When: 30th June 2007
Route: Pune – Khambatki Ghat – Wai – Parsani Ghat – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar – Ambenali Ghat – Poladpur – Mahad – Poladpur – Ambenali Ghat – Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani – Parsani Ghat – Wai – Khambatki Ghat – Pune.
Riders ‘n’ Rides: Praveen Shirali on Black P180, Nalin on Silver P180, Me on Black Fiero and Shyamal on Gray Unicorn.
Time Taken: 15hrs (5:45am to 8:45pm)
With another weekend coming, we planned a slightly longer ride this time, with the route as Pune – Khambatki Ghat – Wai – Parsani Ghat – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar – Ambenali Ghat – Poladpur – Mahad – Varandha Ghat – Bhor – Pune. This time we were 4 riders (other 2 dropped out), as compared to 2 of last time. With the route slightly longer an early start was required so we decided to start at 6am.
Even before we could start the ride, it started to rain heavily and by the time we stopped to refuel at Reliance gas station on NH4 we were all drenched (from outside only) with our rain gears trying hard to stop the water outside.
We were maintaining speed around 80km/hr and were approaching Shirval when disaster stuck, suddenly I started to feel my front end has gone heavy, I realised its a puncture so I slowely pulled over to road side only to find the help (puncture repair shop) across the road. While the puncture guy was fixing the puncture, I sms’ed the group about my problem, few minutes later the group was back. The puncture costed us around 30minutes and Rs 60 (due to damaged valve as well).
After we resumed the ride, soon we were at the foot hills of Khambatki Ghat, traffic was heavy today. As we started to climb up, the series of breaks started, to click pictures and enjoy the scenery.
Surface of Khambatki Ghat has gone slightly bad and potholes has started to show at various place. After crossing Khambatki Ghat we took the diversion towards Wai, traffic was lesser on this road and still the road condition was as good as it was before rains. After crossing Wai as we started the climb up the Parsani Ghat (good road surface still), the scenery started to go from nice to better to excellent. With clouds all over the place.
Clouds all over the place was a great sight, it was not so good to click pictures As we climbed up, the cloud cover on road got denser and denser. After we reached at the top we pulled over to Harrison Point to have a view of the valley down.
Due to rains the muddy track on Harrison Point was slightly slushy, thankfully not too many car’s have come here so there was still decent paths for two wheelers to ride on.
After spending some time at Harrison Point, we realised that we are behind the schedule so without wasting much time we headed towards Mapro for lunch. Sadly strawberries season is over and we were forced to have sandwich with hot chocolate.
After Mapro our target was to reach Poladpur as soon as possible. As we started towards Mahabaleshwar it started to rain with lots of fog on road making it a wonderful ride. After crossing Mahabaleshwar we were on the Ambenali Ghat which was full of waterfalls, fog and heavy rains.
Had we stopped at every waterfall to enjoy it, we would have spend almost the whole day here. So we kept pushing each other to carry on and only to stop at some of the best waterfalls.
The road surface of Ambenali Ghat was decent almost all the way. There was a small section where landslide was getting cleared up.
As we came down towards Poladpur the fog cleared up but no respite from heavy rains. Since we were behind the schedule (thanks to puncture and numerous halts on the way) we scraped the plan to visit Kashedi Ghat and headed towards Mahad. NH17 was having lesser traffic than normal as we ripped on wet NH17 towards Mahad. Just before the toll booth at Mahad we turned towards Varandha Ghat only to be warned by some people about road under water. We thought that we can always ride over such stretch so we carried on. After a km or so we came to a point where a ST Bus, a 4 wheeler and few two wheelers were standing due to overflowing river water running across the road (see picture below). The force was so strong that none of us could think of risking our life and hence decided to turn back. We wasted some 10min before we headed back only to see the road we have come has started to get under water. The intensity of water was still not high so we quickly crossed over it.
We now had two options, either to return back via Mahabaleshwar or try the Mangaon route. We decide to try the later route and hence headed towards Mangaon. On the way we saw almost all of Mahad under water (whatever was visible from road side). Just after crossing Mahad we came to a point on NH17 which was getting under water (see picture below). We knew if we cross this and if we had to turn back from Mangaon, this place will be impossible to cross so we decided to take the safer option and headed back towards Mahabaleshwar. On the way we saw police has already closed this road for more traffic.
Floods all around Mahad
After a small rip on NH17 we were back at Poladpur. We took a small break for hot tea before we started our climb up Ambenali Ghat. As we climbed up we started to see some beautiful views. Cloud trying to cross over a hill (see picture below bottom left), etc.
As we reached the top of Ambenali Ghat the fog started to get thicker and thicker with visiblity reduced to 5-6feets. By the time we reached Mahabaleshwar fog was at its peak. (Next day I read in news that this road, Mahabaleshwar – Poladpur, is closed for traffic).
On the way we meet with another Nomad, Praveen Sathaye, at Wai. After a small chit chat we all headed back to Pune. Just before Khambatki Ghat we stopped for some evening snacks. As we resumed our return ride, soon it got dark and started to rain little bit. It was difficult to see the road properly due to darkness and rain drops on visor. So it was a slow ride back home for me with speeds around 50-60km/hr as I was worried about not seeing some pothole on road and hitting it at high speed.
After around 15hrs of riding I was back at home totally wet below waist (even when I was wearing rain coat’s pant. Above waist I was almost dry (got wet while taking out camera in rains to click pictures) thanks to my new jacket.
In the end though it was a wonderful ride but I still miss the Mahad – Varandha Ghat – Bhor – Pune leg, which I hope to do sooner than later.
To view image(s) in larger size, click them.