In the long weekend of 2nd Oct we decided to go nearby places which we haven’t been to yet. Satara is a district close to Pune but was mostly overlooked by us when planning for any vacation with old age adage that paas mein hi toh hai, kabhi bhi dekh lenge (it is close we can visit any time). So this time I planned to explore places around it. I chalked out itinerary to visit Satara, Tapola and Raigarh. Satara is a town and around it are a Sajjangarh fort, Thoseghar waterfall and a huge wind-farm Chalkewadi. Tapola is located at backwaters of Shivaji Sagar lake formed by Koyna dam. This backwater is 70 km long and Tapola is almost at the tip, 30 kms from Mahabaleshwar. Raigarh is the fort which was Shivaji’s palace where he was anointed as Chatrapati or King of “Hindavi Swaraj”.
On the first day, we started for Satara in the morning by 9:30 AM and comfortably reached our hotel by 1:00PM. After lunch we set out to explore the sights. Sajjangarh, Thoseghar and Chalkewadi are on same road around 25-30 km from Satara which was very convenient. The drive was very enjoyable with gentle ghats and rolling hills, greenery and view of valley right after monsoon.
We passed by Sajjangarh, Thoseghar and straight went to Chalkewadi to check it out first. I wasn’t expecting much but it turned out to be quite something. After passing Chalkewadi village the windmills made their appearance. After climbing a little bad road we came to a plateau and then realized why this place finds its name in travel guide books. There are hundreds of windmills dotted on the landscape. We parked our car under a huge windmill which was making whooshing sound on even mild wind.
The surrounding was quite pleasant with mild sun, breeze and small wild flowers. Its rare that we city folks find ourselves in such open surroundings, hear the sound of wind. I was not satisfied standing under a single windmill so drover a little further inside. There are no paved roads and surprisingly no one around. Look at some boards it seem some of the them belongs to TATA power. The place is quite photogenic if somebody can do justice to it.
In the interest of time and setting sun we left the place and came to Thoseghar waterfall. Its a narrow and tall waterfall and still had lot of water left. It has couple of streams creating a small pool at the bottom. One needs to climb down a little to get to the vantage point. After customary photos we left came back on the road.
There was a local tea stall selling “gavti” means “grass” tea. Its a special herb tea which was quite refreshing. After that we left for Sajjangarh and was hoping to catch sunset from the fort. The fort sits on top of a hill and could be viewed from same level from adjacent hills. From parking its a small climb to the entrance. The fort is home to Swami Samarth Teerth and has a temple, ashram, pupils and proper Deeksha kendra. Beyond the temple precincts lies what I was looking for, the open space and view of the sunset. At the tip of the fort there is a Hanuman temple. The sun was about to set and we watched it in all the hues gently.
Next day we started for Tapola. The route goes through interiors through gentle hills and winding roads and the drive is enjoyable. The famous Kaas plateau is also on this road. There was sizable crowd and long parking so we did not stop. We had visited Kaas plateau last year. We went past Kaas plateau and came to Kaas lake. Its a serene lake with clear water. Good place for picnic and splash water on each other.
After spending some time we went beyond on the road which is a winding road. Soon we could see the backwaters of the Shivaji sagar lake. We stopped at several places to take in the view. The road has almost no vehicle.
We reached our resort which is on the edge of the lake. The lake shore is dotted with resorts which also provide water sports activity and have cottage or tented accomodation. We had opted for a tented accommodation which was decent. After lunch went for water sports. The have provision for water scooter, kayaking, paddle boat and motor launch. I tried kayaking and went a little deep. The water is gentle and calm and it was nice being in the middle of the lake holding still. Life jackets are provided.
In the evening it started raining which played a little spoilsport. I was looking forward to view the sky from this clean surroundings but alas. I made certain enquiry and figured that Pratapgarh fort is doable in couple of hours while going to Raigarh fort. It is around 15 km from Mahabaleshwar towards Raigarh. So, next days plan was fixed.