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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Ratangad To Harishchandragad (R2H) Range Trek


I visit Mumbai, at least once a year during Monsoon or just after the season. During this trip, I always fit in a trek in the Sayadris. Since last year, I have been trekking with a group called Abberant wanderers and I really like how they organise treks and hold the team together. So, this time, while speaking to Sanket, one of the founders, he mentioned to me about the range trek that was to take place on the 24th of June. That sounded really exciting and I booked my tickets almost immediately.  I reached Mumbai on the 22nd of June, at around midnight. I really needed a break from everything that was going on at work and I knew that this was going to be interesting! 

Next morning, I had some quick catching up to do with my sister before she left to work and then I spent some leisure time talking to my niece and nephew. Deeksha and I went out for a stroll to eat some local delicacies. In the evening, when my sister returned, we tried some smoky wafers and ice cream rolls at a newly opened cafĂ©. By 9 PM, I was ready to leave for my trek. 

I took the harbour line from Panvel to Kurla, then the central line to Ghatkopar, where I met up with Sanket and three other trek-mates - Jyothsna, Neha and Keval. We took the 11:18 PM fast train to Kasara. In the train, I met up with the other trekkers. We reached Kasara by about 1:30 AM. Took a jeep ride from the railway station to Samrad village. On our way, we stopped at a Dhaba for tea. Here, I got to know my trek-mates for the next three days. There was Ajinkya, whose name I really like and was hearing it for the first time. Our names meant the same thing - Invincible. Divyesh and Dhruv, the teenagers, who had just arrived from Ahmedabad and were already tired by the long journey and the Mumbai crowd. Akshay, was ready to wind up his work at Pune and head back to his hometown Nagpur. There was Rakesh, aka Rocky whose nickname was inspired by the wwf champion - The Rock. There was Mrugnesh whom I kept calling Brungnesh until the end of the trek. And there was Bhushan, Vishal, Thomas and the couple Vikrant and Neelam. In Total, we were 17 , including Hemant, who represents Abberant Wanderers as well. 

Day 01- We reached Samrad village at around 4:30 AM. We took rest at a villagers house. I had a quick nap for about 2 hours. We woke up at 6:30 AM and freshened up, had poha for breakfast and began our trek at around 8:00 AM. It was completely cloudy and that gave the atmosphere a mystic touch. 





We stopped at Sandhan valley entrance. The valley is currently a very popular trek route, specially attempted in winter. It was an interesting experience walking till the entrance that was flooded with water. 



Our route winded up to the fort of Ratangad via Thryambak Darwaza. Occasionally the sky cleared and displayed some great views of the lush surroundings.




The highlight of the trek was climbing waterfall. Due to continuous rain, the route was flooded with flowing water. It was an exhilarating experience to climb the waterfalls to get to the top the fort.




After reaching the caves at Ratanghad, we began our descend via Katrabai pass. This is an ancient trade route between villages and towns. We had our packed lunch on the way.  Along the way we had to cross a dangerous stream. A human chain was formed to support people cross over. The views were just amazing. Hundreds of waterfalls emerged from the hills and the monsoon had coloured the path in lush green. 





As per plan, we were supposed to stay overnight at Pethechiwadi village but due to heavy rain the river that flows between Kumshet village and Pethechiwadi was flooded and was impossible to cross. So, we decided to stay at Kumshet. 

Sanket and Hemant made a deal with the villagers and we settled in at a villager’s house. One of the major thing trekking or traveling has taught me, is to be flexible and adaptable to situations. Everything cannot go as planned and perhaps should not, else it would be boring. 

So, we all cramped into one room of the villager’s house and found a place to throw our bags and lie down. We took turns changing our wet clothes to whatever remained dry in our bags. My sleeping bag was wet, so I just had to lie down on the sheet that was spread on the ground. So was the case with many others but everyone adjusted with what was available.



Day 02 - Next morning, we took a 6:00 AM bus from the Kumshet to Rajur. Here, we had some tasty poha for breakfast at a local restaurant. From Rajur, we took another bus to Paachnai Village. Thomas, Vikrant and Neelam decided to head back to Mumbai and the rest of us continued with the trek. 

As per plan, we were to walk from Pethechiwadi village to Kaladgad and then descend to reach Paachnai village. In the interest of time, we skipped Kaladgad and took a bus to the Paachnai and relaxed there at the villager's house. I had visited Paachnai, last october and was familiar with this route to Harishchandragad. It was good to be back at the villager's (Bhaskar) house that is now a home to many trekkers. 



We relaxed for a few hours at the house. We had lunch and tea later. It was a much needed rest after a long walk, the previous day.  At around 4 PM, we began our trek up to Harishchandragad. The fort was completely covered with mist that evening. 



We settled in at a cave and played a very interesting game called mafia. The game kept us engaged till midnight and bonded the team together. 



Day 03 - The following day, we explored Harishchandragad and Konkan kada. Tried some interesting picture shots at Konkan kada. 






After having maggie for breakfast, we began our descend via Kireshwar route. It was an interesting route with some steep descend. I am sure a climb via this route is going to be very challenging. The sky had cleared and we got some spectacular views. 




At the base village, we had meal at a restaurant and returned to Kalyan by jeep. From Kalyan, I took a train to Kurla and then to Panvel. 

It was one of the best treks of 2017 and thanks to my previous rain treks in NZ, I was very comfortable walking despite being drenched. One of the main ingridients of a good trek is a team that shares the same amount of enthusiasm and energy. This team was truly amazing in those terms. It is difficult to hold a big team together and avoid formation of sub groups but in that regards, AW did a great job. And as for me, I always love trekking in Maharastra. As the Monsoon arrive and paint the earth green, it creates a perfect setup to go outdoor and do something adventurous. I look forward to my next trek in the Sayadris. 



Here is the film on this trek -

 

Kitchen Tales

Basil shrub grew in abundance and I had to find a recipe to make use of them. An obvious option was to try Pesto sauce.




One of my friends, suggested a new recipe with Malabar spinach and raw papaya. I tried that one afternoon and it has turned out to be one of my favourite recipes. The richness of the green leaves and the tenderness of raw papaya is a delicious mix. 



Pappu, an Andhra style dhal made of spinach and other green leaves has been another personal favourite of mine.


I also experimented with some kheer - Moong dhal, Poppy Seeds and Cashew paste. It has been a healthy dessert option for me before going to sleep. 


I haven't been able to write recipes for all of these. But, if any of these interests you, leave a comment and I shall get back to you.

Garden Update

The month of June indeed was very interesting. I tried a hand on all my hobbies. Garden though was the priority. I tried growing some new plants and received a generous harvest. Here is a glimpse.

A new set of mustard plants on its way -



Basil plants have been flourishing -



I thought this was pumpkin but turned out to be tasty musk melon.



I am trying Potatoes for the first time. They have been growing pretty well and are now flowering.



But the highlight was watermelon. I had sowed some seeds that I had brought from the US but more grew from compost (Cow dung). Slowly, it was watermelon creepers everywhere. The fruit was tasty!




Kumquats are doing good too.


Among the flowering plants, the rain lilies stood out with its impressive colours.




I carried some saplings of  Coffee, Tabubia and Javanica trees to Surathkal.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Acrylic Painting & Wax Seals

The month of May had been a very creative one. I touched upon all my interests in great detail. I got to paint a new style, I improved my garden, made video logs, wrote articles and tried a lot of new recipes. This month has been truly incredible.

In this post, I shall touch upon just the art aspect of all this. I have been following some vlogs on youtube for acrylic painting techniques. One thing I tried was to try paint acrylic on canvas and make different types of trees. There is still a long way to go in terms of learning the acrylic techniques as it is very different form the poster colour that i used to, but here are few of my attempts. 




One day during a lunch break at office, I scribbled this art work using black and red ink pens. Perhaps, I could develop this into a painting someday. 


I have some new penpals now and I have been trying to be creative with the whole affair od snail mails. I have made some papers soaked in tea and baked. And, I have also tried the wax seals. 

These are simply great and make your letter look so good by giving it an antique touch. The process is simple - Cut a small piece of wax of desired colour, melt it in the spoon using the candle provided. Pour the molten wax on to the envelop and press the stamp seal on top of it. There you go!