I am excited to publish this blog as this is the very beginning of my अनादी River Project. This project is my attempt to get a first-hand understanding of the condition of rivers, lakes and wells of Bharat. You can read more about the अनादी River Project here.
To begin with the project and try myself and my readiness Vashishti was a trial.
Why did I select Vashishti ?
In the river project, I desired to know what sort of groundwork is essential for large rivers. When I was exploring this topic, I came across ‘Sandrp’ website. It had a comprehensive research on the rivers of Konkan.
Vashishti was one of the rivers in the list. In fact, Vashishti was the most polluted among other rivers of Konkan.
The foremost reason of pollution was letting out the untreated water by chemical factories in the Lote-Parshuram MIDC setup. The level of organo-chlorides was so high that even bathing in the river was severely hazardous and may lead to cancer.
This created a curiosity in me and I wished to witness the damage with my own eyes.
Another reason for choosing this was that the length of the river and the distance from my home was around 350km, pretty much doable in 3 days.
On the top of that, I would get a chance of drape myself in the beauty of Konkan in monsoon.
Let me introduce Vashishti maa:
Vashishti is a beautiful westward flowing river of Konkan. The length of the river is around 70 – 80 km. She originates from the hills of Sahyadri in the backdrop of Koyna waterfront.
The city of Chiplun is located on the bank of Vashishti . Thereafter it meanders through the hilly landscape to meet Arabian sea on the coast of Konkan near Dabhol.
Planning the tour
I went to Google maps and created a turn by turn map. Then took a printout and marked the distance of different routes. Since Vashishti flows through the ghats, the roads did not move very much parallel to her.
With an aim to have a look as much as possible on the river, I planned a to-and-fro [upstream & downstream] route on the river. The northern route moved close to the river on the western front while the southern route moved close to the river on the eastern portion of the river.
Total upstream and downstream was not more than 180 km.
There is no bridge to cross the river in between. It is possible only at the end or way before at Khed on the Chiplun side.
In actual, I could manage only the Southern route [or the downstream route].
End to End Planning
Day 1: Thane to Chiplun (via Bombay Goa Highway or NH17).
Day 2: Ride upstream from Chiplun towards the source and then ride again to the Sea. Halt in Dapoli.
Day 3: Dapoli to back home.
Since I had serviced it recently no major work was needed. Just fixed the mobile holder on the handlebar.
It was going to be the shortest trip of the River project, I was thinking to be as light as possible. Packed up 1 Jeans, 2 T-Shirts, Gamcha, Datun, Slipper, Shawl, 2 Underwear, First-Aid, Lighter, Fruits, Bike Documents, 2 Plastic Bags, 1 Hammer Multitool Kit, 1 Pocket Toolkit, 1 Bungee rope, few meters paracord, and another shoulder bag which had my camera.
1. Collecting Water Samples.
The day before the trip, I purchased two medicine storage quality 50ml plastic bottles for Rs. 10 each. Though glass bottles are the best for storing water but there are chances of breaking of glass bottles hence managed with plastic bottles.
2. Planting tree seeds.
For planting trees, seed bombs seemed the best option. But I was late in getting them. For seed bombs, all you need is the seed, manure and soil. I contacted an NGO ‘FFrago’ for seed balls but couldn’t hear from them in time.
So, I picked some ‘Neemboli’ from the trees, dried them on my window and carried with me on the trip.
The point in doing so was that all these days all I did was taking. This time I would be giving back, no matter how small the contribution was.
That’s all with the Planning…
24 June 2017
With my luggage in place, I Saddled up on the bike at 6.40 am. Took two helmets with me, one for me and one for Vishwanath (my friend) who was accompanying as a pillion.
A routine check of the bike revealed the faulty fuel lock. Inserted the fuel pipe back in place. The pipe bugged quite a time and I had to take out the Hammer toolkit and hit against the metal part hard to fix it.
Struggled with rains due to unpreparedness:
Quickly zipped through Ghodbunder. We were about to touch Thane when a heavy downpour started.
I had underestimated the rains and didn’t carry proper rainwear. Nothing less than cheap quality roadside windcheater and pant. Luggage too didn’t have proper cover. Within minutes we were drenched throughout.
A point of caution for every rider heading towards Konkan during monsoon. Do not judge the weather be prepared for heavy rains. It may rain very heavily for hours.
Tried covering the socks with garbage plastic bags, but it didn’t help. Wet socks are the worst thing during a bike ride.
Confusion in Pali – Khopoli route:
While heading for Konkan via NH 17 now NH 66, we can either take Panvel-Pen-Vadhkal Naka or Khopoli-Pali which meets NH17 near Kolad.
Khopoli-Pali route is much more scenic than the previous one. The road is lined up with green trees on both the sides. In the last 8-10km stretch it runs parallel to the Amba River. It’s just as beautiful as it can get.
Scenic beauty and less traffic are the reason why I choose this route. But every time I cross Panvel on the Old Mumbai-Pune highway, I always get confused finding the Khopoli-Pali route.
If you wish to take this, here is the correct route. Best is to use Google maps and set your destination to Imagica Theme Park. It’s quite popular and lies on the Khopoli-Pali route. Then continue on SH92 until you reach NH 66 which is nothing but Mumbai Goa Highway or Panvel – Kochi – Kanyakumari Highway both are same.
A more precise and short route is from Thane. Head to Thane-Mumbra-Taloja-Vinegaon-Khalapur. Take right from the junction (Hotel Mayuri is at the junction) towards Imagica Water Park. Continue on the highway until you touch Bombay Goa highway.
Moving ahead towards Mangaon, bike handle felt heavy while manoeuvring. Took halt to check tyre pressures. It came out to be a puncture in the front tyre. Got the puncture fixed for Rs. 70. Had lunch in Mangaon and moved ahead.
Gandharpale Buddhist Cave
Riding towards Mahad on the Bombay Goa Highway there is a big Buddhist Cave site on the left hand of the road.
Stoned pathway lead towards the pillared cave. We were discussing why the caves were made next to Highway rather than some lonely place?
So the thing was like this, followers of Gautama later called as Buddhists didn’t rest their feet. They kept on walking throughout this vast land. Only during monsoons, they would look for shelter.
Kings were generous to construct and carve them caves throughout India. Maharashtra has many such Buddhist caves. Some of them are Bhaja, Karla, Kanheri, Karad.
We concluded that caves were not built next to the road rather highway was built next to it 🙂
Beautiful Kashedi Ghat
After crossing Poladpur, we kept on climbing the Kashedi Ghat.
It’s lovely and a beautiful riding spot for motorcyclists. The ghat has numerous curves and deep valley. This makes it dangerous too. The number of accidents is so huge that people have started calling this place as haunted.
Numerous stories of a man crossing the ghat in front of a car and knocking the window have been flying all around.
During my trip, on one of the curve, a Teddy Bear was hung by his neck on 2-3 feet stick on the left-hand side of the road. It looked Scary enough not to stop the motorist there 😛
Khed – one of the most Scenic places in Konkan:
Jagbudi river flows by the Konkan town of Khed. While riding on the Bombay-Goa highway we reached a road curve. This curve became wide and opened to a beautiful vista.
Standing at the edge of the road, I could see an endless stretch of green farm decorated with tall trees of Coconut and brown colored roof tiles. The glimmering Jagbudi river snaked through the green fields.
The soft white colored sun shone its light on the river creating a blistering aura. To cherry top it, the Konkan railway track curled beautifully on the plain land running along with the Jagbudi.
It was such an amazing scene. Living that moment we moved ahead.
Took a break before Chiplun at a roadside restaurant. The break changed into girgit (Chameleon) shooting break. Vishwanath followed it madly but girgit was smart enough to escape the camera.
There were some 3-4 Alphonso trees in the backyard. Ripe mangoes were all over the place lying uncared. Out of curiosity I picked one and squeezed it, the same hypnotizing smell of Alphonso. We asked the owner of tapri why don’t you collect these? After all, they are ripe and they are hapoos. He replied “gheun jaa , paklo ree baba khaun “ 😀 :D.
Around 7, 8 years back when I was in Chiplun with my friends. I remember it was monsoon and greenery all around. We had walked from Chiplun station to Sawatsada Waterfall. It was much raw than it is today and we were the only folks in the waterfall.
I wished of returning here sometime with my bike. Today was the day. The place was altogether different, Kutcha pathway was turned into concrete with railings, the waterfall was deprived of water.
Search for the stay in Chiplun :
Sensing darkness nearing the horizon I rode ahead from Sawatsada waterfall. Crossed Chiplun city and kept riding on the Chiplun-Karad highway. I was expecting to reach around 3 PM but was delayed by 3 hours due to frequent photo breaks.
Enquired few hotels, rooms were costing high, Rs.1200 was the lowest. Finally settled for Rs.1000 for an attached AC room in the hotel Vanashree. It’s a decent hotel with parking space. Dozed off post dinner.
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