It was my wife’s birthday last weekend and she kept pestering me to take her out for a midnight drive to the ‘Tiger Hills’; a destination where young at heart flock to, around midnight hours to chill. It is the newly established underground zone, located in Lonavala. So ladies and gentlemen, leave all your clubbing, partying, late night chatting, downloading or whatever the hell you do to keep yourself busy on a weekend night, and just drive to Lonavala. And please for God sake don’t get drunk, assign a designated driver, if you really want to enjoy. As you all know the moral police are just looking at fresh reasons to keep us chained in our houses on weekends. One accident and, the Tiger hill will be an endangered spot.
You’d want to carry some easy snacks, pull overs/ jackets, and cigarettes (i.e. if you smoke) because everything is at premium price. My trip was an impromptu drive, so we ended up freezing a little bit, but nonetheless we enjoyed the hot snacks and garam chai in the early morning. As soon as you enter the zone, you’ll be greeted by eager 12 year ole’s running around, hanging on your car windows; selling and yelling out, their menu’s – maggi, cheese pakoda (a must have), corn pakoda, hooka’s and chai’s. The chai an authentic, asli desi chai, with the right amount of water, milk and masala but I guess that’d only interest the designated driver, otherwise who would drink chai at a place like this?
Generally the crowd starts cruising in post 1.00 am, but you should be there before 2.00 am to find a good parking spot. The location is just an extension of the hill. It’s not yet converted into a hill station like promenade and perhaps, that’s one of the reason for it not being commercialized as yet. There is no lights, no steps, and the red mud tends to create a dusty fog because of the cars screeching on the gravel. The regulars; bikers and car drivers alike, have their favourite spots at the far end of the hill, just behind the railing which over looks into the beautiful valley, though you’d have to wait till sunrise to look at the magnificent view.
The vibe is electrifying, soothing, peaceful and liberal at the same time. This is one place which is ungoverned by anyone and yet functions perfectly. An unadulterated balance of being free and knowing your boundaries. BMWs parked next to a Santros, boots popped up, pumping loud music; electronic, psych rock, metal, hip hop, Bollywood and sometimes even Marathi. Some even take this to the next level at start their own little open club party, dancing on the boot, and of course the other usual stuff, you know what the necessary elements of a buzzing party are. There’s a good mix of student and IT crowd from Pune and the snobbish Mumbaikar’s (I am one of them, not proud though). But honestly, it doesn’t matter, who you are or where you come from neither does anyone care about if come on a bike or bullock cart, you’re wearing flip flops and shorts, or just came down right from a club in your Calvin Kleins. The hills treat you all as one.
You can choose to stick around till the wee hours of morning to witness the sunrise; that’s when the mood dampens slightly and your eye lids start getting heavy. As the sun brings itself up, after a long slumber, towards the hill top, the tapri shops call it a day and doze off right on their stalls. Cars and Bikes start clearing up, the party ends, and in a few hours, we are back to our cities. Just before the early morning hustling begins.
So all you free loaders, adventurer’s, midnight denizens get your vehicles out, fill your tanks, load your ipods and drive to Tiger Hill. But just one word of caution, be responsible and don’t you dare throw empty alcohol bottles on the road, I saw a few morons do that last time I was there. Or else we’ll soon have to tackle the naka bandi’s and hafta vasooli’s there as well. Another caution for amateur drivers, do not attempt being cool, just take a back seat and let someone else do the driving coz the ghats can get quite tricky to handle. So just be yourself and respect the freedom, peace and liberty the Hill provides you.
So, go out there and have a Simple Stupid Chronicle…