Trek to Siddhagad (21 November 2004)

Return of the Bugger!

A friend of mine once asked me, why do I trek? I couldn’t answer him. I thought of all things I liked about trekking. About the lovely remote places, about the stamina required, the sense of achievement, proximity with great mother nature, sense of being oneself, the cool energy pumping sunrise seen from the topmost point which gives so much warmth, the soothing sunset which drives all the sadness, the millions of stars which cannot be seen from city, the silence and peace being away from city and loads of other things. But all these were from my point of view, and all persons need not like it. I replied, I love trek because it gives me a chance to mail you!

Actually there are two types of world, the local world and the universal world. Local world is the world I see, I hear, I taste, I smell, I sense. Its my world. It doesn’t include anyone else. Universal world is one which we all see. A problem always has two solutions one in local world and other in universal world. And when I trek, I try to find pleasure in my local world. But I am not able to see my trek in the universal world. That is all the purpose of my mail to bring my trek in universal world. So now its your job to bring mail from the universal world in the local world. There may be many ways in which one can read through my mail. One can consider it a act of show off, craze and delete the mail or one can enjoy the ‘being a part’ feeling. So please help me find an innovative way by which I can present my treks to you in your local world.

So my new mail! Reason: Siddhagad trek! This time it was with Amol Kale, who had met me once on Harishchandragad trek few months back and his friends: Vijay, Rupak, Meghna and Mugdha. Its so difficult to get early on Sundays. But its not so difficult when you are going for a trek. Body clock wakes you up. Often happened that I have got up on time without my alarm going on. Took train to Kalyan, where all trek fellows met, got introduced. Seems like a mission, people get mail to reach location X at time Y on date Z. Nobody knows each other. There is a commanding officer (Amol) who knows all of them. So having reached the location at given time and date, we take bus for Murbad. It requires energy to complete a mission. Which comes from hot tea and vada pav at Murbad bus stand. Another bus drop to village Narivali at the base of the mountain from where the trek begins.
For any mission the beginning is very very important. Finding the right path leads you to your destination early. We failed this time. We took some wrong jungle route, but were lucky to realized this in time and came back to proper track. Sahyadri consists of the main north south mountain range with some small ranges running east west. This range near Murbad is famous among trekking group. Range starts from the near Karjat, leading to Bhimashankar. It is near Siddhagad the range turns north south. Further ahead are Damdamia, Gorakhgad, Machindragad, Durg, Dhakoba, Jeevdhan, Naneghat and then the Malshej ghat.

Siddhagad is a good one day trek. Most of the climb is through mountain gully and vegetation, so not much of sun on the way. Some 1-2 Kilometers of walk lead you to the base of mountain from where the real climb starts. This gradual climb leads on to some wadi (group of houses) in the way. Here we had our first break for Buttermilk available the wadi. Further ahead climb becomes little steep and mostly through boulders and some times across stream. About 2-3 hours from Narivali we reach the gate at top.

The gate is at the first plateau on which the great mass of Siddhagad stands. There is small village on this plateau, Siddhagadwadi. Water is available here most of time during the year. Now further climb of about half an hour leads us to the cave cut in the walls of Siddhagad. The climb is mostly along steep slopes with lot of scree (loose grass, and small stones, creates lots of difficulty specially while climbing down). Finally reached the cave, we can see Siddhagadwadi down on the plateau and Narivali village far below. In front you can see pinnacle of Gorakhgad with small cave just below the pinnacle and small red mandir on the top. Amol and Vijay were in Siddhagadwadi for some work. Rest were tired to go up to the top. So I left alone to the top of Siddhagad. Small steps are cut in rock face, some crisscrossing leads you to the top. At one point of time I lost the route, with only rock face ahead. Some 20 feet still left from the top. For the second time couldn’t get to the top of Siddhagad. Decided to come back.

Now we came back to Siddhagadwadi and a temple near that. Had our lunch there. Sandwiches, vada pav, khakra, and some puran poli. Quite refreshing. It was about 2.30 and so we decided to leave. Climb down is not that difficult, so its time for photography! About 2 hours we reached the base. It was time to leave, we were lucky enough to get a jeep to Murbad. Generally one has to take jeep to Mhasa, which is midway and then another jeep to Murbad.

This jeep transport is quite interesting. I have found this in most parts of Maharashtra and other states as well. The local government transport system is not that good, but people have found a solution and a way to earn their livelihood. These jeep drivers are generally youths of villages. These jeeps ply regularly between two villages, and one has to often change jeeps when it’s a long distance to cover. The capacity of jeep is always varying. For standard calculation purpose, it is 13. The jeep driver doesnt move ahead if he gets at least income worth 13 passengers. But this number can go upto 25 or more! In our jeep it was 21. And for people like us who don’t come to these roads quite often, its quite excitement traveling standing at the door or sitting on the top of jeep!
So couple of Kadak chai at Murbad, we were back to life. Another hours journey in bus to Kalyan, some snacks at restaurant, and train back to Dombivli brings an end to partly successful mission.
In the end, suggest me some more interesting way of writing my travelogues. Trek good, peaceful, and refresing specially after the worst Rajgad trek last week.


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