HARISHCHANDRAGAD: (4781 feet above MSL) (2-3 November 2002)One of the beautiful places in the Sahyadri, that one can’t miss!! Harishchandragad is prominent peak of the Malshej Ghat, and has been famous because of the Konkan Kada, a 3000 feet cliff, a nature’s creation.
Accompanied with my hostel friend Vikas Soni, we decided to have an endsem charger, so we decided to visit this place, which had been on our checklist since long and winter being ideal time for the place. To reach Harishchandragad we took a bus from Kalyan to Ahmednagar, frequency is very good, with buses every half an hour. After two and half hours of bus travel , we alighted at Khubi phata, some 91 kms from Kalyan. From here we walked towards the village Khireshwar.This walk was like warm up, one has to walk 5-6 kms along the dam boundaries of Pimpalgaon lake. Cold breeze blowing from the water surface soothed us. Through out the walk constantly we had the look of Harishchandragad. At last after a long hour-long walk we reached the Khireshwar village. After taking breakfast of bhel, we headed towards Tolar Khind; it’s a col in the ridge. Path through the Tolar Khind is nice, most of the time one has to walk through forest, nice gradient. In this way we found some Carnivorous shit, most probably a panther, hair present in it was an indication. Other animals we saw were squirrel and lots of birds, and butterflies. After reaching the Tolar khind one has to traverse the ridge from backside. This path is challenging, one has to be very careful while covering it. It is mostly a narrow rock patch with nicely cut steps; in some places railings are also present.
After this rock patch is over one reaches the plateau of Harishchandragad. From here one has to traverse a distance of about 4-5 kms, crossing nearly 7 hills along the base of Balle Killa and finally to the Harishchandragad temple, at the base of Taramati. Balle Killa only left over of the fort walls can be seen from the base. Taramati is the highest peak of the range. At the base there is the temple and Ganesh Caves.
Bhagvan, a villager lives at the top most of the time of the year. He arranges for the food of trekkers on demand. After reaching the base of Taramati, we had refreshing buttermilk served by Bhagvan. Zhavare Baba, a sadhu who has been doing “Chaturmas” was also staying there. We had lots of talk with him regarding his stay, places worth seeing, history etc. Vikas was rather bored with the talk reason being his lack of knowledge of Marathi, but remained passively in the discussion. Had some food which we had carried and then took a nice nap in the cool surrounding of the temple. At about 4 pm we started towards Konkan Kada some 1 kms northwest from this place.
Konkan Kada is great 3000 ft rockwall wonderfully made by Mother Nature. Heavy winds blowing in this place has turned the rockwall into a overhang. A coin thrown from here rises back due to heavy winds, this will help to know the severity of the winds here. Took a lot of snaps here. Soni dared to have a look down the Konkan Kada the peculiar way, of lying down and look down the over hang. Still time was left for the sunset; hence we traversed along the Konkankada, having a look at it from different corner. Each corner we saw made us appreciate the kada more. It made us respect the nature, bow down to its powers. With the calm red sun going down under the mountain, we took our return path to reach the temple before dark.
Meanwhile the dinner was getting ready we had talk with baba and Bhagvan. Some villager who had come to the place with his cattle also joined the talk. Carefully listening to the talks of Bhagvan’s talk, I came to know that selling Ganja was also his business. That night the villager had brought some Ganja/Chilam, which they both were going to take. They invited us in the party, but to their disbelief we were not like other college students whom they had seen earlier.
The dinner of bhakri, Aloo sabji, rice and dal served us a lot, since we hadn’t taken proper lunch. Vikas was happy as he got some hot and spicy serving which he miss in the hostel.
After dinner we decided to go to the caves, some 20-40 feet above, before it got colder. We made fire in the cave with some sticks which we had brought. But the smoke choked the cave room compelling us to shift to other cave. With candle light, we made arrangement to sleep. We sat outside the cave for lot of time, looking at the stars. Millions and millions of stars were seen. I had never noticed such a number of stars even from the city. Finally we decided to sleep, but because of uncomfortable environment we were not able to sleep for a long time. Cold wind was constantly blowing, which made us feel cold even with our sweaters.
We woke up early in the morning, after “marking our territories” we left for Taramati peak, to see the sunrise. Its some 40 minutes climb from the base. We were little late, as the sunrise had aready taken place. But still we had to go to the top. Final patch of the peak is little difficult due to the rockpatch. But finally we made it to the top. From the top we had a look at the whole mountain range on both sides of valley. We could see the Naneghat, Kalusbai, Alang, Kulang, Ajoba and many other prominent peaks. Also from the top we were able to see the temple below, the Ballekilla, Khubi village and the lake. There is a small shivling on the top. We had lots of snaps here.
After coming down we had breakfast of fundoo hot Kande Pohe and tea. Before we left the place Bhagvan offered us some more Buttermilk. We knew that the return path would take almost the same time as we took for the climb, hence we kept ourselves with our pace, walking steadily. Just before the Tolar Khind rock patch we met some guys from Pune. Talked to them and again set off to the base. In total 3 hours time we were at Khireshwar. Now the real tiresome part of the trek had started. We missed the lunch to reach Khubi which was some 5-6 kms away. In the path we met with a villager who was going to the same place. Had lots of talk with him, he had a radio, enjoyed live commentary of Cricket match. This decreased the pain in the walk. Finally when we reached the village, the villager invited us to lunch at his relatives home. Again the lunch of Bhakri and Chauli gave us the energy we needed. Thing to appreciate was that we would never have invited a stranger to lunch, but seeing the attitude of the poor villagers made us feel shameful.
Finally took the bus to Kalyan. After a long 2 hours travel reached Kalyan. We didn’t have the enthu to stand in the long queue and take tickets. Finally boarded ticket less.
In the end, nice trek: lots of walk, nature’s beauty we saw, night stay in the cold cave, local food, and charger energy.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!