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Images: Biking up the Western Ghats

Last updated on: September 1, 2010 19:06 IST

Images: Biking up the Western Ghats

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Akhtar Shaikh
Approximately 140 km, or two to three hour road journey -- depending on the rough and tumble and adventure en route -- from Mumbai, the hilly terrain to Malshej Ghat is the rage with picnickers during the monsoon.

In fact, the best time to visit the place (which is also easily accessible from Pune) is between August and September when the valley turns a carpet of green as far as the eyes can see and waterfalls cascade down the magnificent Sahyadris.

Six friends -- Niel, Masban, Mustafa, Elderin, Aakash and Akhtar -- recently went on a bike ride to one of Maharashtra's most happening monsoon getaways. Here Akhtar Shaikh recounts their journey...

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Image: The Sahyadris
Photographs: Niel, Masban and Akhtar
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Highway hijinks

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I had been looking forward to this trip to Malshej Ghat with my friends for a very long time.

The excitement had left me sleepless the night before and when my alarm clock buzzed in the morning, I sprung out of bed frantically sending messages to my friends telling them to wake up. Just as I expected, their replies said they were up and ready to hit the road.

Heading out of Navi Mumbai, we met up at Airoli circle and carried on further to Ambernath, where another group of bikers awaited us.

From Ambernath we took a shortcut via Teen Rasta to Murbad. Just past Murbad, we caught the straight road from Tokavade to Malshej Ghat.

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Image: En route to Malshej Ghat

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Cruising to the top

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We were a group of six with four bikes. The journey, simply put, was great!

Our route, devoid of the chaotic traffic snarls that most Mumbaikars are forced to contend with daily, was perfect. We cruised at an average speed of 90 kmph.

Our first pit stop was at Murbad where we relished Vada Pav and hot chai.

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Image: Chai at Murbad

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By the babbling brook

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With our stomachs pleasantly content, we got back on the road riding for two hours, non-stop. Along the way we spotted a small stream, where we signaled our next halt. Out came our cameras and we starting clicking away taking in the scenic locale, one after another.

To our dismay, which was luckily short-lived, one of the bike's tyres gave way. Luckily, the mechanic (our saviour) was in the neighborhood. While the bike was quarantined and tyre fixed, we sipped on some more chai and planned how to make up for the lost time.

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Image: A stream we stopped by

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Hamlet by the hill

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The journey began once again and this time we spiralled our way to the top of the Ghats.

As we headed closer to the top, the mesmerising view on the way up welcomed us. Being the snap-happy bikers we are, we halted and clicked away.

After a quick photo session, we surged on. Surprisingly, the roads were in good condition apart from a few bumpy stretches that didn't last too long.

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Image: A view from the Ghats

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Nature at her beautiful best

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We reached the top at around 11 in the morning and were once again overwhelmed by the serene scenery all around.

As we took in the view, gradually the hunger pangs returned. Chicken Handi and Chicken Kolhapuri with loads of rotis at the MTDC restaurant nearby were just what we needed.

Thankfully, the weather was cool and the rain gods allowed a temporary moratorium. This gave us ample opportunity to rest for a while and silently appreciate nature's brilliance.

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Image: Along the Western Ghats

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Homeward bound

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As evening approached, we reluctantly headed back towards the mundane city life, repeatedly reminding each other to e-mail our photos.

We entered the city a couple of hours later and dispersed along our respective routes with beautiful memories of our trip.

I wait till we ride together again, on another tryst to discover the beauty of Mother Nature.

Reader invite:

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Image: At Malshej Ghat

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