Harishchandragad trek… A major throwback!

6th- – 7th March 2015

One of the very first treks I went on soon after coming to Pune was Harishchandragad. It was a month and a half after our training had begun at Tech Mahindra. March 6th, which was a Friday was Holi and hence it was a holiday. Now when you have a long weekend and a bunch of youngsters in a new place something big gets planned! In our case about 18 people from our batch decided to go on this two day trek.

One of our batch-mates Vaibhav, an avid trekker and who had also been to Harishchandragad before was the planner and our guide. We booked a traveller and the preparation was on! It was a two day trek and for several it was their first trek, so some shopping was necessary (shoes, caps, jackets, loads of water bottles, food etc). We started early on 6th morning so we could avoid trekking in the heat, but when you have such a large group it is bound to get late. It was 6.30 A.M. by the time we picked everyone up, like an hour late than the planned schedule but the excitement level was not dampened.

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And we were off!

Since this trek was more than a year ago I don’t remember the route we took or the distance and all that. Besides it was Vaibhav who did all the talking with the driver in Marathi. We stopped for breakfast at a small hotel at around 9 A.M. Post breakfast there was some energy to sing and dance, until then we were still in the early morning stupor. As we neared our destination, we came across a beautiful lake. We stopped to click some pictures and ended up spending more time there than necessary. As a result it was way past noon by the time we reached the place and started the trek.

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The lake which gave us the energy to start the trek

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One of the best pictures of the three of us!

It was quite easy at first. We made our way through the forest following the path. We did get lost for a bit, so a couple of guys went ahead and found the right path. As we progressed it got harder. We were a large group and several beginners were amongst us. There were a lot of breaks in between and hence the climb was slow. We came across several lime juice shops, where there were people (mostly villagers) selling lime juice and one glass really gives you the strength to carry on. We soon came across a steep rock where it was quite challenging, as even a single misstep meant a great risk. Slowly and steadily we made the climb one after the other in a single file, guiding each other as to which hold will be strong and where not to step.

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Making our way in spite of the heat

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The first major break

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Yep, that is what we had to climb!

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Soaking in the coolness of the caves

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The view from first base

Finally we reached the first base, where we could rest for a while before continuing. Apparently the hard part was over and what was to follow was pretty much a straight walk with very little ups and downs. And this is where my legs gave in. For the first time in all of the treks that I had been on, never had I experienced this kind of pain! The cramps started from my calf muscles and I felt the pain across the knees up to my thighs! Nope, I could not walk, it felt impossible to take another step. Not wanting to delay everyone else we split and sent most of them ahead. Five people decided to stay back and help me out. I applied some pain relief gel and massaged my legs and slowly tried bending my knees. After about half an hour I was finally able to stand. Although the pain was still there I was able to walk by taking small steps, and with the support of a stick.

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The first ones who made it to first base

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Lime juice rest stop

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And the trek continues….

At around 3.30 P.M we reached the second base. Now here there’s an old temple and most people prefer to camp at the caves here for the night. There’s also an option to rent tents and hike up to the peak, watch the sunset and camp over there. Unanimously we decided to go with the latter option. We got something to eat at this small place near the temple and after re-energising ourselves, we began the hike to the peak. It did not take long and we were luckily able to make it in time to watch the sunset. And my god! What a beautiful sight it was! Totally worth all the pain and effort we went through to make it to the top.

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The temple where there’s continuous supply of cool water

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The picture does not really do justice to the actual sunset

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The valley from the peak

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This is also a nice place for rappelling

After we got some great pictures, it slowly started to get cold. We pitched up the tents, started collecting wood for the fire and began cooking. We split the duties of course. I naturally went with the guys to collect firewood since I hate cooking. Fortunately the cramps in my legs were gone and I could easily walk on the jungle path. We had our torches out and collected as much wood as we could carry. By the time we got back the cooking was underway (with Prabhath as the head chef!), we got the fire going and made arrangements for all to sit around it. Maggi and bhel is what we had to eat, some juice and beer to drink. It was really cold and all of us were bundled up from head to toe. But it did not stop us from having fun. We sang songs, danced to some music, swapped stories… it really felt like the night was never going to end.

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The relaxed feeling after reaching the top

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The head chef and the sous chef!

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Around the camp fire

I don’t know how long it was before we all fell asleep. But we eventually did as we had to start trekking back early morning the next day. It was past 7 A.M by the time everyone was up. It took us a while to freshen up, get some morning clicks, breakfast (bread and jam) and then when we finally started the hike back it was 9 A.M.  Before we left we went to check out the huge Shivling which once had four pillars around it. But three of them are broken and the whole structure is held up by just one pillar. There’s a belief that when the fourth pillar breaks it will be the end of the world.

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After the sunrise

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The Shivling

A couple of hours later we stopped at a place where we had a family who had put up a shop. We filled our bellies with Maggi again, gained some strength and continued the trek. When we reached first base we realised that three guys (Vikram, Vishnu, Ahmed) were missing! They were the first ones to leave the Maggi stop so where could they have gone??? We knew that had not yet reached the first base (the man selling lime juice there told us we were the first ones to arrive) and so we waited for quite a long time. As there was no signal on any phone  we could not contact them, and we finally decided to slowly start the trek thinking they would eventually catch up. And then, just as we were about to leave, we heard shouts from a distance. We shouted back and they followed our voices and finally reached us! Apparently they had lost their way trying to take some shortcut.

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The final Maggi stop

After that, to avoid such confusions we decided to stick together. Even though we split into groups we made sure that the first person of the group behind could see the last person of the group ahead. The progress was slow but we were in no hurry. I think it was close to 3 P.M when we finally spotted our traveller and it was such a relief! We were tired, our feet hurt, and all we wanted to do was get home, take a nice hot shower and hit the bed. On our way back we stopped at a hotel for a late lunch. I think that was when we ate something besides Maggi! Anyway, we were back in our rooms by 7 P.M with some amazing memories for a lifetime.

I know that this write up does not do justice for all the real fun we had. If I were to mention each and every little thing that made us smile it would never end. In fact if each of us had to pen down ‘What was the best part of the trek?’ we would have 18 different memories jotted down! But I must say, it was one of the most memorable treks and a major get together is due. So what say guys, who’s up for another trek?!

P.S. Here are some bonus pictures!

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