Driving into the clouds

Have been living on this side of the ghats for the last 40 years but I am always fascinated by the western ghats whenever I cross them to reach Mumbai.


Driving into the clouds (pic by Joe)

Said to be 1600 kilometers in length, these Ghats  are a part of the Sahyadiri range, that starts from the border of Gujarat and  passes through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and  ends at Kanyakumari.

Recently it has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO and is one of the eight hottest hotspots of biological diversity in the world.

The highest spot in this range is at Anamudi (Iduki – Kerala) which is at a height of 2695 meters.

To enjoy the scenic beauty, the best way is to travel by trainespecially in the monsoons. It’s a wonderful sight when the trains chug up the steep gradient with two engines in the front (and at times one pushing from back). Small streams of gushing water from the hills the lush green country side and the grazing cattle  are a sight to behold.


The train leaving the ghats (pic by Joe)

The Mumbai- Pune rail line was laid about 150 years ago by the British who ruled India at that time. The terrain was hilly and it was tough boring tunnels and laying the lines. The local people were engaged in the work and there were a few casualties due to wild animals and snake bites. It is said that to feed the manpower, the local people concocted a highly nutritious  mixture of jaggery and peanuts. This was the origin of the Chikki which is now popularly known as the Lonavala Chikki.  You will find every third shop in Lonavala  selling Chikki. These chikkis have now  gone beyond the ordinary peanut to come in many assortments like Almond chikki, Kaju (Cashew) chikki, coconut fudge, dry fruit chikki, etc.

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The assorted chikki shop at Lonavala (pic by Joe)

En route there is a station by the name of ‘Monkey hill’ and it is mandatory that all trains stop here. This is to check the brakes.  The monkeys just wait for the trains to stop as they know that they will get some food.


Monkey at Lonavala (pic by Joe)

Lonavala and Khandala are the two major stations in between Mumbai and Pune and is considered as a hill station due to its elevation from the sea level. People from Mumbai and Pune drive down to Lonavala for a weekend retreat especially in the monsoons.  Many trekkers use these ghats for trekking, rock climbing and river crossing as all the terrains are available here.

There is an annual cycle race held in between Mumbai & Pune which gets live coverage.  Incidentally earlier Mumbai was known asBombayand Pune was calledPoona.

Last week I had been to Mumbai by road. Even though there is an expressway connecting both the cities, I prefer traveling by the old highway (NH 4)

It is really relaxing (and challenging) to drive on this road.  There is a section where one has to use the expressway even when we drive by the old highway.


The Mumbai-Pune expressway on a rainy day (pic by Joe)

People often stop en route to take pictures and have steaming hot tea from the roadside stalls (but that is allowed only on the old highway, on the expressway stopping is strictly prohibited due to safety reasons)

All the pictures above were clicked during this journey.

Author: Joe

Born and bred in Bombay (now Mumbai) having spend the last 41 years in Pune (earlier Poona). Have been into photography for quite some time but got hold of a digital in 2003 and since then have been shooting away to glory. Hate posed photographs and like to shoot the daily life around us. Nothing like traveling and observing the local people and their culture.

Comments

  1. Leida Kizzia says:

    I traveled in this route for several times, your blog brought back my old memories.

    Thanks for sharing it to all of us.

  2. Clouds photos says:

    The cloud photos are very good. What camera you used to take these photos?

  3. John Mirar says:

    Its really nice to read this…i fell in love with my GF & lonavla when i went there for the first time…I wont ever forget through this beautiful diversion….gets me so nostalgic .

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