iVenturez: Outdoors and Adventures

Terrestrial, Aqua and Aero – Complete adventure!

How to take a fall while climbing? The art of falling- Learn it!

Posted by itrekz on July 15, 2008

This is from an article on Ukclimbing.com by Arno Ilgner

Most of us deal with fears by looking for tricks or techniques that will take us around our fears instead of facing them directly. In order to learn we must process ourselves through a situation, not just get to the end of it. Let’s see how this plays out in one particular aspect of climbing — falling.

In order to learn how to fall you need to develop the ability to take a fall and still remain relaxed in your body. By taking your body through experiences you learn. Your body creates schemes to embody knowledge. If you take a long fall first and tense up, then you learn to tense up. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to learn in falling. Instead, you need to learn in smaller increments. You know you’ve learned something when you’re comfortable doing it. You know you’re comfortable falling when your body responds in four specific ways. You need to be able to fall and:

* Breathe…continuously throughout
* Eyes…looking down, in the direction of the developing situation
* Relax…your body, use just the amount of energy needed for the task
* Posture …with shoulders rolled back and down, and arms out, knees bent and shoulder width apart

This is universal for learning any skill. You need to experience all four of these states while doing the skill, not when it is over. Steve did not experience these states during the fall, but rather bypassed the learning process due to a few misalignments.

Learning involves acquiring two types of knowledge, intellectual and experiential. As an example of intellectual knowledge, imagine a climber facing a 15-foot fall on a slightly overhanging wall. His mind tells him that he shouldn’t be afraid because the fall is clean. But, no matter how much he intellectualizes about why he shouldn’t be afraid, he still has difficulty committing to challenging climbing when the risk of a fall is great. He doesn’t fully trust the intellectual knowledge and can’t actively engage the fall. Experiential knowledge, on the other hand, is complete knowledge that your whole body possesses. Experiential knowledge derives directly from situations you’ve gone through; that you have actually engaged many times. You aren’t afraid of taking a 15-foot fall on a slightly overhanging wall because you’ve taken many such falls.

The learning process consists of constantly converting intellectual knowledge into experiential knowledge by engaging your body. By engaging stressful situations you process your body through them and expand your mind’s perception of what it can deal with.

Limitations of the Mind
There are two things that will impact the quality of your learning. First, if you are too mental in your approach, you’ll focus on the end result instead of the process. This is because your mind doesn’t like stress. It is focused on the end goal because that is where the mind will be comfortable again. Second, if you bite off too big of a learning chunk you will react in the way Steve did and not learn. Actually, your body will learn how to tense up and then you have to unlearn that. So, an important element of learning needs to be biting off just the right amount of discomfort and unknown, but not too much.

When you practice falling, make sure your goal isn’t to overcome fear of falling but rather to develop more ability to be comfortable when falling. These may sound the same but they aren’t. Overcoming fear of falling is an end result. You practice falling so you don’t have to do it anymore. Developing more ability to be comfortable falling involves a process that you can continually apply each time you go climbing. You make it part of your routine.

Realize that fears will occur in areas where you lose familiarity. Identify all the foundational aspects of climbing—falling being one of them— and incorporate some practice each day you go climbing.

Access to Complete Learning
Since your mind will limit you to intellectual learning, you need to find a different process for accessing a more complete kind of learning. Gaining that access point involves two things: First, let go of your mind’s desire for comfort. Second, find little ways to engage the stress. This two-fold process will help you stay present for the task and see value in the stress. Your mind will want to bypass the stress by making you do things such as letting go quickly when you decide to take a fall. You need to look curiously for where the stress comes up and send your attention there. Many climbers say that the actual falling isn’t the scary part, “it’s that letting go part that is scary.” If this is where stress arises in you, then find ways to be present during that transition rather than getting it over with. It’s important to remind yourself that the goal isn’t to overcome fear of falling; the goal is to develop more ability to be present in the stressful falling situation.

Feeling comfortable means you are doing those four things I’ve outlined above: breathing, eyes on the task, relaxing, and proper posture. In order to develop this comfort, however, you need to take learning in small increments. In falling, begin by simply hanging on a toprope (first increment), then taking short toprope falls (second increment), and finally taking lead falls (third increment). Engage one increment at a time and don’t progress to the next one until you’re comfortable. Let’s say you’re at the second increment—toprope falls. Ask: “Can I take this toprope fall and breathe continuously, look down into my fall zone, relax completely, and maintain proper body posture keeping arms out?” When I ask my students about their observations after taking a practice fall, they usually say it was comfortable. “How do you know?” I ask. Then I hold up four fingers to remind them that they need to continually be attentive to those four aspects to know they have learned that increment.

Your comfort zone is made up of stressful situations from the past that you have “organized” by engaging those situations until they weren’t stressful anymore. To expand your comfort zone, first intellectualize the next challenge for learning. Then engage it with your body, in small, manageable increments, until you can complete your practice exercise with the four indications of comfort. When you’ve done that you’ve embodied the knowledge that was previously simply an intellectual understanding.

Practice Tip: Falling

We tend to practice falling, or anything stressful, to get it over with. This will not only delay our learning of the skill but will also cause us to learn it incorrectly. Our body will learn to tense up. Learning how to fall means we learn to remain relaxed while falling. Here is a learning-based approach to practicing falling.

1. Small increments:
Begin on toprope
First, simply hang on the rope and swing around.
Second, take toprope falls
Third, take lead falls

2. Gauge for learning: Comfort
First, stay at the same increment until you are comfortable
Second, you know you are comfortable when…
B: You’re breathing throughout the fall
E: You’re looking down during the fall
R: You’re relaxed throughout the fall
P: You’re arms are out; not grabbing the rope

3. Belaying: Giving a cushioned catch
First, do not progress to lead falls until your belayer learns how to give you a cushioned catch during toprope falls.
Second, a cushioned catch is: the belayer gives in to the pull when you fall. Your belayer should end up about five feet off the ground when your fall is ended. If he isn’t, then he will need to push off as the rope becomes taut. This will be a learning process for your belayer.


Posted in Climbing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Panhala-Vishalgad trek (approx 65+ kms trek)

Posted by itrekz on July 12, 2008

iTrekz would be conducting this event coming August!

Boarding the Mumbai-Kolhapur Mahalakshmi express on Thursday night (14th August) which leaves from Mumbai at 8.20 PM we reach Kolhapur on 15th August at 7.20 AM.

We would catch a bus and reach Panhala by 9.30 AM. We are already a day short on demand that most of us would not like to take leave from office either on Thursday or Monday! So A quick look and breakfast atop Panhala is allotted 2 hours. Actually Panhala offers much more to see but this particular event is about trekking and trying to reach Vishalgad that too in a short time span!

So we would leave Panhala by Pusati Buruj at around 11.30-12.00. We would then reach Mhasai temple and have our lunch at around 1.30 PM. Later a long day awaits for a long trek and we would try and camp at Karapewadi or further at Aardewadi for our night halt. It would require around 5 hours trek to reach there from the Mhasai temple.

Next day we start early and reach Patewadi for our break fast before 9.00 AM. Then via Pandharpeni (our lunch at around 2.00PM) we would try and reach Pawankhind at around 5.00 PM. The day is long and trek a tiring and would require around 10-12 hours of walking without including the intermediate breaks! After paying our obeisance at the Pawankhind we would try and reach Gajapur by 8.00 PM on Saturday itself! It would be our stay for night halt.

Sunday again starts early and we would do Vishalgad and our return journey to Kolhapur. We would be boarding Kolhapur-Mumbai Mahalakshmi express which leaves Kolhapur at 7.25 PM. We would reach Dadar on Monday at 7.00 AM and head back for our respective work domains!

We would soon be collecting sums for the upcoming mega event for reservations and other preparations! The cost of the trek would be 1200 Rs and would be collected this week since train reservations and everything needs to be prepared well in advance! So kindly contact: Dr. Shailendra Acharya on 9975373107.

Please note: Reservations to be done by next saturday. So kindly contact the abovementioned number or drop in a mail at itrekz@gmail.com so as to confirm and deposit the required sum for your seat reservations and participation!

Posted in Hikes and Treks | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by itrekz on July 11, 2008

Hey, all those who have been following iTrekz till now would have definitely understood the cord that connects us to Motorbiking. It is in response to this cognizance that we finally have decided to go planned and measured in catering to insatiable appetites for motorbiking. We dedicate a full fledged page on our blog and will cater one ride per month program to the enthusiasts.

Although flexibility is the key word herein, we would stick to our protocols and see through that we revv up our throttles and head on for some long rides on a regular basis – One ride per month!

Hail to the riders… but more importantly.. We believe and practise responsible riding!

iTrekz rides so far..

Mumbai-Mandangad-Dapoli-Harnai-Velas-Mandangad-Mumbai (600 kms~ in 2 days)

Mumbai-Bhiwandi-Wada-Khodala-Jawahar-Wada-Bhiwandi-Mumbai (300 kms~ in a day)

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Biking trail to Wada-Mokhada-Jawahar

Posted by itrekz on July 7, 2008

The ride…
250 km for some and 300 km for some… either ways it doesn’t get any easier on roads more curvaceous than a spiral and as narrow as it can get. Well, the rains just added that extra bit of zing for the slippery sheen on the smooth tar that MSRDC has commendably laid to the remotest possible corners in Maharashtra and couple that with the crater-i-form texture that the torrential rains usually leaves on the surface! Whoa.. it was some biking trail visiting the remote and hilly talukas of Jawahar, Wada and Mokhada in Thane district.

The speedo hovered around 50-60-70 kmph for some on the dry stretches of sharp curves, and 40-50 on wet and descending curves with constant pedal on the rear brakes..well the discs where hardly put into action and only when the rear where a bit insufficient to prevent the slide off track! Well that wasn’t the top speed by any means since on the roads that were straight and smooth speedo did not shy away from the three figure mark!

Starting out…
We had a relatively early start and all were present at the scheduled meeting point- Bhiwandi Bypass at 8.00 AM. We were 7 riders in all with 3 pillions and 4 riders on the tourney. A 150 cc Pulsar from Panvel, a 125 cc Shine, another 125 cc Discover and the best of them all the 2-stroke power house 100 cc RX 100! Hot cuppa of tea sips at 8.00 AM and embarked on our journey we!

The circuit as decided to be completed in the day was Bhiwandi-Wada-Suryamal-Khodala-Mokhada-Jawahar-Wada-Bhiwandi – and so did we! The odometer for the day on completetion of the circuit gathered up around 275 kms plus, where as for the Panvel guy it matched exact 300 for the day!

Reaching Wada…
The road from Bhiwandi to Wada is pretty much straight forward and nothing much to excite about when a rider has to negotiate with the smokes and fumes that the trucks and buses emanate and we dodge and zoom past as overtaking opportunity crops up! The ~35 Kms ride is nothing more to write about. Double that with Bhiwandi’s diabolic traffic and pathetic road sense we the ride till Wada is a mediocre experience for any rider..we weren’t spared either. But as always riding in itself offers so much for the seekers that everything else is just a pit lane where there are no pit stops!

Wada junction and another cuppa of tea for us, mere 35 kms on the saddle… oh such a leisure..well that’s what we out on Sundays! A 5 minutes break and we headed towards Khodala, enroute Suryamal. Bifurcating from the junction on the right takes one to Khodala via Parli! Well and that is exactly the route which magnetised us towards this trail. The total distance from Wada to Khodala via Suryamal is ~ 50 Kms and it is a treat! The traffic deviates on the left from the junction and the right trail which we followed is just a ride that any rider would yearn for!

Khodala trail…
The cooing of the birds, gushing of the streams- numerous streams that you pass over the narrow bridges, the lush green and thick forests in between that fight hard and successfully prevents the penetrating suns rays to hit the ground, the drizzling rains that just leaves a sheen on the black road the intermittent pits, rumbles and villages, the sun and the shade and just about everything that makes this route a treat. The road tries hard, but fails against the terrain and struggles to keep straight even for 100 metres. The intervening curves and gradients are what that makes the route even more interesting!

The magic of nature…
12 km enroute is Mandwa village which we bypassed and further ahead 5km was our next halt.. 17kms from Wada is a tranquil village setting: Parali. We stopped our roaring phat-phatis and let the silence creep in the tranquil ambience and the content filling our hearts and souls. The green offered some perfect landscapes to shoot. A quick gaze around and we headed for Suryamal. On the way a couple of stops were just inevitable as the Garjai river criss-crossed our paths and kept inviting us for a dip in the thickets surrounding it! It definitely tried to compete with the Amazon, but alas you know this might be a hyperbole! Well.. it isn’t anyless and a visual treat in its own right: Garjai river bed was amazing and the view overhead was just wonderful as we spread out our arms from the edges and embraced the flowing breeze!

Suryamal retreat…
Not long ago before we reached Suryamal – The highest point in the region. Suryamal is a now a quite well developed village place. There is a large enough school (Up to 10th grade) being managed by a Ashram Sanstha that provided education and boarding facilities to more than 500 students from the nearby tribal areas. It is indeed heartening to see these developments in remote areas and that the slate-n pencil is penetrating in these areas too! We had a brief chat with the superintendent of the Ashram school before leaving for a biped trail on the vast expanse of the lush green plateau. We came across numerous Nachani (Red Millet/Ragi) fields on the plateau. There were number of wells dotting the landscape too! All in all the plateau is well favoured by the rain Gods and abundant irrigation facilities makes it quite a suitable place for Nachani cultivation.

We traced our foot steps right up to the edge of the plateau of looking the Garjai River bed and the route which we gradually scaled from Wada to Suryamal. The enchanting landscape filled our visions before we decided to head our way back to our motorbikes.

Khodala batata wadas…
Suryamal-Khodala is quick route and not long before we reached there, mostly a descent! Khodala is well to do township and you can help yourself with some snacks and lunch here. We savoured cuppa of tea n khari and hot batata wadas as usual. There is no petrol pump in the vicinity, but one can actually get it in black (Rs 60 p/l) in the nearby areas! We moved ahead filling our tummies!

If one wishes one can cut short the journey and head for Kasara from Khodala and get back to Mumbai via NH3. We were however not satiated with the offering so far! We continued ahead towards Jawahar. On the way just 3 kms from Khodala is a beautiful Ganesh temple at Deobandh. There is a beautiful serene river flowing right behind the temple barely 10 metres away. A wonderful ambience and perfect setting for a days outing if one doesn’t wish to roar their engines further! We paid our obeisance at the temple and moved ahead on our tourney.

Bumpy ride…
The worst part of the road was yet to greet us and we soon realised it just as we moved past Deobandh. The road is riddled with just so many pits and craters that the bikes just rollicked up and down over the rough terrains and bumpy tars! My pillion had a rocking time I must say as I refused to get my hands of the throttle. Oh did he have some goose bumps? Well..he did!

Jawahar palace…
Not long before we reached Jawahar junction. A left turn from here and a wonderful silken smooth road ahead say us covering the following 222 kms in a whisker of the time frame. The road is absolute beauty from here..wonderful curves, but butter smooth surface..and especially after the just passed bumpy terrain! Reached Jawahar!

We made our way to the Jai Vilas palace, the huge palace of the then King of the Warli tribe. The Palace was built and furnished dating back to 1940. Its still very well maintained and has actually attracted many prosperous bidders to take its possession..but to no avail as the owner is not lured in by the bids amounting to even by the tune of 100 crores! A quick visit to the palace and not time for the lunch break awaited us.

We had a good meal in one of the restaurants at Jawahar. It was raining hard and heavy as we were under the cozy shelter of the Dhaba. Another 45 minutes in there and it was time to head back to Mumbai. We made our way over the smooth roads towards Wada again. As always I say and really feel the return journey is a pain..pain because we just don’t want to get back to the urbanized lifestyles..still a next weekends reconciliation is good enough to raise the throttle and move back!

Returning back…
~6kms from the Palce is Dhanu phata. A right turn from here leads towards Dahanu and the straight one leads to Wada. We kept straight and moved further. The road is pretty much a nice drive amongst thick forests surrounding, but well tread! On the way we came across a junction. The route from the right (30 km) to Wada via Vikramgad and is around 10 kms more than the one on the left that directly leads to Wada (20 km). We took the shorter one as we wanted to get back to Mumbai before it before it became too late. A 20 kms of smooth ride got us back to Wada.

Another cuppa of tea, probably the last one for the day together before we headed towards Bhiwani bypass. As in the morning, the Wada-Bhiwani ride was nothing much to write about and through the traffic again we reached Bhiwandi bypass: from where we were to bid adieu. Two bikes headed right towards Mumbai from the bypass where as two headed for Kalyan. It was 9.00 Pm by the time we reached Kalyan.

Adieu time..
Well.. a wonderful trail for the day and as always I would like to say thanks for the wonderful company that I cherished with my friends.. precisely Amod, Pravin, Akshay, Vishwa, Vinita and Shalini… A wonderful day we had together!


Posted in Bike trips, Travelogues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wada-Suryamal-Khodala-Mokhada-Jawahar-Wada biking trail

Posted by itrekz on July 4, 2008

iTrekz would be doing Wada-Khodala-Mokhada-Jawahar-Wada biking circuit coming weekend, on 6th July 2008.

The route is just pleasure in monsoons and a detour to Suryamal is just wondrous. The Wada-Mokahada-Jawahar circuit is around 120 Kms and from Kalyan-Bhiwandi-Wada it adds up another 80 (to and fro) total riding would be around 200 kilometers.

Hail to the rain god and road departments. )

Interested ones can just drop in an email to itrekz@gmail.com

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Posted by itrekz on July 2, 2008

Region: Malshej ghat
Height: 3759 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Two days


  • Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
  • Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Khadaparsi-Jivdhan
  • Junnar-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
  • Bhorande Nal-Ghatghar-Jivdhan

Sights to see: Naneghat cave and Ranjan, Steep fall into the Konkans from the Ghatghar plateau, small cave at the base of Khadaparsi pinnacle.

On Jivdhan fort: Kalyan Darwaja, Beautiful rock cut steps, Old Granary that still carries the ashes of the grains burnt in 1818, Jivai Devi temple, other remnants

Water availability:
Million dollar water as they utter! Wonderful potable water tanks on the top of Jivdhan fort provide water all round the year. One can fill the water bottles from Naneghat or Ghatghar village. No water in between for about 2 hours unless one reaches the top.

One can stay on Jivdhan in the outer yards of Granary if at all required. However, there is no other roofed shelter on the fort and it is feasible to stay at Ghatghar or in the cave of Naneghat.

Jivdhan was a very impregnable and majestic fort in those times and it is clearly evident by the sheer cliffs and vertical walls that render invaluable services to it. The Granary is worth a see and water tanks and other ruins on the fort suggest that it was a strategic fort in those days. The rock cut steps along the vertical cliffs is a treat and the magnificent view of the plains and the Khadaparsi pinnacle make is one of our favourites to visit time and again.

On top there is a small temple of Jivai Devi and other ruins besides the granary. The fort walls are still standing at some places and the bastions has given away under the bludgeoning from British canon way back in 1818.

The fort offers magnificent view of Khadaparsi pinnacle, Naneghat, Hadsar, Chavan, Manikdoh waters, Durg, Dhakoba, Gorakhgad-Machhindragad, Siddhagad; ofcourse not in monsoons.


The route is quite simple and well marked upto Naneghat. On reaching Naneghat, one has to walk straight towards Ghatghar village. It is a one hours’ walk from Naneghat cave. From Ghatghar a mud trail takes us to the base of the Jivdhan massif where rock cut steps greets us to scale the cliff.

A flight of around 72 rock cut steps takes us to the base of a small patch where the steps have been blasted during the 1818 raid by the British. However, there are small rock-cut niches along the way to make the climb easy. One must however be very careful during the monsoons as it can be slippery. After negotiating this patch a further flight of good steps takes us to the top of the fort in 15 minutes.

Naneghat to Ghatghar village is 45 minutes walk. It further takes 1 hour and 30 minutes from Ghatghar village.

One can also reach Ghatghar from Junnar. Direct buses ply regularly and also there are regular jeep services available. The route from Ghatghar remains the same as described above.

Bhoranda Nal-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
Bhoranda Nal is a very interesting and enjoyable route scaling up the plateau from Bhorande/Fagane village. One can alight at Bhorande village (68 km from Kalyan 0r 6 km before Moroshi on Kalyan-Ale Phata road).

From Bhorande village a mud trail proceeds obscurely and takes one to an upper plateau within an hour. The route comes and ends near the mouth of a stream. One has to follow this stream and ascend along it. The Nal is boulder ridden and can be quite slippery to negotiate in monsoons on certain patches. It is very enjoyable nevertheless.

The total ascend take around 3 hours. From the top plateau one can see Jivdhan in front. A 15 mins walk will take one to Ghatghar village. The route ahead remains the same as described above.

Time: 3 hours

From Naneghat cave reach the plateau and turn left. Walk straight towards the Khadaparsi pinnacle. In a short while, say around 20-30 minutes walk we come across a Bungalow built on the plateau. From here a path goes straight to the base of Jivdhan rock wall, albeit through thick forest. One has to do a bit of searching to keep on the right track.

In another 30 minutes we come across rock cut steps leading to the upper ledge. From here a 5 minutes walk to our right takes us to the base of the Khadaparsi pinnacle. A nice cave is carved at the base of Khadaparsi pinnacle. Magnificent view of the surrounding region.

From Khadaparsi straight walk of 10 minutes along the trail takes one through a stair of rock cut steps to a narrow gully. A simple climb through this gully takes on to the top of Jivdhan fort via Kalyan Darwaja.

Time: 2 hours from Naneghat caves
Grade: Easy

Note: One must be very careful while visiting Jivdhan in monsoons. Primarily because the steps can get slippery, especially via the Ghatghar route the patch can be a bit tricky. Also the blinding fog can easily disorient the trekkers!

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Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal Trek

Posted by itrekz on June 29, 2008

We were five of us for this (Naneghat – Jivdhan – Bhoranda Nal trek) and let me tell you it was just more than a fascinating one!

Naneghat as usual offers a good and leisurely hike.. whereas the Khadaparsi, Kalyan Darwaja and Ghatghar route in monsoons just doubled up the bonanza for us.

Bhoranda Nal is a very lesser know Nal descending from the plateau towards Bhorande village and it offers just a obscure path and a long steep Nal descending..just a much needed change from the well beaten track of Naneghat!

All in all.. it was just a wonderful trek…

Photos would be uploaded soon…!

A brief travelogue…

Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal trek

The prelude…
I pledged my self before taking on to write this piece: It mustn’t be too long a piece..oh keep peace, it won’t be I guess

It has been to long since I had been to Naneghat-Jivdhan: precisely some years plus a decade back. Well, visiting Jivdhan was like rekindling an old love affair, and in what way did it happen! Five wonderful friends, lush green and few moments that can challenge even the funniest of bones. Oh and that unique Chameleon just made for a perfect finish line. The fresh green perfectly camouflaged the reptile, the slow stylish gait, the grip quite un-peculiar to any reptile, it seemed so very different!

Jivdhan is always a pleasure in any season, leave aside monsoon. Infac it can get a bit tricky if taken a bit casually and the thickets combined with the blinding thick fog can just leave even the localites from Ghatghar guessing their way (they say it, not meJ). Yeah, the fog can leave anyone completely disoriented, Couple that with the sheer vertical cliffs mocking at you, and you often wonder: Hell! Where is the way from? It is there, just in front mates! Go and find it.

Delayed start…
The start wasn’t the most punctual one: well past 8 AM and still reeling at the Kalyan ST depot. Oh we had a day ahead, a long day awaiting our trudge. And the wait eventually ended when our ‘Lal Dabba’ embarked on its journey. A couple of nifty moments passed before we reached the milestone indicating the way towards Naneghat. Alighting from the bus, rucksacks loaded on the backs and five souls wandered along the trail, glancing up every now and then towards the peaking thumb shaped pinnacle of Naneghat: hiding behind the clouds as we glanced up.

Quick wrap of Naneghat…
As one is well aware, Naneghat is now a highway with arrow marks indicating the way every few metres, oh so… a well marked highway, just unmetalled albeit. It was just a couple of hours and we saw ourselves in the fabulous cave keeping a keen eye near the top. A look around the cave barely lasted few minutes (as all of us having already seen the cave number of times earlier). Every time the Brahmi script doesn’t cease to admire me. Moving further through the narrow gorge we moved ahead to embrace the expansive plateau overlloked by the majestic Jivdhan fort. Yeah, Jivdhan and Khadaparsi solicited our visions as the cloud carpet cleared for a brief while. Afternoon lunch and Jivdhan called us, once again, perhaps more eagerly this time!

Towards Jivdhan…
As planned we marched towards Khadaparsi (Vanarlingi) pinnacle. Fog engulfed us and still the footsteps did not hesitate to move on, blinded of course. Perhaps the fog got a bit lenient on us as it uncovered its carpet and we soon realized that we are exactly right angles away from our route. We made the cut and not long before we entered the forest we started our guesswork of the probable path. Numerous cattle trails can be a bit misleading here.

However, a bit of search here and there and just about 30 minutes before we reached the flight of rock cut steps. Moving up and then a comfortable trail leads to the Darwaja in another 30 minutes. Oh the fort is beautiful..old affair rekindled!It was around 3.15 PM now.

Khadaparsi awe…
Before reaching the Darwaja, we also made a brief visit to the base of the Khadaparsi pinnacle (Vanarlingi) and it was just the most amazing view. The base, tall pinnacle humbling our raised head and vertical visions, the breeze and the wonderful narrow cave at the base. Oh check the pics to be uploaded sooner!

Wonderful Jivdhan…
Moving further up, our sights were blessed with some old ruins singling the glory of bygone era, Jivai Devi temple, a shivling… and of course million dollar water tanks quenching our thirsts!

Some brief moments of wandering and look around before we started descending towards the Ghatghar side. On the way we further came across the beautifully constructed Granay still holding the ashes of the 1818 ravage by the British. The granary is exemplary in its architecture. Some more water tanks, Buruj, fort walls and ruins before we traced out steps for the descent. The fog went thicker and rains heavier. We spent a toal of around 2 and half hours looking around and allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by the beauty.

The view from top includes Durg-Dhakoba, Naneghat, Siddhagad, Gorakhgad, Macchindragad, Malshej ghat..of course at the weather’s mercy!

Ghatghar descent…
Carefully we negotiated the tricky blasted steps and a small easy patch demanding proper care. A bit of descent over the mud trail and a total one hour’s descent saw us in the cozy ambience of the Ghatghar village. A hot cuppa of tea, biscuits, spiced up with masti chats and comforting shelter under one of the many rooms that Ghatghar houses; followed by dinner before everyone retired for the night.

Bhoranda Nal beauty…
Next day (Sunday) saw an early rise of 6.00 AM, before everyone quickly woke up and marched for the descent via Bhoranda Nal. Turning our backs towards the Jivdhan fort, we moved straight ahead keeping the Navri and Varhada cliffs to our right. The Nal descends straight towards Fagane/Bhorande village near Moroshi.

The rains made the Nal quite a bit slippery and few obscure trails made our task a bit like trial and error. We guessed, reoriented and kept moving along the Nala: negotiating intervening treacherous patches and boulders. We finished the Nala and then a well marked trail leads straight towards the Kalyan-Ahmednagar highway in another 45 minutes. It is one this trail that we came across the wonderful Chameleon described above (see top).

Adieu friends…
A 10 minutes walk to Bhoirwadi/Fagane bus stop and we boarded a Kalyan bus. A couple of hours ride say us in Kalyan at around 3.00 PM. A good and heavy lunch followed by the thing that I hate the most.. the adieu time.. I hate to bid tata-bye bye to my friends as the trek concludes! Well, it gives me a reason to smile too… as every adios is surely to be followed by a warm welcome, probably a week or fortnight later invariably!

Hail to the Sahyadris (mountains in general) and a bow to all my wonderful friends (Raj, Amod, Vinita, Kinjal) who once again etched some wonderful memories in my grey mater!

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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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Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal trek on 28th-29th June 2008

Posted by itrekz on June 17, 2008

Raireshwar-Kenjalgad trek was an experience unparalleled!

Well, after the recently concluded trek in Bhor region, iTrekz would be venturing out for Naneghat-Jivdhan-Bhoranda Nal trek on 28th-29th June 2008

Naneghat is an ancient pass near Vaishakhare around 60 Kms from Kalyan. Its around 2 hours trek from the base. Jivdhan is an strong and imposing fort overlooking Naneghat. Its around two and half hours trek from Naneghat. Bhoranda Nal is another ghat descending down from Naneghat to Bhoranda village near Moroshi.

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Raireshwar-Kenjalgad-Kamalgad trek coming weekend

Posted by itrekz on June 9, 2008

iTrekz would be visiting the forts Kamalgad and Kenjalgad and the massive plateau of Raireshwar coming weekend, marking the beginning of its monsoon treks. We would be visiting these forts in the sequence RaireshwarKenjalgadKamalgad.

We would be departing from Mumbai on Friday, 13th June night. Reaching Bhor early on Saturday, 14th June, we would start with Raireshwar in the morning and in the latter half would visit Kenjalgad fort. We would be camping in a Khavali village at the base of Kenjalgad or walk towards Wasole village (approx 8 kms) at the base of Kamalgad on Saturday depending on the situation then.

Sunday morning, 15th June,  starting early we would visit Kamalgad fort and head on our way back towards Mumbai. We will try and make it to Mumbai as early as possible.

Some minimalistic jots about these forts…

Raireshwar, standing more than 4500 feet tall, still bear the mute witnesses to the oath of Swarajya that Shiv Chattrapati took here in 1645. The temple is a humble one with a Shivling and an idol of Lord Raireshwar (Shiva). Raireshwar is a thickly forested plateau overlooking the backwaters of Dhom and standing next to Kenjalgad.

Kenjalgad (4269 feet) can be reached from Raireshwar via the Shwandara route in two and half hours. A beautiful view of the Dhom lake below and Kamalgad fort standing on the other side of the backwaters. The rock cut steps of Kenjalgad are really nice bit of work.

Kamalgad is a fort standing 4522 feet tall in front of Kenjalgad on the other side of Dhom backwaters. Dense forest and thick vegetation is one of the hallmarks of Kamalgad and in monsoons, it surely is a treat. Wonderful topographic view of the surrounding region including Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani from the Balekilla, provided the mist and fog clear its thick network!

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