Monday, August 13, 2012

Khandala: Holidaying in the Clouds

Room with a View
I have always believed that Monsoons is the best season to visit the places around Pune/Mumbai for the  color of fresh green leaves revitalizes the very soul. For this very purpose, I booked a weekend's stay at The Duke's Retreat, Khandala. Even the drive to Khandala was breathtakingly beautiful once you manage to squeeze out of the craziness called Mumbai. The resort's location atop a hillock with magnificent and unrestricted views of green plateaus and waterfalls is just perfect. However, the views aren't totally unrestricted as they are blocked by clouds intermittently. At just 245 meters above sea level, you get to enjoy being in the clouds as you would otherwise get atleast 2500 meters above sea level.

Here come the clouds
As this weekend was planned just to relax, I hardly even wandered out of my room for a day. Just sitting at the window of the room blankly looking at clouds drifting in front of me and even enveloping me at times was giving a brilliant sense of calmness to my mind.

Table Land as seen from our room
View from Table Land
Next day, we decided to venture out. The first place to visit was a flat piece of grassland visible from our room called Table Land. This was a big piece of land with a few small waterfalls falling from it. Also, you get to see a huge waterfall coming down from the hillock in front of it from pretty close. There is also a small stream flowing between the hillock and the table land. While we were there, we were drenched by a small shower or probably because a cloud enveloped us.

After spending some time at Table Land, we went to Karla caves. These are ancient buddhist caves dating back to 2nd century BC. The most efficient means of transport here are auto-rickshaws unless you have your own vehicle. The ride to Karla Caves was pretty long at about 12 kms and we were dropped at a point from where we could see a long staircase winding along the hill. By now, it was raining in full flow and I was focussing solely on securing my camera from rains. It took us about half an hour to reach the caves with our clothes fully soaked and my camera just about surviving in a plastic bag borrowed from a shopkeeper. We took a 5 rupee ticket to enter the caves. There is also a small temple in front of the main dome of the caves. The dome or prayer hall here is among the largest rock-cut prayer halls in India measuring over 45 meters in length. The prayer hall is intricately carved with sculptures of men & women and also of animals like lions & elephants. Though there are many more windows that one can see from outside, but they are closed to visitors with just the main dome being open to public.

Chaitya (Prayer Hall) of Karla Caves
When we came out of the caves, we were mesmerized by the lustrous green valley below us where paddy fields were flourishing in the Monsoon season. There was also a small waterfall flowing besides the caves where many people were enjoying a shower. A few pictures here and there and we were on our way back to hotel. Still in our soaked clothes, we bought chikki from Lonavla, also famous for the variety of chikki available here.

Upper columns of Karla Caves
Back at hotel, a nice hot shower was followed by a few drinks late into the night. Next morning, we were to go back to our normal work schedule.

View of the valley from Karla Caves


Jagmeet Singh said...

Seems like a nice place to just relax.
Aisi koi jagah apne aas paas bhi bata toh lets go for a weekend getaway!

Kamal said...

I have always loved the rain and the Monsoons. The green spectacle this season provides is just awesome. You are lucky to have visited such an exquisite place at the opportune time.
A very well written piece , short and crisp. The pictures provided compels you to just leave everything get behind the wheels and go and rest in similar beautiful lap of Nature.
Keep travelling and exploring new places. As it has been said - "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page"

sachin said...

Thanks Kamal for the appreciation. Rains surely make evreything lively!! I suggest you should get behind the wheels and go somewhere close soon!!

sachin said...

Though Dadhikar Fort might not provide such green spectacle but I still would recommend it for one night stay. Trip report for it coming soon here!!!

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Akanksha said...

The way you've described the perfect view of the clouds from ur room,the waterfalls and the rains, it definitely seems to be a great getaway from the everyday chaos and the busyness of life!

sachin said...

And I believed that I couldn't do justice to the place with my words!!!

Naddy said...

No place is better than Khandala in Monsoon. very well narrated Sachin.

sachin said...

Thanks Naddy. Whole of the Western Ghat area turns mesmerizing with monsoon rains showering in!! You are lucky to be based in Pune!!

Siddhartha Joshi said...

Beautiful pictures...

sachin said...

Thanks a lot Siddhartha..