Gliding above the road with the wind swishing past the ears — biking is no less than a flying like a bird. A hardcore biking fan, Karan Rawat set off on a journey to Satpura along with his two friends — Ankit Negi and his thunderbird.
It had been pretty long since we had hit the roads, so the idea was incessantly hovering over our minds. I along with my couple of other friends zeroed in on the Mumbai-Nashik-Saputara-Valsad-Mumbai circuit and planned a two-day trip. But as the dates neared, some started backing out. In the end, it was down to my friend Ankit Negi and me. With the Tibetan Flags from the previous trip adding glory to Negi’s Thunderbird, we took off the journey from Mumbai.
To add some more adventure to the Satpura trip, we planned to stop at the Hathgarh Fort, just 3 kms from Satpura. It wasn’t supposed to be just a visit — we had actually planned to camp on the top of the fort! Although we were unaware of the permissions to be taken or the other nitty-gritty — we had made up our mind. The preparations for the camping were setting my heart racing since this was going to be my first-ever camping experience.
Firing up the engine
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The clock struck 6:30 and Negi picked me up from Borivali. We had chalked out the route in advance and following the same, we reached Bhiwandi (via Ghodubunder road and Thane). The chilly morning began making its presence felt and we stopped on the way to click pictures of the sun beams penetrating through the trees along the roads. The single-lane road was clear, with minimum traffic which made the ride all the more enjoyable. As the weather grew warmer with the rising sun, we passed Wada to reach Khodla, where we stopped for breakfast.
Post-breakfast, we exchanged our seats on the bike and resumed the journey. On the way, we came across a lake which was a nostalgic reminder of Ladakh — the bright navy blue contesting the barren brown. The lake came as a surprise as we weren’t even aware of its existence.
We had avoided the main highway and taken the alternate route, which took us through various ghats and open lands. The beauty of this route, the sheer magnificence makes it a must-try for those traveling to Trimbak or Nashik by road. This scenic way led us to a highway to Nashik and from there on, we followed a straight route to Satpura (through Vani). The rest of the journey turned out to be a bit tiring as the sun had grown hotter. As a little relief came another lake on the way, where we stopped for a while and I happily exchanged the pillion seat with Negi.
We were nearing Satupura when we came across the sign board saying “Hathgadh”. Curious to see the Hathgarh fort before camping there, we followed its directions only to find a narrow path leading to some stairs. We kept looking for the ASI’s board but in vain. So we decided to come back here after dinner.
Back to the main road, we resumed our journey to Satpura. As we were greeted with a “Welcome to Satpura” board, we looked for more signboards to decide upon the places to be visited. Wandering around the city, we got lured by the colorful parachutes taking off from a cliff. We halted at this paragliding site and experienced some beautiful take offs against the sun. We proceeded to a restaurant and had a lavish lunch, with the Ind vs Aus 5th ODI match playing on TV in the background — an eternal bliss!
Wandering around the streets of Satpura
Satpura is such a small city that we did not hesitate in switching between the places to be visited. And the bike made it all easy like a child’s play. Post lunch, we went off on a recce of the local area. We discovered that Satpura has a lot to offer — a ropeway, rose garden, temples, an enchanting town view-point, and even boating – making it a perfect picnic spot for families. As the sun was about to set, we headed to the sunset point. The path to the point gradually grew steep, rough and dangerous. We parked the bike and decided to walk instead. Unfortunately, we could not catch the retreating sun but did get to see the rising full moon.
We left the sunset point to reach the Satpura lake. The aura of the serene lake drew us closer and we got off the bike to feel the magic of the lake from up close. There was no one there beside me and Negi. We just sat there, chatting and laying back. It was as if time has frozen. The rumbling of our stomachs reminded us of the time and we retreated from the lake to have dinner at a local ‘thela’.
The exhilarating Hathgarh Fort
Post dinner, we rode back to the Hathgarh fort, parked the bike on the foothill of a small mountain and began the trek. The moonlight was bright enough to guide us the way and we walked on the steep path towards the fort. The entrance gate of the fort was left open and we jostled our way up to the top. The top of the fort was extremely quiet. The only thing I could hear was the whistling of the wind. As much romantic as it might sound, it was also scary. We chose a spot and Negi began setting up the tent. The chilly winds had started to bite and we straightaway went to sleep off the tiredness.
However, the wind was making the tent flutter very hard, creating a lot of disturbance. In the middle of the night, the fluttering noise became louder, as if something was constantly hitting it. The strange thing was that it was happening at regular intervals. Even Ankit woke up and we decided to sleep it off. After that, we woke up straight at 7 am – just in time for the sunrise.
Rise and Shine
The view was majestic, as the Sun slowly rose from behind a mountain and illuminated the sky. This was my moment and I felt as if the whole journey had now been enlightened. We then descended from the fort and found some the tyre marks, which were leading to some road. We came back to retrieve our bike, which was lying there untouched and headed for Satpura.
On the way, we came across the road which connected to the fort and guess what, that was the actual entry point! We laughed out loud and felt relieved that no one had noticed us on the fort last night or else, we might have been penalized. We reached Saputara and stopped for breakfast, where again, a few curious people got us talking about our bike and luggage. We were certainly getting noticed a lot.
Rendezvous with Gira Waterfalls
Having had our breakfast, we decided to move to the last our planned destination i.e. Gira falls. The road from Saputra to Gira Waterfalls led us through a jungle. We reached Gira falls and as expected at this time of the year, we did not find anything spectacular about it. But, we could imagine what it would feel like coming here during the rains. We spent some time there and moved towards Valsad and then Vapi, to join the highway.
The ride to Valsad and Vapi was uneventful and boring. We reached Vapi around 2:30 pm and had lunch. From there we got on the highway and all we had to do was ride on full throttle. With good roads that provide better grips for tyres, the Gujrat Highway is a treat for bikers. En-route, we met many weekend bikers riding all sorts of fancy bikes ranging from Harleys to Dukes. As we crossed paths, everyone gave us a thumbs up.The gesture was overwhelming, a toast to the spirit of biking. In due time we reached Mumbai and Negi dropped me at my place, bringing our 600 km journey to an end.
Experiences like these are meant to stay. We camped at night on a fort and that too without permission. The ride through the forest in the morning, then through the ghats, the scenic lake, the adventurous ride to Sunrise point, the time by the lakeside, the whole trek, the eerie silence on a full moonlight on top of the fort, the strange noise when inside the tent, the beautiful sunrise, the ride towards Gira falls & the biker group on the highway — the moments have been carved in my subconscious. After all, we travel to make memories.
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