Nobody can miss the impact of Monsoon in central India. Unlike at other times of year, the green becomes the code and color of this otherwise rugged terrain. The vast spans of land are painted with every possible shades of green and you feel as if the entire earth is covered with the soft green carpet of grass. The tree leaves and every single blade of grass get so fully loaded with water that they start swaying in ecstasy. Perhaps each of them starts trying to outsmart other by flashing its greenest smile possible. What a scene really. One has to be there only to absorb the beauty and bounty of greens during Indian Monsoons. We were lucky to be there and were really celebrating our choice of the route and the destination at this time of the year.
We reached Lonavala quite soon and decided to unwind. Feeling hungry and a bit tired, we landed at Cafe 24, the 24 hour restaurant inside the resort. We straightened our back on cane sofas besides pool and gulped few chilled beers before sinking our teeth in few non veg recipes. Sitting there, with so many old friends, besides pool in the backdrop of hills was a moment, which all of us were waiting for. Sitting there and watching few water mermaids in the pool literally, without the pulls of the better halves and demanding kids, made us believe (falsely though) that, we were really free souls and accountable to no one but ourselves. We kept on chatting and gossiping and kept on pulling legs of each other till late evening. The missed lunch was followed by early evening snacks and chilled beer. We had a great start of the trip on the first evening actually. We retired to our rooms afterwards to take some nap.
The rooms we had at resorts were luxurious in many senses and had high tech Jacuzzi bath tubs with LCD screen, to give you company while soaking. We took turns to enjoy that in our respective rooms. Those who went in first, had problems in handling the nobs and showers with hot and cold water gushing out at will, from all unexpected corners of the tub. But they languished in bath tubs for long. The next two, to show parity in taste and knowledge repeated the exercise with almost same level of difficulty in handling complex system bath tubs. It was rejuvenating nevertheless and all of us felt much better. The dinner followed afterwards and we retired to our beds.
Next day, en route to Pune, we were supposed (on Raja’s insistence, who loves counting the number of Jyotirlingas visited by him) to travel to Bhimashankar, one of the 12 pious Jyotirlingams in India. As we woke up, we saw the lush green campus of resort, sprinkled with rain water. The morning birds were there with full vigor and energy and were happily chirping to express their gratitude as the rains force many of their prey, to come out in open be feasted by the avian. We had the luxury morning tea in the private spaces just outside our rooms with newspapers in front of us. It was such a fine and cozy morning to start with. I felt as if I was being gradually detoxified in this serene and green environment.
After bath and breakfast we checked out of our rooms and proceeded to Bhimashankar. The temple is situated inside the Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve. When we reached on the gates of the temple, there was a long queue of devotees. We requested our acquaintance there to help us get a quick entry. We were lucky to manage that and worshiped Lord Shiva at this holy place in dense green Sahyadri forests. After taking prasad at the Mandir, we proceeded towards our next destination, Pune.
The Pune as a city is one of the best I have seen in India. Known to have one of the most salubrious climate in central India, Pune had been the Monsoon Capital of Bombay Presidency and the tradition continues still. We checked in our hotel late evening and moved straight to rooftop restaurant of Hotel O at Koregaon. The views of the city including those of Trump Towers at a distance are breathtaking. Dinner was hosted for us by the Collector Pune, a bright young officer from our own city, Lucknow. We were really in good company with some great hosts in this trip. We were having a great time together as there were no complexities involved. Ralph Waldo Emerson has rightly said perhaps, ” It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them”.
We all were happy to be childish and stupid to enjoy this opportunity. This trip was interesting in a way. Four, decades old friends, going for a Dil-Chahata-Hai trip were looking for greens and temples, and Gods and Goa together!
To Be Continued…….