As Ratan Tata once remarked on the occasion of the launch of their people’s car – The Nano . A promise is a promise ! I too am tempted to quote the same . I too had promised that this would make it’s way into “my blog” , if anyone remembers . Well here it is . I’m writing about the most recent adventure that was actually “adventurous” ! . One that I would love to do over and over again .
The summer of 2013 , provided so much action , relief and what not ! It was another chance for me to reunite with my friends and plan for something exorbitant .In the build up to the summer vacations , I was busy in hatching up plans for the vacations . A lot of interesting , exciting destinations crossed my mind and I even had the itinerary for one of them prepared !
But fate would have it , not everyone was in favour of what I had in mind . To name a few of those destinations , The Taj Mahal in Agra was one, so too was the Ranthambore in Rajasthan . Goa was inevitably in the list , the majestic Jog waterfalls in Karnataka was also high up in our/my wish list. A suggestion to visit Dehradun was also made and everyone seemed eager but none of them really materialized .
In the end , however , what did materialize was the beautiful location – The picturesque scenic location that is Lonavala. A small hill station located in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra . A fantastic place to go with or without any company . What was more important for us was that it wasn’t heavy on our pockets !
For any successful adventure , they say , you need proper planning and even better execution . None of that was heeded by us though . The planning was haphazard and frantic and the execution rather comical . We made our way to Lonavala – but that was the easy part – boarding a local train from Pune to Lonavala – just a one-hour journey . The real challenge was to make move once we were out of the lonavala railway station . I remember how every auto-rickshaw/taxi driver seemed a kidnapper and how everyone in the city seemed a rogue and all of a sudden we were stranded . Then we switched to the nomadic mode and after a lot of negotiation and pleading we finally found a driver who was willing to drive us to the most famous places in Lonavala. Our Adventure had begun !
First Destination : Tiger’s Point
The driver asked us to board his old Chevrolet Tavera and I was happy to have bagged the seat next to the driver . Then , out came our phones/cameras as we witnessed some truly breath-taking stills . Some of it was just too good to miss and got away from our electric eyes . Everything else found it’s way in . We were driving up-hill and before we knew it our Tavera was passing right through thick clouds which brought the visibility to sub-zero levels , quite literally . The driver did some pretty impressive blind driving and we all had our fair share of frantic screams . Somehow , we made it to the top of the hills and my word ! it was bewildering , strange yet at the same time aesthetically pleasing . The most unusual thing was that you couldn’t even spot your footwear in the fog and cloud that hovered over the hill top . We however , weren’t going to be bogged down and we ran like mad men not caring for anything including our lives . Finally we reached the edge of the cliff and it was time for some heavy photo-shooting , with me taking care of the lens . I did a pretty good job being the photographer for the trip . It was of course so beautiful that I would involuntarily take out my camera and my trip-mates would start posing for the clicks . It all made for a wonderful time on top of the hills.
Second Destination : Tiger Waterfalls
We then made our way to the nearby Tiger Waterfalls , which was after we had our brunch . We had to conquer a rocky-downward slope . Which was made tougher than ever due to the constant rain and the unrelenting terrain . We were all drenched by the time we reached the falls , where Vaibhav , Shiva and Pawan decided to take the plunge . Akshay joined them too . Myself and Abhilash stayed back owing to lack of spare cloths . It was all going fine and cool when Akshay all of a sudden decided to go downstream and had a comical slip n fall ! That unfortunately set the tone for rest of his trip as he sustained bruises to his legs , which proved a hindrance in walking and we of course had plans to trek . However , we still managed to hang in there for a while and had some beautiful photographs clicked . Some of them , literally underneath the falls .
Third Destination : Khandala Valley
This was a place that I had passed by on numerous occasions when I had travelled by via the Mumbai-Pune expressway . The expressway is in itself a beauty in it’s own rights . It is however this particular stretch of road that cuts right through Khandala that really has everyone mesmerized . I had long hoped for a chance to get down and just take in the beauty of the place . This trip finally let me achieve that . We initially entered a park like constructions from where you could look down the valley . But, our presence did not go well with the original inhabitants of the place .The Macaque’s drove us away , showing a frightening pair of incisors ! We moved a little away from the spot and there was a small shop located on the edge of the valley . The very edge of the valley . We ventured through the side of the shop and finally we had our scenic view at our disposal. It really was beauty and would feel really privileged to be able to make it to that place .While I had look at the place that was covered with greenery and numerous waterfalls of varying proportions , It also gave me chance to introspect . Something that we seldom do , yet something that we must do ever so sincerely. While I was entangled in my own world , the past was just starting to get heavy on me and then I got a wake up call , I slipped a little and beneath I saw vehicles almost blazing on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. I knew I had been lucky again, Phew ! that was a close call .
Fourth Destination : KFC
After being mesmerized by the beauty that surrounded us , we couldn’t be blamed for not bothering about our tummies . But finally we did make the call to go to the nearest KFC . It had been a long time since my last visit to a KFC , and I just couldn’t keep my emotions under check when I realized that KFC was the next destination on our list. I hopped on and all hell broke loose . Needless to say the meal was enjoyable and delicious . We even rested in the KFC for some time , keeping a straw plugged in to a coke bottle and pretending to be drinking it . Finally however , we did decide that there were better things to be done. We made a move for the final and perhaps the most exciting destination of the trip so far .
P.S : We were so busy dealing with the eatables , I don’t think anyone even bothered for a snapshot .
Fifth Destination : The Tiger Hills
Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it ? Well , as it goes , the Tiger Point is located on top of the Tiger hills and that was our first destination , that we managed to reach thanks to a four wheeler . We planned to do pretty much the same , except that this time , the distance would be traversed without the aid of wheels . We passed by the Lonavala lake, had a few snaps taken and we made our way to the bottom of the Tiger Hills . Looking up to the peak , it was indeed a daunting task and perhaps it was just asking too much to conquer the peak. Although we had conquered many peaks in the city of Pune , this one was way beyond any comparisons. None of us even had the idea of climbing it. I for one , thought it was a stupid idea and more so because , I had made the mistake of not bringing any rain coats . I luckily had Shiva’s Umbrella to help me out . But trekking on one of the most wettest of terrains in the Western Ghats in stormy weather was something I’d have never fantasized, but believe it or not . I decided to give it a try !! It was mainly due to Shiva’s persistence in trying to pursue us to make the trek that really made this happen . In the end , it could have gone wrong , and horribly wrong too . But, thankfully everything went according to plan and we went through perhaps the most exciting yet frightening moments of our lives when we made the climb and descend. I remember us making human chains of all strategies while climbing down. All of that culminated in a bringing about a feeling of satisfaction , pleasure and conquest ! The trip had indeed been a huge success. The final destination in the trip was perhaps the icing on the cake , but scaling it definitely wasn’t a piece of cake !
That then , were the highlights of this short, sweet and memorable trip ! It was hopefully the first of many such adventures that we would have the honour to be a part of . An experience of this sort , is destined to go down in the “hall of fame” in your “memory lane” !