Tag Archives: Mose Valley

Life, Lust & LaVaSa

The sea is only beautiful if there’s a shore. Life is like the sea. There’ll be a direction to follow even if you sail more than one day or one life… the promise of a new land is your guide, because you know that the sea is a huge world that’s beautiful only if there’s a shore.
Patricky Field, as quoted in Beautiful if there’s a shore (2008) song by Patricky Field

I’m in love with Lavasa. My wife & kids say they have never seen me in love with anyone like I love Lavasa. It was love at first sight. Now, the staff there agrees too! Almost every weekend, they look at me with wide eyes, treat me with kid-gloves and wonder what does doctor see in the Construction Sites? Ekaant is my base & I love exploring the nooks & corners of the growing city.

Lavasa is India’s first hill station since Independence. It is being developed by HCC India near Pune. It is spread over 12,500 acres (51 km2) of land and is scheduled to be completed by 2021. The first phase (Dasave) is scheduled to become operational by June 2009. It will be a self-equipped city developed on the principles of New Urbanism.The city is planned to strike a balance between urban living and preservation of the environment. The master plan by HOK envisages a township in harmony with nature where nature begins at the doorstep. This master plan won both the Award for Excellence 2005, given by the Congress for the New Urbanism (USA) and the American Society of Landscape Architects Award—2005. The concept of a hill town dates from British colonial times and describes locations where British administrators went during the Indian tropical summer, prominent examples being Shimla, Kulu, and Ooty. It is just 210 minutes from home in Mumbai & this drive takes you to another world. The monsoons in Western India are the best time to visit the Sahyadris & with the Lavabahn (the equivalent of the German Autobahn) rolled out three years ago by HCC from Pirangut to Lavasa, driving in the rains on the Lavabahn is pure Lust!

Lust is any intense desire or craving for gratification and excitement. Lust can mean strictly sexual lust, although it is also common to speak of a “lust for men”, “lust for blood” (bloodlust), or a “lust for power” (or other goals), and to “lust for love” – Wikipedia

The Greek word which translates as lust is epithymia (επιθυμια), which is also translated into English as “to covet”. The word ‘lust’ originally had no negative connotation, but it has developed a connotation of sexual sin. We must add “Lust For Lavasa” to the Wikipedia annals. A few weekends ago, I decided to add to my solitude at Ekaant & introduce my Dad to Lavasa. My Dad convinced my daughter to accompany us. It was a beautiful weekend with Monsoon madness interrupted by the changing colors of the sky over the Mose valley. The clouds as I had promised them walked into our rooms & wafted into our nostrils. If you have never tasted a water-rich cloud, take in the fragrance at Ekaant on the upper level rooms. You open the 8 feet glass doors & the clouds come dancing in. The rains had scrubbed the place clean. This time the staff had some ugly tarpaulin & plastic curtains strapped down obliterating the view to the Warasgaon lake. Their argument was the rain lashes into the bedrooms if we leave them open. I convinced the FOM, Subashis Dutta that he was cutting off my Oxygen with the strapped down curtains. I spent most of Saturday evening walking around in the open – getting wet like I was having an anatabuse reaction! Early next morning, his staff got the curtains off & I got a new lease of life on this Wet Sunday. 

I invited my Dad for a personal recce of the Valley city and told him how the lake was not yet full, but would be overflowing by our Independence day if the rains keep coming down like this. We decided not to go back on Sunday evening – Akanksha (my daughter) vetoed going back on Sunday evening. I was the happiest man at Ekaant! We decided to checkout at 5am on Monday so we could all be at our places of work by 9am Monday. 

I am convinced that this will be the most beautiful amalgam of man & nature that India has ever seen in half a decade. as Indians, we should be proud of our brethren who had the vision.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
-Unknown 

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The Deck at Lavasa

 

In architecture, a deck is a flat surface capable of supporting weight, similar to a floor, but typically constructed outdoors, often elevated from the ground, and usually connected to a building. The term is a generalization of decks as found on ships. The Deck at Lavasa is special. It talks to the clouds & is friends with the pristine mountain air and the early morning fragrant mist from the Mose valley! Maybe I have this Obsessive Compulsive Disorder about Lavasa and the deck at Lavasa!  Let me educate you all about Lavasa. Lavasa, free India’s largest Hill Station, embodies the spirit of human nature to Live, Work, Learn and Play.Nature trails that zigzag across the hills, offer a perfect recreational activity for nature lovers. 

Imagine a home nestled in a picturesque valley, where the tranquil old world blends seamlessly with the cosmopolitan way of life. Lavasa offers a vibrant, self-contained world which is part of 25,000 acres of land (almost 1/4th the size of Mumbai) declared as Hill Station with an extensive Master Plan covering half that area. The rest of the region is left untouched to preserve the natural beauty. Cradled in the heart of mystic Sahyadri mountain range, Lavasa is well connected to both Pune and Mumbai.
Envisioned as a complete Hill Station offering a balanced life in harmony with nature, Lavasa is an aspirational destination for lifestyle seekers. 
Lavasa is located at an altitude of 2000-3000 feet above sea level, with state-of-the-art roads, robust infrastructure and a salubrious climate all year round. It is the largest Hill Station to be planned and developed using the Geographical Information System (GIS).An exhaustive GIS architecture has been designed which would integrate into other systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Document Management Systems (DMS) and Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). Through GIS, accurate information will be provided to its facility managers anywhere in the world regarding the status of the Hill Station. Lavasa is located on a hilly terrain, which was one of the basic reasons for the development of a digital elevation model. Nature trails have been mapped with GPS and points of interest are described. A significant contribution has been made towards trail guides highlighting the rich diversity of flora and fauna at Lavasa. I could go on and on about the technology embedded into this Indian hill-station , which will be a show-case to the world. Move over first world, the new India beckons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming back to the Deck. This is my favorite haunt with an unopposed view of the swelling Warasgaon lake & the Mose Valley. The pristine green valley overlooking the placid lake is a perfect setting to rejuvenate and refresh your mind, body and spirit. Lavasa is home to the Karvi flower also called the blue bloom, which blooms only once in 7 years- 2007 was the year of the bloom. The Malabar Whistling Thrush, the singer bird of Lavasa is popularly called the “Whistling Schoolboy”. This deck with the view, crops out from the multicuisine restarant that serves World cuisine. Sushi, Beer & roasted almonds & the Whistling Schoolboy alongwith with 50 inches of rain last Saturday made the “deck” a semi-permanent home for this writer. The Lavasa deck would beat any “Deck of The Month” hollow! Check them out on http://www.decks.com/DeckOfMonth.aspx

The Deck introduces you to nature & the clouds. Nature is at its best in the monsoons in this part of the world. Standing on the Deck and bathing with the rolling moisture laden clouds that almost caress you is a sublime experience that causes a neural crackling & hyperactivity in the satiety centers in the human brain. You are numbed and be-numbed time and again thinking that just three hours out of Mumbai and you get a fresh lease of life on the Deck! Just look at the photographs and admire the deck changing its appearance with the different hours of the day – almost like the four seasons of mother nature! The Walk in the Clouds just got better!

I doff my hat and salute the people with the vision to make a new India & Lavasa! Jai Hind & Jai Maharashtra!

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The Lavabahn, Cloudscapes & Artichokes of LaVaSa

We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it.
-Anaïs Nin, entry for February 1954, in The Diary of Anaïs Nin

As little as five years from now, a sprawling township will spread across the Mose valley. Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) — that has a 60 per cent stake holding in the Lavasa project with the LM Thapar group, Venkateshwara Hatcheries and private investors for company — believes that by then there will be 100,000 primary inhabitants and a floating population of a million. Their vision is of a self-sufficient hill town. The likeness, if all goes to plan, will be to Davos. Nearly 12,500 acres of high valley land, contracted by Lavasa, circling most of the 20-km dammed Varasgaon lake, is in the throes of massive infrastructure building. The approach highway is the first sign, leading up to a network of arterial and trunk roads. For now, all roads lead to three hotels that are under construction, with a total room size of 560. To be managed by the Novotel, Starwood and ITC chains, they will be the first to see completion later this year. An 18-hole golf course is being laid out, a club house planned and, eventually, shopping centres. 

The star attraction at Lavasa is the waterfront; all development springs around it. According to locals, however, Varasgaon lake actually all but dries up in the months leading up to the monsoon. That problem has been addressed. HCC, with their strength in infrastructure, has built a mini dam that has created a reservoir holding of 1.8 million cubic metres of water. Eighteen such dams and check dams will ensure year-round lake views. Dasve’s architectural style is derived from the fashionable resort town of Portofino (Italy) and its pastel-coloured coastal residences, Damanhole in Phase 2 will sport a Western Ghat vernacular style.

A Hill Station encapsulated inside the mystic Sahyadri ranges provides a perfect setting for a getaway for many a travelers and tourists. The maddening pace of city life, the endless traffic jams, and the stifling work cubicle…is all conveniently forgotten at Lavasa wherein different kinds of leisure and recreation activities provide a refreshing escape from the metropolis. Lavasa offers exciting diversions such as star-gazing, boating, treks & relaxing. There are also cinemas, theatres, parks and meditation centers planned over the next decade. Setting new benchmarks in construction, planning and service delivery Lavasa offers its residents a level of town infrastructure hitherto, unknown in India. The high quality roads to Lavasa would provide total connectivity to its residents and visitors. Lavasa is approached by various routes. World-class road from the Chandni Chowk (Pune) to Lavasa makes traveling speedy and comfortable. I have christened the road from Pirangut to Lavasa as the Lavabahn (Autobahn – (German: IPA: [ˈaʊtoːbaːn], plural Autobahnen; English) is the German word for a major high-speed road restricted to motor vehicles capable of driving at least 60 km/h (37 mph) and having full control of access, similar to a motorway or freeway in English-speaking countries.).This road was laid out three years ago & has weathered 4 Western Ghat Monsoons with not a pot-hole along its length. this actually tells you the whole story about corruption and Mumbai Municipal Corporation Road Contractors!). Along the Autobahn, the drivers can stop at rest areas for fuel, food and beverages. In Germany, they are called Raststätte(n), while in Austria they are known as Raststation(en). These rest areas have restaurants serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurants may legally serve alcoholic beverages. Many of the rest stops also have motels. In Germany, the rest areas were operated by a government-owned company until 1998, when it was privatised. On our Lavabahn you get excellent Masala Chai with Jaggery (Instead of Sugar) at small village rest areas selling Chaha! Just before you leave urbanization, there are numerous small & medium sized hotels & restaurants selling Bata-Wada & Masala-Chai.

The best Cloudscapes on the Lavabahn are seen between 9am and 11am and then again 5pm and 7pm in the monsoons.The color of a cloud tells much about what is going on inside the cloud. Clouds form when relatively warm air containing water vapor is lighter than its surrounding air and this causes it to rise. As it rises it cools and the vapor condenses out of the air as micro-droplets. These tiny particles of water are relatively densely packed and sunlight cannot penetrate far into the cloud before it is reflected out, giving a cloud its characteristic white color. As a cloud matures, the droplets may combine to produce larger droplets, which may combine to form droplets large enough to fall as rain. In this process of accumulation, the space between droplets becomes larger and larger, permitting light to penetrate much farther into the cloud. If the cloud is sufficiently large and the droplets within are spaced far enough apart, it may be that a percentage of the light which enters the cloud is not reflected back out before it is absorbed (Think of how much farther one can see in a heavy rain as opposed to how far one can see in a heavy fog). This process of reflection/absorption is what leads to the range of cloud color from white through grey through black. For the same reason, the undersides of large clouds and heavy overcasts appear various degrees of grey; little light is being reflected or transmitted back to the observer. Other colours occur naturally in clouds. Bluish-grey is the result of light scattering within the cloud. A greenish tinge to a cloud is produced when sunlight is scattered by ice. A cumulonimbus cloud which shows green is an imminent sign of heavy rain, hail, strong winds and possible tornadoes. Red, orange and pink clouds occur almost entirely at sunrise/sunset and are the result of the scattering of sunlight by the atmosphere. The clouds are not that color; they are reflecting the long (and unscattered) rays of sunlight which are predominant at those hours. The effect is much the same as if one were to shine a red spotlight on a white sheet. In combination with large, mature thunderheads this can produce blood-red clouds.The sky is a veritable canvas at Lavasa. Ekaant is the place for cloud-gazing & the best cloudscapes from Ekaant are visible at Dawn/Dusk.

Saturday morning I was woken up with the whiff of fresh “Bhuttas” wafting into the clouds entering my bedroom at Ekaant. I was wondering at the odd sense of timing of roasting Bhuttas & then heard the pitter-patter of kid’s feet. On looking out of the Balcony, saw over a dozen kids being chased by a Yogi Bear. This was my first introduction to children’s voices & laughter at Ekaant. The kids were having a blast. Yogi Bear was a big hit & now was being chased by the tots into the Ekaant lobby. The parents were getting them to pose with Yogi Bear for their proud vacation snaps. Lavasa had something for all ages.

Had got up late & decided on an early Lunch. I was the first resident to come in for lunch into the multi-cuisine restaurant. I was greeted by the new F & B manager Mr Pant who requested for ten minutes before the buffet would be served. we got talking and incidentally he had set-up one my my favorite watering-holes at the Radisson, Jalandhar in 1999. Since I work 5 days a month at Jalandhar since 1999, someone talking about Jack-Daniel’s got me hooked! Jack Daniel’s is the finest pub one can find in North India at one of the most unlikeliest of towns-Jalandhar. I was amazed at the buffet layout- there was an artichoke salad, a tandoori-chicken salad, deicious prawn-curry at 2500 feet above sea level topped off with hot Kheer-Sevian. As I was finishing my Lunch, the gang of kids accompanied by a large tourist group descended on the Restaurant. I decided to leave behind the fun and frolic & laughter and take a walk around the Lake. The Dasve Lake which is designed to provide sporting and recreational facilities is enhanced by a 2.4 kms promenade which once completed, will form part of the retail and entertainment hub at Lavasa. With arbours, pedestrian bridges, shopping enclaves and dining areas, this will be the heart of Dasve. I was back to where I belonged – the time of the day not-withstanding. This was bliss.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” 
-John Muir (1838-1914)

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Lavasa – Poseidon’s Playground

اَگر فِردؤس بر رُو-ائے زمین اَست،
ہمین اَست-او ہمین اَست-او ہمین اَست۔

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.

If there is paradise on face of the earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this (Lavasa)

-Amir Khusro

The immortal verse of Amir Khusro was used to describe Kashmir. I am convinced that the same verse today can describe another paradise on earth – Lavasa. The Kingdom of Zeus is also Poseidon’s playground. The township has come out of water – the Warasgaon lake – a 22km long stretch of clean, untouched water. Look at what the visionaries from India have done to this waterbody in the skies – an ethereal township has been laid out all around the lake (see pictures). If there was no water , there would be no Lavasa. The name Lavasa was coined after the village Lavarde in the Mose valley & Asopus – river God in Greek mythology, and father to river nymph Aegina! This was a brilliant branding success by the marketing team. India has taken to the name Lavasa, like a fish to water!

Water is considered a purifier in most religions. Major faiths that incorporate ritual washing (ablution) include Christianity, Hinduism, Rastafarianism, Islam, Shinto, Taoism, and Judaism. Immersion (or aspersion or affusion) of a person in water is a central sacrament of Christianity (where it is called baptism); it is also a part of the practice of other religions, including Judaism (mikvah) and Sikhism (Amrit Sanskar). In addition, a ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam. In Islam, the five daily prayers can be done in most cases after completing washing certain parts of the body using clean water (wudu). In Shinto, water is used in almost all rituals to cleanse a person or an area (e.g., in the ritual of misogi). Water is mentioned in the Bible 442 times in the New International Version and 363 times in the King James Version: 2 Peter 3:5(b) states, “The earth was formed out of water and by water” (NIV).

Some faiths use water especially prepared for religious purposes (holy water in some Christian denominations, Amrita in Sikhism and Hinduism). Many religions also consider particular sources or bodies of water to be sacred or at least auspicious; examples include Lourdes in Roman Catholicism, the Jordan River (at least symbolically) in some Christian churches, the Zamzam Well in Islam and the River Ganges (among many others) in Hinduism.

Water is often believed to have spiritual powers. In Celtic mythology, Sulis is the local goddess of thermal springs; in Hinduism, the Ganges is also personified as a goddess, while Saraswati have been referred to as goddess in Vedas. Also water is one of the “panch-tatva”s (basic 5 elements, others including fire, earth, space, air). Alternatively, gods can be patrons of particular springs, rivers, or lakes: for example in Greek and Roman mythology, Peneus was a river god, one of the three thousand Oceanids. In Islam, not only does water give life, but every life is itself made of water: “We made from water every living thing”.

The Ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles held that water is one of the four classical elements along with fire, earth and air, and was regarded as the ylem, or basic substance of the universe. Water was considered cold and moist. In the theory of the four bodily humors, water was associated with phlegm. Water was also one of the five elements in traditional Chinese philosophy, along with earth, fire, wood, and metal. Water also plays an important role in literature as a symbol of purification. 

The Greek word, glaukos, means the “gleaming” effect of silvery, greenish-grey, or greenish-blue colors. So, at least at the level of etymology, sea-god Glaucos reflects the sea in her elusive beauty of ever-changing hues. According to Robert Graves (The Greek Myths, 90.j,7), Glaucos was the son of Poseidon [Roman, Neptune] and an unnamed mortal woman. He grew up as a fisherman who loved the sea. By accident, he happened to find a grassy patch of herbs left over from the Golden Age — this mysterious Herb of Immortality had originally been sown by Cronus [Roman, Saturn], an ancient sickle-carrying grain god who was later associated with time and death. Glaucos discovered that if he laid dead fish in this patch of herbs, they were restored to life. Curious, he tasted the herb for himself and became immortal (I assume it was this herb which also opened oracular realms to him since nothing else in the story accounts for this gift). Loving the sea as he did, he leaped into it, preferring to make his home within its depths instead of remaining on land. Like his father Poseidon, he had many love affairs, the most famous of which was with Scylla.

Poseidon’s playground is getting ready (see pictures). the piers are getting cleaned, the boats are getting serviced. We are waiting for the rains to go away before the children come out to play on the lakes. This time, l walked around the circumference (2.4 Kms) of the main (developed) lake and was amazed by the differences in the color of water in different areas. The workers told me that certain areas of the lake have had silt-dredging done because the Sahyadri monsoons carry down a lot of silt from the mountains, and hence the variations in the color of water. I wonder if fishing will be allowed in designated areas of the lakes. Locals told me that they have caught fresh water heavies weighing almost 20 Kgs from the Lakes. At the end of the sun-break, the skies opened up again & i went rushing back to Ekaant on the top of the mountain ridge. What better way to end the evening – a bottle of Asti – Dezzani – Innocently light … this glorious discovery comes from the hills of Piedmont. It has oceans of fruit flavour and a little bit of everything else that’s delicious – sparkle sweetness crispness … and the featherlight touch of just 5% alcohol. Moscato d’Asti is not to be confused with simple Asti – this has much greater depth of flavour and finesse. And family-made authentic gems like Dezzani Morelli seldom leave Italy – but look what happens when it does! Gold at the International Wine Challenge … Plus a successful showing at the Vintage Festival and glowing recommendations in The Guardian and The Telegraph. This is a pride and joy speciality of the Dezzani family. And as one leading writer puts it: “The amount of work going into producing Moscato d’Asti makes a mockery of the price.” This is a genuine bargain … you simply must try it! “Straw yellow colour with emerald glints. Very aromatic – apples pears and floral notes – gently honeyed white fruit flavours and a crisp subtle sparkle. Perfect on its own or with fruit tarts.” Sublime in the Kingdom of Zeus & the favored one in Poseidon’s playground.

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The Portofino at Lavasa

Happiness is like the common cold — it’s catching!
-Anonymous

 

Portofino (Ligurian: Portofin) is a small Italian fishing village, comune and tourist resort located in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. The town crowded round its small harbour is considered to be among the most beautiful Mediterranean ports. The residents of Portofin would never in their wildest dreams imagine a sister-town in this part of the world and what -a-sister!!! Lavasa is located at an altitude of 2000-3000 feet above sea level, with state-of-the-art roads, robust infrastructure and a salubrious climate all year round. It is the largest Hill Station to be planned and developed using the Geographical Information System (GIS).Through GIS, accurate information will be provided to its facility managers anywhere in the world regarding the status of the Hill Station. At Lavasa, utmost care is taken to provide world-class amenities for its citizens. A well laid out Hill Station with facilities on par with the world, Lavasa uses the best of technology to preserve the ecosystem, yet having all the modern amenities. State-of-the-art roads, Convention Center, health and wellness center, international standard golf course coupled with landscaped gardens and parks are just some of the amenities which we will enjoy at Lavasa. Based on the principles of New Urbanism, Lavasa is free India’s largest Hill Station. Lakeside promenade with open air cafés, town hall for cultural activities, world-class educational institutions which will cater to all communities etc are well planned out according to its award winning Master Plan. A far escape from the noise and chaos of the big cities, Lavasa is a complete world in itself. The lakeside homes enveloped inside the natural surroundings of the mountains are replete with all the modern amenities. Workplace cocooned in the pristine valley, yet connected globally gives people an opportunity to explore a whole new work culture. A hub for world-class educational institutions, hospitality and training centers, it’s an arena for the mind where learning is a way of life. A refreshing climate with vast open spaces provides innumerable recreation and leisure activities like golf, trekking, rappelling…to satiate the adventurer in you. Nature trails have been mapped with GPS and points of interest are described. A significant contribution has been made towards trail guides highlighting the rich diversity of flora and fauna at Lavasa.The canvas is huge; the picture is detailed to perfection. Nestled comfortably in the heart of Mose valley, homes at Lavasa are inspired by the water confluence. The unique topography of the valley with its serene lake is one of the most influencing factors in the design of homes at Dasve. The Master Plan of Dasve has won an international award for its design and adaptability. Lakeside apartments and spacious villas embracing the valley are influenced by the Goan and Mediterranean architecture. The lakeside promenade is dotted with elegant cafés and restaurants where residents of Lavasa can enjoy urban lifestyle close to nature. Already the first couple of stores on the promenade are functional & a multicuisine fusion restaurant should be functional before Diwali. I seem to be possesed by this state of happiness when I get past the Lavasa Dwaar or the town gate. I thought it was only me, but I have taken enough blind tests of friends and family and let me assure you that happiness at Lavasa is contagious. 

Today, let me not talk about my feelings. This blog will be on the technical stuff I picked up at the Lavasa introductory lecture & their brochure stuff! The pictures are exclusively mine, though! The Portofino area in the first phase(Dasve phase) of the HCC master plan should be completely ready and populated by late 2010. Setting new benchmarks in construction, planning and service delivery Lavasa offers its residents a level of town infrastructure hitherto, unknown in India. The high quality roads to Lavasa would provide total connectivity to its residents and visitors. Lavasa is approached by various routes. World-class road from the Chandni Chowk (Pune) to Lavasa makes traveling speedy and comfortable. At Lavasa, water is supplied from the lake to a Water Treatment Plant which is designed to meet all the current international health standards. This ultra modern Water Treatment Plant is built in Dasve to cater the need of potable water. The water supply system that meets the European health standards, provides world-class quality and purity of water. An advanced Sewage Treatment System has been setup at Lavasa. The Central Sewage Treatment Plant is based on extended aeration process with tertiary treatment so as to achieve the best quality of treated water. Building on the network of fibre optic cables, infrastructure exists today to provide the highest levels of bandwidth across voice, data and or video requirements. Coupled with the citywide GIS system, the system is designed to maintain Lavasa’s technology leadership position, while providing the wow factor to technophiles and techno-phobic alike. Ensuring continued harmony with nature, numerous technologies including biomethanation, pyrolysis, controlled aerobic composting, sanitary landfills and pellatisation have been employed to mitigate the impact on the environment. The entire area of Dasve is covered by a natural drainage network of shallow and deep-water streams and channels. The natural runoff from the hills has been enhanced with a well-developed storm water system. To retain the flow of natural water, culverts of adequate sizes are provided at every crossing of road and stream so that the natural drainage of the area is unchanged.

The Dasve Lake which is designed to provide sporting and recreational facilities is enhanced by a 2.4 kms promenade which once completed, will form part of the retail and entertainment hub at Lavasa. With arbours, pedestrian bridges, shopping enclaves and dining areas, this will be the heart of Dasve. Imagine a home nestled in a picturesque valley, where the tranquil old world blends seamlessly with the cosmopolitan way of life. Lavasa offers a vibrant, self-contained world which is part of 25,000 hectares of land declared as Hill Station with an extensive Master Plan covering one third that area. The rest of the region is left untouched to preserve the natural beauty. Envisioned as a complete Hill Station offering a balanced life in harmony with nature, Lavasa is an aspirational destination for lifestyle seekers. Based on the principles of New Urbanism, the Master Plan of Lavasa has been developed by internationally renowned design consultant HOK, USA.

The philosophy behind housing at Lavasa is to create comfortable homes for people using the best of technology, for an elegant lifestyle. Lavasa is the sure-fire recipe for happiness- this coming from a doctor-believe me!

How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. . ….All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.
– Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

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LaVaSa – A Walk In The Clouds

I read a poster about Lavasa sometime in the past which read:”Enter a world of extraordinary scale & reach”. Welcome to Lavasa, an idea so colossal, so visionary & fantabulous that I am convinced this will be a feather-in-the-cap of free India. I met Mr Nathan Andrews at an RCI dinner a month ago & upon exchanging visiting cards, we started talking about free India’s largest hill-station. He invited me to visit Lavasa; it took me more than a month to take up his offer & drive down 190 Kms last weekend on a typical Mumbai Monsoon Weekend – the best time to visit the Western Ghats. I have been to almost all the “known” weekend retreats around Mumbai including Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Matheran, Lonavla, Khandala & almost all the beach resorts within driving distance from Mumbai.I was not prepared for what I saw & felt after driving into the Mose Valley near Pune.

Situated in the sprawling lap of nature, Lavasa is “A Walk In The Clouds”- a beautiful world of peace & calm. It offers tranquil surroundings and its only guest-house presently is called “Ekaant” (Sanskrit for Solitude). Everything about this hillstation is very contemporary, yet truly timeless.Lavasa is a dynamic swirl of opposites. One is far far away from the madding crowd, yet close to the bustling metropolis of Pune (Only 35 Kms)… side by side with nature, but right in the midst of technology – We had wireless broadband at Ekaant (I could not believe it and had not carried by notebook with my logical thought-process!). At Lavasa, one is caught up in the lively spirit of enterprise, but soothed by the gentle hand of spirituality. International in execution and bursting with possibilities!

At 3000 feet above sea level, Lavasa offers a vibrant self-contained world encircling 25,000 acres of lakes and hills with a concept design that seamlessly evolves living spaces around a central water body.Let me tell you what impressed us the most- 40 Kms of a two lane motor-way from Chandni Chowk to Ekaant – this road can put the best roads in Switzerland or North America to shame. This road was laid down by the parent company that is backing the Lavasa project – HCC or Hindustan Construction Company three years ago!!! There is not a single pot-hole or even a small 2 inch efect in the road after three Monsoons in the Western Ghats!!! Roads in Mumbai -the financial capital of India do not last one month & are likened to craters on the moon within a few days of being inaugurated. It was a pleasure to drive on this ‘Made-in-India” by Indians motor-way but even this feel-good feeling was superceded by the “Drive In The Clouds” that followed when I almost reached the summit after a lush-green drive through the Maharashtra countryside. The clouds walked into our car, into our hair & into our Lungs – This was the best pollution free experience of my life in India!!!!

From the main entry-gate, it is a 6 Km drive with waterfalls all around to Ekaant, their guest-house (now open to the public) which is at one of the highest points of Lavasa! Ekaant is modern architecture at its best with two storeyed twin glass-walled buildings made of stone with balconies that overlook the Mose Valley (see pictures!). You open the sliding doors of the rooms and again – The Clouds walk in!!!! Yes, Folks… I am writing like an excited child, but Lavasa did make me feel like a child. (The Lavasa Logo has the concept of man breaking away from the bonds of earth by becoming airborne, is based on the liberating idea of transformation. Transformation that frees the soul from within, promoting self-discovery for a fuller, richer life. So one can soar, and have more time for the self and family…. see http://www.lavasa.com).

From our balcony, we could get a bird’s eye view of the development going on by the lakeside – The ITC Fortune is almost ready and due to open this September, the Novotel & Pullman with its Convention Center will be ready by 2010.The entire hill station has been imaginatively laid out along the valley’s water confluences to promote elegant lakeside living. Dasve, the first of the town centers (see photos) will offer a choice of elegant housing, from Portofino-inspired lakeside apartments (which I personally did not quite like – too tiny for my liking with tinier windows) to a multiple array of villas in Goan-Mediterranean design, providing a unique standard for living in India.

It was aound 7pm when we checked in at Ekaant – took us all of 4 hours from Mumbai. We had taken the journey non-stop & were hungry- courteous room-dining staff got us hot pakoras & Masala Chai. Close your eyes and imagine the aroma of Onion Bhajias, Masala Chai & Rain Clouds flooding your nostrils – believe me, this is Nirvana:)

Dish-TV with Sharukh Khan broke the solitude and I watched some cricket being played at Dacca. 8.30pm, we were hungry again:), and marched down with our umbrellas to the multi-cuisine restaurant on the ground level. A sumptuous multi-country buffet with chilled Fosters beer rounded off the evening & facilitated a slow release of pent-up endorphins. There was just the sound of rain on the glass windows all through the night. For someone like me who likes water, this was the most beautiful way to go to sleep with nature.

A late Sunday morning rising and a courteous call from the reception at 9.15am saying the breakfast closes at 9.30am – for all of us who usually have no breakfast in Mumbai, we were surprised at our own gastric wants. We rushed down to have a nice hot Indian breakfast with Fresh watermelon juice & mouth-watering Upma! Then came the walks & discovery that bamboo is native to the Mose valley (see photos). Sunday morning saw a whole lot of tourists who had driven up from Pune for Lunch to Ekaant. It was a pleasure to meet up with the friendly team behind LaVaSa including Mr Krishna Pillai & Mr Himanshu Saxena. Our original plan of driving down before Lunch to Mumbai was shot down by the Lavasa staff who insisted we try their Sunday Lunch Buffet. Food was wonderful – I liked the amazing Cottage Cheese & Pokchoy salad(Must ask the chef where did he get the Pokchoy leaves from?). Hats off to the Executive Chef!

On our way back home, we all unanimously thought we were going back home from a fairy-tale world. I remembered the Sunday morning presentation on Lavasa by Shalini-one of the customer care executives. “Lavasa indeed is setting a new paradigm for India in urban and infrastructure planning. Central to the project are robust systems managed by professional service providers. High speed internet, comprehensive landline & mobile phone services and first-class roads will ensure that one is always connected.An artificial dam (see photo) will create a reservoir – more than sufficient to meet the demand. In addition, Lavasa provides state-of-the-art water sewage treatment plants and uninterrupted power supply to its resients. with the support of effective e-governance systems, the Hill Station is facilitating the all-round growth of the region”

Lavasa’s infrastructure will also help develop the surrounding areas and provide opportunities to the locals of the region. A commitment to ensuring that everyone in Lavasa lives life on their own terms. Once again, I was proud to be an Indian, proud that I did not migrate to the USA after my MBBS, proud that our children will live in a a new India being moulded by a few visionary Indians. I am convinced that India is the future of civilization. I hope to contribute part of my being & knowledge in some form to LaVaSa …Will write more about this magical Hill-Station later… Jai Hind! Jai Maharashtra!

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