When you think about travel, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you picture airplanes and flight tickets, or a phenomenal view from the sky as you fly across gigantic ocean? Or a picture of a swanky hotel room? Or an exotic country in some far off location that you’ve fancied for the longest time? Even as you day-dream of your dream travel, somewhere in your heart, the constraints of reality keep jabbing you over the dim chances of the grand travel plans ever panning out. For some it’s the round-the-clock work schedule and others money crunch, that keeps them from setting out to explore. But the saying goes, where there is a will there is way- and that accurately applies to almost everything including travel.
You do not have to set your eyes too far. Nor do you need to splurge or have extra holidays. Take a look around. Well, at least on the google first. I can bet you on this, what you discover would pleasantly surprise you. There’s so much to explore within the country, and around cities, the lesser known places that you perhaps have never heard off, hidden in obscurity due to absence of commercialization. What they have to offer is something a real traveler would be far more interested in than checking-in in an opulent hotel room- a blend of local culture, scenic beauty coupled with fascinating and warm people. A kind of experience that can change you, you know?
Recently, I experienced this on a weekend trip with a friend, to a quaint village called Adgaon, situated in Raigad district, about 183 km from Panvel. A chanced encounter with an NGO, called Grassroutes, took us to this incredibly beautiful village where we spent an unforgettable time. Honestly, we were completely clueless about what to expect because we hadn’t seen much of the place in pictures. Nor could we find enough details when we googled. This however added to our sense of adventure that became our calling. Also, we knew that we’d be hosted by a local family. This was enough to get us on the road.
The moment we entered the village we knew we’d made the best decision. Adgaon is located right across the beach. When you are on the road towards it, on your left is the beach and on the right are the houses. Being a beach person, this got me excited like a kid. My eyes couldn’t get enough of the beauty that the place was. When we reached we were greeted by an extremely warm and genial family. Sudhesh More, who runs the homestay, was our affable host who right from the moment we arrived till the moment we left was constantly on the move to ensure that we were comfortable and at ease. He kept sharing interesting trivia about the place and experiences of his life. His wife and kid were wonderfully sweet too. We bonded incredibly well. The way they were taking care of us, it felt like home. For any guests who come, aunty herself prepares food. And trust me, you can’t have enough of her meal! It was outstanding. If not for anything else, we’d suggest you to go for only her sumptuous food. The trip will still be worth it.
After lunch we went to the beach and saw the most spectacular sunset that we’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a single soul apart from us there. I soaked in as much as I could of the solitude and the breathtaking milieu. It felt like life had slowed down a bit, for me to catch up.
We stayed in a beach facing room which was so close to the sea that we could hear the crashing of the waves and the howling of wind. At night, it seemed even more dramatic with the pitch darkness and absolute quite adding to the effect. We went to the beach post mid night, having being assured by Sudesh uncle that it would be safe. When we crossed the road and entered the beach, the theatricality of the view was so surreal, we felt we were casted in an adventure movie. The sky was lit up with countless stars, there wasn’t a single other sound apart from the waves and the wind and we lay there, basking in the best kind of luxury that there is- a rest in the lap of nature.
Next day we went to a market where bidding of fishes happen every morning. This was the most interesting part. The bidding generally starts from 500 and can even go till 20k, depending on the fish that’s being sold. It was quite amusing to watch the villagers bid. The bidding fluctuates with even 10 rupees.
Staying with locals is the best way to experience the rural culture. The warmth and kindness, the simplicity, the hospitality of the people is so endearing that you develop bonds and create memories of lifetime. You get to understand how different people are culturally- their beliefs, their lifestyle, their food, and how affectionately they open their arms for you. Also, most importantly, it supports rural tourism. It becomes a source of income for these families who aren’t clutched by the money spinning avenues of the city life. An understanding is flourished, knowledge and experiences are exchanged and in the process beautiful memories and lifelong relationships are cemented. You come back home a happy, wiser, humbler person. What more does a traveler need?
The homestay at Mr. Sudesh’s house is extremely affordable. But anyway for the kind of experience that you will get, expense would not really matter. People in Mumbai and Pune can easily plan a weekend trip, go to this little peaceful gorgeous place and rejuvenate.
So pack your bags, step out of the house and go exploring.