Saturday, November 13, 2010

Malshej Traditional Route

I had read about this route some years back in a book( don’t remember much of the details now). Later My friend from pune: Ajay Dhamdhere told me about this route and I was fascinated. Infact I was of the opinion that I should do this one as a circular trek with Chakram Hikers. However now I really feel that It was somehow a good decision considering that the route is not amongst the most simplistic ones. On the previous night, we had stayed in one of the Tapri’s @ Khubi fata. I happened to inform the tapriwala about this route and he said there was one Mr Marathe who could help me with the route. In the morning, I met Mr Marathe who owns another Tapri  nearby. This guy said that he was too busy that day but since there was no other option I requested him to guide me atleast for the first part of the route
  so that It becomes relatively simple for us to search the route further. He came with us an in the first 10 mins itself we realized that it was IMPOSSIBLE for us to find the start of this route.
To describe in some layman terms, If we are standing at the junction of the road to MTDC and the highway, we have to draw a line which perfectly bisects the angle between the two roads. There is no route or anything until one enters the initial thicket( that’s where most of us are going to start doubting ourselves if whatever we are doing is right or wrong).However, It take just a couple of minutes in the thick bushes and waist level grass to see a totally faint trail – yet a definite trail. It appears as if the trail must have been a regular route some years back but now since not many people use it, the thick bushes must have taken over.
The route further reaches a stream where one comes across wide stairs. Though the staircase is not a part of the route itself, It is much evident that this route was one big routes in the history. To add to this thought process, one can further see a Ganapati idol inscribed in the right hand side wall- with even wider staircases. This curious route proceeds further to 2 water tanks a little above on the right side. This appears like a small cave carved out in the wall. However pulling yourself to the cave level shows you the water tank- Atleast now it was filled with water till brim(October 2010). 
The route moves ahead in similar fashion making you thing every moment “this must have been a big route sometime in history”. However a little ahead there are 2 – 3 landslides, because of which, we spent atleast 30 mins searching for the right track. At this point there was always the option to enter the thicket (instead of searching the right route, and expect that we find the correct route in a while). (Within our group, We called this “Zahir giri”, since our dear friend Zahir would have always chosen the option to descend through the waterfall boulders). However we did not do this, because in that case we would have lost the charm of this route being an old prominent route. After a total brainstorming search, we found that the route was washed away at a point due to the land slide. Anyways we found the route and were back on track.
If you are a regular trekker walking on a route which is a fairly common, the Chocolate/Gutkha/ biscuit wrappers usually do provide a sure shot way to confirm if we are on the right track. We tried using the same hint here, but it didn’t work. A  very big reason was the MTDC resort being perfectly above the right side wall. Though it was much-much higher, this old route was the only place for the chocolate wrappers and Gutkha wrappers to fall and get accumulated. So whenever we came across a route-search activity, we always came across some wrappers- which initially made us think that we were on the right track- though the route used to get thicker and eventually lost.
With further misrouting and searches, we managed to reach the apparent ground level. This is then a broad route on which there were evident Jeep tracks. This made clear that were on the route from Thitbi to Kalu Waterfall. By the time we reached this broad route, it was almost 3 hours or a little more from the time we started.
We eventually reached Thitbi and further to Savarne ( after a long unwanted TAR road walk of almost 2 and half kms).
Since my car was parked at the top of the ghats- at khubi fata, I had to get a lift from a truck and reach the starting point of this route and get my car back down to pick my friends- Kaustubh and Mahesh.