Horses of the table land of Panchgani.
If it was not for the mighty Himalayas, the Shayadri/ Western Ghat range would have been the most celebrated stretch of upward folds in India. Except for the snow, it's got its own endless list of wonders. And somewhere in the middle would be the rock called Laterite.
From the Konkan to the Cardamom Hills down south, those living along the Western Ghats will know this red rock that's commonly cut into bricks and used to build homes. They are usually cut out to create large pits close to the place a home is built.
The table land of Panchgani, like the name suggests is an extremely large plateau, entirely made up of Laterite. It's one of the largest such formation in the world. It's filled with a fine, red dust kicked up by the horses that provide rides to tourists who come to see the formation and the majestic view of the Krishna Valley from the edge made famous in hundreds of Mumbai movies.
During the monsoon, it turns the brilliant Sahayadri green.
Tired horses rule the tableland, all year round. Like horses all over India, they look like retired racehorses, they have names like Don, Raja, Rangeela and Saddam. They seem to have all gorwn up receiving whiplashes as an excuse for training and taming. It's written in their eyes that they see humans the same way we Indians see them, animals. If horses had wishes, I'm sure they would like to exchange places with their masters.
The owners of these horses look and talk like extras from B Grade Hindi movies. It works like a charm with the tourists who like to be shown where a scene from a certain film was shot sitting on a horse or in a creaky horse drawn cart.
More than the poor food and beatings, it must be listening to the guides and tourists that must have sucked the soul out of these tired horses of Panchgani table land.
Trust Indians to turn any beautiful place into Mumbai's Chowpatti. A beach aptly named after the four drains that empty into the sea here.