During 15th Aug weekend, we planned a trip to Koyna region. Koyna is a region nestled in the Sahaydri mountains (western ghats) of Maharashtra whose claim to fame is Koyna Dam. Koyna Dam forms a lake in Sahayadri mountains which goes 70 km all the way up to Mahabaleswar (Tapola). It is one of the largest Hydroelectric dam projects of independent India and even Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru paid a visit here during its construction post-independence. It generates 560 MW of electricity.
There is a small town called Koyna Nagar close to the dam which forms the base of this region. The town is around equidistant from two major towns Karad & Chiplun on west and east side on either side of western ghats. The route from Pune was to go south on NH-4 till Umbraj just before Karad and from there turn right on state highway to Chiplun via Patan. Once we are onto state highway the traffic becomes minial and greenery all around. Soon one can see mountains awashed with nubile grass on slopes and rugged green plains. There is a river which accompanies on the left which is full and clean. We stopped at several places to take in the surroundings.
There is a gentle ascend to reach Koyna Nagar. We stayed at the MTDC resort there which is around 1-2 km above the town on hill slope. It was an ordinary place though it was fully occupied due to holidays. The dam and its lake behind is the main attraction visible from various viewpoints. There is a Nehru Garden which is a nice place to relax and also to view a short documentary about the dam and its construction.
Next day we went to a fall known as Ozarda which I had never heard of before. But it didn’t disappoint and was in full force. The waterfall is inside a protected park and one has to trek for 20 minutes to reach the base of falls though it is visible from far. The water was in such a force that it created a mist around and one could get wet evening being far from falling water. No one can dare stand under it anyways. The curved hill created a performance like an amphitheater.
Here we saw a huge boulder covered with moss and small flowers epitomizing the saying that ‘even rocks can breed flowers’.
This was peak monsoon time so territory around was splendidly green in all its hues and waterfalls every now and then.
Next day our destination was Guhagar, a town at seashore going through the town of Chiplun. This was going to be a foray into Konkan region of Maharashtra which is famous for Alphonso mangoes. It was a nostalgic journey for me having come to this area some 18 years back with my cousin and sisters. We had come from Solapur, stationed at Chiplun and went to Guhagar and Velneshwar, another small town on the coast. All these years I remembered names of these towns. As soon as we rounded the bend at ‘Ghat Matha‘ which is the mountain pass to the other side of western ghats I knew I have seen this before. I have a faint memory of that time getting scared looking at the valley below with a small river while the ST bus swerved at every bend. This is ‘Kumbharli ghat‘ towards Chiplun. There is a hotel at the pass which is a view point to the valley below. Due to hills coming up in such a configuration that there is always wind at this point with clouds rising from the valley below. The Kumbharli ghat was so beautiful that morning that we stopped several times at various vantage points looking at the green hills covered with white clouds. The clouds were moving at fast pace presenting a fresh view at every blink. The road and mountain slope was misty.
The hills here had lot of power transmission lines due to Koyna Dam. Sometimes I feel that though western ghats are very less in height compared to Himalayas but still they are as mysterious and unexplored as they are dense.
Slowly we got down the ghat and reached Chiplun. Again I tried to recall if I remember anything from 18 year trip back. However, the town did not give opportunity as it was congested and difficult to maneuver.
Chiplun to Guhagar was low lying hill drive with dense forest around.
Guhagar had few tourists who might have come due to it being Sunday. We went out to the sea shore. I remember this was my first ever sighting of sea in my lifetime when I came here when I was you young. The name Guhagar is forever etched in my memory. We walked around in the town. and had our lunch.
Later we headed to Velneshwar where we had even spent a day at my cousin’s acquaintance but couldn’t recall which house it was? The drive as it was till now scenic with undulating hills with densest greenery.
We paid visit to the main temple in town which seemed to have been recently painted.I must have been to this temple but couldn’t recall.
The beach seemed familiar with hump like hill at the background. The sea was rough but lot of catamarans were out there in the sea. It was mostly secluded as I could remember from my memory. How these places are stuck in a time warp.
After sometime we drove to Hedvi another coastal town famous for its Lord Ganesha temple. The temple was well-built and calm. The seafront was rocky though.
Soon we headed back as we wanted to cross the ghat till sunlight lasts. The drive up the ghat was fine. We stopped at the hotel at Ghat Matha to have tea & pakoras. They tasted divine in this setting. It was quite chilly in the evening there due to cool wind.
Next day we drove back to Pune via same route as we came.