Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sinhgad – A trek on the weekend.

I hear the rain outside. It must be around 5 – 5:30ish in the morning. I start drifting off to sweeeet sleep when my mobile ring wakes me up. It is Kshitija calling. As decided the previous day, we were gonna depend on this foolproof method of waking each other up. That way we wouldn’t fall prey to the Snooze key and end up getting late or not going at all!!… I look at the mobile and it is nearly 6am. I wake up rather sleepy eyed thinking about how would I have loved to laze around in my bed for some 4- 5 hours more. That thought really holds on for a while and I start cursing myself for saying ‘Yes’ to Sinhgad trek this week. But just after a cup of hot tea I think I am ready to go. After a quick shower, I get down to the parking. Me mate, Hemant comes down and just as we sit in my car, it starts raining heavily. We proceed to pick up Rahul who is sheltering himself from the rain under a shop. After that we stop by a bar/café in front the majestic gate of good ol’ Bharti Vidyapeeth where I did my Electrical Engineering some 5 years back.
The girls come and we decide to go in one car. We reach the base of Sinhgad in about 35 mins.

We start our uphill climb. I notice that the weather is perfect - drizzle and gentle breeze. We walk through a dense canopy of trees – lush green. The view is refreshing. We click a half a dozen snaps on our mobile handsets. Just then we realize that we had taken a wrong turn! We head back and see the familiar stony path leading up the way to historic fort.

As we climb to a higher point, we stop for a breather and look around. What a view! The mountains are all green. At a distance, we can see the Khadakwasla Lake. It is still drizzling. The fort is hardly visible with the clouds covering it. We resume and suddenly, Rahul and Kshitija notice a short but steep climb. They decide to go that way. Others, including me proceed by the normal way. After about 10 mins, we get to a point where we think, Rahul and Kshitija would emerge. We wait for 5 mins but no sign of them. We continue our climb. The only sounds we hear are of rain, waterfalls and the wind. On Sunday, this would have been impossible with hoards of people going up. Glad, we are trekking today.

On the next turn, I look up and see Rahul waving at us from the top. They had reached their some 10 mins earlier. There is makeshift shop selling snacks. We stop by under it. Kshitija meanwhile is busy in taking pictures on her mobile for the ‘Pattern’ theme photography contest. I am again amazed at the view…. it seems that view gets better the higher we get. I had never enjoyed Sinhgad trek so much!

There are rocky climbs all along the way now and though I would say the difficulty level is low on any other day, today it was a medium coz of the rain factor, which had made it more slippery.
As we near the top, I am thirsty, but others advise me against drinking water until we reach the top. We begin the last phase of the climb. Sinhgad is visible from here. This last part is steepest and there is another way to go past it…but we decide to take this one just for the fun of it. The path is so narrow and slippery that even if one of them slips, he/she would cascade the effect downstream. Not that we would end up in a gorge or something, but nevertheless, we would be hurt badly. Arite so we proceed to the top. Rahul then Hemant and then me followed by Kirti, Kshitija and Neha…As we climb through the narrow path surrounded with vegetation, I realize, it is time to close the umbrella and climb with two hands otherwise it would near impossible to get through it.

We stop once on the way to negotiate a slippery climb and that’s it, we reach the top! It is foggy up there but the view is so beautiful. It is almost mystical. There is another group at the top…about the same age as us. They are clicking pictures of a snail. Others get busy clicking it too. The snail is famous now. Some others are enjoying “Butta” which is baked corn.
We see a fort map by the side. It shows all the major points on the forts. As we enter the fort through the old and dilapidated remains of Kalyan gate, it gets even foggier. The visibility reduces to almost 5 feet. It is awesome.
There is sudden rush of people heading down. Some are regular trekkers and some are like us.

We get to first point and decide to go over the edge. It starts raining and gets windier…We get to the edge and see only clouds! The rain gets heavier and we disappear inside a small shack cum eating point. We are freezing cold now and decide for a cuppa hot tea and what else but hot Bhajis! Coming to Sinhgad and not eating Bhajis is a sin! It is so windy that we are worried that the roof of the shack might get blown off! But it doesn’t. As the steaming hot tea arrives with a plate of Bhajis, everyone digs in! Ummmm…delicious! You hafta come here to taste em! …We give our lunch orders Zunka Bhakar (Jowar Bread) and Pithala (thick paste of gram flour).

As the food is getting ready, we explore the fort and come to one point where we couldn’t help stopping. It is not specific point. But today, there was something about this particular place that we all decide to stop and enjoy. The wind is so strong that we can literally lean against the wind and not fall!!All of us become kids and jump around trying to click that one perfect snap where all of us would be in air. We managed to capture one after a dozen attempts but one of them is still on the ground.
As we proceed further, a small path would lead us to wind point. This path is foggy but beautiful all along the way. We come to the wind Point. There, apart from the wind, the view to be enjoyed is that of the deep valley. But today, we can see only clouds!
We come back to the shack cum restaurant and have a delicious Zunka Bhakar meal.
It is almost 1:30pm and we decide to head down. We take a decision to go down via jeep The downhill ride by the jeep is dangerous due to bad roads and our driver made it even more dangerous. All the way, he drove like he was playing a video game. As we reached the base, we had to walk back almost 3 kms to reach our car!!

Finally, all in the car and we reach Pune by 315pm. Never before had I thought that Sinhgad would be so beautiful. I had always imagined it being a sweaty climb sans fun. But today was just perfect thanks to the weather!

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