And so the monsoon has come back. It is truly the most beautiful and sublime act of nature if we ignore its capacity for destruction. If in mood for destruction, it doesn’t leave anything or anyone. Disintegrates city life, with flooded roads, railway tracks and drains, mudslide and what not. Not only cities it creates havoc on mountains with heavy landslides, road blockages and the plains with unwanted floods.
But but but. Who regrets its arrival ? Not me. The farmers are happy; the birds start singing, peacock dancing and kids have whale of a time. The monsoon is widely welcomed and appreciated by city-dwellers as well, for it provides relief from the climax of summer in June.
Maharashtra rains are quite famous just like Kerala’s. And what fun it brings to me ! If you are an adventurous traveler like me (no, no, you’re mistaken. I don’t like bungee jumping or scuba diving), then probably you’ll like the place I am writing about.
Last year during monsoons, we had planned a trekking trip to Kolad. 130 kms from Mumbai on Mumbai-Goa highway NH-17 at an approx. 3 hours drive, Kolad is a small place full of natural beauty. The place is famous for variety of trees planted, trekking, waterfalls and all-season Kundalika River.
Can you see a line of goats along with their owner going to the top. We took the same root.
One can do a river rafting when the water is rough during monsoon and quiet boating during summers. It is also a perfect spot for a day’s picnic and barbeque. Take a plunge in the River Kundalika and you are sure to feel rejuvenated.
One can also stay overnight in various night-houses or cottages available in mud finished village feel with only basics or dome-shaped cottages made of ferro-cement that keeps rooms warm in winters and cold in summers with all modern amenities. This is the place for those wanting to be in midst of nature with a lot of peace and tranquility. Our motto was only trek; the river thing was kept for next time.
So, a Sunday was reserved for this and a Qualis was booked (could not get a Bolero). But it had started raining very heavily since the previous day and at one time it looked as if we would not be able to make it. But since we were looking forward to this for quite sometime, the rains could not deter us to change or postpone our decision.
The start itself was delayed since one person coming from Borivali could not reach us on time. So, around 8 in the morning we, five of us, started off from our place amidst heavy rains and thundering black clouds.
The route we took was Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), Panvel, Pen and then onto NH-17.
Stopped at McDonalds at Kharghar for light refreshments since it was already more than an hour since we had left.
Driving in the rains brings with it its own set of nostalgic feelings. Green as much as the eye can see. Fog, mist and lovely scenery. Without doubt, the Mumbai – Goa highway NH 17 is a beautiful route – it goes over innumerable small bridges with streams and rivers flowing underneath them. The road is in quite a good condition till we were on NH-17. Just before Kolad we had to turn right leaving NH-17 to go towards Roha and reached there at around 11:30. After that it was a very slow drive in the hills as roads were slippery due to continuous heavy rains.
We wanted our vehicle to take us to at least some point of the hill from where we could start our trekking. After another 45 minutes of drive we reached at a place from where it was just not possible to go further by vehicle though it was very much motorable road. We pushed, pulled, tried every tactic in that heavy rain to move the vehicle up a steep turn on the road but to no avail. Too much of mud made it slip & skid and too much of rain made us drenched. We very much had felt the need of Bolero then. So, we left the vehicle and started moving.
That day it was pouring heavily, after sometime we did not even try to use umbrellas and raincoats.
This whole stretch we had to cover on foot.
Because of the rains, I could hardly take out my camera, hence very few pictures. The height of the hill was not very steep with plenty of plains in between; even somebody with joint pains could go till the top. The pictures will give you an idea of the place.
The surroundings were amazingly green. There was a riot of green in all shades.
These girls were extremely camera shy and the moment they saw me taking out camera, they used to run away. Even the dog !! Happened many times.
Last picture, the hill top, is taken from a cell-camera since in that rain it was difficult to take out a normal one. The top of the hill is quite flat and huge like a golf course. Well before we reached the top, we were all very drenched and so umbrellas were put on a different use .. .. after reaching the top, we played some golf with our umbrellas.
Time taken approx. 2 hours to walk to the top & just an hour to come down to reach our vehicle.
Points to note-
1. There is not a single shop/kiosk in the whole stretch starting from where we generally have to leave the vehicles near a school, so keep yourselves well stocked with snacks and water. Needless to say you won’t find any trash cans or dustbins there, better carry a throwaway bag to collect all the trash. Come back and throw the bag in proper place. Don’t spoil the pure & serene natural beauty of the place.
2. Mobile network is not available once you are on foot, so keep your dear ones informed in advance about your adventurous walk.
3. Wrap nicely all your important papers, credit cards, mobile etc in some waterproof bag or leave them in the vehicle.
4. Don’t go in very large group, you might scare away the locals (people as well as animals).
5. Try to take either a person who understands Marathi, the local language or remember the route back ! We did both !!
All in all, it was a good drenching walk in the rain.