Andheri Raat Mein , Torch Mere Haath Mein
It has been a long spell of non trekking days since the monsoon retreated. Hence decided to break this with the slightest opportunity. We people at IIT mountaineering club, decided to go on trek to Gorakhgad. To avoid the October heat we decided to have a night trek. This was going to add to the adventure as it would be my first night trek. We were in all five people, this time too new trek companions. Our team included Anurag (genie, my trek partner to some of the previous treks), Vinay Savla, Tobias (EPFL Switzerland Exchange Student at IIT Bombay) and Megha (who just did her basic mountaineering course).
We started from IIT at about 1945hrs, took train to Kalyan. It was a nice experience for Tobias who was getting used to the crowded trains in Mumbai. Reaching Kalyan we took our dinner and alighted bus to Murbad. Buses are available for Murbad every half hour from Kalyan. After a hours journey to Murbad we reached there by 2230, when we came to know that last bus to Dehri (the place where the trek starts) was at 2030 and next would be at 0030. At nighttime the jeeps which were available were charging atleast 4 times the fare of the bus. Finally we got a jeep to Dehri at a fair price and so we decided to leave. The whole journey Tobias and me had lots of talks about his country and our country. Talks about Indian movies, our language, coupled with star gazing. In no time we reached Dehri village.
When we reached the village, people were fast asleep. With torch in our hand we set for the Mahadev temple of the village. Behind this temple we start our trek to Gorakhgad. Gorakhgad is well-known for the pinnacle and cave out here. It is surrounded by other forts like Macchindragd, Siddhagad, Damdamia, which are all extension of the Bhimashankar range. Our start of the trek was again good. We were greeted in the path by a beautiful green snake about a inch in diameter and meter long. This increased our concentration levels!!! Path was well defined with little vegetation due to the monsoon, else nice for a night trek. Once or twice we felt as if we were lost, but soon backtracked the path and were on the right path. Later when the moon came, it helped as we just kept going in the direction of Gorakhgad. When we reached a plateau near the base we had a little rest. The later part was a traverse across the southern face of the pinnacle to the rocky staircase cut. This was had some dense vegetation but the path was quite visible. At last we reached the rocky steps in the rock wall. We carefully and cautiously as a team climbed up the face till we reached a tunnel in the southern face to get to the eastern face. From here we have to further go up the steps from the left. We missed it the first and took the right end and reached a water tank and a dead point. Climbing the staircase on the left carefully we reach a spacious cave on the northeastern face of the pinnacle.
There was a group already present sleeping. We took our time to settle, has some refreshments and a look at the surrounding. It was about 0130 by now. Macchindragad’s pinnacle was still visible in front of us in the moon light. But there was no wind blowing, and the cave was quite warm. Others took their sleeping positions in the cave while I slept out in a small undercut outside. It was 0230 then. Night was chilly and almost sleepless. We were not that tired. Early dawn lights tempted us to wake up. We got up at about 0530 and enjoyed the morning lights. There is awesome transition in the sky in the dawn. From dark black to violet and the slowly purple and when the sun is still behind horizon, whole sky was red. We all waited for the sun to come up. But it took time to come above the mountains and become visible. Slowly crept out. I simply love the sunrise!!! It fills a whole lot of enthusiasm in the body. The soothing sun bathe is so rare in the busy life of the city. Had some breaker of biscuits, toast, cheese, bananas, apple and Thanks to the group who offered us Black tea (my favourite). Having done this we set off for the pinnacle top. There is a small path along the rock face which traverses north and reaches the staircase. There are very narrow steep staircase cut in the rock face. It was challenging but not difficult. We carefully climbed up the pinnacle, and within some 20 minutes we reached the narrow top. It was simply amazing. Macchindragad pinnacle top could be seen below. The whole range was visible, the route we traced at night, the village we left and the road. Spend some time on the top and finally (unwillingly) decided to leave before the rock step below gets hot.
The return journey was quite easy. At night we were not able to feel the depth of the valley on side of us while climbing. While returning we felt proud having done the patch at night. Returned Dehri, took a jeep to Murbad and finally bus to Kalyan. Thus the trek ended.
In the end, was a nice trek. First time I had a night trek. It was a great experience. Finally remember dialogue between the hero and Dalai Lama in the film , 7 years in Tibet, when Dalai Lama asks the hero what he likes about climbing. He replies “It is during climbing one gets focused, forgets all confusion, lights become sharper, sounds become clearer. It is this time one feel the deep and powerful presence of life.” It was after the trek one felt quite lively, we were not worried about anything, just left everything back at home. This is all we craved for,
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