AT WATER’S EDGE
Words: KRUTTIKA NADIG
Photographs: HASHIM BADANI
GREAT FROM Mumbai and Pune
GREAT FOR Families and mixed groups only
It’s a breezy evening and you’re stretched out under the stars, the aroma of barbecued food drifting all about you. No unsightly concrete blocks your view; instead, there’s an expanse of water gleaming softly. You’re at Deogadh, a homestay near Lonavala whose deck faces Lake Pawna, with Tung Hill rising dramatically above.
Staying here is an experience that’s both exclusive and unfussy. You’re offered lemonade under an ivy-clad stone porch, which shelters an alfresco dining table. Friendly caretakers offer you simple local fare – the bhakri, masale bhaat, veggies and rustic meat dishes collide agreeably with stoked appetites.
Get hungry you will, as there are many activities to try out. The lake is a short walk from the homestay and invites you to swim towards cormorants sitting along the edge. Feel the cool earth between your toes as you tramp across the mud bank into the water. Bring your own watersports gear if you want to head out further.
The chatty hosts, Clement and Annabelle, give you a tour of the property, which has been around long enough for its mango and papaya trees to grow tall and fruitful. Their anecdotes add character to the brick pizza oven and the rescued fairground mirror.
Deogadh’s plum location also makes it a good base for exploring the Pawna region. Pop over to the popular Lohagad Boat Club and take a spin on a jet-ski and in a motorboat. Or taste a bit of history with treks to Bedse Caves and Tikona Fort.
Built sometime between the 1st century BC and 2nd century AD, Bedse Caves is the lesser-known sibling of the Karla and Bhaja rock-cut caves on the ancient trade route from Kalyan in the west to Paithan in the east. An easy 25-minute climb brings you to the caves, containing a Buddhist vihara (residence with several cells) and carved human and animal figures atop four frontal columns. It’s worth a gander if only to hear your voice echo around the smooth Roman-style pillars.
The climb to Tikona Fort is harder and longer, but getting here rewards you with a panorama of Pawna Lake and smaller lakes amid fields of rice and corn. Narrow footpaths take you up to the strategically-built 4th-century fort, held by various rulers from Raja Bhoj and Shivaji to the Mughals and the British. Monkeys rustle above as you huff your way up to the thick buttresses, and peep at you through the cannon holes while you potter about the walled peak.
You can also stroll through Thakursai Village, where the homestay is situated. The caretaker Raju will give you a village tour and even arrange a cow-milking lesson and offer you a glassful of the fruit of your slippery efforts.
The essence of this homestay, though, is the invitation to relax and be wooed by the outdoors. Read in the hammock until the light fades. Linger over a breakfast down by the lake. Laugh into the breeze. It’s a place meant for bonding, with other travellers and with nature.
From activity timings, homestay information to loo stops, find all the practical information you need to plan this trip now – in LPMI’s March 2015 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter