The rains are the best time to visit the mountain pass of Malshej Ghat. For the last couple of weeks, the rains have slowed down within the city of Pune. I did not expect much rain and cloud show. Yes, I did hope for a lush surrounding. Surprisingly the trip turned out to be an experience of a different kind.
The initial drive was little bothersome with slow traffic and narrow roads in Rajgurunagar and Narayangaon. Later the landscape changed radically. The road through the localities blended into the greenery. The landscape was greenwashed by the farmland and surrounding outgrowth.
The hills popped out of nowhere on the horizon. Driving further took us to the serpentine road. All of a sudden the hill fort of Shivneri grabbed the attention. Immediately the sight of it was beckoning us. But our destination was far ahead and we had to go there for sure.
We recollected our trip to the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji – the Shivneri Fort during the dry days. The landscape then was dressed in different tones of sepia. Now the sight was so different. Green being the predominant colour ruled every spot. Roof tops to the bottom soil – all covered in green. It was the magic of the rains.
The sky started the show of the clouds. The overcast sky gradually took over the charge of the bright blue sky. We literally drove from a sunny to a cloudy day.
The beautiful curves lead us to the spot that we had seen in the pictures of Malshej Ghat. It was a mountain wall on either side and the road passes through it.
No sooner we crossed the pass the view of the huge lake by the gorge welcomed us. The mountains on the other side were covered in clouds. Sometimes the cloud was blown away by the wind to unveil the summits.
As we approached closer to our destination the sky changed the mood. It seemed to be more remorse and gloomy. Now the lake we saw from a distance was so near to us. We crossed the bridge on the lake, that seemed so magical from the top of the hills.
And the downpour started with all its might. The rain that is characteristic of the Ghat regions. Yes, now I am much accustomed to this nature of the rain. The visibility was lowered to mere few metres. Driving was becoming little risky in the low visibility through the hilly terrain.
With the ascent in height, the visibility was further lowered as the downpour intensified. The vehicle in front of us was not seen properly.
We decided to turn back. This is when our hungry stomach urged to refuel. And we moved towards the unseen. Yes, the mist and the rain shrouded all ahead of us.
Nothing was visible barring the gate directing towards the MTDC Malshej Ghat Resort. With little hope to find a restaurant for the non-boarders, we approached the Resort.
The strong wind and the rains gave me the welcome gift of a broken strand of my umbrella. Braving the wind and the rains we entered the watery Flamingo Restaurant.
It was such a welcome relief to be indoor in such a perilous weather. Then there was nothing other than this hall of the restaurant. Everything around was again covered by thick mist. It seemed like a surreal world with the restaurant floating in the space. Now the mists turned ferocious. It seemed they want to engulf us.
We could see the vapours entering the hall through the open doors. Along came the winds. We were submerged within this vapours. We shivered in our half wet garments waiting for our ordered food.
The warm food served by the hardworking busy staffs of the restaurants came as a gift from the heaven. Now we were energised to fight the strong mist. Hey! Wait! By the time we finished our meal the mist was gone to uncover the ethereal beauty of the surrounding hills and the gorges.
I could never imagine that such beauty was lying behind this dense shroud. There were series of mountains and even series of waterfalls. As we found the way to get a better view and some better pictures of this landscape, the clouds came ahead to block the view. And resumed its initial form.
Then the rains started again and the beautiful vistas were again behind the screens. We rushed for a refuge in our car. What else now? We had to be on the track to our home. But we sure did enjoy this hide and seek.