The day I stood still. Enchanted by a mountain god….Harishchandragad

The Mountain:

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Harishchandragad……A paradise… A wonder..A gift…A getaway like no other..Just for that one moment…A moment I will guarantee….will forever capture a part of your memories. Till today , I can remember that exact time when I stood with a gaping open mouth…thunderstruck…Watching the sun emerging in between clouds from its abode …..All the stories I heard getting justified in a moment…Why all of them might be true….

This was the second trek of my life (first being Ratangarh..another gem..another memory)….And this was special…A night trek….

Inside my mind:

I had no idea how was the night trek idea actually executed with a group of amateurs….children, wives and husbands, oldies..and youngsters…all bunched up together…There were groups of families, school , college students, some IT guys (like me)…Interesting..very interesting….

As stories travel longer than reality, I had heard a lot about Harishchandragarh…Mostly disturbing news….People fell off looking at the view because they lost their minds..thinking they have nothing left to live for as they have seen the greatest creation of god…Also the trek is really hard and long…Into a distant far far away land..I was imagining the movie 300 ..the Greek warrior, Leonidas climbing the rocks with great skill…..Big time screwed…….I stepped on that bus with this picture in my mind…..This is all crazy…I don’t need this…But something just pushed me….Stop being a coward…It will be OK…

The journey to base village:

We started around 9 PM from Pune..I was picked up at SNDT by the group leader Prateek….I was shocked when I saw him at first…..A boy…a college going teen…Oh my god..I’m done for……It was 13th December, 2014….Had a lot of stress in mind…Job, incoming marriage wave…etc etc…..All that left behind…Soon antakshari started….Boredom kicked in…I’m not the sort of person who enjoy high decibel crowd…I plugged in my earphones…Shunned them off..

It took around 4 hours to reach Nashik…Base village ..Khireshwar i think….The bus came to a stop on a half baked stone road….Seemed like a dead end…We got out of the bus one by one…I had my cycle torch ready..It was dark…Time was 1 AM….A sign board in a corner, which looked like beginning of a trail said…

                                                            “Road to Harishchandragad”

The Ascent:

We gathered for a group photo session in the dark…(I did not get the point here….we must be looking like idiots in the photo)…..We started on the trail…it was to my surprise, easy…and awesome….The weather was chilly….visibility dropped as we climbed higher. After a period…I found myself spearheading the group….We stopped at a flat point trying to start a bonfire. But it was useless..the air had so much moisture (We were literally inside the clouds)…We ended up wasting a lot of kerosine we carried for preparing breakfast next day..DSC_0008_red

….So we continued..reached at around 3:30 AM to village Harishchandragarh…..I was really confused where were we…We were ushered in the caves nearby……….man it was suffocating..one tiny door..more than a dozen people inside…Welcome to death chamber.

The Night:

I could not bear the oxygen deprivation….Abandoned the cave….Found a place near a tree beside a hut….Some companions had already put some chatai (mat) . With sky as my roof , I just laid down…It was super chilly..very hard to fall asleep…Just struggling to stop shaking….I had no idea where most of my fellow trekkers settled…saw some groups leaving on another trail…What the hell….

The morning:

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Our leader suggested all to leave for the summit called Taramati Peak. To greet the sun . We started on another climb. The trail was wet and muddy. Yellow flowers were all over the place….Another valley of flowers.

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Near the summit , the ascent was difficult…Almost no grips at some points…Literally had to stick to the wall…..To save anymore embarrassment , I discovered a new route to the flat top…..trying to forget that I have to get down too..god knows how….Clawed myself up to the top….And there I was…..A different world

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….The sun was just about to show it’s face….When I saw nothing short of what I call, miracle…..I saw tiny heads began to show….Mountain heads

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….I saw the sun come up from beneath clouds…Like its been hiding.

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..Another shocker of a sight…It was like the most amazing show … it felt like I could touch the sun just my raising my hand…Around me, I was surrounded my mountains in every direction….Now the could see their shoulders too…Beneath them….A carpet of clouds…Surreal….Just….Un..be…lievable

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Breakfast:

This was interesting…Maggi packets were out along with cookware…a small stove..A big vessel, paper plates…Ate till my heart was full….

The Temple:

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I finished my breakfast quickly so i can have some time alone with the location…I started exploring…I could recognize many tents plugged on the flat grounds…They were barely visible at night due to dense fog…I found a small hut with smoke coming out…Tea..wow….Now it feels like I’m in a village…in the morning🙂 ….After this happy moment, I went by to see the famous Temple…i am not a holy person…Nor do i believe in related stories….But I saw a cave filled with knee deep water…Which had 4 pillars…3 broken….and the gossips is…When 4th one will break…The world will end as we seeDSC_0301_red

…There was a small tank with tiny fishes…or may be tadpoles…I drank water from it…it was soothing….That is supposed to be the source of water for that village…

The grand finale:

We headed for our last spot….Did not know this will change my life….Konkan Kada….It was close by……As you near it..you will just see a dead end…A long wide dead end…with nothing ahead but sky….and surrounding mountains with clouds….As I went to the edge…This was the moment….I cant describe it ….I cant give you a picture…because no camera can catch a single shot of its vastness….will probably need 3-4 images to be stitched together. It was a 4000 foot straight drop….You cant even risk standing at the edge..you have to lie down ..someone holding your legs so you don’t loose your wits and fall…Look at the pictures…They might give some..only some idea…

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I sat there for an hour….thinking this is it…The best I will ever see…Nothing better can possibly exist…

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The return journey was just me dreaming..oh..we cleaned a lot of plastic while our descent…took about 3 hrs in the scorching sun…Reached Pune around 7 PM….dead meats all…But each and everyone I bet…carries a memory they will never loose…ever

Find more about Harishchandragad here.