A memory can be a very powerful influencer. Sitting in the back seat of our Maruti 800, staring out the window, amazed at the scenery whizzing past. Watching kids from small villages wave at you fervently, so excited just to see a car! It’s not just the kids, the local cattle were left scampering into farms and bushes, not knowing what this big blue groaning animal was. Trekking up, what seemed like, a huge mountain and reliving the stories you read in history books at the very place they happened, as my father narrated them passionately. I felt amazed by this place where Shivaji Maharaj took the oath for ‘Swaraj’, for freedom and then the rest of the rich history unfolded. These are my first memories of Raireshwar. I’ve always wanted to go back. So, I did.
With the recent development, I knew a fairly motorable road existed to reach almost to the top of Raireshwar, the rest of which I would have to trek. I left at the crack of dawn, uncharacteristically, and charted out a basic plan. Pune – Bhor – Raireshwar – Dhom Dam – Wai – Mandhardevi road – Bhor – Pune. The map below shows the route.
The road upto Bhor is pretty smooth and you have to continue towards Varandha Ghat (Read – Varandha Ghat Shivtharghal Off Roading) and then take a left at Ambeghar towards Raireshwar. The tiny village roads are decent and a lot of fun to ride on the Himalayan. Twists and turns, potholes are all taken into stride. Being early morning still and the tail-end of winter, the valleys are blanketed in fog. Looks beautiful as farms, trees and tiny villages poke their head through.
The road turns left again towards Raireshwar – Kenjalgad and off-road action begins. It’s fun navigating through rocks, ruts and sand as you climb up the mountain. I wanted to check out the Kenjalgad road too, but work was going on and it was closed, so I turned back towards Raireshwar.
The road improves and becomes an awesome twisty tar section right until you reach the last climb of Raireshwar. This last section is a proper off-road climb but you sort of deflate seeing locals do the same stuff on lesser bikes like Spendours and Platinas. But its fun nevertheless. There is a parking area at the base of the hill. I parked, stuffed my gear into my bag and trekked up.
The view as you climb up is superb. Valleys on both sides of the mountain look fantastic. A local told me the mountain beyond the valley on the right is Mahabaleshwar, which is quite cool. I’ve always wondered whenever I have been to Mahabaleshwar, what’s on the other side of the valley and turns out, I was there, exactly. Of course all the locals, who are all sort of one family, the Jangams, have houses where they arrange food and accommodation for visitors. So anyone you meet will chat you up but they are always very nice. There are a lot of hikes and a lot of things to see on the mountain. Many trekkers camp here too. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be in the rains.
I visited the main square, where the temple is and then went to one of the houses for some tea. Time to turn back. I trekked back down to the parking area, put on my gear and began my return journey.
I turned right towards Dhom dam as I reached the main road. This road winds down the mountain via very small villages and joins another road at the base. Turning left here will take you directly to Wai but I decided to take the long way around the dam backwaters. The road varies between really well surfaced to rough but its a fun ride. It’s really far, though, and the road goes on and on as it winds around the water. But the landscape is beautiful and the water is bright blue and very pleasing. It’s surprising how clean the villages are in these remote areas and how nice the people are. Even during their local festivals, as was going on at the time, they always make way for passerbys, unlike closer to the city, where it’s a pain to deal with. Very scarce population might have something to do with it.
On reaching Wai, I had another tea stop and continued towards Mandhardevi. The road is very confusing but eventually I got there and began my final leg of the journey. The Mandhardevi road is very beautiful and very well surfaced. It twists and turns up the mountain and the view of the road from the top is breathtaking. It’s always fun looking at the road you just rode on.
I rode back down the other side towards Bhor. You have to be careful on this road though, as this is a religious spot, there is a lot of unruly behaviour and dangerous driving. Most people drive on the wrong side all the time, even if they are not overtaking anybody and it’s especially dangerous on blind turns. So it’s better to be vigilant, even from people trying to overtake you.
The rest of the journey is straight forward from Bhor to Pune. This was a very enjoyable trip; really awesome roads, some off-roading and extremely pretty scenery. This trip should be a blast in the monsoons, can’t wait to try it out again.
Have you been on this road before? Done any such trips recently? Have any similar off-beat roads you know of? Do let me know in the comments and also let me know what you thought of this travelogue. Cheers! And remember – keep Wandering, keep Driving and keep Eating!