Woke up at 4.30 and got dressed, loaded my backpack and with all the ammo(water, food and gatorade) boarded the sweet 16 seater bus. After a fast round up of pick ups on the western express highway and then the final ones at Dadar TT, we were off to Nashik. The final members were: Viraj, Jovita, Rahul, Sangeetha, Nikhil, Vaishnavi, Devi, Pramod, Suhita, Mangal, Kaustubh,Priyanka,Aditya, Kaushal and I. All of them were super punctual with Sangeetha reaching Dadar at 5.15 and we were running on schedule. The first pit stop was at a newly constructed petrol pump to answer the nature’s call but surprisingly the restrooms were under construction so after clicking a couple of pictures we were off in search of a more equipped pump.
We found it, finished the job and were off again. In the meanwhile, all of us were getting acquainted with each other. As all of us came from diverse backgrounds but we were pleased to discover that we had at least some point in common. It was like experiencing the six degrees of separation first hand. The Driver as all pointed out was a relative of Schumacher as he drove at breakneck speed but with enviable skill. Next stop was Hotel Green View for breakfast and true to its name, it had an amazing view of a green hill. After a light round of misal pav, idli vada sambar and chai we were off again.
Joking about South Indian stars to sharing each others adventure trips we killed time which passed too quickly and we were running one hour ahead of schedule. It was ten and we were entering Nashik. With one and half hour to lunchtime, we decided to check out the scenic caves built by the Pandavas, called Pandavleni. Those ancient caves were located at about 300 ft above sea level and we were already huffing and puffing by the time we reached the top. This proved to be a good reality check of our fitness levels and an ideal warm up before the trek. This spot as we noticed was a hit amongst the lovers and couples could be spotted coochie cooing around.
After checking out the caves, striking poses for Facebook, we were off for lunch at Shiv Sagar, Nashik(Yep, they are everywhere!). The meal was a traditional Indian Thali with 8 katoris filled with myriad food items. Right from a sweet dish to bhajis to chapatis to different types of rice preparations, we were full and in the mood to sleep and thats what we did after lunch. Slept on the bus on the way to Anjaneri which was a short 40 minute drive away from Nashik, picking up 3 more enthusiasts on our way, we were finally on the way to the base village.
The base is open to small vehicles and bikes so a trek of fifteen minutes is saved but since our mini bus did not classify as either, we had to leave it at the village, strap our backpacks and set off on foot. Fortunate that was because we got some amazing views of the valleys and the water bodies that surround the place. Once at the base, we had to do a combination of trekking and climbing stairs. The trekking part was moderately difficult because of the narrow pathways and slippery rocks.
The stairs although wide were steep and slippery because of the drizzle. However, the brave soldiers gritted it out and somehow managed to reach the temple on the plateau. Clicking pictures on the way for memories and facebook, we weren’t tired in the least bit. After a short break at the temple, we trudged ahead and were met with the most pleasant surprise. There was a fog covered lake gleaming to our left and we could not help marveling at the beauty of nature. It seemed straight out of Harry Potter. With another round of pictures, we started off again for the peak which was about 1.5 km ahead.
This last kilometer was the best part of the trek. As we neared the peak, we were being engulfed in thick sheets of clouds.The valleys that lay around us were gone and instead a white curtain had been drawn upon us. Water droplets wet our hair and a pleasant chill entered the atmosphere. Our vision was particularly impaired as we could not see anything beyond 10 feet. The situation was equally dangerous and appealing. With the determination to reach the top, we slowly trudged ahead and experienced what it must feel to walk straight into heaven. Just walking into the mist, we were excited to find out what lay ahead.
After walking aimlessly for 10 minutes, we strained our eyes to see signs of something and there in the distance we could see a hazy orange flag fluttering gloriously in the cold air. As we moved closer, the temple of Anjani Mata came into view and we knew that we had conquered the peak!I unfurled the Indian Tricolour and waved it triumphantly in the air. This was it. After three hours of trekking, we had finally made it. Sweet taste of achievement on our tongues, we fished around the backpacks for food, consumed it and after another round of pictures, we were descending.
On our way back we noticed many scenic spots which we had missed due to the mist which was slowly clearing. When we reached the lake, the mist started creeping in and thickening. Our vision was restricted to about 6 feet ahead. Staying together we finally made it to the temple and then to the steep steps. The descend did not take a long time and we were soon at the base about ten minutes away from our bus. Although we were slightly late, we just sat at a spot and admired the view and just chatted about the good times that we had.
But the clock called and we had to answer it however reluctant we were. It was 7 when we left Nasik city and the driver was a pro, he drove superbly through the traffic and we were in Bombay by 10. The first drop was at Dadar so we said a final note of thank yous and goodbyes and the drops began, as the number of people in the bus started decreasing, I sat back thinking about the time that I just had. I met some wonderful people from diverse backgrounds, witnessed the impeccable beauty of mother nature and stretched my limits!
More such experiences to come. Stay tuned in! For the complete album click here.
A big thank you to Priyanka, Aditya and Kaushal with whom this trip wouldn’t have happened!