Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Day trip to Saswad and nearby places

We were looking for an offbeat location near Saswad for a day trip. places to visit were not in mind and it was runtime planned drive trip. Travellers for this trip was me and Wife Renuka.

Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad
Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad

There are two ways to reach the base Saswad. One is Pune – Kothrud – Warje bypass – Take a right towards Katraj on bypass highway – Do not go on Navale flyover – Take left side road and take left for Ambegaon – Katraj – At Katraj Chowk, Take right and immediate left for Katraj-Kondhwa road – Bopdev Ghat – Saswad

Another route is Pune – Swargate – join Pune-Solapur highway – Hadapsar – After Magarpatta Chowk do not take Flyover – Take a right turn on flyover for Saswad road (New flyover to take right is completed) - Dive ghat – Saswad.

03 Sept 2017: Pune - Saswad - Panvadi Village - Pune
              On late Saturday evening, we decided to go for a day road drive trip. Monsoon took a break and everything was covered with lush green shade. We woke up the morning by 6 AM and left Pune by 7 AM. It was a pleasant journey to Saswad village via Bopdev ghat. The better route is to go by Dive ghat but we haven't drive via Bopdev so we prefer that route.
               From dive Ghat, you can see Mastani Lake. Mastani was the second wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I. She is said to have been a beautiful and brave woman. It is believed that while in Pune, Mastani used to go for her bath to a lake made by Bajirao, especially for Mastani. The true story is when Mastani went to Saswad area, Villagers requested to her to built Lake for farming purpose. King was not is town and approval process was quite difficult as she was not considered as Queen in Kingdom. She spends her own money to build Lake. To honour her, Village gave a name to the lake as Mastani Lake.

Mastani Lake, Dive Ghat
Mastani Lake, Dive Ghat

              We reached Saswad village and went to Sangameshwar Temple. It is located on the bank of Karha and Chameli river. Temple was built by Yadava's and still persists its old charm. Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. You need to climb around 12-15 steps to reach the temple. Once you entered the temple, you can see old Nandi sculpture in black stone. There is open space around the temple. Temple's Shikhar is curved with many small sculptures. 

Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad

              On entering into Sabhamandap (small hall), you can see a Huge sculpture of colourful Nandi. There is Carved Ganesha on the wall. Temple's Gabhara (Main Room where the idol is placed) consist of Shivlinga. Area nearby temple is beautiful and not too much crowded in the morning time. Loved the ancient temple.

Nandi at Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad
Nandi at Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad

Nandi at Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad
Nandi at Sangameshwar Temple, Saswad

             Our next destination was Changa Vateshwar Temple. it is also commonly known as Vateshwar temple in locals. It is beautiful ancient temple few km away from Saswad and on Saswad-Narayanpur Road. Details information about Changadev and history behind the temple is written on board. Temple has Deepmal outside temple. You can see Nandi and Shivlanga inside the temple. Temple was built in Hemadpanthi style and bit renovated.

Changa Vateshwar Temple, Saswad

Nandi at Changa Vateshwar Temple, Saswad
Nandi at Changa Vateshwar Temple, Saswad
Deepmaal at Changa Vateshwar Temple, Saswad
Deepmaal at Changa Vateshwar Temple, Saswad

               We spend around an hour in the temple area and left for the drive. We took a small route which is just before Changa Vateshwar temple. Route change very scenic and full of curved in the lap of Sahyadri. We drive till Panvadi village. There is no huge waterfall but you can see some beautiful landscapes. You will not find any hotel in this area hence better to carry own food. After spending more than 2 hours on that route, we returned to Saswad-Bhor road.

Road to Panvadi Village

Green Nature

Panvadi Village
Panvadi Village

             We had lunch at Hotel Kamat on Pune-Banglore highway. After lunch, we went towards Bhor. We visited Necklace river point. Due to river curvature, it looks like Necklace. This place was a popular destination for Marathi film shooting. It becomes more famous after showing in the Katyar Kalajat Ghusali film. As we wanted to reach home before sunset, we travel back home safely.

Necklace River Point, Bhor
Necklace River Point, Bhor

There are few other places, which you can cover along with Saswad visit


Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling. 

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Offbeat Vairaatgad trek

I was looking for an offbeat trek with medium endurance and I came across Fort Vairaatgad. I decided to visit the fort on Saturday.
Friend Vishal and Ashutosh with his son Aarush joined me for the trek.

Vairaatgad Fort
Vairaatgad Fort

About Vairaatgad 
Vairaatgad is located 8km away from Wai town. Base village for the fort is Vyajwadi. Fort was used by King Shivaji as a military station. Fort area is small

To reach the base village is Pune - join Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway - cross Khambatki Ghat section - drive till Panchwad village located on the national highway- take right under the bridge - take left at GPS (17.901404, 73.929159) - Vyajwadi village.
Another route is Pune - Join Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway - cross Khambatki Ghat section - take Right for Wai - take left in Wai for Wai-Satara road - take right at GPS (17.901404, 73.929159) - Vyajwadi.

Vairaatgad Fort
Vairaatgad Fort

29 July 2017: Vairaatgad Fort
              Trek was planned on Friday night so it was not possible for us to leave in the early morning. We left at 7:30 AM by car. There was less traffic on highway considering monsoon weekend. We took breakfast break at Shriram Wadapav Center. It is the famous hotel for Wada Pav, Missal, and other snacks.
             After breakfast, we reached Vyajwadi village. There are 3 routes to climb for. Two are from Base Village Vyajwadi and one from opposite side of Vyajwadi. The third route is a longer route with multiple hills to climb before the main fort. We decided to climb fort via Vyajwadi.

Vairaatgad Fort View From Base

               If you are facing towards fort from base village then two routes are from the Left side of the mountain and from right side mountain. Both routes joined before final climb for the fort. There are multiple narrow routes available to climb the fort. We started Climb and after a 60-75 min, we reached the entrance gate. Entrance gate area is in ruined state but you can see bastion and water tanks. After few steps, we reached the top of the Vairaatgad fort.

Way towards Fort entrance...Vairaatgad Fort
A way towards Fort entrance...Vairaatgad Fort

Vairaatgad Fort entrance
Vairaatgad Fort entrance

               Fort top area is very small and can be explored less than an hour. There is small chapatdan Hanuman Temple. It named because of Lord Hanuman's pose to slap the devil that is at his feet. There are around 3-4 small lakes and 1-2 Water trench. There is some ruined fortification available on the fort. View from Fort is breathtaking.

Shiv Temple on the Fort

Lake on the Fort


Lord Maruti Idol

               You can see newly built Shiv temple. There is big shelter to take some rest. We spend around an hour and left the less visited the beautiful vairaatgad fort. It took around an hour to climb down. Few patches are a bit slippery in monsoon but manageable with proper care. We reached home by 5 PM safely ending pleasurable trek in monsoon.

View from Vairaatgad Fort
View from Fort

Lake and Shiv Temple view

View from Vairaatgad Fort
View from Vairaatgad Fort

Things to carry for Vairaatgad Trek:
  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water. (Water in lake is available during monsoon)
  • Some dry food, in case you didn’t find any suitable food stall 
  • Windcheater/jacket / Barsati during monsoon trek.
  • Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang.
  • A towel or napkin and 2-3 old newspapers
  • Camera to capture best nature movement
  • Better avoid wearing Gold and other ornaments. No need to carry heavy cash.

Our Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 800-1000/-
  • Toll: INR 120/- (Returned)
  • Snacks at Shriram: As per Dish (Missal: INR 50, Vada Pav: INR 30 per plate)
  • No Parking charges in Village
  • We had packed food on fort and milk share during the return journey
Village view from Vairaatgad Fort

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling. 

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Quick trek to Narayangad and Amba-Ambika Caves

We were planning for easy level off beat trek for Monsoon. We decided to visit Narayangad along with Amba Ambika caves.
Travellers for this trek were I, Himanshu, Nirupa, Vishal-Arya along with their 2.5-year-old son, Ashutosh along with his 4-year-old son and Aditya.

Narayangad Fort View
Narayangad Fort View

About Narayangad Fort and Caves:
Narayangad fort is around 90-95 KM from Pune and the nearest town is Narayangaon. Fort is located on a detached hill and used as Watch tower.
Junnar is famous for rock cut caves which were built between 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D. Caves consists of Chitya, Viharas, rock cut rooms, Water trench and stupa. It is few KM away from Junnar town.

The Best way to reach is Pune - old Pune-Mumbai Highway - take right at Kasarwadi - take Nashik Highway till Narayangaon.
For fort, take right after crossing Bus Depo at Narayangaon. Follow the tar road which will take you at the base of Fort

For Caves, take left from Narayangaon towards Junnar. drive for 12-14KM and take left U turn to join Junnar-Vadaj Road. No signboards present to identify the hike route for caves but you can view caves from the road.

Narayangad Fort

GPS locations
Narayangad fort: 19.113563, 74.033361
Take right here for Amba-Ambika Cave: 19.187963, 73.888552
Parking point for Amba-Ambika Caves: 19.187314, 73.888144
Amba-Ambika Cave: 19.185852, 73.884426
Bhutalinga cave: 19.188291, 73.878576
Bhimashankar Cave: 19.179921, 73.886486

8 July 2017: Pune to Narayangad Fort:
              I woke up by 5:30 AM and left at 6:15 AM. My wife unable to joined trek due to office work. We all gather at my place whereas Vishal-Arya joined us at Kasarwadi junction. Drive on Nashik Highway was pretty good. Highway expansion is in progress hence you may face a little bit of traffic. We had Breakfast in Aakash hotel near Manchar.
              After a quick drive, we reached Narayangaon by 8:30 AM. The narrow road till fort base took around 40-45 min to reach the base. There is enough parking space available near the temple. Fort is small and it hardly takes 30 minutes to climb it. Steps were built by local authority till mid point and then steps in rocks takes you on the fort.

Narayangad Fort

Narayangad Fort

            Mainly fort is divided into 2 sections. One on right side and second on your left side once you reach the top. We decided to explore right side first and then move towards left where the temple is built. Fort was built in Satvahan era and used as a watch tower for the trade route. It was rebuilt Balaji Vishvanath (First Peshwa) and handed to Sayaji Povar to maintained.

Water Trench at Narayangad Fort
Water Trench at Narayangad Fort

View from NArayangad Fort

           Very fewer fortifications are available. The route is narrow till the end but quite safe to walk. You can see water trenches on the route. We took a small break after reaching end point and returned. We reached the midpoint and then hiked towards Temple which is the topmost point on Fort. Temple is dedicated to Goddess Hastmata. The route is easy to climb and proper marking is available. You can see ruined fortification which consists of a base of Sadar, Lord Ganesh carving and ruined rock statue having Lion face on it.

Hastmata Temple

Fortification of Sadar
Fortification of Sadar

Ganesh carved on Stone at Narayangad Fort
Ganesh carved on Stone at Narayangad Fort

Steps on Fort

           The entire fort can be seen in 1 hour. We climb down quickly after exploring the small fort. By 12 PM, we reached the base of the fort. We had quick lunch in Narayangaon before heading towards Amba Ambika caves. Cave was built between 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D. Signboards are not available on the route which makes it difficult to track. If you start asking Locals, then most of them think that you are interested in Lenyadri Caves and Ganesh temple.

Amba-Ambika Cave Complex
Amba-Ambika Cave Complex 

            Three Caves are spread on one hill. You can see 3 caves on the Junnar-Vadaj Road (On the Right side of Road) named as Bhutalinga Cave (Bit away from Road), Amba-Ambika Caves and Bhimashankar Cave. All Three Caves are connected by forest trails. Middle cave have Amba-Ambika idol which was the reason to name these caves as Amba-Ambika caves.

Forest Trail for Cave

Route for Cave

              We decided to visit only Amba-Ambika Caves. Other 2 caves are accessible but not recommended. There are too many Honey-bee combs present on the route to Bhutalinga cave and Bhimashankar Cave. Even Locals prefer not to visit and warn the tourist to avoid the same. There is small forest hike to reach the Amba-Ambika caves. After 15-20 minute of steep gain, we reached the cave. Make sure to cover your full body during winter to protect from Mosquito bites.



              Amba-Ambika Caves consists of Chitya, Viharas, rock cut rooms, Water trench and stupa. Most of the caves are in incomplete form. Amba-Ambika idols are present on the second level. You take narrow step route to reach the second level. Not enough rock left to keep your feet so with proper care, you can enter the cave. Cave have sculptures of Amba, Ambika and Tirthankara. Ambika and Tirthankara are worshipped by Jain the community. Ambika is also worshipped by Hindu community.




              This is the hidden gem and hardly people visit these caves. After exploring caves, we climbed down quickly. We began our return journey and reached home by 7 PM safely.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekend Trip to Diveagar - Shrivardhan - Harihareshwar

We were looking for quick 2 days monsoon trip to the beach. Considering time and distance, we decided to visit Diveagar and try to explore the Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar area. I have been to Diveagar and Harihareshwar a few years back so aware of route and places.

Travellers for this trip were me and Renuka

Diveagar Beach
Diveagar Beach

About Diveagar, Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar:
Shrivardhan is Taluka city located in the coastal region. It is also a birthplace of first Peshwa Balaji Visvanath.
Harihareshwar was blessed by Lord Shiva and famous for Lord Shiva Temple.
Diveagar is village which is famous for a weekend beach destination. It was famous for Suvarna (Gold) Ganesh Temple but unfortunately, an idol made up of gold was stolen in the year 2012. All 3 destination is famous for its beautiful beaches.

The best route to reach Diveagar is Pune – Paud Gaon – Mulashi – Tamhini Ghat – Nijampur – Mangaon – Right turn after Mangaon ST stand – Mhasala – Diveagar.

Day 1: 25 June 2017: Pune to Harihareshwar to Diveagar:
               We woke by 5-5:30 and left home at 6 AM. We took Tamhini route. There was light rain shower till Mulashi. We had breakfast at Quick Bite restaurant. A Little bit high in price but serves quality food. We took multiple pit stop to enjoy the monsoon nature and waterfalls. Water flow was limited due to the start of monsoon season.
              We decided to visit Harihareshwar first and then stay at Diveagar. If time permits then we planned to visit Shrivardhan and nearby places. Shades of Paddy green field and beautiful nature in monsoon makes your journey more pleasant. We reached Harihareshwar by 11 AM.
              Harihareshwar temple was crowded by tourist when we reach. Harihareshwar is known as Kashi of Southern India. Temple is surrounded by Holy hills named as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv and Parvati. Temple and nearby area have huge mythology history associated with it. Pradakshina (Parikrama) route is unique and interesting. It starts behind the temple.you need to climb a small hill and then get down from another side. Take a walk around the rocky coastal hilly area which is exposed to strong sea waves and wind. Parikrama becomes very risky during high tide as entire path is covered by sea waves with the strong water current. For monsoon, the route is closed for safety reasons. Harihareshwar Beach was covered with sea due to monsoon high tide.

Parikrama Route, Harihareshwar
Parikrama Route, Harihareshwar

Harihareshwar Beach
Harihareshwar Beach

             We left for a destination after temple visit. It was 1 PM in clock and we were looking for a restaurant. We reached Shrivardhan and took a lunch break at restaurant Prasad. It is famous for seafood and always full of tourists. There is enough parking space available.
              After tasty seafood. We reached Aaravi village. We checked Pratima resort for stay but Manager/Caretaker refused our stay even though rooms were available. He told us that, there is no other guest for Sunday night stay and he has to appoint all staff just for 2 guest which is not cost effective. We were ok with his valid reason. We like the property which was located close to Beach.

Aaravi Beach OR Kondivali Beach
Aaravi Beach OR Kondivali Beach

             We began our journey towards Diveagar. You cannot miss Aaravi beach (Also known as Kondivali beach) while driving to Diveagar via coastal highway. The road is not in good condition but drives along the sea is pleasant. Aaravi village is located on the southern point of beach whereas Kondivali village is on the northern side of the beach. Hence it is known by both names. Beach towards Kondivali is Rocky. We took a pit stop here and then left for Diveagar.

Aaravi Beach OR Kondivali Beach

Aaravi Beach OR Kondivali Beach

               We reached Diveagar by 3 PM and searched hotels for stay. We finalised Hotel Cocohut who offered us good discounted deal. The hotel has AC rooms and very small Swimming pool. Hospitality was good and all staff was helpful. We had rest and then went for walk on the beach which was within walking distance from Hotel. We had dinner in hotel's restaurant and the food was Average. They need to add Konkani food which was missing in Menu.

Expenses:
  • Car petrol: INR 1000/-
  • No toll on this route
  • Breakfast at Quick Bite: INR 370/- (Poha at 70, Cheese Dosa at 120, watermelon juice at 90)
  • Parking at Harihareshwar: INR 40/-
  • Coconut water: INR 60/- for 2
  • Car parking near restaurant Prasad: INR 30/-
  • Lunch at Restaurant Prasad: INR 400/- (Prawns Meal at 180 and buttermilk at 10 each)
  • Hotel stay: INR 2500/- for 1 night (standard rates are INR 4000/- to 4500/-)
  • Dinner: INR 670/- (non-veg soups, Masala Papad, pomfret fry, Veg dish and Rotis)

Day 2: 26 June 2017: Diveagar to Shrivardhan - Pune:
             Heavy rain from early morning forced us to stay in the room. By 8 AM, heavy rain stopped and I went on the beach for walk/jog. Breakfast was complimentary with stay and food was good.
            After heavy breakfast, we went to the beach. Due to high tide, entire beach was covered by waves. Diveagar beach is famous for its wide width and safety factor for swimming. Due to the monsoon, sea waves was ruling on the beach. There were limited Watersports available on each. Water is muddy and water current was strong. We prefer to enjoy the monsoon mood from distance rather than entertaining into the water.

Diveagar Beach

              We returned to the hotel and did check out in the noon. We visited Rupnarayan temple which is located close to the beach. Vishu Idol is very old and it is in form of Dashavatar. Idol is beautifully carved in black Sagamravari stone. As per history, the temple was built between year 800 to 1300. Madhavrao Peshwa used to visit this temple along with his wife Ramabai Peshwa.

Rupanarayan Temple, Diveagar
Rupa Narayan Temple, Diveagar

              After Rupnarayan temple, we visited Suvarn (Made up of Gold), Ganesh Temple. This was the main attraction of Diveagar. On the special day of November 17th, 1997 (Sankashti Chaturthi as per the Hindu calendar), a villager found a copper box in few feet below farming land. When the box was opened, they Ganesh idol made up of pure gold and ornaments belonging to Lord. This discovery has turned the village into Holy place.
            Unfortunately, gold idol and Ornaments were stolen in March 2012. Thieves killed two security guards as well. Later thieves were captured but gold idol and ornaments were melted. Currently, the temple is under renovation and original rock base idol is placed in the temple.
            We had a tasty meal at Bapat Khanaval. It is famous for typically pure veg Konkani meal and Modak as sweet. After Lunch, we left Diveagar.

Veg Meal

               Our last destination was Shrivardhan. This is known as one of the oldest towns from Maharastra. It is also a birthplace of first Peshwa Balaji Visvanath. Now Peshwa temple is built at the birth place. The town is also popular beach destination. Recently beach is developed with a beautiful walkway along the beach. There are few view points built and benches for relaxation. We spend the remaining afternoon on the beach.

Shrivandhan Beach
Shrivandhan Beach

Shrivardhan Beach
Shrivardhan Beach

Shrivardhan Beach
Shrivardhan Beach

               We left Shrivardhan by 5 PM. We choose Tamhini Route for our return journey. Tamhini Ghat welcomed us with Heavy rainfall. We reached home safely by 9:30-10 PM

Expenses:
  • Breakfast: Complimentary
  • Coconut water: INR 50/- for 2
  • Maggi at beach: INR 30/-
  • Lunch at Bapat Khanaval: INR 305/- for 2 people (Veg meal at 120, Modak each at 15, Solkadi at 10, Shrikhand at 25)
  • Dinner: At home

The contact number for your reference:
  • Cocohut Hotel: http://www.cocohut.in
  • Pratima Beach Resort: Mangesh 9028388642.
  • Bapat khanaval: +919423837967.
  • Hotel Prasad, Shrivardhan: 02147-222445, +919623155551.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune