A Road Trip from Pune to Bangalore –
I am one of those people who loves the comfort of cities a little too much. I plan my trips to the big cities only to try the food from famous eateries and explore the local marketplace to pick up souvenirs. This was until one of my overly enthusiastic friends, Shreya, suggested we take a road trip from Pune to Bangalore, and explore all the good spots on the way. At first, the idea seemed ridiculous and almost unachievable, but my friend’s excitement was unmatched and at the same time contagious. Still very skeptical, I would be lying if I said I dismissed the suggestion completely. With a little bit of persuasion and YOLO lectures from Shreya, my entire girl gang was ready to take this road trip. So there it was, a group of 5 girls munching banana chips, all excited and updating #wanderluststories on their Instagram. In 5 days we begin this road trip because we all know each other and how fickle and capricious we can be. So before anyone had the time to change their minds or have ‘second thoughts’, we would be out of the city and it would be too late! It is not every day that you wake up with this level of excitement. Don’t underestimate the power of YOLO quotes and the desire to have a beautiful Instagram.
Where we started from –
Pune has given us a fair number of holiday destinations to choose from, but visiting places near Bangalore was on everyone’s travel plans. We start our week with this contagious excitement and colleagues at work found out about our road trip plan. The news spread faster than viral videos on social media. Shreya, no doubt, loved the attention. The rest of the week was all about “So have you guys applied for leaves?”, “Is this safe?”, “Won’t you all get tired?”. And the questions never stopped pouring in.
The plan was to skip work on Friday and have an extended weekend for the road trip. But just as the best-laid plans often go awry and all good things encounter resistance, our road trip too needed to cross many hurdles. YOLO quotes don’t really work on everyone! Turns out, the managers were aware of this road trip (office gossip) and were not particularly excited, but asked us to work on a weekend as a compensation for taking an off on a Friday. As crazy as that sounds, true story!
How we went about it –
Now we had a very important task at hand to finish – rent a cab from Pune. After much research and comparison, we decided to get a cab booked from a reliable cab service. They seem to have experienced drivers who they claimed were also expert guides. Since this was an all-girls trip, we did not want to take any risks with our safety. A hassle-free booking procedure enabled us to get our cab booked within 15 minutes that would take us from Pune to Satara’s Kaas Plateau. A courteous driver met us sharp at 4 am on Friday outside my building. After adjusting our bagwatis in the car trunk, without wasting much time we all hopped into the car. Thus began the much-awaited trip. Half asleep hooting lasted for 2 minutes straight!
Pune to Satara –
A wise person once said, “focus more on what you see along the way than the final destination”. Well, I just made that up! The motto of this trip was to capture anything and everything along the way. The first destination of this road trip was Satara’s Kaas Plateau. We started at 4 am from Pune via AH 47 which would help us cover 137 km in about 3 hours. During this trip, we stopped at three places – Khandala for some amazing South Indian breakfast at Rama Krishna, Parsi Point at Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar’s Farmhouse Bistro for some amazing pizza. After all the stops, we reached Kaas Plateau at around 8.30 am.
The Kaas Plateau of Satara was going to be a gorgeous start to the trip, at least, that is what we believed it would be. Also known as the Valley of Flowers in Maharashtra, Kaas is famous for its carpets of flowers which paint the landscape in different hues immediately after the monsoon. Upon reaching Kaas, the entire gang was too tired to move an inch, let alone walk around to explore. And what we saw was not helping us either! The pictures on various travel blogs we followed were nowhere to be seen. We concluded that we planned the trip around the wrong season because it was not monsoon yet. But among us all, Shreya did her homework well. She asked us all to follow her and kept repeating “you all will see”. Sure we all got disappointed initially, but as we kept walking, the pictures which lured us to this little corner came alive. And there it was – Kaas in its most colorful avatar staring right back at us as if asking “You all happy now?”. After a few Bollywood poses here and there, we left Kaas with a gallery full of pink, purple, red, yellow flowers. What a day! And yet again, Shreya loved the attention and appreciation! I think she became our travel guru this time though I would never utter these words out loud!
Satara to Kolhapur –
Humans get hungry faster than dogs, especially humans who are traveling, or we eat because we are bored. Not sure which one is true. But throughout the trip, we kept discussing food. What we should eat, where we should eat and when should we eat again. I also realized that we all had been blessed with very strong livers, because we sampled everything, never said no to food and did not even once suffer from indigestion.
Eagerly waiting to take a short break, our driver suggested we take one after reaching Kolhapur. Kolhapur is in Western Maharashtra and about 132 km away from Satara. Kolhapur is famous for its really gorgeous temples, Kolhapuri footwear, and spicy Rassa. We stopped at Manas for some Kolhapuri lunch. The food was spicy, piping hot and the rich flavors washed away our fatigue leaving us happy and content. India is a land of flavors, and all these varieties of food that we get in India have a way of making us happy and content in their own sweet way! We crossed huge sugarcane fields, beautiful temples painted in shades of pink and yellow, and a couple of forts which held Maratha history in their every nook and corner. By 5 pm we touched Kolhapur. We got ourselves a room to relax for the rest of the day and got out to explore the local market to grab a “quick” dinner.
Kolhapur to Belgaum –
We had to return to our rooms quickly because we would be starting early the next morning. Belgaum was the next stop. Only a 2-hour drive, we were relieved this was not going to be another long and tiring journey. Bollywood songs kept us awake. The best thing about this section of our trip was the condition of roads. The easiest of all we have had so far! We occasionally stopped for tea and coffee breaks. Once we reached Belgaum, we wanted to see the Gokak Falls. We were told by our driver that Belgaum has many waterfalls, but this particular one is the widest and the most beautiful. The sunshine reflecting on milky white water made the waterfall look so serene, while silence became the gushing sound of water. This is the beauty of Karnataka – beautiful waterfalls, serene mountains, and lazy rivers are the features of its beauty! Now we knew we had entered Karnataka.
This was the first leg of our journey and it has been epic in so many ways. It made us realize how one spontaneous plan can open doors for some crazy adventures lined up. It sure gets tiring, but never boring! You may have to sit up straight for hours at a stretch, but you will accumulate genuine experiences that will change you as a person and comfort you in times of despair. Sometimes the most unexpected plans become the most memorable ones in our lives, and for all of us, this is still one of the craziest things we have ever done. Sitting on a bench, and watching this beautiful sunset and occasionally looking at the girls running around losing their flip flops every now and then, I haven’t laughed so hard in months. I will write to you again on how we decided to end this crazy road trip and where! Stay tuned!