Since 1991, when India adopted liberalization policies, it opened up for business. This created environment for competitiveness, across all fields of business, including then new areas of information technology business. This mean performance and results was key. And obviously, people are key here, and hence competitiveness and result-oriented work style at individual level and team level became significant. As business grew, they sought ways and means to train their people for challenges, performance and result-oriented approach. Identifying this need of businesses, organizations such as High Places came to being. The focus and approach of such organizations is to provide what they call as experiential learning. Another uniqueness is in the way they are conducted away from usual work environment. I recently was on such outbound learning(OBL) program organized by High Places at their center called Garud Maachi(गरुड माची) near Pune.
This was my second time at Garud Maachi. It is located at a scenic location about 80 KM from Pune towards west(actually in Konkan region), just after Tahmini ghat. In fact, this and surrounding area is now declared as Tamhini Wildlife Sanctuary. The road to Pune goes via Mulshi dam, and we noticed wildflowers and particularly Marigold bloom, which was very pretty. As any OBL program would have, the adventure was guaranteed, just because of the location itself. The site is tucked in between two villages Dongarwadi and Andarwadi and it is right at the base of impressive line of Sahyadri with height of close to 500 ft and running east west for about 3 KM. The name for this site was taken from a place of same name referred as so by local villager where eagle was spotted often. Garud is Marathi word for majestic bird eagle. Maachi is also a Marathi world for plateau on the top of the hill or fort. There also is a sacred grove near village Dongarwadi, which I had visited few years back.
Our goal for this OBL also was simple, as it is for any such program-team building, re-emphasizing importance of leadership, planning, communication, goal setting. Our group of 60 was divided in 3 groups. Each of the groups went through few games which provided opportunities for working on these aspects. The games were followed by retrospective and sharing with facilitator emphasizing key takeaways.
The weather there was very humid, a typical of Konkan region. We also were exposed to October heat. We stayed in tents with colleagues who are not part of your immediate team. The whole idea is to get out of comfort zone and learn to deal with situation.
This is, of course, basic tenet of trekking which is what I am used to, for so many years. Talking of trekking, the second day of our stay there, provided some opportunities for raw adventure. For many of us, it was first time and all it needed was a first step to overcome the fear. The early morning was trek on the hill for an hour, which turned out to be nice. We got glimpse of Tata Hydro Electric Power plant located at village Bhira and also dam nearby, nice view of vast expanse of the green valley.
Later, we had rappelling session from artificial rock climbing wall which is created at the site. During my first visit there, we had rock climbing also. One of our instructors and facilitators, Tekraj Adhikari had scaled Mt Everest in 2012. Before the session, we were made familiar with harnesses used for climbing and rappelling-ropes, mittens, figure eight descender, belay, hooks etc. I spent some time talking time to Tekraj about his Mt Everest expedition and the movie Everest which I had watched recently.
All in all, because of the location, staff, facilitators, adventure makes Garud Maachi perfect place for any team building and group activity, which is bound to give enriching experience.