To Junnar, Shivneri by road...

This Sunday was a real busy one! I had to attend a Classmate's sister's wedding at Junnar in the nearby Pune district. About 16 of us were all set to make the journey. Two vehicles full of maniacs from Mumbai were on our way to Junnar along the National Highway 222. We had charted out detailed plans and were now all set to make the journey! I left my home at 0640 on my 3 year old war horse - Toyota Qualis Myst MH04-BY-5241. The trusted horse made sure that I kept my commitments! My vehicle was to carry 8 of us, while the other was to carry another 8. But, what finally happened was that only 5 traveled in my car, while the other had a heavy 11 guys!
Both the cars (the other was a Chevrolet Tavera Neo) met at Thane. We had decided a meeting place in Thane, and it was decided to that we meet each other and then move ahead!
After the meet, My car took clear charge of the situation. We drove down National Highway 3 (Mumbai-Agra) upto Mankoli Naka (Near Bhiwandi). From there we took a right turn and drove towards Kalyan City. We crossed a long bridge and reached Durgadi Fort, and from there we took a left turn. We reached Shahad junction, and now turned towards Murbad Road. This road is now National Highway 222 (Kalyan-Ahmednagar-Nanded-Nirmal).
The Kalyan-Murbad road had very little traffic - Maybe because it was early in the morning or may be since it was a Sunday! I drove down for quite some distance before stopping for a leak. The other car was too behind me, and we wanted them to catch up with us before we proceeded!

My car at our first Halt

We had to wait for a very long 20-25 minutes before they caught up with us! After meeting up, I once again left ahead of them. The road was beautiful and enchanting. The road had ups and downs in quick succession, sharp curves and what not. The road was lined on both sides with trees and that was a real beautiful route! It would have been even more wonderful had it been the monsoon!
We started actually climbing the Malshej Ghat at around 0900. This place is a picnic spot, and the route offers breath taking views! The route curves all the way around a hill and you can always see the way ahead! The roads had lots of monkeys sitting on the protecting walls at curves!

Monkeys at a curve!

The sun was up but fog never seemed to let us off! Hills were covered with mist, and the sight was something one can ever forget. We kept stopping many times to click images, and to wait for the other car to catch up with us, but they never came up with us! We finally met only at our final destination!

My car posing near a picturesque mountain covered in mist! A friend of mine is trying to capture that beautiful scene on his mobile phone!

After some photo-ops we finally reached the only tunnel on the route. The hill beautifully come down close to the road, and we finally rush through the tunnel! The tunnel is beautifully shaped!

My car waiting to rush through the tunnel!

While photographing near the tunnel we noticed a peculiarly shaped stone right out side the tunnel....

Light at the end!

We continued our rush through the ghats right after the photo session! Nature was really co-operative with us, and a very good climate kept the journey interesting! We overshot our turn by about 3 kilometres and ended up in Otur. We bought some snacks to make up for our breakfast and then enquired our way back. We finally made in to Bankhar Naka from where we turned into the actual road we had to take. The road leads to Shivneri/Lenyadri. We drove correctly upto our destination (other than a small goof up where we ended up in the Market!)...
We reached the venue of the marriage at around 1130. The marriage was only at 1530 and we had loads of time with us. We decided to visit the nearby tourist attraction: Shivneri Fort.
It is at this place that the famous Maratha king "Chhatrapati Shivaji" was born. The fort is located on the top of a hill, and can be accessed only by foot. The climb is sort of steep and has steps to make the work easy!

A map of the area

The place where Shivaji Maharaj was born. The guys at the windows are my friends!

Some scenery shots from the Fort:

WE reached back at the venue of the wedding at around 1330 or so. The fort was a wonderful place to spend time, and we surely did! We had lunch from the wedding venue. We were all damn tired after the climb, and desperately wanted to rest. I had a very short nap inside my car while some others listened to music in the other car! We met the newly wed couple and exchanged greetings, and a small floral bouquet. We finally bid adieu to our friend, and left towards Lenyadri.
Lenyadri is a hill top temple of Lord Ganesha, and is a part of the Ashtavinayak circuit. I was damn tired to climb that hill! (This temple can be accessed ONLY by foot). My health condition too did not permit me to climb the hill - I am obese and I get asthmatic attacks quite often especially while exerting too much!
I had another short nap while my friends went to the temple. They returned by 1700, and we started our return journey at 1710. My friends in the other car were proceeding towards Ozar, another temple nearby, while I decided to return before it gets too dark.
We covered the Malshej Ghat section before it was too dark, and saw the sun set magnificently!

We reached Kalyan at around 1900. One of my friends got down near Shahad station while the remaining 4 of us proceeded towards Thane. We got held up at a Nasty traffic jam on the Kalyan-Bhiwandi road. It took about 75 minutes for us to cover a small 5-6 kilometre stretch! Once on the highway, I blasted off, and we reached Thane by around 2045 and dropped off one more fella! We dropped the next one at Mulund, then one more at Airoli. I was now all alone, and drove briskly towards my Home. I reached back at my home at around 2145. At the end of the day, I had driven 379.8 kilometres! That was a real tiresome day, and I decided to take an off on Monday to rest!
Will be back to college tomorrow!!!! Bye, and thanks for reading...hope that you'd turn back once again tomorrow!