serene ravine (dapoli, maharashtra)

Go past the heart of the town, the dusty bus stand, the bustling market area, past some innocuous bungalows (in incongruous colours at times), past one village, then another, from a smooth ride it changes into a bumpity-bumpity shiver, cross a little stream proudly pointed to as ‘our river’, enter the tall gates and you are at Serene Ravine. A simple, unpretentious traditionally built structure, with clean and basic amenities, at first made me wonder why I had come! But post the delicious, cold kokam sherbat and the swing – your soon-to-be favourite spot – and the silence of the vast surrounding green, you realise the journey was worth it!

And when there is a history to the place, always makes it that much more enjoyable! Mr Chandrakant Tulpule, the patriarch of the family, had started a cashew factory on this plot of land. When he bought the land, he didn’t realise that the river which borders his land also flows through it at one end… so in short, he owns a part of a river! While the factory continues, his son and daughter-in-law – a  young couple Shekhar and Kalyani Tulpule have decided to move out of the city (Pune) and get back to the roots. They live here and develop this property. When I stayed over I only met Mr. Chandrakant Tulpule, the younger Tulpules were in Pune.

I went for a long walk and was shown the entire property… the mango trees had lost their blossoms due to the harsh summer sun… and there was much regret and remorse there. As I walked among the coconut grove I saw the love that had been put into this land. It was a dry hill which today is covered with trees and groves, and I didn’t even go in the monsoons but in March!

… for the swim in the river and pond, for the ‘back-massager’ waterfall in the monsoons
… to marvel as how this dry ‘dongar’ (hill) has been converted into a green, lush farm
… for the loud and varied bird calls
… for the simplicity of the place and its people
… for the courage and strength that it takes for city bred individuals to leave it all and move to a village.

There are 6 rooms on offer with attached bathrooms. 3 rooms have a common seating area with a TV – though there is a high chance you will never switch it on. A verandah with two cots and a large wooden swing is a lovely place to park yourself and watch the sun set. The green grass with the lily pond is a comfortable place to sit while the sun sets, but beware of the many frogs that live in the pond, they might jump out – they seems to be curious about the ‘click’ of a camera!

The food is made by local village women who now live on the farm. It is local Maharashtrian vegetarian food, but one can request for fish preparations made by Kalyani – something one should not miss if you are a fish-lover… her father-in-law says its awesome. Great amount of attention and focus given to the order in which the food is placed on the plate. A must-try is the pungent, cashew fruit that most of us have not even seen, let alone eat! Well I gave it a shot, but didn’t take to it!

Alcohol is not allowed on the premises. Pets are a strict no-no. There are 4 guard dogs who live on the farm, and no one would want to enter ‘their territory’.

If you do choose to visit, then there are many things to keep you busy. A dip in the stream, or just dangle your feet and let your mind monkey about! There are beaches near-by – Murud, Karde, Anjarle – if  you have own mode of transport. Try living the farm life – milking a cow, help the Tulpules on their daily rounds. And do have a have a long conversation with Mr. Chandrakant Tulpule on how he moved from a big industrialist to being a villager.

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