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Archive for September, 2008

Road to heaven...

“Sometimes the road traveled turns out to be more beautiful than the destination…”
This holds true for Mulashi and Tamhini. I call this lovely path as “Road to heaven…

To enjoy monsoon season, Mulashi and Tamhini are THE destinations.

I have been to Mulashi twice. First time was thorough enjoyment in rains and waterfalls. I did clicked snaps in rains without taking proper precaution of my camera. Thank God…my faithful camera survived! 🙂
Second time, it was photography shoot and getting wet was big “No-No”, as we didn’t want to take risk with cameras. Personally, I enjoyed first trip more but I am going to write about second as it’s the recent one. We started at 7:00 AM and proceeded to Mulashi.

To reach Mulashi-Tamhini:

  1. Reach “Chandani Chowk”.
  2. Take Paud road. There is small ghat stretch i.e. Pirangut ghat.
  3. Reach Paud village and take road to Mulashi.
  4. After crossing Mulashi village, Tamhini ghat starts.
  5. Right hand you can see backwaters of Mulashi Dam.
  6. Go up to Dongarwadi village. Total drive is approx. 60-65 Kms.
  7. Caution: Take care if there are very heavy rains while you are in Tamhini ghat. Try to return back soon. Due to heavy rains the road gets literally submerged under water and there is possibility that you get stuck up in ghat.

We crossed Chandani chowk and drove towards Paud village. Atmosphere was very pleasant and there were light showers. We took a tea break at Paud village. From here, we had break journeys i.e. we waited at each point which we thought as spectacular.

At Mulashi, the sky turned very cloudy which made the environment bit darker. The backwaters appeared silvery and it was out-standing.

We continued further. As we drove towards Tamhini, it was like if we were moving towards the rains. Tamhini was amazingly awesome. Lush Green wooed us. The road covered by greenery on both sides disappeared in clouds. Mountains were covered with dense fog. We waited there for long and captured the nature in our eyes as well as lenses.

We were clicking some pictures and sweet song of ‘Malbar whistling thrush’ stuck our ears. We waited for while to listen to this melodious song. Other birds, which we found, were Black-shouldered Kite, Baya, Drongos, Green bee-eaters, etc.

There were many waterfalls, small and huge. We waited at few and took some milky waterfalls shoots. (In first outing, we fully enjoyed in waterfalls and had loads of fun in water). Green fields soothed our senses. Farmers were busy ploughing and sowing rice paddies.

We crossed Mulashi Dam and went up to Dongarwadi village. Heavy rains were started. It was already lunchtime and we were in search of some hotel. Finally we found one small hotel, which was almost closed. We requested the owner to cater us some food. He agreed to make ‘Pohe‘, ‘Onion Pakodas’ and ‘Omelet-bread’ for us. After serving few Omelets, he cunningly gave us an excuse that “Majhi kombadi palun geli. Aata andi nahit.” (means – his hen ran away and there are no more eggs) 😦. He served us stale bread and tasteless ‘Pohe‘ but we were in no mood to protest. When hunger speaks it is always better to eat what you have (read as ‘get’). It was raining like cats and dogs by then. We enjoyed hot tea sips.

Wonderful atmosphere made us forget to look at our watches. We noticed it was time to get back. We started our return journey and reached Pune by 5:00 PM.

Remember… Mulashi + Tamhini = Monsoon!!! 🙂

Note: To see more snaps check out – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157601017832119/detail/

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Ever since I got my car, I always wanted to take my Uncle for drive. I asked him where he wish to go. He instantly expressed his desire to visit “Jejuri”. I was not very surprised as I was well aware of his curiosity to see different places.

Before we proceed, let me tell you some thing about this uncle of mine. His name is Dr. J.A.F. Roodbergen. He is a Dutch, age 83, double PhDs in Sanskrit language to his credit. His passion to learn Sanskrit brought him to India in his early twenties. He stayed in Deccan College (Pune) and completed his first PhD. Then he returned to Amsterdam and completed another PhD from there. He taught Sanskrit for about 20 years in University of Amsterdam. He has been coming to India for past four decades. He is now writing books along with his guide and co-author Dr. S. D. Joshi on Panini sutras in Sanskrit. Now he comes to India every year from June to November and works on this project. ‘Sahitya Akademi’ publishes these books. We can call him “Half-Indian” as he spends half of the year in Pune. We were neighbors for 3 years (1999 – 2002) when he was in Pune then. My roommate (Pradnya) and me befriended him. He used his PC as typewriter and I have spoiled him a bit by showing him ‘other’ uses of computer like watching movies, playing music and chess. We have watched many classic English movies together and enjoyed excellent music from Sufis to pianos & instrumentals to electronics guitars. We have indulged ourselves in endless discussions from traffic on Bajirao road to Indian government, and culture differences to old India. Even though we have parted as neighbors long back, our bond has stood and grown strong with time. For the world he is renowned Sanskrit Scholar but for me he will always be my dear Uncle. 🙂

So coming back, we booked one Sunday for Jejuri. We picked Uncle from his place and parceled some Hindustan Bakery pattice. There were light showers when we started in the morning. We waited in the midway and had our breakfast. The atmosphere was very pleasant as we drove through. Dive ghat is another amazing place on the way. We halted there for while and enjoyed picturesque panorama from here. We reached Saswad and headed for Jejuri.

To reach Jejuri:

  1. Take Solapur highway
  2. Drive up to Hadapsar and take right turn to Saswad.
  3. On the way to Saswad, you have to cross Dive ghat.
  4. From Saswad, take road to Jejuri. Total distance from Pune to Jejuri is around 48 Kms.

Coconut Heap

We reached Jejuri base. There were small shops selling pooja items along with Abir, Gulal, Pinjar and halad (4 different color powders offered to God), bangles, holy threads and devotional CDs, etc. One shop had heap of coconuts very beautifully arranged. Everyone has their own way to show the creativity and art within. 🙂

Jejuri is one of the famous temples in Maharashtra. Popularly known as ‘ Khandobachi Jejuri ‘. The God of Jejuri is “Mhalsakant” or “Malhari Martand”. This is more popular among the Dhangar tribe and known to be their deity. Dhangar is one of the oldest tribes in Maharashtra. The temple is situated on a small hill, called as Jejurigad and can be seen from the approaching road. We climbed over 200 steps to reach the top. It was bit tiring for Uncle considering his age. Pradnya and me supported him while climbing. The beautiful surroundings made climbing efforts much easier. We could see many “Deep Malas” (Light stands made up of stones) on the way. These are known to be oldest “Deep malas”.

The temple on hilltop is very beautiful. The idol of Khandoba is attractive and is sitting on a horse with weapons in hand and ready for fight. The deity is also called the fighter god. There are two eye-catching bells in the temple. Devotees apply and shower turmeric powder (bhandara) which paints the whole arena into golden yellow, a color they associate with the power of the sun and one suggestive of Khandoba’s solar origin. The people shout the ritual slogan “Sadanandacha Yelkot” which means Khandoba’s everlasting bliss. Jejuri gets its another name from this bhandara as “Sonyachi Jejuri” which means “Golden Jejuri” in Marathi.

The weapons like a sword, a damaru (drum) and a paral kept inside the temple have historical importance. Sword holding competition is held here every year on Dasehara Day. Temple dome and surrounding area is also worth seeing. There is also a pathway to “Kadepathar Jejuri” uphill temple, which goes through mountain.

Jejuri also has significant importance from historical point of view. It is said that after years of separation Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj met his father Shahaji Raje on Jejurigad and discussed the strategies against Mughals. This place is blessed by sacred feet of Shivaji Maharaj.

Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb tried to destroy this temple for second time in 1690. However he was frustrated when the Mughal soldiers while trying to attack the temple disturbed the nest of hornet. The hornets harassed the Mughal soldiers and they had to lift their siege and spare the temple.

We took darshan and then took some snaps. The view from here is very scenic and pleasant. We climbed upstairs. “Peshawe” lake is seen from top.

We started descending. While stepping down, melody of ‘Sambal’ (Marathi name for a musical instrument) caught our attention. We waited for while and enjoyed it. We returned back in the afternoon.

Jejuri is worth a dekko. I am thankful to my Uncle whose urge to see Jejuri took me to this amazing place.

Note: You can also add another destination “Morgaon’s Mayureshwar Ganapati” to this trip. Morgaon is 15 Kms from Jejuri.

For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157603772384044/detail/

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Deshpande Kaka (who is more of Kaka (Uncle) to me than my C.A) insisted that we must go to Bhuleshwar & Kanfinath. I searched for route to Bhuleshwar on the net and started early morning.

To reach Bhuleshwar –

  1. Take Pune – Solapur Highway and drive approx. 30-35 Kms.

    Bhuleshwar temple view

  2. 2 Kms. before Yavat village, take right turn along eastern bank of canal.
  3. You will see sign board “Bhuleshwar”.
  4. Drive approx. 8-10 Kms to reach Bhuleshwar Temple. As you begin, you will start getting view of Bhuleshwar temple located top on mountain. The road is in OK condition.
  5. Caution: On this way, there is a ghat stretch on around 3-4 Kms. and the road is steep so make sure that vehicle brake is in good condition. There is a very steep turn while climbing as you approach near the temple.

We started on Solapur Highway and took right turn 2 Kms before village ‘Yavat’ and the fun began… We got a warm welcome from Parakeet family. These Parakeets had bluish tails. Then came Green bee-eaters, Drongos, Brahminy Mynas and Red-wattled lapwings.

Each time we saw new bird, we waited there and clicked it. There was a villager who was following us on his bike. He was surprised on what we were clicking. We didn’t notice that he was following us. After a while, we gathered the daring and asked us “Whether we would be interested to see Gerbera plantation?” and we immediately nodded our heads in assertion.

Pink Gerberas

He took us to a nearby place. He had quick talk with the owner and we got permission inside the green house, which sheltered 4 hectares of Gerbera plantation. It was just unbelievable! There was endless panorama of colorful Gerbera flowers. It reminded us of tulips in “Dekha ek khwaab….” from Silsila movie. We captured these beautiful floras through our lenses. He also gave us info that 1 hectare of Gerbera worth at least one lakh rupees. It meant such cultivations are costly affairs. All these flowers are sold in Pune flower market for 1-2 rupees each. We were very thankful to that biker who showed us this elegant treasure.

All these birds and Gerberas already made our day! Actual destination was additional bonus. 🙂

Bhuleshwar Temple

We climbed ghats to reach Bhuleshwar Temple on the mountaintop. The temple hilltop is huge and there is lot of parking space available for vehicles too. Bhuleshwar temple is built in 13th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was previously a fort called “Mangalgadh”. The devastated evidences show that this temple must have been ruined by Muslim invaders and reconstructed again. The entrance of temple is very interesting. It is called “Gaimukhi construction” which dates back to Shivaji Maharaj’s era. The walls of temple are decked with beautiful carvings right from entrance.

There is mythological story that after Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati had fight and angry Shiva came here to meditate. Devi Parvati, dressed as “Bhilla” woman danced to fascinate Shiva. Her beauty seduced him. They went to Kailas from here and got re-united. The place got its name from this story. “To sedate” means “bhul” in Marathi. As Shiva was seduced by Paravati, hence he is also called “Bhuleshwar”.

Inside Bhuleshwar...

We bought Pooja thali (contained coconut, flowers, few issence thicks and a bowl with 5 pedhas) and went inside. It is believed that the god himself eats the Prasad which devotee offers him. We did not know about this. Pujari told us about this. He kept the bowl of pedhas inside the shiv-linga and asked us to wait. After 10 mins, he took the bowl out. To our astonishment, it had only 2 pedhas in it. We tried to find out where did the rest pedhas disappeared, with the help of torch inside the shiv-linga. There were 3 stones whom they call “Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh” and no rat, no snake, no cockroach inside. It was no black magic and nor did Pujari play any trick. Sometimes, there are things beyond your logic and science and you ought to believe them. We had that Prasad and explored the temple.

There was huge Nandi inside the temple along with Ganapati idol in woman form. It is believed to be only such idol of Ganesh. Also there is huge spectacular bell outside the temple. We climbed upstairs and the view was beautiful. We found many Babblers, Mynahs, Ravens and Laughing Doves.

We spent some time there and had few quick bites which we carried with us. We started our back journey and decided to take opposite route while returning. This is Bhuleshwar-Saswad road. We reached Saswad and had some food there. Our next destination was Kanifnath temple. We took up road to Kanifnath which went through small villages. It was lush all over and could get some uncommon birds like Indian Silver Bills, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Bushchat. Sweet melodious song of American Robin thrush caught our attention. It compelled us to wait there for while and admire these nature’s best creations. We were able to capture some picturesque landmarks in our camera.

To Reach Kanifnath:

  1. Take road Pune – Hadapsar – Saswad.
  2. In village Saswad, there is junction. From here, take road to Kanifnath.
  3. Drive approx for 10-15 Kms to reach Kanifnath.

Kanifnath Temple

We climbed up Kanifnath and cool flowing breeze soothed our senses. Just cannot find words to explain how divine the atmosphere at the top was. We parked our car and reached Kanifnath temple. This beautiful architectural splendor is one of the Navnath temples. There is small cave opening inside the temple and women are not allowed to enter in that cave. Only men are eligible. Women can however sit in temple. We took up Prasad and started descending. We had to drive back to Saswad. We took up Saswad – Hadapsar – Pune road to reach Pune.

We came back home in the evening and tried to recollect the day we spent. All the wonderful memories of the day flashed in our minds – beautiful Indian Silver Bills, Uncommon Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, amazing Gerberas, sweet melody of American Robin thrush, unbelievable carvings at Bhuleshwar, accepted Prasad by God which we offered, green landscapes on way to Kanifnath and cold breeze on Kanifnath top!!!

Note: For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157603325875234/detail/
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We decided to go to Neelkantheshwar on one not-so-rainy day of rainy season. I must explain what “not-so-rainy day of rainy season” mean. I feel nature is in its best form in monsoon. Green scenes sooths your eyes and refreshes your mind. At same time, if you don’t want your camera to get wet, click wonderful snaps and enjoy the season then you have to find that lucky span in monsoon and I call it “not-so-rainy day of rainy season”. I fortunately got one Saturday for Neelkantheshwar. My friend and I packed our backpacks and started early. It was a beautiful morning. Teak wood tree blossoms added to the beauty. We waited at Khadakwasala dam for a while to wish “Good morning” to Cormorants and proceeded further. 🙂

How to reach: There are 3 routes to reach Neelkantheshwar.

Route#1:

  1. Take Sinhagad road and travel up to “Rule” village. Rule village is between Khanapur and Panshet.
  2. Route is Pune-Khadakwasla-Donje Phata-Khanapur-Rule.
  3. Park your vehicle properly on roadside in Rule village. On right hand side you see the river.
  4. Take pathway that takes you to riverbank. This path goes through fields and is muddy.
  5. You can get boat to cross the river. After crossing the river, you have to walk for approx 4-5 Kms.
  6. Not entire walk is simple. After a while you have to climb a mountain to reach Neelkantheshwar temple at top. Approx time to reach top is 1.5 – 2 hrs (also depends upon your stamina).
  7. Climbing complexity – Easy/Moderate. Time-consuming. Bit tiring.

Route#2:

  1. Take Sinhagad road and travel up to Panshet
  2. Route is Pune-Khadakwasla-Donje Phata-Khanapur-Panshet.
  3. Panshet has two dams- Panshet dam and Varasgaon dam
  4. Follow the road to Varasgaon dam. You will find a small road, which goes to Neelkantheshwar. There is some signboard also.
  5. This road takes up to Neelkantheshwar base. The road is in very bad condition.
  6. Cars/bikes can reach up to base and then we have to climb up for 20-30 mins.
  7. Climbing complexity – Simple.
  8. Climbing efforts are 10% if we compare this with Route#1.

Route#3:

  1. Take the road, which connects Warje and Khadakwasala dam (back side).
  2. In the mid somewhere there is a path which goes to Neelkantheshwar base through a small village.
  3. Route is Pune-Khadakwasla- Neelkantheshwar base or Pune-Warje- Neelkantheshwar base.
  4. This road takes up to Neelkantheshwar base. The road is supposed to be best route.
  5. Cars/bikes can reach up to base and then we have to climb up for 20-30 mins.
  6. Climbing complexity – Simple.
  7. Climbing efforts are 10% if we compare this with Route#1.

So lets continue… we took up Route#2. After reaching Varasgaon, we found the road was bad but beauty of the surrounding was mind blowing. We took some good snaps including that of Small Blue Kingfisher (my favorite). We traveled a kilometer or so. Further the road was washed out due to rains and also there were rivulets and streams flowing over the path. My car’s front tires got stuck somewhere and we decided to revert back. We came back to village “Rule” and parked our car near a teashop. We then followed Route#1.

We walked through fields to reach riverbank and waited for boat. One interesting thing to mention here – This boat is provided by Pune Municipal Corporation for to-and-fro journey of villagers. Someone has used his sheer intelligence to avoid the efforts of rowing the boat. The thick rope is tied from one end to another end of the bank and boatman just pulls the rope to drive the boat. Boatride was joyful. We paid him boat fare and enquired about evening timings.

We began to climb. The path was very pleasant. There were different hues of green everywhere. We found some Green bee-eaters, Chameleon and butterflies. We reached a green plateau and rested on lush green grass. Backwaters of Panshet, Varasgaon and Khadakvasla dam were visible from here. Actually we wasted some time in changing of routes and it was already very sunny. We got tired and in hurry left water bottles in car. It was bit tiresome. We reached on the top. First thing to mention is – Water from the well on the top. We were terribly thirsty and that water tasted like ‘heaven’.

Neelkantheshwar hill is very widespread. There is huge temple of Lord Shiva and the place gets its name after him i.e. “Neelkantheshwar”. “Neel” means “blue” and “kanth” means, “throat”. According to mythological accounts during Sagar Manthan (the churning of the Ocean), Lord Shiva drank all the effluent venom which gushed out, it turned his throat (kanth) into blue (neel). Hence, Lord Shiva is also known as “Neelkanth”.

This place is developed by a forest ranger called “Sarje Mama”. He found Shiva-linga on this mountain and built the temple. Another main attraction of this place is thousands of clay sculptures. These sculptures depict various mythological events and characters in Hinduism including Ramayana and Mahabharata. Few of them to mention are Shivaji Maharaj-Sant Tukaram, Dashavtars, Ashtavinayakas, Bhim-Bakasur fight, Sanr Ramdas, etc. Sarje Mama makes these sculptures. Sarje Mama is also associated with Anti-addiction association. He has helped in rehabilitation of many alcoholics and contributed in their re-establishment.

We ordered some things to eat from the small hotel outside the temple. They cook food for you as per your order. We relaxed for some half an hour and began to explore the place. There was picturesque view of backwaters as well as glimpses of Sinhagad fort.

We came to a cliff side and noticed a bird. It was huge and it was balancing itself against the air, as if it was practicing how to fly. After observing closely we were sure that it was a juvenile eagle. We stood quiet watching it. Suddenly its parents flew close to protect it. They must have thought we were trying to harm their baby. I focused my camera on them and they appeared so close through camera lens. I was moved for a moment. I had never watched eagles so closely and it was exciting and threatening at same time. Before we could capture them through the lenses they had already reached very high altitude. They were now three tiny dots in the sky. Later on, I came to know that Tawny eagles are seen here. It was a thrilling experience.

We started descending in early evening. We couldn’t get any water in back journey as there were no bottles. On the way, again we were thirsty. We met some pretty village gals who were going to water stream to fill their pots. We accompanied them to the stream and they gave us water to quench our thirst.

We returned back to “Rule” village after another exciting boat ride. It was raining by then and old village woman asked us for lift. As we drove back, we had interesting talks. She was a farmer and was disappointed with young generation from her village, which is no more interested in farming. She was also unhappy that most of the farmers sell their land to builders for development and lose their asset. She had great love for farming and native soil. We could feel the intensity of concern from her words. We dropped her at Rajaram Bridge and came home.

Neelkantheshwar is definitely worth for one day outing. I recommend you to follow Route#3 for smooth and enjoyable trip.

NOTE: For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157601014214262/detail/

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Ever since I heard about Nighoj, had keen interest to see this wonder. Best part is, this moon-land is very close to Pune. I found out few more interesting places to see around Nighoj. It was summer weekend and we took up Pune-Nagar highway.

1. Ranjangaon

Our day began with sacred darshan of Mahaganapati of Ranjangaon. Ranjangaon Ganesh is one of the eight holy Ganapatis i.e. Asthavinayak. Ranjangaon temple is in Shirur district and on main highway at 52 Kms from Pune. There is beautiful garden developed outside the temple. We had a quick tea break here and then proceeded towards Nighoj. While on the way to Nighoj, we came across birds like Shrike, Purple Sunbird and Black shouldered kite.

2. Nighoj

To reach Nighoj –

  1. Take Pune – Nagar Highway and drive upto “Ghodnadi” river bridge.
  2. Take immediate left turn after crossing the bridge. This is “Nighoj Phata”.
  3. Drive approx. 25 Kms to reach Nighoj village. The road is in OK condition.
  4. From village travel 3 Kms more to reach “Kukadi” river where you can see pot holes.

The entire bank of Kukdi River is turned into moon land of huge pot holes. The phenomenon behind its formation goes back to more than thousands of years. The river flow wears out the vesicular basalt’s upper layer and compact basalt layer of the rock. Then small hard pebbles vigorously swirl in these wear out areas due to flow of the water to create circular pot holes. There is huge gorge or canyon created in the river due to the whirl effect of stones for the ages. These are believed to be the largest natural pot holes in Asia. It is very amazing and interesting place. You just have to see this miracle with your eyes to believe it. There is small temple of “Malganga” on the bank on this river.

Only thing, which hurt, is that we don’t do anything to conserve this beauty. Not many people know about it.

Best time to visit: Summer (March-April). May month will be extremely hot.
Summer is best time to visit this place. As water level goes down, pot holes are easily visible. In monsoon, you merely can view gigantism of pot holes. It is said to be approx. 100 feet deep and 3 kms long. Besides, it can be very dangerous to experience their gigantism otherwise. 😉

I took as many snaps as I could and also some live clippings of whirl effects for my folks. We started back and it was already time for food. We found a shady place and unwind mattresses. We enjoyed home made food and relaxed for some time. We had way to go.

3. Wadgaon Daryabai cave temple

From Nighoj, we went to Wadgaon to see another marvel. Wadgaon is plain plateau, which is rich in calcium/limestone. On the way, we saw flock of Swallows. We reached the place and started climbing down stone stairs to go to Daryabai cave temple. Our ancestors warmly greeted us.

CAUTION – Be sure that you don’t carry any eatables to the Daryabai cave temple. There is entire gang of Bonnet monkeys and their IQ is as good as ours. They know how to snatch away and eat all that you carry from “coconut” to “peanuts” and “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” to “Center fresh”. 🙂

Jokes apart, about another marvel called “Daryabai cave temple” – this temple is dark inside and has dripping water streams inside which gives birth to stalactite. A stalactite is type of cave formation that hangs from the ceiling or wall of limestone caves. It is sometimes referred to as dripstone. It is called as “Lavan kandya” in Marathi. Each stalactite takes thousands and lakhs of years to form. Unfortunately, people who visit this place break them for fun; get them home and then just throw away without knowing their importance.

4. Takali Dhokeshwar

Takali is a small village in Parner district. We went to this place from Wadgaon Daryabai temple. Around 3 kms from Takali village is Dhokeshwar mountain temple. We took tea and Misal-paav break on the way to Takali village.

We climbed the mountain stone stairs to reach the top. There is a beautiful cave temple on the top dates back in 5th – 6th century. Along with Shivlinga, nandi, it also has idols of Laxmi, Ganesh and Bhairav carved in black stones. We relaxed inside the temple. Cold breeze fade away our tiredness. Another must mention thing here is – the water source near the cave. It has water springs throughout the year. I can say I never tasted the water like that anywhere else. We got our water bottles filled and started climbing down.

Each place we visited in this trip was unique in its own way. It was already evening by then and we drove back to Pune with feelings of contentment.

NOTE: For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157601019246769/detail/

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Mor” means peacock and “Chincholi” means dense tamarind trees in Marathi.

Morachi chincholi is a small village which is around 85-90 kms from Pune on Pune- Ahmednagar highway. This information does not catch your attention unless and until you read next lines. Yes, this village is now a peacock sanctuary which shelters more than thousands of peacocks.

Peacock in Morachi ChincholiI and my friend were very desperate to visit this place. We started early in the morning as it is the best time to see peacocks. We came to ‘Malthan phata’ and had to turn left to reach Morachi Chincholi. We took a small tea break there. We packed some wadaa-paavs with us. The road was not-so-good and not-so-bad condition; covered with green fields on both sides. We got to see many birds like Brahminy Myna, sunbirds, cattle egrets, Jungle Mynas, Jungle Babblers, etc.

As we entered the village, we could clearly hear peacocks mewing. We parked our car at road side and went walking to near by fields. We saw few beautiful peacocks in the fields. It was just ultimate – peacocks in their natural habitat. We met two young school-going local boys. They agreed to show us more peacocks. We followed them through the fields. We did find few peafowl. We tried to click but in vain as they ran very fast. More we went nearer, faster they ran.

We were able to trace few peacocks on tamarind trees. After all the intense efforts, I got one snap of peacock as I desired. See image above.

These villagers are protective and conservative about the peacocks. Peacocks too are very familiar with them. We saw a woman fetching water from the well and she was accompanied with a flock of peahens. There are sources of food and water kept in tubs for the peacocks in the fields. It seems some NGO from Pune works for this cause.

We decided to return back and were thankful to our young friends who spent their time with us. We offered them some money for buying chocolates but they denied accepting it. Then we forcefully offered them those wadaa-paavs which we got and they accepted.

While returning back, a village woman asked us for lift till Shirur phata. Her name was “Babbai”. She was very talkative and happy that we came to see birds all the way from Pune. Yeh, Pune is far off city for them. As we exchanged our cell number with her, she invited us to visit Morachi Chincholi again and promised us that she will then cook jhunaka-bhakri for us. Believe me, she called us for next consecutive Sunday mornings to ask whether we have any plans to visit on that weekend. If at all, I visit this place again, I am morally bound to meet this simple village woman called “Babbai”.

We came back in the afternoon with wonderful memories of this Indian beauty. Yes, what we get in Asia is typical “Indian blue peacock”. Peacocks are found in many different colors across the world e.g. White, Brown, Green, Pied, etc. but none of them look as graceful as our “Indian blue peacock”.

How to reach –
Route 1:

  1. Take Pune-Ahmednagar highway and travel till Shikrapur village approx. Distance is 30-35 Kms.
  2. Travel few meters and ask for Malthan phata.
  3. Take left from this Malthan phata and travel straight for some kilometers.
  4. Ask local people for Morachi Chincholi.
  5. You need to take another left turn which comes straight to Morachi Chincholi.  Village ‘Ganegaon’ falls in the mid which is 7-8 Kms.
  6. Travel ahead from Ganegaon to reach Morachi Chincholi. Approx. distance from Ganegaon is 9-10 Kms.

Route 2:

  1. Take Pune-Ahmednagar highway and travel till Shikrapur village.
  2. After Shikrapur, travel more 200 mts and take left turn for ‘Kanhur Mesai’ village.
  3. Kanhur Mesai village is approx 17 Kms from here.
  4. From Kanhur Mesai, Morachi Chincholi is approx 2.5-3 Kms.
  5. Total drive is approx 25-30 Kms.

Route 3:

  1. Take Pune-Nasik highway and travel till ‘Rajgurunagar’. Distance is 40-45 Kms.
  2. After Rajgurunagar, take right turn to ‘Pabal’ village.
  3. In Pabal, from Jain temple travel straight to reach Morachi Chincholi.
  4. Morachi Chincholi is approx 20-25 Kms.
  5. Total drive is approx 60-65 Kms.

Best time to visit: Early morning or evening in the months of June to September (basically Monsoon season)

What you get to see: Lots of peacocks in their natural habitat along with other birds like Brahminy Myna, Jungle Babblers, etc.

Note: You have to carry our food and water. No facility in the village (unless you know someone like Babbai 😉 … )

Other updates: A trust called ‘Jaymalhar trust’ can provide accommodation for night halt for Rs.500/- per day and also dinner/lunch for Rs.50/-. They have developed a cement platform for feeding peacocks. The peacocks daily visits the platform before sunrise and after sunset.
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It was 3:30 pm on Sunday and I was doing nothing at home. It was instant plan to go to Ramdara. My friend confirmed by SMS and at 4 pm we started for Ramdara. As we drove, we noticed that there was sudden change in climate. The sky turned very cloudy at once and signs of rain were pretty much clear.

We reached Ramdara after an hour of bumpy rides. Not entire road was in bad condition. There were few scenic views too. There was a patch which is covered by Pearl millet (Bajra) fields on both sides of the road and it looked amazing. Fortunately there was no rain till then. There is huge parking area near the temple. As soon as started towards Ramdara temple, some birds caught our attention. We headed to the opposite side of lake to catch some birds. I tried to capture Iora bird. My friend went and spotted Baya weavers and their nests. These small yellow beautiful creatures were busy building their nests; few were engaged in feeding their young-ones. We sat there watching and clicking them. It is always immense joy to watch birds and observe their behavior. After some time, the rain drops alarmed us and we packed our cameras back in our sacks. There were light showers.

We went inside the temple. Ramdara has beautiful temple surrounded by small lake and coconut trees. The temple has beautiful idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxman along with other sculptures of different deities in hindu religion. The nandi in the temple is worth a dekko. There is also hermitage of Dhundi baba near the main temple.

How to reach:

  1. Start from Swargate and take Solapur highway.
  2. Cross Hadapsar, Manjri etc. Travel straight till you reach “Loni Kalbhor” Toll plaza.
  3. As soon as you cross Toll plaza, you will have to cross a bridge.
  4. After crossing this bridge, you will see a fade “Ramdara” sign board on left hand side showing to turn to right side. Take immediate right turn to go to Loni kalbhor village.
  5. After distance of 2 mins drive, we will get a small chowk. Take again right turn from there. (You may ask local people)
  6. Now enjoy some bumpy ride to Ramdara temple. It is 7 kms distance from here.

The environment in Ramdara is pleasant. We can enjoy a good one day outing here. You can visit this place throughout the year.

For One-day outing – Start in morning and reach by 9:00 am so that you can also see some birds. Carry our food and water bottles and mattresses. You can enjoy playing games, etc under dense tree shades. I guess there are rest rooms also at the back side of temple. You can return by afternoon or evening.

PS: You can enjoy guavas here sold by local people from their guava gardens.

For Bird-watchers – Start for Ramdara early morning and reach there by 6:00 am.
Birds you can see – Sunbirds, Baya weavers, Red wattled lapwings, Drongos, Small bee-eaters, Ioras, Mynas, Bulbuls, and Doves.
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