Sunday, 23 August 2015

Travelogue - Pune Trip Info, Maps and Photos

Shot with Lumia 1520
Pune, the cultural capital and second largest city in the state of Maharastra. Pune is the hub for software industry in state as well as Central India. It is famous for several research institutions and is also the second largest hub for automobile industry after Chennai. Many of these facts are well known to everyone. But, it is not known to many people, especially from South India ,that Pune is also a hub for several tourist attractions, most of them are being hill stations.


We are a bunch of 10 tourist enthusiasts who love to explore places, eight of them had never been to Pune excluding me and another friend. I had been to Pune nine times before this trip and I knew all the places well. Pune lies centre to Western Ghats, one of the hottest hotspots for biological diversity in the world as designated by UN. It is a feast for nature lovers like me to explore these lavish landscapes, exotic viewpoints, rainy and foggy climate. We were waiting for Monsoons to start, so that we can plan the tour. We planned for a three day weekend and booked the flight tickets in advance before one and half month. Below is the tour schedule

Day 1: Lonavala and Khandala
Day 2: Mahabaleswar
Day 3: Lavasa

Camera: Nikon D7100
Lenses: 35 mm prime lens and 55-200 mm zoom lens
Accessories: ML-7 IR remote control, Benro T-660EX tripod stand

Budget: ~9500 including airfare, hotel accommodation, transport and food per person

Day 1: Lonavala and Khandala

Maps:
Pune to Lonavala

Our trip started with an early morning flight to Pune, we booked cab (Tempo traveller) for 10 people couple of days before and directly started to Lonavala along the express way from airport.

Be careful with the transport providers, the usual service is 300 km per day outstation for 4500 Rs. Whether you utilize 300 km or not, you have to pay full and this does not include the toll and parking charges. One has to pay 200 bucks extra if we make it beyond 8 pm in the night. These travel providers try to cheat people in many ways. For example, they told us that it was 300 km per day but it includes the distance from their garage and return to garage which means you will be losing roughly 30-40 km per day based on your stay location. These terms and conditions will not be informed before.

We rounded off the trip to 750 km for 3 days. Since we were 10 in number, general small transport vehicles were not sufficient. You can book Indica, Innova or any other cab as per requirement. All the transport providers are same and you can select the vehicle based on the best deal provided.

We asked the driver to take us through the 6 lane Pune-Mumbai express way (The other route being old NH-4). From my experience, I can say it is one of the best scenic highways in India. It was an absolute pleasure passing through the tunnels, ghat roads on a cloudy day.
Pune-Mumbai Express Way
Pune-Mumbai Express Way through tunnels
Pune-Mumbai Express Way
By the time we reached Lonavala, it was a bit sunny and all my friends started teasing me about the weather (I told them that the weather would be full cloudy & rainy, asked them to get umbrellas and rain coats). As we headed to Tiger’s view point, the climate suddenly turned cloudy and foggy, the visibility of the road has become very poor on reaching the top.

Believe me, it was an awesome experience walking through clouds with the drizzle. The view point was fantastic and we quickly snapped some photos when there was enough sunlight. It started raining then and the clouds became denser by around 12 am. 

Video view




We then proceeded to Mulshi dam point. Seriously there is not much here to see and you can skip to some other point to save time. We visited due to personal interest and memories I had 4 years back. 


Views from Mulshi Dam

We stopped for lunch at a Gujarati restaurant, food was not so great , at least for a south Indian like me. By the time we had lunch, it started raining heavily and we had no other way than proceeding further to Khandala. It was fully foggy and I am sure that you cannot see anything beyond 100m distance. 


As you can see from below photograph, there is no visibility.



We were initially disappointed that we lost some beautiful view points, but since we had time for rest of the day, we waited for better climate and it paid off partially in an hour. The climate  and viewpoints had become clearer (not completely though). 


That was enough for me to capture some sceneries. We were able to see and hear a huge water fall (Kune waterfall) and its sound which was roughly 2-3 km vertically. That looked like a Baahubali intro shot (sorry for showing my obsession with Baahubali here!) when zoomed in my DSLR. We returned to Pune by 7 pm in the evening.
Kune Waterfall, shot from long distance using 55-200 mm lens on my Nikon D7100

Kune Waterfalls

Day 2: Mahabaleswar
Maps
                                                
        Mahabaleswar view points
Panchgani to Mahabaleswar

Our trip to Mahableswar started at around 8; It is roughly 130 km from Pune. 
En route Mahabaleswar
It includes several places like Sunset view point, Panchgani, Arthur seat point, Kates point, Krishna river origin etc.
View from Sunset point

Sunset point

Me @ Sunset point

Sunset point
Mahabaleswar has the 2nd highest peak in Maharastra. It is full of mountainous ranges, valleys and forests. Great place for nature lovers.
Dhom lake , Krishna river view from Panchgani, Mahabaleswar

Once again it was a full foggy day with rain. 
En route Arthur seat point
Bike ride or self-driving would be an awesome experience.
List of view points near Mahabaleswar 
Maps in local Marathi language


We reached Arthur seat point at around 5 pm, it was fully covered with clouds and therefore could not see anything nearby. As you can see from the image above, the view point is named after British governor Sir George Arthur of Mumbai presidency.
Zero visibility at Arthur seat point
We missed out several viewpoints due to bad weather but the feel factor of climate was a heavenly experience. 
Before returning to Pune, we quickly visited the Panchganga temple where the sacred river Krishna originates.

Krishna river origin temple


Day 3: Lavasa
Map


Last day of our trip, we wanted it to be a less exploring and more relaxing day. Hence we scheduled Lavasa, India’s first planned hill city just 60 km away from Pune.  En route Lavasa, we found a good view of Temghar dam reservoir.
Boat @ Temghar reservoir

Temghar dam reservoir

Tree @ Temghar reservoir

Temghar dam reservoir

Lavasa, originally planned to comprise of 12 towns across seven hills, currently has one town completely built. The town you see in several web photos is Dasve. 



Dasve, Lavasa

Mutha river

Mutha river mountainous ranges



The other towns are under construction. The architecture is designed to meet international standards and be eco-friendly in nature. 



Lakeshore water sports, Lavasa

Lavasa International Convention centre

Me @ Lavasa
Several international restaurants, dining halls, conventional centres are established. 


Food street and Dinning halls, Downtown, Lavasa



Lavasa roads

Lavasa overview from entrance point


Khadakwasla dam reservoir
We initially planned to visit Sinhagad fort and hill station, highest peak in Maharastra, but missed due to time constraints.

We wrapped our trip by the end of day reaching Bengaluru by 11.30 pm. It was a nostalgic trip for me and enjoyed it fully.

Note: Photos are enhanced with basic tools in Google Plus since I could not take RAW image files (NEF ~24Mb per file) due to storage problem. For the first time I had done this. I never enhanced any of photos I took till now but realized that editing them will give entirely a new look.

For HQ photos please click this link Pune Trip


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