As I write this, we are descending the cloud-laden hills of Sahyadri. With memories of the amazing weekend in mind and stomach full of hot Maggi that I ate for breakfast, I am ready (never so ready) to march back into the city life.
As kids, we always had great weekends with our parents. (My parents are such travel junkies themselves.) Almost every alternate weekend they would take us to nearby places just to have a break from the exhausting routine. They also took us to Saputara more than often. Saputara, being one of the only few hill stations in Gujarat, is quite popular for weekend getaways among Gujaratis (especially South Gujarat). However, this time I was visiting Saputara almost after a break of some 6-7 years and that definitely made me realise what I was missing out.
Saputara is a small hamlet in the Sahyadri range located in the Dang district of South Gujarat. Earlier inhabited by the tribal community of the rural regions of Ahwa, Waghai and Vaansda in Dang, the small hill station quickly became a popular weekend destination for Gujjus. And why not? The weather in the toy town in monsoon is definitely worthy of attracting many tourists. The strategic location (near the Gujarat-Maharashtra border, which makes the provision for alcohol availability 😉), the scenic up hill drive and the many waterfalls on the way to the town makes it a perfect hit for families, group of friends, adventure seekers or travellers alike.
Best time to visit:
Monsoon (don’t ask me why.. Just visit it once in monsoon and then you will know it for yourself)
One valid reason would be that a lot of waterfalls that are inactive for the rest of the year comes to life in monsoon.
Saputara has many options for accommodation (from hotels, to service apartments, to rented holiday homes) and pretty much all of it can be well booked in advance to skip the last-minute hassle of finding a place to crash (especially on weekends when there are a lot of people).
There are also some really cool eco-tourist camps around Saputara (I know about the one in Mahal) that are run and managed by state government, if you are looking for an offbeat stay experience.
Things to do:
I would have made a long list by now but deep inside I only had one emotion when I was there. I just wanted to sit in the balcony of my hotel room (that overlooked the entire valley) and relax while breathing the fresh, crisp air and sipping hot chocolate. The magnificent vistas with all shades of green I have ever seen, the evenings where I was wrapped by thick blanket of clouds and could see nothing beyond, some soothing music and some stationery to make art was more than enough to set the right mood for me.
Other than that, there are many mainstream activities like boating in the lake, visiting sunset and sunrise points, tableland, museum, etc. But for me, it was more important to escape the crowd.
* Instead take a walk/jog EARLY in the morning on the pedestrian path that has been etched around the lake followed by eating poha and kanda bhajiya (hot onion fritters) for breakfast at one of the roadside stalls on the main road. Do not forget to drink a kadak chai if you are going in monsoon.
*Visit the honey farms and cultivation centres to buy some fresh produce.
*Visit the Hatgad fort, which is in Maharashtra but only 6 kms away from the town centre. On your way back you can sip a beer or two and you will not even be violating the rules *win win*.
*In addition, there is a ropeway on the top and is generally a little crowded but also worth the time and money. Instead of visiting the tableland at the top, which is mad filled with tourists, I would instead advice you to find your own stops along the road overlooking the valley.
*There are many scenic restaurants. Indulge in a dinner buffet spread at Lords’ Inn or Shilpi.
*And just like me, if you are someone who travels with some stationery or books, the best thing to do would be to find a nice bench on the Sunrise point in the wee hours and make some art or write a poem or simply read to your heart’s content.
*On your way up to Saputara, there are many waterfalls that are formed in monsoons and they make great spots for a little hike and some beautiful pictures.
This region of Gujarat has thick forests and flourishing wildlife and hence, its best enjoyed in seasons that brings out Nature’s goodness. All thanks to Amitabh Bachchan (under Gujarat Tourism campaign) to bring this small town into the lime light. Now many tourists have started flocking the place every weekend especially in monsoon. Not that I have a problem with it, but can we please come to terms with the fact that some places are better off with a little less crowd, little less business and little less plastic. In short, a little less human interference with Nature is what I am precisely talking about. But of course, that’s just me and my opinion!
Any situation always have its pros and cons and I can’t be putting the basic need of survival of other human beings at stake just because I have a different opinion. But can we all not be a little more co-operative??
There are only a few hill-stations in Gujarat and when we have this beautiful place so close to us, should we not be taking care of it even on an individual level?