I have passed in front of this hillock known as ‘Maruti gad’, situated close to the famous Shantadurga Temple at Kavale, Ponda, hundreds of times. Every time I have passed in front of the hill, I have strongly felt that I should go there and climb the hill once. It is not something daunting. May be, just about 200 steps. And it is not more than 5-6 kilometers from my house. I could have made it any day. But I had not done it - during the past thirty years.
Last night after a birthday party, someone in our swimming group (probably in a state when the brain did not know what the tongue was saying) suggested that we go for an early morning walk up to the Shantadurga temple. Nothing big, just a walk of about six kilometers. Still, a surprising suggestion to come after a party at twelve in the night. Bigger surprise - Five hands went up and the biggest surprise - four of them turned up at the designated spot this morning!
In less than ten minutes we had reached the new road leading to the Shantadurga temple. This is a beautiful stretch of road of about two kilometres, with lot of vegetation on both sides, no ‘development’ along the road yet and hence no traffic. Rains have just ended, mornings are getting foggy and it was very pleasant early in the morning. We reached the end of the road chatting and enjoying the walk and were about to turn back when we noticed the steps leading to Maruti gad. They looked inviting and we decided to go up. It was a cool climb of 237 steps (as one of us counted) and a feast for the eyes. I had carried my camera expecting a Kingfisher or a crane near the swamp next to the road and managed to get some pictures in spite of the early morning fog. Here they are.
|The road to Shantadurga|
|The Shantadurga temple as seen from the top of Maruti gad - with the dew covered hills in the background.|
|The chapel of St Roque on top of another hillock near Maruti gad - just before it got fully engulfed by fog.|
|A flock of cranes flying in formation over the swampy area next to the road.|