It’s a beautiful monsoon evening! I am watching the clouds drizzle some love as I sip my coffee and pen down my first monsoon in Dang.
Dang is a district in Gujarat near Maharashtra border that can boast of more than 90% of Gujarat’s total forest cover. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that it is the least populous and most serene district of the ‘Dhokla state’. Nature is kinder where humankind is lesser (lesson number 1)! 😛
If there is a streak of wilderness in you, you are reading about ‘the perfect place’ with aroma of damp earth, the brightest natural green you can witness and countless streams and waterfalls. More trees in a small stretch than the number of people or cars in a big city and the cattle grazing to give the grass some job satisfaction was so welcoming and soothing in its orientation!
The place expands on a unique terrain and its beauty lies in the fact that there you can’t define boundaries. There are no mountains, but there are forests. Its not on a high altitude, but it does have some random elevations. The ratio of water and earth justifies our initial geography lessons, that there is more water than land on earth. Cultivation is at its richest with some crops and herbs growing exclusively in that stretch. There is so much oxygen in the air that your active metabolism leaves you hungry in short intervals. The commercial valuation of forests is sky high due to abundance of Mahogany, Teak and Bamboo. Bamboo flowers once in 35-40 years. When at its peak, the bamboo forest is dense enough to not even let sunlight penetrate, hence making the path seem like a dark tunnel. The lush grass and cattle enjoy their open relationship and keep the karmic cycle going. Same is the case with rains and vegetation. Whether there is envious greenery coz of ample rains or it rains more coz of forestation, is a mystery. Thanks to the woods and very low population, there is co-existence of wildlife and peace. Such closeness to nature deepens my faith in mythology. The God of rain and thunderstorms, Indra, seems to have a vacation home in Dang.
Dangis are relaxed, actually laid-back and content to the core. They make their own houses, grow their own crop, catch their own fresh water crabs, feed and nurture their cattle, and yes, make their own liquor from a wild flower called ‘mahua’. They are self sufficient and free souls. They weren’t even under the British rule and have maintained their culture, lifestyle and rawness since decades. The government that most of us criticise has also done a commendable job in letting the place remain pure and untouched. No outsider is allowed to buy land and be on war with nature in the name of development. There are no hotels, resorts, restaurants, markets, or anything touristy for that matter. The only accommodations for tourists are camps deep inside the woods, neighbouring its wildlife and government guest houses. Knowing and understanding this, Dangis are very hospitable to the visitors. They happily allow them to stay and eat with them without any expectation in return. They are warm, raw, and have a high sense of liberty in every sense of the term.
The greenery in Dang is so much that it soothes your eyes from the smoky layer the city life donates to us. The sound of streams, waterfalls or rains penetrates your senses and let goes off the urban recordings. On both the nights I stayed there, I was in the midst of woods, with no electricity, no outside communication and not a ray of light. Complete darkness and sound of heavy rain in a forest… it was meditation !
The permanent and seasonal waterfalls, some of them still virgin, are a blessing to Dang. I visited some and Mona fall turned out to be the most special. Locals say its the most beautiful during full moon, will ensure I get to experience it in my next visit. The trek to Mona fall was short, just a little slippery because of regular rains. The noxious spiders and their cobwebs made it obvious it had not been visited since some weeks. Trekking down and seeing the waterfall in front of my eyes left me speechless for a few moments. The sound of it although loud, was calming! The pristine white water flowing down from the rocks was enticing and I encountered some crabs and scorpions en route. I went and sat exactly where the rocks were hugging the falling water. The flow was hard on my skin and its sight of crossing me and flowing ahead was the last I saw before my eyes were shut. The fall was massaging my back, I was feeling vibrations in my head, and the sound.. it was trance, it was tranquillity!
I felt a mix of calmness and under some influence during my stay there of 3 days. The feeling was blissful throughout with some extremely high points. Such trips, I always say, should be taken every few months to be able to connect to your natural self, your real self. Coz that’s how in the midst of a dreamy night, you ‘wake up’!