Saved on a rainy day!

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Our traveller breaks his journey to Mumbai at beautiful, wet Amboli

In the bustle of urbanity, incessant and heavy rain is not something that Mumbaikars are particularly fond of. As a result, the rain is roundly cursed. It means hardship during the commute and traffic jams on the way back. But drive out of the city and rain becomes the element that brings on mellow moods, rekindles romance and sometimes even brings out the poet in you. The trick is in letting the rain catch you out in the countryside, away from the stresses of deadlines and packed queues. Recently, I found out that Mumbai was going through one of its heavy downpours. I had stopped by at Goa on the way back from Mangalore, when news arrived of Mumbai slowly grinding to a rainy halt. So instead of carrying on, I decided to follow the advise of the bartender at the Cavala Resort, Baga beach, that I should check out Amboli. Amboli... it seems comes alive during the rains. I drove my Corolla into Sawantwadi, 50 km past Panaji, towards Mumbai and turned its nose right towards the small slip road that snakes up to Amboli. The first sight that hit me was the greenery that abounded the narrow mountain road going up. For company, I had low cloud cover while the mountains were hidden. But then, a renegade wind blew in and moved the clouds away, and what I saw was an actual amphitheatre of waterfalls. The hills were filled with them - it was as if an army of water was charging down their sides and as I climbed, I was wonderstruck with the force and magnitude of each cascade of water.Finally, as I neared Amboli I encountered them. Small and big, fast and slow they were all tumbling down the mountainside, on to the road. There was a constant pitter-patter on the roof of the car as I drove through this shower of falling water. Finally, I arrived at a huge waterfall, the most famous one in Amboli where half of Maharashtra seemed to be having a picnic. This could have easily been the vertical Kumbh Mela, the way people were bathing and rejoicing in the falls. IF you don't love crowds, beyond Amboli, you'll find lush green fields where you can enjoy a quiet picnic lunch. I didn't stay the night in Amboli but pushed on towards Chiplun. The next morning the telly told me Mumbai was on the move again and the rain had let up. I drove back to town and while everyone had a weary look of doing battle in the rain, I had a smile after having revelled in the rain in little charming Amboli.RISHAD SAAM MEHTA




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