The Sahaydris’s are one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth.More than 60,000 years old, they offer a plethora of trails and treks and mountains to scale. Nestled in the midst of these wondrous range is a trek called the Harishchandragadh Trek. After ascending to the top, I can safely say that this is not for the weak hearted. With its fair share of rock patches and stamina requirement, step out only if you are willing to push yourself to the limit. Else,there is always Nanheghat or Lohgadh or Rajmachi Fort to satisfy your trekking appetite.
Starting the day as early as 5 o’clock is not something we readily do. But believe me,this is worth it. A friend had taken his Ertiga and the 8 of us set out on an adventure albeit only for a couple of days. We reached the base at Khireshwar village after a good 4 hrs of drive. We reached the base at 11 and after a quick breakfast of idli and Kajukatri,we started the trek.We had targeted to reach the top by sunset ,so that we could enjoy the view at the fullest.The first half of the route is quite steep and it does take a toll on your lungs.On the other side, the route is covered by trees and bushes on both sides so there is no sun hurting your face.We did not opt for a guide and decided to reach the top on our own.There were numerous occasions when we had to choose between 2 ways that could be taken.Some of these routes converged at the same point after 5-10 minutes of walking while others can completely throw you off the trail. Point to be noted here : When in doubt always take a right because it is the right way. It was heartening to see that we were on the right track because at various locations like a checkpoint there were local people who had set up a shop selling lemonade,biscuits and maggi.
Its important to sip on water and take in sugar and electrolytes to replenish the used energy. We had 2 glasses each and with renewed vigor continued our ascent. There were in total 3 rock patches that we encountered. The first one was pretty scary as we had to navigate it in a very awkward manner.By literally leaning against the rock and making our way carefully,we reached the other side.A slip would most certainly result in major injuries and possible death.The second patch had railings for support,so it wasn’t much of an issue to navigate.
The third patch was the toughest and the most precarious. A slip here will certainly mean your free fall to death.You can feel the butterflies in your stomach. After the third patch, the route was simple and straightforward.It was more like walking on a plateau. A hour and a half later we reached the top. And well before sunset.All it took us was 4 hrs.But the journey wasn’t over yet.
We had to trek for another 20 minutes to reach Konkan Kada. It is a cliff with a overhang like the hood of a cobra. This was the place which offered breathtaking views of the setting sun and the adjoining areas. A sight so mesmerizing, it brings out the poet in you.I don’t know why I haven’t tried this on top of the other cliffs but the view when you lie down and jut your head out to look below is nothing short of a landscaping masterpiece.My jaw dropped!!! All the surrounding noise was cut off and I could feel the peace within me.Teleported to the lands of eternal beauty,this is one mesmerizing view that can never fade.Breathless with what I just saw,I got up and the routine of photo clicking started.Konkan Kada provides an array of picturesque backgrounds to click pictures.The setting sun added the extra zing. We started to make our way back to the temple where we were going to spend the night before it was completely dark. We reached the caves where we had put our bags and then decided that it would be better to stay in a tent. And I more than glad that we took this decision for reasons you will understand later.
Our contact person at the top,Pundalik Bhau arranged dinner and accommodation for us. We got settled in the tents and waited for a piping hot dinner.A simple Maharashtrian meal of Waran,Daal,Kanda-Batata chi Bhaaji and Rotlo. Except for the typical charcoal smell,the food was good. Simple and filling.We started playing cards and later decided to light up a campfire. I thought my hours spent watching Survivor will come to good use and I’ll light the fire easily but its easier said than done. After borrowing fire from our neighbors, we somehow managed to get the fire going. Sitting around the campfire we started talking about the days events and pulling each others legs. Once the fire died down,we called it a day and went inside the tents for some rest and recharge ourselves for the descent. At 4am in the morning,everyone started waking up. Just 2 hrs ago we were sitting around the fire.Sleepy eyes and a tired body,we were struggling to protect ourselves from the cold.We knew winter was coming and at 2 am in the morning it was a cold but pleasant atmosphere. Little did we know that 2 hours later we would be shivering. Sweatshirts and shawls were of very little use against this cold.More than the cold itself we were struck by cold winds which made it difficult for us to be warm. The winds hitting your face at such high speeds is not a spanking you would want. The burning ember left over from 2 hrs ago was blown to a crackling fire in our fruitless bid to stay warm. 3 hours later with only a little respite from the cold,we decided to start our descent. But it was too cold for us to move around. Huddled in the tent, we decided to have tea and some kanda poha and then head down.Pundalik Bhau whipped up some delicious kanda poha and after downing a plate we started the return journey.
Its always easy to go downhill in comparison to uphill.It was the case here as well. But the legs used up a lot of muscle in trying to control the momentum that we gained while coming down. The rock patches were an exception to the above theory.It was scary going down those rock patches because the breathtaking views of the valley were a distraction.Nonetheless, we stopped to enjoy the surroundings and take in the quietness of the place before reality sank in. Aching toes, blistered feet hurting calves and 2 awesome days later we finally made it to base.
To sum the experience,this is the most beautiful trek I’ve been to and undoubtedly harder than Kalsubai for the sheer time it takes to reach the top.
Harishchandragadh is approximately 150 kms from Mumbai on the Kalyan-Malshej road.A left for the Khireshwar village will be encountered by a road that is a drivers nemesis.A 5km long road to be driven in the 1st gear at a average speed of below 10kmph.On reaching the base ,you can refresh yourself and start your trek.Kind villagers will take care of your car.
There are many ways to reach the top.
The Belpada route is considered the toughest and is generally taken by experienced hikers.Belpada is located on the Malshej-Kalyan road.
The second route is via Kothale.It can be reached via Akole or Kotul.
The third and the easiest in comparison is the route that we took.Via Khireshwar.On the way to Malshej via Kalyan there is a narrow left turn which leads to a 5km bumpy road to the village base.
With an average level between moderate-difficult, this trek is not for everyone.Please keep in mind the dangers that trekking brings with it and first time trekkers should avoid this till they have a couple of treks added in their experience.The Khireshwar route is suited for amateur trekkers wheras the other routes require proper trekking equipment and should not be attempted without proper supervision.
Even though the trek can be completed in a day,its better to spend a night at the top as it will be easier on your body and you also get to see some amazing views from Konkan Kada. Stay at the top can be in caves which are reserved on a first come first serve basis. For the more adventurous type,you can get your own tent and set it up or arrange it via villagers on the top.The tents provided are of great quality,something you might not expect the villagers to provide.
Hot food is served on the top and there is no need to carry extra food except some snacks for the trek. Remember,whatever extra food you will carry,you’ll need to lug it around till you reach the top. Carry ample amount of water with you.In the winters,there are no fresh water streams flowing which will help you refill your bottle.
The tent cost us Rs600.It could fit 4 people inside.
Food is served at Rs100 per person for dinner and lunch each. Breakfast was Rs20
Its always good to give an extra couple of hundred to the people at the top. To carry stuff up and down on a regular basis is no mean feat and it won’t pinch your pocket to express your gratitude.
Overall,with all expenses the trip cost us Rs800 per head.
In winters.it is a must to carry a sweatshirt and a shawl to protect yourself from the hard hitting winds. Emergency lights will be useful when sitting in a tent or moving around at night. We rued the fact hat we did not get the light. Some electrolyte replenishment like Glucon-D and Electral will help you regain energy. Dry snacks to satisfy hunger pangs and water to keep yourself hydrated.
TravelKien Suggests : A portable speaker is a awesome thing to have for over nite treks.Not only do they boost the morale when people are tired and not wanting to carry on but during a campfire you can have your own ‘Chappa Chappa Charkha chale’ moment. (This is strictly for the group to dance and make merry and not for individual use as I have already mentioned it in my last post.)
Other places to see at the top
The Kedareshwar temple is has shivling in the middle and the roof of the temple is supported by only one pillar. Legend has it that the four pillars depict the four ‘yug’ of our time and one pillar breaks at the end of a yug. The crumbling of the last pillar will mean the end of the world. Taramati Peak is a hours trek from Konkan Kada and is the highest peak in this cluster of hills and mountains.
If anyone wishes to go on this awesome and trek and would like more details or help organising it then please feel free to contact me
TravelKien : +919820013890
Till next time, travel safe 🙂