Yesterday’s ride through the beautiful green ghats of Konkan was refreshing particularly the Kashedi and Khed stretch.
Today was the day to travel by the Vashishti river. The plan was to reach as close to the source of Vashishti River and ride along the river until I reach its Sangam with Arabian sea. Hoping the same excitement and adventure we rolled off for the day.
25th July 2017
Chillax Morning 🙂
Missed the morning alarm of 5.30 am. Before we could get the things up it was 7 am. 50% of the total time was spent in doing Datun. Vishwanath and I chewed the neem daatun as slow and leisurely as we can.
Standing on the small balcony facing the hotel garden and shamelessly posing topless we chewed like a King.
We had all the time in the world, no morning alarms, no to-do list, no client calls. We were just lost in daatun. We moved the neem twig slowly and gently through every corner of the teeth. Dark and dirty places untouched from years were rubbed too.
All the frictional heat was burnt by Bacterias housing the cavities. If the bacterias had newspapers today’s headline would be “Hundreds of innocent brothers have been wiped off in sleep by monstrous comets hitting our planet. Half an hour long strike has wrecked horror unparalleled in history” 😀 I am sure our teeth must have had a good day.
Done with daatun meditation packed up our luggage and came out only to see heavy rains.
Utilised the downtime (:D) having breakfast. We ordered Poha (in yellow), Upma (bottom left) , bread butter and tea.
Rarely have I seen hotel restaurants catering early with fresh and tasty food and it was light on the pocket too.
Towards the source of Vashishti River
As planned earlier I had to ride as close as I can towards the source of the river. With source, I do not mean that one particular spring or stream from where the river originates.
It’s difficult to mark a point saying this point is the origin of Vashishti river. Rather a bunch of streams merges from a bunch of smaller streams which gets formed from a bunch of droplets bond together to form a river.
So, the plan was to ride around 30 km east upstream, collect the water sample, plant tree and come back to Chiplun city then move ahead along with the river.
The First Bridge
Loading our luggage on the bike we set off from Chiplun towards Karad on the Karad – Chiplun Highway around 8:30 AM. Took left from Pimpri – Khurd and began riding towards Gane village.
Kolkewadi dam releases hot water into Vashishti
Just after crossing Pimpri – Khurd, we came across a narrow bridge with rusted railings.
A canal around 20-25 metre ran underneath the bridge. Sides of the canal were sloped and cemented like a typical government constructed canal. The flow of the water was medium rapid but had quite a volume. On the map, it looks something like this
Later, after studying, I came to know that the canal carries water from the tailrace of Kolkewadi dam.
When we have a look at the topography of the region, Koyna river is high on the Plateau. The elevation difference of Kolkewadi and Koyna dam is around 650m.
Water embanked on the plateau due to Koyna dam has created one of the largest man-made water reservoirs in India. The reservoir is named as Shivasagar dam.
The dam has already impacted the critical ecosystem and displaced people and property. Koyna is one of the leading hydroelectric power stations in India, wherein all the 4 stages generate more than 1950 MW electricity combined.
Vashishti has problem with the 3rd stage. To make use of elevation difference over a short distance, a 4km long tunnel deep under the mountain was drilled and opened under the layer of Shivasagar dam. This is known as double lake tapping. Read more on Koyna Double Lake Tap
Water is pulled out using 4 huge vertical penstocks to 4 turbines each producing 250 MW in total 1000 MW. Used water runs from the tailrace and is collected in Kolkewadi dam.
To utilize the potential of Kolkewadi dam another hydropower station producing an additional 320 MW is installed at Kolkewadi. Used water is released into the Vashishti river from the canal I am referring.
High in velocity and temperature, the canal discharge from Kolkewadi Dam merges with Vashishti greatly affecting the Flora and Fauna of the river.
If this was nothing read the next para.
MIDC Lote-Parhusram Chemical Factories
Kept riding towards the Gane village with Vashishti flowing down the valley on the left-hand side. Moving amidst heavy rain, I could see a number of chemical companies lined up on both the sides of the road.
The road smelled bad and for new folks like us, it was certainly difficult to take a relaxed breath. I particularly remember a very strong pungent smell from a Yeast factory.
The issue with these chemical industries is, though they were set up under MIDC to provide employment to local population, they are practically unchecked of mistreatment of Vashishti’s water.
The water of the river which was clean and pure, is now almost dead. Flora and Fauna throughout the course are affected in the worse possible way.
A study I could trace said the level of organic chlorides was so high that even bathing in Vashishti may lead to Cancer. All the blame goes to these Chemical Factories. They discharge polluted waters without treating directly into the Vashishti.
Moving ahead took right from Kalkavne towards Radhanagar village.
The place was kind of an open plateau.
Vashishti river emerged from the green woods and farm and crossed the bridge making a hypnotizing gush sound spreading out even wide in the downstream.
It was breathtaking and certainly a place to stand and stare.
Kept riding upstream until I reached Radhanagar village. It is a small village of maybe 30-40 kutchha pakka houses mixed.
In the center of the village on the right-hand side of the road, people had gathered inside the Ganesh temple complex for morning prayers. Our appearance did surprise them resulting in a hard stare.
The tar road ended just a few meters ahead. A mud blockade separated the tar road from the kutcha road possibly indicating not to trespass. Thought to ask for permission to go ahead but later jumped and rode on the sharp pebbled thoroughfare with my bike.
I was very certain of getting a puncture. Luckily it didn’t.
The path rolled down to a small river bridge and opened up to an amazing vista. Far on the upstream side was the Sahyadri range of Mahabaleshwar. The Western side of the range has steep slopes.
This is where the water of Vashishti was coming. Due to steep gradient and heavy rainfall, the river is very rapid in its flow.
Standing on the bridge and facing east was a feast for eyes. Dark clouds canvassed the mountain. The green virgin forest was everything I could see as far as my eyes stretched. And between the green carpet shimmered the pearl white stream descending rapidly in desperation to meet the sea.
It would have been crime for me if I had pulled out the camera before living the moment.
I descended from the bridge to collect water from the river. Water was quite clean and transparent but the flow and sound was ferocious and scary.
Came up and planted two Neem seeds on the right-hand side of the bridge and a peepal on the left side. I would be more than satisfied if any of these make their way.
Tried to capture every corner of the place before leaving the place.
Back to Chiplun and Journey ahead
Rode the same road back again to Chiplun town. Chiplun lies on the banks of Vashishti river. Contrary to my assumption Chiplun was much bigger in proportion and amenities. Roads were crowded and traffic was slow moving. Afternoon heat was burning us.
Rode along the river to reach Maldoli. Instead of going on the bank of the river, I rode on the mountain near Maldoli. That place offered an amazing view of Vashishti and her bank.
Maldoli is popular for crocodile safari. I wished I had time to witness them in their natural habitat.
View of Vashishti river from Maldoli
From Maldoli rode back to the state highway and stopped in Shringartali, a small town on the Chiplun-Guhagar highway. I like the name of this town 🙂
Had a typical Konkani Thali in lunch. The average price of Thali throughout the Konkan is Rs.100-130 and the best part of Konkani Thali is Solkadhi, I can’t get enough of it.
Left Shringartali and rode through some of the most beautiful Konkan roads to Dhopave jetty.
Came down to the river and filled the bottle with Vashishti river considering as the sangam point. Took ferry ticket from Dhopave to Dabhol jetty and crossed the river along with my bike.
With this, my river trip ended and I was free to take any route I wished.
Bhagwan Parshuram statue
Kept on riding the coastal route from Dabhol towards Dapoli. Passed several beautiful crystal clear rivulets and brown tiled Konkani houses amidst tall coconut trees.
To take a parallel route to the sea took left towards Kolthare village. The place seemed nice but there wasn’t any commercial accommodation available in the village.
Took a kutcha road to exit the village and connect back to the state highway. That road was one of the longest steep climbs I have ever done. It wasn’t a road actually just stones laid on mud. I had to lean hard on the oil tank and Vishwanath leaned on me in order to stop the front tyres from lifting.
Riding on the state highway ahead we came across a beautiful Bhagwan Parashuram smarak. The place is at a distance from any village or town. The statue is quite tall and surrounded by a nice symmetric tiled garden.
One gets a splendid view of the Ladhghar beach. Whoever built it, it was beautiful. Bhagwan Parshuram is the aaradhya daivat of Konkan and hence he is a revered figure all over the Konkan.
ATM and Accommodation Hunt in Dapoli
It was dark when I reached Dapoli. Due to extended weekend, most of the Hotels were occupied and rooms were costly in the rest. Multiple to and fro of the roads gave me a price range.
Lowest was a Lodge for Rs. 500/- but it was too bad to get in. Average was Rs. 1200, still high for me. Negotiated with the hotel Purohit for Rs. 800, decent enough for bachelors.
We had to adjust with Flush, T.V., AC, warm water but that wasn’t a problem 😛
Low on cash, we hadn’t paid a penny to the hotel. Settled in the room, we left for dinner and ATM. Searched almost every ATM in Dapoli. SBI, Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India none were working.
We were losing our hope when an ATM guard asked us to look in a newly opened ICICI Bank ATM. Installed in dark narrow lane, it was our last hope. Vishwanath tried first, just as the money came we danced inside the ATM.
Now we were going to get food and have a roof over us 😀 Finished rest of items and dozed off.
This is how the second day of Vashishti trip ended. Write your feedback, comments to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in the comment box below. I would be happy to answer your queries too.
If you wish to study how Hydroelectric dams functions
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