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Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Unplanned Sunday Afternoon

This Sunday was not the day what I had planned to do. I had not planned to go out with the family to soak in the sunshine and visit the nature behind man-made blot. It just happened.

I was sitting with my cousin late night, chatting away, when one of her friend suggested that he take her out for a picnic to Lonavala, ‘Aamby valley’, he said and my antenna shot up to 20 feet, now I have wanted to see this town since a long time but somehow, it has never worked out therefore I decided to tag along if ever such picnic was to take place.

“Can I come along Didi, please?” I said and she smiled gently not confirming if we were to take this trip.

“We will decide in the morning, go to sleep now.” she said

I got up much early than my usual time. 6am is not the time I would opt to wake up on any day, and especially not on Sunday, but then this was not to be an ordinary day.

By 8am, the house was bustling with energy, more than 25 people showed up. We huddled into four cars and started our journey towards Lonavala.

Rainy season is the best time to make a trip to this place which is at the altitude of 620 m above sea level .The hills sing a melodious tune with waterfalls churning out through layers of rocks. Different shades of greens add sparkle to the landscape.

Our first stop was to Naryani Dham which is nestled in the valley. This temple with sparkling ivory white marble had carving even on the roof. The idols of Gods were decked with finest jewelry and brocade clothes that reflected rainbow hues when the lights of the chandeliers and spot lights were focused on them. The spotless and shiny walls had beautifully carved windows in marble. On the ceiling were the paintings of Krishna in his large chariot. Some beautiful designed motifs of colored stones, glass and mirrors decorated the entire upper walls. The building was still under construction, the railing of craved marble was being installed for support. I struggled to walk up the stairs and the volunteer stretched his hand to offer me the support and informed me that there was a separate lift to go up too. It was a cloudy day, as we emerged from the temple, we saw children enjoying the garden equipments and we were tempted too to enjoy a swing or two. We walked down the path which had water fountains along the way till we reached a bigger building which had 60 rooms with attached bathrooms for weary travelers. There were some cottages too behind the temple for people who would like to enjoy the nature for more than one day.   

After a short visit to this Dham we drove through the winding roads, into the deep narrow lanes which opened up into the vast plains and high up on the hill was the Shiva temple.My cousin is the devotee of Lord Shiva and I could see the glow in her eyes as we approached this temple. This was a carved stone structure, well maintained, which had a large black Shiv-ling dominating the centre of the dark room.  There was a  three-forked trishul and dumroo on one side of the black stone Ling. A beautifully carved metal pot hung from the ceiling which had the tiny aperture to the base of the pot. When the devotee poured water into the pot, it dripped drop by drop on the Ling bathing it. They offered rice and vermillion and sprinkled some flower petals on it. Then they sat down with eyes close seeking blessing. A pundit sat there guiding the devotees to the proper way to pray and offereing prasad to every devotee.

Next was our program to go to Aamby valley. We had only 8 passes to go to restricted Aamby valley, where one can go only by invitation, so while the rest of the group headed home, only eight of us drove through Bhushi dam and Tiger’s leap to the other side of the hills to reach the Aamby Valley.

Aamby valley is the man-made town in the midst of the hills. The architecture and design is worth the visit. The place is well maintained with manicured gardens and proper roads. This is the lonely town, where streets are empty, the privileged few who drove down the streets were crazy, perched on the roof-top or protruding half the body out of the window in the speeding car. At the lake, where we went for the boat ride, there was a loud music where the youngsters danced while waiting for a boat ride. The gardens and side-walks were continuously preened by local gardeners.

This is the town where greenery is restored in its virgin form, with the waters running through its soul, birds chirping freely and flowers have freedom to bloom

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