– some stuff I want to write about…
After the exciting trek to Manekgad, our hearts craved for more. The pics uploaded on Facebook, caught the attention of many and we got more people asking us as to where the next one is gonna be. That was the question for me too. I knew I wanted to go for another trek, but the place was not finalized. So the search began for the next adventure. Came across a lot of places, many of them were rejected because they were either too far away, some seemed too difficult and a few others seemed like it needed more than a day to complete.
Screening through these places, I stumbled upon Tungareshwar. Seemed good. Not too far away, not too difficult and looked like it could be easily completed in a day. So the destination was decided. We already had the ever willing 3 people – Sanket, Ashwin and me ofcourse. By Friday we also had Aditya giving in his confirmation. On Saturday we had a surprising confirmation from Sonali (better known in the wordpress world as SoSha)
Then came Sunday – the D day. Early morning, all excited and geared up for the trek ahead, I met Ashwin at 7 am. Soon to join us was Sonali. Aditya took his time to reach and in the meanwhile, I and Ashwin had a cutting chai (and we received some stares from Sonali which said “how can u drink anything from THAT glass”) Sanket was to join us a few stops ahead. So we boarded the bus and Sanket joined us soon after. 5 of us, all set for the trek. We still had 2 people in kitos – Ashwin (again) and Sonali. The reason why kitos should not be worn for treks will be clear once again.
Reaching the start point of our trek was nothing very eventful. Bus from thane to Borivali (which played sad songs from the 80’s and 90’s) followed by train from Borivali to Vasai (accompanied by many more enthusiastic picnikers) breakfast at a small joint which served some Maharashtrian as well as south Indian breakfasts (sad songs here too) from Vasai to Tungareshwar we took an auto which charged us 30 Rs per person and stuffed 5 people in one auto. Me being the healthiest of the lot, had to sit with the auto driver and had to keep getting down and walking at the sight of a traffic policeman.
About Tungareshwar – this is a place close to Vasai and it falls on theMumbai Ahmedabad Highway– NH 8. It is one of the few evergreen forest covers in the west coast and also has a few perennial waterfalls. It has a Lord Shiva temple and also a Sadanand Maharaj devotion center a few kilometres up. We imagined the place to be a well – trodden path with few people here and there, peaceful and quite, a place where we could listen to the birds chirping and the wind blowing gently through the trees.
How wrong we were. For starters, the place was as crowded as a carnival. Forget the chirping birds, we had to almost yell over the honking motorists to be heard. A huge turnout of people thanks to the chosen time – a monsoon Sunday in the middle of Shravan with Shivratri commin up soon (for those of you who don’t know abt these – Shravan and shivratri are the times when all Lord Shiva devotees visit temples and try to please the gods. People who follow Shravan forgo non-veg and alcohol for a month and also abstain from shaving and hair cuts. Don’t ask me the spiritual logic behind it – I don’t know)
We started the trek along with hundreds of other people. A minute into the trek and we followed a bunch of people through a small path. Wrong route. Those people had gone there to take a leak and had 5 of us staring at them. Retreat on the double. Then we went along the right path. Soon we came across a small flowing water body which we had to cross through it to proceed further. The water was cold and while the rocks below were smooth, they were slippery and unstable too. We managed to cross without falling in it and also posed for a few pics.
Among the hordes of people, there were youngsters like us, local kids who were running and yelling around, many middle aged men who were looking for a spot to sit and drink (shravan – whats that?), many gujarati ladies (in sarees and jewellery carrying tiffins and farsan) and also some newly married couples (straight from the shaadi-ka-mandap kinds) our talks ranged from how crowded this place is to latest movies. After close to 45minutes, we reached the temple – Tungareshwar. A huge serpentine queue to take darshan. No ways. We prayed from outside the temple and found a quiet place to stand. What next. We had come for Tungareshwar and there we were in 45 minutes. I told the others about the next halt of Sadanand Maharaj and everyone was game for it. From here on the hike was a peaceful one. Fewer people, less noise and hardly any honking vehicles. The path was not an easy one. It was covered with stones – sharp and uneven ones.
We came across some waterfalls which had some people enjoying in it and also saw a few groups of people sitting and drinking slightly off the roads. We moved ahead. The road was getting steeper and the wind was finally blowing on the hot day. Admiring nature we moved on to find some interesting fruits (star fruit), insects (one which had a long needle like projection and another one which was all fluffy and yuck looking), flowers (pretty ones with some insects on it – pollination I guess). We also saw some interesting rocks and formations on the mud (one of which resembled the design on the ring that Sonali was wearing). Biscuit time. Everyone had carried something or the other to munch on and we had ample water too. Eating and hydrating ourselves we moved on.
After 2 hrs or so from Tungareshwar temple we were still climbing up. Tiredness was setting in – slowly but surely. We chose some points to take a break – on a good rock, near a small cliff, on a carpet of grass, near hand-pumps to freshen up etc.
We met a couple of people slightly older than us who were making their way down.” How much further up to the Sadanand Maharaj place?” we asked “30 minutes” he replied. “Make that 1 hr aturspeed” he added. J. Clouds were moving among us. We got little peeks at the scenic view of the mountains and the forest below us. We had climbed a good deal. Finally we heard some devotional songs in the distance. It egged us on (not the devotional songs but the feeling that we were near our destination) but wait, the decent had begun on the other side. We had to descent to the Sadanand Maharaj place. Damn. Having come this far we didn’t want to give up without seeing the place. Finally we reached the place and saw the source of the devotional songs. Mission accomplished.
We had to make our way back now. No stopping for rest at the destination. Coming down was faster but more injury prone. Cramps started setting in. all of us were tired and Ashwin twisted his ankle. Damn. He must have been in a good deal of pain because he was limping and Ashwin is not the kind of guy who shows pain. Climbing down was harder than we thought and too many small breaks were taken too.
We reached back Tungareshwar in half the time we took to climb up. We were joined by the crowd again. They had no idea what they had missed by not going up. We got some star fruit and cucumber to hydrate and to some extent take care of our hunger. We were hungry. We reached the small tributary of water and we decided to take a well-deserved break there. Our feet were killing us and it felt so good to just dip our feet in the water and sit comfortably. More poses and more pics followed. After a long halt, we reached the end of our trek.
The next major task was to get an auto to take us to the station. Too many people and very very few autos. After a long time and pleading and negotiating with many autowalas on their rates, we finally got one. It was Aditya’s turn to sit with the driver. Reached the station. Climbed the unforgiving stairs only to get down on to the wrong platform. Oh Man! Climbed up again and reached the proper platform with 10 minutes for the train to arrive. Crowd train dropped us at Borivali. Borivali never looked so good. Everyone was so tired that we were in no mood to sit in a restaurant and have food. We got some on-the-go jumbo king wada pav and gorged on them. The bus back was a silent affair (the bus was still playing sad songs). A dozing Ashwin, a yawning Sanket tired trio of Aditya, Sonali and Sanjoy.
Although the trek did not have many elements of the last one it was a fun thing none the less. It did not rain one bit but we walked close to 28-30 kms unlike Manekgad where we were drenched in the rain and must have walked 10-12 kms. The trek got us all closed together and two months have passed by and we are still PLANNING for the next trek.
From what I last knew, in the days following the trek – Ashwin was limping and had to go to a doctor to get his leg sorted out, Sonali realised through experience (toe cramps) that kitos are not meant for treks, Aditya took a half day on Monday, benefits of relispray was re-discovered and stairs were my new enemy. Sanket had a similar feeling for the stairs and towards anyone who made him walk too much.