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 in 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 this 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 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.
8. Hike to discover hidden waterfalls
On our way back, Mohan told us about a trail to a waterfall and we could head there if we wanted to. We love waterfalls, how could we not go? After a good 10 min hike downwards, we reached this gorgeous hidden waterfall. The only sound here was that of the water gushing from the height and occasional birds adding to the music. There are such innumerable hidden hikes in the village and you need a local to take you there.
9. Explore tribal village Chichani
Our last activity was a visit to the tribal village Chinchnani. The tribals here are very much cut out from the entire world and setting foot in their homes was a thrilling experience. We saw the various weapons they still use for hunting, which they make at home. We were also introduced to their handicraft skills and shown so many wooden artefacts and door frames made without using any machines. In a world of technology, theirs was a world without it and yet they lived in perfect harmony, choosing not to be part of the modern world. It was a very different experience to see them up close and personal.
10. Simple, Organic Meals
We want to spend a quick moment to appreciate the simple yet delicious meals that we were treated to in the course of our visit. Mohan's uncle's family was in charge of our meals and they spoilt us with their hospitality. From the breakfast of the staple poha, to the dal and veggies, everything was so delicious. We also got a taste of chicken curry made in their authentic style, which they made especially for us on request. Also, the black tea infused with lemongrass was our go-to refreshment twice a day :)
You may have not heard of this village much, but to our surprise, it is quite popular within the trekking fraternity. The main reason for it is that the famous Sandhan valley trek descends in this village and the trekkers usually rest here in Dehene, grab a meal, stay a night too sometimes, before returning back home. The Ajobagad trek is another one that can be started from here. The Harishchnadragad trek start point is also nearby. We would say, give this village a chance and you will thank us for sure. Go with Grassroutes for the best experience and a hassle-free trip. They are a national award-winning rural tourism enterprise that works for the upliftment of the local villagers here. The locals vouch for them and the development they have done for the village and the villagers with respect to growing tourism here. We had a beautiful experience and so will you.