Sunday, October 10, 2010

Koyna and Konkan

During 15th Aug weekend, we planned a trip to Koyna region. Koyna is a region nestled in the Sahaydri mountains (western ghats) of Maharashtra whose claim to fame is Koyna Dam. Koyna Dam forms a lake in Sahayadri mountains which goes 70 km all the way up to Mahabaleswar (Tapola). It is one of the largest Hydroelectric dam projects of independent India and even Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru paid a visit here during its construction post-independence. It generates 560 MW of electricity.

Beautiful Koyna Dam
There is a small town called Koyna Nagar close to the dam which forms the base of this region. The town is around equidistant from two major towns Karad & Chiplun on west and east side on either side of western ghats. The route from Pune was to go south on NH-4 till Umbraj just before Karad and from there turn right on state highway to Chiplun via Patan. Once we are onto state highway the traffic becomes minial and greenery all around. Soon one can see mountains awashed with nubile grass on slopes and rugged green plains. There is a river which accompanies on the left which is full and clean. We stopped at several places to take in the surroundings.



There is a gentle ascend to reach Koyna Nagar. We stayed at the MTDC resort there which is around 1-2 km above the town on hill slope. It was an ordinary place though it was fully occupied due to holidays. The dam and its lake behind is the main attraction visible from various viewpoints. There is a Nehru Garden which is a nice place to relax and also to view a short documentary about the dam and its construction.

Koyna dam from distance

Koyna dam with background
Next day we went to a fall known as Ozarda which I had never heard of before. But it didn’t disappoint and was in full force. The waterfall is inside a protected park and one has to trek for 20 minutes to reach the base of falls though it is visible from far. The water was in such a force that it created a mist around and one could get wet evening being far from falling water. No one can dare stand under it anyways. The curved hill created a performance like an amphitheater.
Ozarda fall from a distance

small water streams around main Ozarda fall

Main Ozarda waterfall

Closeup of pointed rock taking pounding from the fall
Here we saw a huge boulder covered with moss and small flowers epitomizing the saying that ‘even rocks can breed flowers’.

Even rocks can breed flowers
This was peak monsoon time so territory around was splendidly green in all its hues and waterfalls every now and then.

One of many waterfalls

Back side of dam lake

Our red car in the midst of green
Next day our destination was Guhagar, a town at seashore going through the town of Chiplun. This was going to be a foray into Konkan region of Maharashtra which is famous for Alphonso mangoes. It was a nostalgic journey for me having come to this area some 18 years back with my cousin and sisters. We had come from Solapur, stationed at Chiplun and went to Guhagar and Velneshwar, another small town on the coast. All these years I remembered names of these towns. As soon as we rounded the bend at ‘Ghat Matha‘ which is the mountain pass to the other side of western ghats I knew I have seen this before. I have a faint memory of that time getting scared looking at the valley below with a small river while the ST bus swerved at every bend. This is ‘Kumbharli ghat‘ towards Chiplun. There is a hotel at the pass which is a view point to the valley below. Due to hills coming up in such a configuration that there is always wind at this point with clouds rising from the valley below. The Kumbharli ghat was so beautiful that morning that we stopped several times at various vantage points looking at the green hills covered with white clouds. The clouds were moving at fast pace presenting a fresh view at every blink. The road and mountain slope was misty.

Misty road at Ghat Matha

Clouds rising up in the valley

Taking a break on the ghat

Clouds clinging to hill tops like they are on fire

Seat to heaven
The hills here had lot of power transmission lines due to Koyna Dam. Sometimes I feel that though western ghats are very less in height compared to Himalayas but still they are as mysterious and unexplored as they are dense.

Transmission lines coming from Koyna Dam

Kids at roadside village
Slowly we got down the ghat and reached Chiplun. Again I tried to recall if I remember anything from 18 year trip back. However, the town did not give opportunity as it was congested and difficult to maneuver.
Chiplun to Guhagar was low lying hill drive with dense forest around.

Enroute Guhagar from Chiplun
Guhagar had few tourists who might have come due to it being Sunday. We went out to the sea shore. I remember this was my first ever sighting of sea in my lifetime when I came here when I was you young. The name Guhagar is forever etched in my memory. We walked around in the town. and had our lunch.

Beach at Guhagar
Later we headed to Velneshwar where we had even spent a day at my cousin’s acquaintance but couldn’t recall which house it was? The drive as it was till now scenic with undulating hills with densest greenery.

Just before Velneshwar town
We paid visit to the main temple in town which seemed to have been recently painted.I must have been to this temple but couldn’t recall.

Temple at Velneshwar
The beach seemed familiar with hump like hill at the background. The sea was rough but lot of catamarans were out there in the sea. It was mostly secluded as I could remember from my memory. How these places are stuck in a time warp.

Beach at Velneshwar visiting after 18 years

Catamarans out in the sea
After sometime we drove to Hedvi another coastal town famous for its Lord Ganesha temple. The temple was well-built and calm. The seafront was rocky though.

Seashore at Hedvi looking south
Soon we headed back as we wanted to cross the ghat till sunlight lasts. The drive up the ghat was fine. We stopped at the hotel at Ghat Matha to have tea & pakoras. They tasted divine in this setting. It was quite chilly in the evening there due to cool wind.

Shredded clouds in the evening in the valley

The hotel at Ghat Matha from distance
Next day we drove back to Pune via same route as we came.

3 comments:

Ceej said...

Excellent writing, Roopesh. After reading this, I have decided to go to this place during next weekend from Pune with my family. Will appreciate if you can give more details travel directions and options on place of stay.

Roopesh said...

He Ceej,

For going there take NH-4 (Mumbai-Bangalore). There will be a town called Umbraj after Satara but just before Karad where you have to take a right turn. Then via Patan you can reach Koyna Nagar. Chiplun and Guhagar are further on that road. There are not many staying options. Apart from MTDC Koyana Lake Resort (http://www.nivalink.com/koyna/index.html) there are 2-3 hotels nearby (www.gursaleresort.com).

Thanks.

Trav Themes said...

Really amazing place, I like it.

I must say the once you visit Tarkarli beach It is world famous white sand beach in India