From Ghats to Beaches

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Jan 15, 2008

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville

In the past 26 years of my life i have had one major learning.. if you want to succeed in something u need to plan it out really well. Same applies when you want to have a good holiday. So thats what I did...Planned this particular trip for weeks now.. and I m still enjoying the result..

Day 1
The date was 12th of Jan 08 and we were at the Pune Swargath stand at around 615 AM and it was still dark all around us.. I was wondering when does the sun rise in pune.. and at around 645 my eyes lit up when I saw a ST bus with the board Ganapatipule via Mahabaleshwar.. I immediately ran towards the bus and somehow boarded it.. and caught a few seats.. Man the bus was gettin filled up to the core.. this reminded me of Swades a bit.. with people from all walks of life trying to board the bus to go on with their routine.. and at around 7 AM the bus started and I looked around to see the first rays of the sun and the first leg of our holiday taking shape...tired of our previous nights journey we slept off and around 9 we saw that were almost reaching Panchagani which was 20 kms from Mahabaleshwar..we got down at Mahabaleshwar around 930..
The first thing that struck me about the place was that there were around 30-40 small hotels in that place and though we were travelling to the place during the off-season time it was reasonably filled up with tourists.. a good sign for a tourist resort. We checked into our hotel around 10 AM and the first thing that hit me about the place was that it looked pretty good, I had a feeling that it was going to be a good bargain for us.. We checked into our rooms and found that the room looked very cozy..
Now one of the part of our trip starts.. and it starts with good food.. we went to the restaurant which resembled a Hunter Lodge.. but the food they served us was be precise Finger Lickin' Good :-). After a sumptuous meal we took a taxi to go about Mahabaleshwar.. We started off with a few peaks or points..which offered breathtaking view of the Valley..which resembled the Wild west to some extent..the only difference being the greenery.. We were bowled over by these stunning displays of the ridges and mountains.. I had always believed that God was the most stunning artist ever.. and these creations confirmed them.

After this came something which had floored us me guys.. I wasn't a major fan of strawberries, but one spoon of freshly chopped strawberries with freshly whipped cream and a scoop of icecream..changed my whole perspective about them.. Guys you should try this.. whenever you get a chance to go to Mahabaleshwar..please visit these strawberry gardens which are found all around the town.. After a visual treat..this was indeed a treat for your palate.

We thought that we were nearing the end of our first day of the trip..but the best was yet to come.. the taxi driver took us to one of the other peaks, which was the named after Lord Lodwick who was the first European to set foot in Mahabaleshwar and made sure it was made popular..I should thank him for discovering such a beautiful place..these stunning views conveyed that there are always beautiful places closer to home waiting to be discovered by YOU..for instance these ridges reminded me of Grand Canyons..

We walked all the way uphill to a clearing.. and there we had a magnificent view of the whole valley with the sunset lending a visually tantalising experience- A grand finale to the stunning first day of the trip.

By the time we got back into the town, it was 7pm, and the market was bustling with activity and we couldn't resist being a part of it. Slippers, jute bags, handicrafts and loads of accessories were found in abundance and one needs to know the art of bargaining to get the best out of the choices they have. Finaly after filling our bags and emptying abit of our pockets, we returned to our rooms tired, but with happy memories of the day.

Day 2
After an amazing Day 1.. we all set ourselves for Day 2..We had spoken to the manager of our hotel about the other good spots to be seen, he recommended us to go the Pratapgadh fort

Pratapgadh Fort:

This place was 25 Kms from our hotel and was on Ghat section.. it took us around 45 mins to reach the fort.. The ghat road had given us another amazing view of the Valley around Mahabaleshwar..which was a visual delight again..

On our way to the fort, we stopped at the a handicraft emporium which was selling amazing artifacts made out of wood and metal..We just couldnt resist ourselves from picking a few of them.. We then pursued our journey to the Fort. The Fort was built on one of the hills of the western ghats and to reach the fort one has to climb around 400 steps. On reaching the entrance of the Fort, the first thing we saw was a flag post on top of one of the watch gave us a different view to the valley below...then from there on we walked further up the hill to reach a temple..which was a temple which Shivaji used to visit often.. At each level of climb the view of the valley below became even more magnificent..On climbing further up we reached a spot from where we had a 360` view of the valley below.. There was also a statue of Chatrapathi Shivaji.. Slowly I started to realise that for people of Maharastra Chatrapathi Shivaji was a demi God, probably because he was able to keep the Muslim rulers at bay.. We walked around the different watching posts of the fort.. but if you look around you would find that most of the fort was in ruins.. I felt that apart from the stunning view of the did not offer much of information..which is normally expected on visiting any of these forts or palaces.. Also seeing the state of the Pratapgadh fort I felt that ASI (Archaeological Society of India) should take up the responsibility of the fort premises or in times to come the fort might that just cease to exist if not taken care of... We started of our descent from the from the hill towards our parked vehicle..

As it was around lunch time..we decided it would make sense for us to get back to hotel to grab some good lunch and take some rest as it was tough climb to the fort..Around 2 we got back to our respective rooms with our stomachs filled with another sumptuous meal...

After giving a good rest to our aching legs and back.. we went out around 530 to make some enquiries on how to get to our next destination..Harihareshwar.. On making enquiries we realised that there was no bus to Harihareshwar from Mahabaleshwar..but found that there were a few taxi drivers charging us a premium...So we decided to take a walk in the market as there were a few travel agents available.. Finally we were able to strike a deal with one of the travel agents for a vehicle for us.. As we did not have anything much to do we were roaming around the market.. Then we headed back to the hotel at around 8 for dinner..

Though our second day wasn't as eventful as we expected it to be.. but it wasn't that bad either...Post dinner we decided to pack our stuff up as we had leave in the morning to Harihareshwar

Day 3:

As decided we left the hotel at around 930 to Harihareshwar.. it was the same road which we had taken to Pratapgadh fort.. But the best part of the trip was yet to come.. we were actually heading to the Konkans..which were known for breathtaking views and fabulous beaches and loads of undiscovered beaches aka virgin beaches..:-)

The travel was through the Ghat section and was surprised to see that the road which we took was supposed to be a State Highway but it was a single lane road and vehicles were plying on it to and fro.. the very fact that it was a Ghat road scared me even further as the other side of the road was always a gorge.. But our driver had been plying on these roads for some he had gripping the road smoothly.. We had been on road for more than 2 hours..but the sea side was in no sight..after sometime I decided I would give a call to the resort guys to find the way to the resort..but alas there was no signal on our mobiles.. then luckily one of us saw a board saying that the resort was 10 kms from there.. Seeing that board we had a huge sigh of relief.. then we followed those directions to reach the Resort.. Slowly I found that the landscape on either side of the road changing.. and slowly it started to resemble Kerala..with Coconut Plantations everywhere..

When we reached our resort.. I had a shock when I saw that I was just a hundred meters from a virgin beach.. I could smell the sea side and could hear the tides lashing the coast.. We then headed to our rooms..which were resembled log huts.. The whole of resort was actually made of wood with thatched roofs.. It was amazing..

Post lunch we decided to go about exploring the beach.. the weather was just fine and not too warm.. One thing that stood out all through the trip was the food.. it was equally amazing at the restaurant..Never in my life had I been to a virgin beach.. it was just clean white sand and water and nothing else.. There weren't many people around on the beach.. so we just ventured into the sea and the water was cool and so clear that we were able to see the patterns formed by the receding water and sand..

We collected a few shells on the beach and roamed around on the beach as the beach was virtually empty.. After sometime we returned back to the resort to have some tea and decided to hit the beach for sunset..

At around 530 we again made it to the view the sunset..which was another breathtaking view.. we walked around the beach and headed back to our log huts to just laze around and discussing about the resort and the trip..

During dinner at the restaurant we asked the person in charge about how to get to Bombay.. he told us that he can arrange for a vehicle for us that will take us to a place called Mangaon from where we could take a bus to get us back to Bombay..After dinner we headed back to our respective huts to retire for the night.. as we would be spending the next day again on the road completely..
When I look back at the trip while composing log on the trip.. I think the trip went about just perfect without any major hiccup.. It was a good trip nevertheless.. This is one of the trips which will be cherished by me for times to come..
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