This trip was special for me because of two reasons - visiting a hill station in our new car with cousins and family, and finally getting to meet and spend time with Sayali (the only tiny bit of interaction we had earlier was at the wedding). Nandan, Sayali and I sat in the rear - although it wasn't the comfiest ride, it was fun. A little past 9.30 we started keeping an eye out for the restaurants. After finding Sher-e-Punjab Grill on the opposite side of the road and putting in a decent amount of effort for parking, we found out that it opened at 11. We finally came across a McDonald's outlet a couple of kilometres away and reluctantly chose to explore the breakfast menu. Sayali and I had our pancakes with maple syrup and butter, and savoured the hash browns. A huge glass of coffee later we were ready to roll. We had a facepalm moment soon after - we encountered loads of Indian restaurants within the next 5 minutes. The rest of my journey was pretty much spent chatting with Sayali - we got along like a house on fire. I never thought I would have so much in common with her - right from TV shows to reading habits! After a brief pit stop we resumed our journey. The road leading to Bhandardara was a bit uneven and bumpy, and thus took us some time to reach.
It was only after we reached the MTDC Resort that I realized how incredibly lucky we were. Despite our booking being done at the last moment, we were able to find great rooms. Interestingly enough, only three rooms remained at the time of the making the reservations (exactly the same number we were looking for). We reached the resort at about 2pm.
After resting a bit and having lunch, my parents and I sat at the bench overlooking the lake while Nandan and Sayali challenged each other to a game of Badminton. Bhandardara felt exactly the same as it did the last time we visited - cool, calm and serene. Sitting in the shade of tall trees overlooking the lake on a sunny and windy afternoon was certainly an amazing experience. We made an impromptu booking for a small sightseeing tour for the evening and the following with a local tour guide, and it turned out to be a pretty good decision. He helped us in optimising our journey and making the most of it. The first point we visited was the Wilson Dam and the Umbrella Falls. It wasn't much of a sight, as water wasn't being released from the dam.
The next experience on our list for the evening was boating in the Arthur Lake. The boating experience was definitely one of my favourites - the lake looked crystal clear at the shore and appeared darker as we ventured deeper. Arthur Lake is really vast - in the distance we could see it reflecting the brilliant blue hue of the evening sky. Our rower casually mentioned to us that the depth of the lake was roughly 240 feet, and that the lake housed a number of big fish (too bad we couldn't see any).
As we wished in rowing the boat ourselves, the rower allowed us to do so after we neared the shore on the way back. We did the exercise in pairs, and I learnt something interesting from our experience. The boat would move in one direction only if both the oars were in synchrony. I guess that's the deal with life - in order to get somewhere we need to not only keep moving, but also focus our efforts. Otherwise we end up spinning in circles and don't really get anywhere. Although it took us some time to learn, we made it to the shore soon. I was truly left mesmerised by the sunset - the marvellous evening sky was painted in hues of pastel orange and violet, and the lake complimented the scene by mirroring the bright orange orb that played hide and seek with the Sahyadri hills. The place screamed of tranquillity.