As in my earlier post on our escape after 8 months of sitting at/working from home, we arrived at the Polo Forest! Forest, in Gujarat? We were incredulous when we heard about it and I assured my daughter that it would be few shrubs and a lot of wasteland! After all we are close to the desert, the Thar desert, and for us thick bushes form a forest! But we were pleasantly surprised to find that Polo Forest was actually a lush green, thick forest.
I had read that there was a perennial river in the Polo Forest area that kept the area irrigated and the forest lush green. Again I did not believe it. In my experience of Gujarat the only perennial river was the Narmada, and that was way to the south of the state. Perhaps Mahi river in Vadodara would count as a perennial river too! The rest of the rivers were mere sand-beds! And in any case who had heard of the Harnav River? I was pleasantly surprised when we visited the nearby dam situated on the Harnav River, called the Harnav Reservoir project. The dam was very large though it was not filled to capacity. Only one of the sluice gates was open. We, the water-starved people from Ahmedabad, were very pleased to see the large body of water!
The lake stretched over quite a few kilometers as we moved around the Polo forest. The Polo Forest is on the foothills of the Aravalli Range and we could see little hills all around. On these hillocks nested little tribal villages, on the banks of the lake formed where the water was released from the dam.
And then we found the Polo Beach in the forest! Along the bank of the river, near a check dam, there was a stretch with large pebbles, much like a beach. Our friend immediately named it the Polo Beach! The water starved people of the region were enjoying themselves splashing around in knee deep water. One cute little girl in red panties was at her natural best in the water.
And the ubiquitous informal sector was everywhere. Near the Polo Beach a shooting range had been set up and people were trying to become the local Arjun! It was really nice to see an active autorickshaw, three-wheeler, industry in operation. Most of the local population and tourists were arriving on these
phut-phutis emitting a lot of air and noise pollution!
What an enjoyable day we spent in the natural environment of the Polo Forest. This is an ideal place for trekking with designated routes and a lot to explore. The place is particularly beautiful during the monsoon when streams would be flowing down the hillocks and the river and dam would be full to capacity. Enjoy a week-end in the Polo Forest. Recommended!