Trek to Harishchandragad

Another quest to look upon the Indravajra that manifests itself to lucky eyes from the Kokankada ended last week. Pity I did not see that. You have to be very very lucky to watch it. It was supposed to be a night trek. We started off from Mumbai at eleven in the night. We had hired a small bus to take us there, and the loser of a driver refused to take the bus down the rough road fearing punctures. His logic was that if the tyres were to get punctured, then he would have to go a long way back to fix it. After a lot of coaxing, he came a little while down from Khulbi Phata, but then reversed and went back. So we had to walk down, which was not a bad thing, but the trek was delayed by an hour, and that sent the whole schedule haywire.
It was a night trek, so we stopped for chai, the sun was just about to rise when we started. A little way to the top, there was an introduction round, where the group of thirty or so people learnt each other’s names. It was a nice group of healthy trekkers, no rabble around that is normally seen. There was also a very young girl – around eight or so. We started off, and the trek quickly split into small groups. We were in the front of the pack, and a few people were ahead of us. We reached the top at around ten o clock. Some people showed up and had propped tents before us. They also had lugged a hookah all the way to the top, and one guy was playing trance on his mobile phone. We rested at the top for a while, and a group of us went out to look at the Shivling. Everyone else but me went down into the water, to take a dip away from the eyes of the rest of the group. The water was damn chilly, so I did not get in. A few local boys also showed up, and showed off their gun. It was a cheap air-gun, but the pellets they used was pretty strong. We had lunch after the rest of the group showed up, some of us took a short nap, and then in the evening we set out to Kokankada. This time around, there was no fog, therefore no Indravajra, but the view was clear for all to see. It was breathtaking to say the least. Another trip is due, have to see that rainbow.
We came back, me with a heavy heart, not knowing the next time I would go there. There was an aarti in the evening, and a good hard session of Antakshari around a campfire. Some of us slept.
The next morning was magical. Wake up, and start trekking within two minutes. That is what I want to do every day. I just got up, rolled up my carrymat, packed my bag, picked up my camera and around twelve of us from the group headed up to the Taramati peak while everyone else slept on. The leader said it would take us an hour to go up and an hour to come down. We were on the top in thirty minutes. It was still dark, there was a fog around the place, and a chill wind was blowing. Everyone else had gotten warm clothes, and were still shivering. I went with a thin, loose t-shirt. Four of us plopped ourselves down against a stone in a huddle, and one of us farted so hard that everyone could smell it despite the wind.
The sun rose in its own time, we planted a flag on the top, and posed for the camera. Going up there was magical. We came down too soon. Then we started the long trek back, and we were in the front of the group again. We went down singing many songs, and there are songs for such occasions that can be stretched for an infinitely long time. This was one of my favorites:

मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी शेकोटीला आली
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी शेकोटीला आली
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी, मशीचा पंख शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी, मशीचा पंख शेकोटीला आला
मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी, मशीचा पंख, पंखावार्ची धुल शेकोटीला आला
(chorus)मान्खुर्द्चा म्हातारा, म्हाताराचा महतारी, महातारिचा पोरगा, पोरगचा कुत्र्या, कुत्र्याचा शेपुट, शेपुत्वर्ची माशी, मशीचा पंख, पंखावार्ची धुल शेकोटीला आला

We were down in no time, not in a hurry to get down, but hunger drove us on. Hunger apparently drove the bus driver on too, and he got the bus in somehow. There was also a Volvo and an ST there, so FTW.
After that we played some weird game involving throwing up stones and picking up stones from the ground and catching the stone that was thrown up. We also played colour colour and musical poles. This despite the heavy trekking. Finally, we got into the bus, and it was time to go home.
But not yet, there was a temple on the way, we paused there, and posed with the shepherds and goats. We also checked out the temple. The sun set, and we were off, back to the city.



This is on our way back. This guy and I struck up a conversation with this shepherd. For some reason, he carried that sickle which he is holding. The goats were all about us, some very young, and the shepherd got thoroughly excited over seeing his own photo taken a few seconds ago.



On our way back, we strayed to this water body, that looks like a lake, but is a part of a vast river. They are standing at the edge of an area meant for fishing, we found dried prawns and the shells of enormous crabs here. One claw we found was about eight inches long, and of a purple and yellow colour.



On our way down, at the spot we call the Toll Naka. Great wind here at all times, this is just before the rock patch, the most difficult part of the trek.



This is the entire group. There were so many people clicking that no one got a shot of everyone looking at the camera.



So one guy goes to this spot, and poses. Then expects me to do the same thing. I was scared, so the nervousness - I guess it shows. Maybe a bit. Look for it.



This guy. Leader of the pack.



The local boy with the gun. Hilarious how he is holding it. He got shy when I asked him to put the finger on the trigger. Smoked a chota goldflake beside me. Himself is a chota.



The Shivling.



Drinking water like men were made to drink water. As long as there are insects and moss in the water, its safe to drink, as it sustains life. Piping has ruined the immunity of city folk. This water is actually purer than bottled water - maybe not to the eye, but definately to the stomach.



Is he shooting me or am I shooting him? This was one bullet neither of us dodged.



The view from Kokankada.

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