Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trek To Harishchandragad


This weekend was wonderful. After a long time, I went on a trek to Harishchandragad, about 2.5 hours drive from Mumbai. Start of trek was horrible as we took wrong route from Mumbai to Malshej Ghat, had tyre puncture and all sort of other problems on the way, but all was forgotten once we started the trek from Khireshwar, a tiny hamlet situated near the foot of hills. Our guide and friend, a professional , no-nonsense, boring and extremely serious trekker, had planned night trek, but due to wrong route we took to reach Malshej Ghat, we could only start trek, early morning around 5 am. In hindsight, may be it was good since we could see the panoramic view of hills unfolding around us as dawn was descending form heavens. The air was cooler and morning sun treacherously hid the fact that in few hours it was to become a hot headed and unrelenting monster. The amateurs trekkers in us started the climb stumbling and struggling initially, fighting internally the inertia gathered by months if not years of sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. Like a car not raced for some time, it takes body sometime to adjust, heat up and get into the rhythm of trek.




To our surprise and to consternation of one of guys, who hates dogs with same intensity as dogs hate him, we were suddenly joined by two uninvited dogs who became our guides on their own will. They jumped, pranced and climbed the rocky terrain with ease, surefootedness and grace which only they are capable . Only the professional trekker between us could give them any semblance of competition. Later we were to find out that these two dogs are constant on this trek. They live in the Khireshwar village and accompany trekkers who come from outside, taking the cue from back packs they carry. They never accompany local villagers. Undoubtedly, we had a great time with these two animal friends and I would personally any day prefer a friendly and understanding dog trekker guide than a serious, boring human guide. Atleast dogs can be cajoled into resting by inciting them with little scratching under their neck.




The first halt was at Tolar Khind, where rocky but shady paths ends and steepest climb on a virtually vertical rock face starts. This is most interesting and enjoyable part of entire trek. The view after reaching the peak is breathtaking and one is tempted to shout for no apparent reason to hear the echo from surrounding hills. A little inane fun doesn’t do any harm I guess. Trek through the Harishchandra Kalsubai wildlife sanctuary is rather easy but enjoyable. The spectacle on reaching Harishchandreshwar is awesome with old temple ruins and caves carved in mountains suddenly becoming visible. Imagine, many thousand years back, some people climbed these hills and built temples and caves and lived there to meditate and seek Gods. I preferred to stop there for a while and soak in the ambience of the place as others went on onto scale Taramati peak to test their endurance and fitness. The place has its origin around 6th century with caves built around 11th century. The temple, dedicated to lord shiva is beautiful. I don’t understand architecture but I like those intricate sculptures on the ancient temples. They tell you a story if you are willing to listen. And you can feel the people who built them there many thousands of years ago. The caves are etched in the rock face on Taramati hills and like any other historical place in India are defaced by insane graffiti. Some trekkers stay in the caves overnight, the curator of site, a old man from local village told me.

From Harishchandreshwar, we walked to the Konkan Kada, a breathtakingly beautiful place and a nice culmination of trek. Konkan kada is a sheer rocky cliff, vertical and concave in shape overlooking Konkan region. Rock climbers must get a adrenaline rush from it. As I read on wikipedia about it "it is an overhang, almost like a cobra's hood. It has been climbed twice so far". We spent some time here and soon decided to start the trek back to Khireshwar as afternoon soon was beating down heavily and rocks were getting mercilessly hotter. On way back, I parted away from the group, something which professional trekkers never do and I am not one. The trek back to village was wonderful. It gave me some time alone with my own thoughts, to feel the heat, the silence and wildness of the place and to get into a rhythm I enjoy the most during treks. Rythem is essence of life, like music, like working, walking. I had run out of water and was dehydrated but the rhythm got me going. There is a strange satisfaction one gets when one is pitted against elements. It is then that you find the hidden strength and resolve from within you. Nothing has ever tasted as good as water I drank when I reached the village. Priceless Moments.

1 comment:

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