Let’s go on a ROADTRIP!
I think doing roadtrips with someone is the best way to bond… I don’t know, its probably about being “confined” in a closed space (I mean a car!) or being “coupled” with someone else (like on a motorbike!) for long periods of time kind of compels you to connect with your travel companion… Roadtrips are awesome that way…
An awesome trip that comes to my mind right now is the one that we did with a group of our friends when we decided to drive up to Nashik.
Mode of transport:
The route that you take is perhaps the most important part of the whole of the trip especially if you are the one who’s on the driver’s seat. It can make or break the journey for you and hence I think however impulsive your trip may be its always a good idea to refer Google! We learned it the hard way and hence ended up taking different routes for our onward and return journeys.
Pune to Nashik is about 210 kms and on a good day you can cover it in a matter of 6 hours with a short restroom plus lunch break. However, if you are into experiencing the journey rather than reaching the destination then 8 to 9 hours is the perfect time frame for reaching Nashik from Pune… We took around 9.5 hours to reach Nashik and around 6 hours to get back to Pune.
We took the usual/traditional route from Pune to Nashik via Nashik Phata -> Chakan -> Rajnangaon -> Sangamner -> Sinnar. It is not a very good route since its an undivided two lane highway with a couple of ghats that see a lot of commercial traffic including goods carriers, trucks and State Transport buses. Needless to say the traffic is slow moving and it can get pretty frustrating. However, the route is full of local food joints and restaurants and dhabas and making frequent stops for junk food is an experience in itself.
On our return journey from Nashik to Pune, we decided to take the route via Mumbai. The highway is a very well maintained 4 lane highway (6 lanes at some places) with very light traffic and no ghats! Hence, even though the route is about 55 kms longer you take a lot less time. While on this route you have the option to either take a diversion from Kalyan and meet the Mumbai-Pune Expressway or go till Thane, enter Navi Mumbai and take the expressway from where it starts. We did the latter and the journey was both quick and comfortable.
Places We Visited
1. The Sula Vineyard
Sula is one of the most well-known wine makers in India and is responsible for introducing the grape varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc. Riesling and Zinfandel Rose are my favorites btw 🙂
Sula vineyards are located at Nashik and Dindori (near Nashik) and the whole property is open to visitors. The property boasts of Wine tasting tours, grape crushing activities, a couple of restaurants and a resort if you are inclined to stay overnight. We went during the monsoons and even though it’s an off season the place was bustling with visitors and tourists. They also have a wine and a souvenir shop (obviously) that sells wines on discount. The restaurants on the property are a little on the expensive side but on a gloriously sunny day, a glass of wine of your choosing and a loved one next to you calls for a celebration!
The Sula Vineyard is about 10 kms from Nashik city and you can easily cover the distance in 20 mins. The property is beautiful and the energy very infectious. If you are at Nashik then a trip to the Sula Vineyards should be on your bucketlist!
2. Ram Kund
Ram Kund is a huge water tank of sorts through which the lifeline of the region i.e. the Godavari River flows. It is believed that Lord Ram would bathe here when he would be staying over at Panchavati. Ram Kund is situated bang in the middle of the city and is easily accessible to everyone even to those who are on their first trip to Nashik. The Ram Kund overflows during the monsoons and the water level as well as the current is so high that police is stationed around it in order to avoid any freak accidents.
During the day, Ram Kund is extremely crowded and bustling with activity and hence in order to avoid all of that we all decided to visit it in the middle of the night. It was quiet except of the roaring of the river water and was exceptionally humbling.
3. Vaitarna Dam
We stayed in Nashik for a day and then decided to return via the Mumbai Route. On our way we chanced upon a sign board for Vaitarna Dam and decided to take a detour. We reached the backwaters of the dam and it is a sight to behold. The natural beauty of the area around is spellbinding and the landscape is something out of a glossy travel magazine. The place is completely devoid of any kind of commercialization and even finding a cup of coffee is impossible. It is surrounded by villages and hence a cup of Indian tea is all you can get at the corner village shop. We had lunch at a villager’s house that comprised of some yummy desi chicken curry, plain rice, dal fry and bhindi (okra/ladyfinger) masala.
We still remember the meal and cannot stop talking about how delicious it was!
Maha Kumbh, one of world’s largest religious celebrations/gathering is hosted in Nashik
There is a lot more to do in and around Nashik. However, due to the paucity of time we could only limit it to a couple of places. I intend returning to this simple city again to explore more of what it has to offer.