Last weekend, I had the pleasure of revisiting the Sahyadri or Western Ghats after a few years of being away. This opportunity came knocking, thanks to Wanderlust Express. Prathmesh and group are a bunch of outdoorsy, adventure-loving Mumbaikars who believe in taking the path less travelled and sure do a good job of it. In fact, you must know, they organized this trek for over a 100 engineering college students, most of which were on their first trek ever, to Kothaligad, Karjat. A hundred something teenagers, is not an easy feat!
If you haven’t heard of or been to Kothaligad, let me just say this – 4,490 Ft. Fort/Watchtower and Stone Ruins! That had me sold. So we set off on Saturday morning by bus to Karjat. A long ride and short nap later, we reached our destination. Here, we divided everyone into groups of 10-15 and started walking through Peth village. Soon we began ascending a rocky narrow trail almost all the way along a stream trickling down due to the mild rains. It was a cloudy day with few short showers that were perfect for the amount of walking required on this trek.
In case you’re wondering why people trek in monsoons, this is it! Cloudy skies, rain, cool breeze and every sight turns bright green. Even the far off mountains please with sights of milk-white waterfalls winding through the green cover. Mountains provide a sort of comfort when you begin to understand their magic and respect them. For first-timers, it seems like a tiresome task to get to the top, but when you begin to enjoy every moment of the climb, the mountain lends a hand.
A lot of the climbers were tired, hungry and wanted to give up at the thought of having to walk all this way back down. Then, we reached the cave and chimney-like tunnel that doesn’t fail to fascinate. It definitely sets this trek apart from others. Neatly carved stone stairs lead to a simple, beautiful entrance to the fort ruins with more stairs winding their way up to the peak. Even while you climb, a glance downwards can thrill, frighten and make you smile at nature and ancient man’s effort. Team Wanderlust was stationed at every turn where the climb was steep, slippery or just plain scary. Once you get to the top, you have a sense of achievement. An accomplishment of sorts that needed no prep, just your endurance and presence of mind.
That’s the thing about trekking, it requires your physical and mental attention and in turn takes your stress away and relaxes you from mundane, everyday worries. And if you thought the climb was the most tiring part, you need to remember that getting down in the monsoon can be even trickier and exciting. Because it doesn’t require too much physical energy, just skill and tact. The walk back to the village after that is simply a cool-down with thoughts of how this experience has made an impact on you. And when you finally decide you’re a mountain person, it rewards you with fireflies!
Hundreds of fireflies covering trees like Christmas lights, lining paddy fields, dancing in front of you against the fading dusk. When you turn around to bid goodbye to the mountain who so graciously hosted you, the black shadow of it reveals even more fireflies that glow as bright as a million stars on a clear night!
When was the last time you’ve been on a trek?
Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions as a comment below.