It’s been a while since I had visited a village, let alone stayed anywhere out of my comfort zone. I have fond memories of visiting my relatives in Konkan during summer vacation – plucking mangoes and other local fruits, playing with my siblings in the farms and devouring the food cooked on chulla (wood/charcoal fire). Those were the days!
Soon adulthood took over, the endless charades of work life, making money and buying things became important. But we all have that wanderlust, the want to escape all this once in a while and get a different perspective. Just get away from the city!
Grassroutes offers exactly this. I have been seeing advertisements on social media and hearing from people about their experience with Grassroutes. One weekend I packed my bags and headed to Purushwadi. The booking process was seamless. You need to make online payment and pass on the confirmation to Grassroutes, that is it.
Purushwadi sees a fireflies festival from May – early July. You can watch millions of fireflies here and it’s a sight not to be missed. If watching fireflies is your reason for visit then the best time is during the month of May. With the onset of rains, you will see less and less fireflies. But honestly there is so much more to Purushwadi that just fireflies that you can visit any time of the year and expect to be wowed.
The journey – Purushwadi – district Ahmednagar, Maharashtra is 220 km (~4 hours) from Mumbai. Since it was beginning of monsoon the weather was extremely pleasant; occasional showers of rain and peak-a-boo with the sun. The drive is scenic, no matter what route you take.
Purushwadi is a small village – 100 odd houses and population of around 700 (We met Purushwadi’s school headmaster who was very enthusiastic to give us the stats).
Accommodation – Grassroutes provides simple, clean & no frills accommodation. You can choose from home stay, canvas tents or camping tents. Campsite has clean washrooms on sharing basis. Mattress & blankets are also provided. The camps run entirely on solar power so carry a torch or hire solar lamps from the campsite. Apart from few ants, there are hardly any insects you should worry about. But do carry a mosquito repellent just to be on a safer side.
The lakeside camping tents face the riverside and have beautiful views.
Food – Upon arrival your guide will take you to a village house that you will be your destination for lunch, dinner & breakfast during your stay. Note that most of the villagers are farmers and lot of food items will be locally grown. Variety depends on the financial condition of the farmer so please do not be picky or ask for special items. Milk & milk produce is expensive and used rarely. But when it comes to food, I can guarantee that you will have no complaints. Nothing tastes better than food cooked on open fire! From Puran Poli to your simple daal, everything gets a delicious smoky flavor.
Activities – Depending on the weather you can do a lot of things at Purushwadi. Our guide Yuvraj took us on a small trek and the view from the top was breathtakingly beautiful. You can swim in the river, help the farmer plough the fields or work with the ladies performing the daily chores like husking rice.
People – People at Purushwadi make this tour special. From our guide, the boys who look after the campsite, the lady who welcomes us in her home for food to the friendly villagers who showed us their way of life; each person leaves a mark on you. It’s a hard life but they are proud of it and every one of us should keep that in mind as we interact with them.
Experience – I thoroughly enjoyed these 2 days. Since it was almost end of season, I could not see many fireflies. But I got a glimpse and I can tell you it is a sight one should not miss.
As I said before that everyone at Purushwadi is friendly and helpful. So ultimately it all comes down to your expectations. This is not a luxury vacation where you can order room service and there is no butler service. As Grassroutes says – This is a chance to experience real India in a safe, welcoming and pure environment. Don’t go with unrealistic expectations. Be humble and absorb what this place has to offer you. Sleep in a tent without light, walk under the moonlight, eat simple food, get drenched in the rains, let a firefly sit on your palm, listen to the silence of the night – Live a little differently for 1 day. Cities are considered heart of India but these villages are the veins, pumping blood into them; experience it.
Dehna – I just read that Grassroutes has started their monsoon trips to Dehna. Can’t wait to explore yet another gem in the Western Ghats!
Read more about Grassroutes – http://www.grassroutes.co.in/
Pictures – Sarang Naik Photography