Exactly a year back, I had the idea for a roadtrip to Bhandardara, a secluded out of bounds mystery amidst the Sahyadris. However, for various trivial reasons, it somehow went into the back burner. Finally due to the like-mindedness of a few fellow adventurous petrolheads, it got materialised!
Someone once told me Bhandaradara is a biker’s paradise. It is, but…not all the way I’d say. Well I guess times change, and so does the road conditions, which my companions would definitely agree to LOL.
For a week or two, we kept contemplating on what time we should leave. Since it’s wintertime, we decided starting early would be fun as it’d be cool enough for the vehicles.
Trying to catch a glimpse of the sunrise…
Post my last trip to Dudhani, somehow my clutch cable broke. Thank God it didn’t happen on the highway! Hence upon my dad’s insistence…who by the way is my usual companion for road trips, I had a thorough check-up, servicing, washing, refuelling, air pressure check-up….well, the usual works on the day before. I personally believe that if you take care of your vehicle, the vehicle will take care of you!
The meet-ups begin…
Occasionally I like to pamper Scarlet with a few upgrades J. A few days back, I had installed a new pair of Osram Nighbreaker Headlamps (H4), Projector lense parking lights (white) and Monster Rim Strips…all purchased from Ebay.in…and a pair of Clutch and Brake Levers, a very classy looking adjustable one, which I had purchased online from a Delhi based company – MXS MotoSport. These levers were a really good find as they were extremely comfortable and precise for daily commute as well as for highway usage.
As usual, due to the excitement of the trip, I could barely catch a few winks the night before; kept staring at my bike from the balcony. Having woken up at 5 AM, I had a quick cup of hot black coffee and in the meanwhile pings started coming in from the others. To our ill luck, 2 bikers had to back out at the last moment due to health issues. Undeterred by the last minute cancellations, I met up with Duane and Shreerang at Andheri East near the HUL campus and then went on to meet three others on the eastern expressway. Shiva, Vishal and Sabya would be travelling in Shiva’s kickass tuned up old school Honda city Type II, which can give any modern sedans a run for their money!
While waiting for Shiva and the others, we were greeted by a few bikers, on a mission as well.
The Milwaukee “Iron” Monster\m/
After spending the next few minutes admiring each others vehicles, we finally started off, and in an hour’s time, we crossed the Kalyan junction and then we were officially out of the clutches of Mumbai.
I got sunshine…
To my dislike, a family stopped by for breakfast and instead had the kid posing on my bike for a few photographs, and then exclaim his fondness for Yamaha bikes…well who wouldn’t eh? 😉
We hit the highway again and on way, Sabya, our official photographer managed to click a few fly-bys!
Grandmaster Duane on his blue Avenger \m/
Animalistic Shreerang rocking the Pulsar 150\m/
The howling wolf\m/
More we rode away from the city, the cooler it would get. We had decided to stick together and maintain an average speed of 80 – 100 km/hr speed limit, in order to monitor the mileage. However, the brilliant runway like quality of NH 3, triggered the inner speed demon and we opened throttled.
Now THAT’S called a highway!!!
A well deserved break!
Despite the cross winds, Scarlett managed to pull a mean 136 km/hr. I believe the credit for the high speed goes to the K&N Airfilter and the NGK Iridium spark plug. Together they make world of a difference. Finally I managed to slow down before reaching the hills of Igatpuri and waited for the others.
The scenic beauty surrounding the highway was awesome, and got even better as we approached the ghat section. The highway led through the rugged hills of Igatpuri winding beside the south-eastern railway mainline.
Riding through the twisty road of the ghats was magical, the perfect banking spots for bikers. Shreerang led the way on his Bajaj Pulsar 150. Thankfully the road was smooth enough to compliment this. However, we did meet a few jokers going the wrong way on a one way road!
Time for a group pic…oh wait, where’s Sabya? 😛
The Stallions…urging to break free!!!
Which way dudes?
I’m a cowboy…on a steel horse I ride \m/
Checkout the intensity on Shiva’s face!!!
The “Heart-Break-Kid” Pose…
Bhandardara is a mere 185 kilometres from Mumbai. However you need to deviate from the Nasik expressway on to AH 47 – the Nagpur-Aurangabad-Mumbai Highway, and then take a right on to Bhandardara to Ghoti Road. Unfortunately I won’t be able to tell you how many kilometres was it in the interiors as a local politician decided to use the overhead distance sign to convey his Diwali greetings…what a jackass!
Here’s the route to Bhandardara: http://bit.ly/1h1Wwaf
Shreerang had suggested visiting the Sula vineyards in Nashik and hence we went up all the way to Nashik only to find out that it was significantly out of the way. Hence after an excess fun of 40 kilometres, we turned towards Bhandardara.
The moment you get off from the Nasik Expressway, you’d realise the fun and comfort is over, coz the road there-on forth has never been looked after. Riddled with potholes and gravel, there was barely any tarmac left.
Soon my Yamaha started to feel every pinch of the road. Like every sportsbike, mine too has a very stiff suspension and had a very challenging time. The Bajaj twins on the other hand rode through the road without making a fuss. Even Shiva went on ahead, soon leaving me behind all by myself.
Through the valley of darkness, I shall fear no evil!!!
There was absolute silence between the hills. The Honda’s roar was the only sound I could hear from a distance. If either one of us were to have a puncture or any sort of breakdown, we’d definitely be screwed, as there was no cell phone reception either.
Here’s an extremely useful link I found online on repairing punctures on tubeless tyres: http://bit.ly/1aQukyF
Thankfully, the others decided to wait up for me, which gave me a moment to relieve my sore back.
Damn, it was a serious bit of off-roading. While having a smoke, I kept thinking how it would have been if I’d been riding a Harley or an Enfield? Would the ride have been any different? Would it have been any smoother? Well, we’ll know about the experience soon 😉
After riding for a few kilometres more, we turned on to a completely abandoned incline, which led to the MTDC resort. Shiva had called up earlier on and tried reserve a couple of rooms. However, the resort was completely booked. Luckily there was an affiliate hotel beside it – Amit Resort, where all of us checked into a decently spacious cottage at a very reasonable rate of a mere 2k. It had the basic amenities of a TV, western toilet etc.
After settling in, we went up to the MTDC resort’s restaurant for lunch. Well it was the only one available in the vicinity.
We made a few friends there too…really cute ones!
Bhandardara is a holiday resort village on the western coast of India. The village is located in the Ahmednagar district of the state of Maharashtra, about 185 kilometers from Mumbai. Full of attractions – from Wilson Dam to Arthur Lake, Bhandardara sits by the Pravara River, and is a blend of natural beauty, waterfalls, mountains, tranquility, greenery, invigorating air and pristine ambiance.
This was the view which greeted us!
The walk around Arthur Lake was marvellous. It had a long pier as well which went on well into the lake. And simply went Sabya went bezerk with his Canon DSLR 60D in such a scenic area.
Pic of the day!
The magical water-walk!
Besides the lake there were a couple tents pitched which, after enquiring, we found that it was available for the night for 700 bucks along with bon-fire. Considering how the temperature drops in the night, I wouldn’t want to spend the night in a tent, unless there’s a romantic angle to it :p
The weather was quite cool, even in the day time. And by the time it was sundown, it became extremely chilly. No wonder the cottage boy was insisting on the non-AC rooms.
No winter getaway is complete without a few drinks around a nice warm bon-fire.
Most favorite pic of the trip!
And soon the after-dark party began with a bit of Eric Prydz on the stereo!
Shreerang managed to keep the fire alive throughout the night. After a bit of drunk discussions, we decided to call it a night by 3AM.
Even after everyone snuggled under their blankets, Sabya and I decided to sneak out for a quick smoke, and damn it was cold!
All of us…well, most of us managed to wake up the following morning by 9 and have a spot of breakfast. After cleaning our vehicles a bit, we commenced our return journey.
Can you spot Sabya?
Even though everything was fine with the bikes, a boulder somehow managed to scrape the undercarriage of Shiva’s Honda. Thankfully there was no serious damage.
After a quick decent from the hills, we finally rejoined the Nasik expressway and that meant I could finally feel my back J. Finally we could all get past the 3rd gear and speed up.
Shiva driving at a blistering 140 Km/hr, led the pack, followed by our cruiser boy Duane on his Blue Avenger.
As we started nearing Mumbai, the traffic started increasing, along with the temperature.
Finally we decided to split up at the Bhiwandi Toll-Naka and go our separate ways, but not before deciding the destination of our next winter-trip, somewhere in the Western Ghats in the Satara District 😉
Until then, RIDE HARD!