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Ensure weekend escape is a safe escape

Thursday, 7 August 2014 - 10:30am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Weekends getaways is the best way to beat the stress, and monsoons are the best time to take these short trips around the city. Jayesh Paranjape is the founder of The Western Routes, a firm that
arranges monsoon tours and adventure trips around the city speaks to dna about how to make this monsoon a memorable one

Q With arrival of the monsoon, what are the hottest destinations around the city people and visit on the weekends?
 We as Punekars are quite lucky, as the outskirts of the city change color with the arrival of monsoon. You hot any road and within 30 mins you are in lush green heaven, beautiful rice fields, overflowing
streams, misty roads, hills dotted with waterfalls and tapris serving hot chai and bhaji! Picking up a few destinations is a bit difficult, but places like Mulshi with an extended trip to Tamhini Ghat and
Kundalika Valley. Malshej Ghat is a charming hill station and is famous for its numerous lakes, cascading waterfalls and charming mountains, Malshej Ghat is a favourite tourist destination of hikers,
trekkers, adventurers and nature lovers. Bhimashankar, for being located amidst Sahyadri Hills and for a sanctuary with a thriving population of the endangered and elusive giant squirrel known as
'shekru' is another hotspot. Madheghat is a relatively unknown destination, located around 60 km
south west of Pune, bordering the Raigad district. It is in the vicinity of Torna Fort and the backwaters of Bhatghar dam.

Q Have Punekars grown as adventure lovers lately? Which are the adventure-sports that are more indulged into by the citizens? And what section of people are more into it?
There are a lot of passionate trekkers in Pune who are looking for newer forts and mountains to scale. Over the past couple of years, new adventure sports are being offered to Punekars and they have been very successful. Be it White-water Rafting at the Kundalika River, Waterfall Rappelling in Lonavala or Paragliding at Kamshet. All these adventure activities are offered depending upon the level of difficulty, so as to ensure that a maximum number and a wider range of people (ranging from amateurs to experienced) can experience these activities.

Q Trekking is a big trend among youngsters mainly. But they often fall short when it comes to taking proper precautions on a hiking spree or when on a trek. What tips you would give to these
overenthusiastic crowd when they spend a day out near a waterfall or fort?

Safety is of utmost importance whenever one ventures out into the wild or a trek. Even for a simple jungle walk once has to take precautions. I would strongly recommend that when going on treks and
hikes during monsoon people should go with experienced groups or companies which can offer all the necessary safety equipment wherever required. For waterfalls, sometimes just looking at a waterfall one cannot gauge the intensity and force of the water and accidents occur. In such cases, not entering the waterfall is advisable. So more than safety equipment, some behavioral precautions need to be exercised, particularly when it comes to waterfalls.

Q. How do you see the travel and tourism industry in Maharashtra?
Currently it is great and there is so much more to explore more and more destinations. The state has a brilliant mix of high mountains, the refreshing sea and the lush green covers; interspersed with rich
heritage, an ancient and lively culture, varied cuisine, royal history, and warm people! We need more travel organizations to promote what the state has to offer. We need the Government agencies like the
MTDC to focus on improving the tourist experience at known tourist destinations and responsibly develop the unknown ones. A great example to follow would be Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and most currently Chhattisgarh who have gone all out with making their states tourists friendly and of course offer packages and promote destinations which are unique as well as diverse.

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