Bay Area Trip (Day 1)

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17-Mar-2016: Few of our friends call Bay area their home and we had wanted to visit them and also G and Ar had not been to that area. So this had been in planning for some time, but it kept getting moved forward, one due to we not having the car and also it being a long trip we were not ready yet. This trip got finalized in Feb and we decided to go in March We were thinking of taking couple of days off before the weekend and make it a 4 days trip. The distance from our place to it is around 400 miles and it takes around 7:00 hours to reach if you go non stop 🙂 . We started planning the itinerary as the day approached. The plan was as below:

  • Day 1: Head towards Bay area, via Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and enjoy the scenic route. Reach our friends place.
  • Day 2: Do a SFO sightseeing and spend some time with friends.
  • Day 3: Do some local sightseeing, like silicon valley etc, mainly a relax day.
  • Day 4: Before heading back visit one more of our friend and be home by evening.

We packed our stuff, we ended up carrying lot of luggage ;), mainly food stuff, clothes , gifts etc. I had loaded the car tank preceding night as we were to start early. Woke up at 5:00 am. We had planned to leave by 6:30 am as we wanted to cross LA before peak time traffic. Though as always we got delayed and could start only around 7:30 am. We were cruising along I-5 and traffic was light, but as we entered 101, the traffic slowed us down. It took us more than a quarter hour to cross LA. We took diversion at CA-58 to head towards Moro bay where we got on to the Pacific coast highway (PCH), which was going to accompany us for next 200+ miles. This route is one of the most beautiful and scenic route in the world. The whole road passes right next to the Pacific coast on one side and cliffs on other. There are many beautiful beaches, vista points and arched bridges on the way.

We were making nice progress as traffic was light. We took a stop at San Simon which is a nice town and has great beach front. We had our lunch their which we had brought with us (parathas etc). It was such a nice experience to have it alongside the San Simon coastline. We would have liked to explore this town more as we have heard it has some nice old European architecture style buildings. For some other time ! We also fueled up here and moved ahead. It is important to keep refueling on PCH at regular intervals as you might not spot any gas station for a long stretch.

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Our next stop was going to be Big Sur. This is a resort town on the way and its very scenic. The main attraction is the cove and waterfall descending into it. We parked on PCH and then you have to descend and you get to a bridge. From here you get view of pristine blue waters and the water falling from cliff into the cove. I have not seen such a sight. Its mesmerizing. We spent some good amount of time there and did not want to leave. Just a short distance from here is Bixby creek bridge, which you might have seen on numerous postcards. There are couple of vista points before the bridge, from where you can see the arched bridge on the cliff flanked by Pacific coastline with blue waters. We then crossed the bridge and took break on the vista point on other side of the bridge. You get a different view of the bridge from here which is equally jaw dropping. Big Sur is a destination in itself and you can spend few days here to explore it, which we did not had unfortunately 😦 . We wanted to see one more point (a beach), which is quite popular but couldn’t find the spot and as we were getting late so we continued further.

Around 30 miles from Big Sur is the famous 17 mile drive. This is a private drive and there is $10 fee. Its a small peninsula and you go round the loop which is around 17 mile and so the name. At the beginning there is forested area and the jungle is heavily wooded. We took couple of breaks there, it was cool and peaceful. From here you drive down and you start feeling the ocean breeze. There are many scenic spots here like the iconic Lone Cyprus tree which is timeless, then there is Pebble beach and many golf coarse on the coast line. We took a break at the Pebble beach and had some snacks on the benches overlooking it. It gave us  much needed break. It was around 5:30 pm and I had been driving for close to 10 hours. Ar was started getting bit restive, with her constant question being “Are we there yet?”. We then completed the loop which was quite scenic and then headed out.

There is an exit for Sunnyvale before you enter Santa Cruz. This is the point you leave the coast behind. It was a mesmerizing PCH ride, which we would remember for ever. Yeah, its just like as they show in movies 🙂 . We stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and then we headed for our destination. We reached out friends home at Cupertino by 8:00 pm. We were quite tired, but had completed the 1st leg. We had driven for almost 12.5 hours and covered a distance of over 400 miles. We parked our vehicle, pulled out all our stuff and headed to their home. After freshening up and some chit chat had dinner and then it was time to go to bed.

PS:  I had done the PCH ride before, but it was as a passenger and I always wanted to drive myself on this stretch. I cant explain enough in words how scenic and wonderful this route is..

Seal & Sunset beach Weekend Getaway

10-Jun-2017:  Today was more beaches day! We couldn’t see the sunset yesterday and so decided to go to some beach to catch one. The plan was to go late in second half and come back after the sunset. G wanted to start late in the evening something like 6-6:30 pm and before that have weekly grocery run. But I was getting bored and wanted to leave early. Finally we dropped the grocery plans and decided to head straight to the beach. We decided to cover 2 of the beaches on our to do list. One was the Seal beach which is close to Long beach and bit south from there the Sunset beach. We planned to go to Seal first and then come catch the sunset on its namesake beach.

We left around 4:00 pm. This time around we didn’t miss to get the snacks with us. The route is go to PCH and head north and Seal beach is located around 9-10 miles from Huntington. The route is our favorite and we were enjoying the drive. It was bit hot though but skies were clear, a good news for seeing the sunset. We reached there around 5:30 pm. There is a big parking lot there and the parking charges are $3:00 for 2 hours. The beach was ok not great. The Seal is for the namesake, we could not spot any Seals 😉 There are only limited amenities, like only one shower/restroom and a small children play area. Also the coasts view is not as scenic as you can see long beach port and rigs in the ocean. Ar though played lot in the water and she was not ready to leave. We spent lot of time in water. The water was warm with nice swirl of waves hitting now and then. Ar also played with her sand toys and created a small castle. We then decided to take a beach walk and enjoy the moment. There is a nice pier where we strolled a bit and then decided to head to the other beach as it was almost 7:20 pm.

The Sunset beach is 3 miles down south from here and its quite long. There are houses lining the beach front and there is ample parking on the road side. So we pulled just before 19th street and beach is just few yards away from there. Ar was not too eager to go as she was feeling bit cold. But after some time she was fine. We put down the blanket on the sands and relaxed. We were hungry by now and had some snacks. Ar was playing in the sand and I just put on the cap on my face and took a quick nap. G also took some rest. It was close to 8:00 pm now and sun was about to set. I wont say this is the best sunset point ever, but it was nice and we had good time seeing the sun set We also shot lot of video footage for our vlogs. It was getting quite cold now as the sun set. We left the place around 8:30 pm.

It had been a bit tiring weekend, but we had nice time covering 3 beaches and the PCH drive. On the way back the traffic was thin and we reached home around 9:30 pm. On the way we picked up bread and G prepared some nice hot sandwiches and we called it a day.

Dana Point Sunset

10-Jun-2017: It’s summer time! Not my favorite month though, but G’s fav and Ar’s also , kinda. One thing we like about summer months is that the day is longer and so you have lot of time at your hands. So Ar’s school break has started and we have planned some beach gateways with family in the vacation time. We plan to cover at least but not restricted to 12 beaches, that would be 1 beach a week for the vacation duration.

This Saturday we woke late and we were behind everything, but after lunch which was a late one decided to head out. We did not have a specific plan, though were thinking about seeing sunset at Dana Point. It was 4:00 pm when we left and as we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, we changed plans and decided to go the other direction i.e. up north and stop at point where our journey takes us. The weather was good, bit cloudy, we had out sun roof open and were cruising along the PCH.

We passed through Laguna, Corona del mar, Newport beaches and decided to halt at Huntington pier. It was around 5:30 pm now and I pulled up in the parking lot, but when I saw $15 rate, pulled out. For whole day its fine, but for 1-2 hours we were going to send there it was not worth it. So we decided to head back to our original destination: Dana point. Ar was bit tired by now and she was anxious when we are going to reach the beach. The traffic surprisingly was thin that day and beaches were also quite empty, may be due to cloudy day. Seeing parking spots easily available at Laguna beach tempted us to stop there, but then we decided to stick to our plans. We took the Golden Lantern exit and were at Dana Point by 6:15 pm. There is enough parking space here and its free.

Dana Point is actually a harbor and you would spot many boats and yacht there. The water on the harbor side is calm and serene and on the other side rash and noisy 🙂 On the extreme right side beyond the harbor is Pacific Coast and located there is the Sun Set point, flanked by the hill cliff. There are some nice benches to sit and relax and during low tides you can go down the stairs to the waters. This is the place which was my first outing when I cam to US. Nice place and nice old memories.

Instead of benches, we decided to sit on the rocks closer to the water. The sound of waves hitting the rocks is so soothing. We knew we will not be able to catch the sunset as it was cloudy near the horizon. We spent good 2 hours there and were lost in time. Ar also had lot of fun. As sun approached the horizon the sky is turned into a painting canvas. It was also getting quite cold now and the tide was also rising, some waves were splashing water on us. It was time to leave. We picked the car and headed home and were back by 8:30 pm. We were back late than we had planned and as Ar wanted pizza for dinner, we had that from Dominoes and called it a day.

PS: Couple of things that didn’t go as per plan: One was snacks which I had packed, was left at home only (no surprises here 😉 )and so we didn’t had anything to eat on the beach and second being the main reason for the outing to see the sunset remained unfulfilled, so we decided to go again tomorrow at some other place to catch the sun going beyond the horizon.

 

Quick gateaway to 1000 steps beach, CA

27-May-2017:  This was Memorial Day long weekend and I had came early home. Ar was playing and G was watching TV. I freshen up and had nice cup of tea and was thinking what to do for the rest of the evening. G suggested we should go out some place. The weather was great, cloudy but not too windy or cold, but just being home from work I was not too enthusiastic to head out, but G and Ar were already getting ready to head out 😀. So I got down to find a nice close by place to go.

G was think of going to park , but I and Ar were for beach. We didn’t want to go to regular beaches so I was looking for different options and found a secret beach, tucked between Monarch and Laguna beach. It’s called 1000 steps beach and looked nice in pics. I may have passed through Pacific coast highway innumerable times but had not seen any trace of this one. Indeed it was a secret beach 😀. So we were even more excited!

We quickly got ready avoiding packing usual stuff to munch on where most of the time goes. It was already 6:00 pm and we wanted to spend sometime there in day light and also as it gets dark it would be cold there. The beach is on PCH, onwards to Laguna beach just opposite 9th street. We were there in 15 mins and found a street parking just before 8th. As we crossed the signal to the coast side we saw a small entrance, with beach’s name. Its so indiscreet, that’s why we never realised there’s a beach here.

More than the beach, G was thinking more about the 1000 steps in its name😀. as we entered the entrance gate we could see scores of steep steps winding down and we couldn’t even see the ground. We were in more some hike here! G started counting the steps as I and Ar also started descending. The steps are steep but on the way down  you make quick progress and in some time we could see the sand down below. We were on the beach in 5 mins and G was sad that she lost the count in between, but we were certain the steps are no way close to 1000 in no, so that was comfort thinking we had to climb them on our way back.

The beach was quite nice and was pretty big. There are private residences along the beach on the cliff end and then on front you have the ocean. On our right at far distance we could see the Laguna beach and on left at the very end we could see a cave. In front of us there were some rocky patches which were slightly at an height and the waves passed skidding it on both sides and curled inwards before receding giving that patch a feel of an island when the waves came in. We spent long time on the rock and it was great just being there. We got some really nice snaps there. Ar was initially hesitant but once she was on the rock she was quite enjoying it.

We then had nice stroll down the beach. Ar had some nice time playing in sand. The beach has limited facilities like restroom and shower and the no of people there were less. Nice place to spend some quite evening. As the sun headed towards the horizon, cool breeze had started blowing. Evening Colors were mixing with clouds creating a unforgettable portrait in sky. The time it seemed had still stood.

We would have liked to stay till sunset, but Ar wanted to head back. As we headed back we could see our island being swallowed by waves! After washing of the sand, we gazed upwards towards the long staircase staring us down, but mawale’s were up for the challenge! After initial enthusiasm weared out, the climb was slow, but Ar went all the way to top nonstop. She won the flag post hands down. The climb was nice excersie for legs. Though there was some disagreement with the count, I and G agreed there were around 220-230 steps, though Ar was confident the count was no more than 56😀.

We headed straight to the car. We Rehidrated, Gluclosed, I took the U turn, slided open the sun roof, cool air breezing in, Sun setting behind us, we were headed HOME!

PS: So 1000 steps turned out more of a gimmick, it still is steep hike, though beach is real nice and we would go back!

Hurda Party At Rajewadi

Feb 2010 : Since some time we were thinking of going for some trek, but it was not happening. Ram suggested to come visit his village and we can also have Hurda party as well on his farm. Also per him we can trek one of the hills near his house which has a great views of many backwaters and surroundings from the top. So this seemed to be a good option and we finalized on a date and left the planning to Ram to do our kahtirdari 🙂

We decided to book a vehicle (Ram wanted to go on the bike) and spend some time at his village and come back in half day. We started early on that day though we had breakfast at home only to keep the trip short. Rajewadi is his village, which is off Pune – Satara super highway on the other side of Neera river. Its around 50 km from Pune city and takes around 1 hour to reach. We reached there by 9:00 am. This area is an upcoming industrial area and we saw many factories along internal road leading to his village. The village is small, but beautiful, flanked by hills on one side and Neera river on other.

We then went to his home and got introduced to his family. They served us tea and after small conversation, we decided to head to the fields. The day was quite hot. His farm was nearby to his house and along with other crops had the jowary planted. We picked few of the kanis from his fields but they were small and bit raw. Instead we observed that the next field had big kanis and looked fresh. So we tore down many from that field 🙂 . Grass is greener on the other side, hence proved! 😉 We took all of it to Ram’s field for roasting. We found a small canopy and started working on lighting the fire. As simple as it may look, getting a fire going can be tricky task. It took us some time to get it going and after some trail and error we were finally start roasting the hurdas.

We had brought salt and chilli powder from Ram’s place with us in puddis. Ram was roasting it one after other and once couple were done which didn’t come out that well, once the makeshift stove was hot the next batch started coming out well. The Hurda was quite good and we enjoyed the party. We then rested under the shade for some time, we would have liked to stay there whole afternoon. The winter sun was up and it was pleasant weather to just lay down. Then we decided to go for the next item of itinerary was trek the hill which was just across the fields. The hill was looking quite tall and the slopes quite imposing.

Ashk was not much in favor of trek , but as others persisted and also Ram was the one who was our host and organizer of this event, we decided to go. Though the hill was looking quite close by, from the field where we stood, it took us some 20-25 mins walk to reach the base. From there we started the real trek. Surprising it was difficult! One reason was there were not many marked trails and the gravel on the surface was quite loose and slippery. We are slipping once a while and it was making the progress slow. Also there was hardly any vegetation at the base and on the slopes for shade, though at the top there was some tree cover.

We reached the top in around 30 minutes. The top was a narrow ridge connecting the one end of hill to other. We started walking on the ridge, which was quite an adventure 🙂 After 10 -12 mins walk, where we were walking in the single file, so narrow was the ridge and there was valley on each side, we reached the final ascent. We were slipping a bit once a while and it was bit risky having valley on both sides. After covering this section, we started the accent and it was getting difficult now. The gravel here was more slippery and we had hard time getting on top. But the view from top was worth the effort and we could see far off amongst cool breeze. From here there was again small hike to the topmost point from where you can see many backwaters, but by then everyone in the group had given up. Also the section was bit dangerous and we decided to head back. Ram was unhappy that we didn’t go to the point where he wanted to take us.

The descent was even more difficult with slippery gravel. Most of the section we descended sitting down, just sliding over the surface. This where I strained my knee’s ligament, which still hurts :(. We reached the bottom in 20 mins and headed to Ram place. They had prepared lunch for us. We all sat down and had a nice home made lunch. We took some rest and then headed back to Pune. We were back home around 6:30 pm.

It was indeed very memorable experience and would definitely want to have another Hurda party some day!

Hike To Ortega Falls

06-May-2017 : It was 2:00 pm and we just had had our lunch. I was just back from grocery and the day was progressing slowly and I was watching some documentary on Netflix and was ready for a siesta! Then I heard G! Are we going to spend this weekend at home only? Are we not going out some where? Enough of your afternoon siesta’s … You would have got the idea. So I was like yeah, lets go some where then, but where we want to go now, in the afternoon. See its raining. What a nice time for a quick nap! But G was not impressed and finally I had to get on the iPad and start looking for places to go. I was earlier thinking of going to some beach, but outside it was raining and cold and so beach was not a good idea. G and Ar were looking for some trek near by and I was like if we have to go lets go to some distance. Rain made us think about waterfall and so we decided to head for one of the nice ones around. Now there are not many waterfalls around Orange County to choose from and we were thinking of going to Holly Jim falls which is in Rancho Santa Margarita, in the hills. I did some research on it and came to know that the last 4 miles to it is a dirt road and not good for cars with low clearance. So that was dropped and while looking for more options came across Ortega falls, which is not as close, but not too far.  Looking at pictures and some information it looked a good waterfall with some hike to it. So Ortega falls it was going to be! We quickly packed the snacks (no surprises!) and left.

Outside it was quite cold, I was still thinking of home :). But we were on our way. We had the tank filled up at Costco and we were off. It is around 29 miles from out home, close to 40 mins drive. The direction you take is Pacific Park -> Antonio Pkwy -> CA-74 E. In around 20 mins we were on CA-74 E. Its a small highway of 2 lanes and it was fun driving on it as it reminded me of some drives back home in India! The road is really nice and it paces through hills and then you start climbing the ghat, which is beautiful. The weather made the ride even more pleasing. As you get closer to the top, the surrounding starts getting greener and greener and you start passing through clouds. It kind of reminded me of Mahabaleshwar. The highest point is around 2200 ft. Somehow we missed the pull up point for the falls as we kept going. Now you need to be careful to pull up at right place as there is no U turn and there is now way to go back. As we also wanted to visit the lake Elsinore which is on the other side of hills, we continued. as we started the descent, we could see the lake to our left. Its very big and quite scenic. We were downhill in 10 mins and pulled up close to lake. We would have liked to go to lake park and spend some time, but it was already 4:00 pm and we still wanted to take a shot at the waterfall. So after spending some time on lake shore, we headed back on CA-74W and started the ascent.

This time we set the direction on Google maps and not my GPS, which kind of confused us leading the point to be missed. On the way the traffic was also less, so I was enjoying the drive. We pulled at a vista point having nice views of the lake. From there we headed straight to the pull up point of falls. We could see some cars parked there and pulled over. In front of we could see the hills face and the valley in front of us. G went to the mound and spotted the waterfall in the hills across the valley. So we took out stuff and started the hike. The whole hills was green and covered with shrubs. There were few trees as well. There were many pathways and we picked one of them and started the hike. We could see the waterfall on our far right and so we figured out we first would have to descent the valley to the bottom and then climbed back up to reach the falls. The weather was good so we were enjoying the trek, under sun it would be tiring as there are only few trees for cover. We were making OK progress, but the shrubs which crisscross you on the pathway was a major irritant. Some of the shrubs are off course has either thorns or has leaves which can cause itching. So we had to be careful. As always Ar was leading the trek at many times and she was having fun. We were trying to teach her some basics of hiking and she kind of got it I think, but was reluctant to use her hands to hold rocks or trees and instead using us to hold 🙂

We reached the base on 15- 20 mins. On the way there were few cross ways and there was some arguments between I and G on which one to take. At one point we were glad to take the one suggested by G, the other one would have taken far off! But looking at so many pathways, I was bit worried about our way back as they would be causing us confusion. I was trying to remember the paths, with some landmarks, but they would still cause us some worrying moments as we shall see. As we neared the base we could clearly hear the falls and flowing water. Finally we could see the stream and took a break there. Now we just had to follow the upstream to reach the falls. Here the stones are big, like boulders and also very smooth and slipper as the water would be flowing over it at many times. We had to be careful crossing those, especially with Ar. Finally we reached the falls. It was small, but nice and I always enjoy the sound these make, which gives you peace. We could also hear noises of some people above. As going from here to the top would have been bit a challenge taking Ar with us, we decided to take the stop there only.

But I wanted to check whats up there and also see if there is any other way for us all to reach the top, I continued for some distance. I realized in sometime that the main waterfall is where we had taken break and at top its just stream flowing through the stones. Also the stones there were more smooth and slippery and so didn’t make the case for them to get here and so I scaled down. The waterfall is small, but pristine and the sound it makes as it falls over and flows over the stones is amazing. It is surrounded by think forest cover. We just spent sometime there just listening. Ar was excited to drop the small paper boat she had got from home, though she was sad it did not cover much distance. We had some snacks there, soaked in the nature for a while and then decided to head back. It was already 5:30 pm and though the Sun sets late now, due to cloud cover it was already quite dark and we wanted to be back through the maze of pathways at the parking lot before dark.

We made good progress initially and Ar was looking more confident in the hike. Finally we hit the cross road and there was a confusion on which road to take. There were at least 3-4 roads there and per my suggestion and against G’s we selected the middle road. We might have passed few meters and we stuck thick bush cover, which made we second guess my choice. Not a good thing to do! So we turned back and took the road which G had suggested earlier which was heading left. After a point it again became a crossroad and we took the one going top as we knew we had to keep going upwards. Luckily as this trail is located close to highway, we could hear sounds of vehicle in a distance and I knew we were on wrong path as the vehicles were appearing closer to our right and far in the direction we were heading. But G was persistent and so she scaled the rocks for few distance, but finally I was able to convince her. It was getting dark and I was worried, if we cant figure this out quickly we would be in real mess. So after backtracking, we took the same direction I had suggested earlier, just we used the parallel pathway away from bush.

As we kept moving and the bush really made it difficult as well as irritating, I started hearing the noise of vehicles better, we knew we were in right direction, only not sure at which point we would exit. Finally we could see cars and we were out of the bushes and what was pleasantly surprising that we had exited at the same spot from where we had entered. Now that’s some sixth sense! Ar was bit tired in the last leg, but we had made it in time. We rested a bit and headed back to our home. On the way back nothing interesting happened, traffic was low though. We were back at our home by 6:45 pm. We had had a nice small unplanned trip and G was happy!

PS: Though the waterfall and surroundings was great at the falls itself there was some trash as well as graffiti on rocks which was sad 😦

Purandar and Vajragad Fort trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                       Base Village : Narayanpur, Pune district

Grade : Medium                                                     Height : 4472 feet

Distance From Pune : 40 kms

05-Feb-2017 : So we were in India for few weeks and I was raring to go and do some trekking and visit some forts. We were thinking about the options and preference was to cover something new, but the limitation of time and people availability had also to be considered. So after much deliberations it came down to 2 options, Rajmachi or Purandar and Vajragadh. Both were close to Pune and even though we had done Purandar back in 2009, we could not do its jod gadh Vajragadh.

Finally Purandar/Vajragadh was finalized considering the distance and the limited time we had. So the plan was to start early and be back to Pune no later than 5:00 pm. I was running a busy schedule, the previous day (4th) was Ar’s B’day and the celebrations ran late in the evening and there was only few hours to catch sleep and head for the trek. After I would be gone, later in the morning G and Ar were going to G’s place and considering all these factors and other members availability, 5th Feb was selected. The day before we had packed some food, fruits etc. Breakfast and lunch we had planned to do on the way. We had booked our friend’s acquaintance’s jeep.

I woke up early at around 5:30 am, got ready quickly and was ready to leave by 6:15 am. I thought I was late as we had planned to assemble at Ashk’s place at 6:30 am and I was not going to get there in 15 mins for sure as I was still at home! So I gave him a call and told him that I am just leaving and would be there in 20- 25 mins. Now from sound of his he made me believe that he is all padded up and ready to leave, when I reached there he was still nowhere to be seen. Later he confessed, I was the one who had actually woken him up 😉  So left home on bike and reached Ashk’s place, parked the bike and as noted earlier I and Ram waited there for long time for him to arrive.

So we were 3 of us leaving from this pickup point and the next pick up point was Undri and then Hadapsar, where 4 more of our friend’s were going to join. We took the Katraj bypass road to head to Undri. This road I knew was bad, but it turned out to be even worse now. There are so many big potholes and with road concretisation going on it was real bad. The journey which should have taken 20 mins took more than double of that and we finally picked Sam and from there headed towards Hadapsar to pick Ran and Rav. After that finally we were on Saswad road heading towards our destination and we were running quite late. It was already 8:00 am!

There are many ways to reach Purander from Pune and the one which we took was Hadapsar -> Saswad -> (Saswad – Kapurhol road) -> just after Narayanpur take the ghat to Purandar fort. The roads are now good and wide, even the Dive ghat section, since the last time I came here. While ascending Dive ghat, in the valley on your left you see the Mastani talav, which we were planning to cover on the way back, but did not happen. We were making good progress and reached Saswad by around 9:00 am. Earlier we were planning to have Breakfast on the way to Saswad at any good restaurant besides the Highway, but we couldnt spot any and also Ashok through his friend found out that there is one good misal joint in Saswad and we decided to try that. The name of this place is Chandu seth misal and he seems to be quite famous. Near the Saswad Shivaji chowk we did couple of inquiries and they guided us to the spot. It is in front of Dakshinmukhi Maruti Mandir and its nice small place.

The misal here is unique and I have never had such. So before you even take a seat each table already has the bowl, filled with shev and farsan. Onion, lemon etc are on the table. Just as you enter the hotel you spot multiple big pots having sample are being boiled continuously. As you take seat and are ready to be served, the server would get 3 buckets on your table, one having medium spicy sample, one hot sample and one tarri. He will also get Pav in plates. You mix and match the 3 liquids in your bowl and enjoy the misal. Taste wise its OK, but I liked the style! So we had garma garam misal and with our tummy’s full, we headed out. They only serve Misal, not even chai. So we found one chai tapari just besides the temple and the kaka made special masala tea for us. We even had a uncalled guest, who had tea on our expense! So we were all energized and ready to head towards the fort.

So last time we had come to Purander, we were on bikes and it was in middle of summer. Some good old memories from then, I think it was in April 2009. It was nice to be going back. But this time around we were not going to commit the same mistake (or was it, its still being debated!) as last time of parking at Narayanpur and walking in sweltering heat to the base. In fact this time we were not going to walk from base, but were going straight till the Car park near the top of the fort and explore the fort. This fort is maintained by military and so there are number of gates and checkpoints. So as we came near the main gate we saw it was still closed. There were few cars waiting in front of us. On making inquiries at the checkpoint learnt that it opens at 10:00 am, so that was only 10- 15 mins away, what a great timing! Luckily all of us had brought ID’s with us as only after verifying that they allow you in. So the gates opened in some time and after our ID’s and vehicle checked we were allowed in.

The first thing you notice is this is one of the best maintained forts in terms of infrastructure with good roads and facilities and well maintained. We passed through the Binni darwaja, passed MurarBaji’s statue and parked in the parking area. There we were asked to keep our mobiles and camera’s in the car which you cant carry further from that point, which was sad. So we packed all those things kept it safetly in the car and started the small trek. From here you get a good view of the fort’s ramparts. You also get a good view of Vajragad. The trail passes through thick cover of trees and in 15- 20 mins you reach the top near the Zhenda. From here we explored the fort a bit and headed towards the Mahadev mandir.

Here you need to pass through the designed pathways only, else you are warned by the security officials. At one location where there was a Y intersection, we were not sure which one to take so we used the lower road which was quite an adventure, we had to pass over the water tank through ladder laid from one end to other :). Somehow we crossed it and we might have gone few meters, we heard the whistle. Not to say we had to do one more round of balancing act on the ladder 🙂 and we were on right road. Soon we could see the temple on the top end of the fort. There are stone steps from the bottom to reach the temple. We took darshan and sat outside on the platform. It was around 12:00 pm and we were at the top. A cool breeze was blowing and spectacular view was in front of us. We had some snacks and fruits (apples) and had some good chat. We then started the descent and came to the base in half an hour. We then went straight to Sambhaji Maharaj’s statue and then visited Sambhaji Maharaj’s birth place. It was nice being here.

We wanted to go to Vajragad next which is historical fort connected to Purandar. Unfortunately as it is now closed to public, we had to drop it!  Yeah, second time around  :(. We had to contend seeing that majestic fort from a distance only. Then we came back to our cars to find our mobiles safe 😉 and headed towards Pune. On the way we took stop at Murar Baji’s  statue and then headed towards Narayanpur and were soon on the way to Saswad. At Saswad there was some traffic jam due to nivadnuk miravnuk (Corporation and ZP elections were round the corner). We reached Garva hotel in some time. We took some rest, I had veg pullav and lime juice and relived some old memories. Then we headed back to Pune. The traffic was slowly started building up. We first dropped Hadapsar and Undri guys and then we were deliberating to change the route (after morning experience), but did not and that decision led to some avoidable consequence (see PS). We reached Katraj by 4:30 pm. I picked my bike and was back home by 5:00 pm. Nice fort trek after long time with our group!

PS: So our picking the same route of Katraj – Undri bypass had unintended consequence. Not only we had to endure the bad roads again(which was given) but our vehicle was stopped by traffic police and our driver fined due to some documentation issue!