Tag Archives: Warasgaon Lake

Tuk-Tuk to Lavasa

dscf98683We must get beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths… and tell the world the glories of our journey. -John Hope Franklindscf00062dscf00652

An auto rickshaw or tuk tuk (auto, rick, autorick or rickshaw in popular parlance) is a motor vehicle that is one of the chief modes of transport across many parts of South and East Asia, especially as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional rickshaw ordscf99672 velotaxi, a small three-wheeled cart driven by a person, and is related to the cabin cycle. Auto rickshaws are particularly popular where traffic congestion is a problem and is most preferred by the cost-conscious developing economies. They are common in many Asian cities like Bangkok, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad , and Bangalore, and some can be seen on the streets of China Town in London. Auto rickshaws are often portrayed in Indian films (Auto Shankar, Basha, Aye Auto, Oram Po) dscf00742dscf00992as well as some Hollywood and foreign productions such as the James Bond film Octopussy and the Canada-India film Amal. Auto rickshaws are also prominent in the fuel-poor London of 2027 A.D. depicted in Children of Men. A memorable tuk-tuk chase features in the Thai film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, climaxing with many of them driving off the edge of an unfinished elevated expressway. James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) rides in a tuk-tuk in a Visa Card commercial seen here! And why am I talking about autorickshaws today? Because I just discovered a new land-route to Lavasa via our humble autorickshaw(see photos).I chased the autorickshaw for almost a Km and realized that it was ascending the ghats with a 8-pax load effortlessly. Eureka – another way to reach the Land of Zeus! If you reach Pirangut at the foothills of the Sahyadridscf01002dscf01052(which is amply connected to Pune), you could take an autorickshaw to Lavasa:)))

A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air. -Eric Sloane

The colors of Lavasa change every month. The township is growing day &; night. There are over 12,000 workers giving it all they have 7 x 24! The predominant color now is rust, which goes very well with the red earth color of the terrain. The Warasgaon lake is shrinking at a rapid pace throwing up swathes of red earth giving dramatic pictures.The shrubbery is dry &; literally crackles under your feet. The very much remembered Eric Sloanes lines as above withdscf98202 every step I took. The lake is like a picture post-card now, with migratory birds in droves sitting on the branches of an inaccessible part of the outer boundaries of the Dasave lake. The multicolored flowers complement dscf98292the rusty dried bush all around. It is as if a life cycle of Nature is in active motion all around… new life blooming and old life getting recycled into the red earth.”Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” — A phrase from the English burial service, used sometimes to denote total finality. It is based on scriptural texts such as ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return’ (Genesis 3:19), and ‘I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee’ (Ezekiel 27:18). Physically, we are made of chemicals – a carbon based life-form, so we come from the earth and when we die, we re-enter the carbon cycle. For our lifetimes we have a consciousness and many would say a spirit/soul as well as the use of atoms from planet earth – on death, our mortal remains naturally return our chemicals to the earth/system. The Bible and the burial service both reflect the transient state of human life in those words….I think the same goes for the Nature around us.. ditto for the flowers & the shrubs &; the trees of Lavasa…. Let me now tell you about the first love of my life – the seas…..dscf98322dscf98642dscf98682

“Many’s the night I spent with Minnie the Mermaid, Down at the bottom of the sea. There among the corals, That’s where I lost my morals, Gee but she was good to me, oh, oh, oh, Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, Two twin beds and only one of them mussed … It goes on from there for a bit. -Anonymous

At Lavasa, it is the huge expanses of sweet-water that are the love-of-my-life. And then I glided on the waters of both the lakes – The Dasave Lake on a Pontoon Boat &; the Warasgaon Lake on an Inflatable search-and-rescue dingy with a fast Mercury outboard motor! We darted over the waves at around 60 kms/hour, skimmed the water in chilling curves and zoomed into the rising sun at 6:30am! They have the water “scooters”, the sea “Vespas”. No licence is required and it is so easy to ride them that not even a course is necessary. In case of fall, nothing to fear: a device turns off the engine and the vehicle remains standing in order to enable its passenger to climb up and start again.Cedwyn &; his team have started the marina activities only on December 01, 2008 &; have already kicked up the expectations sky-high! For the more athletic ones you can try water skiing; those who do not have a weak heart can experience the thrill of paraflying, that is flying with a paraglider following a motorboat; those who only want to have fun in groups can try the pontoon boats or the crazy-squirty-bumper-boats. A pontoon is a flat-bottomed boat simply constructed from closed cylinders such as pipes or barrels creating a raft (See video). Pontoon boats generally are low cost and less expensive to insure than a normal boat, even when equipped with engines of over 200hp. They are also almost foolproof to operate and cannot be sunk. Their shallow draft also reduces damage from submerge collisions and being run aground. Pontoon boats are also used asdscf98713dscf98832 small vehicle ferries to cross rivers and lakes in many parts of the world, especially in Africa. Pontoon ferries may be motorised, such as the Kazungula Ferry across the Zambezi River, or powered by another boat, or pulled by cables. A type of ferry known as the cable ferry (called ‘punts’ in Australia and New Zealand) pull themselves across a river using a motor or human power applied to the cable, which also guides the pontoon. In the rural town of Richmond, MN, a farmer called Ambrose Weeres had an idea that if you put a wooden deck on top of two columns of steel barrels welded together end to end, you would have a sturdy deck that would be more stable on a lake than a conventional boat. This proved to be right. dscf99342dscf99622Being in the land of 10,000 lakes, Ambrose thought this idea might have some potential to be marketed. He started out building a few boats and sold them with the help of select dealers. He needed a name for his first pontoon and he couldn’t think of a better name than “The Empress”, because of what it started. He never knew how popular these boats would be. Some time later, Ambrose was labeled “Mr. Pontoon” for his invention of the pontoon boat and was elected to the Minnesota Marina Hall of Fame for his accomplishments.India has imported its first Pontoon Boat for the Dasave Lake Family Cruises. You can hardly hear the silent petrol engine that takes the Pontoons effortlessly across the lake. You could have cocktail dinners on the Pontoons & would not spill a drop from a full glass of your favorite cocktail. Cheers!!!!

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. ~Hilaire Belloc

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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 Way To Lavasa – Land of Zeus & Poseidon

September 6, 2008, Saturday. My wife Swati’s birthday & what better way to celebrate it than taking her to the Land of Zeus & Poseidon:) In Greek mythology, Poseidon (Greek: Ποσειδῶν; Latin: Neptūnus) was the god of the sea. Poseidon was given a trident during the war of the Titans and the gods, in which he fought alongside his siblings. The war lasted ten years, after which the gods divided the earth among themselves by drawing lots. Zeus took the sky, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld. I have christened Lavasa as the Land of Zeus & Poseidon- a blessed waterbody in the skies. We left at 7am from our residence in Central Mumbai. We reached the Lavabahn(the road from Pirangut to Lavasa) in about three hours after a Wada-Pao break near the Kamshet toll-point on the Express-way. The road was enveloped by verdant green all through the 37 Kms to Lavasa. We met the Maharashtrian Cowboy (Dinkar Bhau on his pony Suraj)(see picture). We also met Ramdas the cattle-grazer & Subhash the Sahyadri Fodder-Delivery Executive (see pictures). We had Masala-Chai in Dagdu Mama’s village about 9 Kms from Lavasa. Dagdu Mama posed for pictures with his Ox Krishnaa (see picture).
We saw Buffalos bathing in roadside ponds & cows grazing in lush green meadows. I was fascinated by the shades of Green all along the Lavabahn.The word green is closely related to the old English verb growan, “to grow”. It is used to describe plants or the ocean. The most common associations, however, are found in its ties to nature. For example, Islam venerates the color, as it expects paradise to be full of lush greenery. Green is also associated with regeneration, fertility and rebirth for its connections to nature. See the accompanying pictures of my Journey to Lavasa. Nineteen out of 20 pictures have thirteen shades of green.
Shocking pink (also called neon pink) is bold and intense. It takes its name from the shade used on the box of the perfume called Shocking, designed by Leonor Fini for the Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937. This in turn was inspired by the Tête de Belier (Ram’s Head), a 17.27ct pink diamond from Cartier owned by heiress Daisy Fellowes, who was one of Schiaparelli’s best clients. Shocking pink kept its name in British English, whereas in North America “This intense magenta was called shocking pink in the 1930s, hot pink in the 1950s, and kinky pink in the 1960s…[it] has appeared in the vanguard of more than one youth revolution…to some it sings, to others it screams” . On its way into the German language, shocking pink lost the “shocking” and is called only “Pink”, while the English color “pink” is referred to as “Rosa”. Meanwhile in Portuguese one of its nomenclatures arrived intact becoming “cor-de-rosa choque” (“shocking pink”) used more frequently in Brazil. It’s also called “çingene pembesi” (Gypsy pink) in Turkish. Enjoy the pink Saree of Yashoda Padwal working the green paddy fields- Don’t miss out the pink wild flowers in the foreground. Pink shades continue in Master Waghmare’s smart pink T-shirt. Pink was the predominant color standing out in the journey other than Green.
Before we hit the first dam on Warasgaon lake, we barged into the early morning board meeting of the Dasve goats right in the middle of the road! Taking a minor detour we crossed the first of six dams on the 22 Km lake and crossed over to the top of the dam. The lake is now overflowing through the controlled sluice gates and feeding the Mutha river which flows down towards Pune. See the accompanying aerial pictures of the beginnings of the Mutha river from the top of this dam. The Mutha arises in the western ghats and flows eastward until in merges with the Mula River in the city of Pune. It has been dammed twice, firstly at the Panshet Dam, used as a resource of HydroElectricity. The water released here is dammed again at Khadakwasla and is an important source of drinking water for Pune. One more dam has been built later on the Mutha river at Temghar. After merging with the River Mula in Pune it flows as the Mula-Mutha to join the river Bhima.


Finally, we were there! The Warasgaon lake brimming with happiness was the ideal home for Poseidon. The lake in Zeus’ skies – at 3000 feet above sea level. The friendly staff at Ekaant welcomed us with Iced Tea – after a short walk through the freshly laid out nature trail, we savoured Chef Sandeep’s creations (including my favorite Pokchoy leaf + Cottage cheese salad!). I enjoyed the chilled Fosters pints. The birthday party at night organized by the F & B team was a nice private dinner in the patio outside our ground level room – again, with the clouds walking into our room.

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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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