The Hideout Point, run by Khandshi Agro Eco Tourism, is a place situated below Shirota dam near Kamshet on the old Pune-Mumbai highway and in close vicinity of Somawadi and Vadivale dams. Khandshi is surrounded by the Sahyadri ranges in Nane Maval valley. The Hideout Point is spread over 16 acres of divine land.
We set out from Pune at about 5:00 pm on a Sunday. After marking ‘Khandshi Hideout Point’ on Google Maps, we refuelled the car at a CNG pump on Paud Road, which was highly mismanaged (but that’s a rant for another day.) The weather was wonderfully cool, cloudy with just the right amount of breeze that we didn’t even have to switch on the AC. The old Mumbai-Pune highway, although slightly cumbersome, is truly a delight to drive across. Fields and open grounds on either sides and not a single errant pothole or (a**hole) on the road!
The Khandshi Eco Farm is located slightly ahead of Kamshet and the way is clearly marked on their website as well as on Google itself. Apart from a slight mix-up with the exit, the drive was quite smooth and fun! Once we left the highway and entered the Kamshet village… Oh my! The view and the landscape was something else. Lush fields on either side, an occasional pond, old and quaint bridges, temples and, of course, the river which makes an appearance every few kilometres.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a steaming cup of chai, some snacks and a bunch of people. Now, I wasn’t too pleased about this, because I avoid crowds to the point of vehemence. Anyway, I decided to not let that deter me from the joy knew I was about to experience. As we sat there, waiting for it to get dark, a sparkle at the corner of my eye caught my attention. One firefly, two, three and then a few more had come at the farm as if to say “The performance has begun, please make your way to the woods.” We were given express instructions not to use flashlights as this can disturb the gentle creatures.
So, we set out on the walk. The way passes through a village and over to a small hillock which is surrounded by trees. There the fireflies gleamed in abundance, in multitudes and so began the dance that mesmerised every eye. I wanted silence, so we set out on a path a little away from the crowd and trekked a small distance into the jungle and over the hill. No sooner had we done that, than a firefly grazed the length of my hand and I all but screamed with joy.
As we stood there, staring in silence, I was hit by a wave of wonder and amazement. The kind that makes you smile, in your heart and soul. Even now, as I write this, my lips are curling up. Closely we observed a tree that was filled with fireflies that would put even the most opulent Christmas and Diwali decorations to shame.
We followed the moonlit forest path a little more and came onto a small clearing littered with rocks and surrounded by Bamboo troves. We sat to catch our breath and looked up… a million, a thousand fireflies had surrounded us and were glittering like the moon over the sea (only golden).
Spellbound, we stared and they stared right back. There was a wave being created in front of our very eyes. A tree would light up and then 1..2..3… the one next to it would shine. Almost like an ocean wave and in equally rhythmic patterns.
We made our way back only after the noise of crowds had passed beyond hearing. It was then time to bid goodbye, we sat in the car wordlessly, I took out my phone and played.. : “You would not believe your eyes, if ten million fireflies, lit up the world as I fell asleep”