Come monsoon and we are reminded of one of our favourite monsoon getaways near Mumbai. It's common to get going on a long drive amidst cloudy roads to Lonavala, Karjat, Igatpuri, and the likes. These are some frequented monsoon getaway places by Mumbaikars. But we, for a change, stumbled upon a gem thanks to the amazing people at Grassroutes.
We got to know about a small village about 40 km from Shahapur. We didn't have huge expectations from there, but this small village blew our minds. Packed with nature's bounty and most humble people, we spent two days of pure bliss in this village. Here are some of our memorable experiences in Dehene.
1. Getting there
Forget about the end result, getting to this place is a wonderful experience on its own. Lush greens lining both the sides of the road, river crossings, small hilltops covered with all shades of green, open fields as far as you can lay your eyes on. It's surreal! This is a great route for an uninterrupted monsoon drive.
How to reach-
From Palghar/Virar/Vasai (would recommend this route so much, it is just lovely in monsoons)
2. Traditional Welcome
We were welcomed in the traditional Maharashtrian style with a tikka and topi. This is a great act of respect shown towards guests and translates to the 'Atithi Devo Bhava' shloka! This is when we met our dynamic local guide, Mohan. Mohan, just like the other local guides in the village, is a teenager helping the family by taking up the responsibility of being a guide. He has immense knowledge of the various plants and resources in and around his village and successfully imparts it to the guests when an opportunity presents itself.
3. Village tour
Mohan took us around his tiny, rustic village and explained about the daily routines of the villages, how they have evolved in terms of the construction of their homes. He also took us to see some of the older, deserted homes made of thatched roofs and hay. It was fascinating that even though the villagers are now adopting modern techniques, they have still preserved their ancient heritage. We were later taken to the village vermicompost plant and Mohan explained how the villagers took turns to take care of the plant.
4. Rice Pounding
Next up on our activities was rice pounding. Mohan's grandma (aaji) about 70+ years young, was to guide us throughout. And what an experience it was! After pounding, we ground the rice grains on a stone mill (Chakki), later aaji helped us in making rotis. This whole procedure was done without the use of any machines, just like the good olden days. Talk about connecting to our roots? We relished the rotis with home-made pickles and sabzi.
5. Riverside chill time
In the evening, Mohan took us to the riverside. We couldn't believe the sight in front of our eyes. The location was purely out of a movie scene. This was the first natural gem we stumbled across in the village. First of the many to follow.
6. Natural Fish Pedicure
After spending a substantial time by the riverside, we headed to the farms and ventured along the length of the river. Mohan left us to explore on our own at our pace. We enjoyed watching the cattle graze in the distance, the sun was about to set. We found a rocky stretch in the flowing stream and sat down, awaiting the glorious hues. Just as we put our feet in the water, a bunch of super tiny fish scurried around. When we were still, they came and ate away all the dead cells on our feet. As the sun went down across the horizon and the sky changed colours, we relaxed with the all-natural fish pedicure.
7. A Short Ride to Ajobagad foothill
Early, the next morning, Mohan took us on a short bike ride near the village. This was one scenic drive where we enjoyed the beauty of the village in abundance. The ride took us well above the village-level and watching the village below was a sight to behold. We stopped at the foothills of Ajobagad, a renowned trekking destination in Maharashtra. Mohan suggested we could go in for the trek, and that it would be done in about 1 hour up and back. He clearly assumed us to be way too fit than we actually were hahaha. This is one activity we have reserved for the next time we visit Dehene.