Drive thru Old Mumbai-Pune highway

This was one of the weekends we had no treks or birding excursions planned, however we had to go to Thane. We had time on our hand so the thought of Old Mumbai-Pune highway came to mind. I decided to carry my camera as well hoping to capture some landscape views along the way. We also planned to leave 7:00 AM in-order to avoid traffic as it was a weekend.

An hour’s drive and we crossed Lonavala. Fortunately the traffic was relatively less and passed the town without getting stuck in traffic. Soon we reach the Tiger point at Khandala where we decided to take a break. We parked our vehicle at an open parking space just next to the Tiger valley resort. The climate was overcast but luckily it wasn’t raining. Just next to the Tiger valley resort, there is the Rajmachi Udhyan which is worth visiting early mornings when there is no crowd. Just as I entered the garden, I quickly spotted Oriental Magpie Robins, Indian Blackbirds, Bulbuls, Common tailor birds and also the Common Iora. Unfortunately light wasn’t great and I had to capture the birds at a high ISO.

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The garden also offers spectacular views of the valley as well as the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. I decided to change my lens from the 55-250 mm lens to an 18-55 mm wide-angle lens to capture landscape views, and just as I changed the lens… a beautiful bird with a red neck flow on a near tree, jumped around for few seconds and disappeared into the bushes! I somehow managed clicks with the wide-angle lens but I so much wished I had the 250 mm on that time!.. Sigh! Just one of those moments.. and yes, its was Vigor’s Sunbird which is a sub-species of the Crimson Sunbird.

After spending a good 20 minutes at the garden, we walked down the road from the parking area which again offers some good landscape views. After clicking few more pics we resumed our journey. Note that from this point, if you keep driving you join the new expressway. However just before joining there is another road on left which is the old highway. We took that road and for sure it was really green and beautiful. Again driving a little further, one needs to take a small cut to go Khopoli as if you again keep driving, you join the expressway. I wonder why they have completely ignored the old highway as the roads are pretty good to cruise at 80 Kmph comfortably.

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The drive from Khandala to Khopoli is a dream come true for anyone who loves to drive through ghats. The roads are smooth and views are beautiful. We also heard different bird calls but it was raining pretty heavily so we continued our journey. We drove all along the old highway until we joined the expressway just before it ends via the Panvel bypass road. Have to say that I loved driving on old highway much better than the new expressway, basically because of 2 reasons.

1. The drive is more close to nature and the views are beautiful

2. The traffic is less on the old Mumbai Pune highway

I also managed to get a good pic of the Indian Rock Pigeon perching on a tree at Thane. The Indian Rock Pigeon is so common that its pretty difficult to find it on a tree. You see them either on the buildings, on the ground or on wires.

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We had already decided to return via the same route. We got some beautiful views of some waterfalls while returning at Khandala and yes, the melodious Malabar Whistling Thrush. Seems like this one is following us since our Lohagad Trek.

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So what was supposedly just a trip to Thane, eventually turned up in a good drive through the nature.

Drive Safe

– Rudraksha

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