It has been 2 years since I went back there. It has become more commercialized in that time. But the saddest case was this photograph. You see the top half - that is the plateau. The red bits are school grounds. The school has gradually taken over a public space eroding it. We have actually been rock climbing along the side there.
This is a close up of the area. Right below the tree where the rocks are is where we did random rubbish the first time I had come to Panchgani...I think, rather I fear that in the next two years, this will slowly disappear too and when I return to Panchgani the next time around, there will be no lone tree waiting for me at the end of the plateau.
I had the opportunity to visit Van Vadi, 2 hours away from Mumbai near Neral sometime back. Van Vadi is absolutely gorgeous, green as anything I have seen. It is owned by Bharat along with a group of other people and bought almost 30 odd years back. We played in the stream alongside, listened to Bharat playing the flute and ate organic food. One of the most lovely experiences I have had. We stayed for a whole day there catching the bus back to Neral in the evening and then a train back towards Mumbai.
But that ugly word 'development' threatens...one of the developers, part of a Delhi consortium who have bought pieces of land around Van Vadi came to chat with Bharat that evening. He said to him, 'If I can and if you allow me to, I will make a Navi Mumbai here'. He wanted to construct 6 lane highways in this place which is served by dirt tracks internally.
I ads for these holiday homes at Karjat in the newspapers daily where they show posh Mediterranena type bungalows with swimming pools. I am thinking to myself, its in the bloddy middle of the hills, why the heck do we need swimming pools? This developer bloke he wants to put a swimming pool in the middle of Van Vadi as well. There is no blooming water in the land for him to get the water for this pool. The stream and the wells they have dug provide the water for people living on Van Vadi and our chap want to build a blooming swimming pool.
As we left, Bharat and the developer were still arguing about the development planned for Van Vadi...