Monday, 3 October 2016

Off-Road Frenzy | Tav

On our way to Tav

Ride type: Off-Road

Ride difficulty: Hard

Distance from Pune: 56km

If you are an off-road junkie, then you are in for a real treat. Water, mud, rough terrain, and of course near Pune. A pleasant ride to the village Tav during summer and winter becomes an absolute off-roading frenzy in the monsoon.
Situated on the banks of Mutha river (Varasgaon dam backwaters), Tav is a very small and remote village about 56km from Pune. The place is pristine and a pure bliss. It seems very hard to believe that such a place exists so close to Pune.


The directions to Tav are quite easy. Travel on Sinhagad Road towards Sinhagad fort. At the Donje gaon fork (Locally known as Donje Phata), take the right fork that heads towards Panshet. After travelling for about 18km, you will reach Panshet Village. Take a left turn after about 2km from the Panshet Village. The left turn is quite prominent and hard to miss. The people in Panshet are very helpful and will be very glad to guide you towards Tav in case of any confusion. After making the left turn, travel for about 1km and you will reach a Y-fork with a statue in between (The statue of Veer Baji Pasalkar). Take the right fork and continue travelling on the same road for about 19km to reach Tav village.


The plan was to ride to Tav, explore the area and do a small trek if possible. We geared up, started our bikes and left from Rajaram Bridge at 5am. There were only two of us and we had a TVS Apache 160 and my Bajaj Pulsar 220. The weather was chilly and the roads were wet. However it was not raining. We rode through the lonely Sinhagad Road, lit by the street lights. We could see a few early morning joggers on the streets, jogging to the music playing in their earphones. 

The way to Tav

The road till Donje gaon fork is quite familiar to us. So we reached there speedily. But we slowed down after that, as the roads were bad. We reached Panshet at around 6.30am and took a break there for breakfast and to admire the beautiful sunrise. Since it was very early in the morning, all the shops were closed, except for a small snacks centre. So, we decided to have our breakfast there. We had idli sambar and a cup of tea. The idli sambar was steaming hot and freshly prepared. Since it was cold, the steaming idli sambar felt very good. The tea made us totally content.

Continuing our ride, we took the left turn from the Pune-Panshet Road onto the road to Tav and reached the Veer Baji Pasalkar statue. At this point, we had no idea how bad or good the roads were going to be. We just knew that the roads were bad. And since it was monsoon, there had to be mud everywhere. We took the right fork and the road seemed moderate at first. Gravel, small puddles and some slippery mud. Nothing we couldn’t deal with. But this was just the beginning. As we went deep, things got worse. Puddles turned into lengths of muddy water and the road turned into a slippery muddy track. No sign of paved road anywhere. 

The route to Tav

There are no fuel stations, tyre repair shops, hotels or any other shops once you have taken the left from Pune-Panshet road towards Tav. There is no cell phone reception either once you take the right from the statue. There is good cell phone reception till Panshet though. The last fuel station on this route is at Donje gaon fork.

Riding here is a total adventure. The road runs alongside the backwaters of Varasgaon Dam (Mutha River). To the right side of the road is the water and to the left side are the mountains. Since our bikes are not specifically made for travelling in such off-road conditions, we were having a hard time maintaining our speed. We fell off our bike a couple of times. But hey, that’s adventure right? Getting up after falling and overcoming the obstacle.

The Off-road

After about 19km and 2 hours, we reached Tav, covered in mud and drenching in water. Good thing our bags were waterproof. The village has a very few houses and the houses were mostly built of bamboo with thatched roofs. The people in Tav were very amused to see us. They were not used to see anyone come over there, we guessed. We cleaned ourselves and the people in Tav were kind enough to provide us with water to drink. We also ate some food which we had carried along with us. We were actually surprised at the beauty and the serenity of the place. Lots and lots of trees, small huts along the water, calm, quiet peaceful lifestyle. Electricity has hardly reached Tav and there is no mode of public transport there.

We spent some time talking to the people in Tav as they were very curious to find out, why we had come there. An old lady invited us to her home to have some tea. She served us goat milk tea with great affection. It tastes quite different than the one we are used to having. It was very sweet and also had a nice smokey flavour as it was made on a firewood hearth (chulha).

Varasgaon Backwaters

We explored the area on foot. The life over there is very different from the one we lead in cities. There is no hustle and bustle and no worry as in the city life. People here cultivate their lands and are self-content. At the end of the village is a huge private property. Since we were exhausted, we turned back from there.

Our bikes were totally covered in mud. There was a lot of mud trapped between the front wheel and the mud-guard which resisted the rotation of the wheel. We cleaned all of that. We inspected the chain, sprocket and the tyres. Fortunately everything was intact. We decided to rest for some time as we had to leave soon.

Muddy bikes

We left from Tav at around 10am. We were enjoying the off-road very much. It was getting quite warm and the muddy route was starting to dry up which created favourable riding conditions for us. And within no time, we were at Panshet village. The people in Panshet were giving us strange looks as were covered up in mud. But they had no idea where we had been! We reached home by 12pm.

Mud everywhere

The ride concluded to be a fantastic and an educating ride. This ride tested us and our bikes to the limits. It is highly recommended that that you at least carry a tyre puncture repair kit, some water and food with you for such rides. If you have a smartphone, save the route you are travelling to, to offline maps. Also make it a point to do an in-depth research about the place you will be travelling to. This will help a lot in case of emergencies.

While people who love going off-road will like this place very much, people who don’t like off-roading much might not like the obstacles this place throws at you. But if you are up for it, do visit this place and I wager that you will enjoy it. 

Ride safe! Cheers!

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