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  1. Hyderabad > Pune > Lonavala > Mahabaleswar > Pune > Hyderabad: Total round Trip ~1800 km Drive Ecosport Fuel Diesel Mileage 17 kmpl Road Condition PFB Break up of roads. Overall Excellent. Drive time 12 hrs from Hyd > Pune Hinjewadi (Including ~1.5 hour pitstops). Hotels Stayed in Holiday Inn Hinjewadi for 1 night, 2 nights in Diwatel grande resort Lonavala, 1 night in Treebo mahabaleswar, 3 nights in Novotel Pune. All the above hotels prices are dynamic. I recommend staying at above all hotels except holiday inn & Treebo which aren’t up to the mark. Prices are dynamically changing based on dates & availability. Occupants Myself, My wife and my 1-year old kid. Timeline 25th Dec 2020 – 2nd Jan 2021 early morning Places Covered Pune, Lonavala, Mahabaleswar Pune Mumbai expressway @ Khandala Valley Point: Round Trip Stats: Followed below mentioned route To & From Hyd <> Pune: Hyderabad > Humnabad > Solapur > Pune (NH 65). a. Road from Hyderabad > Humnabad > MH Border is NHAI and its excellent. Couple of NHAI tolls each 90 INR. b. Road from MH Border > Solapur is good with few stretches with road widening/bad patches/diversions/amidst rustic towns (unlike standard NHAI flyovers or bypasses). This stretch has couple of Tolls if I recall correctly. c. Road from Solapur > Pune is excellent with 4 NHAI Tolls each around 70 INR. d. Traffic is medium all along from Hyd outskirts till Pune outskirts. Key Take Aways on road conditions: a. Excellent roads overall except for MH Border > Solapur (this is also good but not excellent). b. Following google maps and no issues at all c. Quite a few highway dhabas/restaurants around Solapur and other cities on Solapur > Pune stretch. I dint pay a visit to any of them as we packed lunch for day one. d. Quiet a few fully loaded double trailer tractors on NHAI and few morons are coming in wrong route with full liberty. Hence please be mindful about these folks. e. Heads-up about the toll lane you are taking if you don’t have a fastag. It’s painful if we enter wrong lane now. Left most lane of tollgates are basically cash ones now. How it started: It’s December last week and that is all enough for planning a road trip. We thought of few places in south india (Wayanad, Chikmaglur etc.,) along with Pune and ended up going Pune for below reasons: a. It’s easily accessible from Hyderabad (given I’ve my kid with me). b. Pune has pretty good accommodation options and we are looking for safe accommodation's during Covid times. We were bit skeptical about our trip after MH Govt started coming up with new travel restrictions & guidelines before Dec 31st but finally it was just night curfew without any road travel ban for Telangana vehicles. I didn't even undergo any vehicle paper check, temperate check etc., neither at state borders nor in MH cities. I've witnessed at least 90% of people putting on masks in Pune and I really appreciate this. Day wise Itinerary: Day 1, Hyd > Pune (All about Drive): a. We've started at 6 am on 25th Dec 2020 Friday from Hyd and reached Pune by 5 PM including 1-2-hour pitstops. b. Had Breakfast at Udipi @muthangi ORR exit. We packed lunch so we didn’t really halt anywhere. c. Checked in @Holiday Inn Hinjewadi Pune. I wouldn’t recommend this hotel personally as we have other better options in same budget. Problem with hotel was I dint really like the food and the way they managed restaurant (Overcrowded). There was no self-service as part of corona precautions but that created more mess and turned out to be actual trouble maker. Day 2, Pune > Lonavala (visited Kesar Sai Dam & Pawna Lake): a. Did breakfast at in-house restaurant and started our journey by 11 am. b. We have two roads to reach Lonavala, Mumbai – Pune expressway and NH48 which is used by locals & regular traffic. I skipped expressway as I had to visit few places on our way else we can stick to expressway if we wish to directly reach lonavala. c. Visited Kesar Sai Dam - Can ignore this place if we are planning to Lonavala as we expect same picturesque in other lakes in Lonavala. Few KM’s stretch before reaching this place is also not good. d. Took a glance at Vissapur Fort, Lohagad Fort enroute Pawna Lake. It’s ghat road to reach these destinations and one would love to drive here. Didn’t really trek to any of these forts to avoid exertion with a kid. Ended up at final destination Pawna lake and it was good spot to spend some quality time. Handful of tourists at the spot. e. There is camping available at this lake and bachelors/group can try that out. f. Checked in @Diwatel Grande Resort Lonavala and I recommend this hotel. g. Had Dinner at in-house restaurant and food was good. Vissapur Fort (please note that I don't have all plain pictures hence had to upload few with my baby, excuse me on this): If you carefully observe the hill behind me, you can see tourists (more like miniatures) standing on the edge of the cliff Pawna Lake: Enroute Pawna Lake: This is how it's inside tunnel during Sunny day @ 10 AM: Day 3, Lonavala Sightseeing (Khandala, Lonavala valley points, Bhor dam, lions & tigers points): a. We woke up around 6 AM and waited for day light and then started to check out Khandala and Lonavala Valley points on Pune-Mumbai expressway. After witnessing the beautiful roads between foggy hills, we returned to hotel. b. Started our day after having sumptuous breakfast at in-house restaurant in the hotel. c. Started to Bhor dam around 10 AM and reached dam within few mins. We found a spot to spend time leisurely here. Private car Parking fee is 100 INR. d. Headed to Lions point and tigers point from Bhor dam. Views are splendid from both the points. Good thing about these 2 points is that it doesn’t involve any trekking. Just park the car and view the valley. e. Had lunch at Lions point with some food we packed and fritters we bought at the stalls as there are no proper restaurants. f. Returned to hotel and we tried to discover a lake very close to our hotel and it was very peaceful. Tourists were handful at this lake, and we can easily camp if we wanted to. Too many lakes around Pune & Lonavala. g. Called it off a day and finished Dinner at in-house restaurant. Lonavala Valley Point: Bhor Dam: Day 4, Lonavala > Mahabaleswar (Lingmala Waterfall, Venna lake): a. Checked out hotel after having breakfast and Started to Mahabaleswar around 9AM. Took the spectacular Mumbai-Pune expressway and I clocked ~120 KMPH easily. b. Paid toll around 200 INR and got off expressway after reaching Pune outskirts. Took Pune Bangalore NH48 road till WAI Junction and this road is good except few patches with diversions and road widening. Took a right turn to Mahabaleswar – Pachgani road at WAI Junction and after crossing WAI town, road is all across ghats. Followed google maps all the way and no issues in reaching destination. c. One major tunnel on NH48 “Katraj Tunnel” which is nearly 1KM. d. Checked in @Treebo hotel and finished off lunch at some random roadside restaurant. e. Post lunch visited to a waterfall close by hotel. Bit of trekking downhill to reach the fall. It was a small water fall but very peaceful and not crowded at all. f. Headed to Pawna lake and this place was heavily crowded for boating enthusiasts and seemed like most happening spot of Mahabaleswar. There are many roadside stalls for street food and other amusement options. Lot of horses to take a ride in whatever speed we wish 😊 g. Temperatures were low in Mahabaleswar when compared to Lonavala, Pune. h. Had to pay couple of 100 INR at panchgani and mahabaleswar entrance for respective municipalities. Venna Lake : Treebo Cottage Mahabaleswar: NH48 (Can't picture how this would look like when it's pouring) : Day 5, Mahabaleswar > Pune: a. Checked out hotel at 11 AM and reached Kates point and Arthurs point. Kates point was wonderful and one of the best viewpoints I’ve ever witnessed. b. Had lunch and started my drive to Pune around 3PM. c. Reached Pune by 8 PM with some pitstops/bio-breaks. Kates Point (not the best picture): Mahabaleswar hotspots: Day 6, 7, 8 –Novotel (new year celebrations and bidding bye to awful 2020 ) a. We spent our time leisurely at hotel and Goofing around Pune streets. b. Been to FC road for shopping, Dagdushet temple and Shaniwar wada palace. Kolhapuri Pomfret @ The Square Novotel: In Room Dine-in is now trending due to Covid : Last Day of Trip (Pune > Hyderabad): We checked out from hotel and started to Hyderabad at 2 pm after having lunch. Followed the same route back home and we are sad that our trip ended so soon . Reached home by 2am next day. Had Dinner @ Dhaba few KM's before reaching Solapur and couldn't recall the name but it was decent, very big with some kids play arena as well. Key take aways on overall trip: 1) Dec is good to travel this places but I bet it would be excellent to visit these places when it's pouring @monsoons, can't picture how magnificent it would look like and how it feels to drive across lush green hills. 2) Mahabaleswar wasn't in my plan actually and we added it on the fly when we were in Lonavala. If we had Mahabaleswar in our plan, we would have followed bit different itinerary, may be directly going to mahabaleswar from Hyderabad and then going to pune, lonavala from here. We had Lavasa, Bhatgar Dam etc., places but skipped those and added Mahabaleswar on the fly. 3) I personally felt, Mahabaleswar has a lot to offer and a must visit place. 4) There are many places around Pune and time would never be enough to cover those. 5) One doesn't need these many days to do this trip but I had time so I spent them leisurely. Hope this helps!! Please let me know for any queries. Happy Road Tripping. Below are few other pictures: Lions Point (not the best picture): Mahabaleswar - Panchagani Ghat road: Inside random tunnel: Enroute Mahabaleswar - WAI Junction: Katraj Tunnel extending around 1 KM @ NH 48 Pune Bangalore Highway: Enroute Khandala & Lonavala Valley Points: Tunnel Ahead 700M:
  2. Wife: “So how are we celebrating our anniversary?” Me: “No idea, it’s in the middle of the week, and I can’t take leave..lets see” Wife: “Hmm, neither can I manage; but we both have holidays in sankranti right? Shall we celebrate a week before?” Me: Sounds great! But will not celebrate in a restaurant or bar, will do something kickass!! How about a road trip..?? Wife: Whaa.. that’s cool.. am in!! Teaser It was hardly a week into the New Year 2016 while we were having this conversation. Now the important part was where to go? Both of us were agreed that will go to a hill station for sure. Ooty, Kodai were there in our bucket list, but we chose Panchgani-Mahabaleswar instead as it’s nearer. Day before the trip started, went to Hyundai ASS for check-up. Coolant- Topped up Break oil- Ok Windshield water tank – Topped up. Tyre pressure – Refilled Engine oil – ok Break pad – checked. DAY 1: Triiiiinngg.. triiiiing.. Alarm snoozed for 15 minutes till 4 o’clock, woke up, had some warm tea & started 5 o’clock at sharp. Route taken: HYDERABAD-->ZAHEERABAD-->HUMNABAD-->OMERGA-->SOLAPUR-->PANDHARPUR-->SATARA-->MAHABALESWAR It was pitch dark when we started; visibility was not that great, thanks to high beams of oncoming traffic, on the top of that road widening work made the situation so worse that I mistakenly landed up in the wrong direction once!Around 7 in the morning we reached Zaheerabad to have some quick breakfast, by the time Sun already came up!The road condition got deteriorated & we started running behind & chasing our schedule time. “Men in work” & “diversion” signboard became our regular sight. Around 8:30-8:45 AM we crossed Telangana border to enter into Humnabad, Karnataka. 4 lane work in progress:No 4 lanes & bad condition of the road continued till Solhapur, Maharashtra. Near Solhapur it was time to take right turn to continue with NH65.The area was bit congested, so we took 2 minutes halt to understand the road properly & then cautiously proceed towards our destination;Tip: take the right turn cautiously in case you are travelling to this strech. Now we were at Solhapur – Pune highway which has 4-6 lanes!! Finally..!! Newly laid road was superb from this place. I could not resist myself to speed up. Sorry we could not take the pics of the road as we were just enjoying the ride for which we were eagerly waiting!! As the same road connects directly to Pune, we left behind this awesome road near Mohol to avoid truck traffic. Now we landed into Pandharpur-Solhapur road,it was perfect time for a chai break. We again started our journey via Pandharpur-Solhapur Road. It’s a traffic free road though full of potholes. I must say, Grand i10 was doing a fantastic job here by filtering all the small-mid size potholes; soft suspension set-up of it made our ride quite comfortable. We headed towards pre planned lunch point - Hotel Radhesh Garden, near Pandharpur. Due to the road condition, we had to take another pit-stop before we had our lunch. The area where we took the break was very quiet, calm; we were enjoying the silence of the nature while sipping the hot tea.. and look who was our companion out there!! Hotel Radhesh Garden is a pure veg restaurant though not on the highway, but its just 100 meter away from the main road. The place is very nice & clean & very easy to locate as well. We liked the food, as the taste was not like a typical road side food joint, rather it was like a proper restaurant. Service was also very quick which is important on a road trip. You can park your car infront of the restaurant, though we parked our white knight under a nearby tree to keep the cabin cool. We ordered Roti-Sabji which was good & priced reasonable. Small washroom can serve the purpose. Few pictures will let you understand the standard of the restaurant. After fuelling up & top up the air, we resumed our journey. Post lunch we thought road condition will improve, but no!! Same story continues, lots of bumpers, small potholes etc. Even though it was rough road but again I must say that apart from the comfortable suspension set-up & the ride quality of Grand i10, it’s very effective AC & great control of NVH level made my shotgun (wife) feeling drowsy! After a while the road became narrower. We crossed few ghat sections & small towns. Please pay more attention on the road in this stretch; many unmarked speed-breakers are there. Though “Village ahead” signboard was there in most of the cases as and when we were approaching the same. Thanks to the authority!!It was nearly 4.30 in the evening we reached Satara.Now it was nearly 11 hours on the road & we were really exhausted, so took a long break of around 15-20 mins. Before we proceed to the last leg of our journey, we freshen up & took the right turn under the elevated Pune-Bangalore highway, and proceed towards Wai. After a while we had to take left to continue towards Mahabaleswar-Panchgani. Though Google Maps was showing correct way, still we asked some local fellows to know the condition of the road. Now we are closer to our destiny. Now our stay is just around 20 km away from here which is 45 minutes ghat section drive. But suddenly all our tiredness is gone & the amazing view welcomed us to the Mahabaleswar-Panchgani. And some clicks:- Finally!! we reached our destination after 13 hours drive at Shiv Sagar Farmhouse!! We decided to stay in farm house/home-stay rather than a luxury resort to enjoy the homely atmosphere, nature and also to save some money for the next trip. It is just a km away from the main road & has got proper parking space. They welcomed us with some fresh strawberry plucked right in front of us from their own farmland. The ground floor room was decent & big enough, geyser was in working condition. But the best part was the service, friendliness & cleanliness. Staff over there was very polite and helpful. Soft spoken manager Mr. Sagar was very attentive to take care of the customers. Regarding food, the menu is limited but all the foods are fresh & home cooked. Now let some pictures do talking. DAY 2: We started our day by watching sunrise from the terrace of the hotel. Just imagine the homely atmosphere of our stay that we managed to go to terrace before they actually woke up, rather they dint mind to open the door of the terrace. We had poha as our breakfast in the small lawn of the hotel which felt like into the lap of the nature. Few images taken from the terrace: Now it was time to explore Mahabaleswar!! First we went to Elephant’s head point & other viewpoints through a jungle road, as suggested by Google Maps. You can cover multiple viewpoints at a go, as these all are just adjacent to each other. But remember to download offline maps (for route purpose) as network coverage is very limited in this area. Now it was time to have some Mahabaleswar famous strawberry milkshake. I am not at all a fan of strawberry, but oh buoy!! If you taste this, you will get to know how best strawberry tastes when it’s fresh!! What a beautiful taste it was..mind-blowing. Then we visited “Panchganga Mandir”. We were told that 5 rivers originated from this place including Krishna. But practically it was 5 streams from the rocks appear and gets collected in a small tank inside the temple. These 5 streams symbolises 5 different rivers, Krishna, Venna, Savitri, Gayatri and Koyna river. Photography was prohibited, so could not take one. We started our post lunch session to visit Arther’s point, Savitri view point, monkey point etc. After a quick visit to nearby shopping corner, late afternoon we spent quality time at Venna Lake on boat & having delicious chaat nearby. By the time of sunset we were at Wilson point to experience a spectacular sunset. We chose Wilson point as most of the crowd used to be at Bombay Point. The place was less crowdy, so we enjoyed every bit of silence while sun was going down Been there in Mahabaleswar “mapro garden” is must visit place. We had some hot soup while returning back to the hotel. Though we dint like the potato soup & found costly, but one can buy many mapro products, like jam, ketchup etc. It was really chill evening at Mahabaleswar.One local strawberry wine parlour was there just around 500 meters from our stay. They make wine from the fresh strawberry of their own farm land. So we decided to give a try in the chilling evening. Costs only Rs 100/- per glass, but the experience is priceless. We were having strawberry wine (KINGBERRY) with some cheese & freshly cut strawberry right in the garden beside the strawberry farmland under the star gazing sky. We call it a day after having really fresh food in dinner at our stay. DAY 3: Today we decided to visit around Panchgani after exploring Mahabaleswar yesterday. First we went to Parsi point around 7 o’clock. Parking place is there just opposite to the viewpoint. You will find some decent eateries there. We enjoyed the moment like anything because firstly nobody was there when we checked in, and secondly soft sunlight of sunny morning was looking beautiful on the valley!! Tips: Better to visit early in the morning, as we saw the huge crowd & no parking place while returning around 12.30 PM. After having a beautiful view of the valley we proceed towards Sydney point. This is bit uphill place from the main road; this place offers you a great view of the Dhoom Lake & surrounding valley. Luckily not much crowd was there at this place either. After spending quality time there, we were enjoying the drive/ride in and around Panchgani; suddenly we found a place called Harrisons Folly. We found the place amazing; you can get nearly 280 degree view of the down valley. Few clicks are: We came back to the hotel to have lunch & freshen up, we had opted cauliflower & potato sabji which were from their farmland itself..!! Isn’t it too good? After having a lovely lunch we went to table land to watch this magnificent sunset : Last Day: Route taken & Schedule was: We started around 6.30 AM from the hotel when it was dark, (as the sun rises a bit late in the western side of India, we started half an hour late to avoid night driving in ghat section) ;but soon we got a spectacular view of first daylight.. We halted for a while to enjoy the serenity. Birds were chirping,fog engulfed the small valley down there and sun was slowly coming up through that..it was the moment of the day!! We had awesome dhokla & samosa in breakfast near Koregaon. Place name is Chamunda Rajpurohit Sweets Then soon we landed up in the same route as described before, so almost same story continued. Single lane road connects to Mohol with almost no traffic.We packed our lunch from hotel Radhesh to have it afterwards during any break, as we were not hungry by the time we reached Hotel Radhesh. Nearly around 6:30 in the evening, when the sun was about to set for the day, we already reached near Shadashivpet to take our last pit stop (nearly 45 kms from our sweet home) and finally we reached at our place around 7:30 PM(again 13 hours) Few tit bits: 1) Total distance from our home to the hotel (One way) : 555 Km 2) Time taken(one way): Nearly 13 hours 3) Road condition: Due to 4 lane work in progress, lanes were not consistent till Solhapur (NH 65). You will find lots of “men at work” & “take diversion” signboard. After Solhapur, road is 4 lane till Mohal. Then If you continue through Pandharpur-Satara road to avoid traffic, the driving will be little painful as the condition of the road is not that good, but almost no opposite traffic made that up. Watch out for some unmarked bumper in this stretch. After Satara again the road is good. Ghat road starts 15-20 KM before Mahabaleswar which may take 45 Min to 1 hour depending upon the traffic. 4) Amenities in the route: You may find out fuel stations but very rare toiletries unlike Hyderabad-Bangalore highway. No major restaurant or dhaba we have seen. 5) Please avoid night driving in this route as overall road condition is not that good, and few places are there in the route where nothing is there, nothing; not a single home. At night these areas better to avoid. 6) Hotel Radhesh Garden is a decent & hygiene place, which is just around 100 meter from the highway with parking facility. 7) Shiv Sagar farm house is a great place to stay into the lap of nature, the owner is very friendly & co-operating. Location is a km away from the main road, which ensures peaceful stay. Room is decent & spacious. Wi-fi facility is there only near the reception room. You can get the tour conductor’s contacts from the reception guy. It has a small kid playing area as well. Overall it’s a nice place to stay & spend quality time. 8) Do visit Harrisons Folly, its an amazing place. 9) You need to pay 20/- per person upon entering Panchgani hill sation as municipal tax receipt, which is valid for 7 days. And also you need to shell out 50/- per vehicle as Pollution tax collected by the Municipal council (Even if you have PUC). 10) Total Toll paid is Rs 95/-(one way) as most of the national highway road was under construction. This trip gave us true experience of a road trip that how to overcome the practical problems & maintain the tenacity throughout a road trip. Frankly this trip gave us the confidence to take any kind of road trip afterwards. We thoroughly enjoyed our journey & the trip... We got wings to fly... We were alive...!!Thanks & Cheers!! Adding few random pictures of our drive. Traveled: Jan 13thto 17th January 2016. All the information is as on this period; all rights are reserved for the content & images of the post.
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