Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mahabaleshwar-Part 2

Mahabaleshwar is well spread out, with lots of beautiful spots to see, so it is hard to keep traffic restrictions like on Marathon, where vehicles are not allowed to ply. That may be OK, but I believe, something should be done to encourage people to trek, walk and cycle rather to zip around in their cars. Proper pavements and bike paths, would help tremendous and I bet it will be great fun to bike around in Mahabaleshwar.

The second day, we started for Tapola, which is south-east of Mahabaleshwar. We saw a small pond on the way and clicked some hasty pictures so we could pass it off as Venna Lake. The road is not broad but curvaceous (!). Just as we left Mahabaleshwar, we had a halt at Babbington Point. Next stop was Helen's point. Unfortunately, the guide didnt say how far we had to trek to get to Helen's point. We parked the car on road side and started walking. After about 15 min. mom, dad started making disgruntled noises about going back. Yes, it was very thick vegetation and a lingering possibility of tigers (who have escaped the poachers up north) paying us a meal time visit. But what's a little risk in front of a promised beauty spot. So, me and sis kept on going. Folks, being very concerned about our safety and knowing fully well the idiosyncrasies of their beloved son, didnt want to take any chances and kept following. Finally, after about 1/2 an hour, we reached Helen's Point. The view is awesome. You are standing at the middle of lateral W (flatten the W, stand at the center, and then look around). There are hills all around covered by dense forest. Left side, you have a trickle of a stream, but must be big in the monsoons. At the bottom was a small cave. By this time, dad had arrived shouting ("Tumhi Gaadhav aahat!!") and we decided it was good time to leave.

Tapola lake is formed by the confluence of Solashi and Koyna rivers. Water scooter rides are available. They take you for half the ride and stop. Then, you are told that if you take double ride you get half a ride free. Thank God, they don't fling you from your water scooter if you refuse. We were happy with a single ride (Rs. 40), but it isnt exciting as in Goa (Calungute beach), probably coz seas are choppier and hence more fun.

It was back to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. A brief halt at Mapro for the now all too famous jelly sweets, crush and lichi icream. There is a trek path right opposite Mapro, but its not a path oft-taken. May be next time.

From there we just had enough time to go to Tableland. Tableland is about 4 sq km of absolutely flat land above Panchgani. It is quite fascinating to see this stretch of plateau right in the middle of all the mountains around. It was quite dusty in there coz of the strong winds. There was a parasailing ride available, but the gear looked, well, not well looked after, so I decided to give it a miss. Also the winds were quite strong and the troupe had a funny way of making sure that the air-borne guy doesn't hurt while landing. As soon as the jeep dragged the rope, the parasail would fill up with air and take flight. All the troupe would run after the guy, in case the wind lashes at him and brings him down hard. So it was like small kids running helter-skelter to catch an adrift kite. I think, there should have been some better mechanism to ensure safe landing. But anyway...

On the way back, was a snarling traffic jam (again) and some stupid Sumo trying to jump the car-queue. When a Sumo tries to jump, it's a sight you shouldn't miss
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