Cycling through Pashan

We’ve been having a strange run of weather. Through the day the skies remain overcast, the temperature remains in the mid-20s and there’s little rain. The reduced rainfall will almost certainly have consequences in the summer of ’22 and I’m not sure if the catchment areas are dry too. However, it’s great weather for outdoors and for cycling. Due to the scarce rain the roads remain dry and bicycles don’t pick up much muck no matter where you’re going.

There’s an absolutely verdant green route that I frequent on my bicycle. I start early from mid-city and ride towards Pashan. Once University is behind you, the usual city traffic thins out and the green cover improves. This is the way it stays as you pass the National Chemical Laboratory, the NCL Innovation Center all the way to the Necklace Garden. It’s about 8.5 km one-way with a testing climb that starts at Pashan chowk.

On the way riders first pass the Loyola High School and Junior College. As a junior college student, my first day there fell in the middle of the monsoon (June-July) of ’94. The path up to the college was drenched and overrun with green on either side. Since the area predominantly belongs to the Maharashtra Police and other institutions, it has successfully resisted being overrun by concrete and has kept it’s green cover.

Beyond the Necklace Garden are favorite destinations of Pune cyclists- the National Defence Academy and then further beyond are Mulshi lake, Pirangut, Lavasa and so on. I hope to gradually increase my cycling range to touch these points soon.

My ride is a Schnell Sierra hybrid. Today’s ride was smooth and hassle free thanks to the expert team at Cycleologisst ( I’ve included a mention here because their work on my bicycle has improved my ride considerably. Pune cycling is seeing an explosion of riders right now. Paradoxically, it’s still early and uncertain days for dedicated bicycle shops like this one. We had a very recent closure of a landmark, premium retail and service center which might tell us something about the RoI from the bicycle services business. Perhaps this local industry could be close to it’s ‘uber’-moment.

Obscured from View

Sunday morning mist clings desperately to the trail.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

Mist rolls down the hillside.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

At last! We’ve reached our destination.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

Fellow trekker and companion. A well behaved boy throughout.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

My Stay at the Ananda Yoga Retreat

In 2012, I committed to myself a three-day retreat to work on my meditation practice and myself. Its a great way to simply pause routine and bring focus on the tiny habits that creep in to practice and attitude.

My search triggered after a friend classified the Osho Ashram in Pune as more a resort than a retreat. Ever since, I’d been looking for a destination that offers both solitude and at the same time isn’t too expensive to get to. On one hand are destinations such as the Bodhi retreat in Kodaikanal. Getting there for me isn’t trivial. I was looking to keep the cost of my travel, stay as low as would be possible.

The Ananda Yoga Retreat is an ideal solution. The retreat is a great place to go if you’ve got a practice in mind. All the acharyas, residents at the ashram support each other in their practice. At the same time they’re agnostic to the specific path you’re following. They do dedicate the ashram to the teachings of Swami Kriyananda and Swami Yogananda Paramhansa. I guess this is as clear as it can be.

The ashram is a little before Lavasa in the valley that also houses Camp Temgarh. Travel time from Pune is a little over an hour by car. In the summers it can be bare and hot, we were fortunate to get a day’s rain that helped cool down the environment and radically transformed the valley.

Its important to let them know you’re going to be there a couple of days in advance so that they can prepare for your stay. They’ve got a range of options to choose from and also offer the option to work in the ashram if you’d like to do that.

On day one, I spoke at length to Shamini who helped me get settled into a quiet, one-room cottage on one end of the ashram. I was given a badge saying that I was in silence and that it would be respected by the other residents in the ashram.

Life on the ashram is simple. My stay included breakfast, lunch, dinner and nimbu paani (lemonade) in the evenings. There’s no room service, you’re expected to wash your own dishes and not lock your doors when you leave. The food served is vegetarian and low on spice. Often devotees will bring food with them to share and experiment with western food. The cottage comes with a convenient small stove, drinking water and a refrigerator. It’s a good idea to bring tea bags, coffee and anything else you want to cook in your room.

I found my room to be homely, about ten minutes of uphill walking from the dining area. The room stayed fairly cool in the surrounding tree shade. Apart from a noticeable brackish taste in the drinking water, it was an uneventful and comfortable stay. A healthy time to focus on my practice. I took regular breaks to step outside and walk around the huge multi-acre premises. Cleanliness across the ashram is well-kept and you may even wash soiled clothes in the ashram machine if you choose to do so.

It was difficult to stay in silence as the other residents were incredibly friendly and inviting. Dining was a cheerful event with lively interaction between everyone present. Except for breakfast, which is done in complete silence. I was eager to break silence on my final day and be introduced to the others. All are welcome to join in on the Ashram events (includes, meditation, yoga, satsang, prayers and so on) – it ought to be said that you don’t have to do so if you don’t want to.

At all day times Narayani and Shurjo, Ashram Managers are available if you need to have a chat or share your thoughts.

Their website, stay details, camps and rates are online. Hope my review helps!