Exploring Bhimashankar(भीमाशंकर ) Via Shidichi Wat(शिडीची वाट) followed by descending from Siddhagad(सिद्धगड) towards Konkan.....1 OF 2

Everyone were enjoying Diwali Vacations.Prasad called me to go for any hard trek,as Prasanna(his brother) was at Pune and came from Bangalore. Prasanna was going to resume trekking after nearly about 4 years and so desperate. Rhishikesh and Indra were not able to join. Vasu was about to join directly from Kolhapur at Pune Station,but at last moment He didn't get the bus from there.So finally we were only four ,the fantastic four ready to hike the Shidichi Wat(शिडीची वाट). Once again another hard core trekking plan(नुसतं भटकायचं......भन्नाट डोंगरयात्रा) by Prasad.

I and Nikhil, we started traveling  at around 11:00 PM  from Pune station to reach Talegaon. From where we were supposed to meet Prasanna and Prasad and catch the train for Karjat. As usual I was enjoying traveling by local train. Reaching Talegaon,We met Prasanna and Prasad, started chitchatting until the train arrive.This was the first time I was meeting to Prasanna.Finally we departed for Karjat at around 2:15 AM.

Nagphani peak from Kathewadi

Around 3:45 AM in the clock on saturday morning we were at Karjat(कर्जत) Bus Stand.Initially thought, due to being in Konkan there may be less cold but here feeling was like lowest temperature of November in 2012 winter, so extreme cold around(चांगली कडाक्याची थंडी पडली होती)finally we were there at Karjat Bus Stand after leaving the home(पुणे) in the night before at around 9:30 PM.

There were two more persons at Bus Stand and seems like in mood to go for sleep.No one was around other than us, not even tapariwala (टपरीवाला). We started looking around at Bus Stand and came to know from time table,  that the there is only one Bus,we could alight and is at 5:45 AM. So it was around 2 hours to be spent more. The small bus stand was maintained clean at utmost level.Feel good factors for us.We decided not to sleep first,but due to too much cold,we went inside the blanket. And I just got into flashback of unexpected incident happened in the train last night that I don't want to mentioned here.

My God,No relief at all,even two sweat-shirts and a blanket not enough for saving ourself from extreme cold.We thought we could lite the campfire,but didnt get the wood for that.Fortunately one tapariwala opened his snacks centre and we got hot tea and got some relief.Also the bus was ready to depart for Kashele(कशेळी), and on the way we were supposed to get there at next destination.

Reaching Kashele in a hour,we got fantastic view of Kothaligad(कोथळीगड) with the sun rising behind it from the main sahyadri range. We were there in konkan just parallel to great western ghat  in the front and western coast behind us. What a view! really great!  .Getting our stomuck packed with heavy breakfast,we headed towards Kathewadi(काठेवाडी) via khandas(खांडस) which is around 7-8 KM from Kashele.

Traveling by hired six seater,we were enjoying scenic beauty of little little villages.From one point we got the excellant view of Padargad(पदरगड),looking different,very different from others forts.We reached Kathewadi village in an hour.

काठेवाडी........ कोंकणातलं एक छोटंसं गाव.गावात पोहोचलो तेव्हा गावातल्या स्त्रिया विहिरी वरून पाणी भरत होत्या.पूर्वेकडून सूर्याच्या किरणांमुळे नागफणी टोकाच्याबाजूचा डोंगर पूर्ण झाकल्या गेला होता .नागफणी टोक आणि पदरगड या दोघांमध्ये सूर्य आपलं तेज जिकडे जागा मिळेल तिकडे पसरवण्याचा प्रयत्न करत होता. एखाद्या छोट्याश्या सुंदर गावाला साजेशं असं वर्णन आम्ही प्रत्यक्ष अनुभवत होतो. वाह: निसर्गाची कमालच ती . खरोखरंच अद्वितीय ! निसर्ग आपल्याला भरपूर देत असतो ,आपणही निसर्गाचे काही देणं लागतो याचं भान ठेवायला हवं.देणं म्हणजे जे आहे ते टिकवुन ठेवण्याचा प्रयत्न करावा..... बस्सं !

Oh my god!!!!!!!! We got the excellent view of complete traverse/hiking path in one shot,which we were going to finish in 2 days .Right from Nagphani point(नागफणी टोक) the highest point in the Bhimashankar(भीमाशंकर) jungle till Siddhagad(सिद्धगड) along with Damdama Hill(दमदम्या ),Lingi(लिंगी ) on hiking the way .Prasanna captured the complete panorama there.So we could see the complete trekking route means direction only, not the actual path.Ultimately we were there to explore the path to reach our destination.Inquiring for the guide in the village,one person agreed to lead our way till Shidichi Wat(शिडीची वाट) end.As it was somewhat difficult patch,we thought he would know the better way to climb,decreasing risk factor.

Around 8:00 in the morning,we started walking towards shidichi wat followed by guide(वाटाड्या)It was fantastic experience,walking by narrow foot path towards Bhimashankar hill along with best buddies.On the pleasant morning,we were enjoying sun rays(Vitamin D ). After walking around half an hour,we crossed little,very small river.But As per guide,it takes expanded form in the monsoon.We could easily cross the river,as the water was very negligible,but enough for filling our water bottle.

We could see the lower Bhimashankar plateau and the arrow depicting the path.....that is the SHIDICHI WAT. Almost straight steep ascend.Upto the lower plateau,we were going to hike via Shidichi wat along with the guide and crossing shidichi Wat, we were going to leave guide behind.

सूर्याच्या किरणांमुळे नदीचं  पाणी आणि बाजूला उभे असलेले आमचे भटके मित्र ....मस्त दिसत होतं चित्र ! फोटो काढायचा मोह आवरेनासा झाला आणि केला बंदिस्त कॅमेरा मध्ये. आणि हो सगळ्यात महत्वाचं म्हणजे माझ्या आठवणींच्या अल्बम मध्ये सुद्धा . खरंच कधी कधी असं  वाटतं सगळं सोडून भटकत राहावं राना-वना तून ,कडे-कपाऱ्या मधून ,निसर्गाचा मनसोक्त आनंद घेत ,पण काय करणार ? असे करायला गेलो तर दोन वेळच्या भाकरीची बोंब ! आनंद पाळंदेच्या "डोंगरयात्रा" पुस्तकातल्या प्रस्तावनेनुसार आमच्या पायांना भिंगरया लागलेल्या आहेत अक्षरश:.

Crossing the river,we entered in the forest of taller tress. Being around 8:30 in the clock we rearrange our belongings and tightening the sacks on back, we headed to search the path in jungle.As it was seems like bit usual way, we easily finished jungle patch and reach the base of the hill.

And we got the first ever view of first set of shidi(ladder). All the faces delighted.

We started capturing images.Shidichi Wat.....being more easy now days because of ladders. Still because of pilgrimage place,devotees from konkan reached bhimashankar via this route.As it is somewhat shorter.There is another route to get there,via Ganesh ghat(गणेश घाट),bit longer than this but easier.To facilitate the devotees,new ladders are fixed by one trekking group here.As guide told,he was the part of that operation.We got surprise how could they get heavy ladders up! After doing some photo session there we crossed first set.We got the excellent view of Padargad from there and around konkan.That time,we were just at border of konkan and rest of Maharashtra.Also the views of Matheran range,the only sahyadri range in the konkan.

Here we can see the old ladder fixed,looked like more tough and need more precaution while climbing.Earlier when there were not ladders,the trekker used to get up by bouldering technique. In this technique, we have to head just by pushing whole body weight on the hands and fixing fingers in appropriate rock gaps.Don't let to get pressure on legs,as it should be used as support.

We were at one cave after climbing second set of ladders and looked like interesting one. As someting written(मामाच्या घरी जाणार नाही,ब्राम्हणाच दही खा) on the rock inside the caves.We  got surprised and asked guide about this,so he started telling one little and interesting love story.

There is one youn man who falled in love with his uncle's doughter(मामाची मुलगी) and was crazy about her.But somewhere,somehow due to discrepancies between them,the girl dump him.Beacause of this the boy got shocked and gone mental.After that He used to come here and spend the time lonely.Being in the madness, he started painting on the rocks. The girl married to man from political background then.The paintings shows his anger towards that girl.

Then we asked guide,What is he doing now? The guide answerd,"वेडा झालाय तो,भटकतोय रानोमाळ "

So one by one,we all ascended shidicha ghat and said good bye to guide.Giving him his earnings we got the promise to meet next time.Leaving him behind,we started our next journey towards Bhimashankar.

Finally we are here in between Konkan and desh, in Padarwadi(पदरवाडी). Finishing shidichi wat,we were feeling kind of great relief. Actuly the term 'GHAT(घाट)' refers to the difficult, and curvy(zigzag) ways. Because of the western ghat(सह्याद्री) Maharashtra got divided into two parts Konkan and Desh. And these curvy roads,ways,footpaths are means of transport.Somewhere built roads,somewhere only footpaths.Here is Shidicha ghat is one of those means.As I told earlier ,Ganesh Ghat is another route to get there.

So now being at Padarwadi base village,pada(पाडा) of atmost 4-5 houses,calm and cool,the fort is known for its uniqueness. One of the hotspot for rock climbing and favorite of the trekkers.Getting relax for a while and capturing some memorable clicks there we headed towards Mungi ghat(मुंगी घाट) .The subway between Padarwadi and Bhimashankar.We could see the Nagphani tok on bhimashankar from here.

Approaching Bhimashankar hills, we were enjoying awesome sightseeing.Being above the height of Padargad,we can see Kothaligad,Matheran range,Khandas,Padarwadi,Belarwadi,kathewadi.Excellent! Again entered in little dense forest.And after climbing for about an hour,we reached Bhimashankar plateau finally.

We already visited the temple in the previous trek.So without spending time in exploring region around we directly went to the hotel.As getting damn hungry,we first needed the petrol(पोटात भुकेने कावळे ओरडतच नव्हते ,थैमान घालत होते).पोटपूजा करून आमची भटकंती चालु झाली.Next target was Nagphani tok.Finishing lunch,we started walking towards the highest point on plateau.

Wow excellent views of Sahyadri in and around...............Fantastic.No words to express the feelings after this sightseeing. Some time I think about the one with no eyes and get jealous about myself and feel bad for those.That how lucky I am,I can see the world.I will do something for them beyond the thinking.

From here we can see the complete range including Nagphani tok,Siddhagad,Damdamya,Lingi,Tungi,Kothaligad,Padarwadi,Khandas and many more. Just fantabulous.

Also we got snap of special animal from Bhimashankar forest(शेकरू) big squirrel.The jungle is famous for its habitat.

We returned from Nagphani tok and started thinking about to reach Kondhwal(कोंढवळ) our next milestone where we supposed to reach same day by evening for night stay.There is no direct bus to kondhwal from bhimashankar,however we can get there by travelling upto kondhwal phata(कोंढवळ फाटा) by Bus and then walking for around 4 Km.

Getting freshed and tightning our sacks we started walking towards Bhimashankar Bus Stand.The special place which is always full of crowd,despite of season being.Boarding on the bus we asked conductor that we want to alight at Kondhwal phata and started our 20 minute journey.

Reaching Kondhwal phata,we delighted as the road towards kondhwal was too pleasant to resist.ek number.This road goes through jungle on both side.So 4 km distance it might take one and half an hour.We started approching village.
रस्ता पूर्णपणे निर्मनुष्य होता,आणि आम्ही चार भटके सूर्यास्ताच्या आधी गाव गाठायचे म्हणून तरातरा पण
आजूबाजूचा निसर्ग न्याह्याळीत चाललो होतो .एकंदरीतवातावरण आल्हाददायक असल्यामुळे आतापर्यंत किती
पायी चाललो? याचे भान सुद्धा नव्हते.And  we were expecting some animal atleast peacock,but no luck.Anyway we were enjoying walking on rural narrow road.

सुर्य पश्चिमेकडे झुकत चालला होता आणि संध्याकाळचा कोवळं सूर्यकिरण अजूनच निरागस भासत होतं.चालता चालता आम्ही गावाच्या वेशीपाशी येउन पोहोचलो.ओढ्यावरचा छोटासा सांकव ओलांडून गावामध्ये प्रवेश केला. क्षणातच गाव आपलं स्वागत करायला आतुर असल्याचं जाणवलं. बरं वाटत होतं.

पोहोचलो तेव्हा बाया-बापड्यांची कामाची घाई गडबड चाललेली. कुणी विहिरीवरून पाणी भरत होते.कुणाची शेतीची कामे चाललेली.माणसे आपापल्या शेतातुन गुरे-वासरे घेऊन परत घराकडे निघालेली.हवेत आता गारवा वाढायला सुरुवात झाली,रात्रीच्या थंडीची थोडीफार चुणूक निसर्गाने आधीच आम्हाला दिली .

वेशीपाशी पोहोचताच प्रसाद ने एका खेडुताला विचारपूस केली. त्यानंतर आम्ही पुढच्या गावी म्हणजे गवांदे या गावी मुक्काम करायचे ठरवले. गावांदेला  पोहोचल्यावर मी आणि प्रसन्न मागे थांबलो.निखिल आणि प्रसाद एका मुलाला विचारपूस करत होते.आम्ही दोघे जन गावकऱ्यांचे निरीक्षण करीत होतो .त्या मुलाने आमची एका छोट्याश्या शाळेत राहण्याची सोय करून दिली आणि त्याच्याच घरी जेवणाचे आमंत्रण दिले.आम्ही पाठीवरच्या sack उतरवल्या आणि जागेची स्वच्छता करायला लागलो.तेवढ्यात त्या मुलानी आम्हाला रात्रीसाठी सरपण सुद्धा गोळा करून दिले आणि यावेळेस त्याच्या सोबत अजून एक मुलगा आलेला.संध्याकाळचे ६-७ वाजले असतील.जेवण तयार होईपर्यंत आम्ही शेकोटी पेटवून त्याभोवती गप्पा मारत बसलो. आणि त्या मुलांची चौकशी केली तेव्हा ते दोघे पुण्यात D Ed ला असल्याचे माहिती झाले. आनंद झाला.

थोड्या वेळा नंतर त्यांनी आम्हाला जेवायला त्याच्या घरी घेऊन गेला. घर पारंपारिक पद्धतीने सारवलेले.घरात अन्न धान्याची रेलचेल.प्रसन्न वाटत होतं.बहुतेक तो आणि त्याची बहिण हे दोघेच घरात होते.त्या ताईने आमच्या साठी मुद्दाम स्वयंपाक केलेला दिसत होता. मस्तं तांदळाची भाकरी आणि आलु-मटारचा बेत होता. एकदम फक्कड.जेवणं उरकली आणि आम्ही त्याला पैसे द्यायला लागलो तर ते घेण्यास नकार दिला.खूप खूप आग्रह केल्यानंतर १०० रुपये घेतले आणि आमच्या शेकोटीच्या ठिकाणी आलो.

आता थंडी जाणवायला  लागली होती. आम्ही झोपण्याचे ठरवले. आडोश्याला sack लाऊन थोडसं झोपी गेलो न गेलो थंडीने आपले खरे रूप दाखवायला सुरवात केली.मग काय रात्र भर कुड कुडत कसे तरी झोपलो. झोप कसली ती. मी आणि प्रसन्न जवळपास ३ वाजता पासून जागीच होतो.प्रसाद मात्र शेकोटीच्या बाजूला त्याच्या कॅर्री म्याट वर निवांत झोपला होता आणि निखिल आम्हा दोघांचे पांघरून घेऊन गाढ झोपला होता. प्रसन्न आणि मी सूर्योदयाची वाट बघत चहाट्या मारत बसलो होतो.................................................

In this way,reaching Gawande,we took dinner from one villager and taking resting at small school there,we retired for the day.We were waiting for dawn on the next day.Awesome!!!!!!! The day was just awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! Missing Rhishikesh,Indrajeet,Vasu,KSagar ...............................

REST OF THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE UPLOADED SOON........................................