It was the two of us — Sramana, my senior in TIFR, and me. The plan was to go to the Lohagad fort, which is well-known for the view of the windy staircase. The mist made the visibility zero. Well, we had to see that coming, it was peak monsoon. Except walking up rocky stairs of the fort through thick clouds, and a very chilling wet wind at the summit, it was a forgettable experience. We came down too soon, even before noon, thoroughly disappointed. We were expecting more, much more than selfie-taking crowds of people and people-attacking groups of monkeys.
That’s when we remembered that the woman at the shop, at which we had stopped for a tea on our walk up from the station, had mentioned that there is a route to a certain Visapurgad fort nearby, apparently a tough trek. What more could we wish for?
The road to the base was very muddy, it was tricky to walk. However, it was much less crowded, a big relief. As we finally reached the base and started climbing along the trail, the drowsy state of mind that I had entered suddenly got a kick and I felt alive — now this was more like a trek! The familiar-looking route with jungles on both sides, an occasional crab or two on the way, and the smell of the monsoon. It hit me, finally.
We had to cross an occasional waterfall, a very common sight in monsoon treks in Maharashtra. After another around half an hour or so, we came across the first humans. It was a group of three young guys, and it appeared that they were trying stunts down a gushing waterfall. As they arrived on the ground near us, the truth finally hit me — they were not trying any stunts, they were climbing down the only way to the fort (having gone up in the morning).
We had to go up this, seriously? Apparently yes. It took us some time for the fact to sink in. The three guys wished us luck and went down. We stood there for a few minutes, wondering what to do. What if we slip? What if one of us breaks a leg? What if, we make it to the top?
What followed was a very careful hike up the rocks, slow and steady, balancing on all fours wherever necessary. There were places where the current was too strong to be true, but there was no looking back. The sound of the gushing waterfall made it difficult for us to hear each other even if we shouted. At these places, of course, I could not get my phone out and click a picture. At milder places, however, I did. Here you could climb straight, the bag nicely balanced on your back, something like this:
We stopped from time to time to take in the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings, the excitement in the atmosphere, and the majestic sound of the gushing waters. Whereas the view of the plain at the back was serene:
the view ahead was fetching:
This is my idea of heaven, and walking through it.
P.S. We made it to the top of the fort, spent some time sitting around in the thick mist, had tea and Vada Pav there (yes, there were three guys selling snacks, tea and water at the fort!), and came back home unscathed. The hike down the waterfall was an equally thrilling experience. One of those days worth living.