Monday

Wai, Satara - Maharashtra







A fabulous highway, good people for company, a few halts - made this lovely 5 hour drive to Wai a beautiful memorable one. Villages and towns whizzed past giving way to rolling Sahyadris; gigantic and gentle at the same time. I effortlessly soaked in all the eye could behold

Upon reaching Wai I gathered from the village folks that Vishal Bhardwaj, Prakash Jha, Ashutosh G and many Marathi movie makers have shot lots of films in Wai - Kaminaay, Ishqiya, Omkara, Swades, Gangaajal, Mrityudand, Maqbool to name some.

In fact the day we were in Wai there were 4 shoots happening all within a short distance from each other. There was Salman Khan shooting for his film, Star One was shooting a soap there, our ad was being shot and some promo films for One were being shot. Clearly given the picturesque locale, simple hospitality, reachable distance from Bombay, all, make it a great location for Bollywood and the Ad fraternity to shoot here. Everyone comes to Wai, falls in love with the great outdoors as a location, stay for a day or many long weeks or months and come back again for more - addictive Wai indeed:)

The villagers clearly have seen many celebrities come and go – they have many tales to tell if you lend them a patient ear, they proudly preen about meeting Shah Rukh Khan (Swades), Vivek Oberoi (Omkara), Sushmita Sen ( they say she smokes much), Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi to name some. They treated us like stars and I was worried if this was some means of extraction- only to realize soon they are genuinely helpful and caring.

For me Wai spelt simplicity. Not lazy or laid back, allowed one to love it and in turn Wai loved one back. It’s a gentleman’s village. Humble, helpful, and all they sought in return was appreciation. The most memorable thing of Wai for me was the good strawberry's I ate there – sweet and juicy – never got such kind in Bombay ever

The downside was that Wai doesn’t boast of any decent overnight stay places. While film units usually stay at Mahabaleshwar or Panchgani and drive down to Wai for shooting, we were camped in Wai for the first day, before we moved base to Satara. Not much to write home about the rooms or service in Wai.

Satara on the other hand wears its prosperity with pride. The 4 lane highway drive is a dream- a very international standard highway, (was tempting to fly on such roads) sugarcane crop provides the greens amidst giant lolling light brown mountains, thousands of windmills atop flat table land mountains that spin gently effortlessly creating energy in rhythm. In fact Satara has the distinction of having the largest windmill farm in Asia! The twisting mountain roads were fabulous too. Infact in one place when I looked back from the car- the scene was straight out of a picturesque story book- rolling roadways climbing and undulating with the mountains- with not a soul in sight! How I wish I had my camera in hand to freeze frame that shot! Sigh - regret:(

Some Satara villagers recommended that we ride to Sajjangad, close to Thosghar. Sajjangad is a small fort where Guru Ramdas Swami, the spiritual leader of the Mahratta Warrior Shivaji, lived. And we did. The weather was cool. We spent crazed hours working to ensure we used maximum daylight, then close to sunset went trigger happy on my own camera gasping and marveling once again at the Windmills and the awesome scenery surrounding us.

It was pack up time, armed with a camera full of pictures, we drove to the centre of the village to grab a bite, and soon hit the highway to head back to Pune first. The mountain countryside view on both sides of the road was once again raw, hard and breath-taking. It was now time to pay attention to the driver and keep him engaged in a conversation for the next 5 hours to get home safe and sound in the dark hours of the night.

13 comments:

melinda said...

Hey did you go to Koyna dam near Satara- tat too is another beautiful spot just wide off Satara district. One of the largest Dam in the state built on Koyna river, infamously known for the crazy earthquake that shook Bombay by its roots! it is worth a visit.

Anon said...

So you were shooting at Chalkewadi,isn't it a gorgeous sight?:) The plateau is about 100 sq. km and average height is more than 3000 feet from sea level, it is the ideal location for Wind Energy Projects. More than 2000+ towers have been erected for generation of power. Every tumble of the windmill produces one unit that we consume at home. So fascinating:)
Runa

Shweta said...

Wai (also called the Dakshin Kashi of India) is famous for its temples & ghats. Did you get any time out to visit these worship places?

john said...

We have been to Mahableshwar, but never to Wai and Satara. Tho I must admit These smaller villages sound more exciting than mahabs. Mahabs is typical touristy with boating, picnic spots, lake view, table top mountains- and shopping. The real earthiness is sorely missing here. Perhaps next time we looking to holiday on a long wkend we will head out to Wai. Thanks for this useful post Mee!

Anon said...

You write good blogs. Enjoy reading them. Keep it up.
Chester

melinda said...

Access to cheap energy underpins modern societies. Finding enough to fuel industrialized economies and pull developing countries out of poverty without overheating the climate is a central challenge of the 21st century.Glad to know India is moving speedily ahead:)

kay said...

Sounds beautiful, love the way you descrbe it, have to take tips on where to travel in india next time im there or maybe we can go for a weekend together,love reading your blogs:)

Anon said...

Wai' seems to be beautiful, must see it. I found it little similar to 'Kolhapur'. Have u been there? It is simply great in any season of the year, even mid summers are cool. Here also, there are celebs like Lata Mangeshkar & some other great Marathi film personalities who have built Bunglows & lot of Films happen here. Also there good forts, and if u like 'Misal Pav' here u will get the geniune dish. Sugarcane juice, Groundnuts, Jaggery, all Milk products are its specialities. If u visit Kolhapur You should visit the great Mahalaxmi Temple (U must have heard about this temple).
Keep in touch
Kaumudi

Mumbai Paused said...

It's also becoming a tourist spot. My colleague first went there for a day's shoot He then went back with his family. He stayed in a local lodge which he said was clean and much cheaper than hotels in the neighbouring tourist spots. Plus it's a quick drive to those local attractions and finally, the trip back to Mumbai is quicker.

Jim said...

Your blog reminded me of our road journey thru the forst roads of Bandipur into Kabini- the highways are thin ribbons of civilization winding through wilderness, often connecting towns only after traversing hundreds of kms. The drive is never tiring.

Our constant companion on the journey was the landscape: views of soaring skies, variety of trees, birds, mountains, magnificent waterways abound.

Close encounters with wildlife are a common occurrence. Sheep look for food just off a highway's shoulder; eagles sit in neighboring trees. Watch out for elephants tribes who typically cross the highway from one forest area onto the other side by evenings: They have a habit of lazily nonchalantly walking along the road, right when you're taking in the scenery.

Driving is also an opportunity to meet villagers in their element. Stop at roadhouses and lodges. Have a piece of homemade snack while you listen to the owner's stories. From the side of the road, watch climbers scramble cliff faces. Better yet, drive a gravel road to a small town where locals are more than willing to say hello and get to know you.

Wherever you're going, give yourself extra time. Because on highways, getting behind the wheel isn't about the destination. It's about the drive.

Mee said...

Mel- No Koyna this trip

Runa- PavanChakhi view is wat the locals called it:)

Shweta- twas work all the way for me:)

John -ur always welcome

Chester- thank you

Mel- I couldnt have said that btr- so true!

Kay- happy to help:)

Kaumudhi- Nvr been to Kolhapur- but who knows- will some day:)

Mumbaipaused- perhaps true. tho must admit I saw almost no tourists in Wai or Satara

Jim- sounds so similar barring the wildlife ofcourse:)

kumari said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u



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indhu M said...
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