Brahmagiri

This would have been the most interesting, comfortable and scenic trek of this season. We started this season with “Kaaldurg”, but the “Rain God” wasn’t really happy and the heat absolutely drained us. The same thing repeated during “Chinchoti”, but then there was this waterfall to cool us off. “Lohagadh” was taken into custody by thick fog, as we could get few glimpses from the top and “Vinchudada” was a total miss.

“Brahmagiri” being a 5-6 hours journey from Vasai, it was an overnight bus travel. The thirty seater vehicle was full and as usual we left Vasai at 1 pm. Again it was a mix of familiar faces as well as few new acquaintances. Trek was led by Siddhesh Vartak and Pranesh Chaudhari, with the presence of senior members like Mr. Vijay Chaudhari.

The plan was to take the route through “Manor Phata” via “Javhar” and reach “Trimbakeshwar” early in the morning. The road was quite comfortable except a small patch after we left the highway at “Manor Phata”.  After the usual greetings, verbal bashing, leg pulling and discussion on what’s in the Tiffin Boxes, everyone was at sleep. The seats were a bit clumsy and had to sleep in a bit in awkward position. But somehow got a very nice sleep.

By 5 am we were at “Trimbakeshwar”. Got lucky to get a tiny restaurant which served not only tea, but generously allowed us to use the wash basin and toilet. I was happy to take advantage of the facility and generally it becomes a luxury during these kind of treks.

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But then I had my most funny as well as awkward experience of using the toilet here. Sudden thuds of somebody outside stamping over the door disturbed my meditation. The quick actions and exit to stop those thuds were experience to remember. Got to know later that it was some other guest who had an uncontrolled call and made me jump out in the most uncomfortable situation 🙂

The crew was ready and the early start at 7 am made us feel really energized and fresh. In fact the discussion topic on the way was to finish the “Brahmagiri Trek” quite early and go on to do “Anjaneri Peak” as well. Brahmagiri peak is 1295m in height while Anjaneri is 1280m. This is the place where “Maruti”, spellbound by the Sun’s brightness and thinking he can eat him, jumped towards him.

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The Temple area was a like any typical Indian religious place, heavily crowded,with  narrow lanes, surrounded by too many shops, absence of cleanliness, huge queues, commercialization of every religious aspect starting from worshiping “Bholenath” to  “Paap Shanti”  and from “Maha Pooja” to “Shraddha”. The Hot water springs had lost their pristine nature, as it might have been at some point of time. Well thousands of people coming from all backgrounds were taking a dip into this water, can it retain its sacrosanct qualities?

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There was this slight drizzle and the morning atmosphere was quite fresh. The cool breeze was pleasant and the line of mountains behind the temple was inviting us.  The lush greenery, different shapes of those seven peaks from the Trimbakeshwar-Anjaneri mountain range and the prominent “Brahmagiri”, gave a wonderful feeling.

As we left the main residential area behind and got closer to the foot hills, the feeling was awesome. All we could see was the mesmerizing views of the beautiful mountains right in front, wearing that emerald beauty of the monsoon season.

We all gathered around a lake where few enthusiasts were diving into the cold water and enjoying the morning freshness.  The rain was a bit heavy now. A quick round of introduction, counting members, the VAC (Vasai Adventure Club) special snacks and a quick overview of the fort and we were ready for our way towards “Brahmagiri”.

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The first attraction was another pristine lake right at the base of the “Brahmagiri”. After a quick photography session and we were on our way to the top.

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The Sun God was happy with us and we really enjoyed catching the landscapes, mountain peaks from the base as we moved on. Pranesh, Neetal and Kewal were quite enthusiastic to catch few of these moments.  First time I did not carry my H50 and resorted to my Sansung Galaxy S3. But that was a great feeling of not having to carry one more camera bag and saved a lot of time, that is otherwise spent in securing it due to rain. Galaxy S3 was quite quick as it was as good as, take it out from the pocket, click a pic and move on, sliding it back into the packet. With H50 it would be a much lengthier process.

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There was another photography session at one of the olden structures much like an old temple, with three front doors, giving lot of scope for photographers and models to pose and capture few moments.

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Soon we were at the stairs and the curved stairs, up the hills, going right up to the top were visible from distance. People climbing the stairs looked like tiny creatures. The path really looked exciting from this point, but we really did not know, the challenges of those rock cut stairs, until we get there.

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The tall natural walls of the mountain gave a feeling of a tough fort, quite invincible from climbing perspective, if one attempts to climb it from that straight vertical and rocky surface.

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One of the concerns we had was having a slippery surface, as most of this part was quite rocky and it had rained few minutes back. Few monkeys were visible at this stage and looked curiously as any other monkeys that we meet as a routine part of treks. But soon we realized that this is going to be our most challenging part. The monkeys would stand still in your path right in front of you, get really close to you and even sit on your back. They were there to scare us, to snatch food and anything they can, if not food.

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Keval was a bit ahead of me and I could see a monkey jumping over his sack, sitting there, trying to open his sack, putting hand into his pocket and then moving away. Keval really did a good job, by not shouting or getting jittery. Monkeys can really get nasty here and the scary looks were making me worried now. I took protection of a local woman passing by. Since she knew how to tackle these beasts, I decided to safely follow her.

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Now we were at the tea stall, where all of us assembled again and waited for those, who were left behind. Our senior member Mr. Parshuram Patil gave us a huge shock, when he said the monkey actually bite him. Oh my God, there were those scars of monkey bites on his hand. People were now really wary of these monkeys and we decided to stay together when we climb down.

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We were in our last phase of the climb and the stairs ended here. This last patch was quite easy. A lake in this patch seemed to be created artificially as the shape looked more of an exact circle, drawn with a giant compass. The cows had lush greenery to graze in this patch and they enjoyed their solitude here.

The spread of this mountain is parallel to the “Tribakeshwar City” in the foreground and it is surrounded by numerous lakes from all the sides. Now we were standing at a railing right in the middle of “Brahmagiri” plateau.

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The view from any angle was amazing and it’s not really easy for even a panorama shot to capture all that beauty.  The lake in the front from where we started our climb looked tiny, but quite scenic from this spot, while there was much bigger lake just behind the mountain, which was now visible. The “Shiv Jata” temple was also visible in the same direction a little lower to this spot.  The temple of “Godavari Mukh” was right on the opposite side of this temple at the same level. The view of the mountains in the front was awesome, and the valley with paddy fields and tiny cute houses gave a feeling of peace and tranquility.

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As we enjoyed the surrounding valleys and mountains dotted by lakes, the showers cooled the atmosphere. I was jealous of people who stayed there in those valleys. Although the life must be tough here, they really have something that I always miss. When I come out of my home in Borivali, what I get exposed to, is honking, pollution, dirty roads and the never ending haste of people, trying to make so called life. My lungs keep craving for pure oxygen and my mind for more peace and they have it here, in abundance.

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Kapesh, Keval, Neetal, Abhijit, Kashmeera had few nice spots for their modelling and photography and most of the others had their cameras at work at this spot.

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The stretch of this mountain on the extreme left was ending in a pointed structure quite narrow and perfect for some background photography.  A family of around six-seven bare-feet villagers probably from a nearby village arrived in their typical traditional robes. The muscular and strong bodies were result of their hard work and not regular gym. Both men and women wore a natural smile on their face. A few photos with them made them feel really nice and we felt equally privileged to stand by their side.

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After some group photography and enjoying the serenity of the valley, lakes and lush green mountains, it was time to explore the temples. A quick descend on the opposite side to the “Trimbakeshwar” town and we were at the “Gadavari Mukh” temple. The “Mukh” is constituent of three springs combining to form a “Mukh”. “The Purohit” who did few religious rituals explained the important of the place while giving a brief account of the story depicted by few of the statues involving Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and the Rishi Goutama and his wife and the “Go Hatya”.

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The name Godavari is derived from Goda + Vari = Godavari; Goda means the one that has given life to the Cow and Vari means water; Godavari means the one that has given life (Praana) to the Cow (Go) from the divine water that was released by Lord Shiva. Sage Goutama performed vigorous penance to get rid of his G0-Hatya dosha and then lord shiva who is holding divine ganga on his head released a portion of it. Henace the place where Godavari originates is called as “Gomukha”

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The monkeys were now omnipresent and I got really lucky as one of them actually opened zip of my bag and pulled my rain cheater out. A timely attention saved my rain cheater.  The stretch from this Temple to the “Shiv Jata Temple” has numerous beautiful spots and the vertical curvatures of the cliffs look amazing. There is a longer stretch of lakes at some distance from the “Godavari Mukh” and it was quiet faintly visible from here.

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After a short break at “Shiv Jata” temple, we were again climbing up the place, where we started. The climb was quite steep and tough as well. The row of climbers from distant looked like a proper mountaineering expedition. The solo cliff on the left was calling us. Few purple and white flowers took our attention and got really busy capturing their beauty in our cameras. The whole group had already finished their photography activity at the cliff leaving the point exclusively for us.

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The group was wild with huger and “Chicken Rassa”, Rice and Roti’s were inviting. The “Shrikhand” boxes were kept aside for desert and we were all out for the delicious, mouthwatering “Chiken Rassa” sponsored by Sachin and his wife. In fact it was a non-vegetarian feast with around three-four different non vegetarian dishes to savor in a beautiful natural setup of “Brahmagiri”. The cool breeze was far more pleasing than our “AC”s at home and the real life valleys and flowers can never be replaced by a any man made setup of any fancy restaurant, leave around their catchy pictures and beautifully painted walls. Well this was the heaven.

 

Even though the general perception is that the decent would be easy and enjoyable. It’s always the other way round, may be because of the psychological effect of leaving the place and again going back home. But also more on the practical end, balancing your weight on the feet on a slightly steeper slopes takes more effort than the climbing effort. The group was alert at this time to stick together and kept away from monkeys. The monkeys also seemed quite well fed since morning till now and did not bother us much.

 

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