Pune and surrounding area through which Sahyadri range passes north to south, has been hot spot for various organizations to setup resorts, luxury residential premises, to attract growing population of neo-rich, and ever increasing international tourists and visitors. Many of these places have sprouted in last the decade or two, have arguably damaged sensitive ecosystem of this area. Lavasa, around backwaters of Bhatghar dam near Pune, Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, which is surrounded by Pavana dam and also Mulshi dam backwaters, Hilton Shillim, to name a few. Another issue with such places is water usage, and depriving general public from their right to water.
Last month, I happened to visit Aamby Valley City, to be there as part of out team building activity(I have written about similar event at Garud Machi) . Aamby Valley City is built by Sahara India Pariwar. It was not my first time to this place. I have been there about 8-9 years ago for similar event, but was only a day’s visit. This time, I got chance to stay overnight there. Long time back, when I had visited a fort Koraigad which is on the edge of Aamby Valley City, I could see large expanse of the resort/township, and could notice a significant patch of deforestation, compared the surrounding area, which was quite green.
Anyways, we reached the place in the morning. Once cleared off security checks at the entrance, we proceeded towards reception. I noticed a huge sculpture of goddess with her roaring tigers. While we were checking in, we watched screens on the walls running videos of Aamby Valley City, telling various facts and figures about its facilities and features. We were allocated Burmese Cottage, which are made of wood. These cottages had separate occupations on the ground floor as well first floor. The view of the surrounding from the balcony was breathtaking.
The remaining part of day was full of learning for us. We had interesting trainer, Harrish Sairaman, accompanying us. His sessions on team building along with activities were quite engaging. His style of talking was captivating and kept us engaged. Later we learnt that he is trained hypnosis therapist too. We did most dreadful thing in the life, called Iron Rod Bending exercise, which was thrilling. He ended his day with electrifying talk on relationships, specifically, referring to pioneering work of John Kappas on relationship types such as E&P(emotional and physical). In the evening, we also experienced fire walking as well. Aamby Valley City arranges fountain, light and sound show off a man-made lake, which we got to witness when it got dark. The evening time was off into wilderness. And this is what I did not like about it. Aamby Valley City arranges dinners in these wilderness, along with regular band music with loud noise, which runs for more than 4-5 hours. I am sure this causes noise pollution, affecting not only locals around, but also wild-life in the forest area nearby.
Anyways, after dinner, I was walking around inside Aamby Valley City, late night. I was hoping to see night sky full of stars, since the area is far off from the city, but it was not be. The sky was cloudy, there was hardly any stars visible. The light pollution also could have played a role as well, as it is still a township, with lot of street lights on throughout. The morning walk next day, exploring surround area turned out to be fine. We also got a glimpse of houses which were gifted to cricket players by Sahara, after winning world cup few years.
With the year end celebrations around the corner, places such as Aamby Valley City would be overbooked soon, if not already. I only wish that people realize the damage caused to environment and locals due to such places and do something towards it.