Chanderi Trek: Ascent via Tamsai!

This post has been divided into two parts: The Ascent to Chanderi Cave via Tamsai (Panvel) and Descent from Chanderi Cave to Chinchavali (Vangani/Badlapur). Link to the second part can be found at the bottom of this page.

#47: Trek to Chanderi fort via Tamsai and Chinchavali.

I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Bhava, thik aahes na?” (Bro, you alright?)
Yeah.” I lied without looking up.

Beads of sweat dripped from my forehead as I breathed heavily with hands braced against my legs, bent over on the ridge between the Col and Chanderi Cave. Fed up of the sharp, throbbing pain that shot through my right knee on every step, I gave into this insane urge to sprint up the steep ridge. A minute and 120 vertical feet later, I was still some way off the cave but my heart was now thumping against ribcage at an ever increasing pace, cursing me for the foolish sprint.

The tip of Chanderi was just about peeking over the top of the ridge and to my left, 5 kms away, was the village of Chinchavali looking no bigger than a coin. It was an hour past noon and my still-recovering knee was posing questions I couldn’t answer. The heat and pain were only going to increase here on and I had a decision to make. Cave or the Village?

But first, let me take you all the way back to how it all began!
Folks, brace yourselves for another crazy trek of ‘A Season of Mountains’!


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A Persian Mallow blooms in the foothills of Chanderi fort, Maharashtra

When: Dec ‘17
Where: Chanderi fort (Cave), Maharashtra
GPS coordinates: 19°03’51.3″N 73°14’43.5″E
Base Villages:  1. Tamsai: 16 kms from Panvel (South-west route)
2. Chinchavali: 10 kms from Badlapur/Vangani (North-east route)
Range: Matheran range
USP: Chanderi Cave
Best time to visit: Preferably winter (November-February). Please do not attempt this trek in peak monsoon.

Difficulty: Moderate till the Cave for experienced trekkers
Endurance: 3
Risk Factor:  Medium. Do not attempt to climb the pinnacle without professional guidance.
All gradings are for winter trek. How are they classified? Read here!

Map & Elevation graph:
Chanderi 02GPS trail: Click here to view GPS trail on Wikiloc -> Wikiloc Link
Our Route: Panvel-Tamsai-Col-Chanderi Cave-Col-Chinchavli-Vangani

1.For Tamsai, alight at Panvel railway station and hire a Tumtum from the stand outside ST depot.
Ascent from Tamsai: Panvel-Tamsai-Col-Chanderi cave.
From Tamsai, walk north along the paddy fields for 400 m before turning east (right with your back to Tamsai), where the trail cuts through fields in Chanderi’s direction. Afterwards, the trail circumvents base of the unnamed hill on left before reaching a stream (dry except in monsoon) and then cuts across one of Mhasmal’s spurs to enter dense forest. Following this, a steep climb leads to the col (~3 kms from Tamsai) where Chanderi stands on your right (east) and Mhasmal on left (west). An easy grade rock patch with a bit of exposure but excellent holds is all that separates you from the Chanderi Massif. Once at the base of the massif, turn right and pass a water cistern to reach the cave.

2. For Chinchavali, alight at Badlapur/Vangani railway station and hire a Tumtum/Auto rickshaw to Chinchavali.
Ascent from Chinchavali:  Badlapur/Vangani-Chinchavali-Col-Chanderi cave.
A solitary broad trail climbs up the plateau from Chinchavali.  The gradual climb leads you to a flat, clear trail due south that traverses the plateau to culminate in a dry basin, about 3.5 kms from Chinchavali. Look out for markers from this point onwards. The route sometimes climbs through and at other times, alongside the gully (Naal) to end at the col. Turn left (east) for Chanderi and follow the route to cave as mentioned above.

Total trail length: 8.3 kms
Actual distance covered: 9.2 kms (including off-trail movement)
Min. Elevation of the trail: Tamsai: 96 m above MSL & Chinchavali: 45 m above MSL.
Max. Elevation of the trail:     1. Cave: 664 m (2178 ft.) above MSL. (Verified during trek)
2. Peak: 688 m (2257 ft.) above MSL. (As per Google Earth)
Total Time: 11 hours (of which active time: 6 hours)

Food and Water:  Carry at least 3 litres of water per head during winters. Potable water is available in a couple of remote water cisterns at the southern end of the fort. Rest have been contaminated by plastic waste.
Accommodation: 15-20 people can stay in Chanderi cave
Night trek: Not recommended

NOTE: If you attempt the trek without professional help, please consider hiring a local guide from base village. A few documented rescue/stranding incidents on the fort: [External link # OneTwo, Three & Four]

Our Itinerary:
0700 hrs-           Alighted at Juinagar Railway Station
0715 hrs-             Boarded ST (State Transport) bus for Panvel
0745 hrs-             Reached Panvel Bus depot
0845 hrs-            Hired Tumtum to Tamsai
0930 hrs-            Reached Tamsai
1245 hrs-             Reached Col
1345 hrs-             Reached Chanderi Cave
1620 hrs-             Started descent from Cave
2035 hrs-            Reached Chinchavali
2100 hrs-            Hired a Mahindra Maximo from the village to Vangani railway station
2139 hrs-             Boarded an UP local train to CSMT
NOTE: For video of a trek with similar itinerary, check out Sujit Mallick’s excellent Chanderi trek video from June 2018!

Our expenses:
Railway ticket: Rs. 40 per head
Bus ticket (Juinagar to Panvel): Rs. 20 per head
Breakfast: Rs. 554/7 = Rs 79 per head (One of the friends joined us post breakfast)
*Tumtum fare from Panvel to Tamsai: Rs. 400/8 = Rs. 50 per head
*Van fare from Chinchavali to Vangani: Rs. 500/8 = Rs. 63 per head
Post-trek snacks: Rs 300/8 = Rs. 38 per head
Total: Rs 290 per head
*Negotiable.

Other transport options:  ST buses (aka Laal Dabba) run a couple of times each day between Panvel ST depot and Dundra/Dundra Fata. Sharing Tumtums are available for Tamsai from Dundra.

Alternative Routes/Other trails:
1. Trail to Chanderi from Ashaswadi: A very rarely used trail climbs up to the Mhasmal-Chanderi Col from Ashaswadi near Dundra. Hiring a guide is essential to explore this route.
2. Vaghachi wadi-Chanderi traverse: A trail from Vaghachi Wadi (base village of Nakhind) descends to the valley between Chanderi and Nakhind before climbing up the south-eastern end of Chanderi fort. Caution: This trail is not used anymore.

Tentative itinerary for a 5-day Range trek:
Time to let my imagination run wild!
I have done the entire route mentioned below, as individual treks of course. Feel free to drop me a mail using the contact form for more information about any section of the trail.

Chanderi 03
Tentative route

Chanderi-Nakhind-Peb (Vikatgad)-Matheran-Irshalgad-Prabalgad-Kalavantin Durg

Chanderi 04
Tentative itinerary

Overall: 51.2 km with a total elevation gain and loss of approx. 3970m (13024 ft).


NOTE:

  1. All the pictures used in this post have been clicked by my friends or me, unless stated otherwise.
  2. Hyperlinks are highlighted in blue and open in a new tab.
  3. The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore, strictly at your own risk.

Prologue

The flourishing 4th Season of Mountains came to a screeching halt the moment I re-injured my right knee in the first week of September ‘17.  Common sense (and my Doctor!) dictated that I take some time off from treks to help the knee recuperate and I duly kept a low profile in the months that followed. But when an easy hike failed to satiate my yearning for the mountains, I knew only one thing could help me- a full-fledged trek, injury be damned!
The following is an account of the crazy trek that was borne out of this craving for the hills. The destination? One of the most notorious hills of the Matheran range- Chanderi fort.

The Gang: Abhishek, Darshana, Gauri, Krunal, Manish, Shardul, Tejas & Me


The 4th Season Of Mountains:

The Monsoon of 2017, which also happened to be the Fourth Season Of Mountains for me, started with the long awaited trek to Bhimashankar via Shidi and Ganesh Ghat. We followed it up with another amazing trek to Naneghat and even though I started experiencing niggling pain in my right knee a few days later, I wilfully ignored it.

Chanderi 05
The Gang walking towards Naneghat in August 2017

I had been to Irshalgad & Prabalgad the year before and when I read about a rarely attempted traverse between the two forts, I knew I had to do it. My usual partner-in-crime during such treks, Sud, gladly agreed to join me and we roped in a guy from Irshalwadi, Sunil, to guide us through the connecting ridge that becomes a challenge to navigate during Monsoons.

As luck would have it, about 10 kms into the trek I slipped on the mossy trail and heard a pop as I landed awkwardly on my knee. Determined to carry on, I pulled on the knee sleeve that we usually carry in our first-aid kit during difficult, isolated treks and somehow trekked another 10 kms to Thakurwadi.

Chanderi 06
Returning from the water cistern right below the peak of Irshalgad

The next day, I was crestfallen when tests revealed I had partially torn the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) of my right knee. With strict orders from the doctor to avoid straining the knee for 6 months, I reluctantly buried the season then and there.

Resurrection!
But we, the people in love with mountains are an incorrigible breed and rational things don’t make sense to us! 😛

So I was back doing light exercises by the time December rolled in and about a week into the month, decided to test my knee by hiking up to Matheran by one of the easier routes, the Dodhani-Hashyachi patti trail with Tejas. Even though I was limping by the end of it, I knew one thing for certain- I couldn’t stay away from the hills.

The Mountains were calling me and I had to go!

Chanderi 07
Err..

Okay fine! No mountain called me. Mountains have better things to do.
But you get the point, right?
As long as I could walk, I was going to climb and just like that, the 4th Season was alive again!

The Choice:
When the Season had been resurrected, how could the Gang be far behind?
So we got together to brainstorm and zero in on a place. The conditions- It had to be an exciting climb and at the same time, well connected to the city.  Everyone bounced a few names but most were shot down due to one reason or another. Except one.
Chanderi.

As was the case with Irshalgad, I had been apprehensive about trekking to Chanderi due to its unfortunate reputation. But the more I read about it, the more I gravitated towards it.

Chanderi 08
Sitting at the edge of Vikatgad temple in February 2015. Chanderi fort can be seen in the centre of the image.

Chanderi is a peak in the Matheran range with an obscure history. Although no signs of fortification besides three water cisterns & partially blown off steps survive today, British records of the region indicate ruins of several houses were present on the fort till late 19th century (Reference link).

As for the route, several trails climb up to the Chanderi-Mhasmal col from nearby villages but the ones originating from Tamsai (Panvel) and Chinchavali are used most often. From the col onward, the trek ahead can be divided into two phases-

1. Col to Cave: Moderate grade. A steep climb followed by an easy rock patch leads to the cave at an elevation of 2178 ft. above MSL.
2. Cave to Peak: Very Difficult grade. An exposed traverse beyond the cave ends at a vertical slab near the southern end of the fort. A few inches-wide groove in the wall leads to a flight of partially blown off steps from where, a very exposed path across the peak culminates at the three-foot tall statue of Shivaji Maharaj (installed by Badlapur-based Ajinkya hikers on the occasion of their 25th anniversary in 2008). This is the highest point of the fort at an elevation of 2258 ft. above MSL.

Chanderi 09
A closer look at the Chanderi cave from Vikatgad. Clicked in December 2016.

None of my friends were keen on scaling the peak after such a long break, an opinion I seconded. Instead, we set our heart on doing something else to make it a little more interesting- traverse all the way from Tamsai to Chinchavali via Chanderi cave!

Most of the blog posts I read had described the Chinchavali trail in great detail but it was incredibly difficult to find a reliable account of the Tamsai trail. Therefore, we decided to explore and document the South-west trail from Tamsai in broad daylight and descend to Chinchavali by the North-east route later in the day.

The Knee Sleeve:
If the hills above seem familiar to you, chances are you have seen ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’.

Chanderi 10
Bollywood trivia: Parts of the song ‘Deewana Main Chala’ have been shot in the region

With the research and planning phase more or less done, I shifted my focus to prepping for the trek. Chanderi is also notorious for its scree slopes and if you have ever set foot on one, you know the significance of a grippy pair of shoes. Unfortunately, my pair of Action trekking shoes had worn out by then and breaking into a new pair so close to the trek was out of question. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I traded grip in favour of blister-free feet and kept faith in my existing pair- a choice that’d come to haunt me later!

Meanwhile, my knee was feeling no better but I knew I’d somehow pull through the trek. What really concerned me was that if any of my friends sensed my discomfort during the ascent, they’d have turned back with me without a second thought.
So I came up with a Master-Pilaan! 😉
I would keep the knee sleeve ready at my ankle, hidden under the jeans and the moment my knee started hurting, I would pull it up without anyone noticing and continue!

Just as I was smirking at my evil plan, Mansi informed us that she was dropping out due to personal reasons but graciously agreed to be our backup* for the trek.
*Backup:  A person regularly updated about our location during the trek.

The Megablock Mess:
With Mansi not being able to make it, the Trek Gang was now down to 8, including me, coming from all over the city- Abhi (Ghatkopar), Darshana (Panvel), Gauri (Kurla), Manish (Vasai), Krunal (Gujarat!), Shardul (Thane) & Tejas (Andheri).

Here’s an infographic to better illustrate this:

Chanderi 11
Google Drive link to a general version of this infographic: How to reach Chanderi fort

You must have probably guessed by now that travelling by Railways was central to our plan. So you can imagine my plight when later that night, a notification popped up on my screen- Central and Harbour railway divisions were going to implement a 13(!) hour long Megablock* between Nerul and Panvel from 2 am to 3 pm!
Kaboom! I could see all the planning go down the drain.

*Megablocks are service blocks undertaken by railway divisions to carry out maintenance work on the suburban line, usually on public holidays to minimize inconvenience to commuters.

But how could we let it bog us down?
After briefly toying with the idea of reversing the trek direction, we finally figured that the best way round this new hurdle was to reach Juinagar by local train and then hop together into an ST bus for Panvel!

With the travel woes (hopefully) sorted, I tried to log a few hours of sleep to make sure my body was primed for the ordeal that I was going to put it through the next day.

The Symphony:
One of my favourite events of the trek-day is when everyone reaches a common place from all corners of the city- as if part of a larger symphony where all notes come together and sync to create music 🙂

The other notes of this symphony- Abhi, Gauri, Manish, Krunal & Tejas were on their way to Kurla when I reached Thane railway station, a little before 6 am. Shortly after, Shardul joined me and we boarded the 6.09 am Trans-Harbour train to Vashi while the rest boarded a Harbour line train from Kurla.

When Shardul and I reached our interchange station, Vashi and had about 20 minutes to spare before Abhi & Co.’s train reached there, we went out looking for breakfast. Unfortunately, no restaurant was open that early in the morning and Shardul had to make do with a cup of tea while I couldn’t even find a cup of coffee! *sigh* We trudged back to the station and did our customary Bharat-Milap with the rest of the Gang after boarding the train to Juinagar.

Chanderi 12
Mere dost aayenge! Waiting for Abhi and Co. at Vashi railway station.

A footbridge from Juinagar railway station leads one to the Mumbai highway passing besides the station and we had barely descended it when Manish let out his trademark war cry! His hawk eyes, tuned to reading the smudged display plates of buses after years of trekking, had spotted a Panvel bus speeding towards the stop and in an instant, everyone was sprinting down the highway faster than Usain bolt. Seeing our desperation for the bus, the poor bewildered passengers already waiting at the bus stop made way for us and a minute later, we were speeding past vehicles sitting comfortably in the rearmost bench of the bus 😀

Chanderi 14
We are on the way!

The rising sun welcomed us in Panvel at half past seven and a quick enquiry with the bus counter confirmed that the only bus to Dundra in the morning had departed long back. So Tumtum it had to be!

Chanderi 15
Sun rises behind the huge water tank of Panvel city.

But I was still craving for a nice, hot cup of coffee and the rest of the Gang were hungry as well, so we walked over to our usual pre-trek breakfast haunt in Panvel- Rahul restaurant.

Chanderi 16
Left: Tejas, Abhi, Gauri & Shardul click a selfie in the restaurant; Right: A piping hot cup of coffee!

That reminds me- if you ever wish to perk someone up, offer them food. Period.
If only you’d seen our beaming faces when we left for the Tumtum stand after gobbling up half the restaurant’s kitchen, you wouldn’t need any more proof 😉

Coming to the transport options- You can find Tumtums catering to different destinations lined up in queues underneath the Panvel flyover. The drivers at the Tamsai stand initially quoted Rs. 600 for the 17 km ride but after some haggling, settled for Rs. 400 which wasn’t too bad for a group of 8.

And 8 reminds me of the last note of the day’s symphony- Darshana!
She was already waiting for us some way ahead along with Mansi, who had come to see off her sister and meet us as well. As you might have already guessed, the Gang didn’t let go off the opportunity to berate (in jest, of course) poor Mansi for missing another trek and I actually had to urge the driver to speed off before our Tom & Jerry duo of Mansi and Manish got down to a WWE-style match in the middle of the street.

Chanderi 17
Left: Tumtum driver, Me & Tejas in the front row of Tumtum; Right: A stopover in Dundra

As we moved farther from the city, the urban structures were gradually replaced by fields, glowing golden through the morning haze and what appeared as a faint spec in the horizon, grew steadily to take on the distinctive shape of Chanderi.

Chanderi 18
The range (rightmost massif is Chanderi) comes into view as we reach Tamsai

The Performer:
When we finally got off in Tamsai at 9.30 am, we were greeted by the most violent of hosts- A bull charging straight at us! But even before we could react to the unusual sight, the bull swiftly turned direction and set off for a circle round the village.

Yes, it was a trained bull who performed for the crowds and earned money for its masters. A very sad sight it was to see such a majestic specimen performing like a clown, but even we couldn’t help stand there transfixed by the spectacle for a good 10 minutes before remembering that we had a mountain to climb!

Chanderi 19
Top: (L to R) Darshana, I, Manish, Abhishek, Shardul, Gauri & Krunal pose for a picture in Tamsai; Bottom: The Bull and its masters perform another routine.

And so it was a quarter to 10 when we finally exited the village by a kuchcha road in the north and thus started the long awaited trek to Chanderi.

The Trek:
One has to walk north from the village, along a small stream (almost dry even though it was only December). Women from the village were doing their chores in whatever water was left in the stream and it is sights like these that make me think of the unfortunate gulf that’s prevalent even today.

Chanderi 21
A woman washes clothes in the stream as we leave Tamsai

Anyways, back to the trek! After passing the stream, the trail climbs up along the fields and about 400 m from the village, cuts through them to turn east.

Nearly lost point #1
It is here that one should be a little wary of the numerous trails that criss-cross the region. Most of these are cattle trails that end up in the bushes.

Chanderi 22
Map of the Tamsai trail to Chanderi

At one such point near the fields where our trail forked out into three, Shardul, Krunal and I fanned out to find the correct one. And bizarrely, the correct trail turned out to be the faintest of the three! One of the pointers to remember here is that correct trail traces a quarter circle around the base of the unnamed hill on the left before straightening out in Mhasmal’s* direction.
*Mhasmal is a non-fortified cluster of pinnacles that poses an interesting challenge to professional rock climbers. However, loose scree near the peaks has been one of the major reasons for its waning popularity in the rock climbing community.

Chanderi 24
Top: An annotated closeup of the Chanderi massif from Tamsai; Bottom: A closeup of the Mhasmal cluster of pinnacles

Once you have safely negotiated this maze of trails, the rest of the path is pretty straightforward, except at another point which would be mentioned later in the post.

Chanderi 23
The trail is well trodden once it straightens out in Chanderi/Mhasmal’s direction

The previous week had been beautiful- Sunny weather with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees and huge, foamy white clouds racing against the stark blue sky. Unfortunately, the day of our trek turned out nothing like that.

Any hint of colour had been obscured by haze and there was no trace of a cloud for miles round the sky. Worse still, the temperatures had climbed back to over 30 degrees, necessitating a rather early hydration break barely 45 minutes into the trek. Some light banter and a couple of sips of electrolyte water later, we were back hauling our backpacks up the mountain with renewed vigour!

Chanderi 25
Top: Hydration break barely 45 minutes into the trek; Bottom: Krunal and Tejas enter the forest

About half an hour later, we reached the dry bed of what must be a torrential stream in peak monsoon. A flat rock standing at the precipice of a steep fall in the stream bed looked perfectly placed for a picture and after resisting the temptation for a while, we finally gave in 😛

With the photoshoot wrapped up, we took the clear trail on the other side of the stream. A minute later, I was staring at a dead end.

Nearly lost point # 2
I tried scouting around for the trail ahead but thorny bushes were making it difficult to continue. Nevertheless, I turned back with a smile, happy that at least my calves were saved from unwanted tattoos by the thick jeans!

Back at the stream, I cross-checked our location with the map and found that the old GPS trail I had traced, passed through what was now a dead end! For a fleeting second, I did think about forging a path through the bushes using our multi-tool but then better sense prevailed and I abandoned the foolhardy idea.

Chanderi 26
Trying to make sense of the disappearing trail

There was only one possible explanation for this anomaly- the old trail must have got blocked by landslides and subsequent wild growth during the previous monsoon. But this also meant the new trail ought to be close by!

So we started looking around and a minute later, Abhi spotted an opening in the bush wall few metres upstream. Enthused at the probable headway, we scrambled up and there it was! A red arrow painted on the wall next to a clear, steep path passing underneath a canopy of trees!

sdr
Tejas points at the faint red arrow on the rock just before the canopy

Once you have crossed the canopy, the trail gradient increases steeply and my beloved scree makes life all the more difficult :/

Chanderi 28
Left: Krunal enters the canopy as Darshana looks on; Right: A top view of the canopy as Gauri climbs up

Very soon, the brief respite from Sun ended when the trail climbed up to a spur coming down from Mhasmal with a concave wall, which transforms into a splendid waterfall during monsoon, standing on our right. The concave wall (or waterfall depending on the season) is one of the important landmarks of Tamsai trail.

Chanderi 30
Bottom left: The trail climbs up the spur; Top left: Mhasmal; Top right: Chanderi; Bottom right: The concave wall/monsoon waterfall.

Life lessons:
The trail climbed even more steeply from this point onward and the breaks became more frequent.

Chanderi 31
The Gang takes a breather on the narrow trail

During one such break, I learnt something new.

I firmly believe that if you get along with someone on a trek, you have found a friend for life. And the fact that we have been trekking together for several years should help you gauge the close bond we share with each other. Therefore, when one of the friends unknowingly went a little overboard with his/her jokes and kind of stepped on toe of another, I wasn’t too worried because I assumed both would know there was no malice in it and banter is anyways an essential part of treks. However, I soon noticed things had turned a little frosty between the two and that is when I understood that sometimes, words can touch a nerve so raw that even years-long bonds take a hit.

Another round of climb-break-climb followed this incident before I scrambled up a very steep path carpeted with dry leaves to reach a four way junction of trails: the Mhasmal-Chanderi col.

The Sprint:
Standing on the col, the four trails are as follows:
North-east: Trail to Chinchavali; South-west: Trail to Tamsai;
North-west: Trail to Mhasmal; South-east: Trail to Chanderi.

Chanderi 32
L to R: Abhishek, Krunal, Shardul & Gauri at the col

The afternoon heat had started affecting each one of us, some more than the others and with the trail gaining elevation at a faster clip, we soon split up into two distinct groups. Manish and I were climbing at a faster pace in the first, followed by the rest of the Gang.

Chanderi 33
Left: The trail to Chanderi as seen from the Col; Right: The Gang climbing up from the col with Mhasmal in the background

By this point of time, my knee had already been hurting for an hour and climbing such a steep trail with worn-out shoes was turning out even more taxing. But nothing, not even premonition could have prepared me for the wave of pain that shot through my leg when I slipped on the scree and twisted my knee once again about one-fourth way up the ridge. I looked behind. Krunal and Manish were still a few steps below and they mustn’t have heard my involuntary cry of pain. I turned around to look at the peak. It still looked far.

A crazy thought popped up in my head- What if I ran up the trail?
Not the ‘hop-run-hop’ that trail runners do but a full-blown sprint for as long as I could manage? The sheer effort of running up might even mask the pain for a long time afterwards!
Foolish it might sound now, but at that point of time, nothing seemed more logical.

The next instant, I was running up the ridge with a 15 pound backpack, kicking up a cloud of dust with every slipping step.
And I was smiling. The steps too quick to process pain from the previous pounding and thoughts occupied by the next foothold. It was pure bliss while it lasted.

And then pain hit me again like a wrecking train. I stopped on the spot and staggered backwards but somehow steadied myself. I wanted to sit down but the trail was too steep for that. So I bent over and braced my hands against the knees. When I opened my eyes a few seconds later, the trail was a feet from my face and seconds felt like hours.

Beads of sweat, looking impossibly big from such close quarters, dripped onto the trail accompanied by a micro splash. Muscles twitched in rhythm with the racing heartbeat and each beat sounded like a drum being pounded with sheer fury. The surge of blood in my head too much to bear, I tried standing up again but another wave of pain shot through my knee and I bent over again and closed my eyes.

And then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Bhava, thik aahes na?” (Bro, you alright?)
It was Manish. I clenched my teeth to muffle a groan from another wave of pain.
Yeah.” I lied without looking up.

I asked him to go ahead and then opened my eyes again by a fraction. I could see a tiny village and a rugged peak in my peripheral vision. Chinchavali and Chanderi.

I had a decision to make.


To know what happened next, read Part II here!


NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS!

– 788 high-resolution images (including over 75 unpublished pictures from the Chanderi trek) spanning 16 escapades of ‘A Season Of Mountains’, right from my very first trip to the hills back in 2011 have been published with captions in my Flickr account. You can check them out here!
– Consequently, Trek List has been updated with links to relevant Flickr albums
– Useful Links post too has been updated with a couple of new links that might be helpful to anyone intending to further explore the Sahyadris!
-How long is a typical ‘Season Of Mountain’? ‘About’ page has been updated with the answer!


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Content (including images) not for reproduction in any form, partial or otherwise.
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Cheers!
Keep Trekking

 

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73 Comments Add yours

  1. Avi Shah says:

    Thank you for such a detailed information. I love you knowledge about Bollywood shoots done near Sahyadri.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Avi! There are many more! I’ll cover them all in a post some day. Thanks for the idea 😉
      Cheers & Keep exploring! 🙂

      Like

  2. Wow.. Again a great post bringing together the beauty of the mountains and words.. I really enjoyed reading it! Smiled gleefully at the Symphony part 😀
    Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you Ramya! I am so glad you liked it! 😀
      Cheers and keep exploring!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. debduttapaul says:

    You should start writing fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      That is high praise, my friend! 😅
      Thank you, once again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mona says:

    I am pretty sure I am never gonna go trekking in the mountains of Maharashtra but I still love reading your finely detailed and picturesque blogs(especially loved the first picture) . I like how you sometimes lose track and start talking about bollywood trivia, life lessons or just random banter with your friends. It gives a personal touch to a plain travel blog and I quite enjoy it. 👍
    I am slightly worried about your knee injury, and hope that you are in perfect health the next time these mountains call you. 😊
    I really hope someday you get to visit the mighty Himalayas, and I can read such detailed descriptions of the mountains I call home.
    Although the post ends with a cliffhanger, I can’t keep my eyes open anymore and would read the second part tomorrow. ☺️😴

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      That is such a wonderful thing you just said! When a person who never has and might never climb the Sahyadris, genuinely appreciates a post, I cannot help but smile. Thank you so much, Mona! 🙂
      The knee is much better now and I hope to set foot in the amazing Himalayas soon 🙂 After all, I can’t wait to digress similarly while recollecting a Himalayan journey on this blog! 😀
      Thanks again for reading and I look forward to hearing from you about the second part. Cheers! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rupali says:

    It’s a wonderful article. Have you published it in newpaper?
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Rupali M’am!
      No, I haven’t yet published any of my posts in a mainstream medium like newspaper but I would love to! 🙂 Is there any publication/medium you know that would feature a lengthy piece like this?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rupali says:

        Sorry I have no contacts. Some newspapers give links to blogs. How about making a plan and talking to editor of certain newspaper?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          No need to apologise M’am. In fact, I should thank you for the suggestion! 🙂
          I’ll try and get in touch with editors to see if it’s possible!
          Cheers!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Your blog truly brings out the awesome beauty of Maharashtra.Once again a guided tour of the mountains for someone like me sitting at home enjoying and feeling as if I, myself, am a part of your trek. You’ve got an awesome team with a spirit of exploration, adventure and camaraderie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! Your well researched posts take me on a similar journey through Goa and I especially love the unique, inquisitive take on things you come across! 🙂
      As fort the Gang, yes, I am truly fortunate to have found friends who share the same values and are just as crazy as I am! 😀 😀
      Cheers & keep trekking!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. shalini says:

    Wow.. This was a beautiful post and you did all this with a torn ACL? Couldn’t you tell the mountains, you would come next year? 😉
    I am glad all you guys had fun.
    P. S I was missing the umbrella here. 😂😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much M’am! I could have, but the prospect of staying away from my home, the Sahyadris, for so long seemed too daunting to me even with a knee injury 🙂
      And you still remember the umbrella from Matheran range trek post? Wow! I’ll never doubt a doctor’s memory again 😀
      Thanks again for dropping by! Cheers!

      Like

      1. shalini says:

        Hahaha I am Shalini… I am Ma’am only in hospital…
        Secondly I loved the way you incorporated the umbrella in your previous trek…
        Take care of ACL, let me know if you need any help… Sir…
        Well I have no idea what your name is😉😂hence it would be Sir, henceforth

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          Okay! Point noted, Shalini! 🙂
          I somehow did another trek after this where I aggravated the injury and eventually had to stay away from the hills for 6 months while I recuperated. Resumed trekking in late-June this year and almost a year of regular physiotherapy later, the knee is much better now. Thank you! 🙂

          Like

        2. shalini says:

          Thank you Sir… I am glad you are taking good care of your knee

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Nomadosauras says:

          That’s not fair! I did call you Shalini so why do I remain a Sir? 😛
          As for my name, I’ll prefer to remain Nomadosauras on WordPress but you can call me N, if that’s too long 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        4. shalini says:

          Hahaha an initial are you? In this vast land of words, you have thrown me in the void of an initial 😂😂

          Like

        5. Nomadosauras says:

          Hahahaha! Far from it, actually!
          In this vast land of words and even more people, you’d find it hard to come by another Nomadosauras! 😛

          Liked by 1 person

        6. shalini says:

          I agree… Nomad… I don’t mean No – mad because you did go trekking with torn ACL…. The doctor in me cringes… 😂

          Liked by 1 person

        7. Nomadosauras says:

          Hahaha! My Doctor wasn’t too pleased either 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Superb. The clicks are perfect, will make anyone go for this trek. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the post.
    Keep them coming, don’t stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Gunjan! I am glad you liked the post! And I’ll try to come out with more posts soon 🙂
      Cheers & keep trekking!

      Like

  9. neelstoria says:

    Wow, your detailed write up is something to learn from. You do take a lot of trouble while creating your posts with the maps and the bollywood trivia not just in content but photo also…. A lot of patience there.
    Enjoyed the post especially the dash of humour in all the seriousness. Loved the mountain graphic that you must have created yourself and also laughed out loud reading that mountains don’t call you, they have better things to do…..how much I love that thought!!
    And with that knee….how passionate can one be! Hope it’s better now.
    BTW, scree is horrible especially when descending. I get shit scared.
    One more thing, how comfortable is it trekking in jeans – just wondering….
    Let me go read the next part…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Finally someone noticed the mountain graphic! I tried to create likenesses of Chanderi and Mhasmal and ended up with this 😀
      I believe a little bit of humour is essential when recounting ordeals. Helps one get a better perspective of things 🙂
      The knee isn’t completely okay but much better now. Ligament injuries take their own sweet time to heal, so I am being a little more careful with the recovery this time round. And Scree! It’s a horrible thing to encounter during the descent, especially in exposed patches with a steep gradient. Whenever I feel a little unsure about my shoes’ grip on scree, I prefer to descend at a slant- placing the feet at an angle to the trail while using one hand to lean and minimise chances of slipping.
      As for the jeans, it isn’t the most comfortable but it has its pros as well. When I am trekking in places where I know the trail is narrow and lined by thorny bushes, like Chanderi, I prefer to wear jeans as they somehow stand up to the super tough thorns better than trackpants do.
      Lastly, thank you so much for reading the post so thoroughly and sharing your thoughts! Nothing makes a blogger’s day more than that! 🙂
      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. neelstoria says:

        The slanting act fails to make me feel better, it’s in the mind – my descending demons – you know what I do when it gets too much…I just sit and kind of slide 😀
        Doesn’t work for long distances though!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          I have done that too! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  10. NileshRK says:

    Stay very close to Chanderi but haven’t been there yet. Now that u have provided such beautiful narrative, I think I must go there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      I thought you must have been there already! Do visit it when the weather permits.
      And thank you so much for appreciating the post!
      Cheers & keep trekking 🙂

      Like

  11. madhyalok says:

    Very nicely written and detailed blog.

    Keep writing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! I am glad you liked it 🙂
      Cheers & let’s keep exploring! 🙂

      Like

  12. Wow interesting read.I hope you have recovered from your injury.Good narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for appreciating the post! The knee is very close to full strength now, so yes, I have almost recovered from the injury and looking forward to the next trek already 😀
      Cheers & keep trekking!

      Like

  13. Oh this sounded so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for dropping by! It certainly was a lot of fun (and a fair bit painful too!). Do consider checking out the second part of this blog post 🙂
      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Kudos to the hard work you’ve done to pen down such a detailed blog. You know, even I’ve ACL tear in both my knees but straining too much on it only makes it worse which you probably won’t realize soon enough(telling out of my own experiences). Although I myself, continue to take a fair share of risks even now, I hope that you to be extra careful, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment and the genuine concern for my well being as well! I really appreciate it 🙂
      I can imagine the pain that you must have gone through recovering from multiple ACL tears. More than the physical part, it’s the mental toll it takes on you that’s exhausting. I hope you have recovered enough to not let it hinder your escapades!
      As for me, I took 6 months off from trekking after another trek to let my knees recover and have been taking it slow ever since. Descents are particularly difficult, not because of the knee but to control the urge to run downhill like the old times 😉
      I’ll remember your advice and try not to push my body beyond a limit. Thanks once again for reading the complete post. Nothing makes a blogger’s day better!
      Cheers & keep exploring, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      It is even more when you set foot on these hallowed mountains! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The monsoons must be treacherous. I have always wanted to go to Matheran during the monsoons. Some day!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          Monsoon is one of the most beautiful atmospheres one can trek in and also the most dangerous when nature unleashes its fury! I suggest you check out my Garbett trek blog post for an account of a monsoon trek to Matheran 🙂
          Cheers & keep exploring!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I certainly will. Thanks Nomadosauras! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  15. what a wholesome post!
    Keep penning down your journeys 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! I’ll try to come out with posts more often 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Amazing pics man! and great detailing..Quite tempting

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Its my pleasure, do check my blogs too and share love ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Soumya Somani says:

    I don’t know how to express my surprise (simply by writing) to see the amount of hardwork you’ve put on this!!!! Every picture is awesome!! And all the detailed explanations… WOW!! Just by having a tour of this post, I’m feeling the excitement and adventure. ( though the real adventure that you had cannot be matched!) I really wish that I myself could experience it one day!🤞
    I’ll be back to read more for your previous posts, but in some time.. so that I get to read them in peace and not hastily. 🙂
    Keep writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      That’s so nice of you! Thank you so much Soumya 🙂 It was indeed an unforgettable trek and this is but my humble attempt at giving the readers a gist of the escapade.
      I hope and wish that some day, you get an opportunity to set foot on these hallowed mountains that I like to consider my home and that you experience the very same exhilaration of standing at the cliffs and soaking in the views that I have tried to pen on these pages 🙂
      And take your time reading this and the previous series. I’ll look forward to hearing from you about the same! In the meantime, I’ll try and jot down an account of another of my recent treks. Cheers & keep writing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Soumya Somani says:

        Sure! It would be great! Waiting for more of your posts!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Aww !!! You Penned very well
    Those photographs , descriptioNS , maps etc etc were sooo good
    This post is informational tooo , had learned many things from it
    Thanks for sharing this nice post
    Keep sharing 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much Akshaya! I am happy to know that you liked the post 🙂
      Cheers & keep blogging!

      Like

  19. Someone said: “At the end, you will not remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn so… climb that blessed Mountain!” Thanks for sharing and inspiring positive resolutions 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Absolutely! Thanks for dropping by… Cheers & keep exploring! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Such detailed post. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much 🙂

      Like

  21. Pia Majumdar says:

    Followed you back, do you guys have any social media acc?
    Would love to follow their too 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Hi Pia! Thank you so much for following the blog. As of now, this personal blog is the only place where I document my escapades with friends, who I fondly refer to as the ‘Trek Gang’. If and when I create an account on another platform about the same, I’ll definitely send you a link 🙂
      Cheers & keep blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pia Majumdar says:

        okk sure 🙂
        thanks again for following 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. fruitinks says:

    Beautiful piece on this beautiful trekking trail! ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Savina! Glad to know you enjoyed the post 🙂

      Like

  23. Wow…😍..such a beautiful place …and a detailed description 👏👌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much Akhila! Chanderi and its surroundings, which is essentially the entire Matheran, is a heaven for trekkers! Do try and check it out when you pay a visit to Mumbai 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Soumya Somani says:

    Hello! How are you!?
    It’s been I long time… hope you remember me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Hi Soumya! Of course I remember you! Good to read your new poems on the blog 🙂
      I am doing good! How have you been?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Soumya Somani says:

        Thank you…I’m good.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          Glad to hear that 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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