A friend of Mine, Mangesh, and the leader of Green Carpet, a trekking group has a penchant for finding out the more obscure trekking locations. Sindola is located bang on Khubi Phata, the same spot, where people get off to head out to Harishchandragad. Naturally, the majestic cliffs of Kokankada, and the view from Taramati, along with the ancient caves overshadow the allure of Sindola. I am so glad he took us there, because a combination of terrain, weather and my own stupidity gave me one of the more memorable trekking experiences in my life.
It started out well enough, the usual get up early in the morning and catch an early train to a godforsaken station routine. Ended up at Kalyan at six in the morning, waiting for a large crowd of forty to show up. Said hello to a few people I keep trekking with regularly. This time, had taken with me two friends from College, Bulbul and Simi.
The walk up was simple enough, with a rock patch showing up around an hour into the trek. The rock patch was a little strange, in the sense that there were an endless combination of paths you could take to the top. Sindola is also strange in the sense that there are no direction arrows pointing to the top, which is the case for every other trek in Maharashtra I have gone to so far. The Himalayan foothills don't have arrows, but the paths are very clear, and at least three times as wide as most paths in the Sahiyadris. There was another rocky patch I should say, instead of sheer rock, this was a steep incline of mud and stone. That too was easy enough, and a few of us were well ahead of the group. We kept going, wondering which way the trail was. Then it round around a contour of the hill, getting very narrow when it did so. There was place to barely keep two feet side by side, so we had to walk carefully and swiftly. There was a wall of rock on one side, and the valley on the other. We followed this narrow trail for a while, and then hit something strange. There was a rock patch to the right, and a very narrow trail on the left. The trail on the left was clear, but had space for only single footholds. Two of us took a bad decision, well ahead of the group, and chose the path on the left.
The path quickly became very steep, and offered hardly any hold. It amounted to climbing, which was something I hadn't done before. Got shit scared for a moment, when I was holding on with three limbs, and two of them slipped. Attached myself to the incline, and found little way of moving. The guy who had gone ahead of me was far ahead. Looked around, then started climbing again. Reached the top, got out, and carried on. Looked down, and everyone else was far below us.
We roamed around the top. There were three old tanks, which didn't have any water in them. Apart from that, nothing. Eventually the rest came up, a few had their own mishaps, and the leader took us all to a windy little spot for food. As usual everyone shared everything they had, and unfortunately, there were too many theplas. A photo session followed, then something scary happened.
The rains came on us with full force. Within minutes, we were drenched to the bone. Add to that a powerful wind, and everyone was shivering like crazy. Some of us enjoyed it thoroughly, there was simply nothing we could do. The cloud swallowed us whole, and a few times the thunder sounded below us. A few people on the top actually saw the rain headed our way. I took what little shelter a tree afforded, and lit up a cigarette. I was shaking like a bitch (sorry), and it was fun.
Eventually, we joined the group, and they were all shivering, some of them were shit scared for too long, and generally moving slowly. The rain had actually made the loose gravel wet, and that offered a better grip than it did on the way up. We took a good hour and a half to navigate a stretch which would have normally taken twenty minutes, had it not rained. Eventually, we all reached down. Some of us walked a further two kilometers to get the bus, because we came down directly to the road, instead of walking back the way we came.