On the New Year’s Day, I reached home at about 2245 . After reaching home I got busy with cleaning and unpacking my backpack. Before g...

On the New Year’s Day, I reached home at about 2245. After reaching home I got busy with cleaning and unpacking my backpack. Before going to bed I checked my phone. Prasad informed that we could go to Raireshwar next day. I slept like a baby that night. In less than 24 hours, I was to go for another exciting trek.

During the day, I shopped for food and packed again. Sagar came to pick me at 2000. At about 2045 we took a tea break near Khed Shivapur Toll Naka while waiting for Prasad.
At Bhor, we took another break and then zoomed off to Raireshwar. The road was still the same!
Once at the Raireshwar Plateau, we decided not to disturb the civilization and pitched the tents midway near a waterhole. 

It was exact 0030 when we pitched the tent and started cooking maggi as midnight meal.  Hot soupy maggi! Yummy!! I had not even entered the sleeping bag and Prasad was already snoring. His snores made me feel safe in the wilderness.

At 600 Sagar was already up and was trying to wake up Prasad and me. After a lot of efforts, I managed my way out of tent at about 645. We quickly wound up the camp and headed to Mama’s place. Mami again cooked Pohe and tea for us, and at 830 we were out in pursuit of Nakhind.

This time two doggies started following us. And later i.e. while drafting this blog I realized that one of them was our companion last time.  

Sagar was leading; Prasad had put on GPS tracking for us. All I had to do was to enjoy the beauty of Sahyadri and click photos.

We walked on and on… This time it wasn’t much difficult. There were no fog, no clouds and the Karvi was drying fast. It made our route much simpler than last time.
Like previous time, this time as well, we were carrying enough food and water for three of us. We were well equipped I would say.

Koleshwar Plateau on opposite side of valley looked gorgeous.  Now, we moved ahead and some trails were available. Kenjalgad and Kamalgad were very easily visible.
It was 1130, when Sagar showed us a mile stone, It read Nakhind 7 kms. It felt like an achievement then. We decided to take a quick break. And suddenly, Sagar pointed behind me. I was extremely happy to see my second home – Rajgad. Then Torna, then Prasad pointed towards Raigad, the Varandha ghat section, Mohangad, Mangalgad… OMG. That place was just awesome. We rushed towards another end of plateau to have a better look. Kudali village could be seen. Prasad has great hold of Geography.

At 1230 we were near a waterhole, so decided to take a quick pitstop to refill our bottles and eat Thalipith.
The day went on so did we. At about 1300, we reached near an end of the plateau and Nakhind was visible. But the trail was missing.  There was a dried waterfall which was surrounded by a forest. We decided to climb up the waterfall and we entered the forest. This was a thick forest and this time it was not karvy. At places we had to crawl below trees. The trees had inch long thorns. I suggested Prasad to climb up a tree and check where we needed to head. He tried that twice. The first tree wasn’t much tall but second tree that we found later was much taller. He said we needed to head towards left towards a hillock and he also estimated that we would take about 30 minutes. And in exact 30 minutes we were on that hillock. There was a light trail heading towards Nakhind’s GPS position.
We followed this trail and which led us to another side of the cliff we had encountered before entering the forest. We had lost a lot of energy and time fighting that forest. Hence, we decided to have lunch and return from this point as time was already 1515. Starting the return hike in about half hour would have awarded us enough daylight time to get back to the right trail and yet it would have been dark to reach Mama’s place.
Lunch consisted of boiled eggs, bread, butter, jam etc. We rested for few minutes and started the return hike. In between Prasad kept tracking our GPS location. It was close to 1700 when we reached near the waterhole where we had our break earlier that day. We did not have to encounter the forest on our way back, so it was much comfortable walk.

Near the sunset, we came across a man who was tending his cattle. Now the trail was available and it wasn’t much difficult but we had to develop our “nightvision”.

At 1900, we were close to civilization yet decided to take a break. Sagar informed mama that we were on our way back. We fed biscuits to the dogs and had oranges for ourselves. Hats off to both the dogs! They both had walked entire distance with us plus more when they ran around chasing preys.

It was around 1945 when we reached mama’s house. Mama was insisting that we should have dinner, but riding post dinner would have meant a sleepy ride so we asked of Limewater which was very refreshing.
After having dinner at a hotel on NH4, we returned to Pune at 0030.

On 29 May 2015, I returned from Great Himalayan NationalPark and had no plans for the weekend. So, I was half sleepy when Sagar message...

On 29 May 2015, I returned from Great Himalayan NationalPark and had no plans for the weekend. So, I was half sleepy when Sagar messaged asking how my Himalayan trek had been. The discussion went on and I asked him what he was upto that weekend. He said he was planning to go to Kokandiva overnight.
Kokandiva had been a failed plan for long, I asked him if I could tag along. He said, “Are you sure? It is not even 24 hours that you have returned.” I was absolutely sure about visiting Sahyadri right away.

I had to unpack and repack. Got some food and we were on our way at 5 PM. After a brief tea break near Panshet, we rode towards Ghol. Just before Ghol, a small dusty path leads us to Garjaiwadi. The condition of that road was so bad that we parked the bike midway and walked towards Garjaiwadi. It was dark, the dogs started barking when we entered the village. Sagar went to a house and handed over our riding gear.
After almost an hour, we were on a plateau. We rested here for some time and tried to spot the villages in the valley. Now the final climb! It was steep, real steep. It took another hour for us to reach the top. After reaching the cave, we made some maggi with eggs and cheese at 0000 and slept off.

When I woke up, Sagar was already up and was basking in rising sunlight. I seriously wanted to sleep for more time. Luckily, he was ok with it.

The Fort doesn’t have many ruins as such. Just some water cisterns and a cave where we had camped in night. So, after I got up, I made some coffee and went to the hill top. Seeing Raigad from a height was treat to the eyes, especially since one could identify the mountain top from with details on it like Jagadishwar Temple. Beautiful site of Lingana was cherry on the cake.

At about 10, we returned to the cave and I thought of making some egg burji only to realize that in the chaos of packing and unpacking I had forgotten to get oil or butter. So, I mixed some garlic chutney and cheese and made bhurji sans oil. Meantime, Sagar played some Marathi song on the mobile.

After brunch, it was coffee time and a Marathi song “Yajanmavar, ya jaganyawar shatada prem karave”… (Literally translates to: One could love this birth, this life hundreds of times) I could give my entire life for such moments!

We wound the camp and started descending at 1130. The jungle was now visible. The shrubs were bearing Karawande (wild berries), we ate and ate, filled all our pockets.

On the way, we came across the temple which we had missed in the night. The path from here is a plain jungle trail to Garjaiwadi. We picked up our riding gear and headed back to Pune. 

Photo & Content Copyright : theGypsyPrincess.Com (2015)

It was 3 PM of 31 December 2015 and it seemed like I will be welcoming the New Year in most traditional (boring) way.  I was trying to...

It was 3 PM of 31 December 2015 and it seemed like I will be welcoming the New Year in most traditional (boring) way.  I was trying to convince (in vain) my mom to go somewhere… She didn’t want climb even the smallest hill nearby, nor she wanted to camp in a tent!

At about 1615, I saw some conversation between Prasad & Sagar which mentioned camping at Visapur and trek to Umberkhind or Ulhas Valley on New Year’s day. Like most of the times, this was a last minute plan. I asked my mom for permission to go. (Not that I am stopped anytime, but it is always better to follow the process.)

So at 1630, I informed Prasad that I would be joining his band. He told me to report at Pune Railway Station by 1845 and we would take 1905 local to Lonavala. Activa had a flat tyre so I knew I had to depend on public transport. That meant I had less than an hour to prepare and leave.

As such, packing my backpack for a trek is part of my skill set now yet it is a time consuming process. Process of elimination of necessities is the tricky part. Prasad had mentioned that we would be 5 heads trekking next day that meant carrying additional food. (Going by my previous experience, any amount of food carried is less on the trek. The more the merrier)

Finally with all the preparations done, mom dropped me off at the nearest junction from where I got a shared auto to Swarget. Looking at the watch, I knew I would miss the local train if I would stick to the plan of going to Pune Railway Station, hence I called Prasad and informed him that I would be boarding the train next suburban station Shivaji Nagar and he advised that if I missed this train then I could catch next train as well and reach Lonavala.

With all the game, I managed to reach Shivaji Nagar Railway Station in time and boarded the train. Looking at my backpack people were staring at me as if an alien has boarded the train.
Prasad and his gang from Pune were in the same coach yet it took few stations for me to locate them. Finally train reached Lonavala and we headed towards a hotel for dinner. At about 2030, the guys from Mumbai informed that they were still at Andheri as the bus hadn’t arrived. Prasad suggested them to stay back and arrive next morning.

Meantime, Sagar was mentioning about going to Raireshwar again next day. I had a feeling of being torn in 2 plans. It was like I wanted to step on both the stones simultaneously. Prasad as well was enthusiastic about Raireshwar. So he convinced Sagar to postpone the Raireshwar plan for some other day.

We had dinner and started going back to the station when Mehul called Prasad to inform that they had boarded the bus. Sujan and Prasad went looking for Maggi for midnight snacks and I and Shalini purchased the tickets to Malavali, the base village to Visapur.

We boarded the train at 2205 at Lonavala, got down at Malavali and started walking towards Bhaje village. Mehul again called and informed that the bus had reached Panvel. At this point, we decided to stay put near Bhaje Caves till these guys arrived and then to trek ahead later in night. The plan to watch crackers as part of New Year celebrations had doomed already. While, three of us, Sujan, Shalini and I stay put at the Caves, Prasad tried to look for the trail going further to Visapur in vain. 

The midnight came and we could see a lot of crackers from the caves. At about 130, Mehul, Akash and Sonam came. After a brief introduction round, we decided to sleep where were.
Prasad and band sat chatting for a while and I chose to snore.

Next morning, we headed back to Malavali Station. I checked the train time, we had to wait for good one hour before next train and Sujan and Shalini had a train in about half an hour so, instead of wasting our time We had breakfast and completed morning chores at station.

After reaching Lonavala, we purchased some chikki and buttermilk and took auto to Kamat Hotel. Some 5 years ago, I had been to Ulhas valley with my guru Ajit Ranade and few other friends. I missed them terribly.

It was 1115 when we started our descent from Shooting Point at Khandala. The descent is gradual and involves one or two tricky rock patches. At a patch, we used the 5 mm chord to emotionally aid the new bees. Prasad and I were laughing at us but it was important in order to encourage them.

Somewhere on the descent, Jill (read me) came tumbling down, bruised both hands and developed a small bump on crown. Team came to check if I was ok. I felt ok too. Rest of the descent was otherwise uneventful. After 2 hours we reached the base of the valley and before we would start traverse, we settled down and had lunch.

After that small accident, Prasad had already taken my heavy bag and I was carrying his lighter bag. This bag became lighter now.

We started the traverse and the most exciting part of this trek began. We had to cross the stream at times. We had started late that meant we had lost a major time of day light hence marching in speed was crucial yet safety couldn’t be compromised.

At several locations I noticed stones which looked like deliberately positioned. I would accept that as trail mark. So we were on right path. After some time we had to negotiate a small easy rock patch and commit to the stream again. After this point, I decided to position cairns for ourselves too. It also helped me rest before these guys would catch up.

It was 1530 when we reached base of monkey hill. The horns of Railways passing kept us the company all day. Apart from the rubbish thrown down the valley; that was only sign of civilization nearby.

We took few breaks in between for buttermilk and chikki.
Prasad said one stream comes from Kataldhar and joins Ulhas Valley. Post which there is village Mundhewadi, then Kondana from where we may get some vehicle towards Karjat. It was near this stream we got into the jungles drifted from main stream of Ulhas River as it had become deep and speedy. We crossed that stream and now Rajmachi was visible on our Right Side. Now the forests looked pristine. The water was not clean anywhere and was contaminated with sewage right from the beginning of trail.

This point forth, the trail was not clear and there were several misleading cattle trails around. Establishing trail marks like cairns made more sense here. Mehul kept checking our GPS location on his phone.

At a point, we saw few buffaloes in river, which was a sign of civilization nearby.  Time was 1600. Prasad said we would need another 2 hours to reach Kondane. Sonam looked tired. Hats off to this girl for not giving up anytime.  A well trodden trail led us from here.

Sometime passed and we came across few cattle like animals on the trail we were on. The debate is still on if they were bison! Prasad was leading the One of these charged against him. We retreated immediately, and took another trail which we had ignored earlier.

It was about 1830 when we saw some lights and as expected it gave us more energy to walk further. So finally we reached had reached Mundhewadi and now it was regular route to Kondane.
At Kondane, we got a dugdug to Karjat.  Once back in the civilization, we all broke loose and had ice cream.  I took a train back to Pune.

A New Year’s day was well spent in the lap of Sahyadri which also added more plans for the year.

Photo & Content Copyright : theGypsyPrincess.Com (2015)

Gypsy Activa on the Tracks After Morgiri, I felt the need to visit Ghanagad and Tailbail. I needed timeout from my stress too. I wante...

Gypsy Activa on the Tracks
After Morgiri, I felt the need to visit Ghanagad and Tailbail. I needed timeout from my stress too. I wanted to spend some time alone as well. Travelling & Trekking solo is always a liberating experience. You tend to become more cautious and careful. Being single also adds a sense of responsibility towards yourself.  

During preparation for a solo ride, Firstly, I created a note which had numbers of people who could assist if anything goes wrong whilst on hike, along with numbers of a bike mechanic, a truck driver and a local family who stays near Ghanagad. I also made another copy of this note and stuck it under Activa seat in a plastic bag.

As usual on the night before the trek, I photographed the pages from our Trekking Bibles.
(Dongaryatra & Dongaryatret pahilelya Durgavastu, both books by Shri. Anand Palande Sir.) 

My survival kit contains of Stun gun along with other things like chords, Swiss knife etc. This stun gun looks like a lip stick and is capable of putting even a sloth bear under a state of shock for some (good) 30 minutes.

Per Google Maps, the distance from my home to Ekole, the base of Ghanagad was 84 kms, another 10 to Tailbail and return would have been 103, Thus totaling roughly 200 kms. Considering Activa’s day to day average, 5 ltrs would have been enough. Activa Fuel Tank was filled to capacity (6ltrs) and I also carried another 3 ltrs in a canister.  I listed the villages sequentially and made 2 copies of it. I handed over one copy to mom along with the emergency contact grid.

Additionally, I also carried a puncture repair kit and a small hand pump just in case. The basic tool kit provided by Honda is always part of my riding kit. (Out of love for bikes, I had done a certificate course of bike maintenance few years ago.) The riding gear consisted of jacket, helmet and gloves.
Like a routine trek, I packed ample of food, some 4 ltrs of water and 1 ltr of canned juices and buttermilk.

I rode off on my Honda Activa on early morning of 5 December 2015. And before I started I informed mom that if I don’t call her by 7 PM, she may trigger the rescue process.

Timed Selfie at Independence Point
Be it any vehicle, the early morning rides are always pleasant. Since it was Saturday, I wasn’t expecting many people on the trails. From Nive, I took the road heading to Pimpry Village and made my first pit stop at Independence point. This place offers splendid view of Kundalika Valley and Pinnacles Kundalika and Navaji.

From here I made my way straight to Ekole without any further stops. Time was already 1015 when I reached base of Ghanagad. It was clear indication that I had not only started late but also that I had rode slowly. The road post Nive is almost nonexistent, so delay was obvious.

At Ghanagad Base
Knowing that Ghanagad isn’t a long trail I was not much alarmed. I left the riding gear in Activa bootspace and started the hike. In no time, I reached Garjai Temple. Took a small photo break and continued. It took me about 25 mins to reach the caves. Here, I sat for minutes and drank some water and hiked further on the ladder. Ghanagad is the only fort where I have come across a well built toilet. Thanks to Shivaji Trail.

I was eager to go to the top as I wanted to see Tailbail from the closest distance. After a brief photo session, I came back to the caves. Sat and consumed a sandwich and some juice.

Water Cistern at Ghanagad

 It was about 1300 when I started walking down and hike was real short! I geared up again for the ride and zoomed off to Tailbail. Google maps had been pretty accurate with distances as the distance from my home to Ekole to Bhambarde had worked out 89 kms as suggested.

The road to Tailbail is much better and in no time I was at Tailbail. I parked Activa in shadow of a big tree and asked an elderly man for directions. He was very precise and also asked if I was there to join another group which was already climbing there.

A closer view of Dyke
Tailbail is a dyke formed few hundred thousand years ago due to volcanic eruptions. It has been climbers’ paradise since evolution of rock climbing for humans. The trail is well trodden and one would hardly lose their way to the pass between the two dykes. There is a newly constructed small temple. When I reached there, a group as mentioned by Mama from village was climbing. They had a plan to stay there and climb even on next day. I watched them for few moments and started to climb down.

I returned to my bike in about 45 minutes and started the return journey home. It was almost 1800 when I reached Mulashi. I called mom and informed her that I should be home by 1930.

And it was exactly 1930 when I reached home.

TailBail as seen from Ghanagad
Photo & Content Copyright : theGypsyPrincess.Com (2015)

I had no plan for the fixed plan weekend. I didn’t want to go to Sinhgad either. So was looking for someone with exciting plan to tag alon...

I had no plan for the fixed plan weekend. I didn’t want to go to Sinhgad either. So was looking for someone with exciting plan to tag along. As such, during the discussion with Sagar, plan for Raireshwar came up. 

The Noisy Bullet
It was August 2012 when I had been to Raireshwar last. It had been a torturing picnic then. We had walked for 9 kms one way as the roads were bad and the plateau was not much explored due to weather condition then.

After a brief yes no game, at about 630 in evening, Sagar confirmed that we would be exploring the plateau of Raireshwar and will try to find the Nakhind End. He also had GPS track of the exploration someone had done earlier. He was occupied hence he suggested that I pack food etc.

So at 4, he came to pick me up and we left immediately after disturbing entire neighborhood with thumbing of Bullet which has no silencer!
Sagar on the trail to Raireshwar
At about 630 we were at Korle. I had also packed some tea with anticipation that we would not find it on the way. We had tea before hitting the ghat of Kenjalgad.

The top is now very much accessible because of (somewhat) recently constructed steps and the iron staircases. Korle end of plateau doesn’t offer much except for a well trodden path to the settlement of the plateau. This side of plateau has been secured with railings all over as well.

This being monsoon a lot of seasonal flowers had bloomed. The temporary lake was filled to the edges. While enjoying the monsoon, in no time we were at Shankar Jangam’s (Mama) House.
His wife is one warm lady who welcomed us directly near the Chulha. It was real joy to sit there enjoying warmth of the chulha and eating Pohe and having black tea afterwards.

After the Pohe and tea, I wanted to bundle up and stay there. However, the curiosity to reach to the other end of the Plateau which is one of the largest in India won’t let my spirit rest. Hence, at about 830 we set on our route…

The unfaithful Doggie 
Sagar had seen the GPS Track so I decided to follow him blindly. Before we crossed the settlement, one doggie started following us… I tried a lot to shoo it off but Dogs!!!

Sagar was like a mammoth walking with no distraction, I was finding it difficult to match my speed with him. Fog, clouds and his camouflaged clothing were additional hindrances.  

Three of us, Sagar, the doggie and myself continued on and on without any idea where we were heading. All I knew was we had been walking for quite some time without any break. So, we decided to sit down for few minutes before getting into dense karvy.
The path was not well trodden yet I wasn’t worried much as Sagar was checking our position with respect to the GPS track he had.

Now we crossed the Karvy and we were very close to the cliff! Only because the clouds had moved for a brief time we realized our proximity to the valley which offered straight fall of few hundred meters.

We continued for long time along the valley and then finally near the stream before we could get in to another Karvy establishment we decided to have lunch. Lunch consisted of Boiled eggs, bread, ketchup and cupcakes. We offered bread and boiled eggs to the doggie as well.
Post lunch, this smart doggie crossed the steam and started walking back to the civilization. My first thought was, “What an unfaithful dog”.

Post lunch, all recharged, we entered the Karvy. Karvy establishments are very dense and the leaves are very rough and denty thus obviously rough for the human skin.
After struggling for around an hour we were at another end of Karvy jungle.  It was about 1300 now. And per my calculations we had walked real far away from civilization. So we checked the map and our position with respect to GPS Track again.

 We found a light trail entering Karvy in front of us again. We decided to take chance and follow it. Meantime, we decided that if we don’t find right trail by 1400 then we would turn back. At about 1345, we were out of Karvy. Astonished we looked at each other and burst out laughing as we had reached the same place where we had lunch some time back.

Now, the fog was also dense and it was getting difficult to determine. Sitting there, we took a stock of how much food we had. It was sufficient enough for both of us to sustain that night and next day. My survival kit contained a tadpoline sheet, which could have served as a temporary shelter and also we had some fuel which may have helped to start a fire. It being monsoon, plentiful water was available.

The food stock
Suddenly, I realized I had 2 phones which may have some network. Thankfully, the data network of lower bandwidth was available. Immediately on a WhatsApp group of fellow trekkers I could relay a message with our GPS location accurate upto 100 mtrs . Thankfully, Dhruva was available with a better network at his end and he told us to follow a certain direction. However, I had doubts about the direction he was suggesting since per my calculations it was opposite direction.  When I mentioned this on WhatsApp, we realized the true north of my phone needed to be collaborated.

The Shivling
However, it was not possible in data network of lower bandwidth. However, by God’s grace, the fog cleared for few moments and I could communicate to the group that a water enclosure in the valley was at 10 o’clock for my position and probably the mountain beyond it was Kenjalgad. With these referential points, Dhruva established that we were around 10 kms away from the Raireshwar Temple.

The Stones decorated with Vermilion

Now, we were very much on the right path. On a side of the path we saw few stones decorated with vermilion. Soon we met a man who was tending his cattle on the plateau.  A few steps ahead Sagar came across a beautiful Shivling carved on a stone,  then another small establishment of houses… And then the main establishment of plateau. It was about 1745 when we reached Mama's place. 
The Dinner
So finally we were back in the civilization with a thrill of being lost!

The experienced Mama immediately guessed that we had been to Nakhind. He was a bit upset with us for doing such an adventure in the monsoon. We were tired and hungry, hence had early dinner of Pithale Bhakri and Kanda Bhaji.

On our way back we were laughing about the lesson learnt due to our foolishness! Yet were determined to accomplish our goal next time we visit.

Mama Mami at Raireshwar Settlement

Photo Courtesy: Sagar Mehta

Copyright: theGypsyPrincess.Com (2015)

Tung as seen from Morgiri top It had been almost a week that I was sitting back home and not doing anything. I would have been darned t...

Tung as seen from Morgiri top
It had been almost a week that I was sitting back home and not doing anything. I would have been darned to sit home even on the weekend.

When chatting with an old trek  bud, we came up with a plan to a nearby mountain which offered some good amount of adventure. It was about 930 in night when the plan finalized. I packed my daypack and tried to sleep but damn Facebook...

As decided, Sagar called me at sharp 415 in morning, I was already up. With little morning chores, I was ready to leave. In few minutes, I heard the thumping bullet and I walked out of my home. With a quick tea break near highway, we rode off towards Paud. With the fog and cold it was evident that winters are knocking in. It was early morning there was very little traffic on the roads. We came across a few enthusiasts cyclists and bikers roaring in different directions.

Ahead of Paud, we took a turn towards village Javan. The road was narrow and dusty at places which passed through farms on both the sides. At Javan, the road diverges one goes to Tikona Peth and other one leads us to Tung. The road from here was intermittently good. Around 20 kms ahead, there is small a road which turns left and goes towards the base of the hill.

Morgiri as seen from Morve Village
It was almost 8 AM when we reached the base village Morve. We spoke to the guys at the office, parked the bike, handed over the riding gear and started the trek. One could see the flag outside the cave and on top of the mountain. The forest near the cave looked very dense. We asked the guy for the directions as well. I had earlier came with another trek-bud about a year back, however we hadn't been able to find the way. Today I was determined and well equipped with information from fellow
trekkers. Also, this time we had entire day to explore.

The guy at the office had mentioned that they were trying to build the way but it was a major fail. The remnants of road were telling the same story. We hiked further only to see the road vanishing into forest. We marched ahead on the vanishing road. The path actually was through waterfall ( Nalichi wat in Marathi). Then again some signs of attempts of road construction. It was about 845 AM when we were about to enter the forest. Since we hadn't taken any pitstop apart from the quick tea break we decided to have breakfast and proceed further. The breakfast consisted of yummy egg sandwiches.

Here on wards, we moved into dense forest of Karvi and few other indigenous trees. We could see some path which ended too quickly, so we just marched into the forest.

Suddenly, something pricked my left elbow. I didn't know what it was but since we were walking into real thick forest. My first thoughts were if it was a Bamboo Pit Viper or something venomous. I was wearing full sleeved Tee which was not torn and nor it was stained with blood. But it was a throbbing pain. So we stopped. I pulled

my sleeve and checked. The spot was hot but no bite marks or anything. Sagar said there was a Lime Tree; thorn of which must have pricked me. After a quick stop we moved ahead. Now it was Sagar's turn to scream. A thorn had pricked badly into his thumb and broken in flesh. I tried pulling it with tweezers but I was scared that I might hurt him more in the process. I gave him a safety pin and he managed to take out the broken thorn and covered the wound with a band-aid. After a brief rest, we again got on our way. Now we were out of the forest and on a traverse path leading towards the Cave of Jakhmata.
Jakhmata cave
Jakhmata Cave is small cave with a carved water cistern. There are few more cisterns nearby. One can reach mountain top by climbing a small yet very risky exposed rockpatch of less than 2 meters. Sagar climbed like an expert and I was awfully scared to take on that patch. Like a good leader, Sagar assisted me in climbing. There are a few steps carved out on the rock. The Mountain top is a small plateau with a one more water cistern and offers a 360 degree view of nearby area.

Ameya's team on the Rock Patch
One can spot Koraigad, Tung & Tikona easily. On a clear day, many more must be visible. We spent some time on the top admiring the Mother nature's beauty and started climbing down. The middle plateau is very large and can accomodate couple of cricket stadiums. Another team, of our friend Ameya was climbing up hence we waited till all of them managed their way to summit.
The area near Jakhmata Cave is a small balcony, therefore, sagar and I decided to cross the jungle and have lunch on the plateu below the cave. The route from the cave to the plateau is a well trodden path through the jungle.

Once on plateau, we opened our tiffin and had lunch. Post lunch, it was a easy trek downwards. Before 2 PM, we were near the bike and my first thought was, "Oh Shit! I am going to be home before 4." Sagar had something else on his mind.

While getting ready for ride again, he suggested we take another way and look for some ancient trade route. I was obviously excited. So from Morve village, we rode to Ambavane near Korigad. It was pretty exciting to see the same fort from a distance and almost same altitude and from the base on the same day. We had quick tea break here and then we headed off to Mazgaon on Lonavala Nive Road.

Mazgaon is warm little village. We parked and inquired about the route. The elderly of the village tried to demotivate us and said," You guys are late. It would be dark by the time we reach the cliff and it would be impossible to climb down." But they also mentioned that, few hundred meters away there are two houses and the route goes beyond that plateau. We said ok and left.

When we spotted the houses, we decided to explore the possibility. It was about 3 PM and we had time till 545 PM (Sunset). So roughly 3 hours at disposal. We took our chances. Parked the bike at one of the houses and handed over bigger backpack and just carried some water and food and survival kit in smaller bag.

Sagar and Anaghai fort in background

The plateau was covered with dried grass. Well in time, we reached the cliff, and with no local guide available, we could spot Anaghai fort from top but not the route we were looking for. Sun's position indicated that we should head back immediately. We took that advice and rode off towards Nive. The road is terrible. It was reminding me of Ladakh! Absolute offroading it was...

Hats off to Sagar for his energy and will power. His thumb was injured yet he was balancing the bike without letting me fall. After Tailbail fata, we took a quick halt for photos and post dinner at Mulashi, we returned home.    

Distance covered: 186 kms

Route: Pune - Pirangut - Paud - Javan - Morve - Ghusalkhamb - Peth Shahpur - Mazgaon - Salther - Bhambarde- Nive - Tamhini - Mulashi - Paud - Pirangut - Pune        

The Ride
Photo Courtesy: Sagar Mehta

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