24-Sep-2004 -- This is the 21st out of 29 confluence visits on our tour from Germany to China, the story continues from 17N 74E.
On the thirty-third day of our tour we started at 8:00a.m. in Karad and successfully visited CP 17N 74E. At noon we traveled through the city of Kolhapur. From there we went 45 km further south on National Road No. 4 and then turned onto a country road towards Uttur, Ajra and Amboli. All three of these places turned out to be very tiny. The road was narrow with only one and a half lanes and dangerous potholes. The 50 km from the main road to the confluence are all through dense jungle with hardly any population. The road is winding as one would expect in the mountain range of the Western Ghats. After crossing the river Harankeshi, we followed the river one more kilometre on the same road and then, at a distance of about 3 km, we found a sealed turnoff heading to the confluence. But the smooth travel soon found its end: the road curved away and then ended in a village. We turned around and parked our car at the minimum distance of 2.3 km. It was already 4 p.m., with only two hours of daylight remaining. One hour was already reserved for driving down the winding roads of the Ghats. This gave us one hour for the confluence visit.
Realistically we couldn't do that by walking (because we would need more than one hour for a 5 km cross-country hike). Thus, we decided that Guang would stay in the car, while I run to the point and back. I put on my running shoes and promised to be back one hour later at the latest.
First, I had to run upwards but this was good, because it meant that the way back would be much easier. But the area was densely overgrown with bushes, leaving only here and there enough space to get through. It was like finding the way through a labyrinth. Sometimes I could follow footpaths for a while; sometimes I had to find my way through hedges. And always I had to keep in mind the time limit. At a distance of 800 m I reached the top of the mountain, from then on I had to climb down. Again, I had to run back and forth due to dead ends, water or mud.
With only 335 m remaining I was happy and still in time, when suddenly the approach ended abrupt at a vertical decline. I went from feeling confident of a successful visit to an unhappy certainty of not being able to. I still didn't want to believe that and tried to go beyond the edge I was standing on by squeezing me through the bushes. But after 3 m I had to give up. Desperately I ran through the mud along the edge trying a walk-around on both sides. But there was no way down. On the top of everything it started raining. It is tough to turn away from a confluence if you are only 300 m away! But I had to return now; otherwise I would have had a lot of upcoming trouble.
The way back turned out to be very difficult. Only with the help of GPS and trying to back-track the way I came, enabled me to get back to the car (with only being 8 min late). We just made it down the Western Ghats before complete darkness and then we reached the beaches of Goa near Panaji in the evening.
Now, Guang's vacation was over and she had to fly back to Germany. I had another three weeks to continue the trip. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter China with our private car, so we had to leave it behind. We were carrying a 'Carnet de Passages' (a customs document) that stipulated we were not allowed to sell our car in India or we would forfeit a large deposit. We had to surrender our car at the Customs House in Goa. Picture #4 shows the last picture of our car, which did a good job for 12,000 km from Germany to India. We were a little sad, having to leave it behind.
Just a note for those intending to visit the CP: It looks like one has to come from the valley side. Try to find a turnoff from the road further west (may be 5 km west of the Harankeshi bridge. Coming from the lower lands will at least avoid the vertical grade.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 16:30 a.m.
- Duration: 2h (until we were back on our route)
- Distance of car parking: 2300 m
- GPS height: ca. 700 m, may be a lot less.
- Description: In the Western Ghats in dense jungle. Probably at a steep grade.
- Given Name: The Sudden Scarp Confluence
Story continues at 27N 109E.