My liking for this small quiet town (too quiet, some say) seems to be never-ending. Devlali has gained an uncanny recognition along the years. You search the web for "Devlali" and you get to scores of pages, some by ex-officers of the British Army who happened to pass by this place during the invasion of India. The English word Do-lally (featured in the Oxford Dictionary) has been coined after Devlali and literally means "Gone Crazy". The best source of information on Devlali is a book by an Arty Officer, Colonel Devlali Singh. You can get your hands on the book at the School Of Artillery Sarvatra Library ,Devlali. It's fascinating how this place became what it is today.
How to get there: Road or Train
Unlike most small towns Devlali is pretty well connected through trains and by road. From all sides of India there are a number of trains which pass through Devlali/Nasik Road. Bombay is about 4hours from here (both by road and by train) and Pune is 6 hours (only by road - no trains as yet for this route). So if you can reach either of these bigger places first its pretty easy to get down to Devlali. Most of the trains make Nasik Road as a stop and fly-by Devlali. Nasik Road railway station is a 10 minutes drive from this lovely place. They're twins like Hyderabad-Secundrabad and Delhi-NOIDA-Gurgaon.
India - Maharashtra - Nasik - Devlali
200kms from Bombay.(4hrs by train/road)
256kms from Pune.(6 hrs by road)
Devlali: Sunrise to Sunrise in a day
Place: Cadet Hill / Temple Hill
Its actually very lovely as the sun rises from amidst the ranges. I'm not much of a sunrise person myself and its was only once when I actually saw the sunrise - we were out all night long partying, weren't in any mood or hurry to get back home. We decided to make destination Cadet Hill and event Sunrise.
Place: BCD (Bharat Cold Drinks)
The oldest and probably the hottest cafe in town. You can get mast Butter Dosas, Pav bhaji, fresh lime or hot coffee for breakfast. They serve a pure veg menu so no fried eggs and bacon here.
Time: Late morning
Place: Devlali Market
The market comes to life, especially on a Sunday. The most popular shops for out-of-towners are the smuggled goods shops. Here you can get all firangi maal at bargain prices and also exchange foreign currency. SK and Arjun are the bigger players in this kind. A music shop which for some reason hasn't been named in all these years was a favorite (opp to Popular Book Depot). For clothes Outfits (main road of Devlali Market) and Looks (Mulla Complex) are pretty well stacked. If you're lucky you can get some neat inexpensive clothing from these 2 shops.
Time: for a snack
Place: GaribDas / Welcome
Head to GaribDas (this guy has gone from a small one counter shop selling sweets to an eat-in cafe offering a whole lot. With your back towards GaribDas, on the opposite side of the road, about 5-6 shops to your left is another kachoriwala named "Welcome". The best Kachoris, Sevpuris and the likes are served here. For years I've been going to this guy, the best grub always. Another recent favorite is Agarwal Sweets on Lam Road who makes some real good parathans too.
Place: South-Devlali Road / Cadet Hill (Sundays only)
Grab a couple of cold ones and head out to South-Devlali road. Its a nice quiet stretch of open road with very light traffic. You can be sure that no ones going to be bothering you there. Cadet-hill makes a fabulous alternative but only on Sundays when the School of Artillery isn't working.
A place which serves a full meal (my kind of meal) is absent from Devlali. So you can try BCD again - they serve Dosas, Chana Bhaturas, more veggie stuff. Fairly good food. For nonveg - you can try Contys at Mulla Complex which serves burgers and other decent fast food. IF you're really looking for a good meal there are a lot of good restaurants all over the adjoining town of Nasik. Nasik has a 5-star hotel - "Taj". The location and ambience is great.
Come noon and you'll find most shops with shutters down. Its siesta town. This lazy laid back town goes to sleep. You should do the same.
Time: 5 PM
Place: Royal Bakery (next to Leavitt Market)
Pass from in front of the Royal Bakery and the smell of fresh bread fills your nostrils. You can see the bakers removing the cakes, hot bread loaves from the oven. Buy one, add some butter or have it plain. I love it with melted butter.
Time: Sunset at 6-6.30 PM
Place: Cadet Hill / Temple Hill
Our earlier vantage points are once again best suited for watching the sun go down. The climate is wonderful most year long. An ideal place for a walk is within the army area which is clean and traffic free. For the non-army i.e. civilian personnel you could walk along the Anand Road - St Patrick Road - Temple Hill Road. Clean Green Devlali.
Faujis hit the Shoppe (Umrao Plaza) at around this time. And if you are one this is the place where you'll eventually wind up at.
Time: 7 and later
Place: Cadet Hill via Market
There are enough liquor shops in the Devlali Market from where you can buy all the Daaru (booze) you want. Pick up some paper cups, soft drinks, snacks and drive up to cadet hill. The weather is absolutely fab atop cadet hill. Greenery all around, nice cool breeze blowing. The South-Devlali lights glowing in the distance. If you're lucky, you could get to see the Artillery Guns firing in the ranges. The ranges are in open view of cadet hill. The light flares go up lighting up the skies. All this combined with Iced Vodka makes it perfect.
Don't feel discouraged if you're asked to shoo away from Cadet Hill by the security. Load your drinks in the car and rush to South Devlali Road again. Once you're halfway down the road, park alongside a puliya and drink away. The wind is just as cool and so is the Daaru.
Time: Bottles are empty -so are your stomachs ;n' bladders are bursting
Place: Taj Hotel
The Taj's coffee shop offers some great grilled chicken sandwiches and coffee. You can order for a round or two of Tequila shots before you settle down to eat. Even though the bar closes a little early for my likes the Taj people don't mind opening a bottle if you announce to drink plenty. Even less if you simply order the entire bottle of Tequila. Its a half-hour drive from South-Devlali if you take the Pathardy Road. This road is known for a couple of muggings and thefts so be a little careful here.
NOTE: Faujis - we get a discount of 20-25% on food (not on Daaru). So make sure you avail it. And don't try and bluff your way through them coz they will ask for your I-Card. We were sometimes lucky to get by on dependant cards.
Time: Its Past 1-2 AM.
Place: Devlali Railway Station
Garam garam chai. Its a small but beautiful clean station with chai as its USP. Go onto the platform side, take some chai (tea), head a little further down the MCO office and grab a place to sit and sip. Chat away. Refills of chai are no problem. A chai-walla keeps running up and down the platform as trains stop by.
Time: 4-5 AM. Hanging in there
Place: Cadet Hill
Sunrise is the event you're hanging around for. And if you missed the last sunrise this will be well worth the wait. So force yourself to more talk. The day-break is extremely beautiful, especially at the horizon, the suns rays painting a deep orange to golden hue all above. And the sun slowly breaks through from between the hills marking another day. You say the bye-byes, ciaos and head back - crash into bed just as the "normal people" awake from slumber.