From Tungnath to Tungareshwar, Shiva has traveled everywhere for his fans! Being one of his ardent fans, it was a mandatory and yet the most needed trip. To another one of his exotic getaways, I believe it is worth a share 🙂
A Delhi-Mumbai air journey usually lasts for about two hours. But it is a very common scenario that the pilot is not able to land the plane in stipulated time due to air traffic. Impatience starts to grow in me if I come to know that the flight is only rounding the city, unless, the pilot knows where and how to maneuver the flight on one of these monsoons days. The sky was densely full of clouds and it felt he had no option but to take us through the clouds. One moment the buildings were visible and the next moment it was all grey. And then suddenly emerged the flight over and above the Sahyadris, the plush green cover of the Western Ghats that it was, all you do is thank God for the good luck of a window seat. It was the moment when impatience turned into an immense rush of butterflies in my stomach. As my heart pounded to jump from the aircraft to run into that unknown wilderness, I reminded myself of the exciting times I had planned for myself during my short trip to Bombay.
Between the hectic work schedule that took me to Bombay and my flying back to Delhi, I had saved a day for things that Delhi somehow refuses to offer – a blissful walk in the rains.
Rains that pours so heavily, bringing life to the wilderness. Early morning on a Sunday, it was an unexpected wake up call. Of course I did not sleep sound the previous night, in the awe of an awesome Sunday, but I waited patiently for the human alarm to come and shake me up. Well, literally he did; my friend who accompanied and guided me on the trek to Tungareshwar.
To add a little bit of Gujrati touch to our day long trail, his mother packed in our sacks a box of dhokla. Besides the dhokla, a box of cheese sandwiches, some fresh fruits and a bottle of tang made our trip sound like a picnic. But it was not. It definitely was not a picnic. In fact, it was a long walk of about 20 kilometers. We entered the Sanjay Gandhi National Park from Tungareshwar Phata, an entry point about 5 kilometers away from Vasai Road into the interiors of Thane district.
At 8 in the morning we started our journey towards the Tungareshwar Temple. A walk of only 3 kilometers, there were other devotees too walking on the path of divinity.
Though the path has been invaded with lots of human intervention, it is yet not evaded of its natural ambience. There are monsoonal waterfalls where the villagers splurge themselves, there are wild bushes and shady trees all across the wide motor able road. It’s a delightful walk for Shiva’s devotees.
Slowly and gradually as we walked and talked, we could see in distance, the abode of Lord Shiva. Tungareshwar Temple witnesses a rush of devotees during the month of savan. A tiny and a miniscule appearance of Lord Shiva making way for the tranquility that persists, makes it a worthwhile walk into the wild.
While most devotees end their journey at the Shiva temple very few like us explore it further.
Its only about 6 kilometers from Tungareshwar temple, there is also built an ashram amidst the wilderness. This walk of 6 kilometers is a gradual ascend overlooking the city of Bombay. Mostly a lonely walk, it is definitely a road less travelled. We don’t realize how, on the next turn, the green becomes greener and the clouds appear out of nowhere. As soon as the sky gets clear, towards the denser side of valley, at a far away distance, the waterfall appears again. The clouds overtake the valley, as if they own the valley. It feels mystical, it does not just feel natural, it feels magical. The silence of the valley stays intact; even the sounds of birds are rare.
At one of the points during the trek, sitting over a rock, while getting absorbed in the scenic beauty, there does not feel the need to walk ahead. Inside you, you may even wish that these clouds should burst open upon you and probably the rain walk will soothe you even more but these clouds decide to be playful.
So we walk a little further and reach on the other side of the mountain. Cannot say if the walk becomes a little steeper or is it the last patch mingled with our hunger pangs.
The ashram serves a sumptuous vegetarian thali. As we reached after a 2.5 hours of unbothered walk, we sat down on the floor and got served. The temple gates had closed as we entered later than the scheduled time but the meal was still being served.
The Sadanand ashram is built by a yogi baba with a strict schedule being followed. Keeping calm and feeling one with nature is something that does not require any effort. Not many visitors are seen around, except a few who have probably discovered that the walk is worth the food being served in a spot as random as this one.
We sat outside the temple gates, at a little distance and enjoyed sipping on the herbal tea. Blissful. Finally, the clouds decided to burst open adding to our moment of bliss. The tea there is served in shots and one after the other, we kept on having it. More conversations, more tea. For another hour, nothing stopped neither the rains, nor the tea.
But it was now time it hit the road again. The ponchos came out. Of course, photography happened with that one too. The camera just spices up de tour a bit more!
We decided to take the alternate route while descending. In a short while, the rain left us alone and the clouds also bid us farewell. The path was muddier now demanding a lot more attention to walk. It was a reckless walk taking us through stones and mud patches; but the shady trees and the tall standing Sahyadris hills made it a lot more comfortable walk. In about two hours, we came out of the national park from the Purola village exit.
Oh and there was still food left with us. We sat on a peaceful spot, still inside the jungle, gulped down the dhokla and the sandwiches. What made it awesome, other than the cheese of course was the retro music playing in the background. It was being played in the nearby village, the kind of music that is powerful enough to make you sad but you still want to hear it because it connects with your soul. None other than Kishore Da was playing that evening.
The view of the village farms reminded me of the good old college days when I used to sit by my room window in the hostel and felt lost into a similar view.
The day got over in no time and we were on the road, waiting for the bus to take us to Virar railway station. It was a fast road and the evening was getting darker. Clouds were surprising us again while we were brisking through the rural Virar. Life here seems to be so different; not unique but just different from the routine we experience every-day.
This Sunday was a perfect break from the monotonous routine that we follow endlessly for months. Even a pinch of wilderness into our otherwise concrete lives becomes a great deal. And with this great deal ending so soon, I only hoped and prayed for more and more of such deals.