This was a good thing to do because the terrain we had landed ourselves in the dawn’s darkness was very beautiful.Cut,eroded and magnificent.It felt serene in the silent morning.We were closely surrounded by mountains and Siddhagad was standing right in front of us,Standing tall like a well-built,intimidating warrior.Dwarfing us all to tiny ants.
We had biscuits and chikki and rajgira vadi for breakfast and reached Siddhawadi in no time(in the tempo).Here we were to leave our transport and start climbing Siddhagad via an easier trail.
Siddhawadi (wadi is the local name for the small settlements that dot the landscape of the sahyadri mountians) was like any other wadi i have come across in my treks so far.Except that when you are in Konkan region,the houses have sloping roofs,unlike the houses in Desh(side of sahyardi mountains opposite to konkan).Plus,i did not encounter any cows and bullocks,Only hens,chicks,a cocky cock and the lame goats.
- No dearth of chics here. 😀
Siddhagad is a good climb.Its quite steep from beginning to end.The trails goes frequently via thickets and over rocks and steps cut into the rocks .Halfway up,one reaches a plateau and then you climb up to the top.In summer,it would have been very tiring.
But this was december.We had started climbing around 9.30am and reached the plateau after around 2 hours.Walking on the plateau,we came to a beautiful temple,where we got our much sought after rest and a lot many mosquito bites :P.
We passed a few locals here and collected the bearings for the path ahead from them.There was supposed to be a cave after which we had to turn right and that path was going to lead us to the top.Those directions weren’t wrong and sure and soon enough,we had settled ourselves on the steps of the cave.This was also a water bottle refilling point as water was to be found near the cave.
Refreshed,we began the climb of the last patch.we got lost a bit because the trail was somewhat unbeaten(this trek not being so common on the trekkers’ itinerary) and we had to go ahead at times and check if this was indeed the route we should have been following.We finally saw the fortification wall and that was a sure indication that we were on the right track.Before that,we spent quite a lot of time honing our rock climbing skills by trying out a few boulders on the way.That was fun.
i loved this last patch.Once i was done going ahead and finding the right trail for the people behind,i chose a different route for myself.i started climbing directly up a slope full of overgrown grass.
The grass had deceptively hidden the steepness of the slope and the scree on it and i realised this only after i was already some way up and could not go back down to join the others in their “trivial :P” trail.I had got stuck at a point where i was finding it too difficult to not lose my balance while moving.I was scared that if i move,the scree below my feet would give away and i would slip down the slope.At such points,you really don’t have many options.You can stop thinking and just press up and ahead and try with all your might not to fall or slip off while doing this.or…no,what i just mentioned is the only option at such times and falling off is just not acceptable.
So that’s what i did.I stopped thinking and cursing myself at every breath,somehow climbed the entire slope and reached the top of the fort.
It was scalding hot and except a few trees and an arched structure(from the remnants of the fort),there was nothing to offer us a cool shadow.
There’s just a plateau at the top of Siddhagad.Theres no structure to be found there.
One by one,everyone reached.We were all tired and hungry.The packed lunches were out and finished within minutes.it must have been around 3 or 3 pm.We had to be back in Narewadi before it gets dark.Thats where our tempo driver was going to meet us and that’s where we were going to camp in for the night.
So we started climbing down around 4pm..Climbing down was easy and we were all walking leaisurely.But after the plateaue that was halfway down the mountain,we did some mistake in choosing the route.
We were to take a “naal”(a narrow rocky gulley that goes vertically down a mountain but is possible to walk or scramble into) leading to the village.But we missed the naal at first.We lost a considerable amount of time getting back to the point where the naal starts and even after that,we took a wrong turn and soo,were lost!!(to my happiness 🙂 )
We were still not sure if we were really lost but it was already 5 pm and it was better that we confirm our route before the sunset..Despite our best efforts,we failed to do so and continued walking the wrong track for around 2 more hours!But whatever the route,we had finally come to nearly the base of the mountain and could see the tar road and the headlights of the vehicles in distance.That was some assurance.May be we wont reach the right village.But we would surely reach “some” village.
By 7pm we had reached a wadi which was not Narewadi.The owner of the house that we landed onto was very helpful and generous.We rested our legs in the courtyard while he went with Suresh sir on his friend’s bike to Narewadi,which was only 5 km away.
Suresh sir brought back the tempo and we loaded ourselves in it ,eager to reach Narewadi and sleep off in the village temple.Rest of the night was uneventful,mostly sleepy. 🙂
Day 2:5th December:We were to climb another fort called Gorakshagad on this day.For some reason(which as i said,i am not going to delve into),my heart was not in the trek in this day.I was distracted and wanted to reach pune as early as possible but since it was impossible to do so,
i just started trying looking forward to the day’s climb.
As it turned out,it didn’t prove very difficult to forget about one’s tensions ad worries and jsut enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
Gorakshagad was an easy climb.We had to climb up a ridge till halfway up.This trail on the ridge was easy terrain if somewhat steep.It didn’t take long to come to a point where the gorakhshagad pinnacle starts and one has to start climbing up on the extremely steep and narrowly cut steps on the rock.On one particular step,there’s a “shilalekh” i.e.an epigraph in “modi” script.The text says that it was carved in around 1854.
On the way to the ridge and from that point onwards,one gets to see Macchindranath pinnacle(which looks very tempting) on one side.The steps remind you of Kulang though Kulang comes higher on the rung in terms of dicfficulty.But the analogy is quite valid.
The only difference is that the unlike Kulang,the climb at Gorakshagad is very short and the exposure is not much.So you are not that scared when you see downwards from the step you are trading on.Theres a cave(like the one at Alang) 3/4th way up the pinnacle and from here,some even more steep step lead you to a temple.But this temple is still not the top.Theres a simple rock patch which one needs to climb and then some steps again and there you are ,on the top.
With a beautiful and vast vista around you.A small temple for the company.A small plateau to sit upon and treat the eyes from.It feels good to be on the top of Gorakshagad.One marvels(not for the first time)at the skill and the courage of the labourers who cut those steps in the mountains so that people can reach the top.I thank them as i meditate(in my own way,without closing eyes) in the mountains.
Murbad terrain is royal.Its shrply cut and stands tall and heavily all around you.It is what is makes it worth coming for such treks.
Our journey back to the civilization was via Malshej ghat.Malshej filled us with such great views of the mountains.Towards right,we first saw “Nanacha Angtha”,then “Jeevdhan and Vanarlingi” then Bhairavgad then Harishchandragad to the left and then one more whose name i dont remember.
Enjoyed the trek throughly!