Once upon a time in Malshej Ghats
Trekking to Visapur Fort on July itself (Solo Trek to Visapur Fort) Gradually rain God took pity on us and the rain stopped. Since July, I had marked Malshej Ghats on the top of my bucket list. But, dreams are never easily accomplished; a landslide occurred in the Ghats and roads were closed till July end.
The wait was over and finally, I was about to visit the heavenly Malshej Ghats in August. It takes around 3hours 20minutes to cover a distance of 120km from Pune to Malshej Ghats. One has to cross NarayanGaon and Junnar after which he/she won’t be able to blink his/her eye so as not to miss the vast and lush greenery on both sides. Many visitors also visit one of the Ashtvinayak temples in Ozar, hence the Ghats can be visited via Ozar and the Junnar (which becomes a bit lengthy but the route offers pure village scenes around you). I had been to Malshej(precisely, very close to it) two times, though succeeded on the second time. Let me briefly narrate you about my close shot to Malshej Ghats for the first time.
Hired two Bikes
10th August, me and my two best buddies, hired two bikes and were all set to enjoy an adventurous 130km drive to Malshej Ghats. The first mistake we did, as we started late from Pue (at around 8.40am). We took the route from Nashik Phata to NarayanGaon and then took a left from there to Ozar. Shreyash wished to visit the Ozar Ashtvinayak temple so we took that road. Also, he was the planner of this journey and our Google Map too; how could we disappoint him. The driver does not get as much tired as the one seated back, right! It was the first time I was sitting back for so long and was already half tired by the time we reached the temple(around 1.30pm). I wished that I knew how to ride a bike at that time. Anyways, after the darshan, we had lunch which consisted of a tasty thali just near the temple. The weather had become much pleasant by then and we started to leave for Malshej Ghats.
A journey without twist becomes boring, ha. As we were ready to leave, Shreyash’s bike refused to start. It was already 2.30pm, we had to head back to Pune the same day, hence a tense situation was created. But, as we already had taken the blessings of Ganpati Bappa, how could he disappoint us in his shelter! We found a mechanic right in front of the temple and he temporarily fixed the bike in Rs.20. You can figure out our second mistake again, wherein we rented a bike and decided to drive that far, without any idea of when it would breakdown. As I said, it was a temporary fix (he couldn’t switch on his headlights otherwise the bike would stop again), Shreyash was disappointed, yet he urged to resume the journey till Malshej Ghats. There was a shortcut from Ozar to Junnar but the road was too bad for us to drive, hence, took the longer path.
A Vast Stretch of Farms
The roads, that we drove through was beyond beautiful! All I saw was a huge stretch of rice, sugarcane and wheat farms that kept me motivated to sit back (otherwise my butt was shouting me to quit sitting). At some point, I got off the bike and kept walking along the farms to grasp the beauty and also, of course, to soothe my back. It was almost 4.30pm where we were only a few miles away from entering Malshej Ghats. On our way, we couldn’t restrain, so stopped at the beautiful road, where the greenery was spread as far as my eyes could see, just like the ocean. I told my friends to cherish the moment, instead of rushing and running to the final destination, which was blurred, as we were late. Hence, my photographer friend, Piyush stopped, took off his camera and shot beautiful pictures. We spent some quality time there, just sitting quietly, adoring the nature, patting each other’s back for coming this far and cheering Shreyash as he felt sorry for not being able to complete the ride.
We could see Malshej Ghats near us but couldn’t risk as it was getting dark and Shreyash’s headlights weren’t working (plus I was deadly tired too). By 7.30pm, we reached back to Pune; I jumped off the bike and pledged not to sit back in the bike for at least 2-3 days. I sat for 300kms almost! The seat of the bike (Pulsar 220c) was very uncomfortable which added to the inconvenience. SO this way, my first trip to Malshej Ghats ended here with mixed emotions and some life lessons learned. It is well said that “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
Time to Complete the Incomplete Journey!
My thirst to Malshej Ghats was still not quenched (see the desperate me). I got a chance to visit again, this time in a six-seater car. It was 14th August and Juhi’s birthday was approaching. She insisted on visiting there along with my roommates and Juhi’s fiance and I said “OK”. We hired Ola Rental as we were 5 members and this time, it started at 7.00am in the morning. I was seated on the front, hence started playing songs that filled more energy (I was missing my buddies, it was like, the same route, the same journey I had been a few days ago with them). This time, we went straight towards Junnar and reached a little early. By 11.30am we were on the same route from which my bike partners decided to turn back. Now, as our car moved forward, we saw two huge rocks standing on both sides of the road, just like the entrance gate to Malshej Ghats.
Oh boy! We were so close to the Malshej Ghats that day but… I was feeling bad for them. We stopped on our way to take some cool shots and feel the cool breeze. It was just the beginning; in front of us, was a mountain fully draped in clouds. Juhi looked at me and asked “are we going up there?”, I looked at the driver and he nodded Yes! As we moved further, the weather went all foggy, we could hardly see anyone in front of us; we realized that we were in the clouds! Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was convinced with our decision to turn back as the headlights were a mandate in that foggy area. To enjoy the fog, we got down and shouted in joy.
Small and Big Waterfalls
All along the Malshej Ghats, you will find many small and big waterfalls, which just adds to its beauty. After some time, the fog moved ahead and we ran behind it. Again, after a few distances, we saw a huge waterfall, with steps to go up! To go upstairs, we had to cross the waterfall first, which was great fun. On reaching up, we got a 180-degree view of Malshej Ghats.
Moving ahead, we got some real scenic views with huge rocks on one side and a deep valley on the other, plus the fog all around. I took a moment to step aside and silently gazed at the beauty. I saw both sunlight and clouds falling in the same valley, which looked so spectacular. I looked upon the huge rocks inclined towards the road, I saw the water falling in full speed from that rocks, on the road, thereby offering free car washing! For two-wheelers, there was some space to skip getting wet.
Our car’s tire got punctured, so until the driver fixed it, I and my flatmates utilized that opportunity to take a short walk through the roads. Whatever I had heard about Malshej Ghats, it was beyond that and the best time to visit there is of course monsoon. We had some hot Maggie inside our car because monkeys weren’t letting us eat outside. We then turned our vehicle back towards Pune by 1.30pm as Malshej Ghats were over and the road ahead lead to Kalyan.
Another Beautiful Destination Covered
I was refreshed and my thirst to visit Malshej Ghats was completely quenched. On our way, my flatmate told us about Lenyadri, one of the Ashtvinayak temple. As it is just 4-5 km from Malshej, we decided to give it a go plus I was happy to take the blessing of the second Asht Vinayak. We got down, freshened ourselves and then looked upward to see the temple and looked at each other’s face in astonishment!
The temple looked very tiny from where we stood, which meant it wasn’t going to be easy to go up; people who were up were looking like ants. It reminded me of the Vaishnodevi temple. But, as they say, God is not easily found, so we started climbing up after paying the entry ticket of Rs.25 per person. It was kind of a trek, with proper stairs. The more we climbed up, the more we got to see the panoramic view of the city.
Lenyadri temple is a very old cave carved in the rock, with lush greenery both above and below it; it’s considered as an archaeological monument. After having darshan and sitting inside the rocky caves for some time, we came down by 3.30pm. Instead of having tea, we opted for a lemon juice and then headed back. I didn’t know when I fell asleep while looking at the beautiful roads with nice songs playing in the background. We ate delicious thali in a Dhaba and reached our home by 6.30pm. The total cost of Ola Rental was Rs.4640 excluding the toll tax (which was Rs.35 for both ways).
I went to the same place twice and that too in the same month, with different mode of transport and a different company. Though the roads were the same, the experience was altogether different. Going with a bike has its own enjoyment, while the car has its own pleasure. I just want to end my story with a quote “You can shake the sand from your shoes, but it will never leave your soul.”