Friday, 23 October 2015

आज फिर जीने को जी चाहता है

एक मुठ्ठी ज़मीन; एक टुकड़ा आसमाँ,
थोड़ी सी हसी; थोड़ा सा ग़म मेहरबाँ,
कही प्यार को तरसे,
कही प्यार में डूबा किसी का जहाँ; 
हर दिल की उम्मीद के साये में,
ढलता जाए खुशियो का समां ||

चल आज फिर चुरा ले; 
कुछ पल की खुशियाँ,
चल आज फिर ओढ़ ले; 
वो सुनहरी धूप की चादर,
और लौट चले उस गुलमोहर के तले, 
जहा बसता था बचपन;
खेला करते थे आँख मिचोली हम; 
खेल खेल में यूही रंग ले,
सतरंगी सपनो की चुनरियाँ || 

आज फिर जीने को जी चाहता है;
हसते हसते रोने को जी चाहता है,
सपनो में फिर खो जाने को जी चाहता है, 
क्या पता कल कहाँ ले जाए ज़िन्दगी:
आज सारी ज़िन्दगी जी लेने को जी चाहता है || 

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Covering The Range- Ratangad 2 Harishchandragad: Day 3- Harishchandragad

Harishchandragad (HCG), at an elevation of 4,665 ft above MSL, surrounded by ruins and caves from antiquity and with one of the most daunting routes to be trekked on, offers the best trekking experience in the Sahyadris for every trekker. It is also referred to as a trekker’s paradise since one trek to HCG can be combined with rappelling, valley crossing and rock-climbing.

Tit - Bits From Times Gone By:

HCG is a beautiful hill fort in the Malshej region of Western Ghats, located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India. The fortifications have been traced back to the Microlithic age (6th Century). Many ancient scriptures like Matsyapurana, Skandapurana and Agnipurana have the mention and references about HCG. The caves are dated back to 11th century. The origin of the fort is said to have been during the rule of Kalachuri dynasty.

A great saint named Changdev (created the epic- Tatvasaar) is believed to have meditated for 12 continuous years inside the caves besides the Harishchandreshwara temple during 14th Century.

The Harishchandreshwar Temple is an astounding example of the magnificent Hemadpanthi Architecture formed during the 13th Century in Maharashtra. This architectural style is named after it’s founder, Hemadpant, the prime minister from the court of Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri.

The Harishchandreshwar Temple

The carvings on the temple walls and also in the Kedareshwar cave indicate that the fort belongs to the medieval period. Later, the Mughals took control over the fort followed by the Marathas during 1747.

The Trek- The Day 3 Itinerary:

Ascent to Harishchandragad via Pachnai – Visit Konkan Kada – Breakfast - Explore HCG - Descent via Khireshwar - Lunch en route Khireshwar - Khireshwar to Khubi Phata - Mumbai

Final day and mighty HCG (Harishchandragad) awaited us. 4 members dropped out of final lap of the trek. Radha and Anand due to Radha’s broken shoes. Bharadwaj and Sagar due to unplanned work schedules that came up. 4 down, 14 left for the last ascent.

We were to ascent via Paachnai and descent was planned via Khireshwar route.

Wake up call at 4:30 AM. Everyone woke up at one call. HCG excitement. We started at around 5:45 for Harishchandragad after having tea.

The Start

The Paachnai route towards HCG is the simplest of the 5 routes to reach HCG. It took us approximate 2 hours to complete the ascent with one tea and snack break in between by a stream. Once atop, we directly started for Konkan Kada without stopping by any caves and temples. Did not wish to miss the most spectacular view of the valley from the cliff.

The Route
The Tea And Snack Break


Konkan Kada (Konkan Cliff) is the principal attraction of HCG. This vertical overhang is like a cobra’s hood and gives the most beautiful panoramic view of the valley. Konkan Kada is also the best place to get the glimpse of “Indravajra” (a circular rainbow - the Brocken Spectre phenomenon). This can mostly be seen during the monsoon or at the presence of mist in the valley with sun right behind the person facing the valley.

By the time we reached Konkan Kada, the mist started to blanket over. Well, we missed the view of the valley and now hoped for the unexpected. Appearance of “The Indravajra”. Sitting by the edge of Konkan Kada, I couldn’t help but realize the diminutiveness of all beings in comparison to the resplendence of the nature. While I was immersed in the thoughts that kept blurting out of my mind, I suddenly became aware of a fuss among our team.

On the Edge Of Konkan Kada

Trekmates on Konkan Kada

Sanket, Varad, Aaditya started screaming and pointing towards the valley. Far away, in the midst of the misty blanket, there was a dim circular rainbow that appeared. All of us got super-excited and started waving towards it. With the sun right behind us and luck smiling, we got to witness one of the most spectacular and rare phenomenon. We got to see “The Indravajra”. Our happiness and excitements knew no bounds.

The Indravajra- Photo Credit: Sambit Dash

People camp on the Konkan Kada and wait for days for a glimpse of Indravajra but are not always lucky enough. We were lucky at the first go.

We headed towards the caves after having breakfast and tea at Bhaskar dada’s food stall. The first stop was the Harishchandreshwara Temple. Sanket introduced us to the rich history of the temple and apprised us about the Hemadpanthi architectural style, in which the temple was built.

The Harishchandreshwar Temple

Ganesha Idol at Harishchandreshwar Temple
Paying attention to Sanket

Towards the east of Harishchandreshwara temple is the Saptatirtha Pushkarni pond. Saptatirtha Pushkarni is a temple pond. The temple like constructions had idols of Lord Vishnu in them, which, until recently, have been shifted into one of the caves besides Harishchandreshwar temple. An interesting fact about the water of the pond is that, it remains ice- cold even during the scorching summer heat.

Saptatirtha Pushkarni

Trekmates at Pushkarni

The famous Kedareshwar cave is on the right of Harishchandreshwar temple. The Kedareshwar Cave is famous for the it’s beautiful 5 ft tall Shivalingam, surrounded by biting cold water and 4 pillars, namely symbolizing the 4 yugas (eras); “Satya Yug”, “Treta Yug”, “Dwapar Yug” and “Kali Yug”. Local legend has it that each pillar would break by itself at the end of each yuga. As per general belief, we are currently in the “Kali Yug” and the day the 4th pillar breaks, it will be considered as the end of the era / world.

Kedareshwar Shivalingam- 3 Pillars Down, 1 Left

We were immersed in taking pictures all time and not ready to start the descent. Sanket kept insisting that we start descending since the Khireswar route was long and time consuming. He had set the target of reaching Khireshwar no later than 3:00 PM. A good scolding from Sanket and stern instructions to keep all cameras inside the bags made us behave righteously.

Righteously Agreeing to Start Descend

There were quite a few tricky yet manageable patches during the descend. Major part of the descend was rocky and through forest.

The first stopover was for lunch and a long long break. Some of us even went for power naps before starting the next leg of descent. Around 45 mins of walking after lunch, we reached Tolar Khind (Tolar Valley). Dehydrated to core, everyone went on for many rounds of lemon water. 


The Afternoon Nap

Sanket, Himanshu and Sambit almost started running and were non-traceable for the remaining part of the descent. We reached Khireshwar exactly at 3:00 PM. Sanket, who had reached Khireshwar long before us, had already played his cards and came with a work-around which saved us from walking for 2 more hours till Khubi Phata and struggle to catch a bus for Kalyan.

Waiting Waiting- At Khireshwar
Tribute to Sachin's Woodlad which gave him hard time

Collective Tribute to Sachin's Woodland

We would hire a private vehicle which would drop us till Murbad. So, 14 people squeezed inside a vehicle that could accommodate only 10.

The Last Group Pic

Musical and sleepy journey till Murbad. Murbad to Shahad in another vehicle. Shahad to Mumbai in local train. Trekmates back to their respective homes.

To Sum It all Up- Creativity by Shirish Marde

At the end of one more amazing experience, some more new places and few more new friends, I came back much richer. It is always overwhelming to re-live those moments each time I sit for writing about a trek. It takes me back to day one when I had gone for my first trek. All alone, with a lost vision about life and abstruse future. Today it’s entirely different. Today, I smile a lot and seldom worry.

I always thank the divine almighty for having sent angels in my life and help me carve the right path for myself through the many thicks.

Awaiting many more to come. Till then, Trekmates- Keep Trekking, Keep Adventuring and Keep Smiling

You may read the Day 1 and Day 2 stories here & here 

** Click on pictures for better resolution

Picture Credits- Shirish, Kiran and Dipanwita

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Covering The Range- Ratangad 2 Harishchandragad: Day 2- Ratangad- Pachnai

Indian Bloggers
1 day down, 2 days to go. We survived through the night that was filled with menacing snores and haunting experiences of Amrita. Day 2 was going to be outrightly exhausting and we were favorably inclined towards facing whatever waited ahead.

Having mentioned about our Day 1 journey from Mumbai to Ratangad in my previous post, let’s move on to Day 2.

The Itinerary:

Day 2: Breakfast - Descent Ratangad via Ganesh Darwaza - Katrabai Pass - Kumshet - Lunch - Pethechiwadi - Pachnai - Dinner - Stay Over at Pachnai

Wake up call at 5:00 AM. I took the liberty of stealing a little more sleep by burying myself inside my sleeping bag. After a while, I kind of sleep walked out of the cave only to be taken aback for a moment. The view of the valley and morning sky from caves was simply impeccable. Layers of clouds floating parallel on my left, the sun rising from beyond the peaks on my right, the sky painted with assorted hues. It felt like magic, like being time travelled to a different world altogether, so pure and serene.

This Left Me Awestruck

Sky Painted just Before Sunrise

Clouds Floating

The First Rays

Rise And Shine Mighty Sun

Started off for descent from Ratangad via Ganesh Darwaza after breakfast and tea. This route has ladders installed but one cannot take them for granted. Negotiating my steps, I finally made it to the bottom of the 3rd ladder not before compelling Kiran to click my pictures while descending.

The Ganesh Darwaza

We Start Our Day

The Ladder Way

No Shying Away From Pictures

Next leg of the descent was through the forest till we come across a bifurcation where the trail on our left led to Ratanwadi (base village of Ratangad) and the one on our right led to Harishchandragad via Katrabai. We headed right. Towards Katrabai Pass.

Headed Towards Katrabai

Katrabai mountain pass, at an elevation on 4300 ft above MSL is considered to be an important pass on Trans Sahyadri Trek. This pass acts as the passage between Ratangad and Harishchandragad.

The day was clear with sun shining but we could hardly feel the heat as most of the trail was through forest that barred sufficient sunlight from entering inside. We had our first break by a small stream, filled water as this was the last place where we could get clean drinking water. The highlight of next part of the trail till 2nd stopover was antakshari on nursery rhymes.

2nd stopover was at a clearing in the forest after which the ascent was going to be quite steep with absolute rocky terrain. We had our snack break here. This place was the dwelling place of copious crabs, tiny to small to big to large. Within few minutes through our resting time, we were surrounded by millions of crabs. It seemed as if we had invaded their fort and the army was ever ready to attack and trounce their enemies.

The Snack Break

The Army

Trying our level best not to crush any crab, we completed the ascent quickly. Had much needed lemon water - lemon sugar break at the top of the pass. We would start our descent from this point till Kumshet with no breaks. Long descent. There were quite a few falls during this descent including me. (wink wink). Quechua betrayed Radha during this descent and her shoes gave up on her. It was hard time but she still managed to reach Kumshet.

Lemon Water- Lemon Sugar Break

The walk towards Kumshet was through the paddy fields and Sonki beds. How could we miss the opportunity of being clicked with surroundings so mesmeric?


Where Do We Look

We Are All Lost Stars

We were supposed to have our lunch at Kumshet but our local guide, Bhaskar dada informed that the lunch was arranged by the bank of Mula River. We started off towards Mula river and walked as fast as we could since every one suffered from severe hunger pangs

Bhaskar Dada Followed By Assistant

Amrita and I started discussing about the delicacies from all over India - " Purani Dilli ki Chaat and Parathe waali gali", "Secunderabad ki Biryani and Nihari", "Orissa ka Chena Poda" including our favourite, the mouth watering "Kolkata's Nolen Gurer Roshogolla" (Rasgullas made with date palm jaggery). We became the subject of reprimand of others in the team who were already starving and our discussion on food elevated their hunger. Who cares? We shamelessly kept on coming up with food topic every now and then.

We are tooo Cute

Ammu Ka Gaana...Humara Beech Me Aana

Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge

It started drizzling the moment we reached the bank of Mula river. Well, the rains vanished within few minutes. While Bhaskar dada made arrangements for lunch, everyone decided to take a dip in the river.

The Dip

The Splash

The Role Play

The lunch comprised of staple Maharashtrian meal of bhakri, pitla, rice, plain dal with mango pickle. Yum.

The Lunch

Satiating The Hunger

We Care and We Share

She followed us From Samrad To Pethechiwadi- Our Lady guide

Lunch followed by walk towards Pethechiwadi. From Pethechiwadi, we were to reach Pachnai in pre-booked vehicles.

Waiting Time- Pethechiwadi
Our Angel waits With Us
Bachcha Party
Our plan was to ascent Harishchandragad (HCG) by 7:30 PM and camp on Konkankada. However, as they say, nature always has the final say. It rained heavily with thunderstorms that evening before we reached Pachnai. Hence, the plan to ascent HCG was abandoned for the day.

Stay over at Bhaskar dada’s place. After a prolonged session of antakshari, followed by dinner everyone retired to bed (sleeping bags to be precise). The wake-up call next morning was decided to be at 4:30 AM.

Antakshari Session at Bhaskar Dada's Place

The account on Final day - Harishchandragad Trek coming soon.

**Click on pictures for better resolution

Picture Credits- Kiran, Shirish and Dipanwita

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