A Trip to Panchagani, Mahabaleshwar, PratapGarh Fort, and Tapola!!!

Posted: June 21, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Adventure, India, Just For Fun
Tags: , , , , , ,

This Sunday, I visited Mahabaleshwar, a hill station close to Pune, with a group of my office friends and colleagues. Well, this is a very memorable trip for me for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first trip for me with friends this monsoon season. Secondly, the participation in this trip was the maximum we have ever had. And thirdly, this time we did not go on bikes (as usual), instead we hired a mini bus (this is my first such instance after a very long time).

Though this was not my first planned trip for this season, I and a few other friends had planned our annual monsoon season inauguration trip the weekend before this one to Sinhgad Fort. But due to very heavy rains, that plan had to be shelved.  In fact this trip also happened after a lot of confusion. Both the day and venue for the trip were not our first choice, but due to various circumstances that arose, we finally decided to visit Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, and Tapola. And amazingly all these changes were decided just one day before the trip. Also the participation for the trip kept on reducing as time neared. If I remember correctly, a group of 15-17 people should have made it that day, but finally 10 was the number that actually went.

As it always happens in India with the trip starting at least an hour late than the schedule time, this trip was no different. But astoundingly, this time everyone in the group reached on time (I think I was one of the last ones to reach, anyways but that too wasn’t very late) and it was the bus that got late and eventually delayed our start by an hour. We finally started a touch before 6 AM (we had planned for 5 AM) but as I had said before, that we do get late, we had kept a buffer time of half an hour for the start time. And looking at that I guess we were not really strained at being a little late.

The Gang (Ananda, Moiz, Umesh, Qais, Me, Firoz, Tejasweeta, Sandip, and Achyut). Vishal misses out from this one since someone had to click as well.

The journey started well as we left the city and touched the highway in half an hour. We all had woken up early and so were just relaxing, listening to music, and watching the green scenic beauty along the highway, when suddenly from nowhere, Ananda broke the ice with his scintillating dance moves. This got everyone in the mood, with Vishal and Qais joining in the fun (not dancing but they too got everyone in the mood). And suddenly the mood in the bus changed, from slow to full of exuberance.

Then at around 7:30 we halted for some time to have breakfast. The quality of snacks was good, and was more than enough to fill in life into everyone’s body (though most of us were already into the mood thanks to Ananda, Qais, and Vishal), but the timely snacks did get everyone going from there on. After that we headed towards Mahabaleshwar, leaving the highway and driving through the Ghats. We were having fun on the way, but the boring and limited collection of songs was just somewhat stealing the mood. Then suddenly someone suggested playing the even more boring game called Antakshri. But we IT professionals certainly have a quality where we can make any activity fun and entertaining without much effort. And this time the way we sang songs, and the way we actually contorted the tunes and wordings of the songs was great fun. And this all started from the very first song where Moiz sang the song “Hamma Hamma” on the tunes of “Yamma Yamma”. I cannot really explain the feelings in words, but all I can say the least is it was really entertaining. And as there is line in a Hindi song “Aaghaaz yeh hai to anjaam hoga haseen” meaning (when the start was so brilliant, the ending had to be beautiful). And it definitely was in that way.

Me and Umesh

Just singing along and in a time we could hardly notice, we reached a place very close to Panchgani, where paragliding is done. There were a lot many other groups there as well due to which the place was a little crowded. Due to the monsoon season, we were not allowed to do paragliding, but since there was hardly any cloud cover we got a great view of the beautiful valley. This was a place where all of us extensively clicked photographs of each other.  I have a camera which has got a very good zoom, but unfortunately till then I was not very confident of clicking pictures on full zoom. As on most of those occasions the pictures would get distorted. But to my amazement that day, I managed to capture some great photographs of the beauty around (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of photographs I was able to capture) with my viewfinder capturing at full zoom, and I was even happier since my success rate was almost a 100 percent. This actually made me realize that I am not a bad photographer at all. And astonishingly this luck of being able to capture some fantabulous beauty stayed with me till the end of the day.

That's Umesh, Firoz, Me, Sandip, and Achyut

After a small and refreshing halt at that place we moved ahead towards Mahabaleshwar. As the weather got cloudy and scenic, we reached Mahabaleshwar, but due to dense clouds and zero visibility we decided not to visit any points at the place (since it might be useless to visit in these conditions), we decided to head towards Tapola, locally also known as mini-Kashmir (another scenic valley, having one side completely filled by enthralling flowers). On the way we did stop at the Venna Lake, but due to very low visibility and very high water level, we could not do boating (in fact had we done, it would have felt more like river rafting seeing the conditions), so we did not waste time there. But yes I did manage to click one of my favorite pictures.

One of my best clicks trying to capture a Rang De Basanti moment (Umesh, Vishal, Moiz, Firoz, and Achyut).

After this as we were heading towards Tapola, we stopped at a waterfall, where I, Achyut, Firoz, and Vishal rushed towards the top to enjoy in the fall. Seeing this Umesh got over enthusiastic and followed us and then there was no stopping him and his antics. I guess with that act Umesh had finally announced his arrival at the trip (I guess, we were waiting for such a trigger, because with Umesh’s enthusiasm no trip can ever go boring).

When we reached a point close to Tapola, we got to witness picturesque scenery. We all again took out our cameras and extensively clicked photographs of each other. I again managed to capture some great views with my viewfinder. After a very good photo session we headed back to Mahabaleshwar, as we realized that since it had started raining heavily going to Tapola would not be much fruitful. While en route to Mahabaleshwar, we suddenly realized that we had enough time to visit Pratapgarh Fort, which was about 25 Kilometers from Mahabaleshwar (thanks to the dense clouds and rain in Mahabaleshwar and Tapola which prevented us from spending time there). 

TAPOLA from my viewfinder..

In between we did take a small break, and managed to have a cup of tea. I must say, a hot and steaming cup of tea at such a cloudy, windy, and a wet day is the best thing anyone can have. The road to Pratapgarh is a little risky, as the width is comparatively small and has a lot of traffic. And the weather (very low visibility) that day made it even more dangerous and to top it all the way the driver drove the bus made the level of affright touch its limit. But, we did reach the fort safe and sound. However, in the meanwhile Sandip (our group’s major prankster and the one who changes everyone’s mood with his witty and great comic timing) fell ill. He was feeling dizzy and could not join us for the walk up to the fort (this was a disappointment as his presence could have taken our enjoyment to another level). But certainly by now Umesh was reaching his best, and he somewhat managed to fill the void created by Sandip’s absence on the fort.

That's Vishal, Moiz, Me, Qais, Ananda, Umesh, and Firoz

The Pratapgarh fort is a very beautiful structure (definitely one of the better forts around Pune). Though the fort is full of commercial shops, still that does not take anything away from its natural beauty. We managed to capture some good pictures, and I once again with my viewfinder was at my best, able to capture some really great snaps (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of snaps I was able to capture). Finally after roaming around the fort, we decided to head back to the bus. This is when Tejasweeta, suggested to have some snacks, which is when most of us realized that we were hungry. I guess, the enthusiasm had got into us to such an extent that we could not feel any hunger or thirst that time. But I must say, the tea and snacks that we had were very good, and they energized us all over again (only if we had lost some energy so far, I don’t think most of us had lost any), and all thanks to Tejasweeta.

That's Firoz, Me, Umesh, Vishal, and Achyut

After the break, and avoiding the heavy rain, we reached our bus by 2 PM. It was time now that we moved back towards Mahabaleshwar. After reaching Mahabaleshwar, we stopped at the Mapro Garden to have a shake and sandwich. This was one of the reasons why we only stuck to snacks and not have lunch at Pratapgarh. But all I can say is that the wait was worth the effort, and it is all thanks to the perseverance of Qais and Moiz (this was one of the major reasons of selecting Mahabaleshwar as the venue when the venue change was being discussed) that we managed to have those delicious grubs. But whatever anyone says, I would have regretted had we not stopped there for the meal. I guess, suddenly this place was turning out to be the only one where we did not go crazy clicking photographs. But, to the cease that record from being created, we clicked a few photographs (yes crazy ones) towards the end, definitely for memories sake.

The mini meal at MAPRO

Then we all started to head back to Pune, and as we sat reclining thinking of the great times we spent and of course resting, none of us knew that one of the most entertaining part was yet to come.  Umesh was at his act once again, his innocence, his antics, his expressions, and his movements, entertained everybody… I guess, he also enjoyed as much as we did that time. And by then even Sandip also had recovered, and in fact had reached in his best form. His and Umesh’s syndication was probably the highlight of that part of the trip. Their antics together almost rejuvenated everyone else, and all of us joined in the fun. And suddenly what was looking to be a tiring end to a wonderful day, turned out to be a exulting one. With all that fun and enjoyment we reached back our starting point at 7PM. We wanted to anyhow reach back by 7-7.30, and the way we managed our time to precision was something brilliant. I guess this is something what does happen when you have managers and team leads in the group.

That's Firoz, Umesh, Me, Moiz, and Achyut

It has been a couple of days since the trip, but none of us are yet out of it till now. The feeling is still in the air around us. In fact we have already started planning for the next. I hope that one happens soon, and we enjoy it to a similar extent if not more.

That's Firoz, Me, and Umesh

I would like to end this post in a different manner as I generally do to my other posts of different trips. In the end I would like to write in a few positives of the trip.

  • I always believed a small number is the best to enjoy in an outing; well this myth was definitely destroyed.
  • I realized that I am a good shutterbug, having capability of capturing some absolute natural brilliance.
  • During the start of the trip, Moiz asked me whether I was into wildlife photography seeing the zooming capability of my viewfinder. After all the events of the day all I can answer is, that zoom is not always to capture wild life… it can also be used very effectively to capture other life around you.
  • And yes, Umesh has become an overnight star amongst our team. For the last couple of days, we have only been praising him all the time.

That’s it from me know, hope to write another tour diary very soon.

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Comments
  1. P says:

    Amazing pictures Shishir. I really liked the JJWS pose and the hazy picture (10th from the top). I love the rains and the pictures instill a kind of serenity. 🙂 Your write up describes the journey perfectly. Thanks for sharing them on your blog. 🙂

  2. Thanks a lot Pooja. Yes this trip was awesome, and that is why I pushed myself a little further to explain the particulars in a more detailed form, something I usually never do. But then this trip was different in many ways from the others, so the trip diary also had to be different. I was a little skeptic if my friends would actually like this type of description, but after knowing your thoughts I am sure everyone else would also love it too.

    And yes, the weather and scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I just tried to capture some of it.

    Thanks a lot for reading and appreciating it.

    -S

  3. Qais says:

    Very nice write-up, Shishir. It brings the memories alive… 🙂

  4. Ananda says:

    Thanks Shishir, couldn’t have been documented better than what you have penned down here!

  5. Ashwini says:

    Nice pictures, Shishir and very detailed description too. Enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

  6. Bh says:

    Nice snaps, Shishir!! Enjoyed reading the post and seeing Qais, Ananda, and everyone bought back memories of Cybage. Missing all of you….

  7. Bh says:

    Are you referring to Sandip Patil as the group’s major prankster. I can’t believe this…:)

  8. Thanks a lot Bharati, for reading and appreciating the post.

    Yes, in fact this trait of Sandip is not known to many people, so I thought this is the best possible way of introducing and sharing this hidden quality of his with everyone. 🙂

    -S

  9. Thanks a lot Qais, Ananda, and Ashwini for appreciating. I tried to bring almost all pleasant memories alive all over again through this post, probably that is why I have been a lot more descriptive.

    -S

  10. shubhangi says:

    Looks like you folks had a wonderful time.

    Till where does the car go and the distance from the car park to the fort is it too much to walk. Also are there too many stairs for the fort

  11. Shishir Gupta says:

    Hi Shubhangi,

    Yes surely we had a wonderful time. Well the stairs of the fort are around 100-150 meters from the car park. There are not many stairs though, and it may take around 10 minutes to reach the place where most of the photographs of the fort are displayed. After that probably it is around another 10-15 minutes of climg to the top of the fort.

    -S

  12. namita says:

    very nicely u wrote down about ur trip….good.

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