"Phir chal pada ek naye safar par jiski manzil meri raah dekh rahi,
Maine to bas karam kiye, kamayabi apne aap mil gayi."
This very quote stumbled in my head while gazing towards road outside my bus window. The journey itself was leading to a destination for which me and my colleague, Soham Kulkarni, were invited as experts for stargazing night by Akshay Kshirsagar from Trekkerbugs in Bhandardara on 4th of May, 2019.
Bhandardara is a village near Igatpuri, in the western ghats of India. The village is located in the tehsil Akole Ahemadnagar district of the state of Maharashtra, about 170 kilometers from Pune. Bhandardara sits by the Pravara River, and the natural environment, waterfalls, mountains, Wilson dam, Arthur lake, Randha falls and famous Fireflies festival are tourist attractions. As it's situated far away from city lights, the place boasts a night sky full of stars.
After a 5-hour long journey in bus, me along with my fellow trekkers reached our campsite surrounded from one side by Kalsubai, the highest peak of Maharashtra, and other by Ratangarh beside Lake Arthur. After some sight-seeing and little snacks, we pitched our tents before nightfall. One of the good thing about the place was no mobile network, which means a time away from smartphones and outside world and enjoying the nature around to it's fullest.
The moment twilight faded stars started to unveil in the sky and in a blink of a moment whole sky was covered by stars. The famous constellations, such as Orion, Gemini and Taurus, were en-route their journey towards horizon in the west along with Mars and Constellations like Leo, Ursa Major, Hydra were getting more and more clear. We, me and Soham, started with our favorite work of unraveling the night sky to our fellow trekkers. Starting from an astronomical laser, we went through famous constellations, their stories, famous stars, satellite passing, sighting of Mars, moment of planets, elliptical line, importance of astronomy, etc. The only obstruction were clouds which were slipping in and out frequently. The crowd enjoyed and gave us smiles and satisfaction for which we came so far.
After dinner, we went for a nighttime stroll where we sat under a shed and exchanged each other's trekking experiences. In the veil of night, some long term bonds were forming, some unforgettable moments were getting cherished. Even the strangers were now becoming familiar and a part of yourself. The magic of night was at it's peak.
We returned to our camps, enjoyed, played cards and in the end we adieu night while gazing Jupiter, Saturn, Milky Way's band, magnificent constellation of Scorpius & Centaur and mesmerizing fireballs & meteor shower.
A good outing with some random strangers is sometimes what is needed. It gives you break from your daily life and helps you to spend time and nourish yourself.
Stay tune for next day adventure. Till then, Sayonara!