Weekend getaway from Mumbai to Purushwadi, Maharshtra to witness a million fireflies- by Grassroutes

image courtsey @ grassroutes

image courtsey @ grassroutes

Grassroutes arranges a month long firefly festival in a quaint little village of Purushwadi in the interiors of tribal zones in Maharashtra. It is 220 kms away from Mumbai and takes around 5 hours to reach there. In an attempt to promote rural tourism, Grassroutes arranges various trips around Mumbai where a city dweller can experience village life first hand. In the third week of June, we decided to be a part of this spectacular event. The blink-blink of fireflies has always mesmerized me as a child. And to see a million of such blink-blink got me excited to plan a trip to Purushwadi over the weekend. Purushwadi, the home of the Mahadeo Koli folks, is at a height of 1000 ft above sea-level rendering the temperature cool and breezy. It is located in Akole block of district, Ahmednagar.

Fireflies at Purushwadi

Fireflies at Purushwadi

Firefly flashes are part of a complex system of insect attraction – male fireflies in the air use distinctive patterns of flashing and flying to signal females of their species on the ground. Females then respond with a flash, after a set interval that signals they are of the same species. This display of love in order to find the right mate only makes it luminously beautiful.

I contacted Rinaldo from Grassroutes to book a standard tent for the third weekend of June. He confirmed in no time.

Also, I felt good after booking a rural tourism package as I was contributing towards the betterment of our village folks. I was contributing in the increase of their average annual household income, was helping to create over 2000 days of employment, was reducing migration of villagers and tribals to the city for work, helping to conserve their traditions and bio-diversity and connecting with the rural communities. May be, it was my way of creating CSR footprints.

We started on the Saturday morning at 7 am so that we could reach Purushwadi by 12 pm. We took a break at 9:30 for breakfast on the highway itself. The highway drive was without any hiccups. But after Rajur, the roads are narrow and at times the terrain is muddy. We were greeted by a Mr Datta, tour representative at the Rajur Petrol pump who escorted us to the village. We didn’t have any trouble finding the village.

Directions:

Drive along the National Highway 3 to Igatpuri via the Thane Check Naka. 8 km ahead of Igatpuri, take a right turn at Ghoti towards Sangamner. From here on you will pass through Goti – Rajur – Purushwadi.

If coming by rail, follow this plan:

Nearest stations: Kasara (90-100 km away); Igatpuri (80-90 km away). From either station, you can hop on to a bus or a jeep to Rajur petrol pump and from there on a jeep to get to Purushwadi.

Package details:

Our package cost was Rs 5040 for a standard tent and included the following:

  • Standard tent accommodation for two (mattresses, pillows, blankets & bed sheets)
  • Western bathrooms constructed at campsite (not attached)
  • All organic vegetarian meals served in villager’s homes
  • Guided village activities like plough fields, swim in the river, participate in village life

Contact: Rinaldo 91-8879477437; Operations manager:  Sushma Mishra-9769651849/8657479588; Village supervisor: Datta – 93733610115; info@grassroutes.co.in

standard tents at the campsite

standard tents at the campsite

Toilets at the campsite

Inside the tent

Inside the tent

Our experience:

We reached the village by 12 pm. There were many other participants waiting for the induction formality. We received a traditional welcome where we were handed a white cotton traditional Maharashtrian cap and greeted with a puja thali and tikka ceremony. We were allotted tents and eventually taken to a villager’s home where we were seated on the ground and served fresh organic village food. It was nothing fancy yet fascinating.

I saw the woman working hard on a mud stove with wood and charcoal. The wall next to the stove was black with soot, there wasn’t much light in the room other than what was produced by the wood fire, yet she was churning out quick rotis with deft hands. The local cuisine was delectable. After lunch we were escorted to our tents where we could relax and freshen up. The long drive from Mumbai wasn’t easy anyways. We napped for a while.

Around 4:30 we were offered some tea and snacks.  After the evening snacks, we strolled around the village observing their life and activities. We were offered participate in a few of their activities like milking goats, grind cereals in the stone mill, plough field with bullocks, smear the floor with cow dung paste, chop wood, draw water from the well, etc. We were also asked to participate in certain games like tug of war and discus throw where discus was replaced with a heavy round boulder. Unfortunately, we city dwellers were not athletic enough to throw the boulder to any distance. It was enough for us if we could just lift it off the ground. We got a bit drenched in the slight drizzle. The villagers offered us their local made raincoat which was pretty interesting to wear.

village raincoat @ grassroutes

village raincoat @ grassroutes

Later, in the evening village children presented a skit for the guests. I found this gesture very humbling as these children were trying to take responsibilities along with their elders and to present their village in the most creative light. By 8 pm we finished off with dinner and sat on the campsite with bated breaths. As the dusk fell and darkness gradually enveloped the valley, we saw several fireflies come out to dance in the mating game. As the darkness grew, their blink-blink became all the more visible, synchronized, like a tide of wave. Everywhere we looked, and we could see twinkling little stars right on the ground. It was spectacular and one of a kind experience.  We sat in silence, trying to absorb as much beauty of this event as we could. We went to sleep by 10:30 pm.

Next morning, we had our breakfast by 9 am. We were then taken to indulge in unlimited fruit eating activity. We were taken to a farm area, a little away from the village which was full of lush greenery and mango and karvanda trees. We were allowed to climb trees, pluck as many fruits as we wished to eat, wash them in the nearby stream and even take a dip in the stream. Everyone in our group enjoyed a lot. We came back by 12 pm, freshened up, had lunch and left for Mumbai by 2:30 pm.

The dance of the fireflies has been etched in my memory for the rest of my life. I plan to go there again next year.

Namaste

About MumbaiGloss

Parimita Chakravorty is an author, blogger, features writer and a communications specialist. She has written for various popular magazines and websites related to beauty, fashion, jewellery and lifestyle, including HAIR India, Femina.in, BeBeautiful.in, Hello, etc. She has also contributed to various youth blogs and magazines. Her book ‘Look Stunning At Any Size’ has been well appreciated and received by the readers. Currently, she is part of India’s leading IT brand and takes care of their internal communications. Parimita is also working towards bringing awareness about Endometriosis in India; a silent epidemic which is consuming a lot of lives. She manages a page ‘Endometriosis India Files’ where patients discuss their condition and diagnosis.
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