Sunday, December 31, 2017


Breath-taking views of the green valleys, sparkling waters, flying seagulls, clear skies with beautiful clouds, good food, great people and comfort. What else could one ask for!
Such was the amazing last week that greeted me and my parents with warmth and cold alike. Sunlight’s warmth and the mountain breeze made the experience a beautiful one for us.

A day’s visit to Alibaug via ferry from the Gateway of India created a perfect teaser of the journey to come. The wait in the long queue at the ticket counter, the bumpy bus ride and the wait in the scorching heat was worth the experience. The ferry ride over the not so calm waters with seagulls flying past the main deck seemed out of the world. It was a calming experience altogether. Alibaug seems to be a “Beach house” as it houses numerous beaches and the famous Murud Janjira Fort surrounded by water on all the sides. However, the paucity of time led us to Varsoli Beach which had water sport enthusiasts on one end and families and friend groups occupying the rest. Taking a ride in the horse carriage with the horses breaking into a gallop as soon as their feet touched the water added to the beauty of the moment. Though the beach was not a sandy one where the sand slipping beneath feet feels surreal, a casual walk along the coast with slippers in one hand felt nice. 

The ride back to Mumbai in a ferry with the sun setting in the backdrop marked a perfect end to a perfect day

What followed the next day were long hours of drive along the highways and by-lanes of hamlets to reach “the Queen of all Hill Stations” - Mahabaleshwar. A homely resort with courteous staff welcomed us in Panchgani which was to be our home for the following three days. Time flew by in unpacking and with food of course! 

The evening was spent in a boat ride along with a friendly family and a good natured helmsman in Venna Lake. The cool breeze got us put our sweaters on and the coldness of water added to the chill. However, nothing could dampen our spirits. With cameras on in selfie mode, big smiles on our faces and a green backdrop, we tried to capture each and every moment we could. Mapro Farm was our next stop where we were awestruck with the number of strawberry products present and the strawberry farm. We tried varied flavours of crushes while my mother was busy selecting the stuff she could take back 
home.That marked the end of Day 1 for us.

The next day was to be devoted to Mahabaleshwar sightseeing.  The journey started off from Kate’s Point with Echo Point and Elephant Point adjacent to the same. The place gave a beautiful view of the valleys below which shone in the bright sunlight. The packs of monkeys creating a chaos was unbelievable. Though they only approached the tourists for food, particularly “chanas” and snatched away a water bottle or two from the unsuspecting tourists, the monkeys kept to themselves in complete harmony.

Arthur’s Seat awaited us a few kilometres away. It appeared like a natural balcony to the mighty mountains. However, the walk to the point involved climbing up and down a long flight of stairs that passed through the Tiger Spring, Hunting Point, Malcum Point and Echo Point. We braced ourselves for the long walk with juicy carrots from the hawkers. We made a brief stop at the Marjori Point and drove by the Savitri Point, Castle Rock Point and Monkey Point on our way back. 

The next pause was to be at the Elphinston Point. The Point provided a mesmerizing view of two valleys: Koyna Valley and Savitri Valley.  I could see high mountains as far as my eyes could take me. The skies were the perfect shade of blue with the clouds of different shapes and sizes spread across till what appeared to be the horizon. The depth of the valleys, the height of the mountains and the faraway skies made it a great picturesque location. We had masala corn at the point and left for our resort post a savoury fruit snack.

 The journey would not have been deemed complete without a visit to a strawberry garden. The garden had a main garden where the plantation is done and a smaller section with cardboard racks set on the iron pillars where the saplings were transferred from the main garden. The iron pillars were actually a part of drip-irrigation system and had small sprinklers at the bottom to water the plants growing underneath the shelves. The efficient systems complete with checks to conserve water was commendable. The last visit for the day was Lingamala Falls where we took the shorter route to the smaller falls which I’m sure will become incredibly huge during the monsoons. We sat on the rocks and soaked in the bubbling voice of the spring before proceeding to the final destination for the day, that is, the resort.
 The next was to be spent in the valleys of Panchgani. However, the journey took a toll on our health and we spent the day indoors taking rest and well, ORS too! The day turned out to be an unforgettable one as it showed us the human goodness that touched our hearts. In the difficult terrain when we were writhing in pain, the owner of a local pharmacy delivered the medicines to us after making numerous calls with queries regarding the address or apologies for the delay. But he got to us well in time and helped us as we were tourists in the part of the country he calls home. I don’t know his name but I just want to say that I’m really thankful to you and equally touched by the gesture.(Hope you are reading this post; Fingers crossed)

We ended our stay in Panchgani on a positive note with gratitude in our hearts under the blissful skies.

The onward journey to Shirdi was strenuous beyond our expectations and we were troubled by a tout who took us places with promise of a comfortable accommodation and a guidance for the darshan to the famous temple. It was with great difficulty we got rid of him after giving in a bit to his whims and fancies. But a good hotel and the Darshan of “Sai Baba” and a good night’s sleep made us forget all about the horrid experience we had initially and charged us with the strength to complete the journey back to Mumbai.

We took a detour to visit “Trimbakeshwar Temple” but stood no chance to even reach the temple gates amidst the jostling crowds before a good three to four hours. After struggling for an hour or so, we resumed with our remaining six hour long journey to Mumbai where we breathed in peace after spending the day standing in long queues or sitting in the car during the drive occasionally searching for a clean washroom or a restaurant on the way.

On the whole, the entire trip was a good blend of walking down the nature’s trail and relaxation. It provided us with tranquillity and the human touch etched an everlasting memory in our minds and hope in our hearts. Though we couldn’t capture each and every moment on celluloid, the imprint of this journey is to last forever.

P.S. The Picture Credits for this post goes to my itchy fingers.

If you have similar stories to share, just put your itchy fingers on keyboard and share your wonderful memories in the Comments Section.


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