A Mumbaikar finds Kharghar.

It was one of those days when I felt fit. I hadn’t smoked in three days, and I had pushed my body to its limit with callisthenics. So when a friend asked if I was up for a cycle ride of more than 100 km in the beauty that is the Mumbai monsoon, I did not think twice before saying, “Hell, yes!”.

The ride to Kharghar will be breathtaking; I was told. I wasn’t too convinced as Kharghar is located right outside the city, surrounded by chemical plants and factories. All I expected to see was a green patch here, some wet grass there and maybe a glimpse of a must-have-been hill. But endurance was on my mind, and that kept me going. The cool breeze and empty roads allowed a pretty swift ride, and we covered the distance in no time with a surprisingly refreshing view for company. Yes, the ride had turned out as promised, but what lay ahead was totally unexpected.

On the way to our next stop – Central Park, something fascinating caught our eye. In the distance somewhere we saw water gushing down from a hill. My friend and I had found what looked like a mirage but was, in fact, a waterfall smack in the middle of a city in the making. We wasted no time and took the nearest lane to head in its direction but reached a dead-end with a construction site between us and what looked like another world. As we stood staring at a potential trespassing offence, we spotted a bunch of college kids, entering the site without a care in the world and heading in the direction of these hills. So we looked at each other; said, “Might as well…” and followed them.

Kharghar waterfalls
Photo credit: Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck

For the next fifteen minutes or so, we played in the rivulet with a complete sense of abandon, climbed the rocks and within no time were bathing in the beautiful waterfalls. After a near about 50km ride, we thought we deserved this, so we placed our behinds against a boulder, and enjoyed the weather, the view, and the peace.

The state of the shoes after our escape from quicksand.

Kharghar turned out to be the perfect hidden gem for Mumbaikars like me – the kind that didn’t require me to drive for long hours. However, the construction site that we had to trespass to reach the waterfall nagged me on the ride back. Truth be told, looking at the number of construction projects that are going on in this area I am worried that the sight I enjoyed might not be accessible in another year or so. So while I am glad I made it before urbanisation could complete its plans, I would love it if more of us could preserve such spots – even if it is only in our memory.

If you wish to join me on my next cycling trip, drop me a mail onthetravellermindset@gmail.com or call me on +91 9619422112.

Story & Photography by Sukrit Nagaraj
Edited by Tintu Saleem

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