It has been more than year that I have written any travelogues. Last was written on 12 March 2005!! Seems so amusing to me. Nevertheless things haven’t changed much. It’s the same me! Trekked Mahuli just two days back and was ready for a trek on Holi.Until 14 th night, we hadn’t decided where to trek. Group was also not yet formed. A meeting was called at Ketan’s house at 2200 hrs on14th. Number of options of trek were decided, but nothing could be finalized. Kohoj will take lot of travel, Dhak Bahiri would be too much hectic after a trek two days back. Lately at 2300 we decided to go to Peth.
Our team was not finalized till morning. People who were to come for trek dropped the last moment, while couple others joined. We finally were a team of 6. (aadha dozen! Somehow I remember a poem from 1st standard ‘ek aur ek akela hoga, ek akela hoga’ ) Swapnil (Swap), Samit (aka Mitmit or Phubbu), Ketan (aka joshi), Mayur (aka Dhamale), Aniket (aka I have the right to remain silent) and ofcourse me.
Onward logistics was fairly simple, 0630 train to Karjat, reaching Karjat at 0730 and taking 0830 bus to Ambivali. The journey to Ambivali by bus takes about an hour. Being Holi day, there was enthusiasm in the environment. We found children in villages with faces smirked with colours throwing coloured water on each other. We had to close windows of the bus, as these children dared to throw colours on LAL Dibba (bus) too. Ambivali village was though a silent village.
Having tea at Ambivali village we started towards Peth. It takes about hour of walk along the broad path slowing climbing towards the Peth village. The forest in the nearby region is dense and full of birds. We could spot atleast dozen of bird species; Some of them I could identify are Parakeets, Purple Sunbird, Crow Pheasant, Paradise Flycatcher, Hoopoe, spotted dove, shrike, Golden oriole, crested bulbuls, bee-eater.
Peth village is located right at the base of the fort. With lots of trekking happeing there, people of the village have made food and accommodation facilities for trekkers. We had taken food with us, but I couldn’t prevent myself by helping those people by buying some food from them. We took some really good Pithla.
It was 1230 by the time we started our climb to the cave atop. It takes about half an hour to reach the caves. The climb is really easy and one can see Bhimashankar, Padar, Tungi and Siddhagad while climbing. And nothing more refreshing than a nimbu pani which the villager was selling in the cave. The cave above is large with more than 3 rooms. Some broken sculptures and inscriptions could be found. Water is also available in plenty on the top with more than 15 large tanks holding rain water. Some of the tanks had really cool and clear water. We had our lunch in the cave and then went around the Peth fort.
A broad funnel type staircase cut in rocks takes you to the top the fort. Peth is also named as Kothaligad. (fort cut from rock, dagadanna kothaloon killa banavla ahe). An excellent piece of work, must have been made much before Shivaji period. View from top is great. Though Peth has not that great height or climb, it’s different from other fort or mountains I have climbed. It is one of the most beautiful forts in this region. Beauty of the fort is at acme during the rains and is known as a monsoon destination in the fraternity of trekkers. Considering the ease and satisfaction, it is a trek which anyone wanting to start trekking should do.
It took us less than hour to reach Ambivali. Along with 4 other trekkers, we hired a 6-seater which took us to Karjat. Hours journey took us back to Dombivli.
I had earlier expected Peth to be a Paploo trek and hence I had never done that. But though it was fairly simple and comforting, it is a wonderful place. We had a wonderful outing. Left away colours of Holi in the city, but not entirely left away from colours. We had play with Bright yellow colour of Golden Oriole, Red colour of Konkon soil, Green colour of Dense Bhimsankar forest, Black the colour of rock which was cut to make the fort. It just makes me feel people of city are colourblind; we had Holi with true colours.
Nothing Else Matters!
Not so long break, but still cant just sit at home. Sudhir, my college friend was thinking of trek, but we hadn�t decided the place yet. It was very late when I decided to trek to Peb. Couple of his friends were also planning to come, but didnt turn up. So it was me and Sudhir for the trek. Since it was Sudhir, whom I had a little confidence, we decided to traverse to Matheran if possible. This route PEb to matheran was thrilling, when I had trekked it in monsoon some years ago.
Took the 7 am train for Karjat from Dombivli . Reached Neral by 8. Heavy rush at Neral, lots of people for matheran for it being a sunday. Kande pohe, misal and a dose of tea to start the trek. On the road outside Karjat we started walking towards CST, we came across a ground and taxi stand, turning left here we reached the highway. Crossing the highway, we entered the fields and started walking straight towards peb, looking at the col joining peb and nakhind. In way we come across a poultry farm. Easiest landmarks going to peb is following the electric poles till the second electric pole on the first plateau. Experience from my previous trek to peb was helping!
Within half an hour we reached the second electric pole on the upper plateau. From here some flat walk leads us towards the col. Just below the col, route branches, one route going towards jungle of Nakhind. We just kept walking towards the col. A small waterstream comes from the col, which we have to climb. Arrow marks guide us through out the trek. We reached the col in some hour and more. From here the valley towards panvel is visible. In left we can see Prabalgad, Kalawanti durg, Irshalgad. In right we can see Haji Malang, Chanderi and Nakhind. We turn left along the ridge here. In few minutes we came across a small rock patch, some 7-8 feet high. Even though I had done this on earlier trek, I found little difficulty in climbing. However it was not at all difficult patch. Once we climbed this patch, traversing along the mountain we reached the cave fort.
Surprise! There were steel doors made to the cave entrance. A samadhi has been made there, and some sansthan is taking care of this cave. However the doors had been locked then, which made me little angry. From where did these people got the ownership! Similar thing I found at Siddhagad cave, where some person whom the villagers call BABA had locked the cave. These baba/sadhu brainwash religious villagers and acquire these places. This is what is happening at many forts, where some baba or haji has damaged the fort. Peb/Vikatgad has now too fallen in this category of forts. Haji Malang, Siddhagad, Ajoba, Vishalgad etc has already fallen prey to these sadhus.
Forgetting about these sadhus, we had our lunch of packed vada pavs, a couple of calls we set off to explore the fort. Little ahead to this main cave, there is small opening in the mountain, which was used as grainery/storage place. During my last trek, I dint bring torch, but this time I had carried one! We crawled inside the cave carefully, after about 10m, there was a ladder some 2m high, which took us down inside the cave. Further 3-4 meters ahead we come to a room which is about 10feetX3feet and 2 feet high. Villagers have lined this room with tiles! Many people use this place for meditation, found a visiting card of yoga institute from Pune there!
Crawling back, we came outside and climbed the fort wall where a ladder was placed. A large water tank is here, though covered with green moss, the water was crystel clear, cold and tasty! We climbed further ahead to the top of peb. Here we meet a trail going towards Matheran. Instead we just climbed the scree slopes looking towards the flag on top, which was appearing quite close. Another dose of surprise, a cemented struture with some Sadhus Padukas installed there. The top was clean off shrubs and steps made at lots of places. Down further ahead a roofed ashram is made. Two persons have been staying here for long. From them I got information, that villagers are trying to make peb a place of religious importance. Religious fairs are held on mahashivratri, holi and datta jayanti. Villagers have also installed a 25 feet ladder ahead on the route, so that every one can come to this place. Impression i got was, Peb was on verge of becoming a Haji/Sri Malang.
Near the ashram, there is a well. Having refreshed here, we started towards Matheran. We came across 25 feet ladder and came to a point where one route from the large peb cave meet. I remember during the monsoon, we had a thrill going along this route, with valley on one side and mountain walls on other, but now the thrill has lost, with proper roads/trails made. Even on the rock patch just below the railway line a ladder has been installed and concrete steps have been made..sad! Its no fun trekking on this route. This route leads us to 154NM milestone on the Neral-Matheran rail route. A proper cement entrance similar to temple entrance has been made here, with a bell on top and arrow indicating Vikatgad/Peb.
We started walking down matheran along rail till 132 NM milstone, then on tar road till a tea shop near monkey hill point and then turned towards a wadi/village on left and took shortcut towards Neral. We were down in Neral in about 3 hours since we left the peb top. Local train was almost waiting for us, had to catch train as soon as we reached there. Another hours journey to Dombivli, and end of trek.
In the end, a good trek. Didn�t carry camera, as Sudhir had brought a digital; and realised much later that his batteries he had brought were discharged Some new places on Peb explored, which I hadnt during my last trek. But there was no thrill this time. Hence the later part turned to be a bit tiring and boring.
Apart from that, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!