Amazing Koyna Circuit Bike Ride

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Royal Enfield

          Sahyadri (Western Ghat) is blessed with lots of unspoiled splendor locations that are totally unexplored and offbeat. If you are an enthusiast of trekking and biking then sky is the limit for you. While travelling through Sahyadri I came across few very bewildering spots, but I would rate this as my most cherished one, which is ‘Koyna’. From last two years I am working on the ‘Koyna’ project, explored many unknown locations & routes via biking, trekking & photography. Today I am glad to present the first phase of Koyna endeavour.
          Koyna region is nested in the Western Ghats, located at Satara district of Maharashtra. Majority area of Koyna region is a part of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary & Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. It is surrounded by Koyna dam backwater (Shivsagar Lake), which is 50 km in length. Many villages of this region are now under Core Zone of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. Due to its remote and rugged terrain, Koyna remain pristine place. Beauty of this land is hardly seen by outside world. Koyan is a paradise for trekkers, photographers & nature lovers. Koyana is a region blessed with incredible natural beauty, dense forest which has rich wild life, scintillating Koyana back water and encircling mountains with lot of unexplored forts and places.

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Info

About Koyana wildlife Sanctuary & Sahyadri Tiger Reserve
Koyana wildlife sanctuary includes Eastern and Western catchments of Koyana dam, which is a major hydro-electric project center in the western Maharashtra. It covers an area of around 423.55 km2 .The Sanctuary is well protected by the large extent of Shivasagar reservoir and steep Slopes of western Ghats on both the sides.
The forest types are southern tropical evergreen forests and southern moist mixed deciduous forest. The sanctuary shelters Tigers(2), Panthers(14), Gaurs(220-250), sloth bears(70-80), Sambars(160-175), Barking deer(180-200), Mouse deer, Dholes, Giant Squirrels, Otters, Common langoors, pythons and Cobras. A unique species such as Bufo koyanansis has only habitat in this protected area.
It forms the northern portion of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, with Chandoli National Park forming the southern part of the reserve. Sahyadri Tiger Reserve covers an area of around 423.55 km2. The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve was then estimated to have nine tigers and 66 leopards. (Source- www.mahaforest.nic.in)

About Koyna Dam
The Koyna Dam is one of the largest dams in Maharashtra, India. It is a rubble-concrete dam constructed on Koyna River which rises in Mahabaleshwar, a hillstation in Sahyadri ranges. It is located in Koyna Nagar, Satara district, nestled in the Western Ghats on the state highway between Chiplun and Karad.
Today the Koyna Hydroelectric Project is the largest completed hydroelectric power plant in India having a total installed capacity of 1,920 MW. Due to its electricity generating potential Koyna river is considered as the ‘life line of Maharashtra’.
The catchment area dams the Koyna river and forms the Shivajisagar Lake which is approximately 50 km (31 mi) in length. It is one of the largest civil engineering projects commissioned after Indian independence. (Source-Wikipedia)

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 Madhu Makrandgad मधुमकरंदगड

Hight: 4075 ft.
Grade: 3/5 (Medium) from Chaturbet / Hatlot
             2/5 (Normal) from Ghonaspur
Location: Ghonaspur, Mahabaleshwar, District: Satara
Base Village: Chaturbet / Hatlot

Getting there: Ghonaspur is small wadi / Village on Madhu Makrandgad मधुमकरंदगड Machi (at the shoulder of the fort). It takes around 30 minutes to climb the fort from Ghonaspur . There are two routes for Ghonaspur , 1st is from Chaturbet & 2nd one is from Hatlot village. From Chaturbet the route has gradual climb & from Hatlot the climb is steep
From Hatlot
Ghonaspur is also accessible from Hatlot via normal trek route. From Hatlot the climb is steep.
Route for Hatlot from Pune
Pune – Mahabaleshwar – Par phata (before Ambenali village) – Hatlot
Route for Hatlot from Mumbai
Mumbai – Mahad – Poladpur – Ambenali Village – Par phata – Hatlot
From Chaturbet
You can reach Ghonaspur via normal trek route or via Chaturbet- Ghonaspur dirt road.
Chaturbet- Ghonaspur road is totally dirt track with lot of hairpin bends. To travel from Chauturbet to Ghonaspur you will have to go towards Shindi or Khed, after traveling a distance of 2.2 kms from Chauturbet you will have to take right turn through Kaman (Phata) to reach Ghonaspur.
There is an alternate trek route to reach directly to Chaturbet. From Chaturbet the route has gradual climb.
Route for Chaturbet from Pune
Pune – Mahabaleshwar – Par phata (before Ambenali village) – Goroshi – Chaturbet (take right turn after Goroshi)
Route for Chaturbet from Mumbai
Mumbai – Mahad – Poladpur – Ambenali Village – Par phata – Goroshi – Chaturbet (take right turn after Goroshi)

Time to Reach :
Ghonaspur to Makrandgad Top – 30 min
Chaturbet to Ghonaspur – 1.5 hrs.
Hatlot to Ghonaspur – 2.5 hrs.
Water Availability: Drinkable water is available at Ghonaspur village.
Stay Facility: At Top Shankar Mandir & at base Malikarjun temple are the good places for stay
Food Facility: Lunch or dinner is easily available at Mr. Ankush Sambhaji Jangam, Ghonaspur. If you want contact details pl. mail me. Non Veg is strictly prohibited.
Time to visit: Any time, Best time: Summer/Winter
Point To Note: Madhu & Makrandgad are the twin forts. Madhu is not easily accessible.

History: The local story about this as about other Satara forts is that it was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji probably about 1656 at the same time as Pratapgad. It was used to safeguard Pratapgad & tracking movements on the route of Hatlot pass. it served as a link in the chain between Vasota and Pratapgad.(History source -durgavaibhav.blogspot.in, glimpsesofkonkan.blogspot.in)

Madhu Makarandgad Map

Madhu Makrandgad Route Map

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Chakdev चकदेव

Grade: 2/5 (Normal) from Shindi (Satara )
            3/5 (Medium) from Ambavali (Ratnagiri)
Location : Shindi , Jawali, District: Satara (Satara – Ratnagiri Border)
Base Village: Shindi / Ambavali

Getting there: For Chakdev चकदेव two routes are available, Shindi (Satara) & Ambavali (Ratnagiri)
From Shindi the route is easy & from Ambavali the climb is steep.
From Ambavali
From Ambavali the climb is steep. On this route you have to climb 3 or 4 Shidies (ladder) near Chakdev top. Around 300 feet of ladder is fixed at different places at the vertical cliff on the mountain. Reach Khed & then go Khed – Kudavshi Phata – Mohane – Ambavali 
From Shindi
Reach Shindi Via Raghuveer Ghat from Khed. From Shindi route is easy. From Shindi go towards Valvan side , after 1.6 km just before bridge on left hand side you will find Shivling & phata for Chakdev चकदेव. Take left turn & that leads you directly to Chakdev चकदेव.
Shindi from Bamnoli via boat
You can reach Shindi from Bamnoli (Satara) via boat too. Boats are available at dawn or dusk. You can also hire special private boats. It takes around 1.5 hrs. to reach Bamnoli from Shindi.

Time to Reach :
From Shindi -1 hrs
From Ambavali -3 hrs
Choukeshwar temple to Chakdev Shidi (ladder) 30 mins.
Choukeshwar temple to Lamp post/ Deepmal/ Smarak – 10 mins.
Water Availability : Drinkable water is available at Chakdev wadi /village
Stay Facility: At Chakdev Choukeshwar temple चौकेश्वर मंदिर & Chakdev wadi / Village. Temple at Shindi.
Food Facility: You will get lunch/dinner in Chakdev wadi / Village at Mr. Shantaram Patil’s place. You will have to carry raw material for big group.
In Shindi village you will have to contact Mr. Chandrakant More, he has a Kirana shop
In Valvan, you will have to contact Mr.Tanaji Jadhav.
Time to visit: Any time, Best time: All season
Person to Contact: You may stay at Mr.Tanaji Jadhav’s place in Valvan especially if you are planning for Mahimandangad ,Chakdev & Parvat Gad trek. He knew many trek routes.

 

Chakdev Route Map
(For Large View, pl. click on the Images ) 

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Mahimandangad महिमंडणगड

Grade: 2/5 (Normal)
Location: Shindi , Jawali, District: Satara (Satara – Ratnagiri Border)
Base Village: Shindi

Getting there: Reach Shindi Via Raghuveer Ghat from Khed. From Shindi village go towards Raghuveer Ghat रघुवीर घाट side via road, after around 1.6 km on left hand side you will find road construction board of ‘Hudco’ .(Pl refer Mahimandangad route map). You will find well marked road, just before that road construction board (at 200 ft/ 60m.) on left hand side. This foot route leads you to Samadhi / Old structures (at 50 or 100ft.) At this point take route towards Mahimandangad महिमंडणगड. After walking for a while along right side of Mahimandangad महिमंडणगड, you will reach at small Khind.
If you are coming from Raghuveer Ghat रघुवीर घाट towards Shindi then ‘Hudco’ board is on right hand side, around 800m from forest check post. 

Time to Reach : From Shindi – 45 / 60min
Water Availability: Drinkable water is available at few water tanks (Depend on season).
Stay Facility: On fort top no shelter is available. Temple at Shindi village or Tanaji Jadhav at Valvan.
Food Facility: At Shindi village Chandrakant More’s house, he has Kirana shop. Also at Valvan, Tanaji Jadhav.
Time to visit: Any time, Best time: All season
Person to Contact: You may stay at Tanaji Jadhav at Valvan especially for Mahimandangad, Chakdev & Parvat Gad trek. He knew many trek routes.
History: It was Military base/ watchtower to keep an eye on surrounding region.

 Mahimandangad  Route Map

( For Large View, pl. click on the Images ) 

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Pune Canon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.67

The story started in October 2011 when I came back from Pune – Goa – Karnataka bike ride & was looking for another biking destination. That time I came across a blog ‘Chakdev-Parbat-Mahimandangad Trek and Koyna Periphery Ride’by my friend Zenosh Patel & followed ‘The amazing Koyna lake dirt track!’ by Hrishikesh Burkule. Then i was at this place many times and every time there was something new to explore.
We would start our journey from Pune at break of dawn around 4 am.

 

11 Canon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 100, EC -1.33

   PuneCanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 300mm, f/32, 1/4000 sec, ISO 200, EC -0.33

Mahabaleshwar Canon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 119 mm, f/7.1, 1/320 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.67

 Vasota Canon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 300 mm, f/7.1, 1/640 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.67

  15 ACanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 168mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO 200, EC -0.67

16

We were enjoying out ride en-route Koyna passing through different Ghats (Passes)

 

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Vasota

 Raghuvir Ghat is lesser known ghat which connects Shindi & Valvan other villages of Koyna region to Kokan.
While passing Raghuvir Ghat we encountered astounding views of Vasota & Nageshwar.

 

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20 Sahyadri Tiger Reserve

Enroute to Raghuvir Ghat, ours were the only vehicles that could be seen on the horizon that meet our eyes. After crossing Raghuvir Ghat the roads are very treacherous.

 

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VasotaCanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 133 mm, f/9, 1/320 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.33

Throughout the road you get to see amazing view of backwater, tranquilly residing mountains & company of dense jungles.

 

Chandoli National ParkCanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 100 mm, f/9, 1/400 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.33

 From Shendi village, Chakdev & Mahimandan Gad are nearly an hour of trekking distance.

ParvatCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II @ 50mm, f/2, 1/50 sec, ISO 200, EC 0

MahimandangadCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II @ 50mm, f/2.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 200, EC -1

26Canon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 92 mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO 200, EC -1

27Canon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 238 mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 320, EC -1

28 Canon EOS 1000D, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II @ 50mm, f/1.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 250, EC 0

Western GhatsCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 34 mm, f/11, 1/200 sec, ISO 100, EC -0.67 

After reaching the campsite, we would pitch our Tents and start preparations for out meal, like finding wood for cooking, etc.

 

Royal EnfieldCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 20mm, f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 100, EC 0.33

In the evening it feels like Extreme Serenities .The sky would be filled with different shades of color during sunset which made it a memorable part of journey. With Aditya Budrukkar.

 

Madhu MakarandgadCanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 300 mm, f/18, 1/2500 sec, ISO 100, EC -1.33

32 Sahyadri Tiger ReserveCanon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 300 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec, ISO 100, EC 1

33Canon EOS 1000D, Sigma APO DG 70-300 @ 300 mm, f/7.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO 200, EC -0.67

Rasalgad, Sumargad, MahipatgadCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM @ 16mm, f/4, 30 sec, ISO 400, EC 0

VasotaCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/3.5, 1/3.2 sec, ISO 400, EC -0.67

Night time is extraordinarily beautiful. The sky is so clear that the camp fire light would fade in front of bright light falling on us from the stars above. There are mountains surrounding us on all sides & trees trying to reach sky above. We were enjoying the chilly weather by sitting beside the camp fire and having a bowl of soup besides the Koyna backwater. 

 

36 MahabaleshwarCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM @ 16mm, f/4, 30sec, ISO 100, EC 0 (Total 168 Frames)

37 Royal EnfieldCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/3.5, 30 sec, ISO 400, EC 0

SahyadriCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/3.5, 1/13 sec, ISO 400, EC 0

ChakdevCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 31mm, f/7.1, 1/40 sec, ISO 200, EC -0.67

We were woken up early in the morning by chirping birds and very cold breeze. Beautiful mornings would greet us when we would come out of our tents.

 

MahabaleshwarCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 18mm, f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, EC 0.67

Koyna Wildlife SanctuaryCanon EOS 1000D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS @ 20mm, f/6, 1/4 sec, ISO 200, EC -0.33

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