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A Trek to Kalsubai - The highest scalable peak in Maharashtra

"How are we going to prepare for the upcoming Himalayan trek ?" asks Suchita one day looking a bit worried "We have not tried our shoes, our hiking clothes and dont even know if our stamina is good enough"

She was right !! I thought. We really need to be sure of all these factors.

Lucky for us there was a group of trekkers visiting the Kalsubai ranges on that very weekend which would provide an excellent practice run. Mt. Kalsubai is the highest peak of the Sahyadri Ranges.  It is said that the view of this majestic mountain is an amazing sight in Bhandardara. It is also known as the Everest of Maharashtra, as it is the highest peak in the state.

We booked our trek with an amazing group of people we have come to love - Traveltrikon.com

On the designated day we reached Dadar Mumbai at 11 PM night and commenced our journey with the group.

The journey from Mumbai through to Kasara through Mumbai-Nashik highway takes approximately 5 hours. We reached Bari Gaon at approximately 4.30 AM and waited for an hour more till there was proper dusk.

At approximately 5.45 AM we commenced our movement towardsthe base village to freshen up and have our early morning breakfast.

Early morning walk towards  the base village
Kalsubai trek

















The villages of Bari gaon offer food services if pre-ordered inclusive of breakfast and lunch. We had taken the services of Dharamveer Khanval, Ph. No: 9923442273 ; though the food was strictly OK

After a brief introduction session and an idea of do's and do not's we commenced our trek towards the Kalsubai peak. The trek under ideal conditions takes approximately 4 hours to complete.

It is very essential to carry least 2 liter of water person for this trek.



Moving through the base village
Kalsubai trek

Crossing a stream to commence the trek
Kalsubai trek



















There are a lot of hawkers selling lemonade, biscuits, water bottles along the way ; though it is still advisable to carry your own water.

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

















Right from the beginning, the trek leaves you spell bounded with the beauty which surrounds you. The lush fields, the flowing rivers, the exciting mountain ranges standing ahead of you create a sense of excitement.

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

















The sights go on improving as we go higher and as the trek continues. The toughness of the entire route also increases from easy to moderate with more inclinations.

Half way through the trek and ladders and stairs cut in stone lead the path.

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

















The precariously placed ladders and the uneven steps make the trek more challenging and exciting !!!

The sights however keep on getting better and better with each passing minute
Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek


Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

















As you start approaching the Kalsubai peak there is one last inclined ladder as the peak and the Kalsubai temple becomes visible.

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek



Kalsubai trek


The name kalsu bai has given to the mountain on the woman who used to live in this mountain according to the villagers living at the base of kalsu bai mountain. It is said that a woman name kalsu bai was punished by the villagers and forced to leave the village, that woman climbed this mountain and started living on it and died there. That's how the name of this mountain kalsu bai came.


The views from the top of the mountain are incredible and leave you mesmerized.

Kalsubai trek

Kalsubai trek

















The climb to top of the mountain takes approximately 4 hours. However it is only half the journey won. The decent takes additional 3 hours and is even more tiring than what one thinks to be.

We managed to reach the base at approximately 2 PM. After freshening up  at a village hand pump and having lunch at the base village, we commenced our return journey back to Mumbai.



*In case you want to use any of our clicked images or itineraries for constructive purpose, just get in touch with us. We will be happy (and super proud) to share it with you. 

A Stay at Urbanpod- India's first Pod hostel at Mumbai

Working in a job which makes you travel a lot has its own perks. Apart from opportunity to have an understanding of the local markets, it allows an opportunity to check out the delicacies, the heritage sites and budget hotels in the region.


So a recent trip to Mumbai turned out to be an opportunity to explore India’s first claimed Pod Hostel- Urbanpod

Listed on about every possible travel website, Urban Pod gives you 3 possible option- Normal Pods, Private Pods and Small rooms to choose from. Priced competitively- this hotel does come up on search of every budget traveler to Mumbai. Do note that the price difference between both the private and normal pod is manageable.

Urbanpod Mumbai

















So having already tried the Normal Pods on one of the South East Asian trips, I decided to give the Private pod a try. Also the thought of getting a small space to stretch in case of feeling claustrophobic made me book pod with bit of extra space.

Finding the Urbanpod is really easy. Just put Seepz Bus Depot on Google maps, Uber or Ola and they lead you right outside the hotel. The check-in is fast as a breeze. The payments however need to be made in advance.

The staff then hands you the starter kit (towel and TV remote) and proceeds to explain the rules of the hostel.
• No shoes inside the pods premises
• Breakfast is complementary with timings at 7-10 AM
• Dinner not served after 6 PM

They then proceed to take you inside the corridor premises. The corridors are well maintained and smell fresh giving positive signs of things to come. There are rooms after rooms of Pods and private rooms, each marked by their unique number.

Urbanpod Mumbai

















The charming lady from the reception staff led me to my Private Pod-2400 and made my swipe my entry card at the main door.


Inside was a small corridor type room with huge windows and a Pod. ‘Perfect !!!! ’ I thought. She proceeded to explain the use of the pod, the lighting system, the power points inside the pod.

Urbanpod Mumbai

















She then proceeded to guide me towards the common wash rooms and wash basins. The clean, well maintained and neatly stocked bath area made me leap with joy.

Urbanpod Mumbai

















As it was late evening, I decided to proceed to my pod for a good night sleep. The pods are airy and person of 6.2 Ft height can easily stretch inside the pod. The cushions are soft and comfortable. The pod is well insulated and helps give a good overnight sleep.

The breakfast served the following day was good though the spread was not big. You can however pay and order for few more items.

Urbanpod Mumbai

















Now unfortunately or fortunately for this experience, the hostel does have some drawbacks. The recent heavy rains at Mumbai caused heavy flooding in front of the hotel and it was a real pain to go inside the hotel with heavy water clogging. Also, the area does ten to get crowded with vehicles in evening due to office rush.

However, this hotel means serious business and is a delight to stay at !!!! Do try the hostel for the concept, budget travelling or just for the experience :)

*In case you want to use any of our clicked images or itineraries for constructive purpose, just get in touch with us. We will be happy (and super proud) to share it with you. 

A trip to the mighty Gandikota- Grand Canyon of India and the Belum Caves- second largest underground natural caves in India

'Gandikota ?!?!?!!? What is that'.

This was the first reaction my wife put across when I told her of a weekend trek I had booked. 'You know I will not be able to click Ganesh Chaturthi images in Mumbai because of your stupid idea'.

My initial excitement turned into a small shrill of despair as I realized it was Ganesha chaturthi weekend that I had booked this trek for. 'Incoming religious stares' I thought. None the less, we both decided to go ahead with it.

A friend also decided to join us at last minute making us feel less guilty of missing out on Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations (distribution of the burden)

We booked our trek through a fantastic group called - Travel Trikon. Though the trek and journey is self manageable, the overall experience suggested by them was something which led us to book this trek. (PS: Please note I am not affiliated to Travel Trikon or any other travel groups and this is not a promotional post...though I would consider this an honor if this is considered as one).

So on Saturday evening we boarded the Chennaaiii Expressss....ahem... Chennai Express from Pune station for an overnight journey towards Muddanuru Station

Posing in front of Chennai Express
Gandikota Belum Caves

At approx. 8.30 AM we reached the destination.... and immediately took a selfie. (Its not everyday you get to travel by Chennaaiii .... ahem... Chennai Express)

After enjoying a few great dosas outside the station, we took a shared Tata Ace for approx 1000 rs and commenced on an hour long journey towards Gandikota. The road from Muddanuru station to Gandikota is surprisingly good and free of any traffic.

We managed to reach the Andhra tourism guest house in about an hour and half. This is probably the best accommodation to take while visiting Gandikota and just ten minutes away from Gandikota fort and the gorge. It is also advisable to pre-book in advance as the cottages are limited.

The Gang posing against Andhra Tourism Hotel
Gandikota Belum Caves

Camping grounds also provided by the Hotel though I would prefer to stay in the AC rooms
Gandikota Belum Caves

After doing a quick freshen up session and having a good Rayalseema Chicken meal at the hotel we proceeded towards the first part of the trek - Gandikota Fort and the legendary 'Grand Canyon of India'

This is an easy trek. It is however advisable to carry a liter of water with you at all moments as the distance to be covered is considerable and its hot throughout the day in this part of the country. Also do carry  sunscreen, caps, glares, etc as required.

A five minute walk and you start to see  the entrance of the once mighty fort. Gandikota was ruled by powerful Telugu dynasty, the Pemmasani Dynasty and was one of the most prominent forts in the country. It was one of the greatest forts of south India in its heydays and so were the kings who ruled the region. Years after its formation, Gandikota fort was ruled by the Mikkilineni Nayaks.

Inside the fort are two ancient temples, dedicated to Madhava and Ranganatha. They are in ruins and the fort area is full of the debris of ages and many ancient structures in varying stages of decay. The large granary, with a vaulted roof, is now used as watchman's quarters. The Jamia Masjid has two adjacent minarets.

Temples and structures comparable to the world famous Hampi have mesmarized and compelled many travellers to call Gandikota as 'Second Hampi of India
Gandikota Belum Caves




Masjid inside the fort
Gandikota Belum Caves
Gandikota Belum Caves


After a short flight of rocks at the other end of the fort you get the first sight of the Gandikota's Grand Canyon . Nothing..... I literally mean nothing can prepare you for the first sight of this amazing natural wonder !!!!!

 The gorge in all its glory leaves you spell bounded (to say the least). No image can do proper justice to the true glory of the place. 

Gandikota- The Grand Canyon of India
Gandikota Belum Caves

Gandikota Belum Caves

Gandikota Belum Caves

Gandikota Belum Caves

We watched the sunset, played a few games and returned back to hotel late evening. After a nice hot water shower and rest, we headed towards the eating rooms for another round of great dinner. Discussed everything from the current state of tourism on India, Ancient Aliens, Nikolai Tesla and religion.

There is also a small museum inside the hotel itself giving information on all the forts inside Andhra Pradesh.

Time flew and before we knew it; it was 11 PM. Time for bed and dreams of exciting Day 2 which lay ahead of us.

Day 2 began with a great breakfast which included - Dosa, Idli, Pongal, Tea (Hell of an appetite for breakfast if you ask me :P ) We had booked a Toyota Innova  to take us around to the - Mylavaram Dam and Belum Caves

After commencing our journey at 9 AM, it took us approximately half an hour to reach the Mylavaram Dam. The exciting thing about the place is that vehicles are allowed to cross over the dam. The side walls of the road over the dam is broken at places and leaves your heart in mouth. The road is just enough to allow one vehicle to pass through and at places you can see the vertical drop right besides the end of vehicle tires.

The dam along with its overhead road (and the broken wall patches) visible
Gandikota Belum Caves

  












Gandikota Belum Caves










There is a museum nearby of all the excavations carried out in the region. Its worth a half hour visit and gives you a brief insight at some of the amazing stone architectures from 16th century.


Gandikota Belum Caves

From Mylavaram Dam it was an hour drive to the another natural wonder of the region - The Belum caves.
The Belum Caves is the largest and longest cave system open to the public on the Indian subcontinent, known for its speleothems, such as stalactite and stalagmite formations. The Belum Caves have long passages, galleries, spacious caverns with fresh water and siphons. 

This natural underground cave system was formed over the course of tens of thousands of years by the constant flow of underground water. The cave system reaches its deepest point ( 46 m (151 ft) from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga

Belum Caves have a length of 3,229 m (10,593.8 ft), making them the second largest natural caves on the Indian Subcontinent after the Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya.

Belum came to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor, Robert Bruce Foote and from 1982 to 1984, a team of German speleologists headed by H. Daniel Gebauer conducted a detailed exploration of the caves. Thereafter in 1988, the state government declared the site protected, and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) of the caves have been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km (0.9 mi) is accessible to visitors.


It is advisable to take a guide at entry point. The guides  are well versed in Telgu language or have managable skills in English. But if you are expecting Hindi to be spoken in up-country Andhra, you will be in for disappointment. 

Entry is at 65 Rs. per person. Be sure to allocate at least an hour and half to the place as this is a geologist, adventure enthusiast and photographers delight !!!!

For people who have breathing problems or issues against confined spaces need to cautiously move to the depths. Presence of large crowd on weekends may cause breathlessness.

We tried to make one 4X Hyperlapse of the cave with mild success. - Belum Caves start to end

Well you keep learning they say :(

Gandikota Belum Caves

Gandikota Belum Caves


Gandikota Belum Caves

















We finished off with our Indiana Jones styled adventure through the cave with our clothes drenched in sweat and proceeded towards the comfort of our AC vehicle. It was an hour and half drive to our next location and we thought of having lunch mid way. 


Abhineet, our expert guide  throughout the entire trip took us to a local hotel which served us one huge bowl of delicious biryanis. Hungry like a wolf, we gobbled up the entire dish in a matter of minutes. 

It was a slow walk to our last destination of the entire visit - Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple
The temple is a Siva shrine situated in Tadipatri , Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, India. It lies on the bank of the Penna river and is estimated to have been constructed between 1490 and 1509.

We spent a quiet afternoon at the temple admiring the architectural genius of a bygone area.

Gandikota Belum Caves

Gandikota Belum Caves















After an evening darshan (temple opens up at 5 PM evening) we headed towards the Tadipatri railway station situated 10 minutes  away from the temple. The Mumbai Express arrived at 6.50 PM and we headed on our return journey towards Pune.


This short two day trip gave us some great moments to cherish for our lives, strengthened our relations and helped us gain some great friends for life. Thanks to - Abhineet(Our Indiana Jones), Dipesh(Presented some excellent laughs and point of views) , Priyanka (our Pune ka friend and friends wife), Suruchi (the ten re bargainer :P), Aditi (zindagi mai kabhi na kabhi...) and my wifey Suchita for the love of travel :) 



Thanks for reading and happy travelling :) 

* We  would love it if you want to use our images for ethical and useful purpose. Please mail us on sagarpradhan001@gmail.com or suchitab85@gmail.com for the high resolution file.    

A trip to the mesmerizing Dhuandhar falls and Marble rocks at Bhedaghat Jabalpur

'Dude its Sunday !!!!'

This was the first reaction when I asked my friend and office colleague about the market visit scheduled for the day.

'I am not getting out of my bed today'. He said. 'Please  manage for today'

'God dammit !!!!' I thought. I could have stayed at Pune and enjoyed a good weekend  with family.'

But suddenly a bulb inside my head  lit and  i realized this was a perfect timing to visit one of the long desired locations in Mahakoushal region- Marble rocks at Bhedaghat :)

Now  for those who are not from Jabalpur or have no idea  of Geography, Jabalpur is located on eastern side of state of MP. Once a British army's strategic location, Jabalpur is well connected by trains with many other parts of the country.

Jabalpur has known to have a long and prosperous history. Ashokan relics dating to 300 BCE have been found as evidence of the Maurya Empire (322 to 185 BCE). It was briefly ruled by the Satavahana dynasty (230 BCE to 220 CE). Local rulers, including the Bodhis and the Senas, followed before the region became a vassal state of the Gupta Empire (320 to 550) . From 675 to 800, the region was ruled by Bamraj Dev of the Kalachuri dynasty from Karanbel.

One of the Kalachuri amatya (ministers) was Golok Simha Kayastha, who was instrumental in founding the Chausath Yogini Temple near Bhedaghat. His descendants include Bhoj Simha, Diwan to Sangramsahi (reigned 1491–1543); Diwan Adhar Simha, Prime-minister to Rani Durgavati (reigned 1550–1564) and Beohar Raghuvir Sinha, Last jagirdar of Jabalpur until 1947.

Coming back to the topic of day trip, Bhedaghat is situated around  20 kms away from the Jabalpur city and is easily accessible by cabs.  You can easily book an Ola cab for 800 bucks/4Hours/ 40 Km journey on the day of trip. 

I decided to visit the falls early morning to avoid the heat and blazing sun in later part of the day. Left my hotel at 7 AM  and was at the falls by 8 AM.

I would suggest the first thing to do when visiting this  (or rather any spot !!) is to hire a good guide. Authorized and knowledgeable guides can give you an excellent overview of the entire location along with some  incredibly good hidden spots and stories.

Was lucky enough to find a great guide who guided me through the entire area for the duration of 2 hours. You can book him in advance by calling a day earlier if needed.

Guide for Bedaghat details: Kamlesh Tiwari ; Ph. No: +917049051153

Was charged 500 Rs. for this time duration. Maybe I would have got lesser  amount if had bargained a bit....but personally follow a philosophy of 'won't be able to buy a Ferrari by negotiating 50 Rs from someone deserving'

Mr. Kamlesh truly is every bit the money he charges. He sang songs  from movies  shot at the location over years, told me geographic insights  of the falls, the marble excavated, the local artists and why it is  important to support them and  the local folklore.


The first location we visited was of course the  Dhuandhar  waterfalls. Though it was late July, the lesser amount of rains received in region meant that the entire marble quarry was still very much above water.

There are also children who jump down the waterfall and retrieve coins thrown in the water. Though my guide told me that this is a good income for the villagers in the area, some how the scene from movie Masaan where a child almost dies in similar game left a mark on me.

Dhuandhar falls even with low water levels is still amazing !!! The site of water from Narmada flowing into the marble rocks is unique and probable replicated no where else in India.

Hyperlapse for Dhuandhar falls - Dhuandhar Falls in 4X

Dhuandhar waterfalls and the water flowing into the marble rocks 
Jabalpur Bhedaghat


















Movie Asoka with Sharukh and Kareena was shot here
Jabalpur Bhedaghat

Our guide explained the different types of marbles available in region, the importance of Bedaghat throughout the ages, sang some interesting songs shot in movies and answered all questions put across convincingly. 

The rock gardens of Bedaghat. Avatar movie skyline if you ask me
Jabalpur Bhedaghat


















Then we headed towards the Chausasth Yogini temple about 2 km away from Dhuandhar falls.

Chausath Yogini Temple is one of the oldest heritage sites in India. It was built in the 10th Century AD by the Kalachuri kingdom and has a distinct resemblance to the temples of Khajuraho in structure.

The temple is the abode of Goddess Durga along with 64 yoginis. A Yogini is a female attendant of the mother goddess, who slays illusion with fiery passion through insight and liberation.

Though the temple has been partially damaged, it speaks greatly of the ancient dynasties that ruled in Jabalpur.

Yoginis lined up in a circle. Though many of the statues have been destroyed by invaders, there are still some which speak about the beauty of the temple
Jabalpur Bhedaghat















Jabalpur Bhedaghat


















Finally we headed towards a viewing spot from where the calm waters of Narmada are visible. This is the spot where boat rides are organized for tourists.

Jabalpur Bhedaghat


















This scene from Mohen-jo-daro was shot at the location above. Except that it does not have any crocodiles..... especially ones that can fly in air :P


Jabalpur Bhedaghat














The guide tells of a funny story where people lined up to watch Hritik Roshan but his exact looking stunt double was sitting alone. Talk about Brand Value.

With this final spot we bid a good bye to Mr. Kamlesh and headed back towards the city. I was hungry by then and was dreaming of a good breakfast at Indian Coffee House. 

It took me 2 Hours to visit all locations on leisurely mode. Depending on the number of people and the walking capacity, the time may increase or decrease person to person. 

Posing with our guide
Do note that the  best time to visit the location is  November-February when  the heat is manageable and the water levels have receded. You can also enjoy the ropeway and boating at the location which I decided to give a  miss.

Oh and on the way home, you can also visit the balancing rock of Jabalpur.... though I would rather wish someone to help me with a self balancing bank balance :(



Thanks  for reading and happy travelling :)

* We  would love it if you want to use our images for ethical and useful purpose. Please mail us on sagarpradhan001@gmail.com or suchitab85@gmail.com for the high resolution file.