There are few adjectives that can rightly describe Sahyadri and Western Ghats in monsoon. While it is beautiful all year long, monsoon enhances its natural beauty to a sublime degree.
I got a chance to visit Jawhar recently, a quaint little tribal hill station in Maharashtra. It is known as one of the places to receive highest rainfall in the state and for its Warli paintings.
It is a village in tribal district of Palghar, in northern Maharashtra. It has 95% tribal population, with 30-40 types of tribes. They are deeply rooted to their culture, and exist in harmony with nature.
The journey to this rustic getaway was filled with greenery soothing our eyes. Paddy fields on either sides of road, dotted with tribal settlements, showed us a slow and scenic village life.
The final stretch was winding ghats, through green forests, and the temperature began to drop steadily.
I first came across Jawhar when I was nine. My parents had one of their government offices there, and needed to report to a superior officer regularly. They’d tell us about how beautiful and unexplored the place is, about how their office was adorned with Warli paintings on the inside as well as outside. They even took us for a visit there! It was intriguing for us children to walk in a palace so old and see the possessions owned by the kings back in the day – their furniture, cribs, bathtub and piano! My favourite memory is that of walking through endless cashew nut plantations leading to the palace, and getting drenched in rain while watching the green valley at Hanuman point.
The region of Jawhar was ruled by Mukane dynasty from 14th century. In their heyday, they ruled the region spreading from Silvassa in the north, to Bhiwandi in the south. Jawhar was always a part of Maratha empire and later became a part of the Bombay Presidency during the British rule.
Jai Vilas palace
This architectural heritage has a distinct charm, and is made in pink stone. Also called Raj Bari, it is located on a hill top, with view of hill ranges around.
The old palace is in ruins, and the new palace was made in 1940 and has 80 rooms. It is a nice experience to walk around the palace, which is nestled in 500 acres of cashew nut plantation.
The walls of the palace are adorned with paintings of king Yashwant Rao Mukne, his sons and wife.
We were shown the darbar, king’s and queen’s rooms, their children’s room which have wooden toys, and a telescope. Queen’s room had most furniture like bed, chairs, and tables in the shape of lotus.
The king no longer resides here. He stays in Pune and keeps visiting the place, the caretaker informed us. It is now rented out for film and TV show shooting.
(In picture: Jai Vilas palace)
Waterfalls and Dams
Perhaps most famous for its waterfalls, Jawhar has plenty of them, namely Dabhosa, Kalmandvi, Domzira and Hiradpada
It also has beautiful dams like Jaisagar dam and Khad-khad dam, which draw many nature enthusiasts.
The most famous tourist attraction here is Dabhosa waterfall. The flow in the waterfall is astounding. It cascades down from a height of 300 feet, into a crater shaped bowl. The view of water rushing through dense forests and forming the waterfall is glorious!
(In pictures: Dabhosa waterfall, Khad-Khad dam, Kalmandvi waterfall – picture sourced from internet)
Spending time at Hanuman Point was definitely refreshing! It has dense green valleys on three sides, with view of sheep grazing leisurely at a distance. Katya Maruti temple welcomed us to this place and the palace is visible on the right side amid greenery.
(In pictures: Hanuman point, palace from Hanuman point)
The place has a panaromic view of the surrounding area.
It is an ancient structure on top of the tallest hill, with a commemorative plaque inside describing Shivaji’s visit here. Shivaji Maharaj had camped with his army in Jawhar en-route Surat, and the king of Jawhar had welcomed him and put a feather in his crown.
(In picture: Shirpamal)
We made our way back to the village, where most houses had beautiful Warli paintings on their walls and doors. We were taken to an artisans’s house, who not only showed us his beautiful Warli art collection made on cloth, but also generously taught us some basics of Warli paintings.
Famous for its vibrant Warli art, Jawhar is one of the few remaining tribal regions in Maharashtra. These artworks are themed around scenes from daily life like farming, fishing to celebrations like marriage, Tarpa dance and rainfall. My favorite is the one showing a peacock dancing in rain!
They are now made on other articles like coasters and bags as well, for the purpose of sale as souvenirs.
(In picture: Warli painting)
It is a small fort on the outskirts of Jawhar. It was made during Shivaji Maharaj’s rule, and was used to hold formal meetings.
A popular legend about the fort is Lord Ram, with wife Sita, and his sons Luv and Kush visited this place, and four smooth rocks with four pair of foot prints are believed to be theirs.
The famous Bohada is a mask festival of the tribal community in Thane and Nasik district, which happens in the month of April-May each year. It has celebrated with a display of individuals wearing 52 masks of Indian Gods and Goddesses, giving performances in a procession. The purpose of Bohada is so pay homage to village Gods and Goddesses, for creation and sustaining of life.
Jawhar is not just a land of lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls, but also rich culture. The tribal communities here have preserved their culture and traditions well. The efforts of local villagers to promote tourism and safeguard their culture are commendable. During our visit here, they offered us mouth-watering home cooked breakfast of poha, upma, egg bhurji and tea. My suggestion would be to spend more than one day here to soak in its homely vibe.
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(All pictures are taken by me unless mentioned)