Sleepless. Exhausted. Hungry – These adjectives could aptly describe me as I finished my first big trek, to Maharashtra’s highest peak; standing tall and ‘rocking it’ (pun intended) at 5400 feet above sea level.
The plan was in the making for a long time, but despite yes’ and no’s from people, I decided to go for it on 24th June 2017 (Fun fact: It was also my birthday according to the Indian calendar). First solo trek, and it was going to be a big one. The truth is I didn’t realise this fact until I was two levels away from reaching the actual peak and had developed a sprain in my right ankle. Only Kalsubai devi knows how I’ve completed the whole trek. दर्शन देण्या पूर्वी खूब परीक्षा घेतली कळसुबाई देवी ने!
I registered for it through the group “Gad Vede Trekkers” (roughly translated to ‘Crazy for Mountains’), a trekking agency based in Pune. A group of mountaineering enthusiasts, they have been organising treks in Maharashtra for quite some time.Before I begin with my journey, a little bit Kalsubai Peak –
- It is the highest peak in Maharashtra and stands tall at 5400 feet above sea level.
- These is a small temple devoted to Kalsubai on the summit of the mountain.
- Legend says that Kalsubai was a house maid residing in a nearby Indorey village. She is believed to have disappeared near the mountain while trying to escape her employer’s relentless torment. This lends the mountain its current name as well as a reason for this temple to be built in her fond memory.
- Easiest way to reach is through Bari village, which is on the eastern of the mountain.
- Best time to visit – Monsoons.
Reached the assembly point at 9 p.m, and waited for 1:30 hours for the bus to fill up (during which I fiddled with my camera).
After a few checks, we started from Dadar at 10:30 p.m. with ‘Ganpati bappa moraya!’. Having been up since 5 a.m., I was planning to sleep throughout the journey, but all through the night people played antakshari, while singing wrong lyrics (which bugged me A LOT, but who cares.) So I decided to join in, since I wasn’t going to get any sleep.
At 5 a.m. on 25th June 2017 we reached the base village Bari, which is on the eastern side of Kalsubai Peak. The peak is easily visible from there.
We freshened up, had tasty poha for breakfast, and at 7:30 a.m. started our trek towards the first level.
Wading through rock, mud, sludge and trees, we made our way up on the mountain, stopping to catch our breaths and capture the magnificent vista around. With muddy shoes and hands, drenched in the rain, and after climbing a total of four-death ladders (They were iron ladders which looked dangerously fragile, and I just climbed up on them, taking the lord’s name); four plateaus (levels) and a few chilly streams, at 2 p.m. we reached the top. And was there a sight to see! We rarely get amazed anymore, and it was a refreshing feeling to experience. The whole area was surrounded by clouds, we couldn’t see anything. But the magic was yet to happen. As the minutes passed, the clouds parted and lo and behold, we could see miles around us! The lush green valley, with small farms, houses and streams. I could describe the whole place but still not capture the beauty with words. In the distance, there was a row of mountains, carefully nestled in the clouds, peeking at us with their hazel tops.
I took my camera, to capture some memories, but I felt a bit unsatisfied as I couldn’t see what I saw in front of me in the photos I took (Partly because I couldn’t get the settings right most of the time). Then I realised that the splendour of the area is something which cannot be captured that easily. It is hard to describe the feeling of seeing the clouds pass, revealing a whole green carpet over mountains, small streams, green fields, then covering it all up again. I hadn’t imagined I would be a spectator to such a sight. But God had been grateful.
After visiting the temple and praying to the goddess for a safe descend, we started our journey back to the village. By this time, the sun had come out, and everything was starting to dry up. The muddy path was a bit easy to walk on, so we reached the base in under 2 hours. At 5, we had a delicious lunch of aloo-gobi rassa, dal, puri and chawal. At 6:30, we were back on our way to Mumbai. Reaching Dadar at 10:30 p.m., we made good time, said our goodbyes, and headed back to our respective abodes. This whole experience was something which promised to stay with me forever, and igniting a fire to explore, which will not die down soon.
So my advice to nature-enthusiasts, and people who like to see beautiful places, please just go here. Yes, there are many people who crib about the presence of so many ‘humans’ at such places, but all I think needs to be said to them is you live in one of the most populated countries in the world, so take the hint. If you’re going alone, enrol in a group because it helps with covering the difficult parts of the trek as they guide you on how to manoeuvre slippery mud slopes without falling on your ass. I was fortunate enough to go with Gad Vede Trekkers, because they really are crazy about mountains and it’s not a mere trip for them. They’ve come 4-5 times to the same peak and still show the same amazement when they reach the top. The whole experience was especially rewarding because of them.
What more did I learn?
- I really need to practice my camera skills, while also learning how to take care of it. (It almost got drenched)
- Exercise is a must if you want to go on such treks, your walk from office to the chauraha does not count.
- De-clutter: Had I not taken a lot of stuff with me, maybe this trek would have been less painful.
What you need:
- A wind cheater of good quality, don’t buy it from the roadside (as I did), it won’t be able to endure the constant rain, and you’ll end up wet and cold.
- A water bottle, 1 ltr is enough in the monsoon as you won’t be parched. A few sips in between are enough.
- A camera, you’ll regret it if you don’t take it, trust me. Also, be ready to lift the added weight. Bring protective rain cover for the camera, kind of obvious but still remember.
- A good pair of trekking shoes. The whole path is filled with hard, brittle rocks, also slippery with mud. Need I convince you more?
- Something to eat. The trek is approximately 3 hours, but since a lot of people go on them it gets crowded and you have to wait quite sometimes. This eventually stretched the estimated time for completion by 1-1.5 hours, so take some dry fruits, cakes, nutritional bars to keep up your strength. You can also buy maggi, onion pakodas, and lemonade along the way.
- Bringing an umbrella is useless, unless you use it to help you while walking.
So I advise you, if you want to experience the beauty of nature, just go. You won’t regret it.
For checking out more awesome treks by Gad Vede Trekkers, check out their Facebook Page.
Some information cited from Wikipedia.