Fun-loaded journeying

model city

Fun-loaded journeying

Lavasa is nestled amidst the Sahyadri mountain range of the Deccan Plateau, serene along the contours of the Warasgaon river, a mere hour-and-a-half drive from Pune, but a little over 200 km from Mumbai.

A perfect example of how Man can imitate Nature, only about a fifth of the designer city is ready, but that includes most of the first town in this complex — Dasve, the tourist hub with its promenades, adventure sports and water sports, multiple hotels and restaurants. The environment has been enhanced, not tampered with. And there are many permanent denizens here, with schools and institutes for everyone.

Our first sight of Lavasa, after the quaint entrance gate from which we drive sharply downhill, are cottages, villas and buildings looking like a huge toy town. As we drive into Portofino Street (Dasve is designed along the lines of an Italian town of that name), we witness a chugging, trackless train that tours Dasve, highlighting its best attractions. We prefer the same kind of ride in the Hop-On-Hop-Off open bus later.

But first, we check in at service apartments that overlook the promenade and Lake Warasgaon — the waterfront. And the next morning at seven, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees and a mist enveloping the town, my camera is irresistibly lured into action. The hotel offers complimentary cycles to ride, and like in all Lavasa, the tap water is drinkable!

We remind ourselves that we are here to savour the town, not the room, and walk down to a square section on the promenade on the Segway, a two-wheeled motorised personal vehicle. And they prove to be joyful rides, even for beginners like us who have to be instructed on the technique and safety norms. Silent and eco-friendly, the contraptions can be ridden through the city.

Energetic afternoon

Twenty minutes of ‘Segway-ing’ sharpens our appetites and we decide to sample the lavish buffet lunch at a grill restaurant. We step out satiated and after the bus-ride mentioned earlier, head straight to the water sports area. The ride in the motor-launch is exhilarating, studded with an incredible panoramic view of the town.  Eschewing the mini-water amusement park, we move to the Jet Skis.

Now, the Jet Skis (a water scooter in which one has to sit behind the navigator) are an experience of another level altogether, but we are informed that it is a modest trailer for what is in store at X-Thrills! As we go into a high-velocity spin around Lake Warasgaon that is over in less than five minutes, our only complaint is that this joyride is all too brief. But that has a simple solution: more rides.

It’s time now to move to the ultimate experience at Lavasa: the X-Thrills Academy, managed by an ex-Army officer. We warm up with some amateur archery and rifle shooting and then opt for the Zip-Line, wherein, after putting on a safety harness, the adventurous soul has to swing on a rope across a short valley to the other side. And how does the Zip-Liner return? Well, that’s where the Burma bridge, entirely made of rope, comes in! This is how our wonderful soldiers would navigate in war, we are informed. As five minutes are needed for a first-timer to cross from one end to the other (a mere dozen metres), we mentally salute our jawaans.

Back on terra firma, it is time to have a steaming cuppa in the mess before we try out the stocky, intimidating-looking ATV (all-terrain vehicle). Here is where even those without any driving skills must go solo, and the short track has been designed to give you the ultimate feel of riding rough terrain in just three tension-filled minutes.

It is dark when we return to our hotel, but we refresh ourselves and come down for a lovely, breeze-studded 1.5-km stroll from one end of the floodlit promenade (with multiple shops, including a Patisserie) to the other.

Food and decor

Appetite whets again. We skip a temptingly done-up British pub that also offers Fish ‘N’Chips and enter the Chor Bizarre restaurant, popular for its pan-Indian cuisine.

And even better than the food here is the decor! Occupying pride of place is a real 1930 Aston Martin Convertible inside the buffet chamber. The headlights are on and in the place of the seats is a platform made of boxes on which salads and desserts are placed during weekend buffets (whenever arranged). There is a wooden Kerala spa ‘bed’ on which the main meal spread is arranged.

The entire restaurant is full of ancient artefacts from just about every state in the country — of wood, ceramic and so on. A sewing-machine top (with the foot-operated machinery below) is used as a table for guests, as is a vintage, raised four-poster bed, which is the table we choose.  As a deliberate move, the plates, tumblers and cutlery on a single table do not match! Vintage radio, kettle, table fan, posters and other showpieces — Chor Bizarre has them all neatly arranged.

Next morning, we begin the Navasa Nature Trail — climbing through dense, partly planned woody terrain to the peak — the Machan, so named as it’s a platform from where we can scan the entire landscape, which includes River Warasgaon extending south towards Pune. There are ponds of fish and rare flora on the way up and down, and we traverse an artistic suspension bridge.

After a hearty buffet breakfast, sadly, it is time to bid adieu to Lavasa. Yes, we know that there are undone things — kayaking for one; rock climbing and even rappelling 35 feet down a waterfall. We also have yet to experience the Oase musical fountain with laser and sound effects that operates on special occasions.

But then, something must be reserved for the next time. For then we would want to holiday and relax for longer in the lap of a city with which — within less than 24 action-studded and unforgettable hours — we have fallen in love.

Comments (+)