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Hyderabad to Pune, Lohagad, Lonavala and Matheran

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Western Ghats exploration drive meet - Report

 

India is blessed to have the best of landscapes offering enthralling views & jaw dropping backdrops and We throttled down to explore our piece of paradise as we always do it.

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Start point - Gachibowli (ORR)

End point - Pune (Hinjewadi)

Start time - 05:30 a.m.

Total Distance - ~1300 kms

Objective - Western ghats exploration, Matheran, Lonavla and Lohagad.

 

Participants:

 

1) Volks Wagen Polo (Red)

2) Volks Wagen Polo (Red)

3)  Hyundai i20 (Black)

4) Swift Dzire (Pacific Blue)

5) Volks Wagen Ameo (Toffee Brown)

6) Maruti Suzuki Ertiga (Brick Red)

7) Maruti Suzuki SX4 (Azure Grey)

😎 Hyundai Creta (White)

9) Jeep Compass (Red)

 

Route Taken:

Hyderabad (Gachibowli) --> Zaheerabad --> Humnabad --> Solapur --> Indapur --> Hinjewadi (Pune) 

 

Places covered:

1) Lohagad fort

2) Pavna Lake

3) Lonavla, Khandala

4) Matheran

 

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Planning

 

Day 1 Hyderabad to Pune drive details 

 

- Started at 5:30 AM in the morning ( due some delays)

- Breakfast stop at around 7:30 AM at Hotel Mahindra Paradise

https://goo.gl/maps/4ZU7cMJrdkG2

 

- Very few options on this section due to new roads

- Road between Hyderabad to Humnabad is excellent. 

- Humnabad to Solapur is pathetic, some sections are too narrow. 

- Solapur to Pune is excellent, but recently new have installed speed bumps near villages.

 

- We had a lunch break at some road side restaurant. 

- We reached Pune by 6PM.

- According to admins, we are very quick compared to last drive.

- During last drive they reached Pune at 7PM (started at 4AM)

- I think roads improved!

- We checked into Hotel Siesta which is excellent (Frankly, I did not expect such a luxurious rooms for the price)

 

Day 2 : Pune to Lohagad fort 

- We started at 7/8 AM from Pune

- Since our accommodation is in outskirts.

- We reached highway within 10 minutes

- We had breakfast stop Kamat.

- Pune to Lohagad roads are scenic.

- We reached Lohagad, explored the fort and had lunch break.

- We drove to Lonavala, Tiger view point, We are literally above clouds in some sections.

- We reached Pune by night

 

Day 3 : Pune to Matheran

-We repeated the same schedule of Day2, till breakfast.

- We hit the famous Mumbai-Pune expressway

- I can clearly see everyone is pushing their cars, it was pure fun for drivers.

- Best experience of Mumbai-Pune expressway is during monsoon.

- Once we divert from expressway, roads to Mahteran are pathetic. 

- It took us hours to complete 80 kilometres. 

- I loved Mathern, they don't even allow cycles.

- Only transport option by walk or horse.

- Hotels on the hill top are below average.

- While driving back we reached pretty quick on the same route. 

- We reached to Pune to 9PM

 

Day 4 : Pune to Hyderabad

- Drive is was uneventful

-  It is similar to Day1

 

Apart from 1 Polo puncture, drive is fantastic throughout four days.

 

Drive 

Hyderabad : Solapur : Pune : Lohagad fort : Lonavala : Pune : Matheran : Pune : Solapur : Hyderabad

 

Road condition:

Hyderabad to Solapur : 

Hyderabad to Humnabad is good and Humnabad to Solapur is bad 

 

Solapur to Pune :

Very good, but i have seen some uneven sections, It is no where close to Hyderabad-Bangalore sections

 

Pune to Lohagad:

Road are narrow scenic and good

 

Loahagad to Lonavala

Roads are bad

 

Lonavala to Pune

Road are excellent

 

Pune to Matheran 

It is a mix of good and pathetic roads

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Day - 1 : Hyderabad to Hinjewadi (Pune)

 

All the members attending the drive have assembled at the start point by 5:15 a.m. and the drive kicked-off by 5:30 a.m. after a brief introductory session about the rules and the convoy positions during the drive.

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A customary regroup stop which we do take after every Toll exit.

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Breakfast stop at Mahindra Paradise, Zaheerabad.

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After a sumptuous meal, our drive continued on the same highway.

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Following the respective convoy positions, we raced towards Solapur.

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Running under the defined speed limit, we never missed to fall out of this convoy.

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Being a part of this group for my first long drive, this factor has amazed me to a certain extent.

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We had stopped by for lunch at Sai Sagar restaurant on the Solapur - Pune highway around 2 p.m. The place was very decent with a small lawn, decent washrooms and tasty food.

We further continued our towards our stay at 'Siesta Business Hotel' in Hinjewadi (Pune).

It was wrap for Day - 1.

 

 

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Day - 2 : Hinjewadi - Lohagad - Pavna Lake - Lonavla - Khandala - Hinjewadi

 

After a relaxed morning, Our drive was scheduled to start by 7:30 a.m. towards Lohagad with a breakfast stop at Vithal Kamat. Food was very tasty and we had posed for our first group picture :) 

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We stopped by a very small waterfall enroute Lohagad before we had taken the actual ascent towards the destination. Shiva posing with his Red Compass :) 

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And the drive towards Lohagad continued.. Monsoon and the forts around Pune are a mind-blowing combination but the weather that day has not been to our favour. :( 

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We had stopped by a deserted road en-route for a short photo session before we reached the destination.

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All of them piled up!

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Srikanth is one proud owner of his SX4. Never misses out on a chance to praise her. :D 

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The weather was too bright and harsh on our eyes that morning while we climbed up the hill until we had reached the base of the fort :( 

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By 10 a.m., our simple trek up the Lohagad fort has begun with a stairway climb.

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Everyone got involved in bagging some memories through clicks and poses for a while.

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Lohagad turned out to be a pretty easy climb

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How far does it look green? This far and it just looked splendid!  

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No matter how costly you built your house, it is not as cool as this! Period :D 

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All of us have shared some cheerful moments clicking pictures, prolonged fun talks, enjoying the beautiful vistas while we explored the fort

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We waited if the sky if it could show how it cries but it just didn't happen and the temperatures were just soared by time as we trekked up.

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And the rest amidst our trek looked like a reasonable statement to pose for a pic :D 

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Contd..

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The steps at Lohagad are quite steep and quite testing on the knees, but the natural beauty takes away a lot of pain. Rakesh poses while he climb up the stairs.

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Going up, one can’t help but stop, not just because you would be short of breath, to take in the fresh air and enjoy the lush green view around

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@Asher and @Ranger on the move!

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A beautiful vista from a view point enroute the trek.

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We took our time to reach the top of the fort and made it successfully after an hour.

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The last gate opens up in a huge courtyard.

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There is a temple, a dargah and a small pond at this place. At this point on can get on the ramparts and look below to fully appreciate how far of the trek has been accomplished. But this was not our destination, we had to reach the end of the Scorpion’s tail.

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It was quite scary as there were no rails to catch on and it looked like a free fall.

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We passed through a meadow of lush green grass and more ponds

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Ashok tried capturing a short under water life in that pond in his GoPro.

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So after a short rest, we started trekking again until the Scorpion's Tail.

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The Lush green meadows on the courtyard was a treat to eyes bearing colourful flowers as we explored it all by foot.

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This huge tank, the one made by Nana Phadnavis would store enough water for a garrison for more than a year.

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As we go up north we saw strip of land extending which took us to the buruj (watch tower). It is the extreme end of the fort.

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The mountain extended like a scorpion’s tail so the name.

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After spending some time there, we came down via the same route.

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@pavanbandari @shiva and @Anil pose for a pic by a beautiful pond between the colourful meadows :) 

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By the time we reached the Lohagadwadi, we were very hungry. We stopped by a decent restaurant and had a sumptuous meal before be headed to Lonavla 

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Lonavla and Khandala drive was totally covered in Fog and Mist. We could hardly see the car ahead of us while we drove.

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We took a short break at the Lion's view point in Lonavla and enjoyed the time spent at the place having interesting conversations :) 

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We drove further to stop by a clearer place which was not foggy

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We had finally reached a point where the Fog got cleared and spent some time clicking pictures before we headed back to our stay :) 

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Final snap of the day before we wrapped up :D End of Day-2!

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Day - 3 :

 

After we had our breakfast at Vithal Kamat the next morning, We raced on to the Mumbai - Pune Expressway. The weather also looked very supportive with rain alongside and it seemed to us like the monsoon for the first time during this trip. :D 

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A drive in the monsoon rain can never get better, especially when you are surrounded by such scenic vistas all around

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A quick stop to regroup all the cars as we took a diversion towards Karjat exit from the Expressway.

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After crossing Karjat and then Neral, we took the ascent up the hill towards Matheran.

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The most unforgettable things about Matheran are deep forest and valleys surrounding it with abundant waterfalls specially in rainy season.

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Matheran in local language means "Forest at the top" covers 8 square kms in Sahyadri mountain range. This beautiful place has 28 viewing points which gives splendid panoramic 360 view of surrounding ghats and valleys with breathtaking sunrise & sunset views. We started trail in to this forest once we reached the place.

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An experience of climbing up the ridge and then walking through the dense forest on a misty trail is really wonderful and mesmerizing.

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With cool breeze and beautiful landscape around the small village adding to zeal, everyone was charged up to go climbing to Matheran

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And if you are tired, you can rent for a horse instead of walking. Be ready to bargain well on the price. They are known for looting around :D 

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While we waited for the rest of the crew to join us before we had taken a different lane deep in to the woods. :) 

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View from the Monkey hill point

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It is named as Monkey for sightings of monkey at this place. If one makes a noise or sound facing Hart Cliff, it echoes back nearly six/seven times and the echo is distinct, clear and full.

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The trail deep into the woods was quite long and tiring but we could just forget it all because of the beautiful views this place has offered to us.

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Most of the homes and resorts which previously existed in this place have not been functioning presently.

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The climb was not strenuous but passed through some dense forest and thick undergrowth.

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Climbing steadily on narrow edges with valleys was difficult at some spots.

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The view of the valley and other peaks including Garbett point of Matheran was nothing less than spectacular.

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A group pic of the whole crew :) 

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@ksa171983 and @Noel with @Ranger

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We have entered the Market place to find a hotel for our lunch break. Very few decent options existed in here.

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A train ride is also available which rides for 2 hours to do this full track through forest on this hill. We drove back to Hinjewadi after finishing up with the Matheran trek.

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The next day, We have started back to our base from Pune.

Cheers everyone! I had a wonderful time this whole trip and have enjoyed every bit of it. Both the drive and trek have been super fun while the members have made it even more joyful. :) 

 

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Beautiful Naldurg fort wall captured en-route Hyderabad.

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Cheers again until we meet up for the next drive meet. The wait has already begun :)  Drive Safe!

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Nice drive report @Prem. It truly has been another wonderful drive meet. The whole team has so cheerful and energetic despite having it all hectic at times.

Thank you so very much for making this meet a grand success. Cheers! :) 

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Awesome report Prem

 

Thank you all for making the drive successful.

 

Members : 23

Cars : 9 

 

I think this is the first drive where most of the members are new. 

Everyone contributed in their own way to make the drive successful!

 

Sharing few memories from my end,

 

Lohagad fort trek 

 

Driving into the clouds (Lonavala) 

 

Drive between Pune to Matherean on the expressway with lush surroundings is super fun.
Not talking about the bad patch once we divert form the expressway. 🙃

 

Can't forget the episodes between Ashwin(Rana) and Kids.

It was great fun.

Sarcastic guide in Matheran(Raj)

 

Night drive from Matheran to Pune

 

List goes on..

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I keep Missing drives due to other unavoidable priorities.

I hope will join in your next drives.

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Perfect Report Prem and pictures are very lively as well. 

 

Could you please add some details about the road conditions apart from 180 km stretch from Hyderabad,Solapur-Pune and Mumbai-Pune Express highway ?

 

Nice report @Prem it was a fantastic drive meet. 

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9 hours ago, BORNDRIVER said:

Mumbai-Pune

 

It is expressway, views are fantastic during monsoon. 

 

9 hours ago, BORNDRIVER said:

Hyderabad,Solapur

 

Hyderabad to Solapur still has around 70 kilometres of bad patch. 

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Looks like you guys had lot of fun.
Kicking myself for missing it. 

 

Those 3 red cars are fantastic posers.

 

I have done similar trip in 2010,

 

How is Matheran, any improvement in facilities? 

 

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Matheran is a complete commercial spot if you are going to the regular route. I have done Matheran by trek in 2012. It was completely isolated. We haven't climbed this commercial cliff back then. But, it was fun as always as we have done it in a group :) 

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There are 3 - 4 trek routs..the one we choosed was really fun...

 

On 10/11/2018 at 5:44 PM, sahil said:
There are 3 - 4 trek routs..the one we choosed was really fun...

I think we treked thru Ambewadi village.

 

On 10/11/2018 at 5:28 PM, sagar said:
Matheran is a complete commercial spot if you are going to the regular route. I have done Matheran by trek in 2012. It was completely isolated. We haven't climbed this commercial cliff back then. But, it was fun as always as we have done it in a group  

I did Matheran trek in July. It's like Bahubali movie water fall trek. Lots of fun and little risky as well. Lots of fun.
Also did 14km round on Matheran hill from morning to evening...in a continuous heavy rain. Lots of view points...stayed in girivihar resort..
Do this in rainy season...you will feel Matheran...

 

On 10/11/2018 at 5:28 PM, sagar said:
Matheran is a complete commercial spot if you are going to the regular route. I have done Matheran by trek in 2012. It was completely isolated. We haven't climbed this commercial cliff back then. But, it was fun as always as we have done it in a group  

I did Matheran trek in July. It's like Bahubali movie water fall trek. Lots of fun and little risky as well. Lots of fun.
Also did 14km round on Matheran hill from morning to evening...in a continuous heavy rain. Lots of view points...stayed in girivihar resort..
Do this in rainy season...you will feel Matheran...

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      But Mr.Chennai , was very adamant, he used to share the photographs of 10 year old trip on the whatsapp group. People became nostalgic , First to say yes was Mr.Microsoft , Then Mr.NRI and a day before the trip we have a confirmation from Mr.Daddy.
       
      Day 1 of the Trip : 
       
      Plan was , Mr.Chennai would reach my house by 6 and we would have an early breakfast and leave by 7 from my house. But Indian railways have another plans. Mr.Chennai arrived at my house at 7:45. After freshening up we started at 9:00 A.M to pick up Mr.Microsoft and Mr.Nri. And last pick up of the day was Mr.Daddy , from ORR Gachibowli.(We wanted to give more time for him to spend with his daughter). By the time we picked up Mr.Daddy , it was 10:00 AM and we started cruising on ORR , towards Kurnool. 
       
      My car has Fastag, and i zipped past the traffic on ORR and the Highway. At 12:00 P.M we stopped at Food Pyramid to have brunch. We had heavy lunch and then off to our first destination Belum Caves. 
       
      The road till Kurnool was NH and was good , After Kurnool we has to take Rayalaseema Expressway(Toll Road) , this was beyond good. It is better than national highway.

      (Rayalaseema Expressway - Road work going on the Left lane)
       
      By 3:00 P.M we were at Owk reservoir, MR.Chennai was mesmerized by scenic beauty and wanted to stop for few photographs. And indeed the place was super scenic. Its just that it was mid afternoon in Rayalaseema. The cool breeze flowing from the reservoir was a bit of relief from the hot Sun.

      (From L-R : Mr.Chennai, Mr.Daddy, Mr.NRI & Mr. Microsoft, Im Mr.Driver & designated photographer for the trip)

      (Panoramic view of the Owk Reservoir)
       
      The owk reservoir has APTDC center , with restaurant , and has boating and other activities. But we wanted to head to Belum Caves before they close it down. We next stopped directly at Belum Caves. The caves close at 5:30 P.M , and you have to exit the caves before that. We Reached Belum caves at 4:00 P.M. There is an entry fee and parking fee. We were charged somewhere around R.s 285/- for the 5 of us. 
       
      This is the first time im entering a cave system , and i was amazed. The caves were neatly maintained, and properly ventilated with the help of electric fans. They were well lit too. I'll tel the pictures do the talking from here. And if you are planning a trip to Belum caves , be ready to carry a huge water bottle , as it is humid as hell, and also wear stretchable clothes , You have to bend and crawl through some spaces. 

      (Map of the caves )

      (Entrance to the caves)
      The entrance has a flight of stairs , at the start of which the security checks for your tickets. Once you show his the tickets , you have to walk down nearly 40-50 steps. Any body can do it, both old and young. Once you get down the stairs you will see this plaque.


      (This is where the Plaque is posted. After this its all dark)

      (Notice the pipe behind, circulating fresh air)

      (L-R - Mr.Daddy & Mr.Driver-Me, you must be wondering why i was wearing goggles in a pitch dark cave, i have sight , those are powered , and i forgot my normal glasses, and yes i put this picture only to point that out  )


       
      Soon it was 5:20 and we were off to the entry/exit. And while we were ready to leave , suddenly there was a small power cut and everything went dark. It was pitch dark , and even with cell phone torch we couldn't figure out the exit. Luckily for us it was just intermittent power loss. And the power cut lasted for a maximum of 45 seconds to 1 minute. 
       
      After coming out of Belum caves , we went to the Budha statue near by to click some sunset pics.

      (Mr.Chennai Tried to be creative)

      (Budha Statue at Belum Caves)

      (Last Pic of the sun set into the clouds)
       
       On our way we stopped at a small place called Kolimigundla to have some tea. There is a APTDC restaurant at Belum caves , it closes at 5:30 P.M along with caves. 
       
      Next day we planned to visit Gandikota , and wanted to stay as close as possible. We couldn't get a reservation from APTDC Gandikota. And place nearest to Gandikota was Jammalamadugu. But we could find any hotels online to book. However during the trip we found that there are a lot of lodges and small hotels available at jammalamadugu. You can directly go and take a room for rent , without pre-booking. We could only reserve a room at Prodattur. Our reservation was at Sri Devi palace. Imagine the shock of our life when we found out that Sri Devi Palace is actually Sri Devi Palace Function Hall , and there was a wedding happening when we went there.


      (Surely made our trip memorable  )

      (Full scale wedding with Guests outside)
      Surprised and Shocked we called the contact provided on booking.com. The owner was friendly , apologized and said he would rent out the rooms on normal days, when there is no wedding and arranged us a place(lodge) within in Proddatur. There is nothing special about the lodge , the washrooms have leaky faucets. But since all of us are guys , and we wanted to enjoy the trip , we were ok with good beds and AC , for having a good night's sleep, Which it had. But if you are going with family , there are many new lodges with similar price range. You can go , check the rooms and then make a reservation. Same is the case in Jammalamadugu. You will find most of the lodges in Bus-stand road in proddatur. 
      After checking in , and unloading our luggage in our respective rooms, we went out to have dinner at the Andhra Spice Restaurant. It was good for family , but there is no parking available, the security made some adjustments and arranged some space at the entrance. We has a sumptuous dinner, had the restaurant special - "Chicken Navya" , did some shopping for toiletries and went back to hotel to rest for the day.

      (Chicken Navya - Boneless Chicken curry , made in butter with roasted cashew's and stuffed in an omelette and sprinkled with grated cheese , roasted cashews & coriander)
       
      Day 2 - Gandikota , Orvakal Rock Garden , Alampur.
       
      Next day woke up at 5:00 A.M got ready and woke up everybody else. Everyone was ready within an hour. Advantage of not having women in the trip. Our idea is to reach Gandikota before sunrise. If you are planning a trip to Gandikota , plan to reach gandikota before sunrise. Reached Gandikota at 7:00 A.M , it was already sunrise , but God it was beautiful. The canyon, the rocks they were in explicable. I would have stayed there for eternity , enjoying the beauty. 

      (First shot of the Canyon , when we reached there by 7:20 A.M)


      (Sunrise reflection on Penna River)
      (Mandatory Group Pic)

      (Mr.Microsoft, Mr.Daddy & Mr.NRI were happy looking at the scenery and dint want to explore any more)

      (Mr.Chennai on the other hand doesn't want to leave any nook or corner. 

       
      We stayed for more than an hour and we are way away from shade. It was getting Sunny and hot , hence we decided to explore the Gandikota fort. There is nothing left at the place. Only places remaining are Ranganatha Aalayam , Gandikoda Granary , and kathula Koneru. The places in pristine condition are Juma Masjid. Heard from locals that it has been redone in recent times by archaeology department, and they will soon improve the other remaining places too. 

      (Juma Masjid)

      (Inside the Masjid)
       
      Came out of fort , there are multiple roadside eateries , all of us are hungry and just stormed into one of the eatery where we all will fit. The eatery is an extension to the home and is managed by father - daughter duo. We had dosas for breakfast , and had coffee right after. The eatery owner told us that there are tents available for rent , and other adventure actives are available to do during evening time. (Campfire, Canoeing, Boating etc , also sleeping bags are also available for rent). 
       
      After breakfast i observed a road split off and going in the direction of the near by mountain and windmills, looked more like a service road. I inquired if tourists can drive up there , and to my surprise , they said yes. Drove to the top of the hill , and view of Gandikota fort from there is pretty awesome. we decided to take some pics before leaving.

      (The view of the fort is towards the left of the pic , with penna reservoir in the background, not quite visible)
       
      We left the place at 9:30 at started towards our next destination Orvakal Rock Garden. The Rock garden is opposite to the Kurnool Airport Gate , we reached the place by 12:30. 
      Google maps took us through a route with is not great  till we reached the Rayalaseema express way, but it was very scenic. Too bad we didnt take any pictures while driving , and just enjoyed the views. 
       
      It was 12:30 , by the time we reached Orvakal Rock Garden. There was a APTDC resort. And entry Fee to enter the rock garden. As it was 12:30 we decided to have lunch before heading into the resort, but each one of us went and bought an ice cream or Kulfi , ( Feels like child , when wife or parents are not around). Went ahead to Orvakal Rock Garden. 
      It was not big, but the rocks have been sculptured by air flow over thousands or millions of years. But since it was 12:30 in the after noon , it felt very big. 

      Entrance to the Rock Garden , stairs are neatly cut , and anyone can reach it without any difficulty

      Once you climb up the stairs , you will be greeted with this statue , and then similar statues of multiple animals






      It was so hot that we settled under the iota of shade available in the entire rock garden. 
       
      Notice Mr.Chennai missing from the picture , he again went to explore every nook and corner of the Rock Garden. We waited till he came back and started off to our next destination Alampur. 
       
      Alampur is one of the 18 shakthipeetas , it is the place where Krishna meets Tungabhadra , and is the place for deity Jogulamba. It is said that when Sati immolated herself , Lord Shiva carried her body across the universe. Vishnu not able to see Shiva's sorrow , cut the body of Sati with his Sudarshana Chakra. Those body parts fell back on earth. And it is said that alampur is where Sati's Upper Jaw/teeth fell. 
       
      The road to Alampur was well paved , and Telangana tourism has provided drinking water and other amenities to pilgrims. Mr.Daddy who was here some years back was surprised to see the roads and amenities provided. 



       
      The temple has Medieval architecture , and even if you are not a religious person , but interested in history , you should visit this place. There is a Museum for History buffs. 
       
      We left Alampur at 3:00 P.M and reached Food Pyramid at 4:30 P.M , had some tea , snacks , and started back to Hyderabad. 
       
      We reached Hyderabad at 7:30 P.M , went to DLF to have chai. And after chai , everyone went their own separate ways . May be all 5 us will together be on a trip in 2019 next. 
       
      Signing Off 
      Mr.Driver
       
      P.S : This is my first post , please provide feedback , on Pics , mistakes , Spelling , writing style , any thing which you felt is out of place.
       
       


    • By Raj1
      Hello guys...
      I'm planning for a Road trip from Hyderabad to Goa.... And back to Hyderabad...
       
      I'm new at this... So would love to hear out suggestions about the route to be taken, places to stay along the way and places to visit!
      Along with approximate time duration for all of the trip!
       
      Thanks in advance
    • By Ranger
      A quick drive to Hidden Castle.
      Place is located around 100 kilometers from Hyderabad.
       
      Road condition:
      4-lane with very few diversions. Once you hit the highway, You will reach the destination in an hour.
       
      Food options on highway:
      Enroute you can find Haritha food court.

  • Gandikota meetup on January 26 and 27th

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