It was a long break from my regular trekking routine activity since I last trekked the Ajoba hills in Nov'06. Finally I got this opportunity to trek this yet another forest trek scheduled for 17-18th Feb'07 .
The group size finally being 8 is considered one of most efficient numbers for long treks. We started on 16th night ie. eve of Mahashivratri. We travelled by the 10.30 pm ST from Borivili to Mahableshwar. After the winding bus journey thru' the ghats which kept us throwing in aisle, we finally reached Mahableshwar before 5am . Though the climate was charmingly cold, we had to seep a couple of tea to enjoy the chill further more...
The next bus journey was to Dudhgaon & we had to wait till 8.30 at the depot. This journey descends the entire Mahableshwar ghat via the base of Pratapgad. Takes almost 2 hrs to reach Dudhgaon. Its a settlement of around 25 houses. Without wasting any time, we started heading to Madhu Makrandhgad. Had to reach via Chaturbet & Ghonaspur. A half an hour flat walk reaches us to Chaturbet village. Mostly inhabited by the Chandra Rao More's heirs, we had a formal introduction with tea in one of the More's family house.
The trek directly starts with an ascend up a hill followed by a complete descend! The entire route is thickly forested covering us with shadow throughout! Finally we reached the Ghonaspur village at 2 noon . This is the base village with the fort in front of us. The people here are all Lingayats who keep away from non veg & alcohol. We had our meals at leisure in one of the houses which had a beautiful verandah in front & good view around.
After having tea here, we left for the summit Temple . On the way, there is a huge Gamdevi Temple near the end of the village. The Mahashivratri celebrations had just ended. The people sing Bhajans, Kirtans & take out a Palkhi carrying the Gods. We offered our prayers & donation and finally left for Makrandhgad. It takes another 45 mins. to reach the top which is a complete ascend.
The top is a small flat area having a neatly maintained small Mallikarjun Mahadev Temple . It can accommodate about 10 people. A small ridge from behind takes us to the west end of the fort. Though being called as fort, it must have been used only as a watch tower. There is no remains of any fortification. The Madhugad top is not accessible & lies west of this fort. The Pratapgad fort hill can be seen towards the north while the Mahableshwar hills to the north-east. The hills of Parwat, Chakdev are towards the southern side.
We settled in the Temple . Janhavi & Chanda volunteered for the kitchen activities. Prepared ginger tea, which refreshed us out of the daylong activity. Manoj & Bijoy volunteered for the potable water which was to be brought from natural water source which is around 100 feet below to the north of the Temple . We then set out for the beautiful sunset view. The team exercised there various photographic skills to take numerous snaps. We were fortunate to have with us a non human being ie. dog! He gave us good company & may be guarded us. He was well fed too!
The dinner preparation started with Solanki, Anthony & Pravin offering their cutting services... We had soup & then good traditional khichdi. It was quite cold though very enjoyable one.
Post dinner, we had a good peek into the starry sky. With 2 shooting stars seen, the Amavasya night was truly amazing to experience.
We started our day early next morning at around 5.30. First thing was to prepare tea & have that great sip with the sun rising in the eastern background. We had to do another visit to the water tank down. After freshening ourselves, packing & subsequently cleaning the Temple , we were set on our return trek via Hatlot to Birmani in the Konkans. Left the place at 8.30 & started descending to Hatlot Village again thru' the winding forests. The village is located in a valley formation & takes 1-1/2 hrs at leisure. We had a small break in one of the villager’s house. Had some bite & tea. Enjoyed the company of the villager's child & set out for Birmani. It’s a flat walk until we reach the edge of the Deccan Plateau. This is also called as Hatlot Khind. We encountered a flock of migrating tribesmen who were carrying there fleet of around 2000 sheeps & few ponies. They were migrating from Khed in Konkan to Phaltan, which is in interiors of Satara district, around 100+ kms trek!!
As we descended into the Konkan plains, the heat was taking its toll even though the route passes thru' descent vegetation. There is no water till one reached the Birmani village. It takes 3-4 hrs to reach from Hatlot. We had a good wash & rest at the partly dried up Jagbudi river mouth. We had to rush for the 3.30pm bus from the Kalmani-Birmani junction. This is another 3 kms from Birmani & an arduous walk over the heated tar road. Reaching the junction & waiting for 30-45 mins. we set out to enquire only at a place, which was half a km away. There was this small shop & we found that there is no bus on Sundays at 3.30pm ! Fortunately, we could get a rick arranged from a neighboring village, which would take us to Khed. We refreshed ourselves in this shop cum house & traveled to Khed. The distance is around 33kms & takes 1-1/2 hr. We could get the 7.30pm Parel bus fro Khed, which reached us at 1am in Mumbai.
This trek refreshed memories of our last year's Republic day trek to Vasota forests. all the expectations, which each one of us had in our mind before this trek began, had been fulfilled! Uniqueness about this team was that the team saw people with varied backgrounds viz. business, teaching, software, manufacturing/Production & surgery. Everybody was extremely proactive & helpful. Also worth mentioning are the various efforts taken voluntarily by each of them like kitchen activities, cleaning, water load ferrying, plastic waste collection around the Temple premises & photography. It was quite a memorable trek in itself & leaves us with hunger for more of such treks!!
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