The layers upon layers of intimidating mountains’ silhouettes faraway give a brief picture of what is to come. The ghats turn and so you manoeuvre. The markings on the road become your partner for the journey while the tall closely packed trees make the sunlight shimmer before reaching you, thanks to the mountain winds. You honk at every blind turn hoping a honk back, but the valleys and the mountains, the streams and the winds, the villages and their folks are for you and you only today. It’s a painting, of sorts, just empowering you this time to step in and feel it all and live it all.
A turn you take and the altitude increases. The breeze becomes colder and much more fresh, something our HiTech cities are unaware of. The valley below is lush green and steep and the scene, beyond capture. Small waterfalls leak out from the hills here and there and find their ways down the slope. You stop for sometime, to capture it for lifetime. You inhale the awesomeness and exhale the randomness. Things and thoughts go calm, and quiet. Such weightlessness upon emptying the thoughts!
You twist the key and the bike roars back to life. From hereon, the journey is down the hill and into the valley which seemed vast and large, and foreign from above. You see a lake, and the waterfalls seen above come to mind. A natural order and logic, maybe? A reflection you see of the gigantic proportions and Nature wins once again in making you transfixed. A small bridge comes, and then a small broken road; leading into a village in the heart of these hills.
A small stream flows somewhere on the outskirts of a village. You sit down there for a well needed break for the bike and the butt. The sun is doing its best that it can in this area. The women are engrossed in the chores – washing clothes and the utensils. Some carry the water back to their homes. A party of men in their lungis, carrying poles and bait heads a little far to catch some fish and make some living. You wave at them and they wave back. Surprisingly enough, they are not walking with their heads immersed in a 5.5″ screen. Neither do they reply with an emoticon to your smile!
You stand at the entrance to a village and hear the honking of a goods carrier and make way. Only when it passes by cramped with people and their odors do you realize otherwise. The driver waves at you and the passengers manage a faint smile, leaving with you a hint of what the village holds for you. Little children, boys and girls dressed in uniforms are returning from their schools yapping about themselves with the same energy the ending of school charged you with at one time. Little further, a couple, with the husband in traditional white and the lady in saree are probably walking to the next town to meet their daughter. Their huts and narrow roads come across next and you wonder what all tales do these alleys know to recite. One village ends and an intersection later, another begins.
You head out for the next human inhabited land but greet some barren lands first. Riding becomes tougher as the stones roll down while you ride these stretches up. You go down on a knee at times to manoeuvre through these curvaceous corners. The altitude increases again and the wind begins to chill. “A Tent! A Tent! A Tent!”, you exclaim on sighting 2 tents in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Curiosity gets the better of you and “Hello! Who lives here?”, you begin to inquire. Turns out these are camps for a few labors who are working on setting up electric poles on this stretch. “Woah, and we say we have problems in our lives!”, you laugh the thought out.
You give your salutes and leave for further surprises these mountains hold for you. Another village appears! You’re hungry, alone and away from the familiar eateries; and the panoramic views cannot be consumed to quell the hunger, you realize. A villager family is hence requested and you relish the freshly cooked rice and besan curry at the mercy of them. Hail these villagers’ hospitality!
You ride further with a happy stomach and soul. But not everybody’s tummy is doing so good today. Weather is constipated: frequent growls and roaring from the clouds, and intermittent bright sunlight is enough of an evidence. You reach the Nane ghat and have a good look at the valley below. It takes 3 hours for hikers to climb down from here, but only 30 seconds for students eager to learn about the gravitational pull. There is only one complaint you can think of, if at all: 10 seconds are not enough as timer to press the click button on your camera, and run towards your bike and pose with a smile! Weather cannot hold any longer and lo, begins the downpour. “Hey calm down, let me find a shelter!”, you want to scream to the hailstorm striking you left and right, and front and back. You find a roof finally, but not before your insides are frozen.
And then you wait. And wait some more, for the weather to dump it all.
When the rainfall stops and the roaring faints out, you peek out. Everything seems to have changed in the 2 hours: the earth smells great, the greens are much more radiant, the sky is clearer, and your bike has taken a good bath. What a way Nature chose to bid adieu to you!, you ponder while riding back through the freshly washed roads back to the comforts of your home you are used to.
And such is a day in the Ghats & villages of Sahyadris.
I undertook this trip last year. It was a 2,000 kms solo bike ride from Hyderabad to Nashik and Trimbakeshwar, and then to Jawhar, Malshej ghat and Ghatghar through the villages located in the Sahyadris. You can read more travelogues from this ride here and do let me know your views on the travelogue in comments. 🙂
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