Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moonlight trek from Katraj to Sinhgad

Super full moon night happens once in a year when moon is brightest and closest to earth. It was this day ... sorry I mean night when most of the trekking community in Pune come together to do 22kms trek covering 13hills from Katraj to the destination Sinhgad.


The Sinhagad fort stands about 25 kms from Pune and is one of the important Maratha forts having a colourful history linked with it. The fort was formerly known as Kondhana, its literal translation is the "Fortress of the Lion". In 1670 Shivaji's General, Tanaji Malusare, led a force of men who scaled the steep hillside in the dark and defeated the unprepared forces of Bijapur. There are monuments at the spot where Tanaji died, and also at the place where he lost his left hand before his death. There is also a historic bungalow up there, where Gandhiji met the freedom fighter, Tilak, in 1915.


I along with group of 8 from bagpack outdoors started our journey from Dadar picking our colleagues on the way from Vashi & Kharghar. We were expected to join our counterparts from Pune - a bigger group of 32 at Katraj old tunnel - the starting point of our exciting trek but due to continuous delay we could barely reach Katraj at 10pm and our counterparts had already started their journey 2hrs earlier. But nevertheless everyone was quite excited & ready for the most exciting trek. We could also see some other groups were also starting along with us. One liner which aptly describes this trek is "Where there is a hill, there better be a way"


The moon was biggest I had seen, was the guiding source of light in the pitch dark night above Katraj tunnel. With our call of "JAI BHAVANI JAI SHIVAJI" we started our trek. On reaching the top of first hill we could see the red light at a distance which was our destination "The sinhgad fort" which looked quite far but it was not going to let our spirits down.The second hill was our first challenge as it was quite steep climb with everyone trying to climb on the muddy hill which was quite slippery. I finally managed to climb up with the support of the rocks coming out of the muddy hill. Our slogan "KEEP WALKING" we followed our leader - AKSHAY who was leading our way. We were making our way past big rugged rocks, dry dead grass and thorny bushes on muddy patch. Pune city lights in the night was one amazing sight with moving vehicle lights on the highway making it look like glittering diamonds in the night.












Also let me tell you that in this trek, if you happen to change your mind to discontinue the trek, the option is available only when you are at hills 1-2-3 but after that only way is to move ahead which makes this trek quite a thrill as you never know how your experience is going to be. Climbing down on hill 3 was also quite a task as you looking down 4-5 stories down and have to climb down slowly as road is quite muddy and slippery. But one learning from this trek was that it actually helps you overcome the phobia or vertigo problems and each hill that you cover makes you more confident to complete the trek.The wind was quite chilly even though it was summer time and we actually felt the need of some warmer clothes. I couldn't resist thinking what would it be like in winters. !!!!!


We easily managed to climb up and down 5-6 hills in next 3hours talking, gossiping, occasional stops for the group to catch up together and clicking pictures on the way. We were now half way and Pune city light behind us and we were now surrounded by hills. Time was slipping by quite fast. To put it in other words, we were not maintaining the required pace. No one was exactly sure as to how much was left ahead, since after crossing every hillock, Sinhagad appeared equally far. Apparently, there were just a couple of hills to cross before we would hit the base of Sinhagad fort. Our group leader just kept motivating that we only had two more hills !!!!


On one of the hills, my group managed to climb up taking support from the rocks while I got stuck in middle of the hill with no option to go down while climbing up was becoming more & more difficult for me. I took support from thorny shrubs while my group trying to motivate me and flashing light on the rocks to guide me in the night. I waited for almost 20minutes at same place analysing how to climb up, which I finally did with support from the rocks, climbing like a monkey on four limbs. Phew !!!! that was the most toughest and scariest moment in the entire trek. After this climb it was just walk from one hill to another at the top.






It was now 7am in the morning with first rays on sun, It was spectacular view of khadakvasla lake at the far end and hills glowing in first golden rays of sun. We could now see the motorable road reaching to Sinhgad and that was our destination but now the reality actually sank in and we still had 4hills to cover. But now since the destination was in sight we got more zeal and will power to climb and descend the remaining hills. On the way, our group leader Mayur from pune was waiting for us to provide us with chocolates and fruit juice. It was a welcome break and much needed energy booster.




We had lost count of how many hills we had conquered but now the last leg of journey was not that tough as we just had to walk through some dense forest and finally at around 9am we finally reach the tar road. A journey which took 11hours and it was our successful endurance test. We leaped in joy on completion of our successful trek. Factors like scorching heat, long distance, strenuous route, were all won over by enthusiasm and sheer will power.


There was one, I stress ONLY ONE road side tea stall run by a couple which was welcomed by everyone. Lime juice ready for us and hot cuppa of tea with kanda bhajji was most delicious on dead hungry stomach. While waiting for our Qualis to take us back home, no one had strength and all lied down on the road side parapet not minding the summer sun at the top what mattered was place to lie and rest, some even started their 1500CC engine (snoring) ...... We started our journey back to Mumbai happy to have completed one more trek successfully which was surely a test of our stamina, will power - a real endurance test in itself.




ADIOS for now, till I narrate my other adventures in future.

My Pics from My Clicks from the trek