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Meet me - know me - read my posts and try to figure me! Well I am someone who is always thirsty for adventure, someone who simply hates playing sheep(u know the types - follow the herd!). An enthusiastic trekker, who loves to travel and ever ready for one of those wierd new found sports- luv to make new friends and njoy being my family's pet :)!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bike ride to Chikhadara -Part 2

22nd Dec:
The mouse did make some of us wakeup past midnight. It was morning, with us lazing up at ~7am. Again Dhanya was in a drowsy mood, so all of us except him went for the morning tea. So off we got 3 bikes from the garage and away we were. Took a break at the tea stall where fresh tea was being prepared, post that we went off in the direction of the crater. The town was sleepy and a complete contrast to the previous night. The air was chill and a good feel all over, as we rode off the town in the other direction towards the crater.

In no time past some turns in a distance the plateau seemed to have caved in, up we revved our engines as we came to a juncture and took a right and later entered one of the guest house premises that had a wonderful vantage point. The crater was visibly huge. Sure enough this Lonar halt was big success(we were brainstorming over a halt at Lonar or Akola the previous day), none of us had seen anything like it before. But again if seen in the non-geographical interest angle it seemed like nothing more than a huge hole with water within. Yet it was beautiful , the water was salt water and we stood there in awe. We did contemplate going down to the bank, it seemed to be ~500feet deep, but it had to be done on foot so that translated to time consumption and add up to delays for the days destination and hence it had to be chucked out. Some local kids did ask us to visit the hot water spring, but time constraints got the better of us and we rode back to our lodge. (~8:20am)

Back at the lodge, packed in all the stuff had a fresh hot bath and decided to throw off the pack of "rusk biscuits" since our rodent friend decided munch on the snack. We did report the same to the lodge staff and Mandar held a 1K bet too and won the same (naaa... we did not cash in). Nonetheless it was ~9:25 (389.3kms) by the time we were leaving Lonar and traveling in the direction of Mehekar.

We rode in a single file and soon reached Sultanpur (400.8kms, 9:25am). Took the straight road that led to Mehekar. The road was a single lane and went through some rich country side. Street signs indicated the proximity of Mehkar and soon we entered a little town and took a halt near a little shop (Hotel Ganesh) that was serving tea and some hot munchies(412.6kms, 10.02am). A huge crowd gathered around us and were chatting as to who we might be etc. (now this was pretty much a know behavior for us since attired people on bikes is a rare sight around these places). Here we had some amazing daalwada, wada paav pohe and loads of tea. A gentle man helped us with directions to Chikhaldara and also drew us a nice map and since we were on a joy ride on bikes he suggested we take a route via PopatKhed to a place called Semadoh to Chikhaldara, all via the lush jungle of Melghat. He also asked us to stay at Semadoh (which is the base of Chikhaldara and thickly forested too) since we could expect tiger roars etc at night which would be a rarity atop. Loaded with information , some of the bikes tanked up at a near by petrol pump, off we were (10:20am).

The next destination was decided to be Akola some 100kms away since we were fresh and ready for the speed run. The ride was not characterized by any special events per say, it was simple ans straightforward keep riding in the direction of Akola. We did keep circling our places around each other in the line of bikes. In about an hours time as our backsides started to pray for a break, signboards for Akola started to emerge. We soon got over a highway after taking a right, regrouped and rode in the direction of Akola. We rode for some distance and came to an intersection near an St. bus depot (it seemed to be the outskirts of the city). Here we took a left and a halt near a tea stall and took directions for Akot, which was nothing but straight along the turn we took. Maneesh steered off left and retreated back to where we were (514.6kms, 12:08pm). Took a 20 minute halt before Mandar and me rode off to tank up at a near by petrol pump (518kms, 12:40pm). The pump helper asserted our directions and was happy to see riders in this direction. Soon we all teamed up and rode through the heavily crowded Akola city and off it in the direction of Akot. We passed through a ghat section partway which was pretty scenic, but no one was in the mood of a halt. The later part of the ride was not eventful but pretty comfortable as we rode into the town of Akot (561.4kms, 13:30pm).

Akot was crowded and we could not spot any decent hotel. Amit expressed his urge to have lunch at the right time if possible and we decided on the same. Some quick inquiries and we were directed to a hotel in the vicinity(Swad and Shet hotel). The place was not too big, but nothing to grumble about either. So parked our steeds in the crowds and in we were (in these parts, people do get curious looking at loaded bikes but do not do anything mischievous either.. sure we would ask the owners of the hotel to keep a watch and they'd oblige). The lunch was really good amazing waradi theecha with bhakris and some lip smacking curries. The butter milk was not so much to talk about though. Amit had a long and lengthy discussion with the owner of the hotel and a couple of his friends, who were possibly in their teens, about directions and places to stay at Chikhaldara. Here too they helped us in all possible ways, with telephone numbers etc. Loaded with all this information off we were in the direction of Semadoh(14:35pm).

The road soon got off the crowded city and we were riding on some not so good roads, a river made an appearance by the side and in the distance was a range of hills. These were the Melghat ranges. I was a bit irate that no one took halts at the previous picturesque ghat between Akola and Akot, so out came my camera and lo behold started clicking as we rode. Dhanya was trailing me all along and he too started with the recording spree. One could not ride too fast since the roads were OK-ish. Soon we rode past the board pointing to Semadoh and rode through thin vegetation, we were riding under tall trees and eventually under a thick cover. Dhanya rode all around our file recording with his camera (later he was irritated that he forgot to click record!.. hahaha). The cover as wonderful and very serene. The road had a lot of sand on the path and thus our speeds were at bay. Soon we came near a checkpost. We were at Khatkali Naaka(585.8kms, 15:20pm).

We had to part with 210/- (Rs. 15 per vehicle and Rs. 20 per head) and the guards there gave us precise directions to Semadoh. In roughly 20 minutes we were done and were off riding through the jungle. There was a stream along side and some truckers were having their bath as they waved out good byes... The road led in an upward direction through twists and rubble. For the most part the road was good, but there were pebble and mud along most parts of the road and hence the risk of slips. The lead riders would generally stop and sych up at every occasion since some of us were having difficulty negotiating the acute turns at high speeds. Soon we reached a vantage high point (there was this concrete shed constructed there) and that's where we got an amazing panoramic view of the Melghat jungle. It was huge and wonderful, thick and green. There are ~60 tigers in this forest, we were sure it would be a rarity to spot any(~16:00pm) Many snaps and off we were on the road ahead in 10 mins.

The twists continued and one occasion the whole road for a good kilometer was nothing laid with cut stones(the ones they layout just before making the road). Slow but steadily we kept riding along many slips but no falls we were moving ahead. Soon the road gave way to some nice tarmac and took a slight descent as it went through a nice country side with various streams and farms. Soon the jungle reappeared and so did the twisties. Along this road we were pretty fast and soon came to a T junction -Dharni phata(641.2kms, 17:10pm). Lots of langoors were dancing on tree tops. The place was amidst the forest , the road to the left went to Dharni and eventually Madhya Pradesh and to the right led to Semadoh. Some quick inquiries with a couple of people on vehicle confirmed our direction and off we were.

The ensuing roads were simply amazing, one could rip at break-a-neck speeds on these roads... but again it was pretty dangerous too, since there would be the sudden uninvited turn. We rode pretty fast and heavy, this was a smooth and best leg of the ride (we had to ride back on the return journey as we had to take the Dharni route). For some reason there were speed breakers at regular intervals- we later learnt it was to protect the animals crossing the road. Soon we rode past an unmanned checkpost to the village of Semadoh(663.2kms, 17:36pm). The temperature was at an all time low, it was tough to stand at one spot. We soon settled ourselves at a tea shack and had endless cups of hot tea. Maneesh and Mandar inquired at the forest dept. guest house for places to stay but unfortunately it was full since many of the officials had come for some convention and training session. Later Mandar and myself rode down to the government guest house a couple of kilometers away just to hear the same story. We had no option but to go upto Chikhaldara for the night.

Villagers did persuade us to go up, as it was getting dark. From where we stood there were 2 routes to get atop, one ~25kms straight up though the jungle and second ~80kms via Paratwada along the state Highway. With the darkening surroundings we unanimously decided on the 25kms route :). After spending an unfruitful and terribly cold hour at Semadoh we rode to the checkpost that led atop via the 25km jungle route(This was along side the forest dept. guest house). The Forrest official refused to open the gate, since he said it closes at 6pm , later when Mandar and others persuaded him that we had failed to find rooms and rode a long distance on bikes he surrendered to our pleas and let us through, but advised us to stay together as it was a jungle. It was dark, and got pitch dark as we got into the thickets.

The road was not at all bad, it kept going up on most occasions though twits and we rode in a single file at an average speed of ~30kmph. It was impossible to speed in the dark, the only light we had were our bike beams. We rode obediently Mandar-Maneesh-Amit-Dhanya-Nachiket-Me was the file and it went like a serpent through the tickets. The chill had got us all numb and it was relentless. I started singing to beat the cold. In a distance we could see the valley in the dark and the distant silhouettes of mountain ranges. A couple of vehicles rode past us in the opposite direction and we spotted some road construction workers sitting around a little bonfire amidst the jungle!

In ~45 minutes we reached the top to another checkpost to enter Chikhaldara.(683.5kms, 19:11pm). Here we simply had to show our previous receipts and the guard there made entries for all the bikes. The guard was a pretty cheerful character and shared various stories, he also said he spotted 2 tigers that morning near the checkpost. Well soon enough we were done with the formalities and we were let inside the hillstation.

The road was good and soon past some tuns we came to a juncture from where we took a left to the main city center. We stopped near a Hotel Utkarsh and started on the hotel hunt(688.9kms, 19:30pm). Amit was anxious to get a hotel soon, since his motions were under control for a good 8 hours! Hotel Utkarsh seemed nice at 600/- a room with an extra bed and Amit was more than content with it:). Mandar and me checked an MTDC affiliated lodge but did not find that good for the price and later checked Satpura resort some 2kms away, but found it too expensive. We finally settled for Hotel Utkarsh. The owner of the hotel was impressed with us bikers and also decided on showing us a new hotel he was constructing in the vicinity (which was more of a resort), but Nachi and Mandar were not content with it as it was still undone.

Soon we picked our rooms and changed over for dinner.(~20:10pm) Dhanya again crashed on the bed ad decided not to team in (bummer!). Well we walked down to the new hotel where we expected some campfire and good food. The place was extremely cold and we were shivering like crazy. Walked past a crowded hotel like place which was bustling with loud music, and soon walked past a calm street to the new hotel Utkarsh.

Here we sat with the owner around a small "shekoti"(firewood being burnt to keep the cold away). It was a relief to be there, here we ordered some routine food and loads of boiled eggs. Then started the drinks session which lasted for roughly over an hour, then came in the eggs that we gulped down in no time. Soon food was served and we very reluctantly deserted our hot place to the outdoor table. The food was anything but hot, not even close to be called warm.. Amit commented"Yeh kya Anda curry hai .. yeh to Thanda curry hai bhai". But we were hungry so had some meal and found the kichadi rice good. sent off a parcel to our room for Dhanya. Spent some more time by the fire and finally walked back to our hotel.

Amit kept saying we should do the Jungle safari, many people confirmed the safari is done at Semadoh and one should have their own 4 wheeler to do it. We decided on doing what's best once we wake up the following morning... no one was keen on an early wakeup call. Back at the hotel (~12:15am) we crashed at our beds and off we were zipping though dream land in no time. The following day was to be a relax day with just some sight seeing, and hence we decided on taking it easy... little did we know what the following day had in store for us!

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