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Raireshwar-Kenjalgad trek

Posted by itrekz on June 18, 2008

The ups and downs…
Heavy rains lashing out from every direction on us and visibility reduced to few feet. We were searching for a shelter on the slippery slopes of Kenjalgad and the village below seemed aeons away. We adjusted for the time being in a small concavity near the belly of Kenjalgad massif and after a brief moment, calmness penetrated the chaotic scene, as we managed to find a nice cave, a warm and a dry one for our night halt.

It is not always the easiest of task to write a positive note when everything goes haywire right from the word go; however I am still inspired to do so plainly because of the fact that everything just concluded so very nicely.

Embarking bytes…
We were 7 of us venturing out for a trek in Bhor region and take on the stormy winds and lashing rains of Raireshwar-Kenjalgad. We were infact alarmed by few friends and well wishers that it wouldn’t be an easy task as it rains pretty heavy and strong winds makes it exponentially effective in this part of the country. However, we embarked on the journey as decided on 13th June, the Friday night.

The Parel-Bhor bus departed from Parel bus depot right on schedule, 00:15 AM on 14th June. We boarded the bus just by a whisker of time cushion; moments before its departure. The next six hours were going to be along the long winding route to Bhor and everyone was well aware of the fact. After adjusting their rucksacks and themselves on the reserved seats, everyone settled into a comfortable position. Some brief exchange of words with some effervescence of fun and masti bubbling out followed pretty soon. Just a little while before everyone went asleep.

Reaching Bhor…
Bhor arrived pretty much earlier and it was just dawning at 5.30 AM when the bus rolled in at the Bhor ST depot. We all alighted and helped ourself with a nice cup of hot tea and plateful of lemon garnished pohe before our connecting bus to Korle arrived. The bus for Korle is scheduled at 7.30 AM from Bhor depot. The morning scene at Bhor was nothing less than refreshing and a near timely departure of Bhor-Korle bus saw us rejuvenated. It’s approximately an hour bus ride before we reached Korle village.

Korle is a small, but well equipped with some amenities and nestled between the slopes of mighty Raireshwar plateau on our right and the fort of Kenjalgad on our left. We reached Korle village at approximately 9.00 AM and started on our trek. There is now a well laden cart track going right upto the Shwandara route and ends in a ladder propped up against a cliff to aid the villagers and trekkers to scale to the top. This is a long winding route and some 30 minutes on this boring trail saw us bifurcation somewhere in between and taking on the slopes of Raireshwar plateau midway, no route as such.

The Raireshwar scramble…
We had left the Gaydara route behind and now we were somewhere between the Gaydara and Shawandara route, scaling up and negotiation the boulders, thick bushes and streams along the way. The electricity poles all along the Gaydara route served as a guide and we could see them right our heads, alas hundreds of feet above though. And in between lay the steep slopes flowing from the top of the plateau riddled with vertical cliffs. We decided to scramble atop on one such slope, which seemed fairly scalable. And scalable it was, but for a newbie, it seemed a bit too demanding.

After the scramble, we came across the Gaydara route calmly heading its way atop the plateau and within 15 minutes on this route we reached the top. The total ascend took us around 3 hours from Korle village. Once on top we prudently followed the overhead electric wires and in another 15 minutes reached Raireshwar village. We paid our obeisance to the famous temple atop Raireshwar and headed towards one of the Jangam family; Dagdu Jangam to be precise, for our lunch.

Towards Kenjalgad…
Having a sumptuous meal of Jhunka Bhakar, Pickles and Dahi with some rice, we all felt our bodies cooling off and before the blood ran cold, we quickly decided to head further and start on our trek to Kenjalgad. The route towards Kenjalgad goes via the Shwandara route. A 15 minutes walk from the temple brings one to the iron ladder. Strong winds can make this descent a bit tricky, but we were spared of this by the wind God. We carefully negotiated the rungs of the ladder and headed towards Kenjalgad massif, which was directly lying in our front somewhere, but completely invisible hidden beyond the thick clouds and lashing rains.

The wrong turn…
After 30 minutes walk over the ridge, we came across a junction. The road to left leads to Korle village, the one on the right leads to Ghera Kenjalmachi and the straight one leads to Kenjalgad. We continued straight, until, we did what was probably the impacting wrong turn on the trek. Unsure of the path straight on, we decided to turn right and seek the route from a Hamlet lying below on our right. After a descent on the scrambling slopes of the hill, we reached Ghera Kenjalmachi village. We were informed here that the road to Kenjalgad is actually over the ridge along the hills, which we had left back.

We decided to continue further now towards Kenjalgad as directed by the villagers, albeit at a lower level now. We kept skirting the base of Kenjalgad keeping it to our right, but in vain as the thick fog made visibility poor and the trail continued skirting Kenjalgad massif without leading anywhere to the top. The clock was ticking too fast for our liking and the winds getting stronger and stronger sufficient enough at times to throw us off-balance. The rains too was lashing pretty hard now at us.

The slopes became more and more treacherous and slippery and for couple of us it made matters worse. Unsure of their stepping slowed down things further. Fatigue ran in their souls and the wet clothes, day long rain drench and long walk had already sent chill running down their spines. The route unsure, visibility nil and the stormy atmosphere made the situation dilemmatic.

The decision…
It was at this point when we decided to look for shelter on Kenjalgad and skip the plan of Kamalgad the next day, as it would have been too late to start from Kenjalgad and do Kamalgad the next morning. The decision was made, but not yet gulped down too readily by some. The reason; Kenjalgad massif want’ still visible and played hide and seek beyond the clouds. Rains got heavier and heavier. Energy and confidence lost by a few. Some how and some motivation for the warm shelter saw the group moving towards the probable route for Kenjalgad. After a while, cloud cleared a bit, and the massif visible; but the in between lay the steep and slippery slopes of Kenjalgad. By this time we were pretty sure that this wasn’t the route but we had to alternative to take on the slopes and move ahead.

The scorpion-Khekda debate…
We moved on, skirting the slopes and ascending along the trail. The newbie Arun had some issues along the way and so did another guy, who wasn’t a newbie, but just as it sometime happens to the best of us. Each step seemed to be treacherous them and the territory alien and hostile. Our support managed them all along and they were willingly moving ahead. Kudos to their sprits under the conditions that alienated them completely. On the way, there was this scorpio-Khekda debate ;). Seems funny eh?

Well, it goes like this.. I was lending my hand to one of my companion on the trek and showing him the stepping. That’s when he refused to step and started reiterating, “Tithe Khekda aahe! Meaning there is a crab over there and I won’t step there. I was bamboozed as I couldn’t see any one there and kept on urging him to step further. He was adamant about the crab and refused to step. The slope were slippery and my feet slipping as the loose mud under our floaters slipped away,, slowly but surely. He kept o insisting and told me that Khekda was behind my leg and that it was approaching me feet. It was then I decided to pay heed as crabs usually do not come close and shy away from human feel. So I turned around and was taken a bit by surprise to find a black-blue scorpion of around 3-4 inches in length approaching my exposed feet and well within the stinging range, barely couple of inches away. I first wanted to yell at my friend and educate him to zoology regarding the difference between a crab and a scorpion. But the striking distance, in which the scorpion was, made me instantly move my feet away and woosh away the scorpion with a dried twig.

The rest of the trip was nightmare for my friend as everyone seemed to keep on asking him the difference between a carb and a scorpion. Lolz.. whatever, it was his insistence on the subject matter, irrespective of the way he perceived it, that made me woosh way the stinger! Thanks you mate!

Reaching the cavern…
A further scramble and we reached the final slopes. The concavity in the Kenjalgad massif seemed like a cave and we had a sigh of relief. Two of the, went ahead and made sure that they reach the place and see if it was really a shelter for the night. Out of the remaining five, two were struggling to scale the final slopes and it was now when the first timer’s ventures required me to actually use the sling to pull him out and see him atop the treadable path. A 10 minutes scramble saw us reaching what seemed like a cave from below, but in fact a mere concavity in the massif. The wind was still strong and rain lashing. The chill increasing and everyone was a bit disillusioned by the fact that shelter was nowhere near and to be seen.

However, the cavern allowed a brief respite from the winds and rains and for the moment allowed everyone to gain back some sanity and instill the same in the ambiance.

Finding the majestic rock cut steps and the shelter…
While others rested, me and one of my friend, Vinita went ahead in search of a decent shelter. We traversed the Kenjalgad base on one side first and couldn’t find anything there. Then we traversed the other side and after a brief easy walk reached the base of steps and a habitable and warm cave nearby. We were quite relaxed on seeing it and finding it suitable for the night stay. We climbed some rock cut steps to reach the top of the fort. The top is devoid of any shelter and houses a few ruins and a potable water source. We had a look around on the top and made our way back to the cavern.

We took everyone to the cave and on the sight of it, everyone was rejuvenated and words started filling the quite space of the warm cave. Everyone dried themselves and changed to a dry pair of clothes.

The warm tea…
After changing and arranging stuff, we collected nearby partially dried wood and attempted making a fire out of it. We some how managed to light the fire and made a nice warm cup of tea for everyone to savour. The term ‘Hot’ would be in appropriate, but ‘Warm’ was more than welcome in the conditions mentioned above. A brief snack of farsan, cakes, tea, biscuits and such saw the empty tummies filled.

A small while passed before the darkness engulfed and the sparkle of the candle lit ambiance filled warmth and content in the rugged concavity of the rock cut cave, right near the belly of the Kenjalgad massif.

Goodnight wishes… followed after a brief chatter time!

The next day was more or less of return journey and no where near as exciting as the one before. We had a look atop the fort and everyone saw what Kenjalgad was like. The ruins, the fort walls, the view, the water tank and such. A chiwda session, few mango bites (thanks to Amod) and some munching we made our way towards Khavli village near the back waters of Dhom dam.

Reaching Khavli was a monotonous following of the paaywat and it did not take longer than and hour and the half. Metalled road greeted us and glimpses of human civilization seemed so long since last 20 hours or so. Vinita was gladly seeking the chirps of the aves and trying to capture their soaring flights and spread wings in the sensor of her Olympus.

Kenjalgad was smirking on us standing tall overhead while the fort of Kamalgad still seemed to invite us on the other side of the Dhom backwaters. It is definitely inviting and a visit sooner is inevitable.

The return journey…

We boarded a wai bus from Khavli and an hours bus ride took us there. We had a good lunch and further boarded the Swargate bus from Wai. After a few delays and snags we got into the Mumbai central bus and alighted at Panvel at around 10.30 PM. It was farewell time by now and we all headed home from here.

The tata, bye-bye, adios and adieu all came and went, however it left us with a rising desire to come back and see each other again and continue our tryst with the mountains together.

Special thanks to..
Vinita, Raj, Amod, Tapan. Arun, and Devendra..well that rounds off one and all isn’t it?


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