Beginning from where I left it….
For those who want to catch up with the first part, please scroll down and read it. 🙂
So, we were guided by three trek leads – Vinayak Sir, Dhanashree ma’am and Siddhant Sir – all three experienced trekkers. A friendly and enthusiastic lot, we all immediately warmed up to them and to each other too. We all started talking and joking with each other during the tea-break itself – So yeah, I was sure – this was going to be one heck of a trek!! 😉
As we went ahead, the trek leads kept giving us inputs about the terrain – there was an ascent, a plain and then the descent. So we were mentally prepared for what was awaiting us. We walked along, halting for brief moments, absorbing the beauty around us and capturing these moments to cherish when we go back home. 🙂 ❤
Amidst all of this, whenever the wind would blow real hard, I would involuntarily stop and replicate the Titanic Pose – yeah the one where you spread your arms wide open(although I did it alone :P). I must have done it at least 10 times, until Parag Uncle asked me to pose the exact same way against a scenic background and clicked my pic – that probably was my favourite pic from this trek, because those who know me are aware that I’m not much of a poser, and that I’m better behind the camera than front of it – but there I was – POSING! It just happened! And the picture speaks a thousand words – of me relishing the moment, trying to contain the blowing wind in my arms, topped with that “I’m on top of the world” feeling. Just perfect…And the quote on my T-shirt was apt too –
“Enough is never quite enough”!
Stands true for my insatiable trekking craze! ❤ 😀
And at the beginning, it was super cold – we took our sweatshirts along, but who knew 20 minutes through the trek the sweatshirts would be all sweaty! This is one trek tip I will keep in mind for sure – in moderately cold weather, you don’t need to tag your sweat shirt along – you’ll end up tying it around your waist more than putting it on!
As we went on, the ascent came to an end and now we had the plain terrain. The pathway here was lined with crab homes on both sides! And I didn’t even know these were crab homes, until Satish Uncle (Doctor, and a nature enthusiast) enlightened us all. We went a little ahead and voila – we saw a crab – A small little crab lying sluggishly in a muddy puddle. Dhanashri ma’am picked it up so that we could have a better view and some clicks too! 😀
After a walk of around an hour and a half, we finally took our first break. Where? By the riverside, with the river gently cooing beside us. Here we had our Chikki and Paperboat break. We sat for a while on the rocks by the river, again – absorbing nature’s stunning beauty. As people living in the city, we’re not really used to seeing crystal-clear, sparkling rivers, that have a mystic fragrance. So this was indeed a treat to the eyes…..<3
During this break, I spotted a snake – curled up on a rock. Not knowing whether it was alive, I asked Parag uncle. And then the entire group gathered there. Gentle prodding with a twig made us realise the snake was alive and slithering! It actually got a bit panicked, I think – but so did we! So we left it at that – didn’t bother to disturb it any more than we’d already done! 😛
After this was the fun part – we had to cross the river! If it were raining, the river-crossing would have been a little difficult, we’d probably require help from the trek leads. But the weather gods were in our favour, so all we had to do was take off our shoes and socks and cross the river – by ourselves (Of course under the watchful eyes of the trek leads!). The feeling of the cool water splashing against bare feet – it was so relaxing! No foot massage in the world could probably replicate this level of relaxation! 😀 ❤
After everyone successfully went across the river, we then started with the actual route that would go through the dense jungle. Until then we were on the simple, not-so-complicated route.
“What’s the point if we keep walking on the plain road with trees on the sides? Let’s amp it up a little!” were Vinayak Sir’s words.
And he warned us, “Keep walking, don’t stop anywhere and always ensure you are with one of the trek leads. There’s a probability of you encountering snakes and in rare possibilities, even a leopard”.
Ahem, what? A leopard?
But then he brushed it off saying that animals venture further into the jungle when it rains, so the probability of encountering one is quite rare. But we still had to be watchful.
Now this terrain was tough – narrow pathways (with enough space for one person to go through at a time) climbing through rocks, amidst all the slush…phew..it was a task! But we cruised through it too and then we reached the topmost point – right above Gupt Bhimashankar (Hidden Bhimashankar – will elaborate on that later)
So at this spot, there’s a temple on the top. This is the exact place where you can spot a lot of Shekhrus and monkeys. And guess what? We spotted both!! Shekhru, also known as the Indian Giant Squirrel or the Flying Squirrel, is the State animal of Maharashtra. It’s huge, with a tail that has a bright red flare – it’s elusive, but the tail makes it easier to spot it.
Spotting the Shekhru was like a childhood dream come true – I wanted to see the shekhru live ever since I was in the fourth grade – the first time I had seen one in my Geography textbook. And I finally spotted one (albeit 12 years later). And as mentioned earlier, animals go into hiding in the monsoons, spotting monkeys was surprising – probably they were enjoying the beauty of the monsoon too!
After this, we went downwards, again crossed the river– towards Gupt Bhimashankar. This is where the original Shivlinga (One of the 12 Jyotirlingas across the country) is located – which is why devotees throng this place. And the waterfalls – just perfect! Milky white gushing waterfalls – falling atop the Shivlinga – the sight is purely marvellous! Visibility of the Shivlinga is low during the monsoon, owing to the gushing waterfall right above it – but we never the less managed to see it. Again, hotspot for filmi photo shoots – we had an elaborate photo session here – individual and group.
While we were nearing Gupt Bhimshankar, we had encountered a huge log of a fallen tree that blocked the pathway. It had strategically fallen – either you had to climb over it, or go below it. Now I’m tall, so I easily climbed over it. But the girl right behind me – she was shorter, so she went the other way. And then we laughed over it, and got to talking. That’s where, I became friends with Meera –a bubbly, cheerful teenager. I love befriending people wherever I go. And it was Meera this time! (We later promised to keep in touch and now, I have a friend for life!) And Meera was my companion for the rest of the trek. 😀
We trudged, chattering along the way knowing that the trek was coming to an end. And so did it.
But the end of the trek was disheartening. The trek ended exactly behind the Bhimashankar Temple. And this place was full of refuse from the temple– plastic bags, pieces of cloth, flowers and other things. We had to literally walk through all this litter and unbearable stench– making us all wonder – is this true devotion? Why can’t people conserve, respect and adore nature as much as they worship God? The end of the trek was distasteful. I could see efforts made by the local governance – they had put up banners asking people not to dump waste, there were garbage bins placed. But no……merciless humans, managed to choke the serenity of a religious place too. This is not how we wanted our trek to end… 😦
Anyway, we got over it….
We made our way towards the temple, which is an architectural wonder.<3 There were sweet shops and corn shops lined up the temple stairs (climbing them up was a mini-trek in itself!). We made our respective purchases and finally reached the main gates – and headed for lunch. 🙂
We had a sumptuous meal at a local dhaba – rice, dal, roti, ussal, shev bhaji (Local delicacies), – warm, tasty food to satiate our voracious hunger.
And after the trek leads had counted the number of people, we headed back to our bus – way home to Pune, back to the polluted, urban jungle – far away from nature’s placidity……
And of course, after a trek of 10 kilometers, burning 950 calories – we slept like babies on our way back home!! 🙂
Special thanks to Parag Uncle, Sharayu and Siddhi for lending me the photos! ❤