On my Way to Aja Parvat

by | Jul 28, 2018

Dehene is a village located in Dolkhamb block of Shahpur Tehsil, approximately 110 km from Thane, Mumbai. The village is famous as a land of 1000 waterfalls. They may not be thousand but the line definitely helps to promote the location. Until I went there, I had no idea that a hidden village could be as beautiful as this. I did not want to even blink my eyes for a second. Maharashtra is heavenly during Monsoon, and I had underestimated its beauty.

It was my second day in Dehene, during my induction at Grassroutes. I had to completely understand the itinerary that we had curated for our guests. The day started with a trek to Aja Parvat of Ajobagarh, which is famous for Rishi Valmiki Samadhi Ashram. Dehene is the base location for this trek. We crossed the jungles of Sahyadri range, which has some of the highest points in Maharashtra. I was accompanied by Bhavesh, an India Fellow Alumni, who was then working with the team and Mangesh, one of our guides.

It was an 8 km trek, to and fro. The difficulty level is not considered high but the continuous rainfall had made it tough that day. Walking through the forest, alongside a picturesque view, we reached Valmiki Ashram within 70 minutes. It was so similar to the one depicted in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana TV series. On one side was the Ashram while on the other, a Banyan tree encircled with a concrete platform to sit for meditation or other classes. In the middle, was a small hut with a door. On opening the door, I saw a space in the floor, with stairs going down. It was dark.

A few steps away was the main temple with Valmiki’s Sepulture inside. It is believed that the voice of Valmiki reciting the name of Lord ‘Ram‘ is heard from there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear anything. We proceeded to a waterfall up in the mountain, where the caretaker of Ashram often goes to meditate. I took bath and sat there for a while before we headed back to the village.

The rain had stopped midway. Sun was out, with its rays penetrating the clouds and hitting the mountains. A newborn calf was being carried to the village by a farmer, along with the mother cow. My heart melted for the view!

The mother cow was conscious and concerned about her newborn baby. She was protective to an extent of not wanting her child to get away from her. Could it be because she was afraid of losing it the way all her previous calves were taken away, as told to us by the man?

She was owned by this man and would selflessly serve him. Did we start calling cows, goddesses so that we could exploit them in the name of religion? Did we not do the same with rivers?

Religion creates a lot of confusion. Most people do not even realize that cows produce milk for the same reason as that of human beings (and all other mammals): to feed their offspring. Because of the demand for dairy products, cows are artificially impregnated over and over again. They experience extreme physical and emotional stress to deliver their calf. But unlike a human mother, a cow doesn’t get to nurse her baby irrespective of her love. Instead, her calf is taken away, sometimes within minutes after birth. Male calves are often sold as veal, while females are usually destined to endure the same fate as their mothers.

In a lot of villages of Maharashtra, people don’t consume cow’s milk as they believe that it is meant for calves instead of humans. However, a huge percentage of this population under the age of five, is anemic. Here’s the conflicting question of survival and sustainability. This dilemma has been reported in detail by one of my co-fellows, Isha, in her blog on sustainable development.

Coming back to the base camp in Dehene, I went in my tent, had lunch and sat by the river with all these thoughts on my mind realizing that I had joined India Fellow to find answers to such questions. Earlier, they were far from reality but now that the questions have evolved too, a lot of answers are not in the outside world.

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1 Comment

  1. Anil Kapse

    Hi, thanks for the information about such a beautiful place, I am a 65 years old guy like to live my rest of life in such a place. I really like to give time for village tourism development. Please guide me if there is some problem. Again thanks.


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