into the Shivthar River in Konkan. The place has an interesting historical fact attached to it. When the Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare died in

the Sinhagad battle, his body was to be taken for last rites in his native village Umrathe near Poladpur. Tanaji Malusare’s funeral procession was taken to his native place from this Madhe ghat route. BHIMASHANKAR If you are looking for a weekend getaway filled with patches of untouched evergreen forests coupled with some religion and culture then Bhimashankar is definitely the place to go. Bhimashankar is situated in the Sahayadri Hills and is just about 110 km from Pune city. The easiest way is to drive along the Pune - Nashik highway and take a left at Manchar and just follow the road leading to Bhimashankar. Once you have reached Bhimashankar, you first choice of place to visit by default would be the Bhimashankar temple. Built in the Nagara style of architecture, the temple dates back to the 18th century. It is one of the twelve ‘jyotirlingas’ (A shrine where Lord Shiva, is worshipped in the form of the lingam of light) in India. Even if you are not a culturally inclined religious soul, do visit the temple just for the architectural beauty and the peace and calm associated with old temples.The temple is situated right in the heart of the forest and if you go beyond the temple along the river bed, and tolerate some amount of garbage on the way, you will enter the beautiful forest which is a part of the Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary.

Madhe Ghat

Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


Malshej Ghat

The sanctuary was notified in 1984, primarily because it is among the very few forests in India which support a thriving population of the endangered and elusive giant squirrel. Known as ‘shekru’ in Marathi, the giant squirrel is also the state animal of Maharashtra. If you are lucky, you will be able to spot the beautiful giant squirrel particularly on the Gupt Bhimashankar trail behind the temple. Extremely shy the animal can be spotted due to its long bushy tail. But before it is seen, the giant squirrel is often heard. So keep your ears open for the animal’s loud repeated rattling call, which sounds like a firing machine gun! Apart from the shekru, the forests of Bhimashankar also offer excellent opportunities for spotting birds, reptiles, butterflies, plants and sometimes mammals like the barking deer. A small climb up from the parking lot and you at the Nagphani point, looking at the breathtaking surrounding mountains of the Sahyadri ranges, this is the highest peak in Bhimashankar. The uphill climb is totally worth

the efforts and just cannot be described in an article. You need to experience it. MALSHEJ GHAT A charming hill station, placed at an altitude of 700 m above the sea level and famous for its numerous lakes, cascading waterfalls, and charming mountains, Malshej Ghat is a favourite tourist destination of hikers, trekkers, adventurers and nature lovers. It is situated in the Pune district near the borders of Thane and Ahmednagar districts. It is at a distance of 130 km north of Pune. Though Malshej Ghat is beautiful throughout the year, monsoon brings an amazing charm to this place. During monsoons, the beauty and charm of Malshej is visible when it is under heavy fog and dark clouds. Close at hand is the Shivneri Fort, which is famous as the birthplace of Maratha king Shivaji. The unusual hills also have some unexplored Buddhist Caves dating to the 3rd century. An extension to your trip could be a visit to the Harishchandragad Fort which is close from Malshej Ghat.

MONSOON EXCURSIONS The Western Routes has recently joined hands with Wild Quest to organize monsoon excursions to these wonderful places amidst the Sahyadri Mountains. For more details see the back inside cover of this edition of Routes & Trails or visit www.thewesternroutes.com


Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


photo feature

pune heritage walk Writeup by Sagar Dave. Photos by Ashok Bagade, Dhananjay Kulkarni, Sagar Dave, Vidyuth Singh

B

eing a Punekar has always been a matter of great pride for me but more often than not I’d find myself wondering how much I knew about the history of this blessed city – Punyanagari. I got a chance to go on a guided Heritage Walk with The Western Routes, as the official photographer! I was pleasantly surprised by the stories I heard from the stone walls of the magnificent Shaniwar Wada, the empty spaces of Nanawada, the serenity of Kasba Ganpati, grandeur of Vishrambaug wada and the cacophony of Mandai vegetable market. The morning sun fought with the clouds as we walked about Shaniwarwada in awe of its thick stone walls and large internal courtyard. Built in the 18th century, often referred to as the golden era of the Maratha Empire, it was the seat of the Peshwas. One can only imagine how spectacular it must have been before the great fire of 1828. A brisk walk later we visited the Kasba Ganpati and later the Nanawada. The carved wooden arches, the pillars, the intricate carvings on the ceiling have withstood the ravages of time, pollution, misuse and even modernization.

Our next stop was the famous vegetable market ‘Mandai’. A fairly recent, pre-independence, structure it hosts upto 600 vendors and we had gala time picking out the freshest fruits and vegetables. An equally intriguing site was next on our list, the Tulsibaug Mandir with its ancient charm and little trinket shops that throttle its courtyard satisfies the pious and the curious. Soon after, the wooden balcony of Visharambaugwada was spotted and yet again we were amazed by the beautiful entrance and woodwork within the once Peshwa bajirao II’s residence. This was our final destination, before we savored a delicious puneri meal at Poona Guest House on Laxmi Road! This little jaunt was the perfect way to spend my Saturday morning doing two of the things I love the most, exploring new places and capturing their beauty via my lens.


SHANIWARWADA

Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


NANAWADA

MANDAI


VISHRAMBAUGWADA

Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


Mango Picking & Tasting By Devyani Irani

W

hat is the best thing about summers in India? The obvious answer for everyone is the same – Mangoes; especially the Alphonso (Haapus) variety. I, like most people, eagerly await the arrival of the mangoes. This year I had the opportunity of going to the source of the mangoes instead of waiting for them to arrive on my dining table. Thanks to The Western Routes, who had organised a Mango Picking & Tasting Tour in May 2013.


twr t

ravel

ler

Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


I boarded from Pune on the 3rd May at 6.45 a.m. The journey was pleasant thanks to the company. It took us around 6 hours to reach our destination which was a home-stay called O’Nest in Devrukh. We were greeted by the Pitre family, our hosts and ‘Panha’ – a traditional Mango drink. Soon after, lunch was served which was a sumptuous vegetarian fare with liberal servings of Amras and three different varieties of dishes made with raw mango. After a little rest, we went down by the river. A swim in the cool water was refreshing. We caught some river fish with the help of a local fisherman, who also cooked it for us right there on the river bank and enjoyed eating the mangoes that we had carried with us. Soon it was time to return back to the homestay for a dinner of Kombadi-Vade (it’s a chicken curry dish served with a special puri called Vade). In the night, after dinner, a local folk group performed Jakadi (a local art form) for our entertainment. Next day morning, we went to the mango and cashew orchard owned by the home-stay family. All of us got a chance to pick mangoes and cashews. It was hard work but lot of fun. After breakfast, we visited the Karneshwar Temple in Sangameshwar which is about 1600 years old and built in the Hemadpanthi style. Our next stop was Ganpatipule, which was predictably

crowded with devotees. But the waters of the Arabian Sea here are among the bluest, among the other beaches I have seen in India – Simply beautiful. We also visited Prachin Konkan, which is a museum dedicated to the Konkan and how people lived there 500 years ago. Soon it was lunch time and we arrived at another home-stay called Atithi Parinay in Kotawade, 10 kms from Ganpatipule. There the owner, Ms. Medha Sahasrabudhe, served us a typical Konkanastha Brahmin meal, with a continuous supply of mangoes. After a brief tour of the homestay, we headed back to Devrukh with a stop at the unknown Aarey-Waarey beaches. On the last day, after breakfast we participated in a pottery session with the local potter. And let me tell you making even a smallest clay pot is back-breaking work. We bid adieu to our host Mr. Mithil Pitre and started on our journey back to city-life which we had forgotten for a few days atleast. There is so much to see and do right in our own backyard, that it would take a lifetime to explore it all. The variety of food, culture, architecture and people is such that it surprises me that how little we know of the state of Maharashtra that we live in. I am sure this is true for our entire country. So much to see, and so little time.


Routes & Trails | www.thewesternroutes.com


twr contest

KUTHE

Guess which place this is and win exclusive merchandise from The Western Routes

Rush your answers to info@thewesternroutes.com by 31 July 2013. The first 3 correct entries would receive some really cool TWR merchandise. Terms and Conditions: The contest is valid for residents of India only. Prizes are non-transferable, non-negotiable, subject to availability and there will be no cash alternative. These terms and conditions are governed in accordance with the laws of India.

Congratulations to the winners of our last contest

SAGAR DAVE

RUPINDER NANDA

SANIDHYA BAGADE

The correct answer was Ramtek Temple near Nagpur


MONSOON EXCURSIONS Join The Western Routes and Wild Quest for our upcoming monsoon trips. We have your weekends sorted out for you. pick from our wide range of trips - day excursions, treks, breakfast rides, weekend trips and wildlife camps! DATE 7 July 2013 14 July 2013 19-21 July 2013 (2N-3D) 21 July 2013 28 July 2013 4 August 2013 9-11 August 2013 (2N-3D) 11 August 2013 15 August 2013 25 August 2013 1 September 2013 8 September 2013 15 September 2013

TOUR DETAILS COST / PERSON ‘Misal’ ride to Saswad & Bhuleshwar Temple Free/Self funded Malshej Ghat Rs 800 Monsoon Camp to Amboli Ghat, Sindhudurg Rs 4500 Breakfast Ride to Mandardevi Ghat Free/Self funded Kundalika Trek Rs 650 Tamhini-Dongarwadi Trek Rs 750 Wildlife Camp to Nannaj Wildlife Sanctuary, Solapur TBA Breakfast Ride to Purandar Fort Free/Self funded Independence Day Special – Mulshi Dam Parikrama Free/Self funded Kundalika River Rafting Rs 2300 Breakfast Ride to Neelkantheshwar Free/Self funded Kaas Plateau & Thosegar Falls Rs 800 Kaas Plateau & Thosegar Falls Rs 800

For bookings & enquiries contact Jayesh Paranjape - 9011040773 /jayesh@thewesternroutes.com Ishan Potbhare - 9028953822 / wildquestpune@gmail.com Devdatta Mulay - 9423041586

More details on www.thewesternroutes.com or www.facebookcom/wildquestpune



Routes & Trails - July 2013