Monday, 22 June 2015

A Date With Fireflies And A Surprise B’day Party - First Monsoon Trek of 2015- Rajmachi

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“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

My first trek of this monsoon. Trek to Rajmachi and Kondane Caves.  A very popular trekking destination in the Sahyadris, Western Ghats, Maharashtra. Monsoon treks are always thrilling and raise the bar of adrenaline rush to umpteen levels.

This was a Fireflies Special Trek with Trek Mates India(TMI). The first few showers of monsoon is best fit since fireflies need a couple of showers to start flitting around. We wanted to witness the mating dance of fireflies, which would otherwise have been impossible while it rained heavily. Fireflies cannot tolerate the heavy raindrops and sadly, die.

Fact File:

Fireflies belong to the family of beetles and not flies, as they are commonly called. The light production in these nocturnal winged beetles is due to bioluminescence, a chemical reaction when oxygen combines with luciferin, present in the lower abdomen of the insect.

All fireflies glow as larvae. Bioluminescence serves a different function in lampyrid larvae than it does in adults. It appears to be a warning signal to predators, since many fireflies larvae contain chemicals that are distasteful or toxic.

Light in adult beetles the primary purpose is thought to be used in mate selection. Fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for mate selection. There are about 2,000 firefly species, and each has its own morse code of light to attract mates; an interested female flashes back from her low perch as the male flits overhead. They have a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships: steady glows, flashing, and the use of chemical signals. Can courting get any more romantic.

The Trek:

At a height of 3600 ft above MSL, Rajmachi is situated between Lonavala and Karjat. It can be reached from either places. We were to take the Karjat route. The fortification at Rajmachi consists of twin forts, Shreevardhan, the taller one towards east and Manoranjan, towards west of Rajmachi.

We were a group of 61 trekmates. The youngest member of our group was 6 years old Manav.

Manav- Our Youngest Trek Buddy

We started off from Mumbai. Boarded Karjat fast local from Thane station. The train was jam-packed. The locals cursing us at every station for carrying huge bags and blocking their way. What a start. Alighting the train at Karjat was a greater task than boarding. Anyone commuting by Mumbai local can get a clear picture of this scenario.

Kondivide Village is the base village where we started off after tea and refreshments. We had our usual “straight circle” round of introduction in a while. It was difficult to remember all names at one go but eventually, I managed to remember most of the faces and names by end of the trek. Most of them were first timers. The VGTI gang, doctors, engineering professors. 

The "Straight Circle Introduction"

Manoj Kalwar was our trek leader, leading from front. We had 3 co-leads, Ranjita, Harsh and Avinash. Ranjita and Avinash managing the group and Harsh leading from back.

It takes maximum 3 hours to reach Rajmachi or Udhewadi village from base. One needs to carry 2-3 ltrs of water per person.

We had 3 stopovers, the first being Kondane caves. Decently maintained Buddhist caves that were excavated during 1st century BC. It is a non-commercialized national heritage.

Kondane Caves

As the darkness grew, we could see the tiny yellow lights blinking over our heads. The sight became more mesmerizing when we neared a clearing and could actually witness millions of fireflies fluttering above. Ranjita, Harsh, Amit, Rajashree, Shreyas, Madhura and I along with few more trekmates chose to lag behind and adore the view. Everyone reached Rajmachi by 9:30 PM.

A big surprise awaiting Amit. It was Amit’s birthday and some of our other trek buddies planned to pay surprise visit via Lonavala route to celebrate Amit’s b’day.

After a delicious dinner, it was time to hang out by the lake. We had planned Amit’s b’day celebrations by the lake. It was simply amazing.

Blowing the Candles

Here comes the beeeeg one

Make Up Time

We had hardly slept for an hour or two when Manoj started waking everyone for our next leg of the trek. Ascend to Shreevardhan Fort. We skipped Manoranjan. We started off at around 5:30 AM. Reached at the top by 6:30 AM. The view from top was awe-inspiring. We could locate Lonavala, Khandala, Pawna Dam, Duke’s Nose from the top. And without forgetting to mention the floating clouds all over.

Ascending towards Shreevardhan

On Top Of Shreevardhan


By the time we descended half way, we were surrounded by fog. It drizzled a little bit every now and then.

In midst of the mist

The TMI Pose
Also got to savor Karvand or Karonda (Carissa Carandus) on the way back to Rajmachi. 

Karvand or Karonda

After a breakfast of Poha (a popular Maharashtrian breakfast dish made out of flattened rice) along with tea and old bollywood songs, we were supposed to take leave and start our descend. BUT… some of us wanted to visit the lake once more hence, pleaded Manoj to spare us 5 minutes. Our wish granted and we hurried off towards the lake.

Bhairavnath Temple- By the lake- We stole time to visit here

We were the bunch to start off last for our descend, however, managed to reach earlier than rest of the group. We utilized our wait time by clicking selfies. Wink wink. :)

Wait Time = Selfie Time

My Trek Buddy- Radha

With Radha
The best advantage to be ahead of others is that we can take as many detours as possible and one of them was by the river. The pictures below can explain our delightness best.

The Detour- By the River

Surya - With His New Love- The Pink Water Proof Camera

Enjoying to the fullest

An appetizing lunch awaited us at Kondivide village. The Rajmachi special chicken curry. My mouth watering as I write :). What more to expect than the rain starting it’s pitter-patter the moment everyone is ready to leave.

A sleepy journey back to Mumbai.

The Rajmachi Group-

** Click on pictures for better resolution

Picture Credits- Dipanwita, Harsh, Avinash, Madhusmita, Amit and Radha

Trekmates, let’s keep Smiling, Adventuring and Happy Trekking.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

The 3 Day Challenge- Day #3- Tagore

“The small wisdom is like water in a glass;
Clear, transparent, pure.
The great wisdom is like the water in the sea;
Dark, mysterious, impenetrable.”

-- Rabindranath Tagore --

A simple and transparent quote by Tagore. Water used as the perfect metaphor for wisdom.

I would not elaborate much on this since in my opinion, one should sit back and just feel the lucidity of the verses.

Today is Day 3 of the challenge. I have been nominated for the 3 days quote challenge by my dear friend Somali who blogs on Scribble and Scrawl.

I absolutely enjoyed taking up the challenge and hope I have been able to keep up. 

Thanking Somali once again, I restate the rules.

The rules of the challenge follow

  1. Post a favorite quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, obviously a different quote each day from any book, any author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

My nominees are:

I by Amrita Sabat

Elixir Of Knowledge by Rajkumar R

Quote for Day #1       Quote for Day #2

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The 3 Day Challenge- Day #2- William Blake

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

-- William Blake --

Considering the wideness and duality of this quote, it is quite open for a variety of personal interpretations.

I would like to go by 2 verses at a time.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower

The concept of microcosm can be explained best through these verses. Tiniest of the truths can make vast differences and infinite truths can be understood through most trivial things in life.

In other words, the beauty of life, nature and universe can be experienced in smaller details and we need not always run for materialistic things to search for happiness. Sometimes, we get to enjoy the beauty in most insignificant things and encounter happiness at most unexpected places and situations.

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour

Let us enjoy the splendour and virtue of today, without worrying about what’s in store for tomorrow. This day, this hour, this minute is paramount and let’s treat ourselves and the beloved ones rightly.

Live today, Laugh today, Love today, because tomorrow has not made any promises yet.

The above quote is from William Blake’s poem, “Auguries of Innocence”. William Blake, never the easiest poet to understand. He had a mystic approach towards life, which very much resonates in all his poems. In his above poem, Blake tries to throw light upon the rudeness of the society towards the vulnerable.

The flower in the above picture is a Bluebonnet, a wild creeper that grows in the ponds spreading throughout the width of the ponds and are considered nuisance. But the flower itself is very beautiful. It is in the eyes of the beholder to see the beauty within. Beauty with Strangeness.

Today is Day 2 of the challenge. I have been nominated for the 3 days quote challenge by my dear friend Somali who blogs on Scribble and Scrawl.

I thank Somali once again and restate the rules.

The rules of the challenge follow
  1. Post a favorite quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, obviously a different quote each day from any book, any author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

My nominees are:

The Dimensions Of The Being by Datta Ghosh 

Rythmica by Sahithya Sridhar 

A Rat’s Nibble by Meera Rath 

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The 3 Day Challenge- Day #1- Shakespeare

“There’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

- William Shakespeare -

This quote arises inquisitiveness. Quite simple read yet conveys an intense idea of human perceptions.

The picture is from the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” where Hazel accuses Augustus of "Hamartia" when he takes out a cigarette and puts between his teeth without realizing the fact that Augustus never lit the cigarette. She calms down only after he explains her “the metaphor”.

Very often, we tend to be judgmental about the acts of others without knowing the real reason behind it. We can never understand a personality by spending just couple of minutes with anyone. So, how can we tag anyone of being “good” or “bad”? It takes a little understanding and patience before we begin peppering our opinions and perspectives. 

Similarly, when there are stern decisions to be made under certain circumstances, each one of us has a diverse take. What we think to be right is what we settle on. For that matter, it is never obligatory that what appears to be right for us ought to be equal for someone else. This is where the disparity comes in.

Such is the equivocacy of perceptions.

The quote is taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet where Hamlet is in conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, his acquaintances from university. Here, Hamlet states that Denmark is not “good” as it appears like a prison to him .

Denmark being “bad” is just a state of mind of Hamlet since he is aware of being watched and spied upon on the orders of his step–father, King Claudius. Hence, Hamlet, here, is a prisoner of his own outlook.

So are we all. Unless we try to broaden our minds and have patience.

I have been nominated for the 3 days quote challenge by Somali Chakrabarti who blogs on various segments including social awareness, leadership, travel, culture to name a few. Her blog, Scribble And Scrawl is very inspiring and a must read.

I thank Somali for this challenge.

The rules of the challenge follow:

  1. Post a favorite quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, obviously a different quote each day from any book, any author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

My nominees are:

Tales Of The Opal Moon by Rakesh Pandey

Sunshine and Zephyr by Shweta Dave

Bhavikk Shah’s Blog by Bhavikk Shah

Quote for Day #2       Quote for Day #3

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

I Wanted A Fairytale

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“We love each other like matches in the dark. We don't talk, we catch fire instead ”
― Mathias Malzieu

Love stories are fairytales afar fancy;
Dreams invariably like dwam,
Waking desires.

Even absolute closeness;
Fails to abridge the distances,
Of hearts that have fallen apart.

Never can the sky subsume the earth;
Beyond the horizon,
While the sun fades down.

The song of heart never finds a voice;
When happy notes make U-turn,
Every melody shift to requiem.

The radiance of colors merely shriveled away;
Eyes toiling to revive,  
That name once written on sand.

My story had heartbeats sans many words;
It was “Love” beyond any doubt,
But not a love story though.

The love which ends in incompleteness;
Is never untrue,
But, I wanted a fairytale.


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