Search for Mountain Dew
Even the hot summer could not prevent me from breaking the long spell of non trekking period. It was really very hard to find a trekking partner, but finally I got Genie. My hostel junior, institute
mountaineering secretary, Anurag Singh, aka Genie is as crazy and desperate as me. We had plans to do some Phadoo trek since long and there could be no other trek than Kulang.,
Kulanggad (4822 feet) is one of the highest forts in the Sahyadri. Though Kalsubai is the highest peak in the Sahyadri, climb for Kulang is the highest in the Sahyadri. It requires some 6 hours to climb the fort from the base of the fort.
Prepared for all the hardships we gonna face in the trek, we marched out for our destination taking the first train to Kasara in the early morning. By 7 we were at Kasara. Then took a jeep to Ghoti/Igatpuri. Jeeps are the most commonly used means of the transport in this region. About 15-20 people can be easily accommodated in the jeep !! In our jeep we were 18 excluding the driver. Genie got to add to his experience the travel hanging out the door of the jeep, watching the ghats and valleys of Igatpuri. Getting down at Pimpri Phata, we took rickshaw going to Bhauli. Some 5-6 kms away is this place Bhauli, from where the actual trek starts. It was quarter to nine when we reached this place. Climate still pleasant, no signs of heat. With this encouraging weather we started marching towards the base village Kurangwadi, some 8-10 kms away. Following the bullock cart track, seeing Kulang and Madangad hid behind the clouds, we marched steadily.
In the way we met many villagers, busy with their most important work in these days: filling water. It had been hard summer, and lack of water management, distance from the cities, led to drought like conditions in the region. Women, who did most of the water filling work could be seen with 3-4 Kalshis on their head. Saw people getting down in the well and filling water with small glass. This is really amazing, we were just few hundred kilometers from the Nariman point. And so much variation. Within few hundred kilometers we could see so much variation in lifestyles, standard of living, living condition. And I know there is variation in time too. Two weeks from now, when the rain starts, the whole place would be transformed.
After some time we reached the waterfall of Bhauli, though it was dry then, some water had accumulated there which the villagers used for drinking and washing purpose. As told by some villagers of unavailability of water in the way, we were forced to fill our bottles with this water. And man, this was the mountain dew. Greenish in colour, how could people drink this water!!! May be this was the theme of colour for Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.
Taking a shortcut from the waterfall we reached the upper plateau and again continued on the cart track. In the way found many Karvand and mango trees. Finally after a long walk of round about 2 ½ hours we reached Kurungwadi. From here we could see Chota Kulang, Kulang, and Madangad, Alang, and Kalubai in the far left. A huge massive structure, challenging vertical walls of Kulang and Chota Kulang, the natural orifice ‘Nedhe’ of Madangad, all displays the greatness of nature. And we were sure we would be seeing much more once we reach the top.
Charged ourselves with Theplas and chutni. Got more drinking water from the villagers. And to my surprise, even with lack of water, they happily provided us with water. This attitude of villagers was really unexpected. Also came to know from the villagers that the water tanks on the top (relying on which we had planned a trek) must have been dried up. This was the first discouragement we got. However we filled about 6-7 litres of water with us. With binoculars we could see the entrance of the fort and the rock cut steps just before the entrance. There are two plateaus in the way which one has to reach before the final climb. Two ways reaching the upper plateau. One between the gully in walls of kulang and Chota Kulang. And the other which we took was through the ridge connecting the walls of Kulang, traversing towards Madangad, climbing up the gully between Madangad and Kulang , and again traversing back towards the ridge.
Start was good, we found the path to the first plateau. From here problems started, there were many trails available mostly made by shepards, and woodcutters. It was not once we missed the right track, and we ended up either at dead-end or in dense jungle. This took lot of our time. Finally when we reached the gully between Madangad and Kulang from where we had to climb up the second plateau, we found an arrow mark showing that we were on proper track. But as followed the path we ended up again in dense forest, among thorny bushes. Searched a lot for the way, again we lost the way. Looking at the walls of kulang we tried to trace our way, but we couldn’t. We were tired by now, and mainly discouraged. It was about one and half hour that we had been searching for the way. And we still hadn’t started the climb. The water which we had taken was on verge of getting finished. Even now if we had found the way, it would be dark when we would have reached there, as still 4-5 hour climb was left, and we were not sure if we could find water up there. To prevent ourselves from disgusting position on the top, we finally decided to retreat. But we found hard coming back, even lost our way while coming back. Having our lunch up on the plateau, we started our way back.
Even while coming back we had to travel the same distance we had to travel in the beginning and this time the sun was going to take our toll. Some villagers guided us to another village, Kaluste, which they say was nearer and from where we could get jeep easily. Two hours in heat, our legs started shouting back at us. But finally we reached the place. Took rickshaw to Ghoti, and another to Igatpuri and train back to home.
In the end, was tough, phadoo and tiring trek, but very good experience. Saw the greatness of nature, discovered mountain dew, and some really good down to earth people. For me,
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!!!