Sudarshan and I began our journey to Harishchandragad on 17th December 10 at 05:30 am in the morning. We caught the 6:00 hrs train from Thane to Kalyan, and then caught the 06:40 am ST bus to Shirdi. Almost two hours later, winding through the maze of mountains and valleys we reached our staging point, Khubi Phata.
|At Khubi Phata.|
|The view from Khubi Phata, the fields at the base of Harishchandragad.|
|Pimpalgaon Joge Dam|
|Khireshwar village lies at the base of the mountain.|
|Khubi Phata is at the end of this road.|
Khubi Phata lies at one end of the man made lake(damming a river), an hour walk to the base village, Khireshwar. We started the walk on the lake embankment of the lake. The view is wonderful with cool breeze of the lake hitting our faces. An hour later we reached Khireshwar and had kanda poha at the village. There was nothing else on the menu, but we were exited so it felt good. There were six boys with us who also were going to Harishchandragad. I felt relieved that we would not be alone at the top. However the feeling was soon lost on hearing that some 30 or 40 people from Standard Chartered were also accompanying us.
We tanked on a few bottles of water and set off from Khireshwar at 10:00 am. Our next destination would be Tolar Khind in about 2 hours. Starting off from Khireshwar we were followed by a dog who followed us all through the way. We kept following the trail through the trees. and thick vegetation. The initial ascent is quite steep with steps, we kept walking for some twenty minutes and soon got tired and took rest. this kept happening for few more times. We later had quite a brain wave and started using broken branches as walking sticks. Even a relatively weak branch does take some load off your Back (more likely legs). Climbing and most the balancing with the heavy knapsack became more bearable. With a few more stops and about 2 hours from leaving Khireshwar we were at the first landmark Tolar Khind.
Walking from Tolar Khind was easier, we walked from some time until we reached a vertical cliff. With a big bag on our backs climbing on all fours was especially difficult. There are steel columns for support that make the ascent easier, but one misstep will certainly take one 30 feet down on the rocks. But we made it and the track thereon takes you along the mountain slope with an awesome view of the valley. It is December, so the climate is cool and even the mountain is cool. The climate was very comfortable and we had a feeling that we would come to regret the warm clothes that we had taken along. Unfortunately in the night even with all that I was still freezing. A few more climbs and we saw flat land, I had a feeling now Harishchandragad was near. It was near 2:00 pm while a friend who had been there before had predicted that we would be there by 4:00 pm and towards the end we would feeling like we were walking for ever. He was right.
Saw Scale Viper
We moved to the caves (Rock cut caves) near the temple where we would spend the night, most were occupied and and we found a large cave with three people, and there was some space for us, we settled down, put our bags down, and our friends in the cave told us about the beautiful sunset from Konkan Kada. We left our bags in the cave and moved out. We first went to the amazing temple of Harishchandragad made out of stone. Despite age the temple is in good condition. The main presiding deity is Shiva.
|They have "No Fear".|
|Sudarshan in his Thoughts.|
From here we moved to view the sunset at the famed Konkan Kada. It is a half an hour walk from the temple. The view from the Konkan Kada and the mountain itself is amazing. We spent some time digesting the amazing view and taking pictures. We left just before sunset as we were tired and not too sure of the light conditions after sunset. We came back to the cave and settled down and had dinner (Few hard boiled eggs, chapatis & apple juice). We now walked around a bit, came back and went to sleep at 8:00 pm.
In December despite wearing layers of T-shits, jacket, muffler, etc. it was freezing cold, which woke me up many times in the night. (Traveling to Harishchandragad or any place with an overnight stay do carry as much warm clothes as you can).
Sudarshan got up at 3:00 am and woke me up. We walked to the Harishchandragad temple and sat outside it. The day was auspicious and villagers had gathered inside the temple in the night and were singing devotional songs. It was an amazing experience in the moonlight the stars seem so bright. We did some stargazing, talked about a few things, I was feeling cold and Sudarshan lent me his gloves. Some time later the moon went down, the stars now were at their brightest.
|The temple at sunrise.|
|The way to Pachnai|
|The view at Pachnai|