A cross-country trek from Samradh – Ratangad – Katrabai forest – Kaladgad – Harishchandragad

 8th – 10th Jan 2010 

This started as a dream for our trek guru Kishore (Reuben I hope you don’t mind) that actually came true after a lot of logistical nightmare?

The group was selected basis availability and early responders and it was as below;

Kishore: The Un-crowned King of The Sahyadri’s

Sushma: Jijabai

Manoj: The crown Prince

Amit: Munimji

Gaurang: The court jester alias Shipurdya

Badya: The court Tansen

Sunil: The wise Minister

Manoj Appu: Expat from Uganda with British accent

Abhijit: The Court Observer

Sachin: The Pirate

Sumita: Anarkali

Parth: Sambhaji

and Self: Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro

It was with deep sadness that we came to know that the two leading lights of our treks were not going to accompany us. Reuben – the expelled King and Patcy – the Iron lady. Reuben we have been given to understand has switched his loyalty towards PYT’s (Pretty Young Things) or he has developed a liking for not so Pretty Young Boys – Pranil. In any case he had chickened out of Dukes Nose rappelling camp and for this trek he suddenly rushes to Delhi…. Is he getting on in AGE? Or has he developed cold feet? Patcy very predictably backed out wondering who will carry her baggage physical and emotional, right Patcy?

Day -1
The trek started as usual at 10 pm from Vikhroli wherein all the serial offenders managed to delay it by 45 mins and finally left the last stop Kalyan at midnight for a long and eventful trek to the Sahyadri.

On our way our Sumi kept everyone on their toes by vomiting her way into the record books (Limca) while Sambhaji and I snored away to glory. She was attributed a lot of names viz: Waqari Younus, Vocari.com, etc

The Amit got into action by collecting funds, which he does with amazing consistency, and Kishya is quite impressed by his performance and is seriously considering promoting him within the ranks.

We reached our destination Samradh at around 4 am and tumbled our way thru the small hamlet to find our elusive Guide Dutta a la Dev Anand and finally managed to find our tent and quickly settled for a well-deserved nap.

We got up in the morning to the structured snore (read ROAR) and the nagging powers of Kishya at 6.30 am. The day started with hot sweet water, which we later realized was tea and bread butter, post which we packed our bags and were on our way to conquer the first fort- “Ratangad” at 8 am after the customary speech by Kishya on what to expect in the next 3 days. The journey began as usual in all earnest and very soon we had our first near casualty our Shipurdya who was feeling acidic owing to the abnormal breakfast he had bread butter which was the legacy of our expelled King, Reuben. A Digene was quickly administered and he was back on his feet.

We traversed thru the lovely serene stretch taking in the nature, bull fights and lovely cliff formations. After 4 hours of hectic climb we came to the stairs which took us up to the front gates of the fort at around 12 noon which was breathtakingly beautiful and we took to a impromptu photo sessions with all the fancy cameras with the group now … Amit was very depressed because his personal photographer SRT was missing in action. It’s then that Kishya announced that we will walk up to the caves for our lunch which was taken with a lot of Ooh‘s and Aah‘s

On the way, Manya met with one his long list of accidents; he banged his head against the roof of the cave by showing extra – enthusiasm in answering Kishya’s call. It was suggested by some that we stay over at Ratangad rather than travel the whole way to Kumshet. But Kishya quickly shot it down after consultation with the MC. After a short stop at the water tank we reached the cave at 1 pm for our much-awaited lunch.

Lunch was an assortment of various chappatis, bhakris, and methi, tomato, and alu sabzees and with some fresh bread with shrikand and cheese spread. Quite an assortment to be had 2500 feet above sea level. It was not a smooth lunch what with we being attacked by a group of very aggressive monkeys They were ably countered by kishya who resorted to a lot of karate and martial arts and the occasional rifle shooting: dhiskyaon to ward of our ancestors which Sambhaji enjoyed a lot.

After lunch, Kishya sanctioned a 15 min nap to all which was utilized to the hilt by Jijabai, Sumi and yours truly.

After a short nap we started our grueling trek at 2 pm to reach Kumshet, which was routed through Katrabai jungles. On our way down Ratangad through the iron stairs the same monkeys who were seeking vendetta for not giving them enough food cornered a couple of our soldiers. But our force Appu, Badya and Amit faced the wrath of the monkeys very bravely indeed.

Meanwhile, Sachin who had challenged the girls to hurry up as the stairs were very dangerous and it will take time for them to get down, was in for a surprise to see both the girls literally jump down the stairs and reach in a flash. Then began the long march through the thick jungles of Katrabai, but fortunately the path was shaded and we didn’t have to face the afternoon heat. The progress was steady and the force was getting a bit tired ’cause of the endless terrain! After hours of steady walk our guide announced we have reached the base of the khind, which later turned out to be 20 mins ahead. By this time I was completely exhausted and refused to budge any further but was coaxed by the team to walk a lil more which I did and we finally reached the Khind at 5.15 pm and crashed down for a much needed break.

The break went on for almost an hour and we had to be literally hauled up to move ahead to our final destination for the day, that is, Kumshet gaon at around 6 pm. We trudged through long winding route and by now we have been walking for almost 5 hours. Very soon we heard Sumi scream we have reached and everyone was relieved, only to be told that we had another couple of kms to trek Aaahhh !!

Soon enough we reached the village school wherein we were supposed to spend our night and we settled in slowly to rest our aching legs. But kishya being what he is soon distributed various jobs to people. Manya and Sachin were in charge of setting up tents, Jijabai and Sumi were in charge of tea, others went to fill water and Datta volunteered to cook kichdi for the night. Sunil was charged up after he had his share of tea, which he relishes. Appu spread his pink mat to steal a quick nap. Jijabai and Sambhaji took to frying dried fish for dinner. Kishya announced that Sunil, Appu and I would help in cooking the next day, which they readily agreed. Soon we will settled down to a wonderful supper which consisted of kichdi, papad and dried fish. After dinner we divided ourselves into 3 groups and got into our respective tents for a well deserved sleep after the long trek.

We all woke up to 2 very distinct sound – one, the very sweet but repeated cock-a-doodle-doo and the other our own in house Big Ben Alarm – BADYA. The very disturbed Gaurang was sleeping outside the tent bearing the brunt of the chill just to get away from the snore. Everybody then slowly got up and discussed various cures for Badya’s snore and his wife Yojana and son Sujit were unanimously conferred bravery awards on behalf of Unnecessary Hikers for braving his snore for all these years.

Kishya insisted that the school will start by 9, which set all the force scattered in various directions with bottled water and and by the time we left the village it was renamed as KHUM –SHIT. After a very hearty breakfast of fried butter rice and bread butter in the morning we left for Pathechi Wadi the base village of Kaladgad at 8.30 am and now we had 2 guides one our own Dutta and the other one we were forced to take on account of territorial infiltration…uuggh.

The stretch to Pathechi wadi was very serene and the sight of Mula river valley from the top was breathtaking!! Very strangely my left knees gave up completely and walking up and down became very painful. It was only the force, the constant pep talks and a stick, which Sachin very graciously handed me, that gave me strength to move ahead. We reached the base of Kaladgad at 12.30 am and it was decided that I would stay down and rest my knees and the others would go up the peak and since it was optional Sachin and Badya decided to stay back to give me company. The others started their walk up the cliff and we got down to preparing lunch for everyone so that it was ready the moment they came back. The climb was not very long but was very steep at some points and the panoramic view that the force enjoyed on top was worth all the trouble. They also managed to find a couple of date palms on top and took to impromptu photo session around the same. They started the descend in sometime and Parth and Dutta broke all previous record in getting down the cliff and by the time everyone came down hot steaming Maggi was awaiting them. A few villagers who passed by gave our group a new name “Houshie Paryatak (ambitious tourists)” ’cause they were amazed by our passion of the mountains.

Here it was time to bid goodbye to apna Dutta who was such huge help to us. The force cheered him on and gave him a vote of thanks till we meet him again. We started our trek to Pashnai village at 4 pm, the trip was very pleasant and untiring, and the weather was amazingly good. We reached Pashnai at 5.15 and rested on the riverbed for an hour. Here it was decided that we would spend the night on a flat rocky plateau enroute to Harishchandragad (HCG), which was taken with a lot of cheers all around. We started our ascend to HCG at 6.15 pm. The climb was very pleasant ’cause of the early evening chill in the air and therefore it was not tiring. Sachin and Appu saw to it that I was well taken care of so that my other knee was intact.

Enroute Gaurang and Kishya volunteered to carry my bag, which was sweet of them, and I was feeling awfully guilty to be doing so too!! Finally we reached the plateau and again after a short huddle we decided not to stay there as it could get into freezing temperatures in the night and also due to lurking dangers of wild animals. After a short trudge we reached uphill at 8.15 pm to a rather unpleasant sight of a huge unruly crowd and the caves almost resembled the slums of Bhandup hills. The boys went ahead hunting for a place for us to camp and to our delight we got the best location in the site, the temple premises. We quickly got down to business and started to pitch our tents and prepare dinner. I volunteered to make manchow soup with Sumi assisting me and Sushma and Amit got down to making rice and kulid peet. We probably had the best dinner possible within the limitations .The steaming hot manchow soup with theeka sev and the piping hot steam rice and kulid peet with pickle was something to die for!! Post dinner we retired to our respective tents for our well earned sleep and very soon we all were in various planets except few…

DAY -3
It was only in the morning that we realized that a couple of our force could not sleep through out the night ’cause of Badya’s consistent ROARING!! Sunil and Appu bore the brunt of it and others were not spared either…. sometimes it pays to sleep like a LOG like I did! Some suggested surgery while others felt ayurveda would help but I for one suggested that everyone carry cottton earplugs from next time because medical science has its limitations and this comes under life threatening illness and has no available cure. Sumi even orchestrated a well-timed BOW to the Roaring Hero for his nocturnal exploits.

After freshening up Sushma and Sumi got down to preparing poha and tea which quickly disappeared as if it never existed and then we were off to Konkan Kada to take in the wonderful creation of Mother Earth. We decided to blindfold Sunil, Abhijit and Appu as they were on their first trip and we wanted shock them with what was in store and also capture their expressions. Well the best expression was from Sunil and he being the travel freak enjoyed the moment to the hilt. Appu and Abhijit’s expression were a little better then Arjun Rampal’s. Both are instructed to join Sushma School of Drama for a crash course in expressions and exclamations a la Sheee baba or Heeeee aayee.

Konkan kada was an amazing experience and the view simply took one’s breath away. Kishya was duly pestered by the force to arrange a rappelling down the cliff, which is in his wish list too!! Reuben you can book your tickets to Delhi once we announce the dates for the same!! LOL

Kishya was surrounded by a lot of youngsters and his Fan club is on the rise and we are worried if he too will desert us the way Reuben did for younger and fresher legs!! We also met some guys who were really impressed by Parth’s presence amidst us and when they heard about his trekking escapades they were spell bound. After a lot of photo sessions we started our trip back to the temple for our lunch – Junka Bhakar that was ordered in advance. Finally after a 15 mins break we started our final journey of the trek to Khireshwar at 1pm with sad and long faces as it was the last leg of the tour and the force was frustrated thinking of Monday morning blues in Mumbai.

I was allotted Amit and Sachin to ensure I don’t fall of the cliff and disturb the lovely nature beneath. But jokes apart, I was very lucky to be part of the wonderful group who motivated me to complete the trek w/o any great difficulty as my left knee had completely given up.

There was a large group ahead of us and a lot of them were first timers and hence Kishya instructed us to move ahead of them as they would slow us down at the narrow curves which will delay our descend. This was truly followed by the force and we moved on with great speed and practically no breaks apart from the one at Tolar khind, which was our birthright. Kishya complimented the team on their wonderful effort to get down in less than 4 hrs, which broke all our previous records.

Finally after a long winding trek we reached our final frontier Hotel Aishwarya at 4.30 pm and we all crashed in all the available spaces for a well-deserved tea and snack break. I gave up my wonderful companion the STICK that carried me all through Khumshet to Khireshwar. In between Sushma managed to frighten a small kitten by jumping up on the chair and screaming to scare the shit out of it. In the process she managed to break Anju George’s previous long jump record joining Sumi and Badya in the record-breaking spree in puking and snoring.

We again set out in a jeep which would take us to the highway from were we could take a lift back to Kalyan which took quite some time and finally we managed to get a truck which seemed like it was back from the Iraq war as it had gaping holes in it and thankfully Abhilash was not a part of this trek as he could have fallen from one of the Holes!! LOL. The truck dropped us at Murbad and from there we took a bus to Kalyan and then the Mumbai’s lifeline local to our respective destinations.

Thanks to Kishya and the entire force for making this trek a wonderful experience as we feel proud of the fact that we traversed around 4 mountains through a thick forest and trekked for almost close to 50 kms in 3 days and had the fun of our lifetime. Jokes apart we missed Reuben and Patcy a lot and guys pls do not miss such treks in the future for whatever reasons as this beats everything else hands down!!

PS: Pranil please arrange to transfer 2000 bucks into the Unnecessary account for failing to show up for the last 2 treks after committing yourself in and if you think this is a joke the amount will double after every week that you fail to pay.

Amit: Over spending is bad but under utilizing funds is a CRIME.

Appu: Pls arrange for a translator next time you trek with us.

Sunil: Bring the Girl that we all saw in the last marathon so that we too can do some handholding.

Sushma: Don’t scare poor animals as Maneka Gandhi could sue you.

Sachin: Don’t under estimate women power, get married and you will realize.

Manya: Please get trained in Nikon 3000 ASAP and transfer your skill sets to me at the earliest.

Gaurang: Start publishing your own dictionary on Maharashtrian abuses.

Abhijit: Our Pushpak Hero – silent but effective.

Sumi: Carry a plastic bag next time or rather lots of them or make it a sintex tank for multiple use

Parth: Please undo all that you have learned for Gaurang. Thurra, Shepurdya, Pongya, Dhuchkya, etc are not a part of our vocational training.

Kishya: Take us to the next level as we have progressed beyond Pethgads and Naneghats.

Badya: Get your own tent and a sound proof one or else get lots of cotton ear plugs for all us.

Myself: No one’s perfect and I am No One. Lol!


paragon to house the throne
paragon to house the throne

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