Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nature's Call

Have you ever heard of flamingoes in Maharashtra, experienced waterfalls at every 200 meter stretch, if not Malshej Ghat is the place to be. Situated at about 3 hours from Mumbai, a 154 km drive from the city or a public transport from the nearest Kalyan or Karjat railway station can get you to Malshej.
I never thought I’ll experience something as beautiful as this when we were assigned that we have to brand Malshej Ghats as tourist destination for a college project. The preparation for the journey itself were so messed up that the path ahead simply looked tough.
Praveen, Moses & I were given the task to brand Malshej Ghat, a place we had never heard about then.

The Journey Begins:

As it was a college project we decided to take the train from Dadar to Kalyan & then local bus from there to Malshej. It helped us in discovering the ways to get there & it was more feasible as well. The bus journey from Kalyan was an experience in its own way, the localities completely resembled the interiors of Maharashtra, the turns on the ghats with the beautiful scenic view made a perfect welcome for the place we were heading to. Just then I heard Praveen shout pointing towards a waterfall, there another, the falls kept coming, we finally decided to get down & walk the remaining distance. We were all taken back by what this place had to offer. Walking on the wet rods & with waterfalls which kept coming on the way, we suddenly took a left, a point from where you could well see the entire Ghat standing next to this place what we guys named it as erection, coz it was a single huge stone structure, straight &
tall in the middle of this circle of valley, rain drops, fog & excitement.

The "erection point" I was talking about turned into a print ad later...

We then sat down here for a while enjoying what nature had to offer, talks, dreams driven with fantasy & girls is what we all thought about while experiencing how climate can change within seconds. From a drizzle & gentle wind it suddenly started pouring heavily. We thus took a shelter under a cave sort of a thing & started thinking how better can we project a beautiful place like Malshej in ads of 30 sec & images.
Finally the rains stopped & we headed towards the MIDC hotel, but to our bad luck the hotel was all occupied & the only room available was too expensive for college students like us. Wondering what to do we decided to explore the place more, thus reaching a point where you can experience something that can prove Newton’s theory of gravitation wrong. Just throw a stone or a light wooden stick & to opposite Newton’s theory it comes back to you, even the rain drops comes up towards you. It’s like someone sparkling water on you from downwards. Hey it’s not due to the lack of gravitation or so but the wind is such at this place that it shoots up things that go down. You can find this point right behind the MIDC hotel. We simply denied going from here, but with day nearing to its end we decided to move on to find an accommodation. A long search & finally got a room to stay in a local’s house for cheap. All this while we hardly wondered about our food but no more could we starve & thus we dropped in at a local dhaba. Seeing the rotis & sabzi getting prepared in front of us was an experiencing in itself & I had never tasted something so pure before. Rain outside just made it a perfect dinner experience, something you wont find even if you pay huge amounts in Mumbai.

Scenic view of Malshej Ghat

The next morning we finally decided to search for migratory flamingos. Walk, walk & more walk is what we did as the locals guided us where exactly we could find them. We had managed to walk for about 4 hours on stones, mud pools & what not, we had also found a bull skull on our way but these flamingos were invisible. Here he shouts again Praveen says look there they are, they still seemed a lot far away, forcing us to settle down to photograph them from where we were. Awesome they looked, I mean it was for the first time I saw birds so huge flying free with a background of foggy mountains & waterfalls, it made a perfect portrait for any painter to colour his canvas. A local passing by then pointed towards the Harishchandra fort, as to what he said, he described it as a trekkers ultimate dream but only trained one’s could go, our chances were thus minimized hence forth.
Explored, stored ever lasting memories & captured enough footage & images for our project we headed towards Junnar, a place from where one could reach Shivneri Fort, Shivaji’s birth place. The journey in a truck heading towards the place with the locals wearing the traditional white Maharashtrian headgear is something which a city guy must experience.

One of the print ads we made...

Memories & the beauty of Malshej explored especially with two dear friends shall always remain a thing I can cherish forever. As we left the place the horrors of completing this project on time started floating over our minds, but deep within we knew we would be successful enough to describe the place in words as well.

The 30 sec commercial that we did finally manage to make...hey we were just learning then...