Love at first sight is experienced by many travelers but how many times have you fallen in love with a place each time you visit it? This is such a once-in-a-lifetime discovery that’ll stay etched in your memories once you visit it. It’s really a secret hideout, far from urban life, deep in a valley within a forest reserve, with no signboards or even a trace of it’s existence. All this under 4 hours drive from Mumbai or Pune!
I heard about this place from a friend and decided to go there on the following weekend. It was the end of monsoons so the landscape was lush green with light showers every other day. The place was hard to find, even with Google Maps and locals, who hadn’t heard about the place. Limited mobile connectivity meant that we couldn’t call the center. 30 mins of driving around the area and I finally found the narrow road leading to this gorgeous place.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect but was mighty surprised to see a well built, well maintained facility with 4 cottages, 3 tents and a dorm for larger groups. What was even more surprising, was that my friend and I were the only 2 people booked for that weekend so we literally had the whole place to ourselves. Cottages are large with a double bed and enough space for 5 adults to sleep on the floor. Tents are well equipped, with an in-built washroom and a double bed. A central lawn and surrounding mountains add to the glorious views.
The place is owned by the forest department and run & maintained by a local family. The caretaker walked in a few minutes after we arrived and immediately took us to his favorite spot for a mini pre-lunch picnic. A natural pond created with a small stream flowing down to the river. Next 2 hours were spent in the pond with beers and eggs baked in soil – BEAT THAT!
After what I called ‘the best lunch of 2017’ with chicken and crab (caught locally) curry, we went for a quick hike down to the river. Crystal clear water flowing through a small gorge was a sight straight out of those nature shows on TV.
We spent all evening trying to soak in the experiences of the day while it continued to pour down heavily. The sound of heavy rainfall in the middle of a forest with no one around was so mesmerizing, that we just lay on the benches outside the cottage staring at the darkness. Next morning, we had planned a hike to the base of a waterfall which was about 2 hours away.
A completely unexplored (duh!) route took us the base of the waterfall. We crossed rivers, walked through acres of pastures and climbed up dense forest trails. It was hard but the whole experience of finding a dreamland so close from home, made it easy.
I managed to keep this place a secret for almost a year. Reason is quite simple – there are more tourists than travelers in India. These tourists can trash and ruin a place so quickly that any effort post that will take decades to fix it. So I’ve decided to just share this experience but not make the location and other details public. I hope you understand why…