Caution: This note is not about the unspeakable-kissiko-pata-nahi-chalega content (although, *thinks to self* it would've been fun to wirte about that too). The note describes how 'OSSUM' the entire Harishchandra gad trek and reaching the second highest peak of Sahyadri range felt like. Those who weren't there are advised to read the pravasvarnan in parts to not get bored. Those who were a part of the trek, will not get bored.
Let's begin like all past stories, from before the beginning.
AMu tells me about the trek and invites me to this facebook event, which I RSVP as 'Going' and then cancel my previous plan of going for skywatching. Apart from the chota-mota reasons, the best writer-ish reason for my choice was, "The night sky, I like more, from the ground without the lens." The other major reason being, I have a tendency to fall,slip and bruise myself a lot. Such accident-affinity rules out the possibility of going to Harishchandra Gad in monsoons. Plus, it's winter and the plan included a night trek and stay at caves up the fort with foodgasmic maggi! RSVP justified.
The nest step is convincing parents for permission (At my place, this step is a big enough deal to produce that 'Permission-da-garnish' waali receipe). Fortunately, my mum n dad used to be adventurous in their days (Mum used to be in a group named 'slipper hikers' and dad went to Kanyakumari with minimum money in pocket on a two wheeler with a friend! And they still do trek, yes), so they've been to Harishchandra Gad and approved my valid request easily. We spent a full day talking about the trek, their past experiences, who all are coming with me, how chotu Ameya looked when we went to 6th wala HomiBhabha classes and the ever-changing itionery of the trek!
The biggest problem that lay ahead of me, was a less-girls situation. I have typed 'plz' at least 37 times to finally convince Sayali, Vineet and (thus) Rucha to come along.** I also invited Mihir (who happens to be my first crush like, from 12th std *ahem* and now a comfortable-in-friend-zone-for-too-long, thus 'only' a very good friend :) (nested brackets to tell that smile is about the explaination to save MiKu from embarrassment :P )) and though he'd been to the trek once before, he couldn't resist the treat of night trek and stay, and agreed to come at once!
22nd December, 2012 morning was more exhausting as I had to prepare for the exam along with the efforts to press alt+f4 whenever more interesting trek thoughts would come to my mind. Plus, dad was pissed as he thought, I didn't ask for permission, took his yes for granted. Anyway, the exam went 'not-good,not-bad' and I was free at 1:30 pm.** I came home and instead of packing my bag, kept passing time 'cause Sayali-Rucha were still in talyat-malyat situation, and I didn't want to go through the pack and cancel and unpack thing. I did buy an oversized Supperman Tshirt which along with those black trackpant was my outfit for next 3 days. When Rucha arrived at my place, I almost had finished packing and we both had dinner and went to meet everyone assembled at Kalyan Bus Depot. Secured seats in the bus where me,Sayali and Ru sat together, which later on proved to be a disaster for the zopishta population in our bus. Kahi apariharya karanastav (this always works when you know you better not mention the reasons) Vineet came late and had to come by next bus with Sagar and Amol. So after reaching Sawarne stop, we spent an hour at someone's angan waiting for them, while Ankit's not-so-bhootachi story and a bit of akaleche-taare-todana-over-taare-nirikshan happened.** I want to, but cannot skip mentioning the 'gaay' and priyanka's scared remarks on 'tila bandhun ka thevat nahiyet!' XD
The guys arrived in an hour and we started walking as soon as I was named 'Maasaa' by Vineet. Guiding each other in the torchlight, looking at the Wanava few meters away and putting off the torches to see the moonless starry sky were highpoints that tempt me to sneak in a poet here..
'A hundred thousand diamonds to light my world,
And I am lost in finding you within them..'
I started talking with Pravin and Tushar about exams, previous treks, how I know some of them from 6-7 years back, etc etc and found that COMPs division is way better than ours. Everyone by now had realized that girls have topic-production-devices installed in their brains. I'd like to mention here, that in spite of these occasional bakbak, teasing and time-consuming steep and/or slippery parts of the night, there was a particular sense of discipline in everyone. It is as important in a trek to maintain few rules, as is the synchronisation in a symphony. You cannot leave long gaps to avoid missing the trail, no one goes ahead of the leader or stays behind the LV. You cannot write your names on forts, litter the place with plastic wrappers, carry alcohol or smoke, as while we trek, we respect the history of the place. I use 'cannot' instead of 'should not' because I think everyone of us is civil enough to not even think of ruining the meaning those places hold. Discipline does not rule out the fun. Period.
Wokkay, so we reached our guide Mangesh's home at Belpada village by 3 am, slept at around 4:45 am and woke up at 6:30 to start walking again, now on the real expedition route. Ameya showed us the entire route ki asa-asa jaychay apan ani tithe pohochaychay, and I felt like summoning my broom (tsk, I forgot to carry my wand!).. Those with a camera, started clicking everything in the way, 'mashichya pankhapasun te bailachya nakhaparyanta' as described by Sagar. Those who'd complained about trekking during the night came to know that duparcha trekking is worse due to dehydration and none of us being Jaadu to like extreme dhoop. Those who had heavy bags or difficulty in climbing, thanked Aditya, Akshay, Tushar, Kiran, Akshat, Mihir, but mostly, Sagar and Amol for their help.
Most of our path was a dried waterfall's route, so there wasn't much possibility of losing track. But Murphy wins, and a group of us missed the leader and started on a different route for a few minutes. Meanwhile, my sexy black shoe got torn so bad that lace bandhunahi it lost it's 'sole' (:P), and I had to wear my slippers for the next 2 days. When you say 'it couldn't get worse', fate takes it as a challenge. *sigh*
At around 2:50 pm, we found freshly left saapachi kaat and the worst kaateri zadancha jungle on our way to jevan wali place.. Almost 15 tiffins carried methi paranthas, all with different colours and sidekick chutney/thecha/ketchup/loncha which made them look inviting. Everyone tootofied on boiled eggs and Rucha's puranpolya which is classified 'good stuff'! :D We thankfully had enough water supply and shade during lunch and rejoined the left-right-left with fully filled stomach and fulfilled spirits.
We only had around an hour-or-two ka journey ahead, but it was DIFFICULT. My entire GRE preparation wala words ka software cannot sufficiently produce a word that describes HOW difficult it was. Rock patches where you gotta climb at a 90 to 100 degree angle were there, one could not look for support from the trees, as they had those kateri leaves.. At a patch tar, we had to bring all up, one at a time, with the help of a rope. Kelkar sir's climbing wala training helped me a lot. The most remarkable patch was saved for the desert, when Mangesh helped 23 of us, one-by-one to climb the steepest of the patch, where if you don't fear height and you dare to look down, you will get height ka phobia. He got us up in jus 2 mins each and he should be named Super-Man-gesh!
I must say, we had the best plan by Ameya Mulye, which did not fail. We reached Kokan kada exactly at 5 pm to wave buhbbye to the sun.
My! It was suchcha beautiful scene from the top! I keep using superlatives, but height really makes me high! I enter a silent zone where turbulent thoughts fill the voids and yet they look arranged and clear and you start realizing, that as soon as these thoughts fade off, you're gonna be emptier still.. This sun has seen us all struggle to meet him at the top, been trying to discourage us by pouring all his wrath in the heat whole day, but in his effort to burn us all, in the end he's lost the rage and is going to hide in defeat.. Yet, he looks beautiful, ornated with a shine beyond comparison, glorified by dignity he gained because he did not choose to give up without a tough fight. We bid him goodbye, to embrace the dangers the night brings, hoping to see a newer, much brighter sun to challenge us once again.. Without the rough patches, life would be so boring! so when in worst case, we gotta believe, that 'Rut yeh dhal jaayegi.. Himmat rang laayegi.. subaha fir aayegi...' and fight to shine like the setting sun. :)
Phew! Normalize Triveni. Hmm.. Now then, now then, composed again. :)
It started gettign dark.. Only in cities can the nights be brighter. We reached the caves and everyone took their chosen places (which some like Mantri did not, and then fought too much to compell me to shift and adjust :P) and started talking endlessly, finishing off the remains of our lunch and then counting maggi packets, discussing how everyone felt from the top and I toh was tired too much to stay awake.. Then our Vaidya medam made maggi on the chool, we all had it innaa saara, garama garam : So yumm! Maggi with thecha tastes divine! :P
Two batches of maggi-making and gappa made the whole day's thakwa melt away and we went to sleep taking along the warmth from Shekoti.. :)
Of course, at such height, kudkud thandi vajat nahi, VAJAVATE! So as I heard it, Sagar, amol and Pravin had slept near the cave entrance, but couldn't for long. Jis moment se thandi ne unki baja di, they woke up and started the shekoti again.. Songs, dance, again gappa and again maggi was all that they did. As Sayali tells me, "Kunitari ratrich uthun mhane INTRO dya!", "VLSI graph", "Majhya daavikade kunitari jaam ghorat hota!".. XD
Here comes the sun! :)
We actually had planned to see the sunrise from the Taramati peak, but nobody had the courage to wake up at 5 and start cimbing in thandi and darkness.. So we left for Taramati after breakfast at 8 am near the caves and reached the peak at around 10 am. this was another tough path, but everyone was like, "Abhi kal itka kuch chadha hai, yeh toh aaraam se ho jayega!" From Taramati, we saw the entire Kokan kada, Some other peaks, our route for getting down, the dam and listing this is making the scene sound dry, but it looked amazing! You know you've achieved something when you are alive at Maharashtra's 2nd highest place next to the flag.
This sense of achievement is centered around yourself, still it does not let you leave your feet from the ground. Entire thrill of trekking is concentrated at this point for me.. the feeling where I'm finally high! Looking at the path you've crossed, the worst that you had to face and it now seems diminished to no significance, yet is inevitable and has made the journey more meaningful. It may not be a great deal for others. For them, it may look like just drawing a dot on a paper. But only you know, that the dot you drew has made all the difference, the paper is no more 'blank'. There is nothing as sweet as enough happiness. And the humbling feeling this height induces in me is the happiness I've sought always.
Like a sinusoidal wave, it was time to come down to the zero level. the two hours journey upwards got fathomed in half an hour as we found an easier path to reach the caves. We had lemon sarbat and went to check out from the caves. Few of us called from the wireless coinbox (yes! :P) to tell, "Mummiji, pairi pauna! Mein changa!" at their respective homes. There are 3 ancient temples near the caves, which hold the history from 4000 years ago. One of them is of Lord Shiva and it has 3 broken pillars and it is said when the fourth pillar breaks, the world will end. I remember every single line said at that place, starting with 'what if' and the discussion with Aditya J, Swapneel, Rucha, Sayali, Vikrant and Pravin was really interesting. We definately should put a video cam there on 21st Dec, 2012. :P
From there, our journey to reach the base started. We were all faster than previous days and even at difficult rock patches, everyone helped each other to get down without difficulty. My own experience when I got down with those slippery slippers tells me, that as much more you practise, you better. It gives you a confidence to walk without support, independently and with the suriety that you won't fall. When the fear vanishes, each step is a reflex. No calculations required. Your feet know where to be. And you know you will be perfect. :)
There was another reason why this path became easier, Taak! We had occasional halts, lemon juice and taak breaks on our way and finally reached the ground at around 3:30 pm. The most delicious bhaaji-bhaakri-varan-bhaat was served at a hotel near the dam, where we settled all our kharcha with the organisation of marwadism. I still do not know what Ameya achieved with that thaap of 'we won't get enough food'. :P
From there, khubi phata was around 3 km away and when we reached there, the first group had already stopped an empty ST bus for us. Last waale log came bhagate bhaagte and the bus left at 5:45 pm. Our return journey was filled with galaa kadhun mhatlele songs, sleepy sleepersons and intro-cum-ragging session. I cannot forget that Ankit completed Himess ka full song even when nobody was listening!
No experience ends, and I can go on and on about this one.. But already it's too many lines and probably the readers have skipped few of them in between. Still to conclude the post, I'll just add, that I am glad these 3 days happened, and how! :)
This is a must trek, for all the committed couples, as it includes ready-made romantic atmosphere.
This is a must trek for all the singles as well. Same reason. :D
**That might lengthen the story and I am not a good editor, so I'm not writing about it in detail.