A weekend getaway to Raigad Fort offered a fresh perspective on life to my otherwise urbane self. Caught in the vicious circle of desire and envy, this trip was a check on reality. A great scenic drive from Pune, the landscape changed every few kilometers. The beautiful Sahyadris that gave birth to Guerilla Warfare centuries ago, the details of which tortured my soul during History classes at school had suddenly become the subject matter of my fascination. I was in awe of their sheer might and beauty. The tranquil backwaters flowing aimlessly at the base of the mountains offered a laid back sight as we cruised through the winding road. Occasionally, we would come across a blanket of lavender sprawled across, buzzing with the activity of honeybees.
As we passed the 20 odd villages en route to our destination, all that was common was the omnipresent greens, vast school campuses and lack of people or vehicles. Crossing cows that remained undeterred by oncoming automobiles formed the only potential hazard. Perhaps, they knew better how to slow the fast paced city dwellers down. As we entered Raigad district, life came to a standstill. Tranquil air muffled the area with straw huts dotting the roadsides. A walk in the country side reminded us of the heroic times gone by; the few remains of an iconic fort that witnessed history of great valour of Shivaji Maharaj and the stories of incredible architecture of the perishing monument.
We visited the fort after almost 11 years only to find booming tourism business on one hand and a set of people living in utter poverty on the other. Eating a poor man’s meal in one of the huts atop the fort, we were flustered with the fact that we urban souls hardly ever feel gratitude for the lives we so take for granted. We squander away hundreds over popcorn and thousands over toys. Yet, we feel miserable comparing to that neighbor next door that seems to own the Midas touch. Nothing is ever enough; bigger houses, better schools, luxurious holidays, shorter bank queues, the list is endless!!
But if you ever get stuck on the mountain top famished and looking for a banquet, planning to mint millions only to feel distraught again, a simple Pithale-Bhakri meal is enough to satiate, both the body and the mind. Peace of mind sprawls in abundance in calm of the mountain air. As far as eyes can reach, one can see blurring outlines of mountain tops crisscrossing to meet the horizon. It’s unnerving when you have nothing to think about, no electronic gadgets to distract yourself and nowhere else to go!! That is when you live truly in the present. Feeling rejuvenated and grounded!!