‘Among The Clouds’- that’s exactly what it felt like when I spent a weekend in Lonavala. Lonavala is a small charming hill station just outside of Mumbai. It is so common a weekend getaway for people from the city that I’m surprised I took so long to visit! I landed up there last weekend after a most random turn of events, though it culminated into one of the most incredible camping experiences I’ve had.
During my usual Friday at work, I was busy preparing for a lazy weekend when my roommate called up and told me to be at Mumbai’s Kalyan railway station after work. As planned, at 11pm I found myself alone at the station (which is by far the dirtiest station I have been to), waiting for a train that was an hour late. After a bout of coordination that I’m extremely proud of, I managed to board the exact compartment my friends had boarded. No places to sit, but our journey was full of chatter and laughter.
We reached Lonavala at 3:30 am. That’s right, 3 in the morning. The place was dead quiet, the atmosphere had a chill, and there was mist creeping around.
Nope, we definitely weren’t afraid. Without a clue of where to go, we wandered around the city until we managed to find a rickshaw driver who would drive us to a place of his suggestion (Tungarli Dam) in the early hours of morning.
Up In Heaven:
The auto driver dropped us at the base of a hill- a short climb up to the dam, on the right side of which we could camp. We turned on our torches to find them absolutely useless; the fog up here was so thick that our torchlight just couldn’t get through. We made our way up slowly, trying to sense as much of the path ahead as we could. As we reached the top, the silhouette of the dam started to appear in the background of the sound of a stream. If we weren’t scared before, now we definitely were.
Moving along the walls towards the right, we found a path leading up. We reached the top and, after a lot of trouble, found a decent place to set camp. It took us a good half hour to set up and by the time we settled it was 5:30am. We decided to catch some sleep while we could, but managed only about an hour before sunrise.
We woke up at 6:30am and jumped out of our tents hoping to catch a beautiful sunrise. What we encountered though, was just breath-taking. We were literally among the clouds and mist.
Towards our right, Lonavala lay in a fog. Right in front were green mountains with their peaks covered by clouds, and on our left the dam stood undisturbed and pure. Clouds floated above the crystal-clear water.
Though tired from the sleepless night and travel, my eyes refused to shut. I sat there for hours listening to chirping crickets and singing birds, enjoying the view. Time seemed to fly and in fact three hours had passed.
The Perfect End:
After a walk around the dam (where we also skipped stones!), we went down the hill to feed our growling stomachs. India can surprise you with its local specialties, and we treated ourselves to some anda pav and Maggi. The stall women and two cute children kept us company.
The place was so peaceful that we ended up camping in the same place the second day as well. Despite all our misadventures of the previous night, only one word could describe our time at Lonavala- beautiful. I guess unplanned trips turn out to be the best experiences.
Editing Credits: Sharon Lewis