TagPune treks

Of things that you chose to miss…

I happened to check the AP tourism site yesterday. Believe me. I literally dropped my jaws seeing the first intro page. I guess finally the government has realised the tremendous potential tourism has and decided to tap on it. AP tourism and development corp. is now having the facility of customised tours. Can you beat that? The site lists most of the places in AP and has been developed with the traveller in mind.You can plan your travel and the places that you want to visit and just drop them a request. They’d soon get back to you on that. Such a drastic change is highly commendable! We’re a bit late on this front but thankfully, there’s at least noticeable progress.

It’s a shame to the third degree that we Indians, do not have the interest to explore our own homeland before we proceed to cross the seas during our vacations.There’s so MUCH that there’s to see in India, that believe me you wouldn’t cover one eighth of it in even a two month long vacation.You could have a much more memorable vacation here than shelling out thousands of rupees on an Hawaiian beach or Mauritian visit.Agreed each place has got it’s own splendour and inviting features, But how sane is it to look for paradise thousands of miles away when you have one right in your backyard?

I would primarily attribute the influx of tourists to India to word of mouth than to the publicity campaigns by the government. We’ve a long long way to go to reach the international standards in tourism and that definitely is a mammoth challenge. It’s high time we pull our socks and get things rolling.

I was lucky to be posted in Pune for close to six months last year and am myself shocked to see the stats in front of me at the end of the stay. I’ve never stayed home a single weekend all through my stay there but still, I’ve not even covered 30 percent of the sight-seeing spots close to the city! If a small city like Pune in the western region of India has so much to offer, I leave it to you to judge what whole lot of things we’re missing out in ditching our own boat and jumping over to the ship sailing past us.

Click on the image below to have a peek into a few places that I’ve covered during the last year. [ 90pc of the pictures in the second half of the presentation are taken in places around Pune. ]

The Raireshwar trek

The Bombayz had come down to Pune a few hours before I reached home after rappelling at Kondividi. 10:30 pm at night,Tiwari and Pranesh join us for dinner at Rasoi Ghar. It’s been close to a year that I’ve had dinner with any of my Engg. mates. This time during dinner, there are no tickets to ponder on, no actions items to be worked upon, no resolutions to be done; Just plain simple talk pulling each others legs! This would probably be etched as one of those few dinner’s I’d remember for quite sometime. We reach home at about 11:30pm. I hit the ground with an aching knee reminding me of today morning’s incident while rappelling. At times, pain is pleasure!

10th Aug

My alarm hoots at 04:45 am. While Chandru gets ready in a jiffy, I literally kick sriram and get him on his toes. Sunil had come down to my place yesterday night. Hitanshu’s almost done with his morning breakfast. Suhas finally makes it to Aundh at about 05:40am. Suhas, Sriram and I hire a rick to ShivajiNagar bus stand. Half way through, I get a call from Akhilesh telling me the Bus to Bhor was to be boarded at Swargate and not at ShivajiNagar as I had mentioned in the final coordination mail yesterday. Damn! This is when it looms over me that what he said made real perfect sense. For the Rohida trek too we’d boarded the bus to Bhor at Swargate and not at Shivaji Nagar. I’d asked everyone to reach Shivajinagar by 6:00am and here I was to ask them to come over to Swargate again. As I call people and inform them of the change, I literally hear them swearing on me for my timely notice πŸ™‚ .

The bus to Bhor was at about 06:45 am. Twelve of us – Akhilesh, Ashish, Arjun,Suhas, Swati, Hitanshu, Sourabh,Sriram, Shekar, Sunil, Rohit and I board the bus while Soujanya narrowly misses it. We decide to proceed and wait at Bhor. At about 08:15 am we reach Bhor. We had to reach Korla village which is about 20kms from here, to start the trek to Raireshwar. The next bus to Korla was at about 09:00am. Suhas and I decide to talk to the local guys there and arrange for a Jeep. After some deliberations we hit on a guy who accepts to drop us and pick us from the base village for 550Rs flat. We’re more than happy and strike the deal. It would take at least another half an hour for Soujanya to reach Bhor, So we decide to have breakfast at Bhor itself. At around 09:00am Soujanya finally makes it to Bhor and at 09:15am we depart for Korla. The thirteenΒ  of us hunch into a Jeep. Ashish, Shekar, Sriram sit on the front troubling the driver right from the start while Hitanshu, Akhilesh and I hang out from the rear of the Jeep enjoying the drizzle as the vehicle speeds up the road to Korla. About five kms ahead of the Korla village we come across a thumping river crook. The sheer force with which water was making it’s way out of the canal was simply exhilrating. A few minutes here and we move ahead to the village. At about 10:00am we reach the base village and start the trek.

From the Korla village a diversion to the left takes you to Kenjalgad fort while the one to the right takes you to the famous Raireshwar temple and village. As we start walking up through the clearly paved road up to the village, we have an uninvited guest who further happens to be the 14th member in the team. Dogs are known to be pretty faithful beings and they follow you everywhere you go. But I guess it’s the other way round when it comes to hills. You’re compelled to follow them πŸ™‚ !

The path up to Raireshwar for the most part of it is already clear cut. But what’s really spectacular about this place is that, unlike any other fort/ hill village; once you start from the base and walk a few yards ahead, You’d be walking literally through paths surrounded by high rise hills everwhere around you and it all looks so spaced out that you’re really showered down by the magnanimity of Nature. The incessant drizzle at a distance makes you feel as if Nature’s trying to unveil it’s creation slowly through a striated screen. It looks so damn beautiful that you’re literally left spell bound. The innumerable falls that rise out of nowhere keep you on your nimble feet and every turn round the hill only gives way to more picturesque landscapes!

Half way up the hill, we come across a person by name Gopal who says he could arrange food for us up there in the village. He then suggests he’d get there to the village and prepare food by the time we reach there. What he said made perfect sense so we agree. A waterfall on the way keeps us busy for a while and even before we realise we’ve almost spent close to half an hour there. Finally we decide to move further and cover quite some distance. At one point we come across a diversion and decide to take the one that went upwards. A ‘No Overtaking’ board round the corner indicated that this road was slowly being developed to help ply regular vehicles up the fort. We follow the path mindlessly only to realise a while later that we’re on the wrong path.. A frail old village woman finally guides us in the right direction and we tread forward. From here on, the further we go, the better it gets! There’s this particular spot wherein you climb up a small hillock and the moment you reach this spot and look ahead you get to see a massive rock ahead of you and a series of cascades to either side of it. A splendid combination of Beauty and Magnanimity, I would say!

From this spot, to reach the Raireshwar village you need to climb a series of about 3oo steps. At the end of the climb a metal staircase has been built to facilitate easy climb for the regular villagers. But for this, the climb up would have been really difficult. Once we reach the top of the hillock and walk a few yards ahead, we get to meet a person whom Gopal had sent in search of us. This guy leads us to the village temple which is believed to be the spot where Sivaji took his oath to Swaraj.Β  Based on the land they own each villager is given authority to maintain the temple. A small but extremely well maintained one! We then move over to Gopal’s house for a sumptuous lunch. None of us realised how cold it was up there until we sat still in the house for sometime. The moment we enter his house and settle down, cold fumes come out of our body! Sriram literally sits beside the stove to keep himselves warm. At about 3:00pm we leave from Gopal’s place and start out trek down. The way downhill is done with in about an hour and a half. The Jeep driver is a bit cross with us for having turned up almost an hour late, but a few minutes with the Bombayz is all it takes to get him back to form. The next bus to Pune was right in the Bhor Bus stand. The Bombayz too are compelled to get back to Pune and from then on move over to Mumbai as they’re left with no other option.

On a personal front, I’d rate Raireshwar to be my second best trek. Most of the credit goes not to the endurance or difficulty but to bounty that Nature’s got in store for you here!

Details:

Team :13

Route: Swargate -> Bhor -> Korla village -> Raireshwar/ Kinjelgad

Distance: Bhor -> Korla village [ 20kms ] Korla -> Raireshwar [~8kms]

Altitude: ~4250ft. above MSL.

Endurance: Low | Difficulty : Low/Medium [ At the fag end ]

Time : Uphill: 3hrs. Downhill: 1.5hrs

Transport:Reach Bhor by Bus from Swargate [ 6:45 am ; 07:30am ], Bus to Korla from Bhor is at about 09:00am. Jeeps available if required.

Expenses: Rs 180

Stay: At Raireshwar village

Prominent Spots:Raireshwar temple , Kenjalgad fort.

Best time to visit: Monsoon!

The Visapur-Lohagad trek


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There are three reasons why I’d not forget this trek! The first being, I wasn’t the youngest member in the team; the second being we had a 10 year senior,quite oblivious to us, sitting silently listening to all the *facts* about organisations and policies that we were putting forward; the third would get pretty evident as the print runs through till the end of this post!

01st August:

I manage to fling the much awaited Sev2 resolution off the DS3 connection and zip across the eggs to board the 9:15 service back home. Thankfully , there’s a seat left just beside Walia in the Medipoint bus. Even before I get to settle down, my cell beeps with an unknown caller at the other end. Chetan, I re-collect had not responded to the mail that I’d fired sometime earlier in the day. He’d called just to enquire if he could still make it for tomorrow’s trek. Some cross checking and linking and we’re all set for co-ordinating tomorrow’s trek. Walia bangs his head to the seat in front of him. Damn! You never change . He’s got no questions to ask on my plans for the weekend!

02nd August:

A couple of wake up calls gets me back to real senses and at about 5:30am I rush towards Aundh Junction where Prayank and Vishal were to pitch in. Hitanshu soon joins in a few minutes and we manage to reach Shivaji nagar station by 6:05am. Rahul, Vishal and co have been waiting there right from 5:30 am ! Soon people pitch in and by around 06:15 the final count swells to 26. Lohagad-Visapur spells out to be a sequel to the Koraigad trek. The 6:30 local to Lonavala pulls into the station right on time. Rahul,Trupti,Abhijeet, Chetan and I hurl ourselves into a coupe and soon in minutes everyone gets into form. From nowhere a heated up discussion starts about job roles, company issues, policies, coding goofs and what not. Amidst all this Hitanshu just confirms with others if none of us were Job band D or above. Wonder why the ball was never thrown to Chetan. This chap remains silent all through the discussion and just keeps smiling now and then. Later we get to know the reason for that wierd behaviour of his. 10 years of Experience does take it’s toll. NOM πŸ™‚ !

We reach Malavli station at about 8:00am. You’ve got to reach Bhaje village which is about 2kms from here by walk and from there on start towards Visapur/Lohagad. Dhok who’d been here before leads us through the follow-up over-bridge above the Express highway to Bhaje village.As our order of VadaPav and Chai gets processed, probably for the first time ever in DH’s trek history we have a formal introductory sesssion πŸ™‚ . This big a size definitely called for a formal introduction! As people go about introducing themselves to the group, we get to know there’re about seven folks less experienced than me in Infy. I’m on cloud nine! Nothing really spectacular about it. But I guess small things do make a difference πŸ™‚ .

At about 9:30am we start moving towards Visapur-Lohagad. Just a few yards away from Bhaje village, you get to come across a beautiful waterfall. Though a couple of us decided to cover this in the latter half of the journey, not many of us could control our anxiety to get under the chilling falls. Dhok and Swati are blessed with minor bruises. Probably, you could call it a sacrifice that they’d pledged to nature! About half an hour here sets the right spirits and we sprint over to the main path and get back on track. The road from here is pretty much well laid out and is motorable to a certain extent. In about an hour or so we happen to reach the Visapur-Lohagad diversion. Lohagad stands to your right and Visapur to your left. A small confusion pops in as to which is the right place but soon it all precipitates down and we decide to finish Lohagad first.

Giving consistent company to the monkeys, We hit Lohagad peak in about another hour or so and while away quite some time on the fort. One particular spot ( Burj) gives you a spectacular view of the valley below. The gusty chilly wind and the mist make it all the more beautiful. At the other end of the fort , there’s one another spot wherein the thumping force of the winds on the bulwarks, literally raises water from the down flowing cascades and spews it across all over causing an illusion of rainfall happening in the reverse direction.I’ve never experienced this powerful and scenic a phenomena as this till date.We loose track of time and even before we realise it’s already 3:00pm. In twenty minutes flat we hit the base and have a quick lunch. By four we reach the Visapur – Lohagad diversion. To have consensus and re-confirm if everyone was fine with doing Visapur a poll is done. Not surprisingly, everyone’s game for it.

Patience pays when Reasoning doesn’t!

The Visapur trek starts at about 4:30pm. Rahul, Trupti, Dhok, Prayank and I happen to walk a bit ahead of the group and even before we realise, we make our first mistake – Loose track of the actual place where a diversion is to be taken to climb up the fort. Fortunately, we get to meet two people who’d already lost track before us and were on their way back looking for the actual path. You’ve got to take a left a few minutes after you take a left at the L-V diversion . The path from here to the fort up there is an awesome piece of the whole cake! Indeed thrilling to climb up the small rocks amidst water flowing through the whole path. As none of us were sure of the path up the fort, a few of us had to stay put in between while Dhok, Prayank, Parin, Rahul explored further. Abhijeet and I try in vain in exploring for a simpler route. Finally at about 5:15pm, having got not much of a positive response from the folks who’d gone a bit ahead to check for the path, Abhijeet gives the NO-GO signal and part of the team heads back to the base diversion point. I was sent to get back Dhok and a couple of others; but it so happened that I ended up reaching almost three forth of the climb so didn’t mind getting to the top altogether πŸ™‚ . At about 6:00pm Dhok, Parin, Akhilesh, Prayank and I head back downwards through the cascades to the base and meet up with the rest of the team who’d been waiting there. The moment I arrive, Abhijeet pulls me out and takes me away from the group. I was almost sure he’s going to give me a sound bashing for not having followed his advise and got back the people who’d ventured before me. Surprisingly he takes me to a small diversion just before the path we’d taken and shows me the path. One pointing made everything crystal clear – We could have taken the whole team up there and avoided the cascade climb πŸ™‚ . But damage was long done!

The sprint back to the base:

Visapur was indeed the apple pie of the Visapur-Lohagad trek. Probably this weekend trek wouldn’t have been as interesting as it was had we not covered Visapur. Vishal and I sprint all the way from the diversion to the base village Bhaje in about 15 minutes. We come across another waterfall that we had not stopped during our climb up and decide to jump in with no second thoughts. This waterfall was far more powerful than the first one and indeed pretty much comforting after the sprint. It starts raining heavily and only then do i realise that I’d left my Cell without much protection in my bag. Ah! There it goes…Plop – Contact service.

A quick bout of vada-pav’s and we board the 7:30pm local back to Pune. To be frank, neither of these two forts can be counted in as treks. I would put them in the Hiking bucket instead. But I guess it’s the smile that you get to see on people’s faces when they hit the peak after a tiresome climb up the hill that really brings in the vibes!

Hike Details

Team Count :26

Route: Shivaji Nagar –> Malavli ( One stop before lonavala) –> Bhaje village –> Visapur-Lohagad diversion –>(Right at diversion)Lohagad climb –> Lohagad Descent–> Back to Diversion –>(Left) Visapur climb–> Waterfall/ Cascade climb uphill–> Visapur Descent ( same route ) –>Back to Diversion–> Bhaje village –> Bhaje caves –> Malavli station –> Shivaji Nagar (Pune)

Distance: Malavli –> Bhaje village (2.5kms). Bhaje village –>Diversion (3kms). Lohagad Uphill (1km) Visapur Uphill (1km)

Altitude: ~3600 FT above MSL

Endurance: Medium | Difficulty : Low / Medium [ taking into account climb up the cascades]

Time :Malavli- Bhaje village: 15mins; Bhaje village to Diversion: 45mins; Diversion to Lohagad peak : 30mins. Diversion to Visapur top : 30mins.

Transport:Reach Malavli by train. No other transport required to Bhaje village.

Expenses: Rs 75.

Stay:Not Explored. Bhaje caves could be a probable place.

Prominent Spots: Bhaje caves, Lohagad kada ( A hole formed on a part of the fort / rock formations because of the wind pressure ).

Best time to visit: Monsoon!

 

The Moonlight Trek that was not!

04:30 Hrs in the morning and we’ve still got about four more hills to cross to complete the trek. The destination in the form of an Indicator tower seemed to be farther , the closer we approach it.

Damn! It was a pathetic mistake; To underestimate the trek, to decide to trek off season and more so to drag people who’ve hesitated to walk even a couple of kilometers during normal days! The Katraj – Sinhgad trek is supposed to be a cakewalk. At least, That’s the impression I’d got when I first heard about it from a few people who’d been there already. I always do some ground work before going for a trek to any place. I didn’t care to do it this time for no apparent reason! How I wish I did!

April 19th:

Adi was really particular that we have a fast lunch here at Mac’D. Ayush joins us after his regular TIME class. The temperature’s soaring and the brief respite that we have here is real enthu booster. After a light snack Ayush and I decide to move over to Orange province at Jagtha Diary where the rest of the gang stays. Adi decides to get back home and catch a good sleep. He had to! Tonight would be his first ever trek.

The moment we reach the place, I slowly bring in the trek idea for which I’d sent in a mail a few days earlier. Finally after an hours coaxing all but Sarfu take the bait . The ‘Girl factor’ did the trick ! Anmol decides to join us after his classes at 20:30 hrs. Moments before we leave for Aundh to reach the common meeting point , a small issue rises in Orange Province and most of them were compelled to stay back. Animesh, Tiwari and Kamran drop their plans. Anmol quite oblivious of what’s cooking back there is fortunately still hooked with the trek. Finally it’s just the four of us – Adi, Ayush, Anmol and I.

Ayush and I reach Breman circle at about 20:10hrs and get some Burgers and light snacks parcelled. Adi and Anmol soon catch up with us at about 20:45hrs. We had to reach the Gharware College at Deccan. This was about 6kms from Aundh and with the traffic we manage to reach at about 21:20 hrs . A whole twenty minutes late! Varun, one of the organizers directs us to the place where the rest of the team were waiting for us. Boy, you should have seen the expression of our faces when we realised we were to travel in an open truck to reach the Base start point -Old Katraj tunnel. Not that we’ve not traveled in trucks before during our engineering, but we were frankly expecting a decent Bus! Anyway , all of us – about 30 folks jump into the truck and manage to reach the base by around 22:30 hrs. The group majorly comprised of Engg. students , about seven kids, A couple and about Five girls.

Just as in any trek, At the base we were divided into a couple of groups and each group was given a trek lead. The directions were pretty simple. Take a left a bit ahead , walk along the path then walk around the Transmission tower ( Or whatever that was ) and then just keep walking further till you find a Tower with the red light blinking. Well that’s the tower at Singhad. For about half a kilometer we didn’t find sight of the red light and finally when we did, we realised what was ahead – About eight huge hills to traverse !!

The first hill was the best! The climate was pretty cool and the chilled wind blowing through the face was pretty much invigorating. But then trekking is not just about enjoying nature as if you have all the time in the world. It’s more about reaching the destination in the pre-set time.

April – 20th

We kept moving ahead and soon it was time to get down the hill! Phew that was steep! real steep! We moved hesitatingly downwards and this by itself took us about half an hour. At the base, we had Suhas to remind us that we had only seven more hills to cover! We moved, ran , rested, hiked, howled, teased around and finally reached the place where we decided to break. A soup was on the way . Taste mattered the least here! Half an hour of break after covering about three hills and most of the folks were already down. I’m sure Adi was pledging to screw me royally once we were back home! All i could read from his mind was that Hell seemed quite close atop that Hill!

We leave from that place at about 04:30 hrs and someone again reminded just five more hills to traverse to reach the destination! The hill after that was done quickly and then started the real fun. Energy levels were real down and we didn’t even have water! Down slopes were steep and the pebbles there made things more difficult. Adi couldn’t get down the slope anymore. His phobia of heights loomed in again! He literally started scraping his ass on the slopes. His weight made things worse. The pace was miserably slow. We were the last few in the group. We were mid way and there was no turning back.There was no one to blame but me! I shouldn’t have got them to the trek in the first place. In fact at times i was wondering if they’ll even make it to the destination in one piece! Boy, Adi was miserably down.

We saw the sunrise in one of the intermediate hills and kept inching towards the final hill. Adi soon had company. Hemant just couldn’t move his legs. All our massages and motivations were just not working ! At about 08:00 hrs we had a glimpse of the road. As Anmol rightly put it – the road to Salvation! Just two more hills to go and that meant two more miserably painful downhill traversal for Adi. The Sun was adding fuel to fire! Hemant fell flat at the last hill. He had no energy to move further. Varun and Ankul managed to arrange some water . Sanjay gave him a proper massage and suggested we keep moving. They stayed back for a few more minutes. The moment we reached atop the last hill, I was more than elated! They’d made it! All were in one piece but for bruises here and there.

The moment we reached the destination there were a couple of folks supplying water . Man! Water never tasted that sweet till date! We had some Poha and jumped into the truck. The way back was another pain. Hot sun looming over our heads and we had literally no energy even to talk. Reached Aundh at around 11:30 hrs. Gulped four glasses of lemon juice, about two liters of water, four oranges and two apples! Had a well deserved bath and hit the bed only to get up after a solid seven hour sleep!

What was supposed to be a Moonlight trek turned out to be a nightmare with the Sun high above us. The Katraj – Sinhgad trek is something that I’d never forget and I’m sure neither Anmol nor Adi would even venture for another trek with me!