Monthly Meeting And A Trip To Magical Melghat

by | Feb 1, 2019

At Under The Mango Tree, the Maharashtra team gathers every month at one of the three field areas to discuss the on-goings of respective projects, to analyze growth and simplify challenges. The three locations are Umergaon office in Palghar district, Pimpalner office in Dhule district and Dharni office in Amravati district. The meetings help to share views and learning, improve teamwork, modify uni-directional goals and break the monotony.

This time we were assembling at Dharni, Amravati for the monthly meet. This location is rarely chosen due to moderate connectivity and considerably minor projects in comparison to other locations. Dharni is close to Melghat Tiger Reserve and a few other scenic landscapes. To make the most of it, we kept a couple of days to jaunt.

There is no direct way to reach Dharni from Umergaon on public transport. It requires interchanging multiple times between Roadways and Railways. Our team at Umergaon was to catch an overnight train from Mumbai to Khandwa, MP. It’s easy to lose track of time in trains and at times, becomes hard to pass time.

We reached Mumbai earlier than expected and were waiting for ‘Punjab Mail’ that reaches Khandwa early in the morning when you’re too sleepy to switch transport. We met other team members on the way, boarding the same train from different locations. The whole night was no less than a ruckus – people arguing over seats, loud FnB vendors and countless kids crying. After a point, it becomes a background score and then silence can bother.

Around 4:40 a.m., my eyes opened to our train set at the platform. People were waking up in panic as they realized the train has reached Khandwa early. Agitated, I woke up others and we got down safe. Half asleep, we splashed water on our faces while the train didn’t move until its departure time which made me think of the pointless instant panic I experienced earlier.

Buses for Dharni were about to leave and it’s good to be early to be able to grab a seat. The bus stop can be easily found with chants of the destination names. All seats got occupied. We had been on the road for an hour, where the bus had moved for only twenty minutes with five stops and three different ticket checkers. I’m not sure if it’s organized or just too overcrowded with staff for employment opportunity sake.

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The office at Dharni is a rented flat, a 1BHK with long balconies and an open-ended view to the farms around. We rested for a while before starting the meeting. It was good to see the progress of decisions that we made last month and brainstorm on the challenges. One of the prerequisites is to fix the schedule with time slots for each agenda and a rota with jobs such as photography, food etc. It saves up on plenty of time and helps us focus well.


The first two days went by as per the schedule. I was assigned a project related to beeswax which really intrigued me. Everyone was in a good mood as the next couple of days were all about having fun. Chikaldhara is a hill station in Amravati, close to Melghat; popular for coffee plantation and scenic viewpoints. Thirteen of us including the driver and a couple of local people got into a ten-seater car. It wasn’t as crammed as it sounds. The first day of excursion began with a beautiful ride through the Tiger reserve. The roads were quite a roller coaster.

Apparently, Simado village there offers special ‘Rabdi’, a dessert made of dairy. Everyone on the team had been talking about it. On the way to Chikaldhara, we pulled up near a sweet shop. I was slightly dizzy and so avoided it. We were again on the move. One of our teammates had motion sickness and to feel better, he chews supari (betel nut); however, it got stuck in his throat and then there was no stopping for the Rabdi and all previous consumption to make their way out. We were finally there, in chilly weather surrounded by clouds. I was seeing coffee plantations for the first time. The hilltop had multiple scenic spots and we stopped at each one of them.

All this while, there was a funny constant battle between me and a couple of others to get the front seats. Every time we’d get down at a spot, and oh! there were plenty, we’d just race back to the car. I skipped a lot of them just for that front seat and not be sick. Later, for others to get a chance to sit in front, I reluctantly gave it up.

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Waterfalls, hiking, streams, elephants – wilderness was the next day’s plan. All of us got in pairs to ride motorcycles through the day, a much better option than being packed in a car, uneasy and without a complete field of vision. I personally prefer a two-wheeler with a 360-degree view to experience landscapes at their best.

Rahul, a bird conservationist, is a local and a friend to our team members working in this area. He came along to Chikaldhara with us and also joined us on day two. It was a treat to hear him with his enthusiasm about conservation and tremendous knowledge of birds and other animal species. He was our leader for all spots, first of which was a waterfall. We trekked through a farm to reach the stream. It was spectacular. The pool created with running water had a good depth to play with. I cliff jumped in it along with a few others, and it truly was the best feeling. We spent a good time there, swimming and some of us rock climbing the way back up.

On the bikes, a little wet, we headed towards the next adventure. Another waterfall, not as high as the previous one but more relaxing. Rahul, Nikhil and I went to explore a quick trek path for everyone. I’ve never been so deep into nature before; the forest felt untouched and ineffable. One stream after the other, we were hoping to spot a tiger’s pug mark and got so engrossed that we lost track of time. Three of us returned and had lunch at the waterfall with everyone.

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Melghat also offers elephant safari. Although we were late for it, a glimpse of the massive creature was a treat in itself. I had even planned a Slackline session for the team. It was a pleasure to see how everyone behaved on the line. It also explains a lot about personality types and body-mind balance. I hadn’t been on a leisure trip with a big group in almost eight years. Most of my travel has been in small circles or alone. One can learn the most while traveling solo. It’s a personal opinion and would definitely differ. Going unplanned leads to vast possibilities that would otherwise be eliminated with a concrete itinerary. This was a completely different experience to have a plan and follow it with others.

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