As monsoon approaches it kindles a sweet memory of a mesmerizing trek. A Fireflies special trek to Rajmachi with Backpack Holidays.
Rajmachi also known as Udhewadi is a base village for the two marvellous forts Shrivardhan and Manaranjan. They are situated in the mighty Sahyadri mountain range in Lonavala and Khandala, Maharashtra. Shrivardhan fort the taller of the two forts stands at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level where as Manaranjan fort reaches at an altitude of 2700 feet above sea level. On the way to these summits there are more surprises than you can think of!
The journey began via Mumbai local train from the rendezvous point Dadar to Karjat which takes approx. 2 hrs. I utilized this stretch to get acquainted with fellow enthusiastic trekkers. It’s one of those times when you get to know the most genuine experiences of trekkers, get excited with their enthusiasm and look forward to explorer yet another uncharted territory.
Individuals boarded the train at Dadar but a group of energetic trekkers alighted at Karjat. From there we took a short walk to Sri Ram Pul and from there half hour of shared auto rickshaw to Kondhane village.
The best part of travelling is food and this trek was no exception! We were offered Poha (Maharashtrian snacks) and lime juice. Trust me it was the most refreshing combo. After our refreshments our group leader Dimesh briefed us with the trek and its milestones. Then we introduced ourselves, getting to know more people who had come from Pune or by their own vehicles. We were around 45 trekkers.
As we started the climb in the twilight, I could feel the cool breeze and saw the saffron belt over the horizon fading with every step I took. Taking a deep breath, inhaling the fresh air I was at bliss.
Once the sky turned blue and black we lit our torches still ascending and crushing the crunchy leaves beneath. It’s a real adventure walking in the dark holding a torch, makes you feel Sherlock from the episode “The Hounds of Baskerville”. It’s scary to some and a thrill to others but overall it’s a must have experience where all you could see is the beam of your torch and all you could hear is the clapping of leaves caused by cool breeze. Bet you won’t get such an experience in the cemented jungle of your cities.
As we were walking I heard people hushing each other. I couldn’t get the point but then when I saw were everyone’s torches were pointing I kind of figured it out. Our leader directed us to switch off our torches. That’s when the astonishing view materialized in front of our eyes. A tree full of glittering gold. Hundreds or may be thousands of fireflies were covering a tree with their sparkling tails. It was a visual treat!
Thanks to the half-moon; shedding its light on and off from behind the clouds, we continued the walk with our torches switched off and using it only when necessary. We encountered more gold shimmering trees on our way up. And just when we thought we’d experienced it all it started raining. It did scattered the fireflies but brought a much needed relief from the tiring and sweaty hike. The rest of the climb was much cooler and less exhausting.
By the time we reached Udhewadi village around 10pm the rain receded. It was a small village with no electricity but had solar street lamps installed at precise location. This made me wonder why we at city do not harness the solar power!
Dimesh directed us to our resting house where the localite welcomed us with smiles. We freshened up quickly and were all set for dinner. We sat down on mats, all worn out and hungry. There was a complete meal with Bhakri (flat bread made of wheat), two delicious vegetables, rice and dal, pickle and one spice chutney. To my surprise there was desert, motichur ke laddoo. Yummy!! After dinner everyone cleared their own plates making way for others and took turns serving the seated with food. There were no team leads, managers, younger or elder. Everyone was one as a team helping each other.
We called it off for the day and rested on rugs. Some occupied the rooms some chose to sleep in the open under the extended roofs. It was a well-deserved sleep.
Morning bells rang at around 5am. It was much cooler daybreak than the one in the city, no wonder due to the surrounding trees. I quickly completed my morning chores and I must say the WC provided were clean.
For our breakfast we had Upma (Maharashtrian breakfast) and hot tea. With such a perfect start we headed towards the Shrivardhan fort. It was hazy morning and the rain in the previous night had cleaned of all the dust laden trees. The surrounding greenery was view to fall in love with!
As we approached the fort the road became more rocky and tough. Inversely proportional the view was getting grander, the breeze were much cooler and stronger and the haze made it feel like heaven. There were steps carved in the mountain and ramparts unevenly distributed along the way. At one point the wind was so strong I thought I would have glide off easily if I had a glider. It took us approx. 2 hrs to reach the top. From there we could see the adjacent Manaranjan fort and vast landscape of green carpet as far as we could see. On the east a ball of fire was rising spreading its light like tentacles, capturing the whole sky.
After spending enough time on the summit taking in the beauty of nature and capturing it in our camera, clicking group photos we started descending. On the way down we crossed around 7–8 water falls paths which were dry as monsoon was yet to start. At one turn we saw a cave which dated back to the Buddhist era. It was huge! It was craved into a mountain with pillars and a dome in perfect symmetry. We took a halt there appreciating the structure.
It took us more than an hour to reach back to the Kondhane village. It was almost noon when we had our lunch. Regaining the energy we were all set to head back to our busy lives. But I wasn’t going back alone. I had some fascinating memories and new friends who shared the same trekking spirit as myself. Most of us were already planning the next trek, the next meet-up.
To sum up I must say the trek was well planned and executed! Thanks to Dimesh and Backpack Holidays for this unforgettable moments of joy, surprises and thrill. It was a trek to remember!
My Blog Post Link: https://con-verse.blogspot.in/2017/05/rajmachi.html