It had been some time since the Trek to Tikona, and it was time for another trek. I had some discussions with Pradeep, Vikrant and Shardul, and we zeroed in on going to Sarasgad.
Sarasgad is a small hill fort, just outside Pali. Pali is known for the temple of Ballaleshwar, one of the Ashtavinayks. The height of the fort is approximately 1400 fet, but since you start climbing from the sea level, you climb the whole height.
Soon, we had enrollment from 35 people for the trek. Enough for us to afford a private bus for the whole day. Pali is about 85 kilometers from Mumbai. One can reach it either via Mumbai Goa highway, or via khopili using the Mumbai Pune express highway. We chose to go by the Mumbai Pune express highway, since it will help us reach fast. I had also announced that young children are also welcome, and there were four children around the age of 3 years were also going to come, in addition to 35 adults. Had I been to Sarasgad before, and had I known how hot it would get during the day, I don’t think I would have announced it. One of the participants was also a friend from IIT days, Naru, whom I was going to meet him after I graduated from IIT 30 years ago. 🙂
The morning was pretty cool, I wore a sweater. We started around 7.45 from Vashi. As usual, the bus journey was great fun, with the usual group songs, antakshari and so. We reached Pali around 10, and after the Ballaleshwar darshan, we started around 10.30 AM. By then, it had started getting pretty hot. It was difficult to believe that the morning has been so cool.
The path to the fort starts right from inside the temple. As you face the fort, we go towards the right and start climbing. There is a series of small plateaus connected by some steep climbs. No exposure at all, but the heat was killing. With all our lives inside AC offices, our bodies have, at least mine has, forgotten what it is to be right under the afternoon sun.
The route then reaches the base of small rock patch. There are steps cut in the rock patch, but they are just small footholds.
After tackling the rock patch, you reach a wide ledge.
There is a small square hole dug in the ledge. One can’t understand who would have dug that hole, and why. But it provided welcome respite from the bright sun.
And then started the big staircase. There are about 110 steps and most steps are about knee high.
By now, we were already climbing for about an hour and 45 minutes and we were all very tired and thirsty.
The people in the first batch did not stop at the end of the staircase, but went straight ahead to the top. There was still some distance to climb.
However, many from the rearguard, particularly me, and the children wanted to take a break.
Immediately after the steps and passing thru a still well maintained rock gate, we found flat ground with a solitary tree that provided shade. We decided to stop there and have lunch.
I had forgotten how cool the simple shade under a tree can be!
After the lunch many people decided to go ahead to the top. I along with few others decided to stay back with the kids and take rest. To the parents’ credit, some of them decided to go ahead. I actually took a nap under the tree. After the nap, I, Abhishek and Sameer moved around and took some photographs.
And around 2.30, everyone returned from the top, and we started going down.
Going down proved to be tougher than we had expected. First the staircase, particularly with passing the children below.
And then the rock face.
But our experienced trekkers, Shardul, Vikrant, Nilesh, Pradeep, Naru, Abhishek, Aniket, Rahul and everyone else made sure that everyone was down without any incident. A “roady” salute to all of them.
Manish had hurt his foot in the morning. In the excitement of climbing, he didn’t feel the pain. But once we started coming down, the pain and the dehydration started telling on him. Pradeep held him by hand all the way from the rock patch till we reached down.
We finally had our “lunch” of zunka & bhakar at 5.
On the way back, it was again all song and dance for most people.
All in all a great experience, though a little more excitement on the rock patches than I had expected. Definitely not a trek with kids and definitely not easy so late in the winter.
It also told me how much out of shape I have become and how much I need to work on myself.