Sunday, October 07, 2007

Korigad Trek

Date – Sunday, September 30, 2007
Place – Korigad Fort, Lonavala
Group – Shaleen, Tarun, Hunny and I (All first benchers of D-Section)
Mode of commution – Train and Local Buses
Expenditure per head – 200 /-

Korigad - Korigad is a small yet steep hill. Shivaji had built a fort on top of it. There are 2 natural lakes on the top of the hill, couple of Buddhist Caves and Ganesha Temple. Sahara’s Amby Valley is visible from the top. Walking on the path on the edge of the hill can be thrilling and frightening.

Our First Tri-mister MBA Exams got over. It was quite hectic over last 2 weeks with 1 exam every day. Don’t want to comment about how I performed in them; don’t even want to think about it. Before the next tri-mister begins there is a long gap of 3 days. So it was quite appropriate to go to a natural/scenic place like Lonavala. I had gone there recently in August with my parents when they had come here. Since I was the only person in the group who had visited that place earlier, the trip planning was left to me. I had seen Bushi Dam, Tiger Waterfalls, Valvan Dam, Baaje Kaves, Lonavala Lake, Lion Point and INS Shivaji at Lonavala. We saw Rajamachi Point and Duke’s nose at Khandala. But all of those places were seen superficially without getting too involved in any particular place. This time since I was going with my class mates, I wanted it to be more adventurous so planned for some trekking. On searching in the internet, 2 options were available i.e. Kune Waterfalls and Korigad. Since this is in a rainy season, I thought it will be very slippery and dangerous to get down to waterfalls and decided to go to Korigad.

Traveling frustrations
Shaleen came to my hostel sharp at 6.15 and gave me a missed call from outside. I must really appreciate his punctuality this time as it was so early in the morning. Tarun and his roomy Hunny were to meet us at Dadar to catch 7.20 a.m. train. They too did make it before time. But Banker bhai Gandharv Kumar couldn’t make it before 7.20 and had to be left out.

Train was quite crowded and we barely managed to catch our seats. For about 2 hours of travel there was no trace of greenery, only slums, drainages, concrete structures and people everywhere. I was sitting in the Aisle seat. Meanwhile we rather they got into conversation. As always, I was listening most of the times instead of talking. I am just being euphemistic here; frankly I couldn’t understand what they were talking about ;-) My Hindi has improved a lot since coming to Mumbai but not good enough to understand when spoken fast i.e. naturally. They were also making fun of me linking with the girl that I like in the class. So, in this case at least I had to act as if I did not understand!

After that Greenery started, this time the views were blocked by other passengers who were standing. From whatever I could see, I could sense that scenery around was beautiful. Hills, forests, lakes, rivers, valleys, paddy fields, huts and everything added to beauty. I have been looking for every opportunity to visit places with natural beauty but this was unique and special. Last one hour went off so fast and suddenly train reached Khandala station. Next station is Lonavala, where we got down at 10.20. From there we had to walk for 15 minutes to State Transport Bus Stand. Buses start to Peth-Shahpur village at 9.15. When we reached the bus stand, the bus had just left at 10.30 and next bus is at 12.30. Hard luck! It is easy to look back and rue the little time wasted but it was just unfortunate. Next option is to take a private Jeap or Tempo to the village. The tempo guy doesn’t follow any timing, he goes only when he gets 20 passengers. We were the first 4 passengers ;-( Sensing that we are in a hurry, he offered us to take us right away for 200/-. We didn’t agree as we thought we could soon get required no of people, but that didn’t happen. We were left waiting and suffocating inside the tempo for 1 hour before it finally started. I was hoping against hope that some Public Bus comes there and all the passengers in the tempo just get down and board the bus.

The road to the village passed through tourist locations like Lonavala Lake, Bushi Dam, Tiger Waterfalls, and Lion View Point. Hope to see them when we come back after trekking. We reached the village at 12.30, packed some food stuff and water. Found that the bus timings to return to Lonavala are at 3 and 4 p.m.

Place and the Trek
Direction and path to go was obvious as the hill was right in front. I would expect any hill to be like a pyramid, broad at bottom and pointed at the top. But this was different; it was like a prism, same thickness both at top and bottom. At the trek’s starting point there is a bore-well, we filled our water bottles here. The path initially is flat, later there are easy steps to reach the top. Trekking was quite easy. Midway through the climb, there is Amby Valley View Point, Buddhist Cave and Ganesha Temple. There are more caves as we go along. Each of those caves has a water tank, used for rain-water harvesting by the Buddhists.

We soon reached the top and found 2 natural lakes adjacent to each other. Sat in between them and had our lunch. I sincerely didn’t want to throw the plastic covers and bottles there. I carried it with me for sometime, but the group didn’t encourage me for that. I myself found it not feasible to carry for long and had to leave it somewhere. I am feeling very guilty for having polluted the environment. I promise to take care of this from next time. Myself being a nature lover, I wouldn’t like anybody (including me) to damage the vulnerable nature. I want to educate the group especially Shaleen regarding this.

From there one could walk on the edge of the hill, there is a well defined path there and go to the corner or summit. The path as I said earlier was very scary, breeze made it worse. I made sure that I always walked with the head bending to the other side of the edge, So that I minimize the chances of falling down. Saw the surroundings around, Amby Valley, Dam, Plane Runway, paddy fields, lakes, forests, neighboring hills and so on. Would have loved to spend whole evening there, but had to reach the base village by 3 p.m. to catch the ST Bus. Tarun who was most tired while climbing now was the fastest to go down. Shaleen meanwhile got cramps in his legs and had to slowdown. I accompanied him as Hunny was with his roommate walking fast. Finally, we reached well on time to the bus stop.

Still we had some time left; it was only 3 in the afternoon. So, decided to visit some place on the way back. Shaleen suggested at the beginning of the trip itself that he wants to spend sometime playing in water. I thought Bushi Dam would be the best place, as when I went there last time with my parents. Dam was overflowing with water. That water used to flow down along the steps where people can easily approach and play. Since monsoons are not yet over, I thought it would be same again. But this time there was no water flowing down the steps. It was so dry that it looked like steps to just reach the dam. I was thoroughly disappointed considering the expectations with which I had come. As it was Sunday evening there was a huge crowd mainly from Mumbai. The place looked like a shopping complex within the city. Once could trek to the hill adjacent to the dam. But nobody had any energy or motivation left to trek again. So took reverse gear back to Mumbai. We had some hopes of looking at the sceneries outside this time at least. But the train was so crowded that we were happy to at least find a seat for ourselves in the upper berth. Reached Mumbai at 8 p.m. and headed to our respective houses.

Positives from the trip were 1) Place was fantastic and worth going. 2) Group members were like minded and there were no issues on that front. 3) Understood the travails of traveling to villages so that we can better plan next time.

Korigad - Mini Travel Guide
Lonavala is 100 kms from Mumbai and takes 3 hours by an express train. The base to start trekking is Peth-Shahpur Village, 16 kms from Lonavala on the way to Amby-Valley. State Transport Buses are available every 1 or 2 hours starting 9.15 a.m. Private Tempos are also available but they won’t ply unless they get their minimum 20 people.
One way trekking time – 45 minutes
There is a general store at the base where we get Biscuits and Cool Drinks. Nothing is available on the way and at the top. So, we got to carry food on our own. Fruits and water are quite handy.
Last bus to back to Lonavala is at 4.00 p.m.
Best Time to Visit – Path is slippery during rainy season. It would be quite hot and humid during summer. But anytime of the year should still be fine for a light trek like this.