Flying Fox Thru Waterfall @ Tamhini Ghat..

It was 5.15 am early in the morning & my cell rang, the call was from some unknown number. Within a second, I picked up the call & before I could say something, the person on the other end said that “Hi Amol, I will be waiting for you at Infosys Circle at 6.30 am”, and the call got disconnected somehow before I could say anything. The voice was of a girl & she was in a little hurry. I just got confused & lots of questions came into my mind like – Who was she?, Why she called me such a morning? Why she will be waiting for me? etc, etc…

Before I could get the answers of all these questions, I saw my Adventurizants T-Shirt hanging in front of me on the rope, which I washed last night for my today’ trek. And in a minute, all my confusion came to the result that, the call was from one of the participants of today’s trek, i.e. Flying Fox Thru Waterfall @ Tamhini Ghat. But the question was – Who is SHE?

It was 5.25 am & as usual I was late by half an hour. I finished all my morning activities like etc, etc.. within half an hour & called the drivers to reach the boarding points on time. Meanwhile, I received 2-3 other calls from another participants for the same. The driver of bus, which was about to start from my room, called me & along with Meghanand, I board the bus. I told driver to take us directly to Infosys circle, as I was eager to see that girl, who called me early morning. After reaching there, I walked out of bus & asked people to enter into bus. There were 3-4 girls who board the bus. I called back on the number to find out that girl, but that number was not reachable. I was about to ask those 3-4 girls about that call, but I thought to wait for another bus, which joined us in next 10 mins (I was just thinking that the girl might have boarded the another bus at previous stops). There I met the most awaited person from our core team, Rajendra Ronge. As both the buses started, we did our introduction with our regular Idli-Chatani Breakfast and then it was the time for our favorite Antakshari.

Antakshari

Antakshari

Nearly after 2 hrs of journey (Antakshari), we reached at the decided spot where the Flying fox activity has to be done. As soon as I stepped out of bus, my eye-sight stopped at such a beautiful waterfall. I just pinched myself to make sure that I am witnessing this creative Nature’s beauty & to make it memorable my friend Amit helped me this way.

Tamhini Waterfall

Tamhini Waterfall

Then we walked towards the activity point, where Jayant Sir was waiting for us. In the next 5 mins, Jayant explained all the necessary details that needed to be considered while doing the activity. Everyone listened him very carefully, but as usual ignored him in the same manner 🙂 . There were two different arrangements made for completing activity, as we were around 80 people & doing the same activity on a single rope may have taken a long time. Some of us were very eager to do the activity, while others were just wanted to make sure that everything is in well condition. I went 3rd or 4th & did the activity & again Amit clicked a nice one.

Its Me - Hanging on the ropes

Its Me – Hanging on the ropes

After completing the activity, it was the time for Lunch. And to start with, I had my favorite Shrikhand. The lunch was so tasty that I could not stop myself from taking it from everyone’s plate. By the time we were about to complete our lunch, the Mumbai team also joined us, who did the activity after having the lunch.

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

I was having lunch & again my mobile rang. This time it was a miss call & the call was from same number. Suddenly, a different kind of enthu just got created within me & I started searching for that girl in all directions. To my surprise, all girls were busy in having their lunch, & no one had mobile in their hands. I called that number again & same answer “Number is not reachable” 😦 . Before I get out of this, my friend Amit Pange asked some of us to come and help them to take out the bus which was jammed into mud.

All GYM members showing their work out

All GYM members showing their work out

After doing such a hard-work, it was a time for little rest. Then, me and Rajendra did some trekking; slipped through the way and finally reached the waterfall. It was far away from us, but still it was worth to get a sight of it.

Waterfall

Waterfall

We clicked some photos there & returned to our bus. Now, it was the time for Antakshari rather than our back journey. Also, it was time to depart from Tamhini-waterfalls & it’s beauty. Again, at Infosys circle, some people left the bus whoever board from that spot. I came to other bus, leaving my friends over there in another bus(searching for that girl 😉 ).

I reached home around 7.30 pm. As soon as I reached, I got a SMS saying that “Thank you very much Amol. It was a nice experience, especially getting interacted with you. Thanks a lot again for arranging such a nice trip!!!”. Message was from the same number, but this time I didn’t called that number.

Let’s hope to meet her in next trek!!!

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RAIGAD Fort – The Shrine of Swarajya!!!

When something is destined, it will happen anyhow.

Some things are just out of human control and I experienced the same. A call was set for me by the King of Kings, Shri Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj; meeting place was – the capital of Swarajya – RAIGAD Fort,  and we all know, the order of the King cannot be neglected or denied. Hence, I have to be there at Raigad Fort, and to make this event more memorable, I decided to set a Trek of Raigad Fort.

27th Aug – 2011, was the date finalized for Trek to Raigad Fort and I was very much excited to be a part of it. But the conditions were not in my favor. It was a Friday & the clock showed 6.30 pm. I was still in the office completing my work. To have some snacks, I went outside. After having snacks & a chit-chat with friends, I came back to my desk & before going to home, saw my mailbox. There was only one mail in the inbox with the subject line as “Defect no. ###”. The defect was related to the application developed by me and it needed an immediate attention. As everything on this mother Earth is for change, my happy mood changed to a sad one.

Suddently, I found all my plans for tomorrow’s trek going to the worst end, because that application was too complex to understand & to resolve a defect. OMG! It was 7.00 pm, I took a deep breath & started working on it, as I didn’t want to spoil the excitement of the Raigad Trek. It took me around 1/2 hour to understand that defect & then I started working real hard to resolve that defect. The clock hands were running like Rajdhani Express & when I saw the clock, it was 10.45pm. Still, I was nowhere close to the source of the defect. In addition to my sadness, all my team-mates already had left for the day and there was no one to help me 😦 . I was so frustrated that I finally decided to reply to mail saying that I’ll try on Monday. But before replying, I went outside & had a cup of tea. While having the tea, I was thinking of Shivaji Maharaj & their fights. The moral of all fights was “Never Give Up!!! Regardless of the strength of your enemy, he can always be defeated with the power of your mind.”

I came back to desk and thought to give a last try. I looked at the whole code; did a code change of single line, which I hadn’t seen in previous 3 hrs (can say hidden code 🙂 ). I prayed to God for this & ran the process. The process took another 10 minutes to complete & finally I got the output as expected. The moment I saw the output, my happiness knew no bounds. I replied to mail with all the necessary details and got ready to go home back. A 5 minutes break, a cup of tea, and most importantly, the inspiration from Shivaji Maharaj had made the difference; otherwise the scene could have been a different one. Also, not to forget to Parle-G biscuit, which I had with tea, because “G for Genius” 😉.

The clock was hitting 11.20pm. I was happy now as I can go to Raigad & enjoy the trek, but still the conditions were not in my favor. It was raining heavily outside and the cab drivers usually avoid long distance drops in rainy season. The same thing happened with me; they asked me to wait for some time, as there might be other people willing to take cab on the way I was suppose to go (just giving me reasons to avoid the drop). Somehow, two people from other project, working like me, came down & together we boarded the cab. I reached home by 12.40am. I had my dinner & went to sleep.

5.00 am & I was awake by alarm. Completed my morning activities in next half hour; called bus drivers & co-ordinators to reach the boarding points on time. I came to my boarding point at 6.15 am, while bus came at 6.30am. The 15 minutes wait was so great. It was raining & I was having the tea along with my sister. We both boarded the bus & started our journey towards Raigad Fort. There were two buses; one 50 seater & one 32 seater. After passing Pune, we distributed the breakfast in both the buses, along with drivers. Now, it was the time for introduction of all the participants & then our favorite Antakshari.

Raigad Participants

Raigad Participants

Raigad Participants

Raigad Participants

We were travelling via tamhini ghat & it gave me a remembrance of our Flying Fox Activity, which we just completed in last month. Tamhini ghat is always at its best in monsoon, & especially in day’s light. There were number of awesome waterfalls and people were busy taking snaps.

Waterfall

Waterfall

After three hours of journey, we reached to a village called Nijampur, from where one can reach to Raigad either via Pachad or Mahad; we choosed the second one, because the villagers said the road via Pachad may not be in good condition due to heavy rain. Another one hour journey and it was just killing me. Finally at 12.15 pm, we reached Raigad base, from where we had to start our trekking. As per the information, there are around 1469 steps to reach the Raigad fort. In this trek, we had a good response from people & there were total 75 participants, including a small girl of 4-5 years old, named Rhea.

At the base of Raigad Fort

At the base of Raigad Fort

Rhea

Rhea

To start the trek, we did a big Ovation of Shri Shivaji Maharaj and started trekking. About 1 hour of trekking and we were in front of waterfall whose beauty cannot be explained in words. And in addition to the excitement, we had to cross that waterfall. The water was hitting our body so hard like someone is bombarding through the mortar.

Waterfall

Waterfall

As the trek to Raigad is somewhat stiff, some of us were finding it difficult. But, others were inspiring them with great spirit and the passion of Raigad fort, made them to make it. The Raigad fort welcomes you with its big Maha Darwaja. The Maha Darwaja is desgined in such a way that no one from long distance could directly attack the fort. It is also called Gomukhi. Then there is Shirkai Devi Temple, and from that one can see the big open place known as Holi cha Mal, which was used for annual Holi festival. In that open space there is a very beautiful statue of Shri Shivaji Maharaj. Then we come to the Rajdarbar (Court), where the Coronation of Shri Shivaji Maharaj took place twice. Right from the doorway to his throne, anywhere in the Rajdarbar, if anyone even whispered, it could be heard very clearly at the throne. The architect has also carved his guarantee on the door leading to the Jagdishwar temple, which Shivaji Maharaj visited daily, stating that it will stand the test of time and shall remain forever! Adjacent to this temple is the Samadhi of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, behind which one can see the statue of a dog on a pedestal, who was Shivaji’s faithful dog Waghya, who committed suicide on learning about the death of his beloved master!

Maha Darwaja

Maha Darwaja

Gomukhi

Gomukhi

Shirkai Devi Temple

Shirkai Devi Temple

Shivaji Maharaj statue at Holi cha Mahal

Shivaji Maharaj statue at Holi cha Mahal

Shivaji Maharaj Coronation Place

Shivaji Maharaj Coronation Place

Finally we reached the MTDC Resort, situated at the top of fort, where we had planned to have lunch. We ordered the food for all 75 people. As everyone was almost wet while going through that waterfall & through the rain on the way, we changed our cloths in that resort. It was 4.00pm & as per the time calculations we had done, we found that we are late by almost 2 hrs. So, by the time the resort people will cook the food for us, we decided that we’ll ask our participants whether they are interested to go down by Ropeway. And to our surprise, about 50 out of 75 people agreed on the same, while 25 said that they will go down by the same way we trekked. We were more than happy, as we were about to save 1 hr of trekking down to base. We completed our lunch at 5.00 pm. The people who agreed to go down by ropeway, went to the location of ropeways at the top of fort.

Down to base by Ropeway

Down to base by Ropeway

The remaining 25 people completed our lunch & started our back journey to down. On our back journey, we had a wild encounter with the snake, & Kishor couldn’t stop himself from taking a snap of him. It was risky, but he did it as every time he does 🙂 . We just had trekked down for 15 minutes after that wild encounter of snake and the whole fort got hidden into fog. On the way, we found a tree, & its beauty in the fog was just awesome, which cannot be described by words.

Wild encounter of snake

Wild encounter of snake

Tree in the fog

Tree in the fog

We reached the base location at 6.30 pm & started our return journey. I took the seat in the bus & was thinking of time by which we’ll be reaching to Pune. The fashion by which the both drivers were driving, I was very sure that we’ll be reaching by 12-12.30 am and it was manageable for us to make sure that everyone will get safely to home, as we have asked each & everyone for his/her transport arrangement.

I was happy so far as everything went smoothly, but the real adventure was waiting for us. We were travelling almost from 4 hours & still another 1 hour of travel was remained, i.e. we were in the middle of tamhini ghat, and it started again – things going against my favor. As tamhini ghat is very much beautiful in monsoon days, it is that much dangerous in the nights. Travelling through tamhini ghat in the night is not recommended at all, but still we took that way. And when you do not follow the recommended things, you have to pay the penalty. at 10.15 pm, our big bus (50 seater) got some serious problem & it was even not able to move by an inch. In tamhini ghat people do not even stop for nature’s call in the night & we all were out of the bus to see what happened to our bus. The other bus (32 seater) was following us & came to the place in a minute. The driver of our bus was looking for any solution, but unable to do anything as the shaft of accelerator was broken and it will be cured only by replacing it with new one. Also, we were not able to call anyone for arranging the another bus, as there was no network to any of the cell phones 😦 .

I along with Rajendra & Kishor decided that all the girls will go by the second bus along with the people already seated, so that the boys can help them to reach home safely. I asked other 20 people along with Amit & Kishor to stay with me in the broken-down bus till the time a new bus comes. They respected my request also, thank you very much for that 🙂 . Rajendra went ahead with that small bus. Now, we were only 23 people with food like Biscuits, Chiwda & wafers, etc, etc. We thought to ask for lift and gave a try as well, but as told earlier people do not stop, we were helpless.

Now, in the bus everyone started sharing their experiences about the same situation they were having in the past. And the trail continued for next 2 hours. It included not only the dangerous experiences but also the good jokes. It was 2.00 am and everyone was so tired that they went to sleep slowly-slowly one by one. Some of us went to sleep immediately after break down, because they thought the bus won’t come & we have to stay in here till the morning. The driver also went to sleep as he might have been thinking the same. But I was very sure that the bus will come, as Rajendra had promised me. And finally, the bus came at 3.30 am. I heaved a sigh of relief. We all were eager to go home & go to sleep, though there was full sunday available for us to rest. Finally, we all reached home by 5.00 am on sunday.

As I mentioned earlier, if something is going to happen in your life it is going happen and this is what happened with me, sorry with all the 75 people 🙂 . Also, the call was not set only for me, it was for all those 75 people, who were there & attended the ecstasy of Raigad fort. I will definitely call them as lucky people, because many people called us for registration, but only 75 got the chance to make it.

At the last, adding the Ovation for your reference: –

Shrimad Praud, Pratap Purandar, Kshatriya Kulauntas, Sinhasanadhishwar, Rajadhiraj Yogiraj, Shri Chtrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai!!!

Har Har Mahadev!!!

Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji!!!

Happy New Year

It was the night of 31st, of course no need to mention that the 31st means 31st Dec, & I was travelling to my hometown. My observation throughout my IT career says that “going home” is the sweetest thing for IT professionals. Same was the case with me & I was happy. I had my dinner in the room itself & reached the bus stop from where I usually pick the travels. This time I hadn’t done the reservation, just thought of directly asking the driver/cleaner for any available seat as this is off-season for travels going towards my place. I left the room little early so that I can have multiple options to choose from lot of travels, but it took around an hour to reach all the travels at the stop. Till the time I didn’t had any option other than waiting, so I sat on a place & got engaged in the road circus.

As it was the night of 31st, means celebration, party & enjoyment. Lot of people were heading towards the various parties, DJs arranged. My friends had asked me for joining them in party, but I denied as I had to go home. Happiness was all around, but not around me 😦 . My mood was little mixed with happiness of going home & sadness of not celebrating New Year with Friends. And whenever you don’t have complete happiness, the sadness overtakes it & your face shows it completely. In between, I got the travels with 25% OFF on ticket cost, which made me little happier as IT people always look for such offers regularly. The travels was quite empty, I took the 2nd row seat. I don’t like to sleep in travels, hence throughout the travel I was thinking about my mixed mood.

Of course going home makes everyone happy, but celebrating / hanging out with friends gives you lot of happiness until you are bachelor. I mean only bachelor, not single because once you leave your single’s degree, there are lot of things that need to be taken care of. People who are in a relationship know these things very well 🙂 .

I was figuring out the different ways people use to celebrate the new year, like “Group of friends decide to the whole day celebration plan like Movie in afternoon + DJ Party in evening + Dinner”; “Family person takes his/her family to a movie in evening & then to a good famous restaurant in night”. So are other ways, but would like to keep them under curtain for a while.

When my friends asked me to join them, I could have joined but then a sudden thought crossed over my mind what’s point in going to such big DJ party for new year celebration when you do not have companion. Just I said that with friends you enjoy a lot, but when you are with someone special then your enjoyment gets double, am sure people having such special person in their life would agree to this. But you can’t ignore the other side of coin & it is – If you are single & you go to such a big parties, there is a chance to find your special one and if God has planned something like that for you, you are going to get it for sure 🙂 . But God had planned something different for me as I was going Home 😦 .

The clock struck 12.00 and I wished my friends a Happy New Year!!!

We were almost midway through journey & it was 12.30 AM in the clock & suddenly driver hit the brakes like he was about to break that brake, when the thought of becoming double from single brought a smile on my face. Everyone in the travels was jolted out of their slumber. Some of them cursed the driver as well. I also tried to find the reason for stopping suddenly which woke up everyone. Driver was on the road & was talking with two wheeler rider. The two wheeler was actually loaded with three persons & all of them were heavily drunk. They were coming from the opposite direction & were in our path while overtaking another vehicle. Rather than saying sorry or asking for forgiveness, they were quarreling with our driver for not driving properly. They were from the nearby area, hence to avoid more argument driver asked them to remove their vehicle from our way. In the mean time, a long traffic was blocked on both sides.

The drunken people removed their vehicle & we again commenced our journey. The driver was talking with his co-worker & from the discussion I came to know that the people were badly drunk & reason for it was New Year Celebration. This is other way of celebration which I kept under curtains & didn’t want to mention here. But few things are always need to mention irrespective of situation, people present, etc, etc.

Still, I don’t understand why people get drunk if they can’t handle themselves? Every time these people say I am OK, I am Fine & in next minute they are on the floor. People do not understand the simple concept – Celebrate New Year with drinks & make some promises, but if they have met an accident on the same day, what they are going to do for rest of the year? How they are going to keep the promises they made on the very first day of year? And this is worst side of New Year Celebration. If those guys had met with an accident with us, then the life of them was in danger along with that the life of the driver who wasn’t part of this anymore.

I have few friends who are regular member of drinks, but I am proud of them as they always keep this in limit, especially when they have to travel after the drinks & when to have to go home just after drinks to avoid home clashes 🙂 . I also have seen lot of people who are in limit & I am happy that these people really understand the importance of life of their as well others.

The time was 2.00 AM & our travels was at some dhaba for tea break. There were other travels also & almost everyone from each travels was outside for having tea in the cold season of winter. Everyone was feeling quite cold, but it feels very good when you are taking tea in the winter & especially on dhaba. I am not a regular tea intaker, but I don’t wanted to miss the chance of hot & cold combination.

I headed towards the cash counter, where a girl was quarrelling with the person on counter for not giving proper change in return. I was standing behind her in queue & was waiting for it to over. Finally it got over & the girl turned back. Unknowingly I went so close to that girl, when the girl turned back we almost crashed into each other. She had already taken the tea-cup & now that cup was on my hands, i.e. the whole tea was splitted on my hands spoiling my hard earned Rs 10 note. The girl was already angry & then our cute, at least for me, accident made her more, but somehow all her anger was converted into sympathy for me.

First of all, I was little shocked when she showed a sympathy to me, but I was more stunned when I saw her face. It was crystal clear glowing in moon light, complete black eyes & chiseled round face. I was completely like “Uncle muh to band karo!!!” or “Ek Ladki ko Dekha to aisa laga..”. In a minute I felt like I am in heaven & one of the angels is in front of me. I was looking at her face like I am the only one who has got chance to see such a beautiful girl in the whole world. Her whole attention was on my hands & mine was on her face. All around us was big noise of trucks going on highway, people in the dhaba, but I was able to hear her voice only. She was asking for water & saying sorry in between. All my concentration got broken when the person besides me put some cold water on my hands. The cold water in such low temp was enough to freeze my blood, but her touch to my hands kept the temp maintained. Her touch increased my Blood Pressure as well & my heart was pumping at the rate of 200MPH like an F1 racing car.

I shouted on the person in a louder voice for putting such cold water on my hands, but he shouted on me saying that the hot tea was splitted on my hands. When I saw my hands, both the hands were showing some design made up of brown colored tea with some dots of water, just like we found usually on ladies apparels. I said “Sorry” to that person & “It’s OK” to that girl for showing some awareness of the situation, but mine was completely fall-off.

I went to the wash room, cleaned my hands & when I came outside I saw that the girl was still at the same place & looking at me with a very very cute smile on her face. The smile made her more beautiful than the previous one. She came towards me & asked about my hands. I said hands are OK & asked for forgiveness. We both said Sorry to each other at the same time & it lead us to laugh for such a co-incidence.

For showing some generosity, I asked her for tea & she said yes without any hesitation. Her yes brought some confidence in me. When I was going towards cash counter, she told me give only exact amount as these guys do not give proper change in return 🙂 . I took two tea for us & asked her to come outside of dhaba. I brought her outside as whole dhaba was looking at us like we are couple & have left the house for our future. In the cold environment, the tea was perfect one to have.

I started the conversation with saying that the tea is very good & she also nodded her head like she was completely agreed with me. We exchanged our name & then we talked little more about my job & her education. She was the student of 3rd year Computer Engineering in one of the best colleges for Engineering. As I am in IT field, she showed more interest in me & that time I feel proud to be an ITian. She was little worried about the job due to such a recession, but I told her that since you are in very good college, you will get a job for sure. That sentence brought a cute smile on her face once more which made me happy as well.

We finished our tea & said bye-bye to each other. As her travels had come to the dhaba before us, it will go before us. She went towards her travels & got seated into it. She was in the window seat; hence I was able to see her. She was also looking at me & raised her hand for final good bye. I also went into my travels & got seated into it.

There were about 10 more minutes for us to leave & suddenly I heard her voice. She was calling me. I went down the travels & asked her, What Happened? Why are you calling me? She was asking for my mobile number. I asked her the reason for same & she said “Don’t you want to meet again?” I just got confused, “what she is saying?”. But I made myself conscious & felt very happy when she asked for my number. I gave my number & she said she will be giving a miss call so that I can have her number as well. She was having a HTC Wildfire touch screen mobile & the wallpaper of the mobile had her cute photo. I think she taken that photo on any of the Mumbai Beaches.

She called me & my phone rang. I saw my mobile & it was showing my roommate’s number. I got more confused, how she can have my roommate’s number?. I picked up the call & it was the voice of my roommate. He had called me for wishing a Happy New Year. I replied back with same wishes to him & cut the call. I saw in the travels & there was no girl around me, nothing was going, travels was running like a jet in sky & everyone in the travels was sleeping like “Kumbhkarna”. All in sudden I came to know that all it was a dream & there is no girl asking for my mobile number 😦 . All my happiness falled down like a bungalow of cards. I was just laughing at myself 🙂 .

Why doesn’t GOD plans this same scene in real? 😦 . I hope God has planned something similar in future but just giving me an hint for the same.

By the way, A very very Happy New Year to all. I wish all the happiness of world to you & your family. And please wish for me as well 😉 . Also, make sure you follow the 3D policy on road, i.e. “Don’t Drink & Drive…”

The Oath of Independance Revisited…

“आपण हिंदवी स्वराज्याची स्थापना करून एक परिपूर्ण राज्य बनवू आणि त्याची नेहमी रक्षा करू.”

Shri Shivaji Maharaj Taking Oath of Independance

Shri Shivaji Maharaj Taking Oath of Independance

These were the words of Oath that Shivaji Maharaj took for the establishment of Swarajya. When Shivaji Maharaj was seventeen, they decided to transform what were till then simply games to a reality. Shivaji Maharaj and their friends encouraged by Jijabai and Guru Dadoji Kondeo, decided to take a formal Oath to free the country from the shackles of Muslim tyranny. At the cave temple of Raireshwar in the Sayhadris, Shivaji Maharaj and their select band of teenaged Maratha friends slit their thumbs and poured the blood oozing from it on the Shiva-Linga.

I had read this, when I was in school – 4th Std, but never thought that I will be visiting this place in future. Since I have been in Pune from 2 years & this place is only 100 KMs away from Pune, I was just waiting for the time to come and I can visit the shrine place Raireshwar Fort.

We all know that, summer comes into effect from February month, but you sense the heat in April. This year, heat has started showing its effect right from the February month & it was the main concern for me to arrange a trek for Raireshwar fort 😦 . Usually, I recommend a one day trek only, but the heat was not allowing me to make it a one day affair. In the mean time, I came to know about another fort in the close proximity of Raireshwar, i.e. Kenjalgad Fort, and one can do these forts in a two days. Finally, I decided to go for the combined trek of Raireshwar & Kenjalgad forts.

February 4 & 5, 12012 – was the dates fixed for trek to Raireshwar & Kenjalgad forts. I circulated the mail to few of my friends & they accepted the invitation as usual. The plan was to go by S.T. Bus, but it got cancelled and we left Pune on our own vehicles (not my own, but of course my friend’s is mine as well, at least vehicle 😉  ) with the total head count of 19. The plan was to reach Raireshwar base –> Korle Village in the evening –> start trekking –> Overnight stay in the temple of Raireshwar –> Trek to Kenjalgad fort on 2nd day –> Lunch & Return to Pune.

We left Pune on 4th Feb at about 4 pm & reached Korle Village in 2 hours. There is a Sunset point in the mid way of Raireshwar fort & we managed to reach over there in time. I was attending the best moment of my life and Aniruddha captured a great one, the way he does every time  🙂  .

Sunset at Raireshwar

Sunset at Raireshwar

In our trekking group, 5 were from my project team. It was first time for us when we were together and having fun outside the office, otherwise one can find us in our project space always, even on weekends 🙂  . All my teammates were having fun & the song came automatically on my lips – Saari Umra Hum Mar Mar ke ji liye, ek pal to ab hamein jeene do… jeene do… Give me some sunshine…

4 Idiots

4 Idiots

From this Sunset point, the trek to Raireshwar fort is only of half an hour and it made my mood little unhappy. Hence, I decided to go back to base & start the trek. To my surprise, the decision was appreciated by almost all, except five who didn’t want to go back. They went to the fort directly & reached the Lord Shiva temple in 1 hour.

Now, the remaining 14 were at the base of Raireshwar & about to start the trek, but before that we had to order our lunch on 2nd day. After enquiring to villagers, we got to know about a family which prepares a lunch. There we had some evening snacks – poha, which was full of quality & everyone dreamed to have this family for breakfast in our offices 😉 . We ordered the food & started the trek.

We had brought sweat-shirt, jacket for protection from cold, but in next 15 minutes everyone removed those as it was making us tiring and feeling burden as well 😦 . It was a 7km walk & the full moon light made it more delightful. The Moon-light was so clear that there was no need to have a torch. First timers were taking time, while regular trekkers went ahead & almost lost in the darkness.

After 2 hours of trekking, now we were above 1200+ fts & the cold air was giving us a kind of refreshment which no one had experienced before. Just a better place to live, rather than the apartment system in big cities. The people were so happy that they called their friends & told the thrill of night trek. Still half trek was remained & we were feeling hungry; we removed whatever we had brought for eating & grabbed it like we were hungry from months 🙂 .

We reached the temple in an hour (at about 10.30 pm) & had dinner. The dinner was simply great. We found some bushes & bamboos around, and bonfire was the plan. Afterwards, we found a place for sleep & slept there.

Bonefire

Bonfire

Sleeping Time

Sleeping Time

On the fort, there is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj, a school and an information board, giving information about fort & history.

Shivaji Maharaj Statue

Shivaji Maharaj Statue

Raireshwar Information

Raireshwar Information

Raireshwar Temple

Raireshwar Temple

Feb 5th – The second day of our trek. We all were set for our next destination, i.e. Kenjalgad fort. But, before we start a morning tea was most needed thing & we found a home where we had a hot tea 🙂 .

Trekkers set for Kenjalgad Fort

Trekkers set for Kenjalgad Fort

Now, we all were on the way of Kenjalgad fort. Sun was rising little fast, considering our speed. It was 10.30 am, and we had reached only half of the way to Kenjalgad. Heat was making us to stop in every 15-20 minutes, leading to delay, but can’t help. Finally we had some Glucose – D powdered water, and that gave us energy to walk for remainder. On the right side of our way, the back water of Dhom dam was looking awesome, creating a structure like Amoeba (photo by Aniruddha).

Amoeba

Amoeba

Few of us were leading throughout the way & almost had reached the Kenjalgad fort. While we were at the final patch; a risky one, as the space available there is for only one person or even small, but it has to get crossed & we did it with the help of each other. Without help, it was completely impossible. After one hour we were finally at the steps of Kenjalgad Fort. Some were tired, some were bumped, some were shivering, but everyone was smiling for photo 🙂 .

At Kenjalgad Fort steps

At Kenjalgad Fort steps

At Kenjalgad fort, we had our breakfast at about 11.30 am which is a lunch time for general people. But of course, we are not general ones & that’s why brearkfast time is 11.30 am. Don’t know about lunch time 🙂 . Now, it was time for departure. We said bye bye to Kenjalgad & Raireshwar forts, and started to descend. The people who went ahead took the wrong path & were going down with the speed of any car. The path was completely slippery. But they were having the fun of Go-Carting. Following them, we also enjoyed the Go-Carting experience. It was first time for us that we are going down to base of any fort with this speed 🙂 .

Few of us were too tired to walk further for final trail, so we made one clever thing – the people who reached the base first, had to come back again along with their vehicles so that we can take those tired ones on the bikes & make them feel comfortable 🙂 .

Raireshwar Base

Raireshwar Base

We had our lunch in the house behind us & walked off from the village at around 3.00 pm. Everyone was very happy & routed their bikes for Pune. The meeting point for Pune was Sinhgad Bridge, where all reached back to back & got dispersed in no time as everyone wanted some rest to come to office on Monday 🙂 .

The One More Hour…

It was already dark with clock hands making angle of 75°, ticking to 8.30 pm. It had been around 9 hours since we begun to descend, but still we were far away from the destination. We kept walking stumbling upon the rocks and finding our way through the thicket in the diffused beams of our nano torches. We were in front of thick bushes. There was nowhere to go. We were stranded! We looked around but couldn’t find the way. Then we tried harder, cut those bushes & got the way. Finally we were out of the jungle & yes, it was a night to remember!

It was January 21, 2011. Ten of us were we, who had set afoot to explore the wilderness of the jungles of Mahabaleshwar – the famous hill station mere 120 km from Pune. The plan was to descend the Dhavalya Ghat; the not much used old walkway which connects the Mahabaleshwar’s Arthur Seat Point with the Dhavale village in the Konkan. It was a steep descend of 2500 odd feet through the thick woods offering fantastic views of Sahyadri cliffs and the Dhavalya (Chandragad) fort in the milieu.

We reached Mahabaleshwar around 10:15 am. We enquired about a taxi to Arthur Seat 14 km away and they were charging a bomb, but we settled the thing quickly to avoid further delays. We were finally at Arthur Seat – standing amidst the chaos of hundreds of tourists. It was 11.00 am by now and we had no time to waste. In the midst of the marvelous sierra that we saw from the Arthur seat point, we identified the set of hillocks we were to go down and headed in the direction.

Mahabaleshwar ranges seen from Arthur Seat point

Mahabaleshwar ranges seen from Arthur Seat point

A 10 min walk and we found ourselves atop a massive rock. There was an aperture here, which gave this place its name – the window point. From here we descended a 25 feet rock face which consumed half an hour, being exposed and having few newbies with us. The Karvi at places had grown taller than us. There was a little space. Only one at a time could go through. Fallen trees blocked our way at some places make us hop over or bend down at times. It was quite a long walk.

25 Feet rock patch

25 Feet rock patch

After an hour we reached a watercourse that led us to a cistern – neatly dug out of rock. This could be the only source of water in this entire route if done in the summers. We all were hungry & it took no time to finish all that we had brought. A quick rest and we were off again on our trail. A 5 min further descend got us to Bhairichi Ghumti, a shrine dedicated to the local deity. The place was clean, well maintained and commanded a magnificent view of the bottomless valley below. It stood well protected by the high cliffs of the Sahyadris and the scene was worth a watch. From here began the endless steep descend to reach the bottom of this bottomless valley.

Bhairichi Ghumati

Bhairichi Ghumati

The descend began with a traverse to the reach the ridge of the mountain we saw in front of us. It was a steep slope. Our knees had begun to hurt. But we continued. In our minds we knew the destination wasn’t close by. We keep walking. Then for a change the going down stopped and we walked horizontal. We traversed a mountain slope from where we could see Chandragad at a distance standing in the middle of this valley. The sight made the tiredness disappear in a jiffy and kept walking tirelessly until dark.

Chandragad Fort

Chandragad Fort

Last year in this trek, we had missed the way in the dark and passed the night near a stream which was 0% safe for us. But having no option, we had to stay there. This time I don’t wanted to  have the same experience. Hence, I told everyone to be fast to avoid this forest stay. It was 4.00 pm & still 3-4 hours of journey was remained. Usually in Mahabaleshwar area, darkness sets quickly at about 6.00 pm. The two of us were to tired too put a step ahead. So, one of us made one clever thing – He told them that the only one more hour of journey is remained, which brought some energy in their bodies and they started walking. As they were badly dehydrated, in next half an hour they again refused to walk.

The formula again came into picture – “The One More Hour”. We told them the same thing about our jungle stay & one more hour. They were not ready, but somehow we convinced them for one more hour of journey. Finally, we were at the point where last time we had stayed. Still, some light was there & we were walking continuously. It was 6.30 pm & darkness covered the whole sky making us to pull out our nano torches. We all ten were together & walking hard to get out of this jungle. We had almost walked for 2 hours after telling them (two of us) of one more hour extra journey for the first time. Still, one & half an hour of journey was remained (not sure).

Now, it was complete dark & every one of us following each other throughout the way. Then we all were in front of thick bushes, from where no route was going. Everyone was quite in a shock & the thought of jungle stay started touching to our minds. I was in the last position not allowing anyone to behind me. But, this time I had to come to the leading position & find the way. I went 2-3 steps ahead & cut some bushes, looking for route. Throughout the way, a structure of small stones standing one on another was making us sure that we were on right track. Someone may have done this for assuring people. After cutting those bushes, I found the similar structure made little ahead, giving me a confidence of finding a right way.

A 10 minutes of walk & those newbies felt down again. This time they were completely dried out & it was the time for some rest. We were saying the same thing “One More Hour”. They needed some sort of energy & Shrikhand made it possible. We opened one box of it & ate little which was enough for us to stand & walk. The route was going little up & there was no structure found after the last one, made us to think that “Are we on right track?”. But, there was no option other than keep walking. We kept on walking & finally, the point came from where we came out of the jungle. Everyone was very much happy as they have passed the wildness of jungle & now we were on flat ground. Everyone put their sacks on ground & slept for at least 10 minutes.

Again the question came, now how much it is?. The answer was same – “One More Hour”. Now, people started cursing us, which was obvious, but it was the real answer which can’t be avoided. We commenced our journey towards the village & in next 45 minutes we were near village. The dogs made the villagers awake & two people came towards us. They offered some help by giving us some space in front of their home. We settled down, prepared dal khichadi, ate it and then cuddled up to each other gazing at the sky.  We felt special. Our tired eyes closed in no time.

Next day morning, the villager made us awake by playing songs, which we enjoyed little, but felt angry as we couldn’t complete our sleep of weekends that we usually do in the homes. We did our morning activities & prepared a tea. It was the first time, when I was preparing a tea with milk powder. But, the taste was good & everyone drank it happily. The villager asked us for help in trek to Chandragad Fort & we accepted it. He told that the trek to fort requires an hour of ascent and yet another hour to get down. The One More Hour thing came again & everyone laughed out loudly. Initially, it looked bit easy. But further, it was asking us to make a rock climbing. Everyone was tired. The two of us who were already given up went back to the camp, joined by another one on second day.

Now, we seven were on the top of Chandragad fort, from where one can see the Arthur Seat Point.  Also, the range of sahayadris was looking awesome. At the top of fort, a Shiv-Linga is there. Every Mahashivratri, a festival kind of celebration happens, the villager told us. Around 200-250 people from surrounding villages come to celebrate this festival. Also, 2-3 cisterns of water & a home like structures can be found on fort.

Shiva-Linga atop fort

Shiva-Linga atop fort

Mahabaleshwar ranges seen from fort

Mahabaleshwar ranges seen from fort

It was 10.30 am & the last bus out of the village was to leave in a couple of hours. We decided to get down to the fort ASAP & reach the village school to wait for the bus to arrive. There was some time. Everyone was in a state which people in the bus wouldn’t have accepted, rather we couldn’t have accepted each other. So we all went over to the river nearby to have a refreshing dip. But, the river was dried out. Fortunately, we found one “Hafsa (Hand Pump)” & it was enough for us to get refreshed. One-by-one, all of us got refreshed with cold water & returned to the village school. We had brought some “Bhel”, which we ate our hearts full, and patiently waited for the bus to arrive.

It was 1:30 pm when it arrived – half an hour later than scheduled. We quickly got in. It dropped us to Kapda. From here a jeep dropped us to Mahabaleshwar and then a 4 hour ST ride got us back to Pune. We got back to our homes around 9 pm, our thighs still stiff, minds still wondering in the jungles and we keep talking about this wonderful experience over and over!