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Dip into nirvana

In dire need for a quick change of scene? We suggest you get behind the wheel for a two-hour drive to reach Mango Huts, for a long session of R&R. Rain-soaked green carpet pathways, swims in the Amba River and a homestay-like experience amidst mango trees will ensure a calming weekend escape. Dhara Vora decided to do a rain check

It's an accepted fact among Mumbai's working class that the metropolis' title as the City of Dream doesn't sit pretty, especially when it becomes unbearable after a point in time to manage a weekend escape from long working hours and arduous commutes on back breaking, pot-holed roads or overcrowded trains.


All happy after a dip in the Amba River outside Mango Huts



So this bit of news might ring in sufficient cheer to this weary lot. Located 100 kms away from Mumbai, 15 kms off NH-17 (Mumbai Goa Highway) in Wakan's Vafeghar village is Mango Huts, a dreamy, lush destination that is untouched by crass commercialisation or maddening crowds.

Owner Sridhar Iyer played able guide to this rustic location, one Saturday morning as we bid goodbye to the bustle and din of the city. As soon as we crossed milestones along the Expressway, towards our destination it felt as if we were stepped into the wardrobe of Narnia.
 
It was a green carpet that swathed the landscape. We had seen the last of the city's concrete mess. We had several reasons to crane our necks outside the car window to spot one of the many waterfalls that dotted our two-hour-long journey.

As we neared our destination, we had to cross a bridge over the Amba River, which was flowing in all its monsoon glory. Tempted to capture this on camera, we nearly got off the car only to be assured by this enterprising banker that there were better locations ahead. What better, I wondered, anticipating a rain-soaked experience.

RAIN SOAKED SOIREE
When we finally reached, I realised it was worth the wait. At the entrance to Mango Huts, the Amba River flowed between green grass banks (I had to curb my childish fantasy of a roll on the wet, inviting grass). The Sahyadris in the backdrop completed the picture-perfect frame.

As we made our way inside Mango Huts, we noticed that the dwelling units of the property occupied less than an acre, leaving the remaining five acres for open farming. There is a 400-metre promenade that allows you to walk around Mango Huts. Each room (with attached bathrooms) has a tiled roof while its walls have a cosy, mud-plastered effect.
 
There is also a two-bedroom cottage (for 10 max) and a three-bedroom cottage (for 15 max). There are plenty of open gazebo-like seating arrangements where you can relax and soak in the sun or the rain and cloud cover and even listen to music (though Sridhar believes it negates the whole point of living in a far-off village).
 
Mango Huts gets its name from the several mango trees that bear fruit of many mango varieties. Every hut is designed such that the mango plantations form an integral part of the landscape.

It was 10.30 and the walking around had left us famished. A delicious breakfast of Poha, and yummy vadas was wiped off in minutes and downed by a round of refreshing lemon grass chai (grown at the farm).
 
A family of farmers who reside at the farm take care of Mango Huts and play host to occupants with by providing wholesome home cooked food and playing caretaker as well. We spent the rest of the day pottering around Mango Huts and its surroundings and came up with quite a few gems that and a range of activities that are bound to please the adventure buff, the leisure bum and everyone else in between.

WHAT TO DO
SWIM: The Amba River that flows outside the Mango Huts property has a gentle drift to it. Small, inflatable floats can be used for a relaxed time in the river. You can even head for a swim. The river swells up to depths of 8 feet when it rains, but is comes down to less than 4-5 feet deep post-monsoons.

RAPPEL: Around the Padsare Waterfall, you can plan sessions of waterfall rapelling between June and December. Mango Huts will tie up with an outdoor adventure company. This activity will be at an extra cost.

THERAPY: The hot water springs at Unhare are natural sulphur water springs, which are known to have great therapeutic cure for skin ailments. Unhare village is 4 km from Mango Huts. However, we didn't find this location up to standards as far as maintenance and facilities were concerned. Kolad, which offers kayaking  is just 40 km road travel from Mango Huts.

ADVENTURE: Located 10 km from Mango Huts, the Padsare Waterfall flows in gusto till November. It is particularly ferocious the monsoon is at its peak. When it is safe to negotiate, Mango Huts can arrange for waterfall rappelling.
 
There also a small waterfall opposite a village called Kumbarpada, just 2 km from Mango huts. This waterfall lasts till around 15 days after the rains stop, but is a much safer waterfall for children to enjoy. A fort built by Sambhaji, called Sarasgad makes for a good trek.

BACK TO NURSERY
We went on an Olafactory tour around the farm which houses various plants and trees such as litchis, lemongrass, onions, cardamom, cashews, lemon and Ajwain. We couldn't make out the difference by looking at them but Sridhar helped us around. The fragrant smell of the leaves when crushed was good enough to make you forget all those uber-luxe no 5s



A family of farmers who reside at the farm take care of Mango Huts and play host to occupants with by providing wholesome home cooked food and playing caretaker as well.
 
We spent the rest of the day pottering around Mango Huts and its surroundings and came up with quite a few gems that and a range of activities that are bound to please the adventure buff, the leisure bum and everyone else in between.

WHAT TO DO

SWIM: The Amba River that flows outside the Mango Huts property has a gentle drift to it. Small, inflatable floats can be used for a relaxed time in the river. You can even head for a swim. The river swells up to depths of 8 feet when it rains, but is comes down to less than 4-5 feet deep post-monsoons.

RAPPEL: Around the Padsare Waterfall, you can plan sessions of waterfall rappelling between June and December. Mango Huts will tie up with an outdoor adventure company. This activity will be at an extra cost.

THERAPY:
The hot water springs at Unhare are natural sulphur water springs, which are known to have great therapeutic cure for skin ailments. Unhare village is 4 km from Mango Huts. However, we didn't find this location up to standards as far as maintenance and facilities were concerned. Kolad, which offers kayaking  is just 40 km road travel from Mango Huts.

ADVENTURE: Located 10 km from Mango Huts, the Padsare Waterfall flows in gusto till November. It is particularly ferocious the monsoon is at its peak. When it is safe to negotiate, Mango Huts can arrange for waterfall rappelling.



There also a small waterfall opposite a village called Kumbarpada, just 2 km from Mango huts. This waterfall lasts till around 15 days after the rains stop, but is a much safer waterfall for children to enjoy. A fort built by Sambhaji, called Sarasgad makes for a good trek.

How to get there
Mango Huts is Pali - 100 Kms from Mumbai (Chembur) and Pune, 15 kms off NH-17 (Mumbai Goa highway) at Wakan and 35 kms from Khopoli, off the Mumbai Pune Expressway

Drive along the Expressway till you come to the first toll, called Khalapur toll. It is around 40 Km on the Expressway.

As you enter the Expressway, after 7 km, you will see a signage stating exit for Khopoli, and there will be a toll that comes as you exit the expressway. DO NO TAKE THIS, because Khalapur is 40 km away, and comes bang on the Expressway.

After Khalapur, you will find an exit, which says Khopoli. Take this, and immediately turn right to take a beridge over the Expressway and turn left.

Look for the road to Pali (around 35 km). There are no turns on this road. Keep on the road. You will cross villages Parli and Pedli as you go along.

After Pedli, 4 km further, you will see an HP petrol pump. Its the first pump on this road. Turn right immediately after the petrol pump. Travel 6 km on the road.


This room also has a bed along with the bigger bed for kids

This road will soon open up into a fork, the straighter road climbs upwards towards Mahagaon, and there is a left turn. Take the left.

2 km further, you will hit a board that says Vafeghar. Take a left U-turn and you will hit Mango Huts, after you cross a river stream.
 
HOW TO MOVE AROUND
It is best if you have a car to reach a few places like the Jatayu Temple or the Pali Ashtavinayak Temple. They provide cycles and bullock cart during the non-tilling season.

While you are there
Pali Ganpati Temple (which is a part of the Ashtavinayak or naturally-formed Ganpati idols) 

Jatayu Temple, where the fabled Jatayu from the Ramayana was said to have breathed his last (reach Rameshwar Vaibhav, which is 12 km from Mango Huts, and check with the locals for directions to the Jatayu Temple. It's a 30-45 minute walk in summer and winter. The approach roads get blocked with heavy rains.

The Ganpati village at Pali village, about 7 km, from Mango Huts

When to go
> Every season has its own charm so you can drop by throughout the year though summers might be severe.

What to carry
>Trekking/ comfortable walking shoes.
>Camera
>Rainwear/ umbrella
>Personal meds
>Mosquito repellent, allergy medication

What you'll pay
Rs 2000 per person per day (three meals included)
CHECK IN: 12 pm
CHECK OUT: 10.30 am
Radhika Iyer 9820393909.
Sridhar Iyer 9821352244
(An initial request through SMS helps as both have day-time jobs)
EMAIL mangohuts@gmail.com

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