Nightclubs and beer pong are passé. It’s time to up the ante and
indulge in new hobbies or new experiences. City life can get monotonous, and we
all seek experiences that feel enriching and lend some inspiration to our
work-driven lives. Back in the day, the only time pass available to humans
might’ve been an evening spent around a common fire, sharing stories and
looking up at the night sky. It’s amazing how humans developed a knack for
science by watching the movement of celestial objects across the night sky,
over a span of time. This ancient way of passing time has now been upgraded
with help of specialised telescopes, sky-mapping and even cameras that take
wonderful photos of far-away objects.
Accompanying stories about constellations and related mythology elevate
the experience, making it an activity to be enjoyed by children and adults
1. Mahuli- Mahuli village provides a night sky enthusiast with all the right settings required for a night of star gazing. Plenty of open flat lands to lie down as you wait for stars to rise, dark skies devoid of light pollution and a back drop of the beautiful Mahuli peak-a trekker’s delight- that fringes this area. Easily accessible from Asangaon station by rickshaw or bus, this quiet locale makes for a nice for a quick star hop not so far away from Mumbai.
2. Dehene- Embark on a fun trip to Dehene village, a mere two hour drive from Mumbai, to take in some cool breeze, fields and open skies. Located in the foothills of the Sahyadris, enjoy a scenic sunset against a backdrop of hills, as you set up your telescope to unravel the mysteries of the universe. A relatively wide and open view of the sky can provide astro-photography enthusiasts with a wide slice of sky-pie to capture star trails. Easily accessible by local train or car from Mumbai.
3. Bhandardara – Who knew that Bhandardara dam could provide so much in terms of stargazing. Usually famous for monsoon drives and treks in the surrounding ranges, Bhandardara also has some great spots to enjoy a night sky. Set up camp on a grassy patch near the lake and wait for darkness to fall. As the Earth rotates, watch a dazzling display of constellations and cosmic objects dance across the sky. Pssst, letting you in on a secret…if you know the right set of villagers who own boats, you can actually get to smaller islands in the middle of the lake and spend the night away from civilisation, amidst the company of stars.
4. Vaitarna- Another beautiful spot, the Vaitarna lake area is superb for a night of camping coupled with telescope sessions. Drive down post noon, watch the sun go down and enjoy a bonfire while you wait for the first of the twinkles to appear. Vaitarna is a great spot for astro-photographers, the lake provides a wonderful background for photographers trying to capture the Milkyway band. Expect minimal disturbances as it is away from mainstream civilisation, the villagers are warm and can provide basic meals and home-stay options.
5. Velas- Have you ever gone star gazing on a beach? A 5 hour drive from Mumbai, Velas is a fishing village popularly known for its Olive Ridley nesting sites. But, it also provides for a unique stargazing experience. Since these fishing villages are located along lesser known parts of the western coast, they barely see too many tourists and can be a good choice for an undisturbed night of viewing, bang on the beach. Trade some sun and sand for some moon, stars and sand.
One can easily avail of home-stay options and great local meals to make it a wholesome experience.
6. Naneghat- Imagine laying on the ground at 2,461 feet above sea level and looking up at the sky. Sounds ethereal right? Opt to visit this ancient trading route and mountain pass to get an up, close and personal view of the stars. No buildings to obstruct your view, no city lights, sheer expanses of deep dark space overhead and pin drop silence. Naneghat makes for a great trek as well , though there is a motor-able road leading all the way up too. There’s more! What if we told you there’s a little history and archaeology to be explored as well, caves with inscriptions dating back to the 1st century that could make for some interesting morning explorations after a night of galaxy hunting.