Saturday, September 26, 2015

Maiden Cycling Journey Around Satara – Mahabaleshwara [Kaas Plateau]


If your maiden journey starts up with difficult trail with guidance of experts and you successfully finished the stretch, what else you needed!  Yes my maiden cycling expedition around Satara – Kaas Plateau – Mahabaleshwara.  The day starts with steep ascend and end with the same ascend; traveling in the ferry to cross the Koyna River; night riding in the dense forest; camping at beautiful lake; visiting the famous Kaas Plateau.  These all happened on 25 – 26th September 2015 with lovely team members Gautham, Abhijit and great leader Mohd Rafi.

Everything is very late in my life!! After serious hobby of trekking, an insect of cycling was drilling in my mind since two years.  Never made a serious decision and attempted to buy it. A short discussion on chat with my friend Shanthi Prasad to visit the Wheelsports, on the spot we swiped the card and purchased the KHS Alite 500.  I am very happy about this decision; else I would have taken more time to buy it.

One thing I have to mention here about Rafi great quality. I had approached few of cyclist experts about the make, model and budget. Rafi is guided me in each and every step to finalize the product. Post purchase given tips about the maintenance. I am very thankful to him for his kind advice. 

I got invitation from Rafi for cycling around Satara – Kaas Plateau – Mahabaleshwara, I was not sure to think to attempt it.  It was not so easy to cover around 180 KMs steep ascend / descend in two days without having the practice.  The picture, trail and leadership of Rafi provoked me to attempt it.  I pinged to Rafi about my interest and skills of cycling; without saying no he motivated me to join with him.  He suggested me to do practice one hour everyday so that I will be more confident to do this.  Without losing the golden opportunity, started the practice.

Rafi shared in details about the route map, terrain roll of the trail, important places to visit, things to carry and itinerary of two days.  He booked all of our tickets by VRL.  I am impressed about his planning of the trek in details and motivational to the beginners like me. This is my second event with Rafi, the first one is Dudhsagar.  The day is arrived and we all set to our unforgettable expedition of cycling.

Route:
Bengaluru – Satara [By VRL – Volvo Multi Axle] – Kaas Plateau – Bamnoli – Tapola - Koyna – Mahabaleshwara [Night Halt]

Mahabaleshwara – Satara – Bengaluru [By VRL – Volvo Multi Axle]

24.09.2015
Bakrid holiday on 24th September 2015 is made me relax to reach the boarding bus point of Anandrao Circle.  The bus departure at 4.00 pm and reporting at 3.45 pm.  We all asked to come early to the point since we have to dismantle the front wheel of the cycle, packing to avoid the damages.  I was the last person to reach the bus stand, however the bus was not reached the place.

Abhijit Kshirasagar and Gautham were already at the point and waiting for bus. The bus reached the boarding point; we all dismantled the front wheel and very carefully put into the luggage section.  The all experts are very care about their cycle, it is taught me to love my cycle.  I was not so serious about the damages / scratches, the way they gave tips to protect the cycle, really helped me a lot.

We all settled in our respective seats and started our journey towards Satara.  After long gap I was meeting to Rafi & Gautham.  The communications technologies viz., Facebook, Google Chat, WhatsApp made all of us so comfortable as if we all meet every day.  I never thought we all very new and unknown to each others.  The traffic was very less in Bengaluru since the Bakrid holiday; very soon we crossed the city.  The first stop somewhere near Chithradurga for tea break; second one in the Maharashtra for dinner.  Watching some Hindi movie went to a good deep sleep.

25.09.2015
We reached very early morning around 5 am to Satara.  All again busy to assemble our bicycles and load our kit on panniers. 

By the time it was already 6.30 am.  Thought to get refreshed at Bus stand, accordingly finished it.  Yummy breakfast of Poori, Pohwa & Idli loaded to our stomach.  The real adventurous journey is started from now onwards, the first break point is Kaas Plateau.

Very soon we crossed the Satara city.  Everywhere it is festival celebration of Ganesh, witnessed many big Ganesha idols across the city.  Rafi was explaining each and every moment of the upcoming terrain.  Kaas Plateau is around 25 KMs from Satara.  Beautiful valley really enjoyed a lot.

The initial path itself is steep ascend; taking a small nap for photography we all reached the Kaas Plateau around 10.30 am.  The beautiful pics talk about our journey.



More info about Kaas Plateau from Wikipedia
Kaas plateau is a plateau located near Satara. It is situated high hill plateaus and grasslands turn into a 'valley of flowers' during monsoon season, in the month of August. Kaas Plateau has more than 150 or more types of flowers, shrubs and grasses. The orchids bloom here for a period of 3–4 weeks during this season. Kaas plateau a World Natural Heritage site.

We parked our bikes and went inside to enjoy the valley.  The crowd was more due to holidays and season; some point of time there was a huge traffic jam.  Spent well enough of the time for photography; adieu to the beautiful valley.



We skipped the visit to Kaas Lake, continued our journey.  The team is decided to finish the lunch nearby hotel.  Everywhere it was packed by tourist, finished our lunch and headed towards Kaas Vajrai water falls.

Everywhere monsoon is very weak this time, it affected this falls too.  Parked our bikes near the village, continued another kilometer by walk to see the falls.  The view from far was very scenic, took couple of photographs.

Journey is continued towards Bamnoli, this stretch was pretty easy, reached around 3 pm.  Now there was twist in our trail, as per the plan we have to pedal from Bamnoli to Tapola which is around 40+ KMs through the Koyna forest range.  Considering the time fact, terrain and local people guidance decided to cross the Koyna River through ferryboat. 

The journey was most memorable and additional to our journey.  We all loaded our bikes and crossed the beautiful stretch of Shivasagar Lake [Koyna back water].

Reached Tapola around 4 pm and had good photography.  We have changed the place of camping.  Initial plan was to camp near Tapola, decided to camp at Mahabaleshwara.  The distance of Tapola and Mahabaleshwara around 27+ KMs with steep ascend.  All are accepted Rafi challenge and continued our journey.

The terrain was really very tough, taking small breaks we entered into the Koyna forest range.  Sun was rest in west, our journey continued in the dark.  Many localities advised not to venture night in the forest since it is home to a lot of wildlife including Bears, Gour & Tigers. We all decided to ride in the dark without fear.  Taking multiple breaks, having the snacks crossed the most scary forest range.

The climb – climb at last came to an end, reached Mahabaleshwara around 8 pm.  There was a bit opinion difference for night camping, 50% wanted to stay in Hotel and 50% in the wild.  We have been carried out the tents all the way, I and Rafi insisted to do the camping in the wild.  At last all agreed to do the camping somewhere outside of the town.  Hungry reached its peak level, we all rushed into the nearest Maharashtra type Thali hotel for dinner.  Of course it is bit costly, however the food was yummy.

Talking to the locals, few are suggested camping near Venna Lake which is just 3 KMs away from the town.  Rafi searched very wonderful place on the bank of lake, very beautiful place for camping.  Pitched our tents and tied our bikes to the pole.  The time was around 11 pm and body wanted to retired for the day.

26.09.2015

I got up at 5 am, the place was awesome.  In the night we could not feel how beautiful it was, a memorable camping place added into my life.  Witnessed very panoramic sunrise from this place.  

Spent good amount of time for photography and packed up our tents for next day journey.



Got refreshed in the public place and finished the breakfast on street side small hotel.  

The Vada Paav filled in our stomach and continued our journey.  Rafi was very well planned on his map to cover the different locations and day wise.

Taking local people guidance reached Chinaman’s Water Falls.  It is just 3 KMs away from the main point of Mahabaleshwara.  Parked our vehicle in a small village and walked around 1 KMs inside the forest.  Beautiful valley with falls gave us joy on our face.  Spent some time and left towards Lingamala Falls.

Lingamala falls is on Mahabaleshwara – Pune road.  It hardly around 10KMs from the town.  Rolling terrain reached so fast.  Parked our bikes near entrance gate, we paid some Rs.10/- each entrance fees.  The beautiful falls gives you immense happy, spent some good time and turned back towards Satara.

The time was almost 11 am, our target time to reach Satara is 4 pm.  Now the terrain is rolling down across the beautiful valley.  Taking multiple breaks reached the Satara.  We had enough time to relax at Satara.

We had some argument with bus guys who was demanding more for carrying our bikes.  However we have made him clear will not pay excess which already paid while coming the same bus.  On the way we had dinner near Sangli, journey continued to Bengaluru.  Reached early morning around 7 am and adieu to all memorizing wonderful maiden journey on bike.

Thank you to all who gave wonderful company across the trail and who motivated me to complete the journey.