The spirit of Incredible India: Balakwadi, Maharashtra
Balakwadi is a village situated about 20 km from the town of Wai and in the state of Maharashtra. Balakwadi is located on the foot hills of the Western Ghats just a hill range below the famous tourist destinations of Mahableshwar and Panchgani and is at an elevation of about 2410 feet above sea-level.
The best way to get to Balakwadi village is to board a bus to Wai and from there board any of the local state transport or ST buses plying in that direction. There are buses after an interval of 30 minute from the Wai bus station. The bus ride from Wai bus station to Balakwadi village takes about 30 minutes.
The people living in the village of Balakwadi are very simple. They speak a dialect of Marathi and many can understand and speak Hindi but not English, too. The villagers are famers by profession and grow multiple crops with wheat as the main grain they grow.
The ladies wear sari and the men wear white shirts mostly along with trousers and a Nehru cap. Natives of Balakwadi village take the Incredible India motto ‘Athithi Devobhav’ which means that ‘the guest is like god’ to heart as they practice it offering a full meal and water to unknown travelers.
A hallmark of the Balakwadi village is the humility and generosity of its people who are concern, caring and welcoming to visitors. The village houses are made of cow dung walls, tiled roofs with bathrooms outside the house. Each house in Balakwadi has a separate room for the cattle in a bid to prevent them from being stolen.
There are no restaurants in the village and for food one can request a family to cook some food for which most of the village people do not even charge. The village is the base for Jakmighad (wounded) which was a fort that belonged to Shivaji. The place was called Jakmighad as the injured soldiers would get healed by the soil of the fort. Till today it is claimed that the soil of this place has healing properties.
In Balakwadi village, for accommodation there are no options available as there is no hotel or lodge and hence one has to avail of either a home stay, a stay in the Hanuman temple in the village which is free of cost or camp out with permission from the Sarpanch. For a home stay, requesting a family to provide accommodation is often fruitful as the people in Balakwadi village are warm and easily agree to house travelers.
Husking wheat with the villagers is a unique experience. This gives the feeling of being one with the farmers who live here. The food of the villagers comprises of rice, dal, chapathi, kidney beans, brinjal, etc.
The best time to visit this village of Balakwadi is from November to mid March since the weather is pleasant and favorable for backpacking and hiking.
Balakwadi is the ideal place for a backpacker as one can camp in the wild and experience the thrills of the outdoors. For those who want to camp in the Sahayadris, Balakwadi is an ideal place to visit.
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