Amboli, a small village and hill station (690m above sea level) in the Sahyadri Ranges in Maharashtra is probably a lot like other places in the Western Ghats. However, come monsoon and it takes on a beauty that’s next to none with lush emerald green mountain ranges and a multitude of pristine waterfalls dotting the landscape.
I had heard much of Amboli from a couple of friends and through we couldn’t make it there during the monsoons; we visited just after in late September last year. Our daughter was home on a short break from college as was my sister on a little holiday. We decided on Amboli to spend a day out and we decided on Amboli as it meant just a little over a couple of hours by road from Panaji in Goa where we lived then. The four of us and the resident pooch piled into the car early in the morning just before the sun came up and drove through Sawantwadi, which is where the climb up the Ghat road to Amboli begins.
The British apparently declared Amboli a hill station sometime in 1880 but four months of heavy rainfall during the monsoons makes it perhaps the wettest place in Maharashtra. Heavy forest cover and wild animals including tigers during the time of the British Raj in India meant that Amboli got side lined as a destination for them and later on, tourists.
That has certainly changed now, we found the road up to Amboli quite busy with cars and buses full of noisy holiday makers who unfortunately take away from the experience. I would suggest that Amboli is best avoided during the weekends in season. There are quite a few places in and around Amboli to visit whether waterfalls, fort ruins or temples. We just visited a few as a given the limited time we had we preferred to see a few places as well as we could.
A view of the Moti Talaav/ Talao (meaning Lake of Pearls!) in Sawantwadi. It was artificially created by Wentop, a Britsh officer sometime in about 1870s.
Another view of the Moti Talaav/ Talao, Sawantwadi.
A view of a part of the road, somewhere near Parpoli Ghat, winding up the hills towards Amboli.
The Dhab-Dhabba Waterfalls on the way up to Amboli. Magnificent in the monsoons, the waterfalls had already dwindled down a month after the rains. One can climb up to half way these waterfalls by a flight of steps on the side of the waterfalls.
A closer view of the same waterfalls.
The steps along the side of the Dhab-Dhabba waterfalls by which one can climb up a little higher up.
Fresh corn in very much in season and sold roasted on the cob over a wood fire. This is one of the pluses on this trip. There are a whole row of food stalls diagonally opposite the waterfalls selling a variety of food. The must tries are the corn of course, Sabudhana Wadas (crunchy fritters), Mirchi Pakodas/ Bhajjiya (green Bhavanagiri chillies that are batter fried and crisp) and steaming hot cups of tea.
The wood fire for roasting the corn, just getting started.
Monkeys, and there are many one can find near the falls. Though wild, many of them have lost their fear of people and can be quite dangerous. These two seem to be in the middle of a serious conversation…..
And one more…..
These unusual tea bush like wild shrubs are a particular feature in Amboli. In season they bloom with violet/ lilac coloured flowers on a yellow flower carpet for miles around, and is a sight to see.
This side of the road had only a yellow flower carpeted expanse – on the way to Kavalshet Point.
Part of the lookout at Kavalshet Point. The view of the mountain ranges, their sheer height, depth and numerous waterfalls is unsurpassed from here.
A part of the lookout at Kavalshet Point. to the right (in this photograph) of this walkway is a part of a stream with a lot shallow wading pools and to the left side is a sheer drop which you can see in some of the photographs that follow.
The portion of the walkway in the photograph above is beyond the upper right side of this photograph. One can see how sheer the drop is….
A part of the view from Kavalshet Point.
And the mountains and valleys beyond…..
A temporary shelter…….
Wild flowers at the edge of the cliffs.
And one last view from Amboli before we returned home.