Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village

Tripoto
20th Jul 2019
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Day 1

Purushwadi is a name synonymous with fireflies festival in Maharashtra.
Fireflies festival, did I say? Yes, that's exactly what I said. Because it IS a thing. It is a magical natural phenomenon that comes to life amidst the amazing flora of the Western Ghats in India when thousands and thousands of these tiny glowing beetles swarm the green cover of of the area. It is a spectacle to behold.

So, what is it really?

Fireflies, while not uncommon in any rural set-up around the world, to see them in such large numbers is surely an uncommon sight for the urban. In the months of May and June, before the first showers of the season, the fireflies come out in the open and dissipate light signals to attract members of the opposite sex. This luminescent conversation creates a magical sight for the human eyes.

Grassroutes Journeys, a rural tourism initiative working with Purushwadi village community, has had significant contribution in popularizing this phenomenon among experience seekers. So when I came to know about Fireflies Festival a few years ago, I signed up immediately with Grassroutes for a visit to Purushwadi over a weekend in June, and convinced a couple of my friends to tag along as well.

How to Get There

A long drive of about 5hrs through the city, suburbs, up and down winding ghat roads, and many wrong turns later we reached the village of Purushwadi and were welcomed with great warmth by the volunteers of Grassroutes.

The route we took:
Pune - Nasik Highway > Chakan > Rajgurunagar > Narayangaon > Alephata > Purushwadi

Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy

Driving down...

Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy

Just as we were wondering which way to turn... brilliant way to give directions, I say!

Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy

Traditional welcome with flowers, teeka (vermillion smear on the forehead) and Gandhi cap (regional wear)

Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy

All smiles!

Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Purushwadi, Maharashtra, India by Nilanjana Roy


'At Purushwadi'

Lunch was arranged at one of the village homes - a simple yet sumptuous meal of chapati sabzi, daal n rice. Our soul was at peace!

What followed was a long walk through the fields and the meadows to the beautiful riverside. We sat on the boulders dipping our feet in the water, breathing in the quiet beauty around. To top that, we got ripe mangoes plucked fresh from the trees to bite into, an experience totally new for city dwellers like us!

The lunch that saved our lives!

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Walking through the village

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Peaceful riverside

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

This typical shrub attracts fireflies

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Enjoying a glorious sunset

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Tranquility!

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Loaded mango trees

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

As darkness cloaked the village soon after sunset, we had a delicious dinner of puranpoli n aamti at our host's place and sat around the temple chatting, ready for the firefly show to begin. Suddenly, a gentleman from our group who had gone out on a stroll alone, rushed back shouting "They're out! They're out! The fireflies are everywhere!!" We ran out in the open and truly so, the fireflies were out of their den and dancing around in all their glory! 

Our guide called us around and showed the way out of the village. The hibiscus shrubs and the tall trees lining the village path were lined with glowing fairy lights blinking and floating all around. We moved on in the dark, armed with flashlights to help us find our way. At one point, our guide asked us to stop and look down. We were standing almost at the edge of a low cliff, with a forest area below us. We kept staring into the darkness, wondering what to expect. And then it happened... Almost the entire valley lit up at once!! The very next moment it was pitch dark again and that's when another part of the valley lit up.  In the following few minutes, the blinking lights danced through the valley, holding us spellbound. It was breathtaking!

My feeble attempt at capturing the magic

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Although we did not want to budge from that spot, we had to after a few minutes. It was time to move closer to the dancing lights. Walking downwards towards the low lying area, we entered the outer parts of the forest. Now the fireflies were all around us, on the trees, on the shrubs around, on us. We were in fairyland!

The rest of the night was uneventful, apart from the fact that the symphony of snores emanating from almost each room of the thin walled house we were staying in rose to a crescendo and kept my friend awake through the night. But well, a small nightmare in a fairyland is acceptable, right? ;)

Day 2

People and Activities at Purushwadi

Well, we had another half a day at Purushwadi,  and that day we learnt to live a rural life. People in this village are warm and welcoming. We visited the farmlands and tried our hand at ploughing the field and reaping the crop. We learnt to chop firewood, to grind grain with a handmill, and even how to husk the grain!

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy

Another few days of practice, and we could have settled down in Purushwadi... really! But well, that was not to be. So we bid goodbye to our friends from this village and headed home with all the happy memories, the warmth with which this village and it's people treated us, and above all, the magic of nature that we witnessed at Purushwadi.

Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
Photo of Dance with the Fireflies at Purushwadi Village by Nilanjana Roy
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