With the monsoon at its top in India, wouldn’t it be nice if one could take a short drive to a pathway studded with lush green hillocks and gurgling waterfalls? One would stop the car occasionally and wade into one of the huge mass of water. The more adventurous ones would climb up the rocky and muddy ridges and get soaked in the natural shower.
Unfortunately, you cannot think of such a frivolity sitting at Kolkata. The nearest waterfall from the city is at a distance of no less than around 250 km at Ghatshila and unless you go to North Bengal region you can forget about hillocks.
However, such a drive is not impossible if you visit the city of Pune in eastern India. During the monsoon, a drive to a place called Tamhini Ghat is one of the most popular ways for the residents of Pune to relax and enjoy the rainy season. Granted the Mulshi road which leads to Tamhini is infested with numerous potholes and often you encounter over enthusiastic and slight off balanced city animals near some waterfalls. However, during monsoon, the surroundings looks so inspiring that you overlook such “little” hindrances. 🙂
Three years ago when I visited Pune to take my Monsoon trip to Amboli and Ganapatipule, my friends suggested me this drive. After having a rain-soaked outing, I was definitely interested in more. Also shooting waterfalls in slow shutter mode with my camera was an added interest.
My friend Paramantapa Dasgupta aka P.D., who was my host during my stay at Pune gave me a small lecture before we started for our journey at around 10:00 in the morning.
“Listen, in many places. you will hardly get an opportunity to fix your tripod. So if you want to shoot sharp images people with waterfalls in slow shutter try shooting at aperture f/8 to f/11 and shutter speed between 1/5 to 1/10. Chances are you will get good results. Of course fix your ND Filter to the lens.” Said P.D.
Initially, there was greenery around but infested with concrete structures. But as we crossed Paud Gaun and left Paud Road to enter Mulshi Road, the drive was quite scenic. The lush green vegetation with dark rain clouds above us coupled with the small hillocks in the horizon was a treat to the eyes. Apart from the hillocks, the landscape of Mulshi is highlighted by the Mulshi lake with many accommodation facilities around it. The lake is located in the catchment basin or drainage basin of the Mulshi dam.
We made our first halt at a joint besides the road named Paradise Café. It was not only a café but had accommodation facilities too. The café had a huge courtyard in front of it. We sat on the chairs overlooking the Mulshi lake with our refreshments. Sipping warm coffee, I thought that no wonder that such a place is a hot favorite driving spot for locals. I felt like lazing on the courtyard for hours.
The next halt was after half an hour later. There was a relatively bigger waterfall where people were having fun getting drenched. A pathway from the main road led to that. On the way there enormous streams rushing down after getting a fresh lease of life during monsoon. Unfortunately, many cattle class residents have dumped packets of chips and other eatables around.
I took some photographs of the stream on our way. As we reached the large waterfall, I started clicking photographs with people in it. There was a big Sunday crowd having fun.
In the beginning, it was difficult to get sharp photographs of all people in the frame. Mind it I also wanted to display the waterfalls looking like flowing milk at a slow shutter speed. I got one decent shot after several attempts. Then I got lesser persons in the frame and the result came out good. However, I was not happy with the framing as there were too many persons around. P.D. was not satisfied either.
There were many more waterfalls in the way ahead, but there were no people wading in them. I decided to concrete on shooting waterfalls and shoot that perfect frame with people when I get a chance. I used my tripod here as there was ample space.
I was trying to get a closer view of a section of waterfall. So I fit in my 50-200 lens to my Pentax K200D for some close shots. The shots were now coming to my satisfaction.
There was a small bridge beside this waterfall. The bubbly stream of this huge mass of water had searched out its way to flow below the bridge and gush out on the other side in the most picturesque manner. I decided to do a bit of adventure and get down on the other side below the bridge. I wanted to get a low angle shot with the cars on the bridge.
In the hurry to go there and to change my lens to original 18-55, the lens cap of 55-200 lens popped out of my hand into the water. It actually felt on the side over the rocks. I waded in the shallow waters and searched in vain.
I had lost my 18-55 lens cap during my trek to Goecha la at Sikkim, which was miraculously recovered by my guide Vikram. Alas, my luck was not so good this time and I could not track it.
However, I did not let this dampen my spirit and decided to go on with my adventure. There was barely space to go down beside the bridge and the area had moss infested slippery rocks. Someway I managed to get down and position myself below with the tripod. I had some nice shots and then managed my way back.
Driving forward, we finally came to a waterfall gushing from the top down the hillock. The stream was not that dense and it was perfect for a pictorial slow shutter shot. The rocks on which the mass of water was hurrying down were full of mud and looked extreme slippery.
Imagine my surprise, when I saw a man walking up those muddy rocks with his small child wearing only sandals. He walked up confidently and took his child’s photo beside the waterfalls. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised as I have seen similar situations at Amboli. The people of Maharashtra seem to have more grips going up on such slippery ground without hiking shoes.
I got a good shot with aperture F/10 and shutter speed 1/8. Just as I thought that was the best shot, two tall lanky guys went up the same terrain. One even opened his shirt and bravely went straight under the waterfalls through those slippery rocks. As he was taking a shower, the other man fixed his feet most perilously over the rocks and started taking his photo in his mobile! Then he sat down and started taking a shower like his partner! I wondered how could they fix their grips on those slippery rocks barefooted!
I shot the entire sequence hand-held in an 18-55 lens with aperture F/11 and shutter speed 1/5. Then a father and his two daughters climbed up. Dad got a good bath and his young daughters even posed for me when they saw me shooting with the camera.
I later checked them in PC and found them to be perfect for my satisfaction. I am sharing some snaps from that sequence here, with one cropped close up version to give my readers an idea. It was the best waterfalls sequence I have ever shot till date.
We had a sumptuous buffet lunch at Orchard Resort Café around 3:30 in the afternoon and by 4:00 we started our drive back to Pune after a good session of photography. About time too, as it is not advisable to stay around the place during evening unless you are lodging there.
Miraculously it did not rain throughout the photo session, but it poured well during the return journey. The timing of rain fixed by the Almighty suited our purpose.