Friday, June 20, 2008

Shortcut to Raigad

Once you pass Mangaon on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, you can see to your left the flat topped mountain of Raigad... Shivaji's Capital. But a low lying mountain range blocks your path and you have to drive down further to take a detour via Mahad to see this "Durg Durgeshwar" (Lord of Forts). Earlier I had travelled on a dirt track from Mangaon to Raigad via Gharoshi. This has now been converted into a tar road that passes through some nice wooded slopes. Though I have not travelled on this road by car, others who have used this road can leave behind their comments on this post

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Waterfall wala Picnic Spot

Just sharing a "Lite Moment"

We were coming back to Badlapur Station after a lovely trek to Chanderi Fort. Suddenly, a tapori (red shirt and green pant) who has just landed from a Mumbai local asked us "Idhar kaunsa Waterfall wala Picnic Spot hai???". Datta, one of our fellow trekker, retorted nonchalantly "Kahan jana hai? 5 log mar gaye woh wala... ke 8 Log doob gaye woh wala?".

Hope the tapori finds this blog so that he lands at the right place next time!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gulanch Wadi

Most Mumbaikars are aware of "Malshej Ghat" thanks to promotion by MTDC. People enjoy the scenic beauty of the Ghat, frolic in the many waterfalls and get drenched in the heavy rainfall. Rarely do people venture beyond this "Hill Station" in to Ahmednagar District. This district is home to many amazing sites which are crying for attention.

One such place is Gulanch Wadi a small hamlet on the Malshej Ghat - Ahmednagar Route. The claim to fame of this place is that it has a Natural Stone Bridge. Such Natual Wonders are created over millions of years when water erodes the rock. This is the only of its kind in India. Similar structures in USA are protected as Natural Heritage. But in India most locals also are unaware of its importance.

Under the bridge is a temple of Goddess Malabai, who is highly revered in this region. The river that flows under this bridge is named Malganga

Latitude: 19o 15'
Longitude: 74o 21'
Altitude: 777 Mts above MSL

How to reach there:

From Malshej ghat drive down to Ale Phata... then take the road to Ahmednagar (via Ane Ghat) Gulanch wadi is half way between Ale Phata and Ane Ghat. Half a Kilometer from Gulanch Wadi to the left of the road is the Stone Bridge.

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Places Nearby:
Shivneri Fort
Chateau Indage Vineyards
Lenyadri (Astavinayak)
Takli Dhokeshwar
Wadgaon Darya (Cave with Stalactites and Stalagmites)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Walan Kond

15 Kms northeast of Mahad, Sahyadris are at their rugged best with vertical black cliffs. Between the Raigad fort and the Sahyadri Mountains is a deep gorge through with flows the Kal River. Water flow over the millennia has cut a deep channel in the black basalt rocks. This has created deep pools all along the river. When the monsoons recede and the river dries out, these pools hold water for the wild life as well as villagers during the dry season. They are called “Kond” is a localised version of the Sanskrit word “Kund”. The largest of such konds in the valley is called Walan Kond which is considered sacred by the local people. There are hundreds of massive fish in this pool which are supposed to be protected by the goddess who resides on the bank. To reach her temple, the locals have built a cable suspension bridge 30 feet above the river. If you stand on the bridge and throw rice or bread, the fish jump to catch a bite. This is quite unlike any spectacle you have ever seen!

Some words of caution… fishing is strictly prohibited here as these fish are considered to be divine. Also do not try to enter the pool as it is quite deep.

Latitude: 18o 22’
Longitude: 73o 48’
Altitude: 120 Mts above MSL

How to reach there?
The nearest town is Mahad on the Mumbai-Goa Highway. Take the road from Mahad to Varandha ghat and take a left from Mahad MIDC (Birwadi) to reach Walan Kond.

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When to Visit?
Monsoon really brings alive the whole forest around Walan Kond… but the flow of the river is so heavy that you will not be able to spot as many fish. Best time to visit is from November to February.

Nearby Places:
Raigad Fort
Lingana Fort
Singapurchi Naal

Similar Places:
River pools with large fish… Lat Kond near Pali (Ashtavinayak) and Tilsa on the Bhiwandi Wada road.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Jalsar literally means Lake filled with water… even though you do not find any water body of any consequence in the village. This lacklustre village has a few barren hills around it making it look a bit too dry for its name. So why does this place make it in my list of interesting getaways? Well… on one of the hills is a unique temple dedicated to Raingods – Indra & Varun! This is the only temple of its kind in this region dedicated to Aryan gods. Locals call this Meghraj Mandir or “Temple of the King of Clouds”. Every May, they pray to these rain gods so that monsoons come on time.

The temple, though ancient, is unremarkable… made of black stone with a lime plastered roof. The idols are made of wood… Indra riding his Elephant (Airavat) and Varun saddled on his horse.

Latitude: 19o 32’
Longitude: 72o 48’
Altitude: 142 Mts above MSL

How to reach there:
Nearest Railway station is Saphale on Virar-Dahanu line. From there you can catch a ST bus to Tembhekhode and get down at Jalsar or Hire a local auto rickshaw. It takes about half an hour to climb up the hill. By car it’s a round about route via Manor and Palghar

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When to Visit?
Summers are a total no no! Monsoon are great but the path get slippery… so come here between September and December.

Nearby Places:
Gayatri Mandir: Temple of the Five headed goddess
Tandulwadi Fort: A small fort built by the Portuguese
Taru Khind: A mountain where the Divine boat is supposed to have landed.
Vaitarna Tansa Sangam: Confluence of the two of the largest rivers of Thane District.


“Alibag”… the name conjures images of sand and coconut trees… sea and beach games. So when someone says “Let’s go trekking near Alibag”, most people are astonished.

On a high forested mountain, just 9 Kms east of Alibag, lies a forgotten fort called Sagargad or the “Sea fort”. It has probably acquired the name due to the fabulous views one gets from its western cliff… From Chaul & Revdanda on the Southside to Akshi, Nagaon & Alibag on the Westside! On a clear day one can spot Karnala and Mira Dongar from the Eastern Cliff. Some people refer to it as Khed Durg or the “Village Fort”.

Historic Significance:
Hardly any historic events have occurred here to make the place famous. The fort must have come in existence during the Satvahan Dynasty. The fort was built to keep a watch on the Karli pass which linked the Chaul Port to the hinterlands. Later it changed hands from the Gujarat Sultans to the Bahamani kingdoms and from the Portuguese to the Siddis of Janjira. It finds a mention in the Treaty of Purandar (1655 AD) under which Shivaji handed over 33 forts to Moghuls. Later the Angre Dynasty of Alibag held sway till the British took over the control in the mid of 19th century.

Latitude: 18o 39’
Longitude: 72o 57’
Altitude: 410 Mts above MSL

What to See:
Vanartok: The piece de resistance of the forty is Vanartok or the Monkey Tip. Just off the southern cliff of the fort is a small independent pinnacle separated from the fort by a small chasm.

Gomukh: The only perennial source of water on the mountain top is a spring called Gomukh. The water sprouts out of a faucet that is shaped like a cow’s mouth into a cistern.
Pond: In the southern portion of the fort is and articfical pond that has water till early summer. Monsoon is an ideal time to do a skinny dip in the pond… but beware of the snakes.
Fortifications: Most of the fortifications have weathered away except the northern wall which has significant amount of overgrowth on it.
Ruins of a British House: At the centre of the fort is a plinth of a house built by British government official to escape the heat of the plains below during the summers.
Saticha Mal: To the east of the fort is a plateau call Saticha Mal or “Sati’s Plateau”. This signifies a location where a widow or widows would have been immolated on their husband’s funeral pyre. Also seen here are some Veergals or “Hero Stones”.

Reaching there:
Reaching the base village: Khandala (Not the hill station!) on the Alibag – Pen road is the ideal base village for this trek. You can reach here by Auto rickshaw from Alibag. In fact the auto rickshaws can be taken right up to the base of the Dhondana Waterfall.

Reaching the fort: Take the road towards Siddheshwar temple from Khandala. The temple can be seen on a cliff next to the Dhondana Waterfall. The trail goes up from the left side of the waterfall. Keep moving further along the dirt track till you reach a tribal hamlet. You can either take a guide from the village or walk along the dirt track till you come to a cliff. You will see the fort across the valley. Cross the col that connects the Siddheshwar hill to fort. Once you reach the fort wall take the path to the left till you reach the ruined entrance. It will take about an hour to reach the fort from the Dhondana Waterfall. There are trekking routes from Poynad and

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When to Visit:
Monsoons are a great time to visit this place as the forest becomes lush and small waterfalls spring to life. But if you want to see the nearby Dhondana Waterfall in its full glory, you will have to choose a day of heavy downpour. For those who do not like squishy squashy treks, October to February is a good time. Summers are advised only for die hard trekkers!

Similar Places:
Hill forts with seaview: Kaldurg, Asawa & Tandulwadi forts near Palghar, Dronagiri near Uran and Madgad near Srivardhan.

Nearby Place:
Siddheshwar Temple: A Shiva Temple enroute to Sagargad
Dhondana Waterfall: A massive waterfall next to Siddheshwar Temple.
Khandala: A small stone inscription with Sun and Moon carvings.
Ghod Katal: A small lake considered holy by the Bene Israeli Jews
Karli Pass: A small mountain pass with forested slope. Also a small shrine dedicated to Goddess Patrubai.
Ramdarna Caves: Right above the Karli Pass are the ancient caves temples of Ramdarna.

Further Reading:
Gazetteer of Kolaba
“Saad Sahyadrichi. Bhatkanti Killyanchi.” by P K Ghanekar
The Sahyadri Companion by Hrishikesh Yadav

Friday the 13th

What a day to start to start my blog... Friday the 13th!

But you have to start somewhere... the seed of this blog lies in a project started by me way back in 2001. "Beyond Bombay" was supposed to be my book talking about places beyond Bombay. Since then the project has blossomed, stalled, forgotten, destroyed, resurrected etc a 100 times.

I am sure that some day the book will see the light of the day... but till then you can enjoy my blog!