It’s that time of the year once again. Monsoons just around the corner. Forests ready to bloom into their own. And Fireflies in their full form. It’s time to kick start the Monsoon expedition and say hello to our old friend – The Sahyadri.
But don’t be fooled. It ain’t raining still. So why then all this fuss?
Because it’s the month of June. The time for the night treks. The time for the Fireflies camps. The time for the pure awesomeness. Last year we kick started with Rajmachi, and this time it was the turn for one of those treks which had been in my wish list since the very start = Kalsubai, the highest peak of Maharashtra.
“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”
As my good friends have told me of late, I have been onto a rather prolonged writer’s block. Well, part of the reason might be that. And a part is my return to the Himalayas this new year – The Har Ki Dun Expedition. When Time was gearing up to celebrate its yet another birthday, a group of trekkers set forth for 8 days of awesomeness in the Garhwal Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand.
Har Ki Dun – The Valley of Gods. Legends say that this is the valley that Pandavas passed through, in an attempt to reach heaven (Swarg). Mount Swargarohini (20,819 ft) at the end of the valley was the final point that laid way to heaven. While all the Pandavas died in the attempt to cross it, Yudhishthir and his dog were the only survivors who could make it to heaven. The locals of Osla, Gangad, and Seema village still believe in this legend and consider themselves to be descendants of Pandavas and Kauravas.
So here we were – To cover 75 km and reach an altitude of 12,500 ft over the next 6 days, we sure were looking to get a closer look at heaven, if not reach it.
That’s where the inspiration for all the sceneries comes from. Absolute classic.
Know that feeling when you just can’t let your life halt. You just want to keep running. Keep exploring. Keep ticking out the items from your “to do” list.
Well !! I know that feeling. Earlier this year, I had gifted myself with a promise and list of treks for the upcoming monsoon season. Though I was not able to sweep the list completely clean, I still managed to explore most of the places from that list. Or should I say “we” rather than “I” – coz “I” stands tall but alone, but “we” always stick together to the very end, even though it has to lie a little low. I find pride in having few awesome friends who have always stood up to chose a rough outing in hills over lying warm and cozy in their bed on a lazy weekend morning. We have somehow managed to continue being in NITIE even after passing out (Passing out as in getting our degree and stuff, and not “PASSING OUT” :P)
Anyways, monsoons have gone away now – Much to my dismay, but one can only wait. Kothaligad Fort Trek was our last trek this monsoons. A small fort (just over 3000 feet) situated near Karjat – A relatively easier trek compared to what we had experienced earlier in the season – Still, somehow, it marked a perfect goodbye to the Rain Gods.
Let me take you through a photo tour of this trek.
The pinnacle you see at the top – That was our destination
“Naah !! The entire week is booked and they won’t even agree to include us as crew members”
This news struck us halfway through the first day on our Andaman Trip and that’s when Mount Harriet National Park came into the picture. Mount Harriet happens to be a part of Bambooflat Island and the third highest peak in Andamans. This place is known for its wild pigs, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, crabs and …. And the protagonist of our story – The Leeches.
A half an hour ferry ride from Port Blair, followed by about an hour of uphill drive to the entrance of the National Park, we met this guard at campsite.
“So is the Kala Patthar trek still on?”, we asked.
“Yeah. Only if you want to run upside down trying to protect your bloody legs. It’s raining and the forest is festering with snakes and leeches. I suggest you guys sit here, have a drink and go back from where you came from”, this reply came from an obviously irritated guard waiting for his shift to end
We had the answer to our question. The trail was open and we didn’t need to trespass to reach our destination – Kala Patthar.
Facebook feed, currently, is either full of disgruntled working professionals or the batchmates getting married – One by one, and in some cases to one another. Clock is ticking by and the call of the hour was a trip before wickets start tumbling down. May be a last All bachelor’s trip with the folks. We decided to camp down in Gokarna, a hidden beauty in Karnataka, just a little further from Goa. People crawled their way from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Some took a planned leave and some decided to fall sick on the same day.
All this summer, luck has been really generous towards me. And another instance was when I successfully booked a Tatkal ticket on new irctc site – Mumbai to Kumta it was. Kumta happened to be some 40 kms away from Om beach and an hour or so was the journey from Kumta to Gokarna. Wait a minute – Did I say something about luck? Train somehow decided to took an unplanned halt at Gokarna Road and we were quick like bunnies to jump down on the adjacent empty track (No we didn’t pull the chain and I must stop bragging about my luck, lest I jinx it)
Gokarna is a place of natural diversity. From temples to sea to beaches to graffiti. Among all the beaches, Om Beach is the only beach which is accessible via road. All the other beaches are at the other end of 15-20 minutes of trail through forests. So was the case with the Kudle Beach, where we were supposed to put our foot down. It took some time finding the cottage, but at the very first view we knew that we were set for some real treat.