TORANMAL – BEAUTIFUL YET HIDDEN

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Prologue:
The idea of visiting Toranmal started off with a simple chat on Facebook between Puneet & me. Which place is left unexplored which can be done in 2 days? We wanted to ride more than the usual <300 kms which anyone would prefer for a weekender. A little work around on options which we had in Maharahtra tourism website led us to Toranmal Hill Station which is in Nandurbar district. It is a hill station located in Satpura range. Alright close to 1000 kms round trip in 2 days is it possible, should it be done even if it is possible and how to plan riding to a place which has limited information even on the famed google. After working out on few options it was finally 6 of us who made for this ride viz., Sachin, Puneet, Kartik, Aryan, Hasan & Pranav.

From Mumbai there are 2 ways of reaching to Toranmal –
1) Either you can go via NH3 & MSH1 and return (900 kms trip) [OR]
2) Go Via NH8 – NH6 – SH5 – SH2 and return via MSH1 – NH3 (950 kms trip)
*Note above kms are counted from Thane as the start point

We took the 2nd option and completed a round trip as I wanted to see both routes rather than the usual same route for going and coming back. None of us had ever been on NH6 and hence, it was decided that we will do a round trip although the route to this unexplored hill station is long.

Day 1 – Thane to Toranmal

Date: 10th Dec’11
Route: NH8 (270kms) – NH6 (145kms) – SH5 (50kms) – SH2 (39kms)
Distance covered: 504 kms
Time taken: 14 hours
Road condition: Excellent

As planned we all met at Fountain hotel on NH8 at 4:30 am and we were also accompanied by Viraj who came in his cage (SX4) till Fountain hotel. After little chit chat session we started our ride at around 5am. We started our ride in a cool morning with nice cold breeze making our ride so special. Darn, it was good to be back on a road trip almost after a month. We kept riding at around 70’s to start off with and finally after completing 100 kms we took our first stop at around 7am. It was still dark and as everytime it happens we started discussing how was the ride so far.

Nothing different, but more importantly I checked on Kartik who was riding Unicorn and first time with us. Luckily Kartik rode well and was able to keep up with the faster bikes around him. Oh by the way, by faster bikes I only mean Karizma’s & R15. We moved on after a short break and finally stopped for breakfast when we saw McDonalds somewhere close to Vapi if I remember correct. Mcdonalds if you visit early morning as anyone would expect to eat Breakfast menu was not unfortunately not available. Nevertheless, We ate whatever was available and ate well enough to keep ourselves content till afternoon.

Finally we reached Kadodra Chowkdi from where we had to take right turn for NH6. It was around 270 kms of superb riding we experienced on NH8 which has improved over the years now. Now they have become beautiful 3 lane highways to ride on without any issues what so ever. As soon as we left NH8 and started on NH6 the roads initially scared the hell out of us. Single lane which was full of trucks and difficult to overtake but this situation was a burden for us only for sometime as later on the roads started getting better and we finally found well constructed 2 lane highways.

Now suddenly after covering good 300 kms in around 6 hours our breaks started increasing, blame it on smokers. Even if we stopped just to check the route the cigarette was lit, Darn it started annoying after a point of time but who can stop a lightening from striking or a group of people looking for stress buster in the name of smoke. We moved on with our ride which was so far very pleasant as roads were in top condition and riding on butter smooth roads is always a bliss. NH6 also turned out to be a nice ride and by now my mind already started thinking will SH5 also be nice. Puneet & I were frequently checking on Google maps after we crossed Navapur followed Gangapur as there is a diversion or a left turn which will finally lead us to SH5.
I am glad we did the right thing by checking on Gmaps which helped us quite a bit in reaching Toranmal there are a few diversions once you leave NH6. It was around 3pm when we were riding on SH5 passing one village after the other and by now the hungry lions just became more hungry to eat and thus started a search for a good hotel. Was it a difficult task finding a good hotel on SH5, No it was n’t as we found a nice Hotel which had an ambiance, look and feel of being a quality restaurant. We washed our faces with nice cold water and started ordering food. Food we ordered included some nice chicken starters and Chicken Biryani. As for veggies, they enjoyed palak and paneer if I recollect correctly. Enjoyed eating quality food and whiling our time in the Hotel for a good hour or so while the bikes also got a breather from the long distance covered so far.

After a nice meal, we continued our ride riding in formation one after the other covering good distance and also getting the usual stares on the roads from villagers who looked at us anxiously. It was around 3:30pm when we finally saw the board for Toranmal for the first time in the entire trip after covering around 400 + kms. Last 50 kms was mainly narrow village roads with lots of bullock carts and usual jeeps full of villagers blocking one side of the road.

The last 30 kms to Toranmal is where the actual fun begins with a beautiful lake view just ahead of Ranipur Village. We stopped here for sometime as it was around 4:30 pm already and we still had some 30 odd kms before we reached Toranmal. The last 25 kms to Toranmal is complete Ghat section narrow roads which goes through jungle on both sides of the roads. It was a completely different experience riding here as there was gravel and loose stones in middle of the road and ghat was not a normal ghat it was more like the riding on high mountain passes in Ladakh minus the cold weather you get there.

The ghat sections had lot of steep climbs and really steep drops and some really twisted hair pins. We stopped in between to enjoy the forest experience, it was so quiet and so peaceful I wished I could have camped there. After clicking some snaps in jungle and enjoying the scenic views we moved on as it was almost dawn. After almost riding in ghat for an hour we stopped for a brief moment at ‘Seven Steps point’ which is at an impressive height of 1143 meters. From here one can actually see the loops which has a series of 7 loops visible from this point.

We moved on and finally reached our destination which was 1400 meters above sea level, Toranmal Hill Station. We checked in Hotel Sheetal which is MTDC Approved, along side is the very beautiful view of Yashwant Lake which is right next to the hotel. We paid Rs.600 for the room which big enough for 6 people to accomodate and sleep well, So it came to Rs.100 per head Not bad at all Next thing we discovered is Toranmal has no cellphone networkand you are completely disconnected from the world. We had to rely on STD to call back home.

Night was spend well gazing at stars and we also enjoyed the best Lunar Eclipse one can watch in the next 7 years. Wish anyone of us had a better zoom lens camera to capture a better view of Lunar eclipse. Food was supplied by the hotel itself, we were served with hot Chicken Handi and roti’s followed by nicely cooked jeera rice. Latter part of the night was spent doing campfire in the hotel area and followed by a walking in forest which was very scary for me at least. I remember challenging Aryan to go to one certain place and come back if had guts and damn the defense navy guy could not go. All Aryan could pull off was scaring the shit out of me on a couple instances by shouting very close to my ears. Alright I admit I got scared as the place looks haunted at night with no one around. Finally with lot of fun we had in reaching to Toranmal clubbed with some nice food and nice friends along we went to sleep at around 1AM.

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