Bhandardara Diary

…we reached late and end up in a superfun nightout…

If you’re following my blog, you know i’m not writing my weekly diaries. I have been busy with travelling, office work and other usual stuff. Weekends are packed with work. And more work. Though couple of travel stories are up on the blog.

… and last weekend (it’s been some time) we were at Bhandardara. With Shanti’s office friends. A camping night it was. Now it’s more than a year that we had been under the stars.

We reached Thane at 3pm. All of us gathered by 5:30 at Shil phata. We left city traffic behind and became a part of, regular national highway traffic. At a curvy road our two cars stopped for a sunset break. And of course selfies. If you are planning for Bhandardara, then make sure you’ll reach before sunset. The place is famous for it. By the time we took right turn at Ghoti twilight was fading quickly. Some kilometers ahead we made another right turn. Leaving the state highway behind, we were in dark night. Somewhere near Bari village we stopped for a chai break. Now, according to me, there was something in that air. It was cold out there. A strange silence. The chai stall had a few people, having  tea after day’s hard work. Dim kerosene lamps lighted few tired faces. We ordered tea. As Uday closed the door of his Honda Civic, the car went crazy. Parking lights started dancing. Security alarm started screaming. Somehow by the help of a local guy we got to know that it’s the horn making noise. Shashank disconnected the horn which solved the noise problem, but blinkers were still dancing, even after a complete shutdown. Nobody from our 10 people group was a car scientist. And we had reached to a place where…

If blinkers don’t go off then the battery will. Eventually. And it’ll be a big issue to start the car in morning. We called up our tent provider and asked if he can arrange a mechanic in the morning. After his positive reply we begin our further journey. Now the magic part comes. After a couple of kilometers blinkers decided to switch off automatically… Further ahead we took a wrong turn at Shendi village. Came back and the road from here is bad. Specially for less ground clearance cars like our Honda Civic. Second car Volkswagen Ameo had no problems with road conditions. It took us lot of time to complete that last leg of journey.

With unlimited stars on our head, we reached our campsite. Our tents were pitched right next to moonlighted dam water. Cold winds took out some jackets. A battery operated LED light was keeping our company. Everyone found their place on the mattress, surrounded by our 3 tents. A huge lake lied in front of us. A fraction of it lighted by fading moonlight. It was colder. The mercury dropped further as my watch’s needle moved ahead. It was quite unexpected for the people came from a hot and humid city.

But the cold could not bring our excitement down. It did not stopped us to crack jokes on Shailesh. Or neither anyone missed any chance of beating him. It couldn’t stop Namrata, Pallavi. Reshma, Shanti, Jasleen to spend some time on the shore. And listen to “so lost…”. Kawal’s eyes scanned Moon’s surface from his new telescope. Uday went early to bed. Shashank was drifting among us.

And I…

What else I can do …

I started filming the place on my Fujifilm. This was the first night photography for my X Pro2, filming the dark night. Clicked a few photos of moon set. ISO 3200 was coming pretty decent. Much cleaner than my old 5D Mk 2. There was no lag in processing speed, even for a 15sec exposure. 5D used to take a deep meditation session to wake up for next shot.

At many occasions I have witnessed, also clicked, the moonrise. I thought Sunset is the most beautiful nature show on earth. Moonrise was better. Never thought of a Moonset. It was always like moon fading away in the sky with contrasting sunlight. Moonset. A phased-out moon disappearing on horizon. Leaving rest of the sky orphan. Leaving a small twilight of his existence.


Our tent organizers were locals. They made Paneer Tikka, Chicken Tikka on a small makeshift barbecue. And there was bhel too. Dinner was delicious. Specially Veg. Skipping Non-veg, totally worth it.

A camping can not be completed without a bonfire. It was most needed in this cold night. My cotton jacket had given up long back. We made a quite handsome bonfire. Warm and cozy. There were several bonfires around, playing Bollywood numbers, with rum and noises. Night moved ahead, so our chit chat and jokes. Somewhere around 3:30 am some of us decided to call it a night. Rest of them wanted to see that falling star from Shah Rukh’s movies. They switched off the LED, lied on the carpet, within seconds they were out from this world. So were we, in our dreams.

The camping site

5:51 was sunrise time and 5:30 was alarm. The struggle from bed to “On your feet Maggot!!” is still on. I came out of tent. Twilight was fading. Still a chill in air. Few people were awake from nearby tents. I can see around now. First rays of sunlight reached on the top of Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra. Slowly and steadily the mountain started overlapping with orange carpet of sunlight. I couldn’t see the sun directly. We were facing west and behind us the land was little elevated. The lake is beautiful. Surrounded with Sahyadri range. Blue coloured sky mixed with Kalsubai range were printed on lake’s surface. Some time later sunlight reached us. I was waiting for this like a cold blooded reptile. Our tent guy came with Tea and Breakfast. By 8:30 things started to heat up. By 9 we left the place with our hearts filled with joy and a relaxed mind.

The purpose of our trip was not just camping or night out. Me and Shanti decided to keep few memories only for us. Yes sometimes, I can’t write everything… Life surprises when least expected. I did not expected anything from this night but I got to know few beautiful people. A new place to get lost in time. Some new memories. Brushed some old experiences. And a few good pics too…

Sunrise on Kalsubai
on the dam

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