A Trip to Lonavala, Korigad and Amby Valley!

Posted: September 6, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Adventure, India, Just For Fun
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Well this post should have been posted almost one and a half month back, but due to some mysterious circumstances this could not be posted in time. In fact I had written down this post immediately after the trip and even had tried to post it (created a post and tried to publish it), but due to some technical issue it could not be posted on the net, and after that its posting has been getting postponed.

I have always believed that posting the details of the trip here is more my our groups rememberance of the good times we spent that day, so that years later when we read this we could fall in nostalgia and remember those great times. So even after getting so delayed I thought of posting this now, especially since one of my another big trips is planned for this weekend. I also did go to NDA, along with my friends, I will surely try and write the tour dairy of that day before the end of this week, hopefully.

Well I had written this post the very next day after the trip, and so I haven;t made any changes to the content.

Another Sunday (16th July 2011) and it was yet another adventurous trip (and again I am a few days late to publish this post). This time we went to Lonavala, a hill station close to Pune. We can say that probably this was again one of those trips that I had gone for just for the sake of going out with friends, after all the previous plans were getting cancelled. Also the most interesting aspect of this trip was that out of the 5 people that did go only two were actually destined to go for this (and surprisingly I am not part of the two). Also, Achyut, who was one of the two people, ideally should not have made it to the trip, but just because of his sheergrit and his friendship for us, he did.

Korigad Fort

THE PLANNING BEHIND THE TRIP
It is not that this trip was not planned for; in fact this had to be one of my office team outings. This trip was being planned as the team’s annual monsoon trip, and after a lot of discussion and debate this trip was decided to take place on Saturday, 16th July and the venue was decided for Korigad and Lonavala. The team was enthusiastic about the trip and as many as 29 people had confirmed their availability till the start of the last week. This list included me as well, however, I knew from the very first day that if the trip did go on that day, I could not be a part of it because of my prior commitments (I have joined an MBA course and its classes happen every Saturday).

Anyways as the last week started and as the day for the trip was approaching the number of dropouts started increasing (that included me as well). In fact, even after a lot of persuasion by my friends and especially my manager could not help me convince myself to miss the class (however, that definitely left me into the dilemma).  On Wednesday I got the news that the number of the participants for the trip had fallen from 29 to almost half its number – 15. At that time I jokingly told to my friend that if the count falls below 12, I would join the trip. In the meanwhile since I could not go for the trip, I and Vishal planned for a Sunday trip to National Defense Academy (NDA) (since he was going for this team trip, we could not go any way far on Sunday). Agonizingly, the count for the team trip fell to 11 by Thursday afternoon. Now, after getting to know of that I got a little uncertain about my status to the trip. Somehow I thought a lot over it and managed to convince myself to miss the class for the trip on Saturday. On Friday, just when I was about to tell my friends that I would join for the trip, I got to know that due to very less participation the trip has been postponed to September.

A pose with bikes

Almost everyone was disappointed, of not being able to go for the trip. I was not really disappointed since I did not want to miss my classes, and had only somehow managed to convince myself to do that. And now when the trip got cancelled, it was more of a blessing in disguise for me. Anyways, Vishal was really disappointed with the trip not happening; he somehow still wanted to go for this. That time I and he planned out for the trip to Korigad and Lonavala (the original venue) but on Sunday. This plan came into existence at around 4 pm on Friday and within two hours we were a group of 4 people ready for the trip. Although the plan was yet not confirmed and was in its nascent stage.

But the main planning of this trip started on Saturday night, when I called almost everyone up and managed to get the count to 6 (Me, Vishal, Umesh, Raman, Bhadre and Aman). But the problem with this was that we did not have enough bikes (just 2 of them), and with six people it was not possible to go then. Then after a lot more chatting with other friends, I managed the count to 9 (Achyut, Moiz, and Dushyant joined the group). But this time we decided not go on bikes but cars, and I and Moiz were the ones who decided to drive. This list somehow included Achyut, as he was down with fever for the two days and was on his way to recovery, and only agreed for the trip as we were going by cars and not bikes.

Finally the plan was ready by 11 in the night and we nine people had to leave by 6.30 early morning.

Fort in heavy rains

THE TRIP
The day started on a deplorable note, which Moiz not able to join in. With that it meant Dushyant too will not be able to join and it was left with 7 of us and only one car. And above all it was raining heavily since night which meant there was no chance of taking bikes. I was in a quandary of what to do, as all 7 of us could not go, also since it was raining heavily there was a doubtfulness of whether we should go. I called up Vishal, and we decided to go (removing that doubt of the way). But then the big question was who goes and who doesn’t as 7 cannot go in a car. Now Vishal, Aman, Achyut and I were apparent choices, and it was all down to take the decision of who will be the fifth person. After a small discussion I and Vishal decided to ask Umesh to join in. I with a heavyheartinformed both Raman and Bhadre that probably we will not be going, which unfortunately cut them out of them picture.

After that we all started on schedule, I left my place to pick up Aman from his house, and then reached the spot where I had to pick up Umesh by 6.45 AM. Achyut had already reached his picking up point at 6.30 (15 minutes early and was waiting for us), while we were waiting for Umesh. But he arrived at 7.20 and that too I had to pick him up from a place close to his house rather than the actual picking up point. And the reason he gave for this ridiculous act was that there was no water at his place and so he could not take bath. I found that explanation really crackbrained, and at a point I was fuming since Achyut, who had just come out of fever, was on time and waiting for us for almost an hour in the rain. While waiting for Umesh, I and Aman were losing our cool every moment and I was also feeling guilty of Achyut having to stand in rain for almost an hour. In the heat of that moment I even called up Vishal, to discuss the idea of dropping Umesh from the trip. We almost agreed but then since I had waited for more than half an hour for him, I thought of waiting for five more minutes. And just when Aman said that we should leave I saw Umesh coming from a little distance away, and he just managed to make it in the nick of time. And then after picking him up we immediately left the place to reach where Achyut was waiting (In the meanwhile Vishal was a bit lucky since he had to be picked up last, and since we were waiting for Umesh, he too waited for us at home rather than at his pick up point). As we left, he too left for the pickup point. After that small hiccup everything went smoothly, as we touched the highway by 7.45 after picking up both Achyut and Vishal. The drive on the Pune-Mumbai expressway was nothing less than amazing. With the picturesque scenery all around, lite rain all the way, and with me being able to touch the speed of 130 km/hr very consistently, I could not have asked for anything better. 

A cup of hpt tea at Lonavala

Anyways we touched Lonavala by 8.30 (it just took us 45-50 minutes for us to cover a distance of over 60 kilometers). Also on the way to Lonavalaat a toll stop, we also managed to obviate the toll tax, after a lot of persuasion from all 5 of us. After reaching Lonavala, we took a small break and had snacks and a cup of steaming tea (both the Wada-Pav and tea were steaming hot) which charged us up and we moved ahead towards Bushi Dam. We stopped at a waterfall before the dam, and managed to click a few pictures and had a lot of fun near the fall. Though then we decided we would not get wet in the fall, since travelling everywhere wet would be very difficult. So after some fun we moved ahead towards Bushi Dam. The weather was getting a little bad with the rains getting heavier. As we reached the dam the rains had got very heavy, and due to dense fog and clouds, the visibility was very low and so we decided to move ahead towards Korigad and to stop at the dam while returning.

The drive to Korigad was absolutely amazing though very scary as well because of the high density fog and clouds coupled with heavy rains, reduced the visibility to almost nil. Driving was really dangerous since suchconditions were very new for me and with no visibility all I could refer were the markings at the edge of the road. However I really enjoyed driving in those conditions and now I feel I can drive in any given condition.  Anyways driving through, we reached Korigad around 9.45 AM. It was raining heavily and there was no way we could trek up to the fort. So we decided to go to Amby Valley in the time being.

View of Amby Valley from Korigad

We reached Amby Valley in 15-20 minutes from then but since the cost per person to enter the premises was too high, we had no other option than to return back. After reaching we were getting a little frustrated with the rains, as the rains were heavy and there was no way we could trek up to the fort. However, since the original plan was to go to Korigad we anyhow wanted to go up to the fort. We waited for some time for the rain to stop, but that did not happen. But yes it did get lighter which was enough motivation for us to get out and climb up. Initially the way up to the fort seemed easy but the way only relapsed.

Way up to the fort

The way up was muddy and with rains and water flowing around, became very slippery. We did not know the exact route to the fort so we continued trekking with more of a hit and trial method. The rains were getting heavier, and with we having no clue of the actual route up, and also there was no sign of people in near vicinity (it looked as if only the 5 of us, were in that area) it was getting scarier. We even quite a few times thought of abandoning the climb and returning back to our car, but somehow we always managed to convince ourselves to continue for some more time. After some time, we saw two people coming from behind. They were probably local people and knew well of the route up to the fort, and so we started following them. The way they took was more of a like the one through the forest, with a very narrow path. The path was so narrow that the shrubs on either side brushed as we moved ahead. Also there were branches of trees that had fallen, for which to cross them we had to either jump over them or bend and cross from beneath them. All this reminded me of the Man v/s Wild episodes, as the scene was nothing less to the forest expeditions executed by Bear Grylls on that show. Again as I said, all that environmental setup coupled with the rainy weather looked dangerous but was very exciting, and the level of excitement grew even further as while walking on that path we lost sight of the two people we were following. And all of us were once again confused of whether we were on the right track and at that moment all we could do is either return back or just keep on walking ahead wherever the track would lead us too. After 15-20 minutes and a total of about a 40-45 minutes’ walk we reached the foot of the fort were the steps were there that ascended to the top of the fort.

Steps enroute to the top

The steps were very slippery as there was constant flow of water over it, and it appeared as if there was a waterfall that was flowing over the steps. Anyways after a climb of about 15-20 minutes we managed to reach the top. The feeling of having scaledKorigad was amazing, as earlier after every few minutes we were losing are motivation, but just for sheer grit and for the sake up trekking up to the fort we managed to reach. The view from the top was fantabulous and was definitely worth the effort we took to reach the top. We could see the entire view of Amby Valley from there; it really looked amazing from the top. As it was raining very heavily, we could not manage to click many pictures of the beautiful view (also due to the density of rains we did not carry our cameras with us to the top, all we had to click were mobile phones). But I must say we did manage to click some nice pictures of the small lake at the top and the view of Amby Valley from the fort.

Amidst heavy rains in the top

In sometime it started raining cats and dogs, so we decided that it was time we descended to the car, as we all were tired by now and were also feeling hungry. Coming down did not take a lot of time, as now we were well versed with the way route and managed to reach the car in about 35-40 minutes. But by the time we reached the car we were completely drenched in water. We were wearing jackets but still the shirts inside too were drenched (I still remember Aman took out his handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his head, but before he could do that, the moment he squeezed it, the water just streamed out of the handkerchief, such had been the intensity of rain throughout the trek). Anyways we left the place around 12.30, and since we had immense time in hand we thought of probably spending some time at the Bushi Dam or maybe we could go to another fort, Lohagad, if we had enough time in hand later as we approach close to that place. But just before we reached the dam we got stuck in the traffic. There was a complete mess of traffic at that time, because of which we could not stop at the dam, since neither there was a place to park the vehicle nor was there any space to maneuver it out of that mess. So we decided to head towards Lonavala, as we all were a little hungry. But at that time we did not know that we would require 2 hours to cover a distance of 8 kilometers. The traffic condition was pathetic, and I hardly got to drive a distance of more than 10-15 meters at a stretch. And the stoppage interval after every movement was yonks’ for a lifetime, unbearable, and very frustrating. But Vishal did manage to lighten the mood with his didoes.  Anyways we did manage to touch the expressway by 3 o’ clock. But as we all were hungry we decided to take the highway rather than the expressway as the highway goes through the city of Lonavala, and that would enable us to eat something. But at that time none of us knew that we would again be entering the atrocious traffic jam all over again, something that we had managed to get out off after a couple of hours trouble.

But then such situations are inevitable, and we all over got stuck in that traffic mess all over again. Again the situation was similar, in fact even worse than before. It was very difficult for me to maneuver the car around and we could not park the car or stop anywhere in between. So in the meanwhile we decided as there was no chance for us to stop anywhere, one of us could get down and get some snacks, that could at least satiate our stomachs if not fill them completely. Then Aman, Achyut, and Vishal took turns and managed to get something to eat. Luckily that was enough to subsideour hunger for some time. And then finally we managed to cross the city after over an hour and a half struggle, sometime around 4.45. This left us with no other choice than to return home, as we had got over all the extra time we had managed to spare during the entire day.
And finally we took the national highway, instead of the expressway to head back home (as all that traffic which we had avoided all the way so far was heading to the expressway, I thought the highway would have been a better option). To be honest I really don’t know whether this option was better, but certainly it was not bad, as the scenic beauty on either sides of the road was fabulous. There wasn’t much traffic either, and I did manage to drive consistently in the speed range of 80-100 km/hrs (which is not bad at all, however it is less as compared to the expressway).

Anyways, we touched Pune in less than an hour and after dropping Achyut and Vishal I headed back home (Aman and Umesh accompanied me home so that they could transfer all the photographs they had, and I could leave them a little later). I reached home by 6.30 PM (a little over 12 hours when I had started, but the journey was brilliant except the frustration we had during the traffic jam in Lonavala).

The drive to the fort

A FEW POINTS FROM THE TRIP
Similar to my last post of an adventurous trip, I would highlight a few points from the trip.

  • I believe the decision to take the car rather than to go bikes was brilliant for the first half, but while returning as we were anyways drenched, it would have been better on bikes in that traffic (but I don’t think we could have enjoyed that much on bikes as we did in the car).
  • I got a great driving lesson that day, driving in zero visibility conditions, gripping road curves on the hill range, and then immoveable traffic, all of that has made more confident a driver than ever. Now I believe I can drive in any given condition. 
  • Had an amazing trekking experience (I have been to many forts around Pune), but this experience is definitely the best of all. It was actually adventurous and what we did was trekking in true sense.
  • It was good that the trip with the office team did not take place due to two reasons. Firstly, for a large team we would have needed a bigger transportation which would have meant that had we got stuck in a similar traffic then it would have been more agonizing and frustrating. Secondly, I am not sure with a large group would have everyone been motivated to scale the Korigad fort given the route and the conditions that day. 

Once again I have adopted a different style of writing the tour diary, as I feel that there should be a change every now and then to keep the interest of all the readers. Please let me know how you all liked this kind of writing.

That’s it from me know, hope to write on some more forthcoming trips very soon.

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Comments
  1. Achyut Walke says:

    Nice one,,,

  2. Shishir Gupta says:

    Thanks.

    -S

  3. Dr Chetna says:

    I really liked the detailed description.

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