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Posts Tagged ‘Maharashtra’

Pristine Wilderness – Dajipur

November 30, 2009 3 comments

Dajipur, Maharashtra. We went there a long time ago. But the magic of the visit remains etched in our minds. As usual, my wife stumbled across it while scouring the web for a suitable weekend getaway. Dajipur was off the beaten track, looked interesting and fit our meager budget.
So we caught the Konkan Kanya Express from Thane and got off at Kankavli in an early morning drizzle, took an auto rickshaw to the bus stand, boarded the Radhanagari bus and got off at Dajipur.
No traffic, no cacophonous tourists, no abominable billboards, no nothing – a departing bus, two bewildered travelers, couple of shops yet to open, a tiny black-white sign board confirming our destination, chill air and a small asphalt road leading into the swirling morning mist – that was how we arrived. And we liked it, immensely. A short walk down the road, over a culvert across a clear stream, hemmed in by tall bushes, here and there a few houses and we reached the Bison Jungle Resort.

We were the only guests. This was off season. Our accommodation was a thatched roof hut with a veranda, a drawing room and a bedroom. We were in the lap of rustic luxury. After washing up we took breakfast – Poha, if I remember correctly, and chatted with the caretaker and cook. A piebald dog, we nicknamed him Dajipur Sultan – the emperor of Dajipur, befriended us. A compulsive tail wagger, he accompanied us on our trudge into the jungle. Jeep safaris were not available during monsoon. The Indian Wild Bison, the majestic Gaur hid itself deep inside forest and did not venture out. Other distinguished wildlife of Dajipur also failed to make an appearance. But we did not mind. Together, me, my wife and Sultan, we went out on long jungle treks along a mud track.

The incessant hum of cicadas broke the pervasive silence. The forest, arching gloomily over the path held us in a tunnel of murky twilight. Strange jungle sounds sent an electric shiver down the spine and we paused with our hearts pounding at the slightest rustle. At times Sultan would run ahead and stop with its ears cocked which instantly halted us in suspense till he ran back.

 

 

A million shades of scintillating emerald green burst out where the sun filtered through the leaves. Ribbons of frothy white cascades gushed down slopes and traversed across the track. When we returned to the warmth of the resort, benevolent serenity settled on us. It rained during the night and we sat on the veranda and watched rain drops gather over the eaves and plop into tiny gravel pools.

 

 

One day we visited Amboli, a remote, provincial hill station on the Sahyadris. The bus from Sawantwadi wound up a steep narrow road for two hours before depositing us at the nondescript bus stop. The owner of the restaurant where we stopped for lunch guided us on places to visit and arranged an auto rickshaw to take us around the multitude of splendid waterfalls and the Hiranyakeshi Shiva temple.

The temple and surroundings radiated an eerie splendor amplified by the rain, dripping leaves and shifting sun light. The river Krishna which emerged out of a pellucid crystal pool beside a cave inside the temple complex mesmerized me. It as one of those rare occasions when I felt a spiritual transcendence wash over.

We also visited Radhanagari Dam and Malwan. The dam had manicured gardens and turned out to be a favourite picnic spot of the locals.

We arrived at Malwan hoping to visit the Sindhudurg Fort, erected on a rocky island in the Arabian Sea by Shivaji. The pier was deserted and due to rough seas fishing boats were not available to take us to the fort. We wandered about the narrow streets of the town for a while and turned back. It was dark by the time we reached Phonda. No bus for Radhanagari was available. Finally we managed to get an auto rickshaw to Dajipur. Phonda Ghats are notorious for armed robbers. The rickshaw headlights cast a faint elliptical firefly glow on the road as we climbed the dark, looming Ghats. The sight of flickering kerosene lamps at the road side shops as we reached Dajipur brought us great relief.

Taking leave of Dajipur was painful. Particularly harrowing was bidding farewell to Dajipur Sultan. But the dog, sensing that we are leaving kept its distance. On the return journey, we kept mulling over the experience. It had elements of everything, romance, adventure, suspense, beauty and spirituality. Even though it is many years since we made that visit, it has been one of my fondest journeys. Needless to say, we never missed the Wild Bison, which was the raison d’etre of the Bison Jungle resort. I hope Dajipur has been able to retain its tranquility and peace from the gathering storm of touristy kitsch.

 

Bison Jungle Resort
Tel: 02321-274024-25
www.bisonjungleresort.com

Reservations
Bison Jungle Resort, 103, KB Lal Industrial Estate,
Linking Rd Extension, Santacruz(W),
Mumbai-400054
022-26174932, 26174933

Photo courtesy: Subha Varma

Categories: Totternama

Constructive Names, Destructive Ambitions

November 10, 2009 Leave a comment

MNS is in the news again, and no marks for guessing, it is for the wrong reasons; this time for assaulting a minister for taking oath in Hindi (instead of Marathi) during the swearing in ceremony. Bereft of constructive principles or ideology, the party has consistently resorted to shock politics, taking perverted pleasure, like a street corner stripper, at their capacity to offend and intimidate. They have gone about vandalizing shops selling Valentine’s day cards, forcing abject apologies out of movie directors and beating up immigrants to vindicate their phenomenal Marathi jingoistic fixation.

The existing structures need to be pulled down before reconstruction. Seen in that light, MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) antics are fully justified. Before they can undertake reconstruction, i.e. navnirman of Maharashtra, the existing secular, democratic structures have to be destroyed. MNS succeeded in securing 13 seats during recent elections to the Maharashtra assembly. Their burgeoning support base indicates a widening popular support to their barbaric vision.

The extent of harm destructive ideologies if allowed unchecked can impart to the social fabric of the country is recognized by everyone. Even though yesterday’s outrage by MNS have been condemned by political parties across the country, the approach of the ruling party of Maharashtra have been conciliatory. There are times when spoilt brats are indulged with. But they are restrained before they go overboard, for their own good. MNS need to be similarly tethered before the self destructive political road map they have adopted brings harm to them as well as innocent bystanders.

Read related article in The Hindu here: Link

Categories: Musings

Serendipitious delights

October 27, 2009 3 comments

Sometimes the best things in life are discovered entirely by chance. Like yesterday night when we came across this tiny shack near the rear exit of Anzal Plaza in Sector-22, Gurgaon. All of us were in a mood for a quick bite and that was probably why “Vada Pav” caught my eye so quickly. “Vada Pav“, a native of Maharashtra is a rare sight in Gurgaon. So, it was pure ecstasy to find it tucked away in this remote corner of the universe.

We were delirious with anticipation as we approached and immediately spotted the Vada‘s from far away. We rubbed our eyes and pinched each other to make sure this was no mirage. The Vada’s were definitely there for the taking, but Pav, nope, Pav was exhausted. We were heart broken but decided to try the Vada anyway. Soon, steel plates with Vada’s swimming in coconut chutney and red chilly paste were passed around. My god, amazing Vada‘s, authentic Mumbai flavour mouth watering Vada. We nearly exhausted the restaurant’s Vada inventory. My friend in the meantime couldn’t resist a chicken soup which he later claimed to have tasted a bit like Sambar! There were many more alluring items on the menu like chicken lolly pops, varieties of soups and momos. The food was warm and hygienic. The setting was informal; sweet chill of incipient winter was in the air, and steaming Vada‘s melted in our mouth.

The owner was thin, dark and pleasant faced. He was a Shetty from Mangalore. He asked if we were Malayalee’s and as we nodded in a semi trance induced by Vada, he told his story. He had come to Gurgaon, 11 years ago and had never returned to his native town. He could understand Malayalam, but could hardly speak the language, though he had many friends from Kerala. The shack primarily catered to students from nearby colleges and he was doing brisk business. We could see that. Even at this late hour there were a group of students chatting away at a corner over tea and momos. He had plans to expand the set up to cope up with the demand. He was particularly attentive to us. Compared to his, our lives were easy. Yet, he was optimistic and cheerful at the end of the day. Probably he has to wake up at 4 AM and start over.

Our nocturnal adventure was coming to an end. This was another instance of chance triumphing over well laid plans, reinforcing my belief in serendipity. I vowed to be more open to chance and its unexpected delights as we drove away.

Where to find Ashva’s Fast Food

It’s on the lane next to Anzal’s Plaza in Sector – 22, Gurgaon. Shetty can be reached at 9718559669.

Categories: Gastronomique

Bombay, Oops, Mumbai Masala…

October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

On 3rd October, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief demonstrated the extent of his magnanimity to the world. He absolved the remorseful Karan Johar, of committing the heinous crime of calling “Mumbai”, “Bombay” in his recently released movie, “Wake Up, Sid”.

The act evidenced to all that despite his belligerent and acrimonious exterior, Mr. Raj Thackeray harboured a mellow heart, ever overwhelmed at the slightest hint of repentance. Kudos to Karan too, for as soon as the spiritual and financial implications of his transgression dawned on him, he rushed to Mr.Thackeray to register abject apologies.

It was a historical triumph for Ahimsa, for non violence, a day after the nation celebrated Gandhi Jayanti. Till yesterday, MNS ruthlessly attached job seekers from Bihar, wrecked shops selling Valentine day cards and broke a few limbs here and there to get their message across. Little did we realize that it was all in the noble cause of preserving our spiritual heritage and to deliver us from the anglicized demons that prostituted our sacred names? MNS, by subscribing to detachment, the overarching Indian philosophical mantra, had consistently dissociated itself from such trivial preoccupations like farmer suicides and drought.  They humbly aspired that Maharashtra, especially Mumbai (!!), remained exclusively for Marathi Manoos and that no one ever dared to utter the word, Bombay.   Thus, the MNS chief, by dismissing the misconduct with and indulgent reprimand, underscored the commitment of MNS to rebuild Maharashtra, as an egalitarian, vibrant and tolerant, Ramarajya.   

So, “Wake Up, World”, refrain from the obvious conclusions. This is not an instance of a political hooligan extracting his pound of flesh from a gutless film maker. Look beyond. Endeavour to understand the cosmic significance of the encounter. And if you cannot get that into you, we know how to shove Mumbai down your throat.

Categories: Musings