Ever watched Star Trek? It’s supposed to be a space classic series that the generation before me (I’m twenty years old, so figure that part out) used to watch a lot. I’ve watched a bit of the newer films, and it’s quite cool too. We’ve got Benedict Cumberbatch playing one of the baddies in it, and I really enjoyed it. But I never understood why someone would call it a ‘trek’. It’s not like someone just gets out of home, hitches a ride to a nice spot and treks for hours among the stars. That sounds like something my buddies and I did a short while back. Well except for the ‘among the stars’ part. We got clouds instead.
When guys plan trips, as in an all-guy trip, we need to start planning very much in advance. The risk is that one idiot backs out, and the rest follow like a pack of dominos. This usually happens when you plan weekend trips to Goa, Lonavala, or small one-day treks to nearby Vasai. Yep. Vasai. Always treated it like some little satellite town that depends on Mumbai for everything. This time though, the Mumbai squad depended on it for a lot of things- change, rest, refreshment and a mild dose of enlightenment.
Two weeks of planning, twelve young fellas fully determined to wake up at 5 and conquer the challenges that lay ahead in the trekking paradise known as Tungareshwar. Five went. After 8 A.M.
To hell with the numbers. This was probably the best trek of our lives! Scaling the rocky forest terrain – left damp by the constant showers that graced the earth the preceding day – for more than six hours, we traversed through the clouds quite literally; with near-zero visibility as the cool breeze embraced our naked bellies (there were no women there, so we weren’t charged with obscenity). The destination- peak of the hill, on top of which there happened to be a certain ashram where we could relax for a bit and hog on the food made in the community kitchen.
But first, there was another stop that we had to give our attention to.
The best part about trekking in Maharashtra during this weather is the number of waterfalls you can actually see in such places. Tungareshwar is no exception. We followed the trail of a short stream that led to a pool of ice-cold water, fed generously by the waterfalls branching into it from two-three directions. The tricky part though, was climbing down from the rocks into the pool. Very risky. We probably made Bear Grylls proud with our enthusiasm-fuelled antics (my bones still hurt).
The upward trek was probably another ten kilometres from the waterfall. After what seemed like an eon of climbing and asking passers-by how far the ashram was (we met about ten people who said it was only ten minutes ahead. And all those ten liars came at least twenty minutes after each other)
we finally reached the place.
What we saw was up there didn’t look like an ashram.
What we saw was heaven.
What we saw was the clouds moving, parting away and revealing the spire of a temple; made of the best stone one could acquire, sculpted with the most adept hands. Slowly, the rest of the structure became visible in the same manner, summing up the amount of passion it must have taken to create such a marvel.
What we saw took our breath away. Our eyes just soaked it in. We stood as still as we never had before, as though made of the same stone as the structure before us. Our jaws dropped. We went numb with awe.
After what felt like an eternity of silence (in reality a few seconds), we finally found a few words to say. Just two to be precise.
Yep. That stuff looked like something straight out of the Baahubali series.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were lucky to spot a board that said ‘Parshuram kund’ just as we started on our downwards journey. Now, as a former avid reader of Indian mythology, this caught my eye. Before I could say a word, however, the ever enthusiastic founder of this lovely website – who was the core member of this trip – began moving towards what turned out to be a creek with the most spectacular view I’ve seen till date.
The whole of Vasai from up above the clouds. Lush green fields, about half-a-dozen small water bodies and concrete structures that did not distort the beauty of nature. All together in one panoramic view. I simply did not want to go home.
$@!#%*, urban life. I’m just gonna sit here for ever and ever. You can take your money and Wi-Fi and get lost.
Just kidding. Wi-Fi is life.
Let me also mention the quick Maharashtrian lunch we had at the bhandara- spicy aloo bhaji, daal and rice. Greedy pigs that we were, we went for a third helping before being turned down. Saglyanna zevaaycha aahe baala (everyone needs to eat son), I was told.
Fortunately Mr. Founder and I had some snacks in our bags that we hogged on later. God bless Indian mothers.
Since I was the only one in our troupe who spoke Marathi, all communication with the ashram members had to be done by me. There wasn’t much talk, but one brief conversation went like this-
Lady: Did you like the place?
Me: Oh yes! It’s the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen in our lives?
Lady: Great! So when are you coming next?
Me: I don’t know.
Lady: What? Why not? You certainly must come!
Me: I don’t know when, but one thing is for sure.
We’re definitely coming back, and we’ll be back with at least a dozen more people.
And we will make Bear Grylls proud.