From the coffee table to the plateau

21st Dec 2013
Photo of From the coffee table to the plateau 1/4 by Sampa Pal
Break of Dawn at the Ghats
Photo of From the coffee table to the plateau 2/4 by Sampa Pal
The Road, The Traveller's Companion
Photo of From the coffee table to the plateau 3/4 by Sampa Pal
Reaching the horizon
Photo of From the coffee table to the plateau 4/4 by Sampa Pal

It was a lovely Saturday winter evening and it felt pleasant in a cozy coffee shop in Mumbai. There was a nice music playing in the background probably from the hills and I said, I feel like getting lost in the hills... Abhi said, Let's go! I was like - what!!? He said, let's go!

It was 9:00 pm.. I saw the excitement in his eyes, almost challenging me, are you in? Are you woman enough to do something you want to do? I thought for a minute and I agreed. We had a burger each for dinner at the coffee shop. While on the go we called up a cab provider and asked him to send a cab to my place by midnight and called up a 3rd friend as well to see if he would like to join.

But where were we going? Being in Mumbai gave us easy access to the Western Ghats and we quickly decided to hit the Mumbai Pune Expressway and then take a diversion towards Tiger Point at Lonavla from there. I had only heard of this place, but I had no clue about any other details of this point. And given my adventurous spirit which doubled with two guys accompanying me for the trip, I was all set to explore Tiger Point.

By midnight the cab arrived and so did my friends. We decided to carry some food and beer with us. December in the western ghats can get really cold - I mean for someone like me who is yet to see snow and the lowest temperature that I have experienced is only up to 6 degree Celsius, the ghats were cold enough and I was happy with the selection of beverages. Of course, we were appropriately clothed as well with light wind-cheaters.

Very soon, we were out from my flat at Andheri East, took the Link road through Powai lake and on our way for a night at Tiger Point.

I have been on the Mumbai Pune Expressway several times, but being on a night trip is exciting and especially when you are out to see a place you have not been before or have too less idea about. Of course, Google Maps was there to guide us. Of late, I have observed, the right company and Google Maps make an awesome combination and you are ready to explore any place with these two.

The cab sped away on the expressway until we came to the Ghats. From here we started taking the help of Maps and local people who were sitting in bunches around fire made of twigs and other plant residue. From the Ghats it was another 40 minutes drive or so to our destination. On the way we even crossed INS Shivaji - if you are associated with Navy guys, you will feel a thrill while crossing this place. Complete darkness surrounded us as we reached Tiger Point, but to our surprise this place was already thronged by crowds and cars from the nearby cities. It almost seemed like an open air discotheque - just that with the force of the wind in the open and at that altitude the music didn't seem that loud.

Tiger Point must be beautiful at any point of time. But when you have a full moon to accompany you in the night, the beauty of the place increases manifold. Thankfully we were there on a night when the moon was almost full. You know the distant city lights in the valley blurred by the strong wind and rising fog and then the clear moon above seemed to have cast a magic spell on that plateau - you felt as if there was no one else around to break this spell between yourself and The Universe... The three of us sat on the open boot of the car for sometime, mesmerized. However, if you have a photographer with you, be assured that during the mesmerism or seemingly 'fallen prey to the spell' phase, they actually make mental calculations on what scenes that they are going to capture... Our photographer was no exception and thanks to him that I have some lovely shots to share with you from Tiger Point - though mostly from the morning.

The place being so windy and cold, some local guys actually have found this spot ideal to earn some quick bucks by selling tea and maggi at probably double the usual price. For the interested, you could even ask for a hookah to draw in some more heat. Anyway, we had carried our own beverages and food as well and soon we were gulping them down before we set to explore the area further. It was at this time, when our photographer after a swig of beer, suddenly swirled me into a dance on the plateau by the moonlight and strong wind! A delightful surprise which made me bless him for urging me to follow my wish at the coffee table to come all the way up here.

The moon was moving fast towards the west and we knew within another hour or so, the eastern horizon would lighten up. We wanted to be prepared for the sunrise, rather than feel too cold before the sunrise and decide to head back to Mumbai. We started walking on the road and a little distance away, we found another relatively empty spot which connected us back to Nature. The rest of the night or early morning rather, we spent our time there, chatting, shivering, waiting for the sun to rise. As the sky brightened up, the silhouette of the nearby hills became clearer and what seemed like just a wall of darkness earlier became more defined with trees, hills and plateaus. Soon we could see the glimpse of the rising sun and in a few seconds the ghats were bathed in golden light...

Early mornings are always beautiful, especially when you are in the midst of Nature. This place was yet another such proof. We spent some more time to soak in the sunlight and the beauty and by 7:00 am or so, we decided to head back to Mumbai. We had spent 4 hours in that spot - but time seemed to have zoomed past. Wish, the beautiful morning lasted longer, but soon the sun was on its way up and before it got too sunny, we decided to leave Tiger Point. I don't know why it is called Tiger Point, it had nothing ferocious about it, though yes, the beauty was majestic - just like a tiger. We drove away from Tiger Point, with a heart full of memories that would last us for the rest of our lives... I never realized that the seemingly playful thought at the coffee table would have such a beautiful impact on my mind... If you can, do spend a night at Tiger Point in the open - you will fall in love with the place and maybe even with the people who accompany you...

To see the full moon traverse across the sky to make way for the rising sun, and to be swirled into a sudden dance at this amazing place is an experience I will embrace forever...