Life Changing Trek to Bhimashankar
This story dates back to my good old teenage days in 2010, when I was doing my CA articleship . As it goes without saying, there was a big old pile of books to study from, coupled with an exceedingly tiresome work schedule. One fine day my colleague, Kartik, who had been to Bhimashankar the previous year was narrating his experience & was planning to visit that year as well. This time he insisted on us being a part of this trek. Until that point of life, I had never partaken in any kind of outdoorsy activities. It was a completely unexplored territory then, as anything apart from studying or working seemed unattainable in those days. It was his lively narration and those heavenly pictures that actually encouraged us to venture onto this challenge. I had full faith on my stamina so despite being the first attempt, I immediately signed up along with Amol, who was equally excited.
Next up was asking my parents for permission, which was a task in itself. The only reason they let me go was because Bhimashankar, in addition to being an amazing hike, is also features a rather popular temple of Lord Shiva. It all worked out perfectly for me. (Bhagwan ke naam pe bhej diya). So, kartik enlightened us on the tentative itinerary & the things to carry for this journey. The only challenge remaining now was for me to wake up early in the morning, which I did, thanks to the excitement that was built up. My mom, being a mom, ensured that I carried everything including food, water & my windcheater, while repeatedly asking me to take care of myself.
As decided, Amol & I boarded the train from Mulund station, while the others from Dombivali. We were 5 people in totality and we all made it in time. We had a short intro with Bhavin & Ritesh who were Kartik’s school friends. Also, it was the first Sunday of August, so we celebrated friendship day in Mumbai locals itself. Kartik ensured to capture those memories through his Digicam. So we got down at Neral station & proceeded to board a 10 seater vehicle that would drop us at the base village khandus (changeover at kashele). The journey took almost one and a half hour to complete. As soon as we reached khandus, I was stunned by the beauty of nature. There were waterfalls all encompassing the mountains with its full glory. The base village was quite remotely located at the foothills of the mountain, completely secluded from the city, just like the one we see in the movies.
Soon after some photography we commenced the trek at around 9am. The route that we took was through Ganesh ghat, as Shidi ghat was relatively less explored & was considered risky for a newbie. Ganesh ghat is beautiful but an exhausting route, as it takes upto 4 hours from the base to reach the temple. We all were psychologically prepared to scale this 13kms long tiring trek. We all were highly spirited teenagers and this feat seemed attainable. We ensured to go slow by taking breaks at regular intervals and enjoying the nature. We also made sure to spend some time at each & every waterfall that we encountered. The first waterfall was a tiny one but I had never seen a natural waterfall erstwhile in my life. So we decided to have a dip after ensuring utmost safety. Soon we proceeded ahead on the trail to witness the spectacular Shidi Ghat Mountain. We saw almost 8-10 pristine waterfalls flowing from a single mountain and we couldn’t take our eyes of it even for a bit. That view will eternally be photographed in my mind as one of the most awe inspiring views of all times.
We moved ahead to locate a huge waterfall where we all decided to hang around for some time. It was chilling cold, yet we couldn’t hold back from throwing ourselves into the waterfall pool. We had to move ahead to cover up the lost time. So we decided to move further along, where we entered a dense forest which was pitch dark even during the day. This was something new for us & we thoroughly enjoyed this journey, quite soothing, with all the birds chirping in the background. Soon we reached a point where Ganesh ghat & shidi ghat route merged, and we decided to have a short break after walking miles without one.
The trek from here involved steep climb for almost an hour or so. The nature started to play its part & there was fog all over the forest & barely anything was visible beyond 5 feet. The temperature dropped down & visibility was almost zero but we had to keep moving across the slopes of the mountains. Few patches were risky & I soon realised that I had a phobia of heights, when for a few seconds, the fog cleared and the path had some jaw dropping falls which got on my nerves. I somehow managed to cross those parts with utmost care but after crossing I really enjoyed the thrill. Rain was pelting down continuously throughout the day. Again we entered dark forest where after regular intervals we had to cross few tiny water streams. The feeling of walking through these forests was mesmerizing & hardly any other people were seen during the trek. On the route we came across many small waterfalls which we enjoyed & this also gave us the much needed breaks. We met few devotees who chanted “bum bhole” when we happened to cross each other. One can spot plenty of crabs on the way & other animals including shekaroo .We were almost there so this pumped us & we pushed ourselves more towards the last patch. Soon we reached the top & we had to walk on flat surface for another 20 mins to reach the temple.
Soon we entered a different world altogether where we noticed that there were many devotees coming from Pune side to visit the temple & the place was super crowded as it was the holy month of shravan. So, we decided to skip the long queue for darshan & went ahead behind the temple where few devotees allowed us to get in the line nearby the temple to take darshan from some distance. We took the holy water from the kund besides the temple & suddenly it started pouring down heavily & we all were shivering. So we went to a nearby stall to have our lunch were we got hot vada pavs & spicy misal pav.
We soon checked on the time which displayed 2pm, so we got the Prasad and started descending as we had to return on the same day. It had rained heavily during the entire day so the pathway was completely flooded with rainwater & many tiny water streams were converted to large ones. Descending for all of us was comparatively easy & we could almost run at patches. We covered longer distances in lesser time. We again crossed the steep exposed patches with caution as one mistake can prove fatal. We were moving ahead & decided to take a dip at the giant waterfall as were not sure about our next outing. We soon reached midway of the trek where we took a break to capture few snaps of the shidi ghat waterfalls. Now we were lagging behind time & had to rush ourselves to reach the base village before it got dark. The route seemed never ending & we were running throughout the route to cover some good distance.
At last we finally reached the base village around 6pm in the evening & boarded a direct 10 seater vehicle to Neral station. It was a long trek & can really test one’s stamina but I must say that this place is a paradise of waterfalls & the beauty of the untouched forest can be closely felt. We reached Neral station with lots of memories & boarded our return train to Mumbai. This was a great adrenaline rush which changed my perspective towards trekking & nature. This was a special experience for me & I decided to keep this passion alive by adding more forts & treks to my list.
Also, in coming years we trekked from shidi ghat route and covered Gupt Bhimashanakar which is 30 mins ahead of the main temple where one of my favourite waterfalls lies. This trek will always remain my personal favourite as it offers so much to an individual & can truly be life altering.