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Purushwari, Maharashtra; Firefly weekend in the mountains

July 19, 2011

About three weeks ago, I had a really awesome opportunity to travel to Purushwari, a tiny village in Maharashtra (the state which is home to Mumbai). I traveled there with a group called GrassRoutes, a responsible tourism group which brings city-dwellers to villages to get a taste of village life in India. In return, GrassRoutes works to provide employment, improved housing, and education within the village (while also being sure to maintain the village’s identity).

The trip I attended is offered only a few times a year, in June, during the height of firefly mating season. The Purushwari village is in a valley with a huge population of fireflies, and they blink their bulbs to attract mates, so mating season is like a million twinkle lights flashing on and off.

Our trip began with a loooong train ride to Kasara, one of the final stops on the train line from Mumbai, and continued to Purushwari in a jeep through the mountains. At one juncture, I had the AWESOME opportunity to jump out and climb on top of the jeep for the final 20 Kms or so. Let me take a moment to recommend this to EVERYONE to do once in your life! (though, it is pretty scary at first!)

 Purushwari 144 

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On the way to Purushwari I met Dujesh, Swati, and Palash, friends of a coworker of mine who were nice enough to invite me along to this weekend with them.

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When we entered the village, the villagers were waiting with Neru-style hats and color for our foreheads.

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On the weekend, I tried a ton of fruits that were growing from trees nearby. Below are the thickest bananas I have ever seen (and the chalkiest) being sold by a couple cuties

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And a strange fruit I ate off a tree on a hike. It looked like a Chickoo but tasted like a bland Fig:

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And check out this dude, totally camoflauged in the wheat! I spotted him on the walk through fields on our way to the base of the mountain we were hiking:

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Before we began our hike, we stopped at a home for some tea:Purushwari 184

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And then began a pretty easy hike that was made not-so-easy by the fact that it had been raining for two days, and we were basically climbing a mud wall! But it was good fun (and I got good and dirty!)

View from the top (oops, it’s me)

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Here’s the actual view from the top of the hills:

Following Photos credit to Palash, whose camera is far better than my own!

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We also helped out with some village chores like plowing fields and whacking ground nuts against a log to get them off the root:

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And met a teeny tiny just born goat:

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Overall it was a pretty awesome weekend. I met a lot of new people, saw a real village, tried things I had never tried before!

More pictures to follow in a follow-on post. Didn’t want this one to be toooooo long!

Question: Have you ever gone on a “responsible tourism” type trip? Do you believe that these types of schemes can be truly responsible?

My answer: I thought this was one of the better attempts. It brings up the question of whether you want to “modernize” people or not. My opinion is, every culture finds their own version of modernity. I think that to experience another culutre is a wonderful gift, so long as you’re  careful not to impose too much of your own ethos on them, or expect them to be just like you. Eventually, we all rub off on each other, but we cant force a group to recognize our version of “progress.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sameer Kamble permalink
    September 6, 2011 5:13 am

    I thought this was one of the better attempts. It brings up the question of whether you want to “modernize” people or not. My opinion is, every culture finds their own version of modernity. I think that to experience another culutre is a wonderful gift, so long as you’re careful not to impose too much of your own ethos on them, or expect them to be just like you. Eventually, we all rub off on each other, but we cant force a group to recognize our version of “progress.”
    – So rightly said…enjoyed reading your blog…keep it up.
    Sameer

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