On the weekend of 26th and 27th of Feb 2005, instead of lazing around
in our homes; complaining how much work we had done throughout the week
and finding another million excuses to sleep for more than eight hours
a day we decided to go for a trek!
met at CST station by 12.00 to board the last train to Karjat at
12.45. The mere fact of traveling so late in the night gave a head
start to my adventure! The two of us were amateurs who had little
experience in trekking and no experience in rock climbing. We were on
our two-day trek to Rajmachi DhakBhairy caves. We were 14 in all,
which included 10 trekkers and 4 climbers who planned to get to the
pinnacle. We reached Karjat by about 3.30. Since it was the last
stop we thought the train would halt for a while but it didn't. We
weren't fast enough and before we could alight, we found the train
moving straight towards the yard! We tried pulling the chains but the
train just won't stop. Finally when it did, we were already about a
kilometer away from the station. We had to walk on tracks back to
Karjat, cautiously looking for other trains that were heading to the
yard. Our adventure had already begun, with the moonlit railway tracks!
We then walked up to the ST stand in the village. We could catch about
an hour of sleep at the bus stop, on the katta. It was amazing how
two (Rashmi and Sheetal) of us managed to sleep on one katta! Necessity
is the mother of adjustment. Nevertheless we slept, that one hour of
sleep admidst all the mosquitoes and their buzzing was bliss. The
climbers (Rajan, Rishi, Kaivalya and Hemant) then proceeded to Sandshi
in a bus that left at about 5.00 a.m.
The trekkers then had breakfast (Kanda pohe) in one of the huts and go
into a tamtam (rickshaw, suppose to be a sixseater in which 10 of us
sat! Adventure has its ways to find you even when you are just
travelling) to the base of the hill. Our first destination was Kondana
caves. We walked for about 2 hours through the forest to get there. We
were busy capturing every sight in our cameras, from the wild cactus to
the anthills. In the monsoons this place is very popular for
rappelling. We rested for a while before we started off to Rajmachi
We reached the village in time for lunch. We had a big hut to
ourselves. It turns out this hut is sponsored by the Rajmachi
Association of Adventure Sports. An NGO- thus the living charges were
bare minimal. It was just one big room with three 2 small windows and
two doors. The floor was just mud smeared with cow dung. The toilet was
quite interesting. It was a homemade one; just an enclosure with a hole
in the ground! We all had carried a bit of lunch with us. So we just
ordered some Jhunka -Bhakhri and buttermilk. Not having slept the night
before and all that trekking certainly warranted a nap. It was a
hot afternoon and we slept on the bare muddy floor. The warm attitude
of the villagers really touches you. It is here that you realize how
mechanical and selfish our lives have become. They don't demand money
for the services they offer. Their simple lifestyle and mannerisms tend
to attract you. Commendable is the fact that despite their living
conditions they humbly accept whatever money is offered for their
were two forts near Rajmachi village. We decided to go up the
fort Shreevardhan, as that was closer. By 5.00 we started to trek up
the fort. It was just about less than a kilometer to get up to the top.
This wasn't really a fort. It was a watchtower. It had nice clean water
up there too. On the way back down, we took another route, which led to
a temple. The way of life that the villagers adhere to can be seen
clearly in the temple also. It had the idols; they were simply
decorated with wild flowers almost giving it a touch of rustic
romanticism. The next stop was the lake in the village. One is not
allowed to bathe in this water as it is used as potable purposes in the
village. We caught a glimpse of sunset by the lake. The water was so
cold and refreshing, it was a perfect way of rejuvenating.
We later had dinner, rice pickle and aloo curry, at one of the huts in
the village. At night the whole scene was different. There is no
electricity. Night without lights takes a while to get used to.
One of the guys, Ajay, happily stepped on a baby scorpion. The scorpion
was quick to react and thrust his fangs right into his feet. It must
have hurt like hell but the villagers were quite calm about it and they
said he should be okay in 12 hours. They gave him some medication with
cactus milk and other herbs and assured him that he'll be all right.
They said a scorpion bite was quite usual and it’s not poisonous and
certainly not fatal. Hmnnn...close encounter with the ‘wild’ that was.
We checked up the whole hut before we slept and we found a huge -
really huge spider, between the cupboards. It freaked us out
completely, but if they thought scorpions were harmless, how could we
throw a ruckus about a spider! We just chose to shut up. But true
enough Ajay had completely recovered by morning. The villagers sure
knew what they were saying.
Next morning, we started off to Dhak Bairy caves. It was about 8
kilometers to the cave. We packed some lunch from the village and
started off. We had a guide, which was a great idea, as he knew all the
shortcuts through the jungle. We carried lots of lemons with us.
Gopal and Harshal made fresh lemonade on the way. We also had carrots
to munch which proved quite useful in walking in the heat. Our
first stop was at a temple. And then we trekked finally to the top of
the hill. The DhakBhairy cave was apparently a little lower than the
top of the hill. So we had to climb down a gorge to get to the cave.
Almost vertical that you could see the valley straight
below. It was an amazing descend between the rocks to the
cave base. We met Rajan and the other 3 climbers who had
completed climbing the pinnacle. We had a quick lunch in the cave.
Hemant and Kaivalya had cooked Baigan Bharta on choolah! How cool is
interesting part of the trek was rock-climbing bit from the
base of the cave to a temple in another cave. It was about two in
the afternoon and the sun was right on our heads. The rock was burning
and it seemed impossible for us girls to do. But Rajan wouldn't let us
back out. He got the ropes and Rishi , Hemant and Kaivalya affixed
ropes on the rocks and handed us mittens- these are gloves used in
trekking, rappelling etc. Now there was no way we could say no.
We started to climb finding our grip on groves in the rock. They told
us where exactly to keep our foot next and where to look for the next
grove in the rock and so on. So with just such detailed
instructions we managed to climb slowly. At one point there was only a
bamboo stick fixed to the rock, with little sticks protruding left and
right at regular intervals, which was like a ladder to climb. That was
the toughest part of the climb. One small mistake would mean going down
the valley at full speed. But Rajan and the crew were so encouraging
that everything seemed possible to do.
Up in the cave, there was a pool of cold water to quench our thirst. As
we were resting up there, gasping for breath, and proud of our
achievement, there were also loads of monkeys who were wondering what
the fuss about climbing is all about. Fresh, cold water and cool
breeze. Now we were all set for the descend. Climbing down wasn't easy
and we used the ropes around our waist for the descend on the bamboo
stick. You have to turn yourself towards the rock and just feel for the
grips with your feet, which needs a bit of practice. So we were
just content following orders like, "put your right leg where your left
leg was". Our first attempt at rock climbing was truly an
exhilarating experience. It was almost 4.00 but the time we reached
back to the Dhak Bhairy cave.
Without wasting any time we started the descend back to the Sandshi
village. It would take us about 3 hours to reach there. Some parts were
quite extremely muddy with no firm grip and we slipped quite a few
times. We had to get to the village before dark and also didn't want to
miss the bus. Cutting through the jungle, the cactus, the wild thorny
bushes, it was really what you call roughing it out. We caught
beautiful sunset right in the middle of the jungle. The same sun looks
so beautiful when you are amidst nature. It's a breathtaking sight.
We walked continuously for about 3.5 hours only to realize we had just
missed the last bus to Karjat station. We had Neembo sharbat and tea in
the village as we waited for a tempo to get us back to the station. It
took us about an hour to reach Karjat .We boarded the 9.00 pm train
from there back to Bombay. Totally drained out and completely
rejuvenated at the same time. Now if you’re wondering what that
ironical feeling is, just join the next trek to find out how.
Written by: Rashmi and Sheetal (Bhramanti Members)
Kalakrai Climbing article: Click Here