This is seriously a over due post. We planned it on 15th and !
6th November 2008 and I am able to write this post today. So here we go…
As usual the g-mail thread reached a thread count of 72 and guess what? The person who last confirmed his availability was me. As I had been to this place earlier with not so good experience of CHAKAVA, I was bit reluctant and to add to the spice there was a Vasota trek planned by Trekdi which is in my ‘to do’ list for a long long time. But after confirming with my regular Trekdi friends, I came to know that I am all alone and hence decided against it as there is always a next time.
So it’s Harishchandragad via Tolarkhind for me (or rather us...)
Harishchandragad, one of the most ancient forts in
Western Ghats and it is called as “trekkerschi pandhari” in Marathi. The major attraction of Harishchandragad is Konkan Kada; a breathtakingly beautiful place and a nice culmination of trek and the shear drop of almost 1200 Ft is the most frightening sight. Its beyond description, one should actually see it to experience the nature's architecture. The two peaks at the top viz. Taramati and Rohidas are also worth visiting. To add to that there are number of ancient caves and a Lord Shiva temple. It is necessarily a 2 day trek and it’s almost impossible to cover the whole fort in a single day
Anyways after searching on the MSRTC site, we came to know that there is a 3 am bus which leaves for Malegaon from Shivajinagar and will reach Alephata at 5 and the next bus to Khireshwar (which is apparently the base village of H’gad via Tolar Khind) is at 6:30AM which will drop us at Khubi phata and then we will have to walk the rest 4km from Khubi phata to Khireshwar. This was finalized and everyone was given their meeting points. Me,Pankaj,Vamsi,Shrikant,Bhushan,Abhijeet and Rohit was supposed to meet at Rohit’s place and rest (read Nikunj, Amrapali, Dipti) was supposed to meet us on the Shivajinagar ST stand. Amrapali was going to come down all the way from Mumbai whereas Dipti was going to come directly from her office which allows her to go home at
12am. Nikunj was coming from Aundh. Everyone came in time and we started by 3 AM bus. We reached Alephata at 4:45AM without any hiccups. After getting down, had a ‘good morning’ tea at a roadside tapari. After enquiring the Tapari owner regarding the 6:30 AM bus we were glad to know that this bus has been cancelled since long time and the next bus is at 7 or 7:30. So we cancelled the plan to travel by bus instead asked the tapari owner whether we will get any Jeep at this time. He said yes and asked one of jeep driver to drop us at Khireshwar. The driver quoted us with 750 grand and then we argued and settled down on 600/-. By the way his name was Dildaar :) :).
We started our journey by the jeep and after an hour ride reached Alephata. We missed the junction at the first and went ahead to realize the mistake but within no time we were on the right track and reached Khireshwar at around
(P.S. Ancient temple caves present at the base village Khireshwar are also worth seeing.)
We were surprised to see a hotel with a toilet attached to it. We stopped at a stall there and had tea and pohe. After all the duties done, soon, we started our trek through the forest and we already had our first sign, a red arrow, which was assuring. The forest was dense and so it kept us away from the sun’s heat, which was getting hotter as time passed.
The beauty of Harishchandragad is that this trek offers different types of terrain that you can expect in one single trek. The first part is the most tiring & this patch called as the jungle patch where you have dense vegetation & a small track which you need to follow. This track is littered with stones of all sizes & is really a challenge to your feet. The humidity of this stretch was amazing with the jungle all around. You are caught in a “Catch 22” situation here. Do you keep your jacket on or not? If you take off your jacket the frequent rains or the cold will make you to put in on in no time & if you put your jacket on, the humidity will start bearing down upon you & you start sweating profusely under your jacket. This is patch of about 1 hour after which we reach a point called as Tolar Khind.
From Tolar Khind, there is a another path from the opposite direction. This other path is from the other village. After tolar khind there is a stretch, the famous rock patch of Harishchandragad which many trekkers find difficult to scale but actually it is not that challenging but it’s a bit tricky and you can not afford to lose your concentration just once as that may fix your appointment with the Almighty.
Beyond this stretch starts the most frustrating part of the trek where you need to cross 7 hills in a row to reach the temple at the top. I call this stretch frustrating because you climb up a hill & go down on it’s side to again climb up another hill….this goes on for 7 hills in a row. The good point is there are some red arrows to guide you on this way so that one can not lose its path
We reached our destination after 5 hours of strenuous climb. We saw several people trying to make it to the top on the way so we were walking a bit fast than usual in order to BOOK a cave. Luckily for us, there was just one cave (read
) which was unoccupied & it was just the perfect fit for us 10 guys. Ganesh Cave
To be continued….