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Saturday, March 29, 2014

It had been a long time that I had been for a trek. My busy work schedule was keeping me away from outings. I made up my mind that this week I will go for a trek come what may. I asked Nimish and Darshan to which they readily agreed.

Where should we go, was the question, I had in my mind. As it had been a long time since we have been on an outing. When I has been on a family outing , we visited Bhandardara. Nearby to it , is the Kalsubai peak. The highest peak of Maharashtra. From the road we could see a minute orange colored structure atop it. The temple of Kalsubai.

Kalsubai peak flashed in my mind and so I informed Nimish and. Darshan about it. They too were on visiting it. How to go about it was the question that was lingering on my mind. So I gathered directions to it on google and so set out that night to explore it.

View of Bari Village
 As planned we decided to board the Mahanagari Express to Gorakhpur at Thane Railway Station. The train was going to arrive at platform no.5.  as announced. When we reached the platform there was no one there, nor were the lights lit. So we were doubtful if the train would arrive here. Let me inform you that we reached Thane Station about an hour early. Finally people started gathering on the platform. But no sign of the lights. Finally the train approached the platform as announced by the Railway authorities at 23:03 pm. The platform was not lit up and there was no indication as to where the unreserved compartments would halt. It would be sheer madness to hunt for them in a 17 boogie train in a record breaking three minute halt. We were just running to see which part of the station had the maximum crowd.

Finally we managed to board the compartment in the record breaking three minute time. Eeeeehaaaa. The unreserved compartment was packed with people. I guess the the compartment was packed with double the capacity. We managed to get a place to stand near the loo. :( some place is better than no place. Now we had to stick to this position till we reached Igatpuri station. The train was supposed to arrive at 1:30 am. We were hoping, there should no be commuters at Kalyan and Kasara. Else travelling would be a major pain.

The train reached Kalyan and then Kasara. The train was flooded with eatable vendors but no commuters , which was a good sign for us. Finally the train reached Igatpuri station at the decided time.

Another view of Bari Village
Now how do we kill time till 5 am. As the first bus to take us to the base village of Kalsubai departs from the ST bus stand which is around 20 minutes away from the station. Walking offcourse. That is the only mode of travel in the morning.

We killed time by chatting about our jobs and how we enjoyed our previous trips and plan the trips to come.  Now it was getting colder and we were beginning to feel it. Luckily we had windcheaters to save us from the cold and also rains incase.

As we were approaching the bus stop, we could hear "dhup dhup dhup" sound. Soon the sound was growing louder and louder. We were eager to find out where the sound is coming from in the dead of the night. We saw a troop of Boy Scouts marching towards us. The leader kept yelling Ek Do Ek and the troop followed him. The banging of shoes on the ground and the heavy panting of the troops was sound to our ears.

Greenery all around
Finally we reached the bus stop . We inquired at the ticket counter , we were informed that the first bus is at 5 am in the morning. The bus stop was also the halting point for some of the troops of the Boy Scouts. I guess only a few made it for the early morning run, the others were fast asleep here.

As it was approaching 5 am, the crowd started gathering at the stop and finally the sleeping troops,had no other option but to wake up.

As this was the start point of the bus. The bus arrived at the depot at 5:10 am. We boarded the bus to Pune which passes from Bhandardara. We immediately boarded the bus, only to find out that it was just us in it. The bus was painted last night as we could smell it. Now we were worried, hoping the seats were not wet with paint else our ass would be painted too.

One of the houses in Bari
Finally the bus took off. As the bus gained speed it grew chilly. Though the windows were closed but we were still feeling cold. Finally the wake of dawn. We could see the water bodies and hill ranges all around as we were travelling, the view was amazing. Sadly I couldn't take any photos as it was freezing  and my hands refused to come out of my pockets.

Finally the bus conductor alighted us at the base village of Kalsubai Fort. I don't recollect how much we paid for the tickets. But I guess it was around Rs. 45 each.

There was no one there. Just the three of us. Finally we saw a man running towards us. We were shocked to see that, he had come to receive us. Wow. He came to inquire if we would be interested in having breakfast. To which he readily agreed.

Breakfast time at Bari Village
The village was indeed beautiful. The fields were green. In fact I could see all possible shades of green there. In between the greenery I could see a cluster of village houses. They were covered with early morning due or fog, which made the sight even more beautiful.

As the time was around 6:45 am now. As we headed to his house we saw the women busy drawing water from the well. Children preparing to go to school. I was I fact happy to see the children going to school.

View from uphill
We finally reached his house. This house was very old. As per him it was built by his great grandfather. The carvings made on the wood was beautiful. He also had a shelter outside his house for cattle. He was a farmer by profession, side by side he also catered to the breakfast needs of Trekkers.

In a couple of minutes he bought us breakfast in the form of poha and tea. Both were amazing. We enjoyed every grain of it. Cost wise it was a bit expensive, but for that kind of quality and quantity, we didn't mind paying him Rs. 200 collectively.

One of the metal ladders on the way up the peak
He informed us that there is a bus to Igatpuri railway station at 3:30 pm. We decided to board this bus on our return journey.

At 7:30 am we kickstarted our trek. Crossed ankle length water from a waterfall , muddy and slippery roads to reach the trekking trail. As we kept climbing higher the view kept getting better. The hills were covered in fog so we could hardly see how tall they were.

The trail was slippery and mucky as it had rained the night before. But as there were sudden rain showers it was quite pleasant. We saw crops being grown on the  plateau as we were climbing uphill. The entire sight was beautiful.

Kalsubai Temple
We finally reached the metal ladder. We thought we had reached the top. Now we were searching for the temple when the fog around us cleared and we noticed that we still have a long way to go. We met a farmer on the way,when we inquired with him, as to how long it would take, he told us that we had covered  just 25% of the journey.  We were fooled by the fog a couple of times till we reached the top.

After crossing three metal ladders we had finally reached the temple, the Kalsubai temple. Services are held here. We had our snacks here. The weather was so cold that I was literally shivering here in the wind cheater. The fog was so thick that we could hardly see around us. For a moment we thought as if we were walking in the clouds. The same feeling I had got on my trip to Lohgad  in the winters. It took us 4 hours to reach the top.

We were hoping that the sun comes out and shines on us so that the fog disappears and it gets a bit warmer. But our prayers were not answered and the weather remained unchanged.

Flowers all around us
Finally at 12 noon we decided to head back to the base village.

The last metal ladder which we climbed was really steep. At a 80 degree angle. I was not getting the confidence to get down. So I asked one of the locals to watch over me wholi I was getting down. Once I made it to the bottom of it I got the confidence to get down from the other metal ladders.

The valley was blossoming with flowers. Blue colored flowers which made it even more beautiful.

We started to descend and gained speed on the muddy and slippery trail and in a matter of 2 1/2 hours we were at the base village. That was fast. Surprisingly none of us slipped while descending.

Three of us atop the Jeep
We immediately headed off to the bus stop hoping to get a ride to Igatpuri railway station. The time was now 3 pm. In a distance I could see a ST bus approaching the bus stop. I only hoped that, it was not the bus we needed to board. Sheer bad luck, that was the bus.

We inquired when the next bus would be, as there were many who couldn't board the bus. They told us, that it is at 4:30 pm.

We didn't want yo wait for 1 1/2 hours and so wre on the watch for an empty jeep, that could reach us to Igatpuri. But all the jeeps that passed by were packed.

Finally our prayers were answered. A jeep came by heading to Kasara at 3:45 pm. Though the jeep was packed, there was place on the carrier. Yes you heard it right. We travelled to Kasara on the carrier. The journey was fun. It was chilly and as the jeep gathered speed it gre more chilly. Though we were wearing wind cheater we were still feeling cold. 

Finally at 4:45 he dropped us to Kasara station. We immediately ran to book tickets. We not only got the tickets but all managed to board to CST bound fast train.

All that I can say is, this journey was fun :) 


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