We woke up to the thick mist in Durgawadi village. Threat of rain loomed. Night's rest had done wonders making us feel quite fit and energetic even though yesterday's strenuous ascent of Darya Ghat and many hours of struggle to locate Durgawadi village had drained us completely. After finishing early morning chores, we packed our backpacks and proceeded to the house where our breakfast was arranged.
As the breakfast was getting prepared, weather started clearing and soon cloudy weather gave way to the bright sunshine. With great sunshine, our hopes of descending Trigundhara Ghat (a/k/a Doni Daar) in good weather brightened.
Beautiful morning at Durg village:
House where we spent the night:
Kiran Kale on the backdrop of Durg Fort:
After finishing breakfast, we posed for the group photo before starting the hike. Couple of villagers agreed to accompany us till the start of Trigundhara Ghat. As we were short on time, we decided to skip hike to Durg Fort.
"Yesterday there was a landslide at Trigundhara Ghat. So it is better if you descend it before rain starts" a villager said. These words made me nervous and a passing thought of cancelling the plan to descend Trigundhara touched my mind. Considering our vehicles were waiting for us at the base village of Trigundhara Ghat, we decided to continue with the original plan.
After walking for 10 minutes on the plateau, trail entered the woods going towards Durgamata temple. Clinging of bells with sonorous voices of prayer filled the atmosphere with pure magic as I approached the temple.
After spending few moments of bliss in the temple, we resumed our hike towards entry of Trigundhara Ghat. We soon reached to the western plateau from where guides showed us Waghachi Wadi village where we were going to ascend. It didn't look far and I guessed we would reach to it within 4 hours.
Views from the Western Plateau:
Sameer barely missed stepping on the small cobra resting on the trail. We observed this small creature for a while before resuming the hike again. We rested a bit above the "Poshichi Naal". This naal is inaccessible and we didn't see any possible route to descend through it. Sight of sheer vertical drop of this Naal made my head dizzy.
"Are there any wild animals in the vicinity?" I started the conversation with one of the guides.
"There used to be plenty in the past. Almost 25 years ago in my prime of youth, I fought with the leopard and killed him. " This dialogue with the guide piqued my curiosity and I asked about the details of the whole incident. I believed the guide only when he showed me the marks of leopard's
teeth on his thigh. Suddenly I felt proud to walk and talk with the man with a great courage.
We soon reached near the entry of Trigundhara Ghat. With the cover of bushes, our guides missed to locate the entry and we went few meters ahead. A local woman from a distance shouted and guided us to the correct trail.
Start of Trigundhara Ghat:
Recent rain showers had already made the trail slippery and steepness of initial descent provided enough indication of the difficulties ahead. Our guides had agreed to come with us till some part of descent and with the company of these locals, we were descending with a rapid pace. With heavy camera hanging to right of my waist, I was finding it difficult to descend quickly. Very rarely I found carrying camera a burden and this was such a rare moment when I was cursing myself for carrying the camera.
Deafening noise startled us when avalanche started falling down. For the moment, we did not know what to do. Nothing to hide except few tiny and dried bushes, panic-stricken I started running for cover. But alas! I slipped on the trail bruising my right hand. Sameer kept his composure and helped me to stand on my feet. To our great fortune, all the boulders and stones rolled down few meters from us and we escaped only by a few meters. Had we started this trek few minutes late, we would have definitely under the barrage of these rolling boulders. Pictures of family danced in front of my eyes during these anxious moments prompting me to reflect on wisdom of venturing into unknown so regularly.
Still shaken with this incident, we increased the speed on the trail and started descending as quickly as we could. Occasional glance at the slopes of the mountains, we spotted many huge rocks barely held by the soil waiting to be cascaded down the mountain at any moment. Apart from last Fadtaal Naal, never ever I had felt so vulnerable and helpless pitted against the unforgiving terrain. Anxiety and fear looming, we kept on descending. We wanted to get out of this hostile terrain before the arrival of rain. With rain, the situation could have turned worse.
We were divided into many groups during the descent. Fast moving members descended pretty quickly. I along with Sameer and Vinit were lumbering at the last taking each step cautiously. Descending through boulders posed many challenges as usual. But with the previous experiences of difficult descents through Kondnaal and Fadtaal Naal, we were confident that we would negotiate this descent successfully.
First water source during descent; we halted for 15 minutes massaging our legs with the cold water:
Deva Ghanekar posing for the shutterbug:
Thousands of boulders testing our knees:
Sujata Tai and Milind Dadu enjoying under a small waterfall:
One of our senior members Kulkarni Kaka was finding it difficult to negotiate a patch. But with the proper team work led by Milind Kulkarni, we were able to negotiate the patch safely. Sack was held on Milind Dadu’s head to create a temporary step for everyone to descend and I too made use of this luxurious arrangement to descend. Having a large group sometimes help when you get a pool of trekkers to help in crisis situation.
Photo: Vinit Date
We heaved a collective sigh of relief when we came out of two hostile walls of the mountain. Now onward there was a simple descent through the thicket without any danger.
Finally we came to a large plateau. The same mountains that looked ominous during descent started appearing beautiful again. Finally dark clouds of gloom had passed away giving way to bright sunshine of glee.
On the backdrop of hostile Trigundhara Ghat:
With further walk of around 20 minutes, we reached to the village named “Waghachi Vadi”. After a quick session of stretches, we rejuvenated ourselves with the cold water bath. It was now time to bid adieu to our Nasik team.
As walls of the mountains stood tall indifferent to our presence, their presence ruled my mind as we headed towards Pune.
In retrospection, descending Trigundhara Ghat at the start of rainy season was not the right decision. Lucky escape from the avalanche highlighted this fact. Most of the times, we felt vulnerable to the rolling stones and boulders. So please stay away from this route around monsoon season. Winter is the best season to hike through this route.
Pune Group: Prashant Kothawade, Tushar Kothawade, Vinit Date, Milind Kulkarni, Namdev Gaware, Sujata Raygade, Deva Ghanekar, Sameer Kadam, Ganesh Kundapurkar, Tushar Poman
Nasik Group: Sandeep Kakad, Ashwin Alai, Sanjay Kulkarni, Kiran Kale
Date: 10th and 11th June 2017
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