When my son had come and told me that he was seeking admission in a university in Karjat, I was taken aback. I knew Karjat to be a sprawling green 100 km wide radiused district nestling expansive farmhouses belonging to Bollywood and political bigwigs. The last thing that I expected was a a university in that area!
My search on google, left me open mouthed with wonder when I discovered Vijaybhoomi University nestled cosily amidst the magnificent Sahyadri range, benevolently shielding the the sweeping campus of VU.
A place of study in such an ambience!- it was too good to be true!
I instantly told my son to proceed towards applying for his course.
While he was seeking admission, my curiosity and excitement was building alongside and I started exploring the area on the map.
Dotted with several farmhouses draping the periphery of the campus, the area looked more like a jungle on the map. My curiosity was piqued and I was earnestly hoping that son would get through the admission process.
My joy knew no bounds, when he finally crossed all the levels and we received the welcome email.
As they say, whatever happens, happens for good. Son wassupposed to travel to Jamrung in July, but covid had played spoilt sport with the second wave and the travel got postponed to October.
Divine blessings enabled our induction to mid September and amidst a whirlwind of preparations, we were soon on the flight to Mumbai.
Our aircraft landed amidst grey clouds which promised us a beautiful road trip to Karjat ahead. But we were simply not prepared for the stunning journey that awaited us!
Grabbing a quick bite at the airport, we booked an intercity taxi and hopped on to it to begin the last leg of our journey to the heaven on earth!
Crossing the city limits took about an hour, with the heavy traffic, metro and flyover constructions obstructing all major roads. As soon as we hit the highway, we relaxed and sat back to enjoy the lovely ride with the clouds travelling with us.
In about another thirty minutes, the city skyline gave way to the scenic western ghats, bottle green expanses on both sides of the highway. Our car sped across, eating up miles after miles of rolling fields, picturesque farmlands dotted with pretty farmhouses resting on their shoulders, cows and buffaloes lazing on the grass, languidly blowing their blades in the chambre’ breeze.
As we progressed, the landscape changed to an even deeper shade of green, and the Sahyadri range was more protuberant. We could discern thin, white strips lining the sides of the dark brown and green facades of the hills. The driver educated us, that the monsoon season gives birth to countless waterfalls which wash the hills till they dry up in October.
The drive wanted to refuel, so we pulled up on the side of a village, wanting to take lungs full of the crisp, pure, light and sweet smelling air. Taking deep breaths, we stretched our legs and roamed around soaking in the pristine surroundings.
We were now driving through the typical winding roads of the hills, and the map told us that our destination about thirty minutes away.
Busy taking videos, and clicking endless photos, trying to capture whateve we could on our cameras, the University suddenly loomed in front, sitting on a large plateau, a solitary brick and concrete structure that we had signed in the last three hours, that we can left the city limits!
We would around the tall boundaries of the campus and continued our climb uphill towards our pre booked farmhouse.
The narrow road, albeit cannot call it a road, it was more of rocky path, was lined with farmhouses insterpersed with dense forests on both sides. The sounds of countless insects were punctuated by the by-now-familiar gurgling of water all around.
We had rolled down our windows and breathed in lungs full of cool breeze blowing against the car momentum.
Finally we reached our destination – an old, rambling farmhouse spread across a wide 2000 square feet of area.
As soon as we entered the property, we were greeted by loud gushing of a waterfall and a gigantic wall of mountains facing our rooms!
Never, in our wildest dreams, could we imagine a room with such a view! We stood stunned into silence for a while, soaking in this magic, before slowly starting to unpack and settle down!
We decided to rest that day, and visit the campus the next day in the morning.
Morning greeted us with another magic! There was a drizzle in the garden in front of us, but behind our room, there was no rain!
The early rays of the sun, were playing hide and seek with the rainbow foam formed from the drizzle and the thin mist enveloping the farmhouse from the front. A truly celestial aura enveloped us in its arms.
We got ready and set off for the campus soon after.
Eyes only saw green everywhere. While seeing the spectacular green expanse, we reached the picturesque campus to finalise the formalities. The reception area is lined with glass windows from three sides, giving a panoramic and pisturesque view of the towering mountains and rolling greens cradling the sprawling campus.
After completing the formalities, we started out for a tour of the surrounding area.
We arrived at the 1st spot, a picturesque waterfall, cascading down the sides of the mountains in a straight white sheet.
The contrast of the white effusive waterfall against the black backdrop of the hill façade, shining in the slanting rays of the clement sun, soothed the soul like nothing else. A light foam arose from the waterfall, which formed tiny rainbows, from the light captured from the sun’s rays, imparting an ethereal glow all around.
Mesmerised, we moved on towards our next stop – the dam. The place simply didn’t stop springing surprises at us.
The driver informed us, that the dam was around the corner. By now, the familiar sounds of waterfalls and springs loudly informing us of their presence, had grown on our ears. So, simply thinking that we had arrived, we alighted from the car and followed our driver cum tour guide.
The rocky and uneven path gave way to a large clearing all of a sudden in a large courtyard, framed by walls of steely rocks, in the darkest shades of grey. As we started walking, the walkway, became a narrow strip with both the left and right sides, falling sharply into valleys about 200 feet below. The sun’s rays shone on the dense, green, manicured carpet, as if someone had just trimmed the forest! Carefully watching our steps, we walked on, when the sounds of cascading water hit us like amplified sounds suddenly, and a mammoth expanse of sparkling water came into view. About 100 feet below the walkway, a massive dam was controlling the water falling from a gigantic waterfall, and that water turned into a wide river, which gurgled happily through the ravine between two large hills, nestling a neat forest. The sun’s rays, sparkled all over the landscape, bringing to life, the stunning playground created by nature, where land and water played uninhibitedly, uninterrupted by the perils of human habitation.
Soaking in the stunning beauty and power of our bountiful nature, we stood there, trying to capture whatever little we could, on our lenses.
We came away, still in a daze to proceed to our last destination – the caves.
After a drive of 10 odd minutes, our guide stopped the car, and gave directions to reach the cave. We alighted and took a small stepped pathway, with the tall hillock flanking us on the right. As we turned left onto a clearing, we were facing a wide stream meandering from the opposite mountains and widening into a river disappearing behind the caves on our right. We turned right to sight the cave on our right with a 75 year old guide to take us inside!
Talking nineteen to the dozens, our guide, opened the gates for us and led us inside.
According to him, there are no records about who made the cave or how old it was. The walls of the caves, felt like iron. As we stepped in, we saw a neat row of small rooms cut out all around us. A large family must have inhabited the cave once upon a time. The rooms lined a large covered courtyard in the centre of the cave. The place has however, now been taken over by the Archeological Survey of India. Old stone idols of gods and goddesses have been placed inside the rooms.
How self sufficient were people in those times as well! As we came out of the cae, our guide showed us a natural well on the left of the cave, full of sweet water! According to him, the water level never goes down! A small waterfall feeds the well throughout the year- be in summer, winter or monsoon!
We were totally amazed by the workings of nature by the end of our trip! I can never tire from writing about the brilliance, magnificence and magic of Mother Nature! And to think,we take this power, beauty and bounty for granted!
Everytime, I visit nature, I come back humbled, feeling small, guilty and totally insignificant! Howveer, I also come back with a renewed resolve to do my absolute best to preserve nature in my own small ways, completely sure, that these small ways, will lead to bigger ways, to conserve, replenish and revive nature and Mother Earth.
We stayed in this luxuriant lap for another four days, completing rejuvenating ourselves.
Looking forward to return to that heaven on earth soon- to be cradled and cared by your eternal love, care and benevolence! Till then, Mother Nature, keep blessing mankind with wisdom and strength to revive and replenish you at all times!