A ‘hill station’ is an Indian English word for mountain resort. Chikhaldara’ in English English means ‘muddy town’. Chikhaldara is a hill station in the Amravati district of Maharashtra, about four hours away from Nagpur. Chikhaldara is called ‘muddy town’ because it’s said that Bhim (one of the heroes in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata) showered in one of these waterfalls after killing a demon, the demon’s blood was black and made the water look muddy. It’s also the only coffee growing district in Maharashtra, incidentally whilst in India I have had cups of coffee which taste like muddy water. We really needed a holiday, so off we went to see waterfalls and mountains.
The drive up the mountain was spectacular, every so often you’d get a glimpse of huge waterfall bursting out of the mountain or see a small fresh water spring trickling onto the road. It’s was beautiful, the roads were new and smooth so the long drive to Chikhaldara was a nice start to a weekend away.
Chikhaldara itself is not ‘foreigner friendly’, all the signposts are in Marathi and the ‘most luxurious’ accommodation featured a bucket instead of a shower and mouse faeces. Luckily, I have a Marathi husband and could cope with all the ‘luxury’, Chikhaldara was worth it! The air was so clean, the views breathtaking and the food in the only restaurant we could find in the entire town, luckily, delicious. I think Maharashtra tourism are not utilising their assets with this place!
We came across a lake and rented a paddle boat for 50Rs (50p UK, 83cents US), it was lovely! The weather so cool and refreshing on top of the mountain, away from all the pollution and honking horns! You really appreciate silence when you live in India, almost everywhere you go you hear the traffic. We could see small orange temples on the banks of the lake, and cows grazing on the lush green grass. My husband kept saying it was the deepest lake in Asia (it’s obviously not…).
It was quite surprising to see so many group of men going on holiday together without their wives, these middle-aged ‘uncles’ were enjoying the beautiful scenery of Chikhaldara together. This scenery included me (will I ever get accustomed to the staring?), so it was a relief when my husband and I found a beautiful place to sit, off the beaten track.
Around Chikhaldara, there are many ‘points’. Hurraine point, Devi point, Prospect point, these points were beautiful but crowded. You’d be surprised how many people love to shout, scream, burb and fart when in the presence of tranquil nature. So when we found this beautiful and quiet place, overlooking three waterfalls, we called it ‘our point’. My husband kept saying it was the highest point in Asia (it’s obviously not…)
Then we discovered ‘monkey point’, situated at the source of one of the waterfalls we could see from ‘our point’, there were all sorts of little shops selling food and souvenirs. A group of monkeys had decided to make it their home, we bought some corn covered in salt, butter and spices. I was appalled at the vendors throwing stones at the monkeys, some of which had small babies (something which I am familiar with). Just as I was complaining, I felt someone come up behind me and I thought they were trying to strangle me. I screamed so loudly that everyone stopped what there were doing to look at me.
A large male monkey had ran up behind me, jumped on my shoulder and stolen my corn! The stone throwing became a little understandable. Cornless, I waited for my husband to tell me that these monkeys were the cheekiest monkeys in Asia…
The next day we went to Gawilgarh, a 12th century fort. The ruins were busy and looked as if the goats now owned the place. Sadly the falling fort was not being maintained or looked after. We saw several middle ages men, who seriously should have known better, trying to etch their names in the crumbling stones. Very sad.
When I was a child I remember there were always so many butterflies during summer, especially over purple lilac blossoms. I remember the fragrance of the blossom and how it felt to watch them dance. In recent years there has been a decline in British butterflies, so to see butterflies fill the Chikhaldara skies was so wonderful. Their vibrant colours flitting from flower to flower.
The muddy town is a beautiful place, full of history and legend. I hope one day it will become more ‘foreigner friendly’ and the landmarks will be maintained! It’s so refreshing to leave the dusty city for a while, breathe some unpolluted air and see nature in all it’s glory! Did you know that Chikhaldara has the cleanest air in Asia? (this last fact has come from a very unreliable source!!!)