To read this travelogue on the Club Mahindra blog site, click here: CLAY
Our impromptu weekend road trip began with five friends, a full tank and ‘where do we go’. Not wanting to go for the usual, we chose the unusually named Wai. I do admit we had no idea what awaited us. Only when we started approaching it did we begin to have some faith in our choice, what with the unending landscapes, towering mountains, fresh breeze and lack of crowd we noticed around. A pleasant surprise for a bunch of people wanting to get away from the hustle-bustle of city life.
Mini breaks en route, dhabba binging and chatting with the locals kept the drive interesting. A word of advice; if you’re visiting a place for the first time, reach during daylight and book in advance. We made a mistake by doing neither. Reached at 8 pm so couldn’t see much and didn’t book assuming getting a room would be easy. The two resorts we came across were booked, that too in the sweltering month of May. Luckily, the owner of Anandvan Resort, probably feeling sorry for a bunch of tired and hungry youngsters, handed over the last two rooms available; connecting rooms with bunk beds! Took me back to my hostel days. The rooms were simple, clean, comfortable and dinner, unexpectedly delectable. Spicy chicken curry, thin and hot chappatis, dal, rice, Maharashtrian style vegetables, fried papads, raita and chaas. All we wanted after that was a good nights sleep.
For the first time in months I woke up at 6 am. Not with the shrill sound of an alarm clock, but as promised by our waiter, to the soothing sound of twittering birds. That’s when I got a good glimpse of Wai. Our resort overlooked a big lake nearby, mountains in the background and green valleys. Located in the heart of nature, here, you can either enjoy the peace and tranquility or experience the various activities on offer – trekking, boating and exploring the surrounding villages. It wasn’t long before the rest joined me and the day was chalked out over cups of steaming hot kadak chai. “If you love exploring nature, this is the perfect place for you”, we were told. Well, more than happy to explore, we set off.
Narrow winding roads through the ghats led us downhill, to Boat Club near the lake. Our jaws dropped at the picturesque beauty in front of us. Picture this; clear blue skies and still waters as far as your eyes can see, surrounded by towering mountains on all three sides. No words or picture can do justice. You have to see it to believe that somewhere in the remote villages of Satara is a place like this. Swans strolled by, oblivious to any human presence. The area turns into a campsite at night with tents, barbeque and bonfires organized by the owners of Anandvan.
Even though the sun was beating down on us, we thoroughly enjoyed a leisure boat ride. The water baby that I am, my desire to jump in for a swim was cautioned by the boatman with a “Madame mat!! Hame pata nahi kaunse jeev hain paani mein par kuch bhi ho sakta hai. Aap please idhar nahi, swimming pool mein swim kariye.” My embarrassment at the chiding was pretty evident, much to my friends’ amusement.
Once back on land, a couple of huts at a distance caught our eye and curiosity got the better of us. As we got closer to the piles and piles of dried fish and houses made of blue plastic raised and held with the help of sticks and stones, a little girl approached us apprehensively. A family of seven lived here along the banks of the lake: a couple with their five kids. They caught and dried fish and then walked miles to sell them in the village. What did they eat? Fish of course.
Initially shy, the little girl and her siblings took to us after seeing our cameras. Rajesh, all of eleven, enthusiastically gave me a guided tour of the patch of land they lived on. The pride on his face as he told me the entire patch was theirs and they could do what they pleased with no one to bother them was priceless. It was heartening to see how content this family was with whatever little they had. What I wouldn’t give to have a home in a location like this.
After a round of chai made by their mother, we set off to what we were really looking for; Dhom dam in the quaint village of Jor. Fifteen minutes of driving and we were there, being gawked at by the inhabitants of Jor. I guess not many 'city people' visit the village so the sight of a car going through their narrow lanes seemed some what surprising to them. Nevertheless, they were extremely sweet and simple people, eager to help and guide us to the dam. We came across quite a few of the famous temples we had heard of in and around the village. From a distance Dhom dam looks like a huge slab of blackish grey cement. On nearing it, you realize just how tall and wide it is.
Driving our car over the dam, along the length offered us a breathtaking view of the river far below and the rolling valley and hills around. If only time would stand still. If only city air was as fresh as this. If only Mumbai was as silent as this. We sat there, on top of (probably) a 20 foot high dam, soaking in all the good things of life. I don’t know for how long we were there but it felt like forever.
The drive down led us to a small lake tucked away behind the trees. It was no pool but we had to take a dip. Swimming in the fresh freezing water felt divine. It’s only when the sun began to set did we drag ourselves int the car and headed back. The drive was predominantly silent. I guess each one was reliving the last two days in their head, amazed at our discovery, thinking about the silence, the beauty, and the tranquility of Wai. If you like places with character and spending a weekend doing almost nothing, if you are an explorer, a visit to Wai is a must. Because nothing you read can possibly sum up the novelty of this haven.