As I sit at home, writing this blog, I really wonder if it would have been sheer luck, getting stuck at a place, away from the city, admist the mountains with an unending view of the river?
For Eliza, who owns Mystic Stays in Wai, near Mahabaleshwar, this definitely is a reality. Her #StayHome experience is amidst the towering mountains of the Sahyadri and a beautiful Krishna river in Jor village.
The current COVID situation - Forget long weekends for a while :(
2020 is a year full of long weekends; but nobody ever imagined the pandemic situation we are currently in. Perhaps nature wanted to take a break from over tourism!
Staying home for souls who love travelling is usually considered weird. However things are changing and being a "traveller" doesn't necessarily mean that you keep exploring the world all year round.
Right now, as we stay put, in our small apartment in Mumbai, working from home, trying to do our best for the family, and praying that the current situation comes to an end soon, we can only go back to those carefree days, where we happily basked in nature's glory.
Today, writing an account of our travel feels extra important, as we are reminded that we cannot take nature for granted. That the four walls of our homes cannot be enough for a lifetime. That we need to go out and breathe in fresh air. Currently though, it only looks like a far fetched dream.
Planning our long weekend before the pandemic madness started
Early this year, just before a long weekend that we were very kicked about, the pressure to search for that perfect stay began a couple of weeks in advance. Hotels at most of the touristy places like Mahabaleshwar & Matheran were already booked and we literally started looking at the map of Maharashtra to pin down a location where we could spend a blissful weekend.
That's a good situation to be in, sometimes, because you are free to select whichever destination you want to. After looking at Nashik, Panchgani, Igatpuri, Kamshet, Alibaug and getting disheartened at unbelievable tarrifs of some of the resorts there, we came across an offbeat Agro Tourism resort - Mystic Stays in Wai, Satara.
About our offbeat eco stay, which we found on Google maps
Wai has an average elevation of 718 metres and is known for its ghats on the banks of Krishna river. The key attractions are Dhom Dam and Dholya Ganapati, but we saw nothing of that and simply spent some family time at Mystic Stays - our haven for 2 nights.
Here's what our life in the mountains looked like:
Day 1 at our rustic river facing home
We left Mumbai early morning, to avoid possible traffic jams. Wai is almost a 5-6 hrs journey by road. We covered our first 3 hours, since we left at 0600 hrs and stopped by at Vitthal Kamat en route, to have our breakfast.
We reached Mystic Stays at lunch time and were greeted by the friendly staff there. Our cottages were river facing and the view was simply amazing!
After a yummilicious lunch of roti and some innovative subzi - Bhindi and Angoor and Gawaar & musk melon ki subzi, we retired for the day, caught up on that much needed nap and woke up in the early evening to kick start for a river side stroll. The images say it all. There wasn't a single "hooman" in sight and we thanked our stars for that truly great experience of witnessing something so beautiful in pure solitude.
As the night fell, we walked back to our cottages, spent some good time drinking beer and listening to music. What surprised us the most was the cool breeze around us. We were unprepared for the cold and literally had to wrap the resort's towels around us to stop shivering.
Day 2 of doing nothing and chilling!
The resort staff had arranged for a village visit and lunch the next day. They had also shared a whole lot of "things to do" with us - like trekking to one of the peaks of Mahabaleshwar. We wanted to take it easy and hence decided to skip it. Waking up at 0900 hrs and soaking in the gentle sunlight over a cup of chai was an experience worth remembering.
There was no hurry to bathe, pack, catch a train or do just about anything. We lazed around, clicked pictures, gorged on yumm breakfast, enjoyed the hammock and mountain views till lunch time.
Our lunch was in Golewadi village, in a local's home. We were treated to a feast of Jhunka Bhakar, Thecha and Bharli Vaangi. It was truly a finger licking experience and we were left wanting for more. The locals happily served us and after lunch, we moved on to a nearby Shiva temple and a bridge.
This place will definitely be worth a visit in the monsoons. "Its surrounded by lush hills and waterfalls; you also can hear sounds of peacocks", said Eliza, owner of Mystic Stays, who has painstakingly developed this unique agro tourism concept, to encourage city dwellers, to bask in the lap of nature.
As we came back to our cottages, it was already cold and Dinesh, the resort manager, quickly arranged for bonfire. We had that perfect "family time", we chatted for long, listened to those perfect mountain songs, had Biryani (on demand!) and retired early for the day.
Day 3 of enjoying the journey back home with "Strawberries" as our highlight of the day!
Morning on day 3 started a little late as we caught up on as much as sleep we could, during our staycation in the mountains. After a scrumptious breakfast, we headed to Mumbai. Enroute, we came across a local strawberry farm, where we helped the farmers pluck kilos of strawberries for our friends back home.
As we approached the Express way towards the evening, we treated ourselves to Datta's mouth watering snacks, which seemed like the perfect end to our trip.
It definitely isn't safe to travel currently. Hopefully, together we can pray that the situation normalises soon and that we humans value each other and our surroundings more.
This trip will be special, as it happened before the lockdown started. It has only taught me to cherish good memories and better still, document them, to take a nostalgic trip again and forever...
Till then, stay home, stay safe and maintain SOCIAL DISTANCING!