Over the weekend of 8th/9th august, 12 of us went on a crazy trek to Naneghat. Elaborate plans had been made to manage the logistics over the last week. We arranged 3 cars and a few from the central line came via the suburban train to Kalyan the rendezvous point. The plan was to meet at Kalyan station at 7am. The train group and 2 cars reached more or less on time. The third car was driven by the recently wed Kalyanaraman. The plan was for Kalyan to stay over at Pankaj’s house on fri night so he can reach on time. However, Kalyan had to change plans last minute and like a true martyr decided to sacrifice the plan timings and did not leave his wife alone at night! He did wake up at 4am and travelled all the way from Mulund to marine lines by train. And drive down from marine lines to Vashi! Kalyan’s car could reach Kalyan station only at 820am, a solid 1 hour 20 minutes behind schedule. May be the jinx was just in the name. Anyway one has got to make allowances for newly made husbands. In an attempt to pre-empt brickbats from the waiting and fuming gang, the 3rd car group tried some innovative tactics. A religious Viren called the group to ask for breakfast preference, as packing would save time. Idlies were ordered. When the group did not reach even by 8, Rao got a call on where we had reached. Rao preempted Viren in talking about the time taken and remind him to get “lal chutney”, a Kalyan specialty to go with the idlies! When an exasperated early bird pointed out the delay, Kalyan actually told them to keep the cars started and in first gear, so all can leave as soon as we arrive!
Finally we proceeded towards Murbad making up for lost time. Murphy stuck again and Kalyan’s car got a puncture! 11 of us pounced on the spare tyre and rolled it out, but none could remove the stuck jack. Rao our Knight in shining armor left in another car to the nearest village to get a mechanic. The mechanic agreed provided he is dropped back and wanted Rao to stay put at his garage as guarantee! Once the deed was done, we brought back a much relieved Rao.
We begin our trek from a village called Vaishakhere on the road going from Malshej to Murbad. Around two km or so before the village, our dirt trail forks off to the mountain. Above us, we see the Nanacha angtha (Nana’s thumb) marking the direction we have to take. Centuries of use have marked this trail very well, and it is indeed a wide ‘highway’ of a trail, that cannot be missed. We couldn’t have picked up a better day to trek! It was pouring cats and dogs and the fun was in climbing up the 2724feet mountain over a waterfall. Since both sides of the waterfall had slippery algae covered rocks, the only option was to climb right through the middle of it! A relentlessly upward route takes us to the main cave at the pass on the right of our trail in 2-3 hours. This huge cave is flanked by water tanks and provides a convenient place to stay in. It was a welcome relief to find a full-fledged canteen there. Enterprising locals had set up a tea and snack bar there. We all had 3-4 cups of steaming elaichi tea, vada pav and omlette after the grueling climb.
The trail after the cave is flanked by steep rock walls and an untiring wind, and led to the pass. As we go through, we come into a huge open plateau – the deccan. on our left are the remains of an old building and compound and on our right, some more caves dot the mountain. One of these houses an old idol of Lord Ganesha. We can climb up from here to reach some height on the Nanacha angtha, that had been marking our destination on our way up. The view from here is incredible. This is also a perfect place to spend time in the evening watching the sun go down. However, today was all misty and forget the sun, one couldn’t see beyond a few feet.The climb down was a different genre of excitement. Several knees gave away, a few past their youth fell, but fortunately no major mishaps. While we were resting somewhere midway to the base, Rajesh Rao got a call. While I couldn’t hear what was being told to him, I was getting a feeling of déjà-vu from my days in media. This must be a call on an ad getting dropped! Times of India was fishing for trouble by suggesting that they may not have the space for a client's ad scheduled for the next day. But as always, the reliable duo of Rajesh Rao and Viren made some calls and the ad indeed appeared on schedule the next day on Page 3! We all came down safely after a couple of hours except Pankaj. Pankaj had the misfortune of developing cramps on both feet. So we left him in the able hands of our guide to get him down.
We all reached back to the villager’s house where we had parked our cars. It was time for a sumptuous and well deserved lunch. After an hour there was still no trace of Pankaj. It was getting dark and I panicked. I drove back in the car to the entrance of the trail. After 15 minutes of anxiousness, I heard a tractor coming my way. Perched on top was the imperious figure of Pankaj Bhawanani as if he is surveying his fields around. He gave me a story that he was alright and he just came down slowly with the guide. What he did not know was that I had heard him whispering to the guide before approaching me, not to tell anything as we will panic and undergo un-necessary tension! We still don’t know what exactly happened to Pankaj and he is sticking to his story! Since he looked normal atleast from the outside, we left it at that.
The return to civilization was an ordeal through chaotic traffic made worse by the rains and pot holes the size of craters. We longed to go back to the ancient splendor of Naneghat. One more trip is warranted before the end of the monsoons!
For my travelogue on trek to Lohagarh, visit here.