A trip to Pune, As a Solo traveller


This is Anirban from Total Traveller's desk. I started my journey as a solo traveller from this trip. This tour taught me that if you can't have anyone to support you, start alone and you will find many people to accompany you on the way to your destiny.

On the way to Mulshi Dam, with my strong and beloved companion.



Me along with myself went for a trip to Pune. Have made so many new friends. I always wanted to make this trip because of touring alone is a different experience altogether. And riding bike on this kind of surface in ghats was like a dream coming true. It was amazingly beautiful so as the people of all places I have visited. Truely one of the best trips I have made till date. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this possible. Specially Sana brothers.




                                                

        
The plan of this trip started when I was working in some company in some never ending project. My teammates were based from Pune. So I always wanted to meet them before leaving that company. Got a new job suddenly and unexpectedly. :) Dropped paper and got released in 7 days. Unexpected again.
         Didn't take more than 5 mins to decide my plan. Immediately booked up and down tickets. I had enough time to be back and join next company. My initial plan was like reach Pune via Mumbai and then go to Lavasa city, Mahabaleshwar, Malshejghat and many other places.
         Took many valuable office hours to decide about my route plan and to find bike on rent over internet. At last got to know that my friend's brother stays in Pune and has a Bajaj Pulsar 150 cc. Fixed an appointment with him on the day I was about to reach Pune.
Now comes the day of my journey. Gnaneshwari express to Mumbai. Met my teammate from Mumbai and went to their home. Had a nice breakfast with a cup of much appreciated hot tea. Vidyadhar dropped me at Mumbai bus terminus and promised me to meet me in Pune over the next weekend. Reached Pune at around 1 pm. I was alone waiting outside of my ex company with all the luggages. Everybody I knew previously was busy with their work. I did realize that they were doing my share of work too what I used to do earlier, so I had to wait their work to be done. Met my friends there, had lunch, kept my luggage and started to roam around.
Started with Parvati mata's mandir and keykar museum. The most boring day of my trip. Found nothing interesting enough. All I had to do was to kill hours to meet friends again after their office hours.
Motion Photography, an evening in Pune city
          After evening the most interesting part of this tour started and my boring day was at last had to have some fun. I was going to meet my friend's brother. To get the bike. He was very helpful. I could never imagine to give my bike to someone whom I never met and that too without knowing he can ride it or not. Around 10 pm left from his home and reached the place I had to stay. Said goodbye to him and left for the place I was going to stay. I was going to stay with someone from Kolkata. He had night shift and was about to reach home around 11.30. My first day of this trip ended very well as at last I have seen a bed waiting for me.

          Day - 1: Trip to Sinhagad Fort: 11 AM. I started with my Pulsar 150. Taking the bike to a mechanic, and checking the necessary things was on first priority. After doing this started for Sinhagad Fort. I was so excited to ride on Mumbai- Bangalore highway and Tensed as usual. 90-100 kmph. Riding in zig-zag style. I was wearing helmet with a sun glass. Suddenly I felt like my eyesight was getting disturbed with something very dark. I entered into a tunnel. A huge tunnel. And then I realized I was using sun glass. Immediately opened it and saw roadworks was in progress inside it. A twist with the handlebar saved my for that time and I escaped from an accident. Lucky me. An accident on the first day itself could ruin my entire trip. Stopped for sometime outside the tunnel on the highway and after a few mins I felt comfortable. Took a right turn to enter the last 25 kms towards the fort. I was using my mobile to see the route. It was Nokia Drive which helped me in many situations. The road conditions started to be bad. Through some big trees and no sight of a human being for 5-6 kms. And I was very hungry. Parked my bike beside the road. I could see a hill in front of me. I guessed it was the fort itself. I had bought several dairy milk chocolates for lunch in the coming days. Had one of it and started again after a small photo shoot. After a few kms took a left turn and the road started to go upwards. I started to climb and my first experience to ride bike in hills. Pretty excited. It was a bit tough initially, adjusting gear change and clutching. All I had was Saptaswa's suggestions. "Never use half clutch and do line driving". It really helped me. Had a smoke break on the way. And saw a group of 6 coming in 3 bikes. Never thought I would be friends with them immediately I start a conversation. They were very friendly. Before going to Pune I heard of getting non-cooperation from localities, even from my marathi friends. But all of them were terribly wrong. All the people I met there was very helpful. I spent the entire day with the bunch of 6. Went to Sinhagad, had lunch, had several photo shoots. It was a nice place to be. Ghats all around the fort. I felt I was standing somewhere in between Grand Canyon. Left Sinhagad fort before evening and went to some shopping mall in Pune city, with my new friends. I don't remember the name now. All I remember from there is , Manchester United Cafe.
Mumbai - Bangalore Highway

Way to Sinhagad Fort, After taking the rught turn from highway



On a viewpoint, just before Singahad Fort

Introduction of my new friends from Pune

My Cheerful Friends

View from Fort





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In a shopping mall, can't recall the name of it. It was near Magarpatta



Couple going for some romantic moments together, In Sinhagad fort


At Sinhagad fort


Chameleons can change colours, but we could see only one


 My 2nd day ended very well. May be the best day of this trip. Reached the place where I was staying. And went to sleep after sharing my day's experience with Pranab.


          Day - 2: Trip to Mulshi Dam: 10 AM, Wake up. My first ever solo bike trip. My friend was about to leave for office. Second shift again. Will be back around midnight. The experience I had previously was going to Masanjor, Deoghar in a team of 4. And it was totally plain land. So I was a bit tensed about the roads through the ghats of Maharastra. Started at 11 AM after taking breakfast from a cafe. Later on this cafe became my one of my new friends from Pune. After asking several times to the localities found my way to Mulshi Dam. It was a huge lake surrounded by hill all over the place. Very lonely place. I could not find a single tourist on my way. The roads to Mulshi were awesome. Curvy roads. Beautiful surface. Lush green paddy fields. A few lone temples. All together a place of my dream. Even when I am writing this log I am feeling like being there. Loved it.




Mulshi Dam
                                                                                                
          When I reached Mulshi Dam I thought of stop and return back. But it was around 1 PM and still had so many hours in my hand. I thought of going further but some local people told me not to wait till evening to return back. In recent times there have been a few harsh incidents. So I decided to go 15 kms more and return back. The scenic beauty was amazing, and nobody would like return back without exploring it at its best. And I was not exception.


On the way to Mulshi Dam
          So, I started again after having dairy Milk and Water. After going 3-4 kms got two roads divided. Took the left one and it was very steep and totally off road. All I wanted is to do some adventure. Just 10-15 meters towards that road and I decided to come back. A tire puncture or any mechanical fault in my bike could bring me into problem. That road was really very bad. Later on when I was discussing this with my friend, got to know that this road was going to Lavasa City through some beautiful villages. But, I don't regret for that.
          When we are traveling alone we should always keep in mind that, nobody was going to come and help me if I was stuck.



Reached Mulshi


Dream home, though it was not the best where you can get comfort. But, still when you come out from it in the morning with a cup of tea in your hand it is different.


Tso Moriri of Pune, Mulshi Lake


Inside the roadside tea cafe


Another dream place. A small shelter.


          I started again and after going 15 more kms I came back to Mulshi Dam. Stopped in one roadside tea stall and after spending 30 mins there, I started my ride to come back. It was 1 hour ride and I reached a position where one way goes to Lavasa and another one to Pune city.
It was 4 Pm. So, I went for Lavasa. I have never seen such a beautiful road in my entire life till now. Off course, I have seen better roads in hollywood movies. But in front of my eyes, this was the best. I was very excited. I enjoyed every moments of this ride.
Way to Lavasa City

A bridge on the way to Lavasa City
 I can't explain my experience in words. At last at around 5.30 I reached the Lavasa city gate, and then I checked my bike's headlight was not working. I blamed myself for not checking it earlier. Another dairy milk break and I started to come down towards Pune. It was really a very sad moment. I had heard Lavasa looks best during evening for its lighting. And I missed it.
         
          Uffff, I can't find anymore words now. To praise something. The same 'amazing, excellent, tremendous, beautiful' words I am using for all the blogs I am writing. I think, at this point I should start reading “Word power made easy”, the red book I had bought 10 years back.
         
          I met my friends in the evening in Pune and went for Avinash's farewell party. It was his last working day. Met my ex-manager in the party itself for the first time. Till then every time we talked over phone. My first meeting with my manager, and there was no official discussion, no project review meeting, no “why it is not working” discussion. I was very confident this time. And this was the best part of it.
          Stayed with Pranab again. And this time also we could not take our dinner together. It was a good day again. “A good day in office” the famous Sourav Ganguly dialouge.



Day 3: Trip to Lavasa City: Another very good morning. 10 AM. I didn't mention the weather of Pune before. Around 22 degree. It was very comfortable  I didn't find a better atmosphere to have a trip. Bright sunlight. A jacket was more than enough to shield the cold of January 2013.
I called Thakur. Met him on my day to Sinhagad fort. He said he would come to visit Lavasa with me as it was a free day for him and I didn't have anybody else to come with me as a pillion.
I was riding on the same roads which I could not complete on the previous day. Beautiful bends. And my speed increased on this day. And I had Thakur to shoot the videos. Great sunny weather. Had a tea break in between. Reached Lavasa city after 2 hours. Roamed around. We were riding like any destiny less rider. Nothing as such was there as a plan. So we stopped at every possible place for photo shooting. After 10-12 kms the road conditions were not as good as before, so we decided to come back. Shashank, another guy met on the first day came with 3-4 more friends of him. Met them, had lunch together and had a nice cheerful 1 hour. Around 4 pm started to come back. I had prior commitments of meeting a few more friends in Pune city. The evening was about to fall. Saying goodbye to Lavasa City was not easy enough. The best riding condition for a biker around Pune. Reached Pune around 6 PM. Thakur went back to his place and I went to meet friends.

Day 4: Trip to Mahabaleshwar: I called my friend Vidyadhar on friday and asked whether he was coming or not. He said he would reach Pune at early morning. I was pretty excited to think about my trip to Mahabaleshwar. 3 years back when I was in Mumbai for some official purpose I could not make it due to some unavoidable reason.
     It was a Saturday. Every previous night I thought of not riding bike on the next day due to fatigue but after the sound sleep everything became fine so I called Vidya immediately after I opened my eyes. Unfortunately he didn't pick up. After some continuous attempts at last he picked up and gave me a bad news that he didn't get tickets due to huge rush. And would come in 10 AM bus. He was about to reach at 1 PM. These endless three hours was like 3 days to me. I went to the mechanic shop for a bike check up. We had to double ride, so needed to fix the shock absorber of the bike. It was not performing well on last day. Vidya came to my place at 2 pm and we started for Mahabaleshwar at 2.30.
     The Mumbai-Bangalore highway was just awesome. It was live heaven to me. Hills all over the place. And highways of wonderful and excellent condition made it more interesting to ride on. I was so excited at that moment that I didn't stop enough to take photo. It was getting late too. We stopped at some cafe and had lunch. Taking help from my Nokia Drive we took a right turn. There was Hanuman Ji's mandir on the way. Another 20-25 kms and we started to take height. The ghat roads were amazing. A group of 10-12 Royal Enfield Motorcycles Classically passed us like Thunder Birds. It was my dream to ride a Bullet on these roads. Anyways, A Pulsar was nothing less. It was a treat to ride on these roads. After 2 more hours We reached Mahabaleshwar.
     I had never seen a crowded place like that before. A cold weekend dragged everybody out of Pune and Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar. Last 10-12 kms it was like hell. Cars all over the place. For several times I asked Vidya to take a walk and I was riding through the footpath. Clutching and braking, clutching and braking, there was nothing left in my hands. They needed some rest. But I didn't have any other option left. So we carried on like that only.
     After we reached our destiny, the next tough assignment was getting a budget hotel. For every vacant room the hotels were charging more that 2000-3000 rupees. And that was way over our budget, so started to roam around searching for a room. We were not able to find a single budget room in 1000 rupees. At last god helped us. Thousands of requests, and the hotel owner decided to decrease the rate to 1000 from 1500. It was a room of 8 ft/10 ft and a bed of a size where even a folded Vidyadhar could not make it. Cockroaches all over the place. The main attraction in that room was a 10 inches TV. After watching 'Jo Jita Wohi Sikandar' for half an hour we moved for the sunset from a view point. This time we didn't take our bike and started walking. It was too far, we went on, went on and could not make it before sunset. And that time we were in the middle of a small jungle, so we decided to move back. And after a few minutes the roads again turned into hell. We thanked each other for not taking the bike. We returned to the market in Mahabaleshwar.
     It was the best evening spent in last 4 days. Full of joy, Full of cheerful children, beautiful ladies and girls were all over there. That small place was looking like a Durga Puja in Kolkata. Full of crowd. We took shelter in front of our Hotel and started to look at people passing us. We didn't have energy left in us to walk. Then we moved to the bed early so that we could wake up early on the next day. We had several things to do on the next day.

Day 5: Panchgani and Back to Pune: We woke up at 5.30. Nice cold morning. We had bought a Tour guide and tourist map on the previous day. We had to go to several point and then start for Panchgani. We went to Arthur's seat, Elephant view point, Monkey point, Needle point, Savitri view point and many other places. The top of Mahabaleshwar was amazing. Chilling weather and low sunlight with a cup of coffee just made my day. We spent some quality time out there. The beauty of nature and the roads were excellent as well. Had to ask several time to the localities. Vidyadhar used to ask his thousands of questions in Marathi and then translated those to me. At around 10 am we started for Panchgani. The traffic conditions was in good shape that day. May be most of the tourists were in their bed that day. We moved towards panchgani after taking breakfast.
     The main attraction while coming down was Venna Lake. It was a huge lake in between hills. So many colorful boats were taking tourist to the center of the lake but we found it better to be on our legs beside the lake. Had bought dozens of strawberry keep our mouth running. Went to a cafeteria where hundreds of flavour was available. Icecream, Juice, Sandwitch and many other foods. We had tested a few of them and left from Panchgani.
     Our Mahabaleshwar trip was about to end. Around 120 kms to reach Pune city. Once again passing through the ghats and tunnels, the beautiful highways we Pune in 2 and half hours. Vidyadhar left for Mumbai and I stayed moved back to Pranab's place. Had spent some times with Pranab and his roommates. Around evening I started re-visiting friends again as I had my return train on the next day.

Day 6: Visiting Hinjewadi: My 6th day's plan was meeting a few friends at their Hinjewadi office. I have worked with them in a same project for almost 3 years but never met them. So I always wanted to meet them. It never looked like I met them for the first time. After the good-bye episode with them I left for the most painful part of this trip. Returning the bike to its owner. Called my friend and gave it to him. I will be thankful and grateful to him for this help through out my entire life. I didn't have words to thank him. He was such a helpful guy. He sacrificed a lot for me. I know how much it hurts to travel on Auto and bus when somebody have bike. I found it toughest to return to Pune without the bike. I reached my friend's flat and left from there with my luggages.
The last thing to do was meeting a few more friends at their Pune office. Had tea and spent an hour with them and then left for Pune station. It was Azad Hind Express 3AC, RAC 5. Found it getting confirmed on the last hour otherwise it could have been worse reaching Kolkata and joining my new company on the next day of return.
     I have made many new friends from this trip and Rupesh and Shashank was a few of them. I will never forget them. They came to Gondia station to meet me with cakes, cold drinks and many other foods, luckily. I never told them that I was running short of money as some shortfall amount I had to pay to the ticket checker. Somehow god knew it and helped me through Shashank and Rupesh.
I had plan of going to Malshej ghat and Matheran but these could not be possible in this trip. So I will come back again someday someway.
Thanks a ton, everybody I have met in this trip and who had helped me doing this trip. I will never forget you. Thank you.





Children having fun with thier parents in a weekend trip to Lavasa City



Lavasa Lake from viewpoint


Had a tough time taking a snap of her. Everytime she was hiding behind something.


Flaats on sale, 1 BHK was 40 Lacs


Happy hour in an ice cream parlour


Favourite timepass of a child, Running without a reason. :)


Pink squirral


Hungry


Didn't have to mention, 'Smile please'. She was always smiling.


Hellipad ground






Inside a park towards Mahabaleshwar.


Touch and go


It was a full moon, In Mahabaleshwar


Sunset





Mahabaleshwar top


Flying high


Just out of its bed. Its sunrise time.


Never seen sooo many strawberries. Mahabaleshwar was totally red that time.
                                                                                                 


Informations may Help:

Places to Visit Around Pune: Mulshi Dam, Satara, Lavasa City, Mahabaleshwar, Malshej Ghat, Matheran, Goa.

Distance and Time: Pune to Mulshi : 50 kms, 2 hours.
Pune to Lavasa : 60 kms, 2.5 hours
Pune to Sinhagad: 50 kms, 2 hours
Pune to Mahabaleshwar: 120 kms, 4 hours.

Up Train From Kolkata: Mumbai Mail to Mumbai, Then Bus to Pune.
Down Train to Kolkata: Azad Hind Express
Cost of this trip: Rs. 8000. This includes food, Fuel, Train fare and other miscellaneous expenditure. Lodging and Transportation was nil for me.
Some Bike/ Scooty Contacts: +912066824997, +919890829786 (Shakeel)

Must Carry: Raincoat, Water and Chocolates.


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