Thoseghar Falls and Chalkewadi Windmill Farms, Satara

It was a damp, darkish Saturday morning last weekend, thanks to heavy cloud cover, but there was no rain. Perfect weather for a drive! An impulsive decision and a quick breakfast later, my family and I were on the road to Satara.

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The change in scenery beyond Satara was sudden and breathtaking. The traffic and dust of the city gave way to clean, crisp air and hills of verdant green, with a thousand windmills dotting the distant hilltops. A hint of rain and a cool, refreshing breeze added to the pleasure of the drive.

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We stopped for tea and freshly prepared vada pav at Thoseghar Village, approximately 20km beyond Satara. We then drove on towards the waterfall after an extended 45-minute break. A small, insignificant board on the side of the road that we almost missed, announced Thoseghar Falls.

We paid to park our car in a small clearing off the road, and doled out another 10 Rs per person as entry charges for viewing the falls.

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Numerous small pathways led to different viewpoints and we followed each one in turn.

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The first viewpoint was a rocky enclosure from where we viewed this small waterfall.

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Further down, a wide platform offered the most stunning view of the largest waterfall. I had expected the falls to have more volume, but it was spectacular, nonetheless. To the right was a waterfall that was almost 500m in height. Another impressive waterfall flowed down directly opposite us.

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To the left, the valley stretched out, green and luxurious, with the windmill farms of Chalkewadi in the misty distance.

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After we were done admiring the falls and photographing them, we drove further on for a closer look at the windmills we’d seen from the observation deck at Thoseghar. Chalkewadi was roughly 4-5km away, the road on both sides embroidered with delicate, white wildflowers.

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The windmills loomed large in front of us quite suddenly, at the top of the hill. Unfortunately, from this point onwards, the road was terribly broken and pot-holed, almost non-existent in places. The setting seemed to have changed rather abruptly too, with a drop in temperature, and dense white mists that offered limited visibility. So, instead of seeing plenty of windmills stretched out in front of us, we came upon the windmills, one by one, as we drove closer toward, and then past them.

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chalkewadi6The topography of this region seemed identical to that of Kas Plateau, and the flowers that dotted them were the same. Zillions of Toothbrush Orchids (Habenaria heyneana) adorned the wet, rocky ground as did bunches of the purple Neanotis. The characteristic upturned bowl shaped Pleocaulus ritchiei (Topli Karvi) spread rampant, far as the eye could see. This plant is known to flower once every seven years, and I, for one, can’t wait to see the elusive purple blossoms!

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Chalkewadi was cold, mysterious and ruggedly beautiful! In a way, this quite made up for not being able to see the windmills in all their sheer numbers. We spent around half-an-hour here, after which we turned back and headed home. It started raining around the same time. The rain only increased in intensity as we left Chalkewadi, drove past Satara and returned to a drenched Pune city.

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