Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sahyadris Unplugged


Recently I completed a trek and achieved a milestone of continuous 400 kms continuous span of Sahyadris and in around 15 years,I have done around 650 kms Sahyadris  from start point of Sahyadris near Nasik-Dhule-Gujrat Border till the Koyna region.
Out of that total treks,I have done 400 kms of continuous treks from Salher till Made ghat region near Velhe and further some discontinuous treks till Koyna(Only Raireshwar and Kenjalgad near Bhor left now to complete the chain of 650 kms of continuous Sahyadris from Salher till Koyna)

Here,I have told only truth experienced till today.
It is not just about trekking.By means of trekking,I have experienced various persons in life like Co-operative,understanding,helpful,arrogant, adamant,always trying to hurt somebody's feelings etc etc.
Based on treks,I have tried to find out qualities of persons in day to day life.How a person has to be.

The required start.My early trek days

Nasik region
Since I did my 4 year schooling and some part of college at Nasik,I have a special affection for Nasik
I started my trek when I was around 13 to 14 years old and my first ever trek was Salher the highest fort in Maharashtra at Salher village near Satana Nasik in year 1990 during Diwali and we did Mulher, Markandya and Dhodap in the same season and till year 1992,I spanned Kalsubai and few forts near Nasik like Ramsej,Trimbakeshwar,Harihar Saptashringi,(by walking from Nanduri and not by direct bus till the top).
Pandavleni and Chambhar Leni was near by house in Nasik hence once in 2 weeks,I was always there
I used to do social activities with my Father at Nasik.We worked for Swadhay Parivar formed by Shri Pandurang Shastri Athavle and my Father was one of the volunteers of Swadhyay Parivar and used to teach lessons in Bhagvadgita volumes to the tribals of Peth Surgana talukas of Nasik hence tribal villages in Peth and Surgana talukas of Nasik was almost like my second home.Once in a month,I always used to be there with my Father

Nasik is an ideal place for hardcore trekkers.Nasik doesnt have an privelege of Easy forts nearby.Every fort and mountain near Nasik is not easy.
Pune has got easy forts like Sinhagad,Torna,Rajgad,Purandar,Shivneri etc
Satara has got easy places like Ajinkyatara,Kaas,Sajjangad,Kolhapur has got easy places like Panhala,Vishalgad etc but Nasik cannot enjoy this privilege.Almost all forts and mountains nearby Nasik are not easy to climb.Trimbakeshwar and Anjaneri are most easy ones in Nasik but still they have got steep climbs and dense forests thus many novice people climb it till half way and return back(Ofcourse this is an common phenomenon for enthusiastic people all over the Sahyadris.These people just decide their trek without any understanding in enthusiasm but in halfway itself,their enthusiasm evaporate away like water vapours)

After I came to Pune in 1993-94,I did few treks in Lonavla region like Rajmachi, Dhak Bhivpuri.There was one reason because Lonavla was well connected with local trains hence commuting was affordable because any other trek destinations were to be travelled only by ST buses hence in college life,I did treks in these regions twice and thrice till year 1996.These regions were most affordable during college time.
Further during graduation and after,I skipped many years till year 2001 and I started again with Karnala near Panvel but the frequency of trek was very less during that time.and there were few small treks done by me once in 6 months like Karnala, Drongiri

Reason was that during this time,There were no or very less interested companions during this trek

What things you need to refer and learn from

In our school library at Nasik,I used to refer a book by Shri Harish Kapadia titled "Trek the Sahyadris" and many other volumes of Sahyadris written in English & Marathi by authors like P.K Ghanekar,G.N Dandekar(Popularly known as "Go Ni Da" or Appa in Marathi),Vyankatesh Madgulkar and Maruti Chintampalli,Vasanti Ghaisas,Shanta Shelke(Around  6:30 am morning on Akashwani/Radio many such authors would describe about various cultures in Maharashtra by way of some story of 30 minutes) and hence their books and speeches have greater influence and developed affection in me about Sahyadris
Also the poem titled "Vagabond" of William Wordsworth was one of my favourites.
One more reason behind trekkiing the Sahyadri region was the inspirational Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj .The main intention in climbing Sahyadris make me remember that for Hindavi Swarajya,how much painstaiking efforts would Shivaji Maharaj have taken in establishing the Maratha Kingdom in vicinity of Sahyadris.The days now when people climb the mountain with too much tiresome efforts,then imagine how much efforts people in those days some 400 years back have taken?
You get to learn all these things from climbing the mountains in Sahyadris
Now things have changed.The life of people living in Sahyadris are itself an huge open book.Interaction with such people itself gives you wisdom and knowledge which no scholar can teach you.You can understand by just looking at them.

What made me to do these treks
Till 2005,I had done few treks but a wish in my mind started to generate.I was thinking to write a book on trekking in Sahyadris with real experiences because till now you read any books on trekking,they just tell you how to reach the base village and how to reach destination and what are the combined treks and some maps nearby but nobody describes in a manner that the reader will feel himself that he is experiencing the trek by just reading the book than what will happen if he reads my book and goes for the trek mentioned.
This thought is unique one.I have that ability in me to write in that manner.
Though my blogs are littlebit lengthy but the most readers give me a feedback that my blog is the best reference for trek.Many people have read my blog and have trekked and then emailed me about their experienes.I am not praising me but I am telling that I can write it in that way.
In year 2006,I decided that I will be writing a book on Sahyadris in simple Marathi and English language and hence for that,I need to reach each and every destination in Sahyadri.Thus keeping this in mind,I started again from year 2006

What was the most painful thing experienced(Year 2005 to year 2009)

Except one or two friends,I was not having right partners hence It was frustrating experience that major treks you have to leave in halfway unwillingly or cancel.
Other partners from my company were arrogant and hence it was difficult to trek with them because even during treks with them,their higher positions was a major hindrance because at many times,they were wrong but who will tell them and will these people listen to me??? thus major times,it was a halfway return or just enjoyment/picnic at the base villages with a big team of around 15 to 20 people or sometimes more.
It was disgusting.They were more interested in long distance biking trips and was having a huge biking group in our company
In 2009-2010 year,I started doing solo treks

Trek is just a media.Ideally qualities of person in day to day life also depends on such behaviour

How the passion started developing(After year 2009)

I started doing solo treks because I cannot tolerate such arrogance for longer time.I used to reach the base villages and talk with local people,sometimes they used to accompany me and thus I started making few successful treks thus my hope of collecting information for writing a book increased.
Till the start of year 2010,I did few solo treks in the same way and now I was happy because I was having a strong option against arrogance.My willpower increased to such extent that I didnt needed such people for treks.These people were just a part of my emails for information purpose made no difference to me even if such people dont join me in treks thus their importance decreased gradually in my life.
If they come with me,well and good if not , then let it be.doesnt make any difference because I was moving ahead
Year 2010 was a turning point because I adopted the art of trekking alone almost all the times.More than such people,local villagers and tribals were most respectable personalities for me
After doing some solo treks,I decided that every month,I will be reaching atleast one destination to be recorded and I did it accordingly.Very soon,I trekked almost each and every mountain in Bhandardara region and further,I trekked till Mulshi-Pali region
All treks done by me were solo treks in these 2 years and all with 100 percent success(No returning from Halfway since I was the alone person in these treks accompanied with only local people only)

Finally I started meeting new and old friends for the treks the good ones and the understanding ones
Good ones and understanding ones I say because whenever they plan some trek,I am with them and whenever I have planned few treks,they also have responded me equally and whenever it is not possible for them,they clearly mention in email about it and if it is not possible for me,I also clearly mention it.
Thus this type of understanding one needs to have

5th November of 2011 Saturday Kalsubai trek
This was best one for me.I planned a trek to Kalsubai again.It was my third time to visit Kalsubai since year 1990 and hence from Pune,I came till Bari village on my bike.It was colder morning.I left home around 4:30 am but I missed my bus and hence I decided to go on bike.It was very cold.My hands and fingers were frozen like a wooden stick and it was difficult to drive my bike.I used to hold the hot engine and silencer in my hands to keep my hands and fingers moving and in such conditions,I reached the base village of Kalsubai Bari
After warming up from this chilling cold,I started to trek and in few minutes,I met two persons who also came from Pune to trek Kalsubai.They were in CDAC Pune and thus along with them,it was an enjoyable trek.Here is where,I came to meet Jitesh and Jaywant.

Later due to Tungi trek,I again got a chance to meet few more like minded people like  Niranjan,Nitin,Sandeep thus the trek groups from all over started coming together
Further in between I did some solo treks as well as few more treks in groups.
Now I had spanned almost the whole Bhandardara,Nasik,Thane and Raigad region

Kulang and Madangad trek done all alone
I am also very much thankful to Abhijeet Avalaskar.He has done too many treks and an avid photographer working in Pidilite Mumbai.though he was not accompanied with me in any of the trek done till now yet his useful guidance through emails helped me a lot when I dared to trek difficult fort in Maharashtra Kulang and Madangad all alone(No local persons were with me during this trek.I was fully on mercy of nature during this trek.Near Kulangwadi while returning,around evening,I was able to realize a leopard hardly 100 meters away and not a small piece of blade with me but still I returned without any harm).

Ghanchakkar near Bhandardara the third highest mountain in Sahyadris
Also in between,I was the only person who trekked Ghanchakkar-Muda(Maharashtra's third highest and fourth highest mountains) in 2-3 years.These mountains are situated at remote places such that no trekker knows about this place.Hardly any trek group come in 2 to 3 years at this place

More and more trek companions added.My older friends right from school time also with me.
Also in meantime,I was in touch with my school time friend Kiran Gosavi who is also having a group of friends interested in treks.His Father in Law from Ambernath-Badlapur has trekked many mountains in Sahyadris from past 40 years thus it was a best ever trek to Siddhagad with Kiran and his Father in Law I did.

Treks in Koyna region Madhu Makarandgad and Vasota
Again during month of May,Jitesh and his friends from CDAC gathered for Vasota trek beyond Koyna dam but unfortunately Vasota was postponed 2 times but in between this,we did Madhu-Makarandgad trek and further we did Vasota-Nageshwar trek
I met few more friends Sudarshan,Milind Kapare,Sarvanan,Suman,Sridhar and Anirban(Special thanks to Megha because when I mailed about Vasota trek,Megha was also in my mailing list.She was not able to come but she mailed me that one of her friend is interested for Vasota trek.Here is where,I came to know Anirban)

Bhimashankar the king of all treks
Further,I did Bhimashankar from Khandas through Shidi ghat with Anirban and Dipti our one more new colleague.She is the youngest of all the trek members in our group,Though a difficult trek like Bhimashankar   was her second or third trek but she did this exhaustive trek with us

Durga-Dhakoba near Junnar-Ahupe region
And latest by last week,I did Durg-Dhakoba-Dara ghat trek by we 8 people .
I just emailed to all my friends that with this trek,I will be completing a 400 kms of continuous treks in Sahyadris hence It was my wish that those who were in that mailing list will join me and share a pleasant moment with me(After long time and with lot of ups and downs,I have reached this exciting moment)
Thus for this trek,I recieved interest from Kiran,Ajit,Jitesh,Sudarshan,Ritesh,Abhay and Prashant.This was the most enjoyable moment for me when we reached on top of Dhakoba.At one point,we decided that we would skip Durg because it was getting late since it was 3:30 pm.Now Durg was the only gap this 400 kms continuous Sahyadris which I decided to do it later but it started becoming foggy and raining heavily and we lost our way and instead of going to Amboli, we were on Durg miraculously on the route to Bhivade village around 4:30 pm.Here,we met one local person called Hanumant who guided us till waterfall to reach Amboli. Thus I think that it was God's own wish that I should complete my milestone achievement on 25th Aug 2012
Again during this trek,Ritesh,Abhay and Ajit were added to this trek group.

This is the understanding and maturity to be shown because after loosing the way on a very vast plateau and all fog and heavy rain everywhere and no place for shelter,I cant imagine what situation I would have faced if my previous trek companions/half way draggers were there with me during that trek.I am very much thankful that they were not with me otherwise the whole trek would have spoiled there itself.But during such situation also everybody showed good presence of mind and with great patience,we were able to get on right track in one hour.No arrogance, arguments and no blaming each other since we learnt more about precautions to be taken during the trek.After reaching the base village back,We all forgot this whatever happened and we all accepted it as everybody's responsibility and not a mistake of any single person.

Thus till now,I have done almost 650 kms of Sahyadris from Salher till Koyna and continuous 400 kms with not one mountain skipped from Salher till Raigad-Sudhagad-Pali region
Now only Raireshwar and Kenjalgad are left to make it a continuous 650 kms Sahyadris.

I am really thankful to them who joined me in the treks ,to many local villagers and also to many unknown persons who at complicated routes have painted signs marking arrow indications towards the right route.It was helpful for me a lot because many times,I have trekked alone and this arrow marks painted by an unknown person was my only guide most of the times.

Here are some selected photographs (During 90's and in 2000,I was not having a camera hence I cannot post photographs of those on this blog.I started using Digital camera around 2005)

My photos given below shows photos of Sahyadris right from starting point till Koyna dam.You will see varieties in Sahyadris in around 600 kms distance

Kalsubai the highest peak in Maharashtra from Bari village

The starting point of Sahyadri from Salher fort.To your front is Dhule district and to your left is Gujrat to west 

Salher(Right) the highest fort in Maharashtra and Salota(Left) from Vaghambe village at Satana Nasik

Aland and Kirda mountains seen from top of Kalsubai

From top of Kalsubai the highest peak in Maharashtra

Scene from top of Ghanchakkar the third highest mountain and Muda the fourth highest mountain in Sahyadris near Bhandardara.View of Ratangad seen from top of Ghanchakkar

View From top of Ghanchakkar mountain.Seen below is the Bhandardara dam.Just imagine Bhandardara dam is twice of Panshet near Pune but from top of Ghanchakkar,how much small it looks like.

Pushkarni on top of Harishchandragad

Temple at Harishchandragad

Anjaneri the birth place of Hanuman

Kokan kada of Harishchandragad

Mighty and difficult Siddhagad from Narivli village near Murbad

Brahmagiri near trimbakeshwar

Ajoba parvat the birth place of Lav Kush and Samadhi of Valmiki Rishi

Tungi(Kathingad) fort near Lonavla

Raigad fort in monsoons

Scene from top of Kulang fort.To the front is Madangad and far away is Alang.These forts are the most difficult trek in Sahyadris

Pinacles of Madangad while climbing Kulang fort

Nageshwar lingi view from Vasota top

Vasota and Nageshwar Lingi in dense Koyna forests

Kokan Kada on Dhakoba top near Jinnar.Far ahead seen is Jivdhan near Nane ghat

Twin peaks of Madhu-makrandgad near Chaturbet village behind Pratapgad

Trek to Makarandgad

Bhimashankar Shidi ghat route

View of Avandh Pinacle from top of Patta fort

Patta or Vishramgad fort near Nasik Deolali

Ratangad and a needle hole point seen on top

Scene of rock faces of Katrabai and Ajoba Parvat near Asangaon

Bhairavnath Shrine in a cave at Bhairavgad

Nane ghat caves

Sudhagad near Pali overlooking the Mulshi-Lonavla region

Some treks done by me is past but I was not having Camera in those days hence they cannot be posted on my blog.These destinations are
          Mulher,Saptashringi,Dhodap,Markandya,Rawlya Jawlya near Satana-Kalwan Nasik during 1990-91
          Kavnai,Ghargad,Harihar near Igatpuri-Trimbakeshwar-Kasara Region during 1990
          Rajmachi Dhak-Bahiri near Khandala-Karjat region during 1995-1996
          Matheran-Peb,Prabalgad,Karnala near Panvel region during 2000-2001
          Dhom->Mahabaleshwar->Pratapgad from Jor-Niwali village near Dhom during 2006        

Please excuse me but I would like to make an clarification why I have not included or dont like to mention Torna,Rajgad,Sinhagad,Purandar near Pune,Aad and Chhannagiri near Sinnar Nasik
Reason is quite simpler.
It is not an trek at all.Show me any challenge in such destinations. Because nowadays,any Tom-Dick-Harry(or called as Somya Gomya in Marathi) can go to these destinations so there is no thrill left in mentioning such crowded destinations and I am also quite happy in not mentioning them


  1. hey read ur article...its really inspiring..iv never trekked in my life but i want to start trekking after reading ur article..can u suggest how i should start n what are the prerequisites of trekking.

  2. pankaj,
    your experience is really rich and very inspiring. i have a dream of trekking all of the sahyadris right from the northern most salher till the goa gap continuous without returning home till completion, solo or otherwise, may it take a year off job and comforts of city life and family.its crazy. but its my dream.
    i would like to meet you email is share yours.

  3. Hi Pankaj,

    Your article is really very interesting. I very much inspired by your treks life and would like to be part of your group for treks. I too have completed 47 treaks till now :) My email id is and my number is 9922948357. Please share yours so that we can do many more treks .....
    Sagar Jangle.