I don’t know how and when it happened but it seems that I’ve become addicted to trekking, and as weekend arrives certain kind of anxiety begins to develop inside me which continuously asks me to move out to wilderness. So despite having done a cross country trek last weekend for 3 days, I was again excited to go out for another trek to some place in Sahayadris. Generally we are a group of 4 including me, Nipun, Saurabh and Santosh who trek together but this time nobody was in mood to trek. As I finally inquired from Nipun he told me that he’ll be coming to trek and this was a great relief for me, as my parents don’t like it when I trek around solo. We’d done a trek to Dhak Bahiri near Karjat earlier this year but that trek was left incomplete due to loss of baggage during the course of crossing the rock patch and I desperately wanted to get over with my fears of rock climbing. Nipun too agreed to my idea of visiting Dhak Bahiri and finally we started off our journey to Karjat from CST.
We reached CST station around 12:15 A.M. and took tickets for last local train to Karjat which was scheduled to leave station at 12:38 A.M. (Fare = Rs. 20/- per person) and as soon as we boarded the train we went for a quick nap as it was a long day ahead of us next morning. The journey from CST to Karjat is around 3 hours and we spent most time sleeping. Generally we tend to move to Karjat bus station but as there are lot of mosquitoes around there, we decided to spend our time at Karjat railway station itself and around 5:00 A.M. we woke up and moved to Karjat bus station, which is just 10 min walk away. Dhak Bahiri is a temple of Bahiri Devi situated inside a cave on top of a mountain near Sandsi village. There is a State transport bus to Sandsi from Karjat at 5:45 A.M. and as is the case most of the times, the bus was right on time at Karjat bus station. The bus ride was around 30 min (Fare = Rs. 10/- per person) and around 6:30 A.M. we were at Sandsi village.
Since we’d been to this place earlier we decided not to take a guide along with us and this was going to prove a wrong choice later on. The path to Dhak Bahiri is not a well defined path and there are several ways diverging from main path which can fool one around a lot. Also due to recent monsoon, large amount of vegetation had sprung up everywhere which made finding markers a lot more difficult job. We decided to take a path along the direction of Bahiri caves which are clearly visible from village and as we progressed along we soon found that we’d lost our way, however after a walk of half an hour we came across a small river. The water was clean and it was time to take off the clothes and go in for a quick bath J We spent around half an hour refreshing ourselves and moved ahead. As we were moving with the river, Nipun proposed that we should move into the jungle and cross it to find the path. The idea seemed appropriate to me and we moved into the jungle. The jungle here is quite dense and is full of thorny trees. Despite being very careful we managed to get few cuts here and there. However after walking for 15-20 minutes we managed to find a path which looked like a path being taken up by human beings and as we followed along the path we found a real refreshing site, “our first marker”. The path to Dhak Bahiri is marked up all along the way to the top with white arrow markers and if one doesn’t find a marker after walking for 15-20 min then it means that he/she has gone off the track. Soon we were at our first hike and despite being not so high; the hike is tough due to pebbles which are spread all across the way which make it all that more difficult to keep a firm grip on the ground. However we finally managed to reach our first rest point, which is small ground on top. We were tired a bit and decided to take a quick nap. As I was about to sleep, Nipun heard some noise and asked me to look back and whoho!!! there were few bulls standing almost 10 meters away staring at us and there way of staring didn’t look friendly at all and we decided to leave the place immediately.
As we kept on hiking up the mountain we finally landed up at another plain field and this was the place from where we got first clear view of the caves. Though these caves look easily accessible from down the village, it is only when one reaches this plain that one can admire the complexity of the climb. The caves are situated on top of a mountain and to reach the caves one has to cross a rock patch almost 1000 ft deep. However right now our present worry was not the complexity of rock patch, but the path that we should follow next, because from this point onwards there was no path which was well defined and we were back to our job of tracking down the path through the jungle. However despite our several attempts we couldn’t succeed and decided to rest for a while. As we were trying to figure out what to do next, I heard some voices coming from behind and to our comfort we found group of 4 trekkers (Ajit, Subhash, Pradip, Pradip (the master)). I must admit that I’ve never been so happy to see some human faces during trekking as I was happy to see these 4 guys. With new level of energy and enthusiasm we started search of our way up and soon we found a way. Now it was an arduous climb up the hill and despite sun shining brightly over the head we managed to reach the top easily. And now the real fun was about to begin. In front of us was the dreaded gully through which we’d to make our way down and right at bottom of the gully there was a drop of around 6-7 feet and at bottom of drop was a path no wider than 1-2 feet and below that path was a sheer drop of 1000 ft. During our last trip to Dhak Bahiri, we lost our bag at this point itself and so we were extra cautious this time. Don’t know why but we managed to reach the path down the gully quite easily. Perhaps it was due to our previous experience with the route. Now it was time to move right and reach the rock patch, on top of which were the Bahiri caves. We rested for few minutes at a small cave before the rock patch and as we were resting we found that another group was already up there trying to reach the caves. We enjoyed watching them trying to figure a way up the rock patch. Nipun was first to cross the patch and I followed him. The rocks were too hot to grab by bare hands and there is not much grip at feet as well so one has to literally pull his/her weight towards the rocks to keep the balance and after 15 minutes of agony we finally managed to reach a point from where we’d to move up the rock. Initially there are few stairs which are carved on the rock however up there was a sight which really blowed away my mind. There was this stem hanging from a rope and we’d to climb up this step using ropes as our sole support and to agony was the fact that branches coming off the stem were just on one side and were no long then one feet long. We rested at middle for a while and in the meantime those 4 trekkers whom we met along the way also arrived. The group ahead of us was planning on halting there during night and hence had few bags with them and they were trying to get those bags up. We spent some time watching them and now it was time for us to move up. Those 4 trekkers went up first and I was last one to move up. As I was wearing jeans and also I am not a very good climbers, after climbing up few steps on the stem I literally got stuck with my left leg carrying whole weight of my body and my right leg up trying to find a place to settle down and then I heard this thug voice and whew !!! the branch on which my left leg was resting tore apart and I was literally hanging in mid air on the rope. One of the guys from up there screamed to me to find a footing on the rocks and I followed his advise and luckily got my right feet on the rock and somehow managed to climb my way up to the cave. It was one of the scariest moments of my life and I owe to Pradip (the master) for his advise else I was doomed that moment. What a relief it was to reach the top, is something which I can’t describe in words and we spent almost 1 hour at top. There is a temple of Bahiri Devi at top and there are 2 water pools. Villagers have also left some utensils up there and one can use them for cooking purpose. The caves are nice but people have left quite a bit of debris up there which shouldn’t be the case. People have even butchered cocks and left their heads up there. After taking some pics it was time to move back and this was going to be more tough then climbing as I’d managed to break a step on the stem and above that my confidence was not at par. However as those 4 trekkers were also about to leave we had a bit of confidence and after some hiccups we both managed to cross the dreaded rock patch. It was now time to say good bye to our fellow companions as they were planning to visit Kondeshwar temple and we’d to move back to Sandsi village and after 2 hours of decent we finally reached Sandsi around 5:45 P.M. There is a state transport bus from Sandsi to Karjat at 6:00 P.M. and we managed to find some time for a cup of tea at village and it was a wonderful sight to see those caves from down the village, sipping hot cup of tea.
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