Ever so often we feel we need to just get out go somewhere to escape from our mundane life and return to the simple life of the village. If you live in the city with your busy lifestyle and the live a life where you check your phone every other minute, you have felt this feeling too. So we found a jewel close to Pune, nestled in the lap of natural beauty. Tapola resonates with tranquility and mesmerizing beauty to such an extent that people loving call it mini-Kashmir.
Although Tapola is overshadowed by its more famous neighbour’s Mahabhaleshwar and Panchgani, it holds its ground and finds favour with travelers who want to go back to nature and disconnect from their materialist lives.
Our journey to Tapola took us through the well known hilly routes of Panchgani and Mahabhaleshwar. Since we didn’t quite know the way ahead we rode on the path with Google Maps to lead. With hardly any sign boards to help, we crossed the Ambenali ghat. With every passing minute I felt more like I was in roller-coaster than a car. Finally we realised that we were lost and misled by our phones. We had no network, no maps and no one on the road to guide us. We rode on for a while till we got to a chai tapri (tea stall). They lent us their phone and guided us on the correct path. God bless them!
The tiring road journey was well worth it. The minute we stepped out of the vehicle and saw the amazing sunset over the hills into the Koyna Dam all the tiredness went away. We quickly changed into our comfortable clothes and sat in the front lawn in awe of the majestic hills.
The hostess served us fresh tea and coffee along with some biscuits. As the sun went on its path beyond the hills, the sky turned to different hues of yellow, orange and red till we could see no more.
We ventured to the surrounding fields to pluck fresh strawberries and roam around the wheat fields, while the host told us all about their journey from a small farm to home stay.
Soon the night came upon us with its black velvet blanket along with its bright stars. It was quite a long time since we had seen so many stars in the sky. There were no lights in the surrounding area and we had the stars all to ourselves. We placed a cot in the middle of the lawn with our blankets shielding us against the cold, talking and gazing at the stars. Spotting satellites and planes as we laid down admiring the vastness of the universe and all its mysteries.
We had our simple homely dinner which we were informed had most of its ingredients from the farm itself. The only exceptions were the fish and chicken which came from Mahabhaleshwar market. We got a chance to try the wood fired ‘Chula’ to make the ‘chapathi’ and ‘bakri’.
After dinner we resumed being awestruck by the myriad stars in the lawn and talking about life away from all the technology and fast paced life. The simple fun of friendship, star-gazing and sitting in nature overpowered you and fills you with a joy so pure that no material possession can give.
The next day we woke up to freshly cooked ‘khande-pohe’ a local favourite for breakfast. Bought strawberries and some veggies from the farm and a hundred photographs later, made our way back to Pune.
Knowing well that the one night stay away from the city without all the gadgets and internet won’t change our ways, but having experienced the simple joys of life and nature we won’t be able to forget Tapola and the lovely home-stay we had.