Solo morning stroll to PandavKada Falls

I left alone for a morning walk, on the self-extended weekend,

Came back with beautiful captures, adventure of a lifetime and a new friend.

It was a Monday morning, a rainy Monday morning. It was raining continuously for the last two days. I decided not to go to office, I was anyway a resigned employee with 5 days of service left and . Had two ways to enjoy Monday off- to sleep again for few more hours, or go hill side and enjoy. I chose the second option, I was in mood to capture the green hills too.

I started my walk, it wasn’t even a walk. I was strolling. So much peace , that too on a Monday. People were rushing to work, while I was walking in the opposite direction. The footpaths were slippery, had to be careful.

I was trying to absorb as much as possible – the fresh air, the green trees and the green hills.  There was a unique sense of freedom within me. Slowly I reached the first hill range, the driving range. But I saw people there, and decided not to go there. I have realised I enjoy my own company with nature. My solo trip was one major milestone in this realization. So I continued straight towards the golf course area.

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Took my first halt there, just for the view- grass, woods and waterfall. It just left me mesmerized. The Pandavakada falls looked so beautiful and full of glory. I felt attracted , I felt spell bound. I decided that I will reach as close as possible to witness Pandavkada falls’ beauty at peak.

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While I was lost in thoughts and excitement, I saw there was one more guy walking ahead. But he was comparatively walking fast. I was wondering who else took out time for a morning stroll. I gathered senses and then resumed my stroll. As I was crossing the golf course area, I could see myself getting close to the falls.

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All the time I was hoping that the entry point for the falls should be open. Many times the police and Kharghar Forest Department officials block the way due to the unwanted accidents that have taken place. Finally I reached Kharghar Gurudwara, from where there’s the  way to Pandavkada falls.

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I stood there for a minute, admiring the beauty and feeling the silence of nature. I was glad that there were no Forest department officials, and considered it as completion of first milestone in reaching the falls. While I was just about to start my journey towards the falls, I heard a voice from behind. It was the same guy I saw near the golf course, he wanted to know whether there is a way ahead and is it safe. I was initially reluctant to entertain anyone, but then I had already made my mind so I thought I should continue and asked him to join me. We started walking towards the falls. The route has undergone many changes with time. I was recollecting, the time when there was literally no way and we had to actually find one through the rocks and hills. Had even documented that in one of my earlier posts: A Letter from Mother Nature.

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The way seemed very easy but they say never judge a book by it’s cover. After just few steps we saw a stream, with a very heavy current; obviously due to heavy rains. We thought it would be difficult to cross it, but then we saw an uncle crossing it, he seemed so refreshed and happy. A villager was helping him cross. That gave us motivation to go on, and moreover, the smile on his face revealed it’s worth going ahead. Slowly, we crossed the stream and continued towards the falls. Pandavkada looked beautiful, in its full glory, surrounded by lush greenery.

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In spite of the commercialization, the place can never lose it’s beauty. Also, there were hardly any one enroute falls, as it was a Monday morning. Only few school and college students who bunked to enjoy nature’s beauty on a windy day. I realized that I was walking  and exchanging thoughts with this guy for quite sometime, but din’t even know his name. Finally we introduced ourselves to each other. Shanker, seemed a nature lover and an avid traveler too. He had taken work from home that day. But couldn’t stay at home. Read somewhere – If you don’t find company to go somewhere, go alone and you will find people like you in the journey. I could actually relate to it at the time.

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We finally reached near the halls. We could see the front view of the waterfalls. Stood there quietly absorbing as much as I could. Tried to capture it perfectly too. But some beauties are difficult to capture. You have to be there, experience it, to actually capture it.

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After few moments of being lost in nature, we finally spoke. Shanker asked whether I wanted to go further, as the way was hilly and tricky ahead. I instantly said yes, as is my nature to take challenges, and go as far as I can. But he warned and reminded me of the stream. It was about to rain, and that if it starts raining heavily like it was it would be very difficult to cross it. He had a valid point. It would have been different if we were in a group; and I feel grateful he advised me. So we decided to return.

Soaking all energy from the green hills and the vibrant waterfall, I turned my back to head home. After few minutes, it started raining. I told myself Thank God I accepted Shanker’s advice. Also had told mom I would be back in half an hour, couldn’t afford getting stuck. 🙂

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By this time, Shanker and I became good friends. Both of us are very talkative and candid in nature. We reached the stream, the current was indeed heavy. We took a long and thick stick, and used it to cross. We held the opposite ends of it, it just made it easier. And after few more steps, back to city.

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That’s the beauty of Kharghar, we can visit the hills too, and in some time back to the roads. Feeling rejuvenated, we walked towards home. I realized that Shanker’s  stays very close to my place. So we accompanied each other on our way back too.

I felt great that I decided to step out, and not sleep. The most spontaneous plans and decisions in life are the best. I felt peace that day, and captured some beautiful images and videos, and made a new friend.

Straight From My Heart,

Prakriti

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Kharghar Hills- The Unplanned Nature Trail

Kharghar hills signify the start of Kharghar, welcoming everyone who enters the node; with beauty at its peak during monsoon. I see them everyday, every time my train reaches Kharghar,every time when I take a train from Kharghar. But seldom do I go walking there, maybe because I am busy exploring the interiors and because of other commitments. I went there in December, but not during or just after the rainy season. Finally got a chance to visit, thanks to long weekends.:)
My friend Sneha and I had planned for an early morning walk, which ultimately became a nature trail. It is open only from 6 am – 9 am in the morning. But we started only late, 7 50 we were at the gate. People were coming down, while we were just about to start. The guard even warned us to be back on time, maybe because he saw Sneha’s camera or assumed we are lazy to come so late 😉

We started walking, initially at a good pace. Everyone there seemed so energetic and fresh, wishing each other good morning. The path was surrounded by green trees on both side. Our pace started reducing gradually, and then there was a time, when there were just two of us on the path !! We started capturing the beauty around us.While Sneha was capturing everything on her camera, I was just living the moment, and capturing everything in my heart. Due to monsoon, and even post monsoon showers, the flora and fauna were richest. There were  waterfalls also, some almost dried, and some small ones. Banana trees, Gulmohar trees and many wild plants accompanied us in our leisure walk. Crabs are very common, and keep running and side-walking throughout. Even butterflies, we saw so many of them !

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We were meeting after a long time, and there was lots to talk about. And the serenity of nature, gave the perfect moment for heart-to-heart talking session. We shared and discussed each other’s problems, and then ultimately left on a note that if something is meant to be,it will happen; We can only give our best and believe in positivity.

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The path seemed so very photogenic that we paused so many times for that perfect shot. The song “Tanha Dil” by Shaan came to my mind. I even shared this with Sneha, and then we both started singing the song. Then we realized that it was already 8:16 and we were not even half-way !! I told her to rush, but a photographer can’t miss to capture a place in its entirety. We saw a chameleon and she tried to capture it, but could not. We find them very fascinating, we discussed how it camouflages. In my mind, related it to life, how one should adapt to a situation, however it is.

Speeding up, I reached a little ahead of Sneha. There was a beautiful silence all around, and also the sounds of nature. The chirping sound of birds, the flow of wind, the humming noise of the insects and birds. It was so soothing. With the crowd of the city, and noisy horns we fail to listen the beautiful and diverse sounds of nature. I was lost for a moment, in the silence, in the beauty, or in my thoughts !! And then suddenly Sneha shouted, “Hey I got it”. She managed to capture a chameleon(not sure a garden lizard or a chameleon). Again, we restated, the power of positivity, hope and “if its meant to happen, it will”

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We reached the first view point, that time we realized that we have covered some distance and height. We saw some people there, resting after their walk/jog. It was a little foggy morning.

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Sneha wondered if there is more to see, and if we should go back. I told her to keep going, and it is worth it. By this time, all sweaty and drained because of humidity, still kept walking. We anyway had crossed the allowed timings, why not experience fully 😉

We met few villagers on the way. They seemed happy and content. I was wondering that they must be so used to climbing up and down the hill for basic necessities. I smiled and waved at them, they smiled back too 🙂

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Paced up and finally reached the end point. The point where it diverts into the village, and the view point. The Kharghar hill plateau was seen from there, full green and live. A better view of Kharghar, the entire node, the well planned one.

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Hence we considered our journey as successful, reaching till the top of hill. Learning so many things, getting so close with nature, spending quality time and clicking so many wonderful pictures. We asked for a lift while coming down, the driver had permissions to take the villagers, hence we were not asked any questions..

Let the journey never end…Keep moving

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Photo credits:  Sneha Panchal

Special thanks to her, contact her for photography assignments Contact Sneha Panchal

Contact me for exploring Navi Mumbai 🙂

Straight from My Heart,

Prakriti Singh

Gallery:

Owe Dam, Kharghar: The Beauty and the Beasts

The more I spend time with nature, the more I find myself, the more I realize that happiness lies within, yet we search it in others.

Owe dam, Kharghar is such a place, to find oneself , to get lost in nature, to experience peace ! The moment I reached, I was mesmerized by the beauty, green hills all around; the calm and quiet water in centre.

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The journey is more amazing, starts with wide clean roads and ends with off roading on muddy ground; starts with city and ends falling in love with a village, Owe camp.

I have been there many times, and every time I go there, I find and learn something new. The first time I went there, I was speechless. The nature lover within me wanted to stay there forever, and experience nature in its true form. Only a few minutes there can make someone feel so relaxed and peaceful from within.Every time I promise myself to be there back again. My friend took me there for the first time, it was an unplanned visit. We were four of us in car. The way is through Owe camp, and includes off-roading.Muddy roads surrounded by rice fields accompany us till the destination. We felt like dancing in joy, the colour green has some energy attached to it; it denotes freedom, freedom to grow. The green grass all around made us feel free, free from pollution, free from the crowd, and free from the hustle and bustle of the city. There were few villagers who were swimming in the dam water. We crossed the hill and sat peacefully on the other side. The place seemed untouched by humans, and that fascinated us more.

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The second time, we were three girls on a two wheeler. More fun to drive on the muddy roads 😉 Actually no, I was at the last and had to get down every time it got stuck. Unaware of the destination, they kept doubting me and my decision to come there, somehow I convinced them to keep going. This time we had to park our vehicle, a little far from the destination.

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On the way we met a villager, she owned the rice fields there. We confirmed our way to the dam, and kept going. The feeling and sight on reaching was just the same, but there was something which was changed. The beauty of nature, which I described as untouched by humans, seemed disturbed. The place which was earlier just green had plastics and wrappers for biscuits and snacks. There were bottles at some places, bottles of alcohol. I don’t understand why people destroy nature to consume alcohol. There are places meant for that. We just sat for sometime, discussed few life-goals and left. On our way back, we met the same female, she was so excited to show the fields, so we had a look. She even posed for us. She explained a little about her life, and views on how “city people” act smart and destroy the beauty of the place. It was nice interacting with her, we learned that few boys got drowned while swimming in the dam. She then continued her work, and we continued to the “city”.

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The next time, I went there in the morning. My office friend wanted to see the place. It rained a lot the night before, hence the drive was difficult this time too. We had to park a few metres ahead of the destination, because of the fresh wet mud and puddles. Everything seemed more beautiful in the morning, the fresh green grass, the fields, the hills and the water ! We tried to capture the serenity of nature, which slowly got transferred within.  It is difficult to describe the feeling, because some things can only be experienced.

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On our way back, I was disappointed to see that the stone quarrying activities near it, have increased to a significant level. In the middle of such beauty, it was a disturbing sight !!

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I wonder why do we humans keep disturbing nature ? Why do we disturb the balance, why do we destroy beauty, litter, pollute and spoil everything ! Are we humans , or beasts ? Can’t we keep some things as it is ? Can’t we live in harmony !

Hoping the next time I go there I don’t find some new beastly activity of humans. Till then, have a feel of the journey…

Humble request – If you plan to go there, please do not litter and be a human, not a beast 🙂

Thanks

Straight from my heart,

Prakriti

Video credits: Matthew Varkey

Song suggestion for video: Sindhya B.

Contact me for exploring Navi Mumbai 🙂

The Road Not Taken: Discovering Belapur Fort

If you don’t value what you have,

You are sure to lose it

-Jeanne Philips

Belapur fort, in Killa Gaothan, the village of forts, which fought three battles successfully is an example of how history remains neglected. It’s been five years in Navi Mumbai and I never thought of visiting Belapur Fort. Many residents are unaware of it’s existence, and those who did, never really cared to discover. It was in my check-list for about a month, and finally ticked 🙂

The fort is not in a very good condition, but the journey in discovering it was beautiful, surrounded by nature,at its peak because of the monsoon.

History:

Forts are fascinating for the history attached to it. Like, every fort, The Belapur Fort has a story too. Not much is available online though.

It was built in 1560-1570 by the Siddis of Janjira, after they wrested control of the area from the Portuguese. The Portuguese recaptured the fort in 1682 and added in their territory, the regions controlled by the Siddis, near Belapur (at that time known as Shabaz). In 1733, the Marathas led by Chimnaji Appa wrested control of the fort from the Portuguese. He had made a vow that if it were to be successfully recaptured from the Portuguese,  he would place a garland of beli leaves in a nearby Amruthaishwar temple, and after the victory the fort was renamed as Belapur Fort. The Marathas ruled the area until June 23, 1817, when it was captured by Captain Charles Gray of the British East India Company.

The British partially destroyed the fort in under their policy of razing any Maratha stronghold in the area. During its better days, the fort stationed four companies each of 180 men, and 14 guns ranging from four to 12 pounds in weight. An underground tunnel is also supposed to exist, which many locals believe connects it to Gharapuri Island, the site of the Elephanta Caves.

The journey:

It was an unplanned visit. Instead of sitting and lazing in a cafe, one afternoon my friend and I decided to “find” the Belapur Fort. We started with locating it on Google Maps first. We thought it would be pretty easy to find it, but on the way there were many diversions and distractions.

We took an auto from Belapur station to Kille Junction. I read other blogs before, so was aware about the landmark. I also asked the driver in curiosity whether he was aware about the actual Killa, but he said it must be destroyed and doesn’t know much. He dropped us near Croma on the main road, from there we continued using Maps. After walking few metres, we saw a fort-like structure, which wasn’t located on the Maps too. It was barely visible, being almost on the road junction too !

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The other side of it, towards the entrance was better, as it is cleaner and attached with a small park.

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We wanted to discover more, but were a little reluctant as it was totally deserted and seemed a little spooky. After asking the gardener there, we went ahead, there are a few stairs which lead to a watching area with few windows-like structures.

Old trees guard the fort, and also there is fresh green growth too, because of the rains. Only one floor was accessible. Trying to capture from all corners and views, we were taking pictures from all possible angles, when one traffic policeman warned us about snakes present there. We were lucky to be safe, as I read later that once it was full of snakes !!

My friend believed that this was the only part of fort left, but I wanted to discover more. I wanted to follow the map, and find the real one. As we walked further, we came across a diversion,one was going straight ; the other road was narrow, and seemed would not lead us to the destination.

There was also a board “Kille Belapur” and showed arrows, which were pointing to an old house !! We got confused, we even asked people, some were unaware, others din’t wanted to answer !!

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One diversion, and we got distracted. The Maps showed Sea Coast 1, and Sea Coast 2, so we decided to see the sea coast first. We chose the wider road and not the road less travelled.

As we followed the map towards the sea coast, we realized we are in a village – Killa Gaothan ! We could see small houses, few cowsheds and grazing fields too. This is actually the base village of the fort, hence everywhere one can see fort like structures. There are also some good societies , which I guess the government bought the land from villagers for development purposes. The original villagers speak some dialect of Hindi or Marathi. On the way, one boy suggested to visit one Devi temple, he also informed that earlier, only some particular caste was allowed to visit it. We were not sure, whether we would be able to go inside, still tried. Small stairs lead to the temple. I was wondering, if this is the same,  Amruthaishwar temple, where  Chimnaji Appa placed a garland of beli leaves on victory.

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Then we continued towards the sea-coast. Finally we reached the sea coast.

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We could see the Belapur creek bridge from there. The view was amazing, the silence and calmness was very soothing. Away from the constant noise pollution, the area has a charm of its own, even though it is surrounded by abandoned creek marine boats.IMG_20150818_175050
We were there for sometime , and realized that still haven’t reached our destination.

Our cell phone batteries were low, so we had to disable data, no more relying on Maps.On our way back, we stopped near one beautiful society, and asked the watchman there. He told us that the fort, was on the other road. The road which we assumed would lead to no where !

We went all the way back, reached the diversion point, and took the other road.

After walking few metres, the view totally changed. Long empty road, with trees forming a beautiful canopy of leaves. There was just one person within my line of sight, he was brisk walking. He seemed familiar with the road. We were walking slowly, getting lost in nature, step by step.

Snapchat--7917601756575858531                            Snapchat-9051307944281901864Half-way, the same man who was brisk walking was returning. We enquired about the fort, he said there is nothing like that !! Still we could not give up after all this. We continued. And finally we saw the orange flag, showing the direction. I wonder how come that man never noticed it 😉

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There was a narrow path made using bricks. We followed it, and reached, the remaining Belapur Fort. With the fort which is left today, makes it hard to believe it’s history . No one can believe it fought three battles, and stationed four companies ! There is just one opening we could find, and probably the only one remaining. It seemed beautiful, even though in dilapidated condition.

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We were just happy we could find it. It was difficult to wait there for a long time, because of the mosquitoes, also we din’t feel very much safe there too. We din’t find any names or rather scribblings on the fort walls, maybe people don’t come there or are unaware. Also, no plastic bottles, and wrappers. That’s the good part. I just hope it remains the same, and people don’t use it for other purposes (drinking, smoking, etc) . There are boards everywhere, issued by Sahyadri Pratishthan, a city organisation working for the conservation of forts, to keep the place clean. Thanks to them, the fort is still alive.

And hence the journey ended. Every journey, every trip, long or short, teaches us some thing, and this one did too. In the journey of life, there will be many roads less travelled, and many people who would not believe you, and may even discourage you. What matters is how much you believe yourself, and accomplish what you want in life. The road otherwise not taken, maybe more beautiful and satisfactory !!

Straight From My Heart,

Prakriti

Gallery:

References: 

http://www.marathiheritage.com/belapurfort.html

http://merwynsrucksack.blogspot.in/2012/07/belapur-fort.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belapur_Fort

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llhvBB2DDkA

A Letter From Mother Nature

Dear Humans,

Day by day, your interference in my life is making me suffer a lot. Most of my charm is degrading now. Forests are being converted into concrete jungles, all the water bodies are getting polluted, many species are getting endangered, the reason being your activities, greed and misbehaviour with me.

Why don’t you understand, my beauty is at its peak when untouched by humans. Some of you love me, care for me and want to preserve every part of me, whereas there are many of you who don’t care about me. Even though I am hurt, and dishearten I still and will always shower gifts on you. I will leave you captivated with my scenic beauty, and I can give you vivid memories to cherish. You may find me fascinating with so many different forms and with my diverse children. I do not show you timely my anger, disappointment and sadness.  But deep inside, I am crying.

If I keep on complaining about your misbehaviour, I will be exhausted. Hence I would take a simple example and make you understand my emotions. The Kharghar waterfalls, or what is called as PandavKada, in Navi Mumbai, a few weeks ago was a place for nature lovers and a few monsoon revellers. As soon as people would start the journey towards the falls, they became mesmerized. You people realized the need for peace, greenery, beauty, and freedom. I can bet that my admirable views made you forget all your sorrows, and brought out the child within you, filled with joy, adventure and fun.
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But now, the forest department and a few other associations came together and started exploiting me. They have blocked my natural flow using rocks and started tickets for entry on the name of security. It’s great they are successful too in their motive, attracting vendors and stalls. Very soon I will become dirty and all you would see is plastics and other garbage. Within a week they collected Rs 1.5 lakhs. Those people made a business out of me, and I am pretty sure that money will not be used for my benefits, or for enhancing me. I am what I am you people cannot change me, only destroy my innocence gradually.

Many of you understand and sympathize with me. Some are fighting for me too. I am glad for it. Whatever it is I am still beautiful, I am not afraid of humans, just angry and sad, hoping not to get deprived of my natural charm.

– Mother Nature.