Prabalgad Trek

The occasion was Bhavna’s wedding reception and I was meeting Amrita, Priyanka and Abhijeet after a long time. Amrita and Priyanka asked if DH was organizing any trek the coming weekend and I had no answer that time. But then, Mr. Abhijeet Malik declared publicly that he will be organizing a trek even if I don’t do it and then I knew that it will happen this time J.
Wednesday all of a sudden, the core members got a mail from Malik asking where can we plan a trek this time. There were many options including Bhimashankar, Sudhagad, Etc. But we finally decided to go to Prabalgad-Kalavantin duo. Since none of us had done this trek before, the first step was to dig out as much info as we could from our sources. Now that job is almost always left with me, so I talked to a couple of friends who are experienced trekkers, dug the internet and also checked in the book, Trek the Sahyadris, one of my best buys lately. From almost all the sources I understood that both Prabalgad and Kalavantin can be done in 1 day. So the mail was out for a batch of 16 and it got filled up next morning, the latest of all my records J.
Every time I have to go for any trek, I end up sleeping very late the previous night and this time it wasn’t different. My friends from the Infy basket ball team ( only 2 of them are in Infy rite now J), had chosen the same Friday for a get together. I obviously had no reason to miss it and hogged a lot on chicken wings and tandoori chicken at, The Hidden place, a food joint in KP. The chicken wings were very very spicy and I knew that it will cause me trouble the next day!!! But the taste was too good to avoid eating it. I ended up sleeping at 1.30.
The alarm rung at least 5 times and I snoozed it all these number of times. The next time I asked to myself in sleep, y the hell is this phone ringing and then something struck my mind, ohhh its the trek thing!!! I woke up with a start and it was 5.30. I had only 20 minutes to get ready, and my sack was not packed, as usual. The chicken had not yet digested and I had almost decided to call Abhijeet and tell him that I was not coming but only one thing made me get out of the bed, the responsibility of being a trek lead!! How could a trek lead not go and leave the other trek lead alone with 14 newbies!!! So at the 30th minute I was all ready with my sack packed , after bath mind it J, and I called up Amrita to check where the vehicle had reached. That was when I got to know that the vehicle had not even started from the first point. What a disappointment it was!! Mine was the last stop and that meant waiting for it for at least 30 minutes more. Finally all of us were in the car at 6.45 and we started on NH4 towards Panvel.
 
 
Pic: Khopoli amidst clouds
 
We stopped for breakfast at the Shedung Phata, which is almost 22 km before Panvel and the right turn at this phata takes us to the base of this fort.
 
 
Pic: Prabalgad seen from approach road. Left pinnacle in Kalavantin Pinnacle

Prabalgad is divided into 2 layers. After covering the climb of first layer you reach a waterfall and then walking ahead you reach a small village Thakurwadi. This climb till the waterfall was not turning out to be a good one since it wasn’t raining and the humidity was draining out water from our bodies. After almost 1.30 hours we reached the water stream and it was really a relief. There was another group of school kids, all girls, that was climbing along with us. They only caused traffic jams on the small route up J.
We washed our sweaty hands, faces at this waterfall and were all refreshed. We spent lot of time on this plateau admiring the beauty around.

 
 
 
Pic: javali khora around Prabalgad
 
It was here that we got a closer look of the Kalavantin pinnacle. It looked really inviting. But as per the plan we had to head towards Prabalgad first. So we continued our walk towards the hamlet Thakurwadi. 4 girls from the group had already given up and another guy had to stop back since he had misplaced his sack.
 
 
 
pic : Kalavantin
 
So finally we 11 continued ahead. We tried to find our way to the fort top through the dense forest but it looked impossible to go ahead w/o local help. It also started raining very heavily and suddenly the much visible fort and Kalavantin pinnacle were behind the clouds. So we decided to seek help from a villager and he got ready to guide us at the fees of Rs.200. So now with a guide with us we started the final climb of the trek. This was real challenging one with steep climb and the whole route was slippery as it was raining. All of us climbed carefully to avoid any slipping. After crossing the forest part and coming at a height above the trees, we took a break. And here the view was breath-taking. What we saw was dark clouds and rain above us, sun light in the valley ahead and dense dark forest beneath us.
 
 
Pic: Nature’s wonder
 
Sahyadris have never disappointed me and this time too they didn’t fail to enchant me :) . We continued our climb up and it seemed not to get over, literally. After almost 1.30 hrs of climbing from Thakurwadi, we were finally at the top of the fort. The plain ground with thick forest was a great relief after climbing for almost 3.30 hrs. Our guide took us to the point from where Kalavantin pinnacle is seen, it is seen below from that point and is supposed to be a lifetime view. But to our dismay, the whole place was covered with clouds and we were praying to get to see that view. While waiting for the clouds to clear, we had our lunch that included everything from theplas, bhakarwadi, biscuits, chips, etc. But the best part for me was the Kolhapuri thecha that Devesh had brought. I will thank him 100 times for this good deed :) . I ate that thecha with theplas, chips, bhakarwadi and even with good day biscuits. And at times with nothing!! Again, I was aware what I was doing with my stomach, but some things are my weak points and I just can’t change them, spicy and hot food is one of these things ;) .
While we were enjoying our food, suddenly the blanket of clouds moved aside with the strong breeze that was blowing and we got a glimpse of Kalavantin. That was for so short a time that we could not take pics of it. But it got saved in our eyes forever. We all got on our toes with joy and tried to see as much as we could with every passing cloud. But it never got all cleared.
 
It was already 3 and we had a decision to make. Even if we would start to get down at 3.30, we would not reach thakurwadi by 4 and going to Kalavantin after that didn’t seem possible. So after quick consensus we decided to drop the Kalavantin plan and explore on Prabalgad itself. After a bit of bargain with the guide, we made him ready to show us the kala buruz and Ganesh mandir, for which he would charge us Rs.50 extra. According to him, kala buruz was very far and it would take us lot of time. But seemed like we all were determined to go there, especially me. I wanted to see if white clouds and black buruz mixed to make grey buruz :-P (hahahaha that was a pj).
So again the 11 of us started following the guide. The initial route looked OK to me but it started getting mysterious, adventurous and scary at the same time later. The forest was so dense that we could hardly see the sky above, the javali trees around almost hid the route and the ground was all wet. The forest was so much like the Amazon rain forest, haven’t seen it personally but yes many times on discovery and natgeo. The route followed a pattern, walk through dense forest for some time, then suddenly open patches of lush green grass and then again some invisible route into the jungle.
 
 
Pic: Ganesh Mandir
 
 
Pic: walk through the forest
 

Pic: Grass patches on the way

While on our way we came across many wonderful places, one of them was this pond which was right amidst the forest all covered with fog and it looked so mysterious. Another good sight to see was this stream of water flowing in the jungle which we couldn’t avoid putting our feet in. I didn’t speak out that time, else would have scared a few girls in the group, but I had seen that stream of water in the same type of jungle and same colors in my dream few days back, only difference was I was rowing a boat in it, here I wasn’t :) .
Another unique thing about this trek and this jungle experience was the snails big with shells all around and all on our way….many of them got stamped under our feet, they were just unavoidable, though I avoided as much as I could by being very careful while putting every step.
We walked like this for almost 45 minutes before we reached Kala Buruz. But the same weather continued here and clouds continued to haunt us. Here too we waited for almost 20 minutes but didn’t get a clear view of the beauty around. Though a few small holes in the clouds gave us a peep into the valley, but we could not see the Matheran mountain, Peb fort and Chowk dam which can be seen from here otherwise. We couldn’t afford to waste much time here since it was already 5 and we had to reach Thakurwadi before it got dark.

 
Pic: View of the valley from Kala buruz
 
 
 
Pic: We girls on the trek
So through the same way we started our journey back and followed our guide. After crossing the jungle all started climbing down at their own speeds and we reached the same point from where I had taken a beautiful pic, explained above. This time we saw a golden strip at the horizon and it didn’t take us much time to realize that it was sea shining under the sunlight. Imagine getting surrounded by dark clouds and seeing this golden strip far somewhere!! It’s a rare view.
 
Pic: The golden strip is the shining sea on horizon!!
 
We waited for the others to reach there. There were 6 of them left behind and after they reached there we got to know that Priyanka had got a sprain in her leg due to which she was not able to fold her leg. She had to keep her leg straight. I gave her some first aid and tried to give her some movement but nothing seemed to help her. Finally, tied a scarf to her knee and that is how she had to get down, there was no option at that time, thought the last one would be to bring her down in a doli. But it was not that serious. So now it was Abhijeet, me, Purvi, Devesh and Priyanka who had to cover the remaining 3/4 fort, we sent the rest of them ahead with Sumant.
Looked like bad luck wasn’t leaving Priyanka and a big stone hit her middle finger and it started bleeding. We again had to stop there to give her first aid. After savlon wash and dressing and some rest to her, we started towards Thakurwadi. We reached Thakurwadi at around 6 and got our bottles filled at our guide’s house and also had a few biscuits and theplas there. It was 6 .15 when we started from Thakurwadi. Now it was a real challenge since it was getting dark and our main aim was to cross the jungle part before it got dark. All of us now stayed close and walked at Priyanka’s pace. Devesh was continuously supporting her. When we reached the water stream, it was pitch dark and we turned on mobile torches. The spice mobiles of Purvi and Abhijeet rocked !! We had 2 mobile torches in 5 people J. I was sweeping now and was enjoying the darkness around and truly speaking, even praying to see a ghost at least now!!! :-P , Purvi is gonna curse me if she reads this :) .
There are Purvi stories to tell too. Somewhere on our way back we struck this my fav topic of ghosts. Purvi got very scared and pleaded to change the topic. We made fun of her, with Abhijeet going to the extent of even spotting ghosts around J. We also saw a jugnoo tree, guess wat is it? It looked like all the jugnoos from the jungle had found only one tree to sit on. It was all full of jugnoos and looked extremely beautiful…looked like stars had come down to accompany us. But Purvi didn’t seem to be in the mood of enjoying it. Somewhere she stopped in the way and I came from behind and as a normal habit, put my hands on her shoulders and there she was!!! She screamed so loud and was so damn scared, that she freaked the hell out of me. I couldn’t understand for a moment as to what went wrong. On top of that she put torch light on my face and I had left my hair open to dry them, am sure I looked like a ghost to her J. We brought her back to her senses and then I pleaded Abhijeet to stop the ghost topic!!!
So after a long trail and night trek through the jungle of Prabalgad, we 5 finally reached the place where the van was parked. It was almost 9PM when we reached there. The 6 had reached some time back and the initial 5 were waiting for us since 4 long hours!! Here I am not counting the hours they spent in the Thakurwadi village !! I hope they will join us again even after this trek J.
Like the usual routine, I did all the calculations and returned the remaining amount to all and then embraced my sweetheart, my sleep, after 17 long hours!!! I am sure she missed me like I missed her.
I was very hungry but for except for 3-4 nobody wanted to stop for dinner. Hence we directly hit pune and I was home at 11.15.
The immediate question was of dinner and I checked with Abhijeet if he was willing to come along. But he wanted to go home and change into dry clothes and then go for dinner. That would take another 1 hour and I had no patience of waiting that long. So checked with a couple of other friends, but didn’t work out with anyone. After a quick hot water bath I decided to take my biggy out and go to Bavdhan CCD. Anyways was missing him since 2 days. For those who don’t know, Biggy is my newly purchased Xylo J. 10 minutes drive on the highway and I was at CCD. A veg sandwich and cappuccino was my dinner for the day. I was back in half an hour and somehow the drive helped me regain the energy I had used throughout the day. So much, that I hit the Deccan Gymkhana BB court the next morning J.
We always say good things should never end, but for this one GOOD trek I was praying to God to take me back home as soon as possible. Just wanted to crash on my bed :D .
-Trupti Bhosale
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