Another monsoon Sunday! ITS TREKKING TIME! AND CYCLING TIME!
Delzad was out of town so this time I convinced Adi to join me for a trek. He was excited and scared at the same time.
‘My back is paining bro’ he complained, but I convinced him to come along – we will do a simple trek. I also wanted to do some good cycling, and after some research, decided on Kondana caves. I saw it in Harish Kapadia, and then read Ashutosh Bijoor’s amazing blog on his cycling trip there. As soon as I saw the photos I was hooked...what an amazing carved cave temple! I want to see this.
This would be the longest one way cycling trip yet – about 70 KM! Kondana was near Karjat.
I started at daybreak – about 6 AM - and set out on the Bombay Pune road. I had done Karnala earlier, and it was the same route till Panvel, where the highway split into the Bombay Goa road, and the Bombay Pune road.
It took me about 5 hours, but luckily it was cloudy and slightly rainy, and that kept the temperature cool. Adi slept off in the morning, and set out late – but that turned out to be a good thing, as it took him only an hour to reach karjat and he caught up with me as I was having some wada pav for breakfast.
I loaded the cycle in the Scorpio and we went off to kondivade village. This is also the starting point of the trek to Rajmachi fort.
After the trek to Visapur, Delzad was very enthu about doing more trekking. I was also enthu about doing some long cycling, and so I thought of Karnala fort. Its close to the highway, so easily accessible on cycle – and it was quite a nice trek – not too easy, not too difficult.
We decided to go on a Friday, so as to avoid the crowds. I would leave early on cycle, and Delzad would follow later in the Scorpio and we would meet at Karnala.
Home to Karnala was about 45 KM, which was not too bad but definitely not a pushover either. It would be important to focus on proper nutrition to prevent cramping. I carbed up in dinner, and carried some electrolytes and a couple of chapattis.
It took about 3 hours, and the only unpleasant part was the disgusting state of the Bombay Goa road – more holes than road. It was a nice climb up the Karnala ghat at the end of the ride and the Police guy at the gate was very impressed when he learnt that I had cycled all the way from Mumbai.
Delzad timed the driver perfectly and rolled up a few minutes after me, and we loaded the cycle into the Scorpio and locked it.
This Sunday I decided to avoid the cycle ride and do a trek instead. This was because Bawa - the actual owner of the cycle, from whom I have ‘borrowed’ it (wink wink)- requested me to go for a trek with him. As both of us could not fit on one cycle, we decided to drop the cycle and do only the trek.
‘But where shall we go?’ he asked.
‘Don’t worry re.’ I replied ‘I shall consider and decide on the day’ and spent Saturday evening watching ‘Deadpool’ and drinking a lot of Single malt whisky.
On Sunday morning we met up at Vashi, and had an excellent breakfast at a roadside idli wada stall along the highway. After reading ‘Trek the Sahyadris’ and consulting with SHE-WHO-MUST-BE-OBEYED I decided on Visapur fort.
Visapur fort had many things going for it – it was easily approachable by the expressway and NH4, we could bypass Lonavla city and avoid the crowds, I knew the way as it was close to Lohagad where I had been several times, it was a fort I had been wanting to visit for a long time, it would be much less crowded than the nearby Lohagad, and we could visit Sheetal da dhaba for an excellent lunch after the trek!
The easily findable part of it was crucial – as we were two navigation challenged people, who had managed to get lost and take the wrong turn on a single lane highway in Ladakh, and had reached all the way to Tanglangla pass before we realised that we were going the wrong way.
And sure enough, here also I managed to miss the turn to Malavali station inspite of having been there umpteen times, and had to take a U turn to get back on the right track. We drove past Bhaje caves and up the ghat and found the turnoff to Visapur. We parked the car there, and started walking.
It’s a Sunday – Let’s ride! Its the monsoon – Lets trek!
Lets do both- Bike and hike!
I tried to get She-who-must-be-obeyed to come for a trek, but she was still traumatised by the huge crowds at Tikona last Sunday and refused to come.
‘It’s a Sunday, and I am going to sleep!’ she announced. ‘I have to get up everyday at 6 to send your kid to school, and I need a break once a week!’
‘My kid?’ I said ‘I thought it was your kid...’ I broke off as a dangerous light came into her eyes.
‘If your stupid alarm goes off at 5.30 in the morning and wakes me up...I will find you...and I will kill you...after I finish cutting you!’
So I decided to go for a ride instead, and went through Ashutosh Bijoor’s blog for places to go to. I saw this post about his ride to Uran fort, and I was fascinated. I knew nothing about Uran except that it houses the new (well, not so new now) dockyard of Mumbai – the Jawaharlal Nehru Port trust – and is the place where millions and millions of trucks go to.
The idea of it being a historical place, with an ancient fort, fascinated me. I had to see this.
On Sunday I woke up bright and early (with a silent vibrating alarm, to save my life) and set out for Uran – about 45 KM away, via Vashi and Palm beach road.
I had attempted to go to Vashi earlier once, but I had been really scared by the very fast heavy traffic. It had been early in the year, so it was quite dark in the morning so visibility was an issue. But now I learnt that the trick is to avoid using the flyover, so that you can stick safely to the side of the road and out of harm’s way.
I crossed Vashi bridge for the first time on cycle, and was very amused to see the many people fishing from the bridge. They were very poor people and it was really basic fishing – they didn’t have a fancy pole or anything – just a plastic string and a hook. And there were so many of them! I wondered if they actually caught anything or this was just a way to get out of the house and away from the wife.
I turned on to Palm beach road, and really enjoyed that part of the ride. Nice wide roads, green and scenic, not much traffic – it was fun to ride on. I passed the huge Seawoods lake, and was amused to see a replica of Rodin’s ‘Thinker’ out there. I had passed by this place a million times, but had never noticed it before.
She-who-must-be-obeyed stood up and struck a dramatic pose, waggling her finger at me.
‘Today we shall go for a trek!’
I raised my eyebrows, and she immediately took that as an insult and scowled at me, and I rapidly lowered them.
‘I WANT COFF COFF...’ I waited for her to complete the sentence, but she only made a sound like a truck grinding its gears. After a second she continued. ‘I W ANT COFF COFF’ and again stopped.
‘Coffee?’ You want coffee?’
She just glared at me. ‘I WANT to go on a trek...coff coff. Cough cough’ Oh, she was coughing, and that frightening sound was her clearing her clogged throat.
‘Dude...you are not well...you are sounding like Ajit instead of Mona darling, and coughing away like a machine gun.’
‘Er...I mean...do you think that its a good idea to go for trek in the rain when you are down with a cold?’
‘tchah.’ She said. ‘Watch this.’ And she took a big breath, and growled ‘OK, all you germs...GET OUT!!!!’
And I swear, I could almost see all the germs, viruses and microbes rushing out of her body in sheer terror.
‘OK, let’s go.’
‘!@$#%@%%#(@ You STUPID SON OF A BLIND BAT! STAY IN YOUR LANE!!! @$$%&& GET OUT OF MY LANE YOU SLOWCOACH!!! #%$%*@#@ BLOODY ROAD HOG...WHO GAVE YOU A LICENSE??? #&*#!#^@@ TURN OFF YOUR BLINKERS YOU FOOL....’
This was me cursing at the traffic on the Expressway, because all the other drivers seemed to have taken an advanced degree in moronry with an additional elective of idiocy.
‘Dude...dont get so upset.’ SHE said to me. ‘You should be calm like me.’
‘Eh? Calm like who?’
‘Like me. Unflappable. Ice cold. In control of your self.’
‘Eh? Yesterday when the birds came and chirped at the window you cursed and threw things at them. One bird had a heart attack and died of fear when you glared at it. The dhobi still quivers and pees in his pants because you shouted at him for bringing the clothes late...and...’
‘Oh shut up. Be calm like me. See, once we get on the trek how calm and energised I will be. Everyone should trek in the Sahyadris in the rains. Everyone.’
‘@##@*@$T#@# THESE STUPID MORONS. #@$#@&~ HOW DID THEY DARE TO COME ON THE SAME MOUNTAINSIDE AS ME?’
Unfortunately for She-who-must-be-obeyed, it seemed that the whole of Mumbai and Pune had listened to her and decided to go trekking. SHE had chosen Tikona fort as our first trek destination this year because it was easy to reach and an easy climb, but it seemed that so had everyone else. There were vehicles lined up all over that narrow road, and huge crowds of first time trekkers caused traffic jams up the fort, and were making noise and generally disturbing the peace. It was like being at Dadar station in the rain. I was astounded, I had not seen crowds like this here ever.
‘@$^7#@ STUPID MANNERLESS BUMPKINS...MORONS...JAYWALKERS...HAYSEEDS....’ she was mumbling away.
‘Hey ...what about being unflappable and ice cold?’ I reminded her, but she only glared at me.
The weather was nice, it rained and soaked us, the mountain was green and the Pawna lake below looked wonderful. Tikona is a lovely little fort, with a lot of nice little sites – the entry gateway, the maruti bas relief, the water tanks, the Vitandeshwar temple on top, etc. It is part of the chain of fort in the Maval area – Tung, Lohgad, Visapur, etc. Its a very ancient fort – with traces before 07 AD – which makes it more than 2000 years old. It has changed hands many times over the centuries – the Nizamshah, Shivaji, mughals, Marathas, and then British. But by the end, warfare itself had changed, and Pax Brittanica made warfare obsolete and so all the forts became relegated to relic level. During the rains, it is a lovely place.
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!