Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanale Caves


PODAR HIKERS' CLUB.
ONE DAY HIKE TO THANALE CAVES ON 22nd July 2007.

       It’s the month of July and we are in the heart of the monsoon season. A perfect month for hiking-a time when most of the Club's monsoon hikes are carried out. Rains bring freshness, greenery and joy. But an excess of it can play spoilsport. The same thing happened to the 1st college hike which was an overnight hike scheduled on 30th June-1st July to HARIHAR FORT. It rained heavily on 30th June (Saturday) disrupting normal life in the city & the hike had to be postponed!!

       The PODAR HIKERS' CLUB Committee headed by the Chairman- our Professor R.M.Phadke, followed by Anurag R (Secretary 07-08), myself and other executive members came to a conclusion, after several meetings, that the first official college hike will be a 1-day hike scheduled on 22nd July to THANALE CAVES.


       THANALE CAVES - we had never heard about it before-after all we have been trekking for only some 2 years or so. But it was in fact our respected sir's vast experience in mountaineering that brought this place in the spotlight.

       Even today, ex-podarites who passed out years back from the college attend the hikes with the CLUB. Such is the passion for trekking. As they say..."Once a trekker, always a trekker!"

       The trek was just a week away and we had gathered sufficient knowledge of the place. We came to know that it had a medium difficulty level. THANALE CAVES are situated some 600mts above the sea-level. But the length of the climb always differs & it was approximately 2000ft.The caves were built by the BUDDHISTS in 3 century B.C. They are located to the north of SUDHAGAD-which is a well preserved fort with a big plateau, water tanks and a temple and is receiving the attention of conservationists and trekkers. Some trekking organisations have already succeeded considerably in maintenance of the fort.

       After the successful completion of the necessary pre-hike activities, the reporting time had been fixed at 5:30am on Sunday morning. Though i was well prepared and got up much early at about 4:30am after packing my sack and a good night's sleep, I could not make it on time and reached much late at 6:10am. I regret that, but then I had to face some unexpected delays. Experience says that 1-day hikes require more punctual approach, more planning than overnight hikes.

       We were some 45 minutes late and finally at 6:45 am; the journey began with "3 CHEERS FOR P.H.C.". After passing the VASHI Toll naka we headed to PEN and at WADKHAR naka we had our first halt. The environment in the bus was already fun-filled, and the group of 50 started mixing well. I don’t know what time it was because usually when there is enjoyment, no one cares about the time!!

       We continued our journey till we reached PALI, where we were joined by one Professor PURANIK. He is the vice-principal of a college of that area and an experienced trekker too. He is well versed with the area and has done his bit towards conservation and beautification of forts in the region. PHADKE sir introduced us to him. After briefing us about his activities, he left and we resumed our journey, but not before having a glimpse of SARASGAD which could be seen as we travelled further up to NADSUR. Soon we reached our destination - the base - THANAL village.

Our Guide Prakash Patil
       Though the journey did not have much rain in store for us, it started drizzling once we reached the base. We hired a local-PRAKASH PATIL as our guide. We prepared ourselves for the trek. A few instructions by sir and then we were on our way. Our guide and 'CHANA' led the way for us, while 'ONU' made up the middle order with 'KRISHNA' & 'GODBOLE'. Sir and I brought up the rear.

       The weather was pleasant...the sun shone brightly combined with short spells of rain...and what else does one need?? The region was densely forested and the group slowly moved across thorny bushes and narrow marshy paths. Melodious calls of birds could be heard, but you need loads of time and patience to spot one! Some other hikers were also there. We passed through a few cultivations, cattle, butterflies on our way. Everyone surrendered to the nature's beauty and photographers like SAMARTH, ANADITA, I and some others simply got engaged in our hobby!!

       Further ahead, we had to cross a few streams in our way and here the helping hands chipped in. This was the first time in my 13 treks that we were not joined by ex-students. So we were put to test and managed to handle the crowd quite well. First timers huffed and puffed and the group took regular rests. After about 2 hours or so of walking, climbing, sliding and what not, someone shouted "Hey look! The caves!! HURRAY".


Tomb inside the 3 B.C. Buddhist caves Of Thanale
       Just before the completion of the 1st half, we heard some screams...and there it was...A GOAL!! Though there were some minor goals on our way up, this one was unforgettable! Our players also had to face penalties because soles of shoes of some of our players gave away...and they were forced to drag themselves the whole way!!


Design carved on the Cave Ceiling
A Beautifully carved out figure of Elephant
       Everyone explored the caves and quickly settled down in groups all over the place, but not before sight-seeing and strolling. We had food and water. The environment was so friendly...we had some generous hosts...and the food simply refused to get over! After satisfying ourselves we got ready to explore the real DHAMAAL...A WATERFALL!! YO!! We made our way up along a stream which we had crossed earlier and a few minutes of caution led us to the treasure...the jewel of the trek....WATER poured down from a height of about 15-20ft as it sparkled in the rays of the sun & one could see a beautiful Rainbow. The force of the waterfall was terrific!! Everybody got lost in the fun and every other sound was undone by the loud roaring noise of the falls. The water from the falls collected in a pond-like formation and here i must say that the "kidaa" in some people aroused and they played all kinds of tricks on their "bakra" and everyone really enjoyed the moment.

Towards the Waterfall  after relaxing in the caves!
       At about 4pm or so we were ready to bid the place goodbye. We followed the same route downwards. Strangely while descending I always tend to forget the path. But fortunately our sir and the guide ensured that we were on the correct path. Whenever you leave behind such good memories of beautiful nature...your emotions start flowing out easily and the group hummed songs of happiness!!

       Soon we made it to our bus. After changing into dry clothes and refreshing ourselves with much needed water, our return trip began. All were feeling tired and the seats were quickly occupied. Earlier in the morning, we had decided to visit the famous temple of PALI while returning. But due to shortage of time we couldn't. Some people were disappointed, but i think they must have been glad that could reach home that much earlier. SAMARTH has captured the moods and looks of the faces before and after the trek. I am looking forward to the photos. One could notice the changes in voices. Even I needed something for my throat and finally as we halted at WADKHAR naka-hot tea satisfied the need!

       Well friends I cannot recollect anything more!! Hahaha..!! We must have reached MUMBAI at 9:30 or 10pm. I got down at CHEMBUR and said goodbye to everyone and in return they greeted me warmly. That moment was special!

I must appreciate all participants especially first timers for they came and had a good trekking experience!

       AND NOW I HAVE ONE MORE WONDERFUL EVENT THAT WILL FIT IN MY MEMORY FOREVER. SO NEXT TIME WHEN WE MEET DON'T FORGET TO ASK ABOUT THE NEXT TREK!!

COMING SOON........DON'T MISS IT....!!

CHEERS TO PODAR HIKERS' CLUB FOR ORGANISING SUCH A NICE TREK AND GIVING STUDENTS OF PODAR A NEW EXPERIENCE IN LIFE!!

THANK YOU,
~pArin shAh

Phheeeeewww.....!!!



Yeah, the report is finally over!!