Bird watching, waterfall spotting and plenty of R&R ensure that a weekend visit to Sajan in North Konkan makes for a pleasant detour from the tried-and-tested, touristy destinations
While Sajan might not come to one's mind immediately, as a typical weekend getaway it might not be such a bad idea to set your date with nature at this lesser known destination. Sajan's lone resort, home to wooded, charming treetop cottages are in instant mood lifter. Once you check in and after you have two options: get up early with the chirpy birds or get up late with the lazy butterflies.
We decided on the former. But a few birds had beaten us to it and had gathered in large numbers on a Callandra tree laden with red, powder-puff flowers. The flowers were so bright that at first one nearly missed the sunbirds. It was only when they had finished sipping honey with their long curved beaks and flitted to the next waiting flower that it was possible to spot them.
Tree top homes make for superb escapes
On our stroll to the still waters of Moho Khurd Dam, we spotted a delightful creature that had perched itself on a wild plant: the painted grasshopper. Perfectly confident of its camouflage, it posed till I clicked that perfect picture.
Palusa Waterfall is a great place to be one with nature
In the distance, one spotted kayakers from the resort getting on to their kayaks, albeit a little gingerly. Once they balanced themselves, the kayaks sliced through the still waters of the river that looked like a vast endless sheet of ice in the glittering morning light.
Fauna is in full show around the forests here. Pics/ C Gangaharan Menon
By lunchtime, we returned to the tree top cottages for some serious refueling. Post-lunch, as we took time off to relax on the balcony we spotted a serpentine creeper that had the girth of a tree. We were told that this creeper has an amazing ability to regenerate itself. If you cut the creeper at its roots, the part that's climbed up on to the host tree sends many tendrils back down, and within no time they become roots supplying food all over again!
As the sun began to lose its bite, we set off for the imposing waterfall at Palusa. This waterfall was a 12 km-drive from Sajan. In the middle of nowhere our guide shouted 'stop'. There was no signboard and there was no indication of the spectacle to follow. Soon, we were to discover that even a nondescript path can lead to one of nature's well-kept secrets.
It was an arduous climb of a kilometre. As we descended into the valley a river welcomed us. We crossed it at its shallowest, but even there the rocks were slippery and covered with pre-historic algae of all colours and hues: green, yellow, purple, orange and brown. All along, small restless fishes nibbled at our feet in protest.
A small walk lead us to a mahua tree under which a shepherd was enjoying his siesta surrounded by his goats. We had expected to reach a spot from where you sight a waterfall: in the distance. Here, we were right on top of the Palusa Waterfall and saw the amazing sight of gallons of water cascading down a hundred feet, from right under our feet!
The next day, we trekked up to Tiger Caves, which is an imposing hill made of craggy rocks. But the exploration had to be abandoned midway as we were the first ones to traverse that path after the monsoon. The path was completely covered with thorny bushes and tall, wild grass making the caves once inhabited by a tiger completely inaccessible.
But the fact that the mission was aborted had a positive side to it. When I visited this site a decade ago, I had spotted the leftover skeleton of a spotted deer in one of the caves. I would have been terribly disappointed if it wasn't around this time. So the nostalgia now remains intact, cocooned in the strands of memory.
How to get there
* Sajan is 115 kms from Dadar and 80 kms from Borivali.
* Take the Eastern Express Highway to Thane and Bhiwandi and then to Wada.
* Proceed to Sajan via Pali.
* If you are taking the Western Express Highway, turn right at Manor to reach Sajan.
What to do
* Nature trails
* Valley crossing
* Rock climbing
* Mountain biking
Where to stay
One of the better places is Sajan Nature Club, Manor-Jawhar Road, Maharashtra. The site offers treetop cottages, Warli hut-styled homes and cocoon houses.
Call: 66557777 / 66557729,
Log on to: http://www.naturetrails.in/