16 for no loss!!!
Till 3rd night it was quite uncertain about the trek. Although trek was decided a few backs earlier. Debate was when to leave. Milind, who had been doing dhak-bahiri for last 5 years, was with opinion of leaving by first morning train. This was to avoid sleeping at karjat bus-stand in chilling cold. Most people at Naka, except few, agreed. Salil decided to go ahead at night. Five more joined him. So the trek started with a split group, 6 people who went ahead at night. While rest (number wasn�t decided yet) decided to by first train on 4th morning.
Winter seemed to have started. Specially in the morning it was quite cold. Finally we were 10 going for the trek. Milind, Abhay , Murudkar,Nikhil, Swapnil had been my trekmates to Ratangad trek. Ghansham, Kunal, Vivek and Samit were the other. We met that Dombivli platform, took the first khopoli train. It was colder in the moving train. It was in the train we saw the sunrise. Reached Karjat by 7. Couple of vadapav to get fueled and a cup of tea for the kick. When we reached Karjat bus stand the bus to Sandshi village had already left. So we took a 10 seater rickshaw to the village.
In the village we met Salil, Himanshu, Omkar, Vaibhav, Nitin and Ajay who had reached here early morning by the first bus. Chilling cold in the village had made to realize their mistake of not coming with us in the morning. It was about 8.15 we started from the village. Road starts from right behind the school in the village. Trail leads through the fields in the vegetation just at the base of Dhak-Bahiri. Sun was just behind Dhak. To the right we could see Rajmachi. The climb was quite steep, but was not quite felt. The constant chit chat led us to the plateau. Few minutes ahead we reached open space from where we could see the flat rock face of the Dhak Bahiri, Pinnacle to the right. Cave could be now seen in middle of the rock face.
There are two ways leading to the cave. One was approaching straight to the cave, a very steep climb in the way. The other is coming from the back side of pinnacle and coming down through a gulley. We took the latter one. The route is along the ridge coming from the pinnacle. Dense vegetation makes one to loose the path. But arrow marks at quite a places help. At one point there is a junction of four trails. One coming from down Sandshi, straight ahead leading to Dhak village, left leading to Rajmachi, and right going towards the pinnacle and cave. There is small steep climb from here. It was in forty five minutes we reached the gulley. Gulley is little slippery due to the scree, however quite narrow and one feel safe.
Now we reached our national highway! Flat narrow patch on the rock walls. We have to traverse along this, till we reach some rock cut steps just below the cave. From here the cave was not more than 50 feet in height. However the exposure is quite felt. Some 10-15 feet we reach a flat patch of rock where 6-7 people can stand. Then there is a narrow traverse to right. Care is must here. Steps are large enough for only place ones feet. Maintaining balance to the wall side and taking small careful steps we reach to the wooden log and the rope. This is the toughest, and thrilling part of the climb. There is a wooden log with some branch shoots still remaining, serving some footholds. Presently there were three ropes anchored in rocks in the cave. Holding the rope and standing on the wooden log one has to climb up to the cave. Few years back there was a natural creeper coming from the cave, which was used instead of rope. Some philanthropist people have put a rope now. It took more than hour for all 16 climb to the cave.
There were people in our group doing their second or third trek. Murudkar was the one who was coming for the trek for third time. It was the first time he had reached the cave. I have heard of many people who didn�t dare to climb on the first time, however gathered courage to climb on second attempt. The whole climb is little exposed and it requires bit of courage and concentration to reach the cave. But we did it, all sixteen of us reached the cave. Probably it was due to group pressure, and nobody actually cribbed in the beginning. It happens that one shows loss of courage and other people join them.
There is nothing much in the cave except stone idol of Bahiri god. Villagers often come here to worship. Pujari in the temple was not there, otherwise shoes are not allowed during the climb. Also females are not allowed in the cave for religious reasons. There is a water tank in the cave having cold water coming from some spring. A small cave near by had feathers of hen which are often given to the god as Bali.
It was 1230 till we all reached the cave, more than 4 hours of climb. We took our lunch. Was Time for some rest. Sun had come on the side of the cave, which meant rocks getting hot while getting down. At distance one could see Rajmachi, Dukes nose, Matheran and Irshalgad. At about 2.30 we made our attempt to leave. Descent would take time, especially for 16 of us. We didn�t made any deliberate attempt, but it happened that we came in three groups, each group with couple of people who will guide the rest. I was first to come down. Coming down the rope was most difficult. However easily did that without help, and traversed and reached the flat rock portion. From here I was guiding others about the footholds below them, which couldn�t be seen. Nikhil, Samit, Chakku, ABhay and Milind did the guiding job. Helping each other we all reached the base of the rock patch. We decided to take the way straight down. Few of us left ahead while others came following us.
There is no source of water in the whole trek, only water available is in the cave. However one may find some water in the stream below during this time of year. Descent seemed to be endless, and we were surprised at ourselves for having climbed so much. Slipped a couple of times, lots of scree in the way. Coming down is time for photography. Few of us who came ahead of others got time to go to the stream and luckily found some clean water. Refreshed ourselves there, by that time other people arrived. When we reached the village it was 6 by then. It took almost 3-4 hours to get down too.
Time to say good bye to Dhak Bahiri. Took 6.15 bus to karjat and immediately found train to Dombivli once we reached Karjat. However train took more than 2 hours to reach Dombivli due to some technical fault. Reached Dombivli by 10.
It was my second trek with the Bharari (WE DARE) group which friends at the Naka had formed and one of the few I went in such a large group. But group size didn�t bother me much. Almost all planning went smooth. Had a nice time with friends, except few debates over my photography. Each one wanted himself in the frame and I wanted everyone to get out of my frame J. It was quite a thrilling and challenging trek, had a great experience. This trek will remain in memories forever.
Nothing else matters!!!