– some stuff I want to write about…
After a long wait an opportunity to go on a trek presented itself. Chanderi Fort near Badlapur was the destination. There were many things that were different from my previous hill climbing…
– it was a 16 member troupe that was planning to climb the hill.
– I knew just 1 person from the entire set
– Most of the people had prior trekking experiences.
The day began by boarding the 6:14 Karjat slow local from Thane. After getting into the wrong bogie, I met the entire group at Vangani station which is the station after Badlapur. A quick photo at the station followed by some vada pavs and cutting chai in the pouring rains was quite an interesting start.
5 minutes in the rains and I realised that the windcheater is of no use to anyone and it was a day to get drenched to the bones. 4 autos, 20 minutes drive through some private properties and we reached Chincholi village – our start point of the trek. We hired a local boy to guide us in the quest and a rate was negotiated for the day. After a small briefing by the more experienced people, some strategies were drawn so that people don’t get lost, few whistles were handed over to a couple of group leaders and we were all set to go.
One person was to lead the pack, one was to stay at the end and we had two people in the middle acting as the connecting links between the entire group. Incessant rains ensured that the mountains were covered with clouds and the sights were pleasing. 30 minutes into the trek and we reached a plateau where we had our breakfasts. Range of foods from pohas to fruits, theplas to sandwiches, dry fruits to eggs the choice was vast.
The real trek was yet to begin. The easy part was done and now we move through the actual jungles and waterfalls and rocks. I had no experience of these and was a bit unsure if my shoes were up to the task. They had already started falling apart a bit. Mine was not the only case, a few others were facing the same dilemma. I could still get a good grip so I moved on. The first barrier was a 5 mt wide waterfall which had water flowing with a tremendous amount of force. Our guide who easily crossed over made it look easy. It was not. Amongst us, I was the first one to go to the other side and the others threw me the rope which I anchored at one end and this helped the others to cross over more easily.
The climb was steep and the bushes, rocks and trees were unrelenting as they kept giving us minor cuts and bruises. We took a zig-zag route towards the top thereby crossing the waterfall many times. There are arrows marked on some of the rocks, trees etc which shows the way to the top. After a couple of hours we were still climbing the steep hills and it made me wonder about how we will manage to get down. Every halt we took was a relief, every gulp of water was refreshing (although the rains didn’t stop for one bit.) every bite of energy bar was rejuvenating.
At the very top the last few meters was almost a vertical climb on a rock face and the fierce winds threatened to topple us over the edge. It was a scary bit, then again “Darr ke aage Jeet hai” (cliché) every single one of us managed the climb and we reached the top of the hill. Chanderi was conquered in 4 hrs. Within a small cave at the top, we had our lunch but we didn’t have the liberty to rest much as we had to make our way down which was sure to be tricky.
In the cave, there were other locals present who regularly visit this place. We were told that they take close to 2 hrs to climb and around 30 mins to descend. It was hard to believe as they were wearing slippers, kitos etc and some of them were barefoot. We started descent before they did and we had to believe their claims when we saw them rush by us and out of sight within seconds.
During the descent, our tired limbs were being tested and there were a few occasions when the group was split and the whistles came to our rescue. Our guide had to really earn the money as he went up and down on a few occasions to collect the rest of the group. After many photos, aching backs and knees, one lost shoe and a few shoes in bad condition we were almost at the end of the descend. We came down through a different route and we spent a lot of time walking in the waterfall clinging on to the rocks. Few more photos in the waterfalls followed by the last leg of the trek we were back in the village marking the end of a tiring Sunday.
Hot tea served at our guides place was followed by 2 tempos carrying 8 a piece to Badlapur station. The tiredness didn’t stop us from singing songs in the train and at some points we were joined by other passengers too. When I reached home at around 10:30 I was still wet and realised that I have been soaked since 7 in the morning. All movements were restricted the next day and every step made me curse.
Can’t wait to go for the next trek… hopefully soon. 🙂