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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Edition2: Harishchandragad: The Trekking Pilgrimage




Every year people make New Year resolution. Very few of them do materialize. It was one of those resolutions which materialized for me. The resolution was to make pilgrimage to Harishchandragad which is Mecca for all those who claim to be trekking enthusiast. Its fashionable nowadays to claim to be one. I do claim that but only blot on my trekking history in Maharashtra remained Harischandragad. This fort had been a jinx to me as thrice I had planned that trek during my college and working bachelor days. All those plans flopped for some reason or other. So for ten yrs I have been keeping this as a resolution . To visit Harischandragad was motto.
This opportunity came in through a trekking group at my health club. They had organized this trek. I jumped on this as its hard to get group of friends who are completely into a phase called Gruhasthashram in local language.

We assembled at 6 am where a 28 seater bus was waiting. The group was motley. It was mainly comprised of college and working bachelors. Harischandragad can be accessed by two ways. Tougher route is through Khubi phata khireshwar. Easier route is through pachnai but for that you need 1 hr drive extra going ahead of alephata. Looking at fitness levels of the group the organizers decided the Pachnai Route.
The nasik road journey was normal with picnic mood setting in. Breakfast of missal pav at alephata is unavoidable.

We then went across the main road and the country side is amazing. The fields, mountains, small dams. This area is remote and local villages are sparse.

We reached a very small village of Pachnai. This village does not have a chai tapri as well. We had photo session and instructions. We started the climb. The first climb really tested each one of us. Its significant climb and has great greadient. But alongwith it offered great view while climbing.

As we approached top after an hr or so, we had some respite of open plateu wherein the other route meets. The top plateu is wide and after few turns around. We reached the main section of temple and cave where most trekkers stay. The main fort is above this plateau and has another climb which we planned next morning.

It was almost 4 pm. Could not have waited to see the grandeur of Kokan kada. Had heard a lot about this overhang cliff. And after a walk of half an hr amidst greenery on the plateau we reached there. This is a paisa wasool moment. The wind, the valley, the wall, the height, setting sun all combine to make you feel different. This place has a touch of divinity. Peace of mind, perspective all things set in. setting sun adds seriousness to the moment. We reached the cave back before dark.

Night at this place is another experience. Clear sky without city pollution, noise and lights is amazing. Our talk and music were the only silence breakers. The sky was studded. There was nothing to do but to chat with fellow trekkers. And of course volunteers were busy cooking khichdi on fire. We tried helping without success.
Sleeping in cave is another experience. There were two other groups. Get your corner and enter sleeping bag only to be awakened in morning. That’s another trek experience I love. Morning challenges of ablutions were met.

After visiting the main fort, we climbed down where the bus was waiting. Another great lunch at alephata and we reached pune by 3 to join my daughter. Back to gruhshtaashram…

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