This year the monsoon started with a bang. A day’s continuous rain had flooded many of the areas. Many of the shops on Carter road in Borivali East, had terrible time fighting with the rain water, which had entered their shops. The Ghodbander road was lush green and I knew the nature was calling again to come down and see it in its most serene and pristine form. The Vasai Adventure Club’s monsoon schedule was published long back, but I had been reluctant to call, due to my engagement with few career related activities.
In fact Harsha, my cousin, had already informed that the bus is full and there are more than 100 people. So getting a seat at the last moment was too difficult. Eventually I gathered some courage and called up Roshan, to find my chances. The answer was as expected, “The bus is full and we would let you know, if there is any change in the status”. Surprisingly got a call from Siddesh, on Tuesday that we you are in. I was not quite mentally prepared, but could not say no.
On Saturday,I was busy with my Domestic activities till afternoon and did not plan anything towards the trek. Finally at by 4 pm, after some discussion with Sheetal, I decided to go to Virar at night and join the trek from Vasai from there rather than getting up too early and struggling for transport early morning from Borivali. Well, you don’t get lot of occasions now days to get pampered and treated from your in-laws and this was my turn 🙂
I had tough time to board Virar train but was in Virar finally at 10. After the special dinner and describing my in laws about, how Vivaan is progressing and his new found activities and adventures, I was in my bed. I had put up a 5:15 alarm to be able to reach Vasai on time at 6.
I was dot on time at Vasai, to find hardly anybody. Slowly few familiar faces started appearing and I had a company to wait for the bus. After the enthusiastic chat with Yogesh, Harsha, Jaideep, Rashmi, Rashmi’s father and Neetal the bus finally came at 6:40 and by 6:45 we had left Ambadi Naka.
The plan was to take the right from Charoti towards Kasa village and then continue towards Saiwon and then base of Gambhir gadh. By 7:40 we had crossed Khaniwade Toll Plaza and were heading towards Manor.
The lush greenery on both sides of road, freshness in air and breaking the routine, to come out in open for some adventure and fun, gave a very nice feeling. This area has few more trekking spots as well. Pranesh was prompt to give us more information about them as we passed “Takmak Tok” and later “Asheri Gadh” on left and “Adsule Pinnacle” on the right. The vertical structure of the pinnacle was quite inviting for any hardcore trekker.
Now it was 8:30 and we were in Dahanu. A huge crowd, double the size of our bus was waiting for us as we reached “Charoti Phata”. Most of them were coming from Dahanu, Chinchani and Bordi and joined in their own vehicles. This was an indication of increase in the popularity of Trekking, but then this was too huge crowd to manage.
We took a left turn at Kasa Gao Bazar and reached base of “Gambhirgadh” after passing Dharampur and Saiwon. The nature was at its best here and the sight of thick forestation, paddy fields, typical village houses, farmers ploughing the fields, with traditional bullock driven plough, was quite soothing.
The circle formed for the snacks and introduction round was huge and I could find a lot many youngsters, apart from few veterans. This time we had Mayonnaise sandwich and Cake for the breakfast, instead of VAC special Pattice. The sudden showers added fun for a while, but it was short lived. A villager with his lone cottage at the base, where we all had gathered was quite helpful. We requested him to come with us as a guide and he agreed for the same.
The rocky peaks of Gambhirgadh were now visible from here and looked quite far to cover in few hours. This is generally what the feeling is with most of the treks, but then once you have reached at the top, you really can’t believe your own potential. Off course those veterans would always have correct judgement of any fort and can predict time and capacity of the group.
The way to Gabhirgadh was divided into two major steps. The initial, not so steep walk, culminating into a steep rocky patch, was leading to a plateau. This was followed by a short straight walk and again very steep climing to reach the top. Initial climb was much easy and I had decided to be in front close to the front lead. The sight of crowd of 100 people climbing the slopes looked daunting, and the suspicion rose on “How are we going to manage this size of crowd?”
Reaching this plateau was quick win and after some rest, we had also started for our major climb to the peak. The village crowd appeared out of nowhere and they had already outnumbered us. Now the feeling was of an annual fair. I even suspected the usual privacy to enjoy the nature and spend some time with the surroundings, watching the landscapes and gazing at the open skies.
This seemed to be some usual religious village ritual for the youngsters of the village to go to the mountain, worship God and eat what nature gives. The climb was getting tough now and the Sun was exhausting us with its scorching heat. The patches were getting rocky and the tall structures of Rocks were quite visible now. The formations were quite interesting and now the villagers have added lot of background sounds as well. Those rock formations are probably quite unique to Gambhirgadh and they seemed more than 100 to 200 feet tall.
The view from the top as usual was mesmerising, with few villages and lot of greenery all around. The Rocks looked real tall and the villagers made sure they reach at their top as well. The formation of the rock over a period of time was unique and created a facade. They looked to be mounted there using some huge crane.
The top of Gambhirgadh was run over by people and the usual calm and peace was a bit disturbed by the huge crowd. Most of the scenic spots were taken and the heat had already exhausted us a lot. Now it was time to refuel and as usual this turned out to be the most sumptuous meal with Chicken Biryani, Idli Chatni, Prawns Masala, Bhurji Pav, Shrikhand Puri, Puranpoli. You name the thing and it was all there.
It was 12:30 now and plan was to spent some time and leave by 1 so that we can be at the base by 3 pm. But then we were overestimating there and never knew that we won’t be able to leave before 5 from the base.
The sweet water from the spring in the rocks was really sweet and had rejuvenating effect. There were typically two varieties of butterflies that we could see and they were really abundant there. Some of the trees had flocks of butterflies and it was wonderful to watch them as they remained busy in enjoying the honey. The rocks near the spring have huge beehives and one should be careful here as there have been incidences in the past, when the bees were disturbed and attacked the trekkers.
The village youngsters were tough, fast and fearless. Few of them were merely in their slippers and no special gears to aid them. But they just seemed unstoppable on the slopes and made their way down, uninterrupted. In fact we were the obstacles for them and had huge problems as the decent looked much tougher due to slopes and required a good amount of balancing. The aim was to cross the legs and also to resist and maintain the speed, but it was too tough here.
Lot of youngsters who came first time for the trek had real tough time. The tough climb, equally challenging descend, the scorching heat, wrong clothing and gear had made the things difficult. Few did not have enough water and it made things worse.
I was at the base at 3 pm. Met Rashmi there who had taken a wise decision of not continuing in the wake of heat and difficulty level, as it could have been too tough for her Dad. We really had to spend almost 2 hours there waiting for everyone to come down. In fact the ones with their vehicles were leaving as we waited for our bus to leave.
Finally we left at 5 and were on our way to Vasai soon. A quick break for tea at Rajdhani Hotel was refreshing and a typical Irani style tea made us feel good. On the way back got few nice tips from Rashmi, Manish and Dipti from their Kokan visit, I got a bit nostalgic about our trip to Harihareshwar. There was lot to explore then, but yes one needs to be patient. I would have to wait till Vivaan grows up bit now, he is still 16 months.
Overall this was a very good experience with few learnings as well. This is what happens in treks, does not matter how many treks you have been to, each experience is unique. The nature, the weather and the group plays a vital role in this.