Flashback Weekend : Travel & Outdoor 2017

FeaturedFlashback Weekend : Travel & Outdoor 2017

It’s the fifth weekend of 2018 already !! It seems like I celebrated New Year Eve just last week 🙂 Time flies seriously, from one weekend to another, one month to another, and the year is almost over. I felt my 2017 was like that. One trip to another, from one holiday hangover to the other. Beaches to Mountains and repeat 🙂

2017 was my most traveled and outdoor-spent year. I had decided to explore more, discover new destinations and in fact I ended up spending so much time outdoors that I couldn’t pen down my travel stories and epic journeys. Better late than never, and flashbacks are important as well!

So here it goes –

January – Kumta to Gokarna Coastal Beach Trek:

Started my first long weekend with a Coastal Beach trek. After lot of failed plans, booked this trek with TrekMates, luckily there was only 1 seat left and without wasting any second, just booked it. Gokarna was anyway in my bucket list, and a range trek along Arabian Sea Coast seemed pretty exciting. Started from a small town Kumta, in Uttara Kannada and reached Gokarna crossing 11 virgin, scenic beaches, hiking through cliffs, and breathtaking views of Arabian Sea. It was not just another trek for me, but a journey I will remember for lifetime. Imagine chilling on a beach, without knowing the name of the beach 🙂

The best part of the journey was that I started alone, but came back with a bunch of friends.

February – Bhandardhara Camping

Winter & camping go hand in hand. Lake side camping with my college friends seemed like a great idea and booked this experience along with my three college friends. This experience was again provided by Trekmates. What seemed like a small group and a silent camping experience, turned out into a night of crazy laughter, dance, music and most importantly the ghost stories. Bonfire, bunch of crazy friends and good music is a sure shot guide to a perfect camping experience.

The morning was one of the most beautiful mornings, waking up to a view is an amazing feeling. Beautiful places aren’t far away !!

March- Lonavala Drive and Wet and Joy Water Park

I thought let’s take a break in March and be a little indoors. It was a hectic work month and also the month of Holi festival. But somehow planned for a day outing and went to Lonavala for a drive. It was my first road trip on my new car, so quite an excited one for me 😉 Though it was just a usual drive and chill plan but we ended up enjoying at a water park- Wet and Joy. Unplanned outings are best at times.

April- Lucknow

Lucknow, Nawabon ka Shahar. It was a close friend’s wedding and it was unavoidable. This was more of a foodie trip. Enjoyed Lucknow Chaat and Kulfi, and obviously the wedding was too much fun. Dance, Dhol and drama, typical Indian wedding scenes. Moreover, it was like a mini college reunion.

May – Kasol , Manikaran

The most awaited month of the year, I was waiting for May from 2016. I had booked Himalayan Trek in November 2016 itself. Kasol was the base camp for my Himalayan Trek. Kasol is a place where even if you are in a group, you will find solace. The base camp is set at a beautiful place. This place is best discovered walking, we went walking till Manikaran Gurudwara, crossing entire Kasol, the road is still fresh in my heart and mind. Kasol is like Mini Israel of India, one can see lot of Israelis around, Israeli cafes and beautiful paintings as well. The walk towards Katagla bridge is mesmerizing as well.

June- Sar Pass, Delhi

My Journey to Wonderland, from Kasol to Sar Pass is already documented, and I can almost write a book on it. This was a Himalayan trek to Sar Pass with Youth Hostel. My return was planned via Bhuntar and Delhi. Though I started the trek alone, by the end I had few really good friends. I had one day free, and spent it with my new friends , cafe hopping and eating in and around Connaught Place.

July- Thailand

My unplanned international trip, thanks to office departmental offsite. The offisite was planned for Bangkok and Pattaya. The trip seemed refreshing after the Himalayan trek. This was an all in one trip, shopping, partying, sight seeing and even adventure sports. Loved shopping and exploring the Floating Market, had no idea there’s love bridge in Pattaya as well.

August- Vasai Fort & Lonavala

Vasai fort was in my checklist from quite some time but finally made it in August. This was again an unplanned outing. My friend called, on Friday and we immediately made the plan. Even though some people said that there’s nothing to explore at the fort, I always believe in going , seeing and then believing; and I am glad I did. The walls and structure of the fort still remains and gives the idea of how magnificent it may have been in the past. Rains and perfect breeze added to the beauty of the outing.

I also went for a drive to Lonavala with a new friend. It was just the perfect day for a Lonavala drive.

September- Mysore Farm House

My secret hide out spot, where I always go when I feel like running away, is my sister’s farmhouse on the Mysore Ooty road. The farm life can give anyone a detox and break from the mundane city life. Epic sunsets, beautiful mornings and fresh air, just the perfect break one needs to rejunavate.

October – Igatpuri , Vihegaon

Sometimes leaving early from office and going on a drive is not a bad idea. This was around Diwali time, the last working day before the festive break. I left before lunch and decided to go to Igatpuri with my friend. The drive was amazing and we ended up discovering a beautiful waterfall – Ashoka Waterfall near Vihegaon.

November- Mysore City

November was an eventful month, with its ups and downs. I had 3 days of joblessness and I thought going to Mysore was the best idea as I had no prior bookings. So I boarded the bus to Mysore. This time though, I was in the city itself and didn’t go to my sister’s farmhouse. To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the beautiful sensations in the world.

December- Alibaug, Phanaswasdi, Owe Dam

December was a break and thanks giving month for me. 2017 has been a wonderful year for me. Lot of travel, some good new friends and millions of memories. I was craving for a beach holiday but, and then one weekend I met a close friend for brunch but we ended up going to Alibaug. Spontaneous plans at it’s best. I spent the New Year Eve silently, with a small trek to Phanaswadi and later till Owe Dam.

Cheers to the good times and I hope 2018 gives me more reasons to laugh, explore and write.

Straight From My Heart,

Prakriti

Solo morning stroll to PandavKada Falls

Solo morning stroll to PandavKada Falls

I left alone for a morning walk, on the self-extended weekend,

Came back with beautiful captures, adventure of a lifetime and a new friend.

It was a Monday morning, a rainy Monday morning. It was raining continuously for the last two days. I decided not to go to office, I was anyway a resigned employee with 5 days of service left and . Had two ways to enjoy Monday off- to sleep again for few more hours, or go hill side and enjoy. I chose the second option, I was in mood to capture the green hills too.

I started my walk, it wasn’t even a walk. I was strolling. So much peace , that too on a Monday. People were rushing to work, while I was walking in the opposite direction. The footpaths were slippery, had to be careful.

I was trying to absorb as much as possible – the fresh air, the green trees and the green hills.  There was a unique sense of freedom within me. Slowly I reached the first hill range, the driving range. But I saw people there, and decided not to go there. I have realised I enjoy my own company with nature. My solo trip was one major milestone in this realization. So I continued straight towards the golf course area.

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Took my first halt there, just for the view- grass, woods and waterfall. It just left me mesmerized. The Pandavakada falls looked so beautiful and full of glory. I felt attracted , I felt spell bound. I decided that I will reach as close as possible to witness Pandavkada falls’ beauty at peak.

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While I was lost in thoughts and excitement, I saw there was one more guy walking ahead. But he was comparatively walking fast. I was wondering who else took out time for a morning stroll. I gathered senses and then resumed my stroll. As I was crossing the golf course area, I could see myself getting close to the falls.

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All the time I was hoping that the entry point for the falls should be open. Many times the police and Kharghar Forest Department officials block the way due to the unwanted accidents that have taken place. Finally I reached Kharghar Gurudwara, from where there’s the  way to Pandavkada falls.

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I stood there for a minute, admiring the beauty and feeling the silence of nature. I was glad that there were no Forest department officials, and considered it as completion of first milestone in reaching the falls. While I was just about to start my journey towards the falls, I heard a voice from behind. It was the same guy I saw near the golf course, he wanted to know whether there is a way ahead and is it safe. I was initially reluctant to entertain anyone, but then I had already made my mind so I thought I should continue and asked him to join me. We started walking towards the falls. The route has undergone many changes with time. I was recollecting, the time when there was literally no way and we had to actually find one through the rocks and hills. Had even documented that in one of my earlier posts: A Letter from Mother Nature.

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The way seemed very easy but they say never judge a book by it’s cover. After just few steps we saw a stream, with a very heavy current; obviously due to heavy rains. We thought it would be difficult to cross it, but then we saw an uncle crossing it, he seemed so refreshed and happy. A villager was helping him cross. That gave us motivation to go on, and moreover, the smile on his face revealed it’s worth going ahead. Slowly, we crossed the stream and continued towards the falls. Pandavkada looked beautiful, in its full glory, surrounded by lush greenery.

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In spite of the commercialization, the place can never lose it’s beauty. Also, there were hardly any one enroute falls, as it was a Monday morning. Only few school and college students who bunked to enjoy nature’s beauty on a windy day. I realized that I was walking  and exchanging thoughts with this guy for quite sometime, but din’t even know his name. Finally we introduced ourselves to each other. Shanker, seemed a nature lover and an avid traveler too. He had taken work from home that day. But couldn’t stay at home. Read somewhere – If you don’t find company to go somewhere, go alone and you will find people like you in the journey. I could actually relate to it at the time.

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We finally reached near the halls. We could see the front view of the waterfalls. Stood there quietly absorbing as much as I could. Tried to capture it perfectly too. But some beauties are difficult to capture. You have to be there, experience it, to actually capture it.

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After few moments of being lost in nature, we finally spoke. Shanker asked whether I wanted to go further, as the way was hilly and tricky ahead. I instantly said yes, as is my nature to take challenges, and go as far as I can. But he warned and reminded me of the stream. It was about to rain, and that if it starts raining heavily like it was it would be very difficult to cross it. He had a valid point. It would have been different if we were in a group; and I feel grateful he advised me. So we decided to return.

Soaking all energy from the green hills and the vibrant waterfall, I turned my back to head home. After few minutes, it started raining. I told myself Thank God I accepted Shanker’s advice. Also had told mom I would be back in half an hour, couldn’t afford getting stuck. 🙂

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By this time, Shanker and I became good friends. Both of us are very talkative and candid in nature. We reached the stream, the current was indeed heavy. We took a long and thick stick, and used it to cross. We held the opposite ends of it, it just made it easier. And after few more steps, back to city.

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That’s the beauty of Kharghar, we can visit the hills too, and in some time back to the roads. Feeling rejuvenated, we walked towards home. I realized that Shanker’s  stays very close to my place. So we accompanied each other on our way back too.

I felt great that I decided to step out, and not sleep. The most spontaneous plans and decisions in life are the best. I felt peace that day, and captured some beautiful images and videos, and made a new friend.

Straight From My Heart,

Prakriti

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