Like a coin, every tourist place has two sides. There’s often a known side that’s exaggerated in blogs & glorified by travellers. It’s usually the good stuff that someone would tell you about after having spent their hard-earned money on a trip to that place. And then there’s an unknown side that everybody knows but nobody talks about.
Igatpuri has two sides too. There is a known side that comprises spectacular views of the Western Ghats & plenty of great spots with mesmerising Sunrises & Sunsets. And then there is an unknown side.
There are no Ola and Uber cabs in Igatpuri. Not even local taxis. Just a handful of cab providers who won’t pick up your phone for hours. And when they would, they would charge 1000 bucks for 10 km. How are you supposed to cover 20 places in & around Igatpuri then?
What happens in such cases?
I will tell you what happens. In such cases, you get desperate & call the only driver that you know right now – the OLA driver who had just dropped you at Igatpuri. This guy can smell desperation like you can smell your boss’ bad mood just by reading his email. He sure agrees to come back & show you around but he charges you a bomb for local sightseeing & bringing you back to Bombay. And with a heavy heart, you pay him a large sum and that’s about it.
Is it really it?
No, not really. Now that I have bitched a bit, let me talk to you about this gorgeous place called Igatpuri, a hill station situated in the Western Ghats. 🙂
And here are the five recommended places that you can visit in Igatpuri. Why five? Because let’s be honest, unless you are in your own vehicle, you can’t do 20 places in Igatpuri. The cabs will rip you off. Also if you got only two days, this is the best itinerary that you can make:
Begin with Vihigaon Falls & Ghatandevi temple
The commute to Vihigaon Falls from our hotel, Tropical Resort, wasn’t too long but it took our driver forever to drive down partly because his car was rickety but mostly because his car ran on CNG. Somehow we reached the falls before time but imagine our disappointment when we realised that the falls were closed owing to COVID restrictions. The falls are gorgeous like most waterfalls are. And a view of pervasive Green makes it irresistible. That was the saving grace for us too. Even if you can’t visit the falls, the views around are worth a visit. Actually, everything looks scenic around Monsoons when you are in or around the Western Ghats.
On our way back from Vihigaon falls, we took a quick stop at Ghatandevi temple. It’s a beautiful little temple of the diety, Ghatan devi, who’s believed to be the protector of the Ghats (peaks) around Igatpuri. Since you will be in the area, do pay a visit.
Click some pics at Camel Valley Viewpoint
After Vihigaon & Ghatandevi temple, our next stop was the Camel Valley viewpoint. And talk about gorgeous! A panoramic view of Green mountains makes you feel that you have just been handed a piece of monsoons – that would remain yours forever. There are monkeys around but they don’t do much other than snatching & stealing your food or your possessions. But that doesn’t matter when you come this close to nature & its wonders.
Click pictures or not, but do spend some time here. You would not forget the views for months/ years to come.
Watch the Sunset from the Sunset Point, Bhavli Waterfall
After the Camel Valley Point, we got a bid greedy for nature. Our cabbie was charging us a bomb anyway. So, we tried to squeeze in one more point – Bhavli waterfall. This turned out to be the highlight of the day. We reached an hour before sunset, waited out near the waterfalls & forgot to check out watches. As the Sun began to set, the sky began bursting with colours, full of all emotions – joy, wonder, surprise & compassion maybe. I hadn’t enjoyed a Sunset this deeply in a long time.
Was it the best that I have seen?
After watching the sunset, we felt a sense of satisfaction which soon turned into hunger when we reached our hotel. We ate to our heart’s contents while watching a young band from Bombay performing live for us & then went to bed for tomorrow was the second & the last day in Igatpuri.
Spend the morning in silence at Dhamma Giri the next day
The next day, we woke up, checked out from the hotel & reached Dhamma Giri, one of the world’s largest meditation centres & the focal point of Vipassana meditational practices. You take the entry via the Myanmar Gate, which in itself is an architect’s delight. Inspired by the Thailand style of architecture, Myanmar Gate is pleasantly distinctive.
There’s a museum inside with paintings of Lord Buddha depicting famous events from his life. I spent time reading the story behind each painting. It made me really happy. And it was the only source of good reading for me that weekend.
You could take a walk through the adjoining parks, buy Vipassana books or enrol yourself for a future course (if they take you).
People like me, who have only read about meditation in their lives & can’t let go of even a comment made by a random stranger, feel at peace in such places (yes, even people like me). You will feel it too. And if nothing else, you will come back thinking how badly you need a farm-house/ a cabin/ a house in the hills in your life.
End your trip with a lakeside picnic at Vaitarna Dam
On our way back home to Bombay, we planned for our last stop – Vaitarna Dam. The drive to the dam is beautiful as one would expect. The dam was of course closed which this one didn’t expect. But there were so many sights & points around the dam that all you had to do was to choose. Select any spot and park yourself there – the views around are scenic, straight from a painting. We chose a spot near the lake. And I lied down on the green grass for some time, looking at the sky. After some time, the sky looked the same & the grass started to feel itchy. But worth a try! 😉