Our 2014 Year End GTG in Malshej Ghat

2014 year end AamhiMitra GTG venue was finalized as Malshej Ghat about a month in advance. Rajan booked 15 bed dormitory accommodation at MTDC Flamingo Resort, Malshej. Usually this location is most preferred during monsoon as thousands throng Malshej Ghat and enjoy exceptional scenery and waterfalls all along the winding ghat road. Ulhas and Avinash had experience with this resort before so without second thought we decided to go with it. We decided that weekend of 27th December was most suitable for majority of AamhiMitras. Also, this time we decided that one night stay is not good enough and hence we booked resort for two nights – 27th and 28th.

Following were the participants –
Avinash, Vandana, Sumedh
Sanju, Madhvi, Sanvida,
Ulhas, Swati, Rutuja
Gopal, Radhika

Highpoint of the GTG
High point of the trip was undoubtedly trek to Tolar Khind which is almost 60-65% of the total height to Harishchandragad. This trek tested stamina/endurance of everyone but all came out successfully, albeit with aching muscles all over the body – especially in the evening and next day!

The MTDC Malshej Ghat Resort
The Flamingo Resort is very nicely located with plenty of rooms including couple of dormitories – one of them is 25 bedded and other is 15 bedded. We had booked the later via MTDC website. The bed sheets and covers were clean but the room definitely requires repainting as there are moulds on the walls. Also, the entry to this dormitory is not very pleasing. There are only 2 toilets and bathrooms for 15 beds. I thought that number should have been at least double. There is just one washbasin. One of the bathrooms had good water heater but the other bathroom’s water heater was quite small and hence inadequate. During our stay, weather was quite cool. Also, there was breeze blowing almost throughout the day. The intensity was little more in the early morning as we heard wind whistling through gaps or opening in the window. The resort has huge premises with plenty of parking. There are playing areas for kids. One attraction in this play area is life-size chess board with life-sized pieces to play with. One should definitely play chess there!

How to Reach
You can reach resort quite easily using public transport – MSRTC. There are at least 350 services that pass through Malshej every day. One has to take ticket till Malshej which is request stop for ST. If you are travelling from Pune then there are only 3-4 direct services in the day however you can reach Aalephata by taking buses plying on Pune-Nashik route. From Aalephata you can take any ST buses of Murbad or Kalyan Depot. Buses of Nagar and some other depots do not halt at Malshej stop. So it is best to inquire with conductor at Aalephata before boarding bus for Malshej.

Although boarding was available in MTDC resort, we preferred to eat in nearby dhabas on the Aalephata – Kalyan road. We especially liked food in Chatrapati Hotel that is around 5 kms from resort. The food is relatively simple – bajri bhakri, mugachi khichadi. chawli usal, rice, dal fry etc. Rates are reasonable too. The service is tad slow if group is large and there are lots of dishes to be prepared so better to order in advance and then go for your lunch/dinner.

Day One – Saturday
Sanju, Ulhas, Avinash – with families plus Rajesh reached resort by 12:30PM in three cars – Sanju, Ulhas and Rajesh got their cars. Rajan came from Pune by MSRTC and reached resort at 1:35PM. Unfortunately, by the time he reached, all others went for lunch. As there was no mobile coverage on Rajan’s phone, he could not be contacted and was left high and dry at the resort with nothing to do except wait outside in the resort premises as there was no key kept for him as well. So for him, this GTG started on pretty sour note.

After taking evening tea, we decided to walk along the boundary of the resort that is secured with heavy-duty compound wall with iron bars between adjacent poles. This compound has unique concave slant presumably to resist high wind forces. We walked till end of the hill on which resort is located. Once we reached there, we were rewarded by very good site of sun setting behind the hills. We can call this as sunset point! As we had roamed far away from resort, there was no one else there except our group. After enjoying site of sunset, we came back to resort as darkness set in. After dinner, we tried new concept of introduction of immediate family members of each AamhiMitra as some felt that we may not be knowing much about immediate family members of AamhiMitra such as parents and siblings of spouses. We ended up before midnight when we called it a day. We had decided to try scaling Tolar Khind next morning so with that thought we all went to sleep.

Day Two – Sunday
Due to limitation of only two bathrooms plus only one workable water heater, many of us did not take bath. Also, to save on time, we took breakfast in MTDC canteen. While pohe and misal were okay, Idli was disaster. Anyway, we started after 9AM for Tolar Khind which is gateway for scaling Harishchandragad. As the name suggests – Khind is a gateway to pass from one side of hill to the other side. To start scaling to Tolar khind, we had to reach Khireshwar Village that is relocated since building of Pimpalgao Joge dam in 2003. You have to turn at Khubi Phata on the main Kalyan-Nagar road to reach wall of Pimpalgao Joge dam. It is quite wide and 2 cars can easily pass on top of it. The road is kaccha but okay. One has to travel about 3-4 kms from Khubi Phata this way to reach Khireshwar Village. There are 3-4 hotels there for trekkers to relax and have some modest food etc. Now a days, you can reach the place from where you start climbing up, in your vehicle. Once upon time in late 80’s when we scaled Harishchandragad, we had to walk from Khubi Phata till this place. Due to holiday as well as due to beauty of the fort, there were close to 600-700 trekkers on the fort as per villager from Khireshwar but fortunately most were on top. We were about the only ones who were scaling it up on Sunday late morning. Most of the route to Tolar Khind goes through thick forest. It is quite well frequented by trekkers with many arrows at strategic points to guide you just in case you get confused. There is almost continuous climb with almost no natural water spot except one place. But, I would not recommend you to drink or use water from there. However, on route, there are people from nearby villages who sell limbu sarbat, taak etc on the way to quench your thirst and to guide you as well. Most of us were wearing ordinary foot wear that was not exactly meant for such trek but still all of us managed to reach Tolar Khind in about 1.5 hrs. After resting there and completing photo session, we decided to scale the rock patch that is just above the Khind. Most of the rock patch is protected by railing but at few places railing has given away making that part dangerous to climb up or more so while climbing down. Majority of us did climb up the rock patch. Of course climbing down this patch was tougher. Then we started climbing down from Tolar Khind. Rajan and Sanvida made friendship with young trekkers from “Mee Gadsamvardhak” from Dombivali. Due to fast pace of these young trekkers, Rajan and Sanvida reached Khireshwar village in about 35-40 minutes. All others came down at leisurely pace. Most of us had not imagined that we could do all this after crossing 45-50. Our bodies were little tired but our minds were filled with nostalgia of our young trekking days – in late 80’s and early 90’s.  On way back to resort, we enjoyed some time in the backwaters of the Pimpalgao Joge dam with lots of photo ops. We took lunch – for a change – in Jai Maharashtra dhaba. Here we ate bhakri, pithale, bharit, soyabean bhaaji. After reaching resort, we had sense of achievement.

In the evening, Gopal and Radhika headed back to Thane at around 5:30PM. We all wished good bye to them. They reached home at about 9:30PM.

Our dinner was once again In Chatrapati Dhaba.

Day 3 – Monday
This was last day of the GTG.  Rajesh who was supposed to go back yesterday evening, decided to stay back and decided to leave early morning. He got up at 5AM and got himself ready in ironed office clothes as he decided to directly reach office. Some of us who got up early wished him good bye at 5:45AM. He reached office at 8:45AM.

Although checkout time of the resort is 12 noon, there was no point in hanging around so we decided to pack up and go for breakfast at Siddhi Snacks at Madh village that is about 8kms from resort towards Aalephata. We relished eating plenty of dishes of wadapav, wada usal, misal plus had tea and coffee – all for paltry 448 rupees! Mind you, we were 10 eating at least 2-3 plates each! Before eating, we also went inside Madh village and had a look at Ashok Samudra kaka’s resort – Ranwara. He is Rajan’s father’s Mantralaya colleague. He was not there as he left for Bandra home on 28th December. Rajan called and talked to him. As such, we thought that we made better choice of location of MTDC resort as earlier we were contemplating booking Ranwara for this GTG.

All others wished good bye to Rajan who took MSRTC bus to Aalephata from Madh village. Others went back to resort and after freshening themselves, headed back to their respective homes. Everyone reached home by 1:30PM or before except Rajan who reached Pune home at 2:30PM.

All in all very enjoyable and refreshing GTG that was much needed for all of us. We missed few AamhiMitras – Ashish, Makarand, Sandeep, Satish, Sanju K, Vitthal and thought they missed really great GTG. Of course all of them had genuine reason for not attending this GTG.  We hope, we keep on enjoying company of each other for many more years to come. Three cheers for AamhiMitra Hip Hip Hurray!

Comments are closed.