Saturday, October 11, 2014

Garudmachi - in the lap of nature

A work trip to Garudmachi on the 9th and 10th of October 2014, turned out to be much more than reviews and presentations and short walks in the evenings.

With my dad announcing his retirement from day to day operations, the new management team was set to take the reins into their hands. This team of 4 now had to coordinate and communicate like never before and a work trip to break the ice, and bond, to understand each other a little better. And so an outing to Garudmachi seemed like a good idea.
There is so much i want to include in this post, even as i write, ideas are popping into my head and you know my aversion to ideas not categorized. So let me slow down a bit and try and make a logical connection of these ideas!

Chronologically seems the best way forward -

1. 9th October 2014, 10.00 am : We leave Aurangabad in a hired 10 seater mini bus. The journey is long - from Aurangabad to Pune to Garudmachi, west of Pune. Google Maps shows a distance of 72.4 kilometers to be covered in 1 hour 56 mins without traffic, from Pune to Garudmachi. We followed the map, from Chandani Chowk, to Pirangut to Paud to Mulshi to Garudmachi - a very easy to follow straight road. And Garudmachi is located on the main road. So you really do not have to rack your brain over it. The road is in equal parts smooth and bumpy. The drive takes you on these charming little roads, surrounded with yellow wild flowers and trees, twisting through tiny villages and past streams, over the Mulshi dam and around the Bamboo forest.

We reached Garudmachi, tired and in desperate need of tea at 5 pm.

Photo source: Garudmachi
We checked into our rooms, and went to the mess for tea and hot, delicious pakoras.
After that the evening was ours to do what we pleased.

So we went for a walk. A short hike later, we reached a plain overlooking the mountains and the Mulshi river. You look down and you can see the clouds at your feet, you look up and you can see the majestic mountains. Words will not be able to describe the sheer beauty of the place. The photos, too, might not be able to do justice to this serene space overlooking the mountains and the TATA hydro power project (even the pipelines of the power plant add a distinctive feel to this place, or maybe we were just in awe of the beauty of the place!)

Trying to get the perfect "jump" picture :)
Reluctantly we left this place as darkness started to set in.

Once back, it was suggested that we take a look at the Everest - Lhotse expedition DVD published by Giripremi. It was a short film based on their Everest - Lhotse expedition of 2013. It was a thrilling, bone chilling, inspiring short film of the expedition by Mr. Umesh Zirpe, the leader of these expeditions. To capture the footage that has been shown of the climb, must have taken immense hard work and perseverance, not to mention, doing this while also successfully sumitting the peak!
After watching the DVD, we were in awe of these guys, whose passion for mountaineering makes them put everything on risk, even their own lives. This is a very different kind of passion that drives them, something we can not imagine.
We had the pleasure of Mr. Surendra Chavan's company for the rest of the evening. He is Maharashtra's first ever Everester ,who scaled the peak in 1998. The conversation took a very interesting turn we asked these guys to explain what fuels them to stake their lives to climb the Everest. And they surprisingly were of the opinion that their passion can be compared to anybody else's passion, for example, ours - to succeed in business. We staked our livelihoods and money on it and the only difference being they staked their lives. Which, for us, was the major differentiating factor. There was an element that was unexplained - why risk your life?!
To this my uncle, who is also from the mountaineering field, answered, given a choice between running a business or climbing a dangerous mountain, he would rather climb as that is less terrifying!
Both the sides agreed o disagree and went for an simple yet delicious dinner of veggies and chicken curry. And thus ended our first day at this heaven.

10th October 2014
6.30 am: All team members were up for the much awaited trek organised by Anish and Sujit, our outdoor experts. After tea, we left for the mountains.

It was an hour long trek to the top. Being on the top was like being enveloped in a big bear hug by nature, it was like rocking to a soothing lullaby in the cradle of nature. Again i will let the photos speak, rather than my words, which will be inadequate.

We came back famished, but there was one more activity planned - Rappelling on their wall. Now, it might seem like its a controlled environment and the wall is not too big, but is was terrifying for me all the same. The safety is foolproof, and you try and repeat that to yourself all the while you are up there, but it scares you nonetheless.

Rappelling down the wall
After a hearty breakfast and shower, we came to our business at hand - the company 6 month review. They have a well equipped conference room, with projectors, white boards, notepads and pen, audi systems - they have though of everything even before you feel the need for it!

Following the meeting, we discussed our future over a nice steaming cup of tea (already arranged and kept ready, i told you - its like the people at Garudmachi can read your mind and give you things you want even before you realize you want them).
Following lunch it was time to say good bye to this wonderful place, with its wonderful people.

A definite visit for teams, families, couples or even solo. I could imagine coming here alone with a stack of books!
Especially if you are in Pune, there is absolutely no reason why you would miss giving this wonderful place a visit. In fact, for us, our travel of 8 hours was worth every minute spent on the road, every bump that broke our back! We did not want to leave, but we left vowing to come back!


1. High Places - contact for information on Garudmachi and other programs that can be organised for you
2. Giripremi DVD - to get a copy of the Everest Lhotse 2013 expedition DVD.
3. Photo credit - Anil Deshpande and Meenal Deshpande : for carrying their phones around, when the rest of us had conveniently left them in the rooms (no range for Airtel network) and clicking numerous photos with insane amount of patience :)
4. A special thanks to Milind Kirtane (my uncle first and then Head operations and Lead facilitator at High places), Surendra Chavan, Anish, Sujit and the wonderful support staff at Garudmachi
5. A thanks to our Board Directors - Anil Mirashi, Anil Deshpande, Meenal Deshpande and Anita Mirashi for arranging this trip that helped us connect with ourselves and our team. It is on the strength of this connection that we look forward to a thrilling, successful business future.

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