Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Paragliding at Kamshet

Summer was on the peak which stopped us from weekend trips and treks. My cycling rides also shorten to 100km to avoid the heat. we were looking for activity and we came across Paragliding near Kamshet, on Pune-Mumbai old highway.
As we (I and Renuka) are not certified gliders hence we decided to go for Tandem Ride.

Travellers for this trip were I, Renuka and friend Ameya.

About Kamshet:
               Kamshet is small town located on the Pune-Mumbai old highway. It is just 16km away from famous hill station Lonavala. Kamshet is well connected by Railway line (Pune-Mumbai rail line) and by Highway.
             Kamshet is always a favourite destination for tourist. Beautiful Monsoon weather, Landscape, Lakes, Caves (like Karla, Bedse, Bhaje), Forts (Lohagad, Visapur) for trekkers, Old temples are the tourist attractions near Kamshet. Apart from this Paragliding is the famous adventure attraction in Kamshet. Several paragliding schools are located in or around Kamshet and offer training or tandem flights.

We went to "Fly Nirvana" Paragliding school for our tandem Ride. Shinde Tekdi, Tower Hill, Shelar Tekdi are the few Paragliding spots near Kamshet. Few schools offer flying around Pavna Dam.

1 May 2018: Pune to Kamshet
             we did advance booking and based on wind condition, we got evening slot. We left Pune by 11 AM and reached "Native place" resort which is base camp for Nirvana paragliding school. Resort (They call it as "Guesthouse") is surrounded by beautiful garden, trees, and good landscape. Uksan Dam is a stone throw away from the resort. we had Simple but tasty veg meal and spend some time in the resort for relaxation.

Native Place

Native Place

               By 3:30 PM, we left for paragliding site which was around 5-6km from Native place guesthouse. we climbed a small hill and settled down for our tern. there are 8 students for paragliding training. If you don't know how to fly then you can go for tandem Ride. Experienced pilot fly with you and he controls the glider so you can enjoy the thrill, nature's beauty, and bird's eye view. If you want to learn Paragliding and fly without Pilot then school offers 2 or 3 days training program.

Flight instruction from Pilot

              Our experience pilot explained us, how the glider works, what we have to do during take-off and during landing. It was an amazing experience when to took a flight from the hill. Slowly as per upwind direction, we gain height and we were above all nearby hills. It was an amazing feeling to see the nearby area from an ariel view. I was not controlling anything so I was just enjoying my flight. After 15 Min, my pilot asked me whether I'm comfortable with some air acrobat action. I said yes and he started with high-speed acrobat action in the air. The feeling was like our glider is out of control and we were about to crash. The truth was, he was controlling in such manner that it gave the feeling that we gonna fall. It was a thrilling experience.

              After my tern, Renuka went for Paragliding. She also went too high and she also experienced the air acrobat. When they suppose to come down, they again went up for more acrobat action as per Renu's demand. After 30-35 min, They landed and we finished with our Tandem Paragliding. We came climb down from the hill after some time.

It was a different experience and we return home with good memories.

  • Car Fuel: INR 700-800/-
  • Lunch: INR 200 to 300/- as per the order.
  • Paragliding cost: INR 4000-5000/- per person based on weekday or weekend.
  • Snacks: As per the order

Contact reference:
  • Fly Nirvana: http://www.flynirvana.com/ (912226053724, 919323708809)
  • Native place: http://www.nativeplace.com/

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

Pritesh Kulkarni

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Weekend Trip to Akshi - Kihim - Khanderi Fort

We were looking for a quick weekend trip in Konkan and decided to visit Akshi beach. Khanderi fort was in places to visit list hence we plan a half-day visit to Fort as well.

Travellers for this trip were I and Wife Renuka.

Sunset from Akshi Beach
Sunset from Akshi Beach

About Akshi and Kihim
Akshi Village is a small village near Alibag. It is famous for flat bed beach and bird watching in the winter season.
Kihim is around 12km from Alibag towards North and famous for Beach and Watersports.

GPS location:
Akshi Beach: 18.623624, 72.886798
Alibag beach: 18.639204, 72.871944
Thal Jetty: 18.698381, 72.857551
Kihim Beach: 18.726407, 72.864734
Karmarkar Museum: 18.783787, 72.866268

14 April 2018: Pune to Akshi
              We woke by 5-5:30 and left home at 6-6:30 AM. We took Expressway route and had quick breakfast and coffee on Expressway food mall. We took Khopoli exit and took the road to Akshi. Road from Pen village to Alibag exit (Mumbai-Goa Highway) was in bad condition due to highway expansion work is in full swing. We reached at Akshi by 10-11 AM. As we haven’t done any stay arrangement, we saw few hotels and got a room at Kulpe farms. Kulpe farms are homestay budget hotel. They have AC/non AC rooms and cottages as well. Property is huge with all required activities and direct access to the beach. We did check in and went for walk.
             You can see the Stone Sculptural at the entrance of Akshi village, near Shankar Temple. The Gadhegal is sculptural which is essentially a large, flat rectangular stone plate with symbols and Devanagari script upon it. It is three part stone slab in which the top part shows the Sun and Moon with or without a Kalasha. The middle part consists of an edict (Announcement/Law etc.) and last part shows a donkey in sexual congress with a men/Woman. Stone name Gadhegal derived from last part as Gadhegal means Donkey and gal means Stone. The sun and moon symbolise infinity, the kalasha indicates prosperity. As per archaeology study, anyone who dares to violate the royal verdict (Which is mainly mentioned in middle part of stone) is being threatened with the most disgusting of punishments. This stones are 1000 years old and can be found in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.

Ghadegal at Akshi
Ghadegal at Akshi

               We had our Lunch at Kulpe farms. The meal was tasty but it was too oily for me. After the chicken meal and began Masala, we stayed in the room to beat peak summer. By 5 PM we went to the beach for a walk and witness the sunset.

Chicken Thali

               Sea-shore behind cultivations is about 2-3 kilometres long. Akshi beach is extended part of Nagaon beach but less crowded as compared to Nagaon. There are no Watersports available but you can take a walk towards Nagaon beach for Watersports activities. Even though sea colour is brown but it is very safe to enjoy the waves. The beach slope was gentle and you can take KM walk towards the sea. Sunset from the beach was awesome. Orange colour spreading all over the horizon during sunset was amazing.

Akshi Beach

Akshi Beach

Time to Relax and enjoy Sunset from Akshi Beach

We had a walk on the northern side of the beach. This area is mainly used by local fishermen to anchor the boats. You can see Alibag beach on the other side of Creek and Kulaba Fort in the sea. We witnessed beautiful sunset and captured the moments.

Sunset Time...Sarjecot fort on Right and Kolaba fort on Left

Sunset Time

Sunset from Akshi Beach

               We returned to the hotel and left to Alibag for Dinner. Sanman Restaurant is a famous restaurant from Alibag for seafood. We had tasty seafood and returned to the hotel for stay.

King fish Meal with Vade at Sanman restaurant
Kingfish Meal with Vade at Sanman restaurant

  • Car petrol: INR 2400/-
  • Expressway Toll: INR 138/- till Khopoli Phata
  • McD coffee: INR 230/-
  • Stay at Akshi: INR 2200/-
  • Chicken thali in Lunch at Kulpe Farms: INR 200/-
  • Veg + Chapati + Sweet: INR 130/-
  • Water bottle: INR 20/-
  • Cold drink: INR 50/- 500ml
  • Sanman Dinner: INR 735/-

15th April 2018: Akshi - Khanderi Fort - Kihim Beach - Pune
              I woke up before 6 AM and went to the beach for Run/Walk. We left for Khanderi fort visit by 7:30 AM. There is regular boat service available from Thal village. Boats can be arranged from Alibag or Kihim as well at a high cost as no regular service is available. Thal Village is fisherman colony and biggest market of Dry fish items. Be prepared for the stinky smell. If you cannot Bare the smell, better to skip it. Give a call to below Number (mentioned in contact detail section) for boat timing as boat time may vary as per sea Tides.

Akshi Beach in the Morning

Golden-backed woodpecker

Khanderi fort is built on an Island which is known as Kanhoji Angre Island. Island was renamed in 1998 in honour of the Maratha general Kanhoji Angre. Shivaji Maharaj selected this Island for fortification to keep a close eye on British trade route and Siddhi from Janjira Fort. Underi Fort was built by Siddi on sister Island. There were series of battle happened between Maratha and Siddi (few battles were allied with British to beat Maratha) and finally Underi was taken over by Siddi. Underi was renamed as Jaidurg. No boat service is available to visit Underi but you can hire a private boat (chargers are as per fisherman’s demand)

Thal Jetty

Khanderi Fort
Khanderi Fort

Underi Fort
Underi Fort

              When Maratha began construction of the fort in the year 1660, British naval tried their level best to stop the work by warning and attacks. Maratha warrior Mayank Bhandari with 150 men began work during low tide and in Monsoon with small vessels. Britisher fails to stop the work as their large vessels unable to approach to Fort. Fort was built in the year 1679. After many battles, it went into hands of the British in 1818.

Khanderi Fort Wall
Khanderi Fort Wall

              Once you landed on the Khanderi fort, start your visit from the Right side of Jetty. You can see Temple of Vetal where huge stone painted in Shendur (red colour) is worshipped as Vetala. Local says that Stone grows in size every year. You can see Shark bone inside Temple which is used to donate to God Vetala.

Temple of Vetal, Khanderi fort
Temple of Vetal

              There are series of Bastions on the fort and couple of Bastion have canons. You can see canons with cartwheel as well. It Feels sad when you noticed name written on wall and canons. Lighthouse was built in 1867 by Britisher on the fort. You can take a walk along the fort wall or take a half round and then climb stairs to Lighthouse.

Canon on Khanderi Fort

You can see the metallic rock on the left side of stairs (Stairs from Jetty side and not from the back side of Fort) to Lighthouse. When you struck then large size rock with another stone, it creates metallic noise which is unique.

Metallic Rock

There is no Food stall available so better to carry water and some snacks. Please do not leave your plastic/Food waste on the fort and keep historical places free from garbage. We returned to Akshi after Khanderi fort Visit.

Fisherman Boat leaving Jetty for work

              We check out from Hotel by 1 PM and went to Sanman restaurant for tasty seafood. Our next destination was Karmarkar Museum at Sasawane. It is sculpture museum of famous sculptor Padmashri V P Karmarkar. A museum has been set up at his house which is a 100-year-old house. His daughter-in-law (Sunanda Karmarkar) is taking care of this Museum. During childhood of Vinayak Karmarkar, he made a picture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the wall of Rama temple. British Collector (Otto Rothfield) saw the painting and offer education to him in J J art college in Mumbai. After acquiring the first rank, he worked in Kolkata and then went to England for further study. Sculpture of Horse ridden statues of Shivaji Maharaja made him famous across India. It was installed in Pune city at Shivajinagar. He created many sculptures which were installed in the varies part of India. You can view beautiful statue made between 1914 till 1964.

Karmarkar Museum

Karmarkar Museum

             After our visit to a museum, we went to Kihim beach for sunset. Kihim Beach is around 10-11km from Alibag. Sandy Beach has a group of rocks on the seabed. Be careful while entering into a sea for swimming. Watersports, snacks stall on the beach is available. We witness Sunset from the beach and left Kihim for home.

Kihim Beach

Sunset from Kihim Beach

We returned Pune via Pen - Expressway way and reached home safely by 11 PM.

  • Boat to Khanderi: INR 400/- (for 2 Person)
  • Water bottle: INR 20/-
  • Lunch at Sanman: INR 683/-
  • Museum entry: INR 20/- for 2 person
  • Coffee at Kihim beach: INR 50/- for 2 coffee
  • Expressway Toll: INR 138/-
  • Dinner at Expressway: As per the order

Contact details for reference:
  • Kulpe farms: http://kulpefarmhouse.com/ 
  • Boat ride to Khanderi fort from Thal village: +918390893279 
  • Sanman Restaurant, Alibag: 02141-222314

My Other Travel Blogs from the nearby area
Roha-Murud-Adgaon-Velas agar
Phansad wildlife sanctuary-Kashid-Revdanda

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

Pritesh Kulkarni 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Pune’s Bird Paradise - Bhigwan, Diksal bird watching in 2018

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception to my activity. I and Renuka decided to visit this place January 2018. Every year, I visit Diksal village from Bhigwan. I heard a lot about Kumbhargaon village which is developed as a bird sanctuary and professional people to handle all type of tourists. Due to lack of time, I decided to Kumbhargaon on this trip and then to Diksal some other day.

The plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (the main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon. My friends Himanshu, Ameya, Vishal, Sanat-Nirupa, and Ashutosh joined us.

Greater Flamingo

About Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
               Bhigwan, a catchment area of Ujani Dam, is about 105 km from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway (NH 9). An area of about 18000 hectares has been proposed as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It is an amazing place to see wetland migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.

               To reach Diksal village (near Bhigwan), the easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take a left at Bhigwan square on the highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow coloured) on that T junction on the left-hand side of the road.

GPS Location for Kumbhargaon: 18.263426, 74.803876
GPS Location for Diksal: 18.295129, 74.806933

Ready for take-off...Greater Flamingo

Jan 2018: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
             As we had to cover around 105-110km so we decided to leave Pune before 5:30 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of the highway was excellent. Due to the wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We reached Kumbhargaon after having breakfast at restaurant Anapurna. We have informed Datta Nagare for a boat ride. Soon we took a boat ride. Electric pole-wire was occupied by Whiskered Tern.
             We travelled towards Diksal village as all
Flamingos and other birds were landed there. While going there, I got few flight photos. Soon we approached towards Flamingo. Every year I visit Diksal and my expectation was to see birding activity near Kumbhargaon. Got to know that most of the time, boats from Kumbhargaon visit Diksal for Flamingos.

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo

           We spend around 1 hours watching their activity without disturbing them. By any chance, if they noticed us, they were just moving their position. A couple of times they flew away but again settled down close to our boat.Flamingo was accompanied by Seagulls, Gery Heron and Asian open billed stork.
            Grey heron is from Heron family and native throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Wetland bird can be seen at Lake, river, pond and sometimes on the sea coast. The grey heron is large (meter tall) is the size and greyish white body with grey wings with black feathers on the flanks. They have White colour head and neck with Black neck strip and black crest.

Gery Heron

Gery Heron flight

               Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East and southern Europe. Average Life of Flamingo is 60 years. Greater Flamingos are pinkish white but Dark pink feathers with black feathers are covered underwings. You can see beautiful Display of pink colour during their Flight. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds and blue-green algae. Greater Flamingo can be seen in Bhigwan but Lesser Flamingo observed rarely here.
             Asian Openbill is from Stork family. This Stork is found in the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. It is greyish white with glossy black wings and tail. Their short legs are pinkish grey and reddish in colour before breeding time. Stork has a gap between a bill which uses in the handling of snails and prey.

Asian Open Billed Stork.

              We left that place to spot other birds. We went to another side of catchment area by boat. We saw a huge group of the Painted Stork. We spend an hour and watched their morning activity, sun basking etc. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, bar-headed goose's, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, northern pintail and much more.
You can spot Glossy ibis, black head ibis and red napes ibis in the Bhigwan area. Ibis family is widely spread across Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. All ibis have a long curved-down bill. Glossy ibis has a reddish brown body with glossy bottle-green wings. As the name suggests, black-headed ibis has black coloured head, neck and legs whereas white colour body. Red napes ibis is also known as Indian black Ibis or black ibis. It is large in size as compare to other ibises with the glossy dark black colour body. It has a crimson red colour patch on head.

Black-headed ibis

             Ruddy shelduck in India commonly known as Brahminy Duck. Brahminy is colour shed and word is not related to any religion/Caste. The bird belongs to Anatidae family (a family which consist of Ducks, geese and Swans). It has a beautiful orange-brown body with white, black, glossy green colour on Wings. This is migratory bird and travel to India during winter for breeding. This bird mostly found in pair or pair groups as they believe in pair bonding. It has loud honking call. Duck prefer shallow water area or found on Bank of Water bodies or inland body of water. They can fly on high altitudes along with Bar-headed Goose.

Ruddy Shelduck
            Northern shoveler is also known as Shoveler duck. It is one of the commonly found duck in Europe and Asia (Winter time). Male has a dark green head, white breast and orange-Brown body. You can see multiple colours on wings such as white, glossy green, blue and brown. Female is in drab mottled brown colour. These ducks swim in a large group. Shoveler prefers to nest in a grassy area near an open freshwater body.

Northern Shoveler

              We saw around 5-6 Bar Headed Goose in Flight.  Saw a couple of Brahmin Duck pairs busy with their breakfast and some of them were resting. We kept a safe distance and I clicked a lot of Photos. We enjoyed for half an hour observing their actions. An astonishing fact about Bar Headed Goose is that they are one of the world's highest flying birds; they migrate over Himalayas (flying higher than 21000 ft.) to spend the winter in parts of India.

Bar Headed Goose

Below are snaps were taken during my various visits to Bhigwan

Ruddy Shelduck

I'm Keeping watch on you...!!!
              Common spoonbill is also known as Eurasian spoonbill and it belongs to Spoonbill family. The bird is white in colour with a white crest. Bill is of Black colour and a yellow spot at the end of the bill. The shape of Bill is similar to spoon shape.

Spoon Bill

              The painted stork is from the stork family.  Their distinctive pink tertial feathers give them their name. This large stork has a heavy yellow beak with a down-curved tip. The head is bare and orange or reddish in colour. There is a distinctive black breast band with white scaly markings. Males and females appear alike but the males of a pair are usually larger than the female. The juveniles are a brownish plumage in colour.

Wolly necked StorkPainteded Stork
              Purple moorhen is known as western swamphen. It is a Chicken sized bird with bright purple colour and red Bill. This is native Indian Bird and can be seen on freshwater bodies across India.

Purple Moorhen

             Woolly Necked Stork belongs to Stork family. The body is in deep crimson or wine red colour with a black colour skull cap. The neck is in white colour with a soft feather which gives the name as Woolly Necked Stork. It is also called as White-necked Stork. It is freshwater wetland bird found in Asia and Africa.

Deep discussion??? Wolly necked Stork

Painted Stork

Northern Shoveler

Time to leave...

Northern Shoveler

  • Car Petrol: INR 1500/- (Avg INR 67/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km)
  • Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll)
  • Toll 2 on NH-09: INR 50/- (Return Toll)
  • Boat ride: INR 1200/- for boat (Normal chargers are INR 1400-1600/- per boat)
  • Dinner at hotel Kanchan: INR 440/- for couple

Contact number:
  • Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989.
  • Datta Nagare (Boatman from Kumbhargaon ): 8087767691.

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

Pritesh Kulkarni