Sunday, October 16, 2011

The amazing Koyna lake dirt track!

|| प्रियांका प्रसन्न  ||
(Thanks to permission from my wife, Priyanka, for this ride!)

October, 2011

Exploring places which are not frequented has always brought immense pleasure to me. Last time around it was Ahupe near Bhimashankar and now on radar was an amazing dirt track along the Koyna Backwaters. Koyna is a fascinating place which so much to explore. Parag, a friend and colleague, agreed to join the ride.
It was one of those last minute plans. A weekend in hand, we wanted to ride this 100 km odd dirt track which starts at the end of Raghuveer Ghat(Again, a lesser known ghat road to climb the Sahyadris) and meets the road between Mahabaleshwar and Pratapgad. From very long time I knew there was this track which was do able and was visible from Google map as well. Zenosh, a friend from Mumbai, rode through this route solo and did treks to Mahimandangad, Parbat and Chakdev along the way. So with this, it was confirmed that the route was actually do able. So, here is how it went...


View Larger Map

Day 1:

Got up early and reached the decided meeting point at Katraj bypass road. Parag arrived at around 6:30. We then rode along the NH4 till Kapurhol, after which, we took the right turn to Bhor.
At Katraj bypass
Better part of Bhor-Varandha road

The condition of the road wasn't good. After passing Bhor we reached the scenic Varandha ghat. Had a brief stope for some tea and some clicks.
Parat at Nira deodhar backwaters

The calm and serene waters enroute Varandha Ghat

Our bikes

Scenic road to Varandha

Blooming flowers all over, no need to go to Kaas!

Varandha ghat, first look

The sights from the ghat

Varandha ghat

Varandha ghat

 The road condition was bad till we reached the Mumbai-Goa highway. Had our brunch at a highway dhaba. Some delicious sea food was what we needed and that is what we had! After the brunch, we headed along the scenic Mumbai-Goa road to Khed. The twisties at Kashedi ghat were pure fun. At round 11:30 we reached Khed. From Khed, we took a left turn towards Khopi.
Lush Green

The start of Raghuveer ghat

It is from Khopi, where Raghuveer ghat starts, the road condition initially on the ghat was bad but later on improved and then came great views of the Konkan plains below. We hardly saw a vehicle on this ghat road. From here we could spot Vasota fort and Nageshwar on the ridges down south. The moment the ghat reaches the top, Satara district starts and this the starting point of the dirt road. The region falls into Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary(Now Sahyadri Tiger Reserve) and thus I suppose they have not allowed the road  to improve. I believe this is required to protect the ecology of the place and I think it is better, it remains like that.
Raghuveer ghat

Raghuveer ghat

Raghuveer ghat

Relishing the ride!

Raghuveer ghat

Raghuveer ghat

The first village we encountered was Shindi. We proceeded to reach Valvan village, where Zenosh has made his stay. Our initial idea was to cover as many distance of the dirt track and then camp somewhere near the lake. All along, the road travels around the lake, giving some great views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The dirt track is just amazing and it was all green with flowers blooming all over. It is a road like this which really gives one , a true sense of an adventure. If you like to rough it out, then this is the place to be.
Start of the dirt track

Flowers all over

Great scenery

The only mode of transport

the vast expanse of the lake


Scenery along the road

Roads which adventures are made of!

Enjoying the break

The speed being slow, the amount of distance covered was less. We were riding continuously on this road for about 3 hours now. It was time we stopped and pitched the camp before it gets dark. At around 5:30, we found a place near the lake and decided to camp here. It was surely one of the scenic places you could put your camp. There was a slight drizzle by now. Soon we pitched the tent and went in search of some firewood for the campfire and to cook the food(read Maggi). After we settled down and it got dark, it was time to cook the food. We were little tired by the long ride. A villager, earlier in the day, told that the fish in the lake were dying due to some reason and discouraged us from drinking water from it. So we were running short of water. I took two empty bottles and went to Nivli village which was near by and got some water for us. Parag, meanwhile, started the fire. Soon the drizzle completely stopped. The campsite was really in the middle of nowhere. Spending night in such a place with a campfire, is something which is to be experienced. I'm not a good writer so can't really describe in words how good it was. After we had the food, it was time to sleep. Being tired, I felt to sleep quite early. Parag wasn't very comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere. Eventually after some anxious moments where he felt somebody was moving outside the tent, he fell to sleep as well!


Parag inaugurating his tent! 

Stunning sunset from the campsite

getting darker

Its dark!

Day 2:

I somehow managed to get up early on such occasions and like always got up at 5-5:30. The morning was very refreshing and sights from inside the tent were so idyllic. We managed to pack everything up by 8 and then left.
Tent with a view!

campfire remains

Tent with the bikes

 The idea for today was to see if we could get a boat on which we could put our bikes and cross over to other side at Tapola. Otherwise we had to ride all day long to reach the Pratapgad-M'war road. Somebody told us we could get boats from Gadavli village.
The amazing road!

The amazing track continues...

Time for some rest to enjoy the views

The never ending track

Views all along the track

Koyna lake

I can't have enough of it!

The time we reached Gadavli was 1 pm. If we do not get a boat to Topola, it would have been a long day ahead with possibility of spending another right near the lake. Although I was wanted to do the whole track, the temptation of crossing over to Tapola and further spending a relaxing day at Mahabaleshwar was more. After enquiring for more than hour, a person agreed to take us across. He said he had a small rowing boat and he could take both the bikes and 5 people in the boat! We were little apprehensive of the whole idea. We decided to trust his confidence and agreed to take his services. He directed us to a point from where they generally load goods/people onto the boats. With half of our bikes inside the boat and half of it dangling outside, it was going to be one jittery ride. Both parag and me were holding our bikes and two persons started rowing towards Tapola. The distance wasn't much but any mistake or imbalance here would have taken the bike straight into the bottom of the lake! To our relief, we crossed the lake without any incident. The roads from here on were butter smooth and within no time we reached Mahabaleshwar, Here we checked in into MTDC and spent the rest of the time relaxing the cool weather there.

Point where we loaded the bike onto the boat

You see that!

Both of us holding the bikes

2 bikes and 5 people and still floating!

Back to civilization and tarmac!

Day 3:

A quick ride back to Pune from M'war and back to work!



  1. Wow man! This trip sounds absolutely amazing...and its great that its much less known. Such places remain virgin and pristine, and so much more adventurous to visit :)

    Great pics too!

  2. Thanks Siddhartha!
    Thoroughly enjoyed your blog as well!

  3. सराहनीय कार्य आपने एकदम सही लिखा है, ढेरों शुभकामनायें. बेहतरीन लिखा है,

  4. धन्यावाद "जाटदेवता" संदीप पवाँर! आपको पसंद आया,येह हमारा भाग्य है!

  5. Wow! Wonderful one buddy! Simply fell in luv with the place and the pictures are awesome! Great post!!!

  6. nice description friend.....i just want to enquire 1) is there any forest check post bet khopi and shindi? do they allow private car upto shindi? 2) is it possible for a small car like maruti ritz to drive on raghuveer ghat upto shindi considering the road condition?