Monsoon was getting delayed now for quite sometime and it was irritating to know that coming weekend could again be trekless (My new english vocabulary don’t mind). As man is a hopeful animal (Akhir Umeed per hi duniya kayaam hai) so I decided, what may come I am going for this trek rains or no rains. Saturday night the Gods went crazy literally because it started to rain cats and dogs. I too was damn ecstatic now and my heart almost sang out…Sawaan ko aane do.
Sunday morning with the usual excitement of trek I along with my daughter left the house to catch the 7.00 Virar local it was 6.40 when we reached the platform and to my dismay I noticed that the trains are late. 6.06 Virar local had just come in( Thanks to local train accident at Andheri Station last night). Anyways I jumped into this train. Why bother for 7.00 train..jaldi Virar pahuncho...warna yeh trek miss ho jayega.
|People on the tracks side of the train all ready to jump into the train.
Upon reaching Virar what I saw left me flabbergasted Aisa laga ki puri Mumbai Khali ho rahi hai….not a place to stand on the platform and that too at 8.00 am in the morning…sach me this city is going nuts!!!
It was here I met our organiser Sameer and few of the other members of the trek group. we proceeded to catch the train for Saphale. Here too the scene that ensued was something beyond explanation, there were people jostling on the platform to get into the train and then there were people on the tracks side of the train all ready to jump into the train. My daughter panicked as to how are we suppose to get into this train.But we Indian have true grit and enough courage to overcome all obstacles and the result of that was we were all in the train.Happy journey to all… we are on our way to Tandulwadi.
As there was no place to sit so we all traveled standing near the foot board . Aur aage hamari himmat dekho ki we managed to have our impromptu standing breakfast of idli-chatni ( Thanks Pramila).It was a 15 minutes travel from Virar to Saphale. We all got down and proceeded to east side where the organisers had arranged for Tumtum to take us to Tandulwadi.
|Primary school at Tandulwadi
Tandulwadi is a around 5 kms from Saphale station, there are ST buses and autos which go there so one can easily reach this base village.
|View from the gram Panchayat office Tandulwadi
|Enjoying morning breakfast Packet or should I say surprise packet !!!
Tandulwadi base village has a large school on the left side and garam panchayat office in the middle and a small shop on the right side of the village.Here the Organisers surprised us with a royal breakfast of Pizzas and cake.
|Walk through the Village and look closely to see the Band on the left side.
As usual we had an introduction and instruction round.After this we started our trek from the Village and immediately we came across a small band(Dam),
|back water of the band adjoining the village
from here we take left and immediate right.There is straight way from here and you can see the Tandulwadi top from here on the right side. Keep following the trail and the best part is through out the trek almost all the detours are to the right only. But mind you let this not misguide you to wrong confidence because this trek is notorious for many trekker losing their way in past. Luckily we had hired a guide so no such chance for us.
|Initial ascent is gradual and easy
The ascent is gradual and easy.Turning back one can see the Vaitarna river flowing in the background.
|Lovely Vaitrana river flowing
After walking for 30 minutes we came across Plateau. From here one gets very beautiful view of the top as the conditions were overcast so when we looked at the top it was immersed in the fluffy clouds, one moment you can see it and the other moment it disappeared.
|One moment it is there and another moment it disappears !!
The Plateau I presume during proper monsoon must be having a large water stream which we noticed on our way back.
|Plateau where one could see small stream
From the Plateau we had the option to take shorter route to the top by taking left turn and doing the climb but as it has began to rain the route was becoming marshy and slippery so the organiser opted for the longer route from the right through the forest . Here the initial portion was a walk through the large stones lying in the forest and after sometime the climb to the top started. The ascent was little steep and due to rains slippery and above all the new phenomena that I noted in this trek was crabs. while trekking there were so many crabs running helter shelter and the possibility is very high that one may trample them by mistake or they may bite you out of fear. We had enough photographers on our team who were chasing insects and crabs to capture them on the cameras.
|Pouring rains,clouds and breeze…Picture Perfect
It was pouring very heavily. Almost all the cameras went into the bags and we were all enjoying the magic of nature. Ignoring the fatigue of climb,crabs,thorns everyone moved on and finally reached the top.At the start of Top plateau there are 2 water cisterns we moved to the left from there and was on the top or should I say Top of the World. I was almost at the loss of words because the climate was a killer here Rains pouring very hard as if giving your back a massage, Rain drops were nothing short of guided missiles. The breeze was so furious that it could fly you out and then the clouds yes naughty clouds they were all over us making us feel chilly.
The is not much fortification at the Top. It was explained to us that this place was at a vantage point therefore there was no need to fortify it.there were only few water tanks here which we didn’t go to see as the climate was simply too awesome for us to move.”Thand se fati padi thi toh hilega kon…”
As usual some one called out to start with lunch.Here standing in the pouring rain with no shelter to stand under I was wondering how the hell we will have lunch. But then an incorrigible trekkers can do anything so naturally we had one of the most craziest and out of the world lunch under the open sky , pouring rains and whole body shivering to the hilt. I simply could not put away the memory of me holding the stuffed paratha and eating with the rain drops hitting me all the time. Lunch in clouds,rains and so strong breeze that holding your sandwich itself was a task with every possibility that it could fly to your immediate neighbor’s mouth and mind you it is no exaggeration.
The only unfortunate part at the Top was that due to clouds and rains we were not able to clearly see the confluence of river Surya and Vaitarna river flowing across and secondly a very very big loss that we were not able to capture all this fun on the camera. But then these things are really very difficult to capture on camera because that environment,that smell of the breeze and the ambience of the nature around you is to be felt to be believe which I hope lots of my trekker friends will agree too.
Fighting rains and wind we finished our lunch. Sameer called out for Know the history session at the Top..Lekin sunne ki himmat kahan thi…we were only hoping ki yeh jaldi se finish kare and we now move to some better sheltered place. Shivering in rains we attended our history lesson quite informative though. We finally started to move down. Coming down was lot easier in spite of the rains and we quickly reached the base village where we were provided hot black tea kicking all the cold out of the system.
We took tumtum back to Saphale station where the next train was expected to come at 6.15 pm . Luckily for us the train was on time but yet there was another bout of push and pull to get into the train to Virar.
However we survived to live another day for another trek !!!
Given below is a video link of our entire trip to tandulwadi top I am thankful to my friend Sanjeev Tankaria for capturing the mood of the trek and allowing me to use his video.