I love Americans! Why don’t they have a lot many more National Holidays?
The last week had been been pretty stuffed up with tickets and deadlines. And damn! Murphy’s always right – they pop up right at the moment you need to leave. Thanks to the American Independence day, this friday was a paid holiday. A much needed break!
Done with some mundane work, I sift through BBC to catch up with some news.Sometime at around 4:00pm the much awaited mail from Rahul arrives – The latest count was 23! This trek was going to be a bit different. The positive response was probably because of the emphasis that was laid on the simplicity of the trek and the late start timing that was decided – But for a few nuts, who would like to wake up early on a saturday morning? 😉
My Desktop back home’s been giving some trouble. Even at around 3:00am I’m still left clueless as to what the issue could have been due to. I finally give-up at around 3:30am and hit the bed. At 6:30am I drag myself out of the bed, the regular set of Saturday wake up calls and I rush to get ready. We’d to reach SivajiNagar station by 7:30am, the latest. Most of us reach happen to reach on time. The count at the station grew up to 25 after a final set of additions and deletions.At about 08:00 am all of us hunched into the local.
We finally manage to reach Lonavala at about 09:30 am.A quick breakfast in a shop quite close to the station and all of us seemed to be set for the trek. This time we had showers right from the start. A group of 25, called for arranging a tempo/mazda. While Rahul, Abhijeeth, Vaibhav and a couple of others were busy deliberating with the drivers, the rest of us whiled away time on the road. Finally they came to an agreement of 1.5 grand up and down. The only downside(?) being a few of us would be travelling in a mini goods truck 🙂 . Nikunj, Vaibhav, Suhas, Bhavna, Amrita, Monica, Amrapali, Apeksha,Nisha and Manasa took the elite class ride 😉 in a Sumo . The rest of us hurled ourselves into the truck. Being the last to get into the truck, Abhijeeth and I had the royal privilege to stand on the support stand at the rear of the truck ! Small deeds that make the trip worth remembering 🙂 .
To the Basepoint
Ideally, had you been in a small group you’d prefer to take a Bus to the Shivapura village which is about 25kms from Lonavala town and start the trek from there. But then again you’d have to check for the bus timings and probably start a bit early from the town. The road connecting Lonavala town and Shivapura village and further down the Sahara city has been maintained exceptionally well. As you gradually gain ascent up the winding roads, you’d be literally driving through the clouds. A shower with varying intensity always gives you company almost all the way through. Enroute you get to see quite a few cascades. If you’re coming down with you’re family, Bunshi Dam and Tiger point would probably be spots which you’d like to visit en-route.
The walk uphill and the uninvited Guest
The Koraigad peak looks highly challenging when seen from the base. But believe me, even my four year old niece would easily tarot up the peak! A path to the left from the base point takes you up to a small tableland and from there you just need to follow the path. If you’re fortunate enough, you could get to walk through streams that flow from the peak. About 20 minutes into the walk you’d be seeing steps up to the fort and from then on it’s just about running uphill. Even before you realise the distance you’ve covered, you’d be 3,000 Ft above MSL. There’s pretty much scope of avoiding the well formed path and climbing up a few rocky patches – That ways you get to gain ground pretty quick and would as well add some fun and spice to the trip. Be forewarned! We did happen to spot a snake en-route . I’m not really sure who spotted it, but we definitely enjoyed the company for a while 🙂 .
Once you reach the peak you realise how deceiving the fort looks from the base. I was expecting to see a small strip of land and nothing more than that. But there was a lot more in store – A vastly spread out table land with a couple of decenly big fresh water ponds and thankfully, they were not even remotely spoilt! A pond looms right as you hit to the peak. A quick walk across the bastions and you’d soon be invited another small pond. With no second thoughts, Abhijeet and I jumped into it in full attire – shorts, t-shirts and shoes 🙂 . We were already wet and probably that would also clean up the clothes a bit 😉 . Soon most of the group joined us from the other side and we did spend quite some time in there. Had real fun plummeting each other into the water. Swimming in that ice cold water with it raining heavily is one of those moments which i’d take back as a sweet memoir. Most of us were out of the pool in about half an hour. This is when It struck to me to remind Abhijeet to get Bhavna singing the ‘Ek thithli’ song. Way back in the truck, Rahul had mentioned she knew the song pretty well and it was up to us to get her singing. I winked at Abhijeet as he came out of water and soon He, Rahul and co. got her to sing. Was real fun listening to it and surprisingly she seemed to remember each and every word of it! Boy, Doordarshan days!!
Tiger point? Huh
We soon started our way down the hill and reached the base point in about twenty minutes. A round of tea at the base and we moved over to Tiger point. This is nothing more than another scenic spot blissfully spoilt by the public. Makes me wonder what’s the point in even visiting the spot to enjoy the scenery aheadnwhen you’re dirtying the ground on which you stand? We moved out of this place in a few minutes and left for Bunshi dam. The crowd was real thick here, so most of us instantly dropped the idea of visiting it. Abhijeet, Vishal, Hari and Vishnu decided to give it a shot and moved ahead. They did have a good time there though. The rest of us hit to a stall and satiated the long deprived rats in our stomachs with Kandha bhajji, Misal pav and Vada pav.
Moments after the remaining four folks arrived and changed, we decided to leave the place and get back to lonavala to catch the 5:30 train. We’d sent back the Sumo, So all 25 of us got into the truck. In about fifteen minutes we’d reached the town. Since we had to catch a train, most of the group left for the station as soon as we got down. Abhijeeth, Rahul, Vaibhav, Omkar and I held back to settle the bill. The driver started demanding 100 bucks extra for no reason at all and soon we picked up a quarell with him. Fortunately we had Vaibhav, Abhijeet and Omkar to help us with the Marathi. At one point of time , thinking that we’d take the bait, the owner said he didn’t want the remainig 700 bucks too. Omkar grabbed the oppurtunity and walked away with the money 🙂 . All of us shamelessly followed. This is when the driver followed us and requested to give back the 700 bucks. In no mood to quarrel further, we gave him the appropriate amount and got to the station.
And Someone just said, Get me those tickets!
In the station there was another episode yet to happen! In the morning, I’dasked amit to purchase tickets to Lonavala. I’d totally forgot about the return. But for eight of us the rest had tickets now. There was only about a minute left for the departure when Abhijeet and I decided to give it one final shot. Rahul handed us over the cash and both of us started a quick sprint to the other platform. Sprint is too small a word! I’ve never ran that fast till date 🙂 . In fact I could literally feel my calf muscles rebounding and the ligaments strenuously pulling up to meet with the pace. Probably this is what is called running on thin air! We managed to buy the tickets and get back to the platform only to see the train moving away from our sight. Was a close call! Probably had we not missed time initially, we would have made it. Nevertheless, we did get comfortable seats in the 6:25 local and reached home pretty comfortably!
A sweet simple trek to enjoys nature’s bounty. Indeed a beautiful place to be!
Team : 25 – Rahul,Amrita,Vaibhav,Omkar, Amit,Ashish,Abhijeeth,Hari,Vishnu,Bhavna,Manasa,Nisha,Vishal,Nikunj, Zoher, Sid,Amrapali,Suhas, Apeksha, Khan, Monica,Deepak, and I
Route: Pune > Lonavala > Shivapur village >> Koraigad
Distance: Approx 30kms from lonavala town
Time : Uphill: 30mins| Downhill: 15minutes.
Transport: Preferably hire a cab
Expenses: Rs 150 – Rs 200
Best time to visit: Monsoon!
Endurance: low | Difficulty : low