Monday, September 14, 2009

Trek to Naneghat - An Ideal Week end Get away

Published in The Times of India - Chembur Ghatkopar Plus on 26th Sept2009

We started our journey from Mumbai at 630 am and reached the base of Naneghat by 930 am. The place is about 2 hours from Kalyan (approximately 55 kms). Since it had started raining while we were in Mumbai, we knew we were in for a treat at Naneghat. It is essential to have a nice breakfast before starting the trek and we did just that. This is important because it provides a lot of energy required for the trek and secondly the trek doesn’t offer any food on the way. What Naneghat offers is lush greenery and abundance of natural beauty. It was drizzling when we started moving upwards. A few minutes’ later clouds allowed us to view the glorious and the magnificent thumb shaped peak of Naneghat and next to it was the V-shaped Naneghat pass. We stared at them with reverence and anticipation. In a way, it also appeared like the beautiful woman, who appears unattainable and thus depressing.

We, however, a group of 19 decided to stretch our ambitions to 3000 feet (as that’s where the pinnacle lies), take the uncertainties head-on and started moving slowly, steadily and firmly amidst dazzling surroundings. Most of us were first timers and were in awe of the amazing landscape this place was offering us. The trek is labeled easy but an amateur has to be cautious because of the slippery surface. Moments later it started pouring again and as if it was time to shut the doors to the magical view on the top, the zinc colored clouds covered it. We continued moving forward amidst desultory and dangling conversation, and exploring the post card worthy landscapes around.

As we continued our pursuit, the slightly wider road turned itself into a much narrower one. Since it was raining heavily, the path upwards was completely water laden, with the water hardly allowing us to view the rocks beneath it to step on them. It was alike walking amidst a waterfall. The decision to step on any rock was based on sheer intuition. The path may not have been difficult otherwise. The flowing water did two things to us; firstly it slowed us down and secondly it robbed us from watching the breathtaking views around.

The perseverance ultimately paid off as we reached the top of Naneghat and were in for a big surprise. Little did we know that the path on which we were walking assiduously was of historical importance. The cave’s on the top has scriptures written on its walls in Brahmi language and the V-shaped pass was once upon a time used for trade. It belonged to the famous Satavahana rulers and the presence of a huge pot made of rocks confirms this. It is believed that the traders using this path used to insert a gold coin in the pot as toll. It seemed like a chapter straight out of one of those history text books. It was an enthralling experience for us knowing how unknowingly we stumbled upon such a historically significant landmark. It was a trip back to time. The isolation of such a beautiful place was however a bit aching.

After lunch, we started moving skywards - towards the top of “The Thumb” - a cliff from one side and accessible from the other. The valley had however decided to not let us view it and therefore remained enveloped in the fog. Standing at 3000 feet, I got a feeling of déjà-vu. I recalled standing at 18000 feet at Khardung La in Ladakh last year wondering how much higher, the sky could be. I wonder about it every time standing at great heights.

We shared a few unforgettable moments of solitude; away from the crushing monotony the urban life offers, till it was time to head back. As we started moving downwards we realized that the water was flowing downwards at a great speed making it difficult for us to walk. However, as the rain stopped and the water receded we started moving more comfortably. The thick dark clouds which tested us earlier also parted and we were in for a magnificent view around the ghats. We were thus able to view top of the famous Kalsubai, Bhimashankar, Harishchandraghad and Siddhaghad. The mountain ranges of Matheran also were peeping amidst the clouds.

We finally reached the place where we had begun and soon started heading home. While the vehicle moved, I kept staring at the Naneghat, with a feeling of conquest. The reverence before the journey had turned into a meaningless ego, a trait that resides in every human. To my surprise, the mountain quite at peace with itself smiled back at me, as if it was happy to let me conquer it. So powerful yet so humble, I told myself. Suddenly the ego seemed trivial, and I stared at the peak again, this time with affection and bid it good-bye.

Trek To Naneghat -

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