“Everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

 

Of this wonderful thing called Life made up of countless special moments there are some which seize us and trust me they are like baseball shots – When you hit them they stay hit.
Fortunately this trip will be etched in my memory for many of such moments.

While the entire city prepared for their New Year plans (clubbing, Marine Drive, House parties) we (Tumul, Pratik and Tosh aka Bear Kaka) were thinking from a different perspective; Hiking to the highest peak in Maharashtra.
Just to give you a little background about Kalsubai Peak, it is the highest peak in Maharashtra at a staggering 1646 meters located in Ahmednagar district near Igatpuri.
The peak attracts a lot of devotees during Navratri who scale this peak to seek blessings from Kalsu who once meditated here.
The legend has it that “Kalsu” a young girl who bid goodbye to her half family after a small spat and sat on top of this peak meditating to the Almighty until her death.

Throwback Tuesday(31st Dec 2013)

My day started at 3:30 am wen Rohan my roomate woke me up ,I had to take the 1st local to CST and move towards Igatpuri through a connecting outstation train.
Well ,I managed to get the 4:10 local somehow ,reached CST where I had my breakfast of Bun Maska ,Chai and Idli at 5 in the morning.
I boarded the Tapovan Express and in sometime the rest of the group followed.

While we were busy discussing about the trek and stories about Kalsubai the train reached Igatpuri where we had our breakfast at New Bombay Cafe, some real nice Jalebis, Fafdas and Maharashtra’s very own Missal Pav.

We bought some fruits and KEROSENE for the fire fuel and took the rick ride to Goti.This was a unique experience as our rickshaw had a 1000 watt Bass Tube and driver swelled with pride as he drove past the busy streets.After reaching Goti which we took a 30 min rooftop ride on a very sturdy Tata Saavari enjoying the beautiful views of Sahaydri ranges and the magnificent Bhandhardhara lake to reach Bari, the base village for the trek.

Not so happy after seeing how far the peak was but smiling for the camera.

After getting off at Bari we caught the first sight of Kalsubai Peak which looked majestic and very far fetched from where we were ; it seemed like a daunting task ahead which would require some 0.001% perseverance of what The Great Kalsu displayed years ago(pun – intended).

We began our trek and the very first ascent took a toll on our lungs.We moved on taking regular breaks until we reached the series of dangerously loose and rusted steel ladders which could take you up to a good 10-15 mts in no time.

On the way we interacted with a few locals who gave us a sneak peak in to their lives in the mountains and also told us about the flora and fauna of the place.As we got higher up the steel ladders the highway where the Tata Saavari dropped us was barely visible now.
The view got better and adjacent mountains felt smaller as we moved further up towards the peak.We had a lot of fellow hikers but fortunately they all were to return on the same day while we had planned to camp there for the night.

The summit looked very far and our legs felt heavy but we kept motivating each other most of which was in vain. :p.
It was already 4 PM and the breeze had started getting cooler and we could still see the tall peak very far from where we were.
To our surprise we saw Tosh moments later cooling himself down on a rock and his wide grin assured us that we had reached our camping spot for the night.Apparently because of the very tall steel ladder which reached out to the top of the peak it looked very far from a distance.

We were drenched in sweat and desperately needed a bath and there was a well nearby which had ice cold water but we had no other option.While I helping Tosh with the tent I heard Tumul scream, apparently he was the first one to try out the ice cold water from the well.The water was indeed very cold but with every pour the tiredness faded away and we were all fresh again.
As the dusk approached we were the only ones left on the peak to enjoy the most spectacular sunset with panoramic view of Bhandhardhara backwaters and many of Sahyadris ranges wrapped in mist.

The night started getting colder and we decided to set up a small camp fire next to our tent.
The best part about being a Gujju that we always carry food in plenty.The fire came out to be good and we prepared a nice manchurian soup which was a treat in the terrible cold. Theplas and mayo sauce was filling, and we ended the meal with some slices of cake dipped in chocolate sauce.

Its strange and that time passes so slowly when you are in absolute solitude, we checked the time and it was merely 7:30 ; we had loads of time to kill. We took out our sleeping bags and decided to sleep by the warmth of the fire while Tosh played some classics from his phone.
It was indeed very peaceful and some of us even fell asleep while gazing at the clear sky full of stars spotting some of the constellations.
Tired from the treacherous trek and after having a satisfying supper we eventually slept way before midnight and thus we entered in to the New Year in our warm sleeping bags at 5100 ft in the lap of highest peak of Maharashtra while most of our friends were partying.
I woke up to a loud muttering at 5 am. I scrambled through my sleeping bag to look out the reason for the untimely chaos.
Apparently many groups had come for a midnight trek to Kalsubai to rob us of our solitude.
After futile efforts of trying to sleep I decided to get some fresh air.
As soon as I moved out of my sleeping bag I could feel the nip in the air, it was easily 5-10 Deg and my body froze with every step I took.
I somehow managed to go on the other side of the peak which faced the Bhandhardhara backwaters where I made myself some space waiting for sun to come up which was easily an hour away.

After sometime Pratik came to the place where I was sitting and we got in to teeth chattering conversation thanks to the cold.

After a long wait the Sun finally showed up which was a huge relief as we got the much needed warmth.

We decided to climb the final ladder to reach the top of the peak which had a temple( this was exactly the place where Kalsu sat meditating).
The top offered a surreal view of all the peaks and forts of Maharashtra ; Alang Malang Kudan , Harishchandragad, Ratangad, Prabalgad you name it they all were visible we just had to turn our heads.

Not to forget the wind was so powerful that every step of ours needed to be firm and heavy.
We sat on the top for a while with mixed feelings ; Happiness of being at this majestic peak and sadness of having to leave it in sometime.
With sinking hearts we finally decided to descend and started packing our stuff.

The sun had started to get mightier and we had to descend quickly.
We clocked our descend to 2 hours in contrast to our ascend which was 4.5 hours.

We took the same route back and everyone was quiet throughout the journey probably pondering over the wonderful time we had.
All were very sad to return back to the same place where there was Whatsapp, Facebook , Traffic , Overcrowded trains, but that’s Life ‘We got to do What we got to do’.

Madhusudan who had devoted his life for Kalsubai. served as a Pujari despite of high education.

PS : Motive of this article is to give a candid and non commercial experience to budding trekkers. Not encouraging hiking on New Years certainly not at Kalsubai Peak , moreover not discouraging the people involved in the party circuit on New Years. You guys are Cool.