The goal that I had set for myself was to see as many places as possible within India and that these would not be the normal tourist destinations. Though I had several smaller trips jotted down in my list WAI was definitely not one of them
Wai was seen to be perfectly doable with Panchgani too thrown in into the bargain. So the destination finalized , I read a bit more on what I was going to see and noted down the salient features , also indulged in the travel accounts of few others who had done this destination in the past and that helped me to finalize a rough itinerary for the trip.
Well whats does Wai have to offer is what many would be wondering. The place is also known as “Dakshin Kashi”.Nestled along the banks of the Krishna and surrounded by the Sahyadris , it holds great religious significance since the bygone era. There are seven ghats on the river Krishna and numerous temples dotted all along the river with quite a few submerge as the water level goes up and then resurface once the level comes down. I found that religion had permeated in to every walk of life in the village.
We had a early morning start from Mumbai and soon we reached the Kambatkini Ghats .The ghat is one of the steepest that I have come across in these parts of the country and definitely treacherous as they twist and turn constantly and coupled with the heavy traffic, are a sure recipe for disaster in case due attention is not paid.
Reached Wai by mid morning and straightaway went to visit the Dholya Ganapati temple which is one the most prominent temples on the banks of the river Krishna and dates back to the 18TH The diety itself is 10 feet tall and Lord Ganesha does look happy .
Immediately opposite the Dholya Ganapati we have the Kashi Vishveshwar Madir ; This is a very old temple of Lord Shiva, the main feature of this temple is Nandi made by the same stone from which the idol of Mahaganapati was made. Nandi was decorated by the garlands & other jewellery.The entire temple was massive and totally built of rock.
After I spent some time out here , looking at people go by and seeing devotees thronging the temples I decided to walk on to the ghat and soak in the atmosphere of young kids enjoying the waters of the Krishna in the building heat of the day .The Krishna River is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India , about 1,400 kilometres . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature. The Krishna River is the third longest river in India after the Ganges and the Godavari and originates in Mahabaleshwar, never knew of this till I actually saw the river with my own eyes and then spoke to the people out there .It is also one of the most disastrous rivers in the world as it causes huge amount of soil erosion in the monsoon months flowing fast and furious reaching depths of 75 mts in many places.
The next place on my itinerary was the Menawali Ghats , a little known place away from the touristic crowds , around 5 kms from the Dholya Ganapati temple . I had to ask passersby the directions for such isolated is this gem of a place.A narrow alley leads to the Ghat through traditional Maharatrian village. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva will demand your attention as it is situated below the water line and draws one towards it. The Krishna meanders her way and disappears into wilderness, we spent close to an hour to feel nature at its best. Let waves lash to the feet and one can just sit on the ghat steps and contemplate into the distance, a absolute beauty in the monsoons I can vouch
From here had planned to visit Dhom dam on the River Krishna in order to indulge in some photographic moments for this was one of the prime objectives of my travels.Dhom dam is around 15 km from Wai and there is a narrow road which takes one towards the dam. Completed in 1982, it is one of the largest civil engineering projects commissioned after Indian Independence. I was fortunate that I was granted permission to visit the dam gates itself in order to have a closer look at the dam ..After spending some great moments at the dam and the catchment area we decided to head for lunch and then to Panchgani for I had completed the first milestone of the trip i.e. Wai and Dhom Dam.
Panchgani is 12 km from Wai , Hotel Gianjali where we decided to stay is within walking distance of the main bazaar and taxi stand yet is very serene and peaceful being located away from the hustle & bustle due to the abundance of trees and foliage.
Panchgani is all about mountain ranges of the Sahyadris, deep valleyes, table land and the delicious strawberry. Scenic Panchgani was discovered by the British as a summer resort in the 1860s.The place is nestled at the middle of five hills in the Sahyadris.The five hills surrounding Panchgani are topped by a volcanic plateau which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetian Plateau and in known as “Table Land”
After a short rest of an hour I was ready to see the various famous landmarks of the place and started with the closest of them – SYDNEY POINT ( I wonder why these names though ) This point is situated on a hillock facing the Krishna Valley. One can see from here the glittering waters of the Dhom Dam. Sydney point is about 2 km from Panchgani Bus stand.It is quite motorable and one can drive right till the top itself.
The next point on the agenda was the famous Table Land and I wanted to experience the feeling of the place as the moon rose from behind the Sahyadris. Accordingly we visited the place as the sun set in the distance. One thing about Panchgani is that they collect toll tax for every conceivable reason and it Is valid for seven working days.
Table Land was not that impressive maybe because of the presence of myriad constructions happening in the valleys below and I spend some time in the moonlight night just relaxing out there , soon it was time to leave and we started back towards the Hotel , totally tired by now. There are lots of horse rides available at Table Land and they can help one cover the entire length of the plateau.
The main road of Panchgani is quite short and other than the big resorts everything else is on this road itself. All the hustle bustle in one small area, i was in favour of an early morning sun rise spectacle at Table Land and hence planned accordingly. The best time to visit this place is either early morning or on a full moon night , for only then one is able to enjoy the feeling of massiveness that the plateau generates .
Early morning , from Table Land I set out towards Kate point and Needle point. These are on the Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar route . Kates point is so named in memory of the daughter of then Governor Sir John Malcom.The point is at 1560 mts above sea level and one can view the Krishna Valley stretching in to the distance and the Balkavad Dam down below.
Just adjoining Kate point we have the Needle point and the Elephant Howdah, and I was pretty amazed at seeing such rock formations and the close resemblance, check it out for yourself. Needle point refers to the gap in the rock formations.
Soon I proceeded towards Arthur Seat , the advantage of early visiting was that there was absolutely no people hence one had all these lovely places to oneself and could actually feel them for what they are .Arthur seat is 12 km from Kate point and in the opposite direction. The place is famous for being the site where the then governor Sir Arthur used to sit and gaze out in memory of his family who perished in the river Savitri which used to flow below in a tragic accident. This is the only view point from where one can clearly observe the geographical differentiation of the Konkan Region and the Deccan Plateau. There are a total of around five sites out there which are famous and if required one can use the services of local guides who will show them all and also explain the same .
We then proceeded towards Lake Venna which by the time I reached was crowded and worse. I did not stay there for more than five minutes. My last agenda point was Lingmala Falls , which was a former shadow of its monsoon form. The best time to visit Lingmala waterfall is July to October . The area is quite serene and tranquil, with clouds and dark woods in a hilly area. After entrance, there is a set of stairs, leading to the main point. It is a 600 ft waterfall in three stages.
The day was well in its way by the time i finished and also this marked the conclusion of yet another small informative trip to a few iconic and pretty places of lour country. Hope this article was informative to those who plan a visit to this part of the region post the abating of Monsoon 2017 .
|How to Reach||Mumbai-Wai : 240 km by Road|
|Where to Stay||Numerous rest houses in Panchgani|
|Best time to visit||September – February|
|Ideal duration of trip||Three days including Wai and Panchgani|