Saturday, September 7, 2013

Neelkantheshwar: A Perfect Monsoon Getaway





Where’s Neelkantheshwar located?

Neelkantheshwar is located on the outskirts of Pune at a distance of 15 k.m. from Khadakwasla dam.


What’s unique about Neelkantheshwar?
 
Apart from the Shiva temple (after which the place is named), the view from top is truly breathtaking. One gets to see the backwaters of all three dams - Khadakwasla, Panshet and Varasgaon. These dams supply water to Pune. Also, along with the temple this place has many statues which depict Indian mythological scenes.


Route Please!
 
Once you start nearing Khadakwasla from Pune, instead of driving straight towards the Khadakwasla Chowpatti, take a right. You will come across a new bridge built on the waters of the Khadakwasla Dam. Take the bridge and go ahead. You will pass the backwaters of Khadakwasla and a few villages on the way. Ask a few village men around and they’ll guide you to the Neelkantheshwar base.



How do I get there?
 
Car / Two-Wheeler + Trek

P.S: The roads are pretty good to travel by two-wheeler as well.


What’s the best time to visit Neelkantheswar?


Monsoons (From June to September)
For photography purposes, August and September is ideal as there’s less rain to protect your gear from. The clouds are nice and fluffy with a hint of sunlight unlike in June or July when it’ll be overcast and raining heavily.


How’s the terrain?
 
The terrain is mountainous with hills on all sides and a valley in between.


And the weather?


The weather is beautifully pleasant. Expect some rain and blinding fog too


What should I carry?


   1.       Rain Jacket  

   2.       Camera with proper rain protection

   3.       Water

   4.       Food (Preferably lunch as there’s hardly anything available there)

Travel Tale:

The last I discovered any place before Neelkantheshwar was Jaipur in January. After six and a half months the wanderer in me was hungry and restless. And my camera, devoid of any good photography lay locked up in a disturbing stupor. My computer had a folder called ‘Monsoon Outings’ which lay empty too. July was coming to an end. Every time I glanced at it, my mind clouded with guilt and distaste. A part of me was unhappy and disturbed while the other part was busy enjoying the highs of a first job!

This continued for a while. I had few difficult decisions to make which included letting go of a few things and catching up on to a few newer ones. Till date I look back and wonder if I’d taken the right step and till date I don’t know the answer to it. What I know is that had I not, just like a traveller taken that risk, hadn’t done that free fall; I wouldn’t have landed down to write this. :)

***

One day my Uncle who too is a photography enthusiast rang me up and said he needs to go somewhere. It seemed like we both were sailing in the same boat. Asking around a few people for interesting places to go to, we planned a day’s outing to Neelkantheshwar.
We started from home at 8 a.m (which is pretty late, as early as possible is recommended) and reached the bridge near Khadakwasla dam. On the way we passed a lot of people cycling and jogging along the path. Cycling to Khadakwasla from all the way to Pune! I took a mental note of it as a thing to do sometime in life. :D

As soon as we drove on to that small bridge, we stopped. The morning beauty and the gurgling water flowing towards the city to satiate the thirst of Punekars looked stunning. The dam walls were hardly any distance away and the shimmering sun on the splashing water felt like a wonderful refreshment to re-start my wandering with.



We continued ahead to greet a whiff of fresh wind and the Khadakwasla backwaters. We asked a passer-by if we were on the right route to Neelkantheswar. He nodded. Moving upwards in the hilly terrain felt like rising above all the trivial things in life. A green hill here, a verdant vast meadow there, we journeyed, stopping at every sight that lured us.

 

We occasionally passed a few villagers and also came across a small wayside eatery that served hot bhajjis and chai. At a point there was a large hillock with a flat top besides us. We got out and climbed up to see a breathtaking view of the three dams. The gust of the wind was felt at the highest here and my Uncle ended up getting a few blurred pictures as he just couldn’t steady his light point and shoot camera.

 
With a lot of amazement in heart towards the kind of beauty the world holds and some good photographs in our cameras we reached the base of Neelkantheshwar.


Paying the old man for the parking ticket we began our hike. We were told it’s an half an hour climb. The climb is not a difficult one. It begins with a few steps and ends with another few. But one has to tread along an uphill slope all the time in between. People who don’t work out regularly might get out of breath but it’s not tiring, only beautiful. For you stop at every turn and bending to take in the breathtaking view that looms in front of your eyes. There’s dense greenery on your left and a picturesque valley on your right. The clouds are thick and low. Every time you stop the blowing wind fills your lungs and dries every bead of sweat. It’s inexplicable!
 

For me the trek was an introspective excursion - meditative and rhythmic. With every step, I was shedding the six month confinement rust. With every step I was getting higher and happier. As we approached the top it started pouring. We sat on the steps for a while to muse.


There was a Shiva temple in a dark dungeon like place. It smelled of incense. 





After stopping there for blessings we walked a few steps around the temple to reach a cliff. The fog was thick and the ferns swayed to the wind. In that, the clouds shifted a bit and we saw a glimpse of the three river's backwaters all at the same time...that very moment or a few seconds later it started pouring heavily. I opened my hands wide and tilted my face towards the sky absorbing the pelting rain.


 Some more glimpses from the trip:







(As written on 22nd Aug '13)





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  2. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. Be it, a daylong picnic, a short weekend getaway, or a longer vacation, the places around Pune ensure a roaring holiday for one and all. Check out all best places to visit near Pune also.

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  3. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

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