On Thunderbird to Harishchandragad for an Overnight Trek..


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ayz6cN-YFQ

Oct 2002:

Being appearing for CAT 2002 in Nov, I had to stay back for preparations while my family planned for a trek to Harishchandragad in Oct. It was a grand event then as almost 18-20 of my family relatives went to Harishchandragad and I had no option but to stay back. I made my mind that I’ll visit Harishchandragad once I get admission in B-School.

Time passes..

Once I secured admission in B-School, then because of studies, then job, etc. could not fulfill my wish. Got hyper in 2007 and asked Mamajee to help me finalise my plan to Harishchandragad. But Mamajee, busy with his own activities and business could not do anything apart from giving assurances.

13th to 18th Sep 2009:

Asked my cousin, Amol if we can plan out the trek to Harishchandragad on coming weekend. He was game for it. Soon, we started to plan for it. One of Amol’s close friend named Dinesh owns an Enfield Thunderbird. I started thinking if I could borrow his Thunderbird so that I could have feel of Thunderbird on long ride. Knowing this, Amol too dropped his plan of going in 4-wheeler (Scorpio) and instead decided to ride on his evergreen Karizma (6 years old). To get more partners, I called stressed with work, Sameer and Amol called his close pal Deepak. As usual, we were doubtful if Deepak will actually join although he promised positively. On 17th Sep, we met Dinesh and asked for his bike and he was more than happy to offer us. On 18th Sep, we got the custody of Thunderbird from Dinesh, secured permission from elders of our family and started dreaming about the ride and trek. While I went to bring Thunderbird, I noticed that it must be parked at same place for at least a month. Handlebar was rusted, rainwater inside headlight, lot of kachra under the bike, a coat of dust on the bike and seeing this I was doubtful about the running condition of bike. I just wiped the seat with cloth, inserted the key. This was my 1st bullet experience. I was worried wondering what happens if kick pumps back and I get injured? Will it start soon or will it take time? To be on safer side, I put on the Choke, half kick, release, again half kick, again release and then gave full kick and lo, it fired to life. Kick was so smooth. I never knew Bullets are so easy to start. I went on a small ride in night to get comfortable with Thunderbird. While I was enjoying the ride, I noticed that suddenly head light went off. I got down and checked to know that head light bulb has blown because of rainwater inside the headlight. I took the bike to our Office and asked the watchman to wash it clean. I myself observed while it was being washed and ensured that every part was cleaned and every chrome bit was shining.

19th & 20th Sep 2009:

Changed the headlight bulb of Thunderbird. Karizma too had some jobs to be done like changing the faulty fuel cock, changing front tire which was fully worn out and changing front brake pads. These jobs took our time till 12 noon and then we went home for lunch and packing. Myself and Amol took just 1 bag among us combined and one roll of sleeping clothes. When I called Deepak and Sameer, Sameer was almost ready but Deepak came up with excuse of work load. Amol, disappointed to the core, tried to convince me to cancel Sameer too. But Sameer was already ready to leave and 3 are always better than just 2. Left home at 1pm, bought an elastic luggage strapper to tie our roll of sleeping clothes on Karizma and tanked up both the bikes. While fueling Thunderbird, I noticed that the fuel tank lock is not working. Others things which were not working are horn, Speedometer, Odometer, Techometer, Fuel Guage and turn indicators. But who cares as long as the Thunderbird is thumping. Thud thud thud thud we left. Asked Sameer to be on Dombivili stand by 2.15 but we got late because of poor road and traffic. There are many exits towards Dombivili and searching Sameer too took 15 mins. While Sameer swung his leg to sit on Thunderbird, he could not control his emotion for the bike. His instant reaction was, "Toad Fod hai boss!" We spent 15 mins more in medical shop to buy few items like Electrol, Chewing gums, etc. By 3.30 we reached Kalyan and wasted another 15 mins in dense traffic of Kalyan. It was tough maneuvering the Thunderbird through the dense traffic but still it wasn’t as tough as I imagined. I just wanted to escape from that traffic and thump on the open road. After leaving Kalyan, my wish came true and open road was inviting us with arms wide spread. Riding steadily at 80kmph, I realized that we could get late.

As traffic became sparse, we started pushing our machines. Sometimes I was leading and sometimes Amol. We soon were cruising at other side of 100kmph. Strong crosswinds were bit bothering but Thunderbird was rock stable. It was commendable on part of Thunderbird to catch up and even beat Karizma with double seat while Karizma was just single seat. Straight roads or winding, Thunderbird never disappointed. While me and Amol were busy riding, Sameer was having his time of life enjoying the pillion ride swinging his hands in air and taking pics and vedios of both of us. I bet, Sameer is the best pillion one can have on bike ride. Since our MMS days (2003), Sameer is the only one who enjoys pillion rides with me without thinking twice and enthusiastic to encourage me to push the bike harder and harder. While enjoying speeds we soon crossed Murbad. Weather was very hot and all of us were sweating. At 4pm, suddenly, weather became cloudy and cool winds started blowing. This wind seemed to be god-sent for us. Only we 3 can tell what a thrilling experience it was. But along with pleasure came the possibility of rain and lo, within next 2 kms, it started drizzling. We got concerned about the sleeping clothes which were uncovered. Even our bags weren’t waterproof. After a km, it started raining proper and we had to stop at one hotel which is famous for good tea. We carried all the luggage inside and started enjoying hot tea while it started raining heavily. Amol almost wrote off the plan and concluded that we should return back to home as there was no point in getting wet and then trying to trek. Over-enthusiastic Sameer was even ready to trek after getting wet. I was somewhere in-between them adopting wait-n-watch approach. But looking at those dense clouds, even I had few hopes. I could see my Harsihchandragad plan getting cancelled once more. Just relaxed for 15 mins chatting. Hot tasty tea energized all cells of body in that cool atmosphere. Rain too relaxed a bit. I just went out casually and saw towards Malshej Ghat and Harishchandragad and it was sunny there. I shouted with joy and excitement. Yes, rain-gods fared good bye to us. Soon strapped the sleeping clothes roll again to Karizma, bags on our back, button started the Karizma and Kick started the Thunderbird and we left. Road was wet for 10-15 kms so we rode at about 60kmph but after that, road was all dry. Again the time to ride at limits. I signaled Amol to lets all the horses of Karizma break free and I too pushed Thunderbird. Here comes the Malshej Ghat. Sameer was more excited as probability of cancellation got wrote off and we were back on track thumping towards the destination. He was clicking pics and taking vedios of our bikes attacking corners of Malshej ghat. On each and every turn I was impressed with the agility of Thunderbird which could easily keep up with Karizma even in Ghat section. But theres a catch. Ghat section means higher load on engine and higher number of gear changes. And here comes the weakest link in Thunderbird. False Neutrals. It was real pain in ghat to manage with false neutrals. There seemed to be a false neutral in between every 2 cogs be it while upshifting or downshifting. This was a learning experience for me. I tried to change gears with patience and not in hasty manner and avoided changing gears while overtaking. Never realized how ghat passed away and we were on straight road again. Within 5 kms came the left turn towards Harishchandragad.Turned left and saw that the road to the gad passed from above the dam wall. Road was kaccha and our bikes were vibrating. After 2 kms, saw some Movie set like set-up. Asked localites and they informed that the shooting of Mani Ratnam’s Ravana is going on starring Ash, Abhishek, Bips and Govinda. We proceeded towards base village, stopped at 1 hotel named Hotel Aishwarya and asked some information about the gad.
 
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They informed us that its too late and risky to start trekking to gad at that point as it was already 6pm then. We decided to take one guide alongwith so that he can carry our baggage and show us the right way. But that guide demanded Rs. 350. We tried to bargain him for Rs. 200 but he plainly refused at even Rs.300 since it was too late. Finally we agreed. We took some Poha parcel to have in the way just in case if it gets too late, bought 2 Made in China Torches for Rs.10 each (got one torch from home too) and parked the bikes at one home which is the last point to park the vehicles. Our guide, Harish took alongwith him one more guy named Nilesh who was his cousin brother. Harish was a friendly guy but his cousin Nilesh was just about 12 years old and carried a unique attitude. He was wearing desi Denim shirt and trouser and had one big golden pendent of Sun in his neck. We started walking at 6.30pm. First 15 mins trek was just like a warm up session. I was leading, followed by Harish and Nilesh and then Amol and Sameer. Our road passed thru dense forest and there was something biting us. After 20 mins comes the 1st halt. It was an open place and the gad was looking beautiful from that place as sun was almost set. While we were chatting at this place I realized that we forgot to inform our family that we reached safely and there was no network then. Guide informed that after 90 mins, we’ll reach to a point where network is available. I signaled to move on. Here comes the 1st stream of water. I washed my face in it and moved on. We walked and walked for 45 mins in forest and then came across a small temple. From this point, the trek gets steeper. We were told that the trek is steeper for next 1 hour after which we’ll reach to the network point. To get going, we opened our 1st bottle of water mixed with electrol powder. 2 sips of electrol water and we were feeling refreshed. We started the steeper climb, after 20 mins, the forest ended and rocky section started. This was the toughest section of Harishchandragad. Cimb was very steep, nothing to support and deep valley in left side. At some places there were traces of support bars which went away over a period of time. All of us were wearing woodlands since it was a sunny day. But major disadvantage of Woodys is poor grip in wet. And at some places the rock was wet threatening loss of grip and felling in the valley. Somehow we took support of each other, cautioning at every risky point. Other thing is, it got totally dark at this point so holding torches was added liability. I was bit doubtful about the performance of those ‘Made in China’ Torches. The light spread was good but the quality of torch looked like "One Night Stand". I found a name for those torches – "One Night Stand" and wished that those torches support us atleast till the end of uphill trek. It was already 8pm and still Harish said that the steeper climb is for 30 mins more. Somehow his 30 mins turned out to be 45 mins in actual and we reached the network point. From here I made call to Mom, Sam to his bro and Amol to his Better-half. Our hero Nilesh too borrowed my phone and called up his parents telling that the group is very slow and they’ll be late in returning. His parents warned him to stay at gad in night and come down only in next morning. We had electrol water and left. Mentally we were relieved that steeper climb is over and flatter path welcomes. But what was a flatter trek for these villagers was not at all flat.. It was going uphill and downhill. I was getting frustrated while walking down hill thinking, "what is the point in downhill walking the height which we took pain to climb all the way?" Could not help but keep walking whatever way it turns out to be. It was complete dark and we were having no idea where we were heading. We thanked ourselves for hiring a guide else we could easily get lost in the way. From hereon, Harish told that the gad is just 1 hour more and we were already exhausted. Our 1st "One Night Stand torch (ONS)" gave up and unluckily it happened to be mine. Now I had to take support of others’ torch to continue trekking. Our legs got numb and walking became a mechanical process. Myself and Amol could not help but remember our Prabalgad pheri (round) in Oct 2006 when we trekked for 22 kms. No torch, unpredictable path and over-confidence made me slip and fell few times. I even got few bruises on my left palm and right elbow. Here our 2nd ONS torch gave up and now we had just 2 torches among 5 of us - One which I carried from home and one which belonged to Harish. Here comes the toughest situation. 2 torches, unpredictable and wet path, numb legs, drowsy eyes, hungry stomach and never ending 1 hour mentioned by Harish which was still 45 mins after walking for 45 mins. I slipped few more times but laughed every time I slipped, got up and got walking. Amol was very tired at this point of time. He was all exhausted. While I was leading with Harish and Nilesh, Sameer had to accompany Amol and keep on motivating him. Sam requested me to be with Amol. I obeyed and held Amol’s palm to support him and started moving. Harish and Nilesh were in hurry and walked ahead. Sam was loosing his patience and shouted on both of them from time to time. He was really loosing his temper. Nilesh who was outspoken also had argument with Sam. I requested Sam to take it easy and continue our task of keeping walking. Gad was still 30 mins away as told by Harish while we crossed 1 stream. Without torch, I assumed one stone in the stream to be fixed and placed my foot on it and it rolled slipping me in knee deep cool water. Everybody shouted with surprise and caution but I could not help laughing on myself. My jeans, socks and shoes were all wet till knee. Sam was concerned about the next day trek in same wet shoes but I was least bothered – "Kal ka kal dekhenge". Because of wetness, my pant and shoes got heavier but I kept walking smiling again and again on myself. After unending 30 mins of similar trek and me felling couple of more times, we finally reached the Gad caves at 10.45. Uff.. 4 hour, 15 mins for 10-11kms of trek.

We filled our bottles with fresh stream water and ordered food to the person who was guide cum cook cum care taker of caves. He allotted one cave to us which was small but big enough for 3 of us. Sam’s instant reaction was "Yuks".. Amol too said that cave is too small and not airy. I argues that this is the cleanest cave I have seen on any fort and so what if its not airy? We won’t be feeling cold early in the morning. Both of them were not ready to agree and argued to sleep outside. I just kept mum for sometime and waited patiently for the dinner. By the time dinner came, we opened our parcel of tasteless Poha. So what if it was tasteless, u can have anything when u r really hungry. Then the cook brought Khichadi rice for us. I ate few bites of rice which was even more tasteless compared to Poha. Others didn’t even taste it. We had no option but to wait for Jhunka Chapati which was yet to be prepared. Finally Jhunka Chapati came at 12.15am and we 3 just jumped on it. Taste of jhunka was not as good as the one at home but chillies kept me going. Chapati too was hard to our liking. Still had 2 chapatis and 3 big spoons of Jhunka and got prepared to sleep. By the time dinner got over my 2 partners too agreed to sleep in the caves itself. I was carrying 2 satranjis. Opened them, took my chaddar and laid down. Sameer asked me if I could share my chaddar with him so that he can use his chaddar as pillow. I bluntly refused him saying, "Boss, its ur problem. What can I do if u can’t sleep without pillow? You manage in whatever way u want. I won’t share my chaddar with anyone at this point of time." Sam just smiled at this. Amol shouted, "Guys pls keep quite for atleast 10 mins so that I can sleep. After I sleep, shout as much as u want." Thankfully Sam kept quite on this and me & Amol were asleep within couple of mins at 12.40am. Amol took our bag as pillow. Sam was not willing to take his bag as pillow as it was containing his sunglasses, cellphone and other gadgets so he just took his chaddar as pillow and slept without chaddar. I slept without pillow and took my chaddar over me packing myself from all sides. At around 2.30am, Sameer shouted at me, "Kamine, main thand se marr raha hoon aur tu kharrate maar raha hai. And not even sharing chaddar with me." I was in deep sleep and this pissed me. I too shouted, "Aye, soo jaa nahi to bahar phenk dunga. Who asked u to take ur chaddar as a pillow? Go to hell." Disappointed Sam finally took our his chaddar and pulled on himself sleeping without pillow. ***** spoilt my sleep started snoring within 5 mins. I too made conscious efforts to sleep and slept within next 5 mins. After that it wasn’t a sound sleep and I was turning from one side to another.
 
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Finally I got up at 5.30am and went out to explore the beauty of gad which we missed at night. Seeing me, Sam too got up and left with me. We walked about 200 metres early in the morning, clicked some pics and just chilled in the fresh air. After about 20 mins, I heard Amol shouting my name. He must be confused seeing us absent when he woke up. I asked Sameer to walk to the caves and tell Amol that Abhi is answering Call of Nature in midst of nature. Sam obeyed while I completed my morning activities. When I walked to the caves, we ordered Poha to the cook. Within 15 mins we were served steaming hot Pohas which were tasty enough. I had 3 plates of it while Sam had 2 and Amol just 1. Tea too was very tasty. We asked the cook for direction towards Konkan kada. He helped willingly and we left for Konkan Kada at 7.30am. We took around 30 mins to reach Konkan Kada walking through forest, open hilly section, crossing streams. The moment we reached Konkan kada, we all were surprised. The valley named Konkan Kada is soo steep, in fact it is curved towards inside. The moment Sam saw it, he just sat at one place atleast 5 meters away from Valley. I wanted to have clear look of Valley so I walked towards the edge. It looked scary but was not as scary as Sam was behaving. He started shouting at me ordering to not to proceed towards the valley. I confident of myself, walked towards the edge and laid on my front near the edge keeping my legs away from the valley and peeping inside the valley. It was a mind-blowing sight. Nobody can experience the actual beauty of Konkan Kada through photograph or vedios. You got to visit there to experience it. Foggy atmosphere spoilt the experience to some extent though. We spent around 1 hour there admiring beauty of Konkan kada. As we were about to leave, the fog increased and the way fog was blown from inside the valley created beautiful scenery. While walking on the way back to caves, I was wondering how thrilling it would be to do rappling on Konkan Kada. We reached the caves at 9.30 am, got refreshed, bottles topped with fresh spring water, me and Sam had a can each of Cloud 9. While we settled account with cook cum guide, He informed us about the Rappling event at Konkan Kada in Nov 09. I asked him about the organizer and he handed me a visiting card of Mr. Ajay Gadgil who happens to be my frnd.

Faring goodbye, we left at 10am. The return trek seemed to be lot easy and road seemed to be much simpler as it was visible (On previous night we had no idea where we were heading). Everybody walked at slow but steady pace. While walking we talked on various subjects. At on place in grassy area, while Sam was clicking pics of scenery and I was ahead, suddenly I observed something moving in grass. Oh my god, It was 4 feet long Cobra saluting us. I just relaxed and alerted everybody. Cobra just passed away. Dumb Sam missed opportunity to click that one. After a small discussing, while we moved I was worried about the fuel of Thunderbird as there was no lock on the fuel tank and we filled it with good quantity of petrol. We met some groups who were climbing uphill to Harishchandragad. Every group asked us the approximate time/ distance to reach the gad. While I was guiding them with the way and time, Sam was more eager to tell them that we reached gad on previous night at 11pm (exaggerated) and that we came on Tunderbird and Karizma which are parked on the base of gad. Within 80 mins, we came to network point, got some pending SMSs and called respective homes to report the appx time of reaching. Here onwards starts the toughest section of Harishchandragad. Path was rocky with steep slope on right side. At night we could not realize what dangerous place it was and it is much easy to balance yourself for uphill trek than downhill trek. We walked helping each other. Since we didn’t had any guide/ coolie with us, we were carrying our luggage ourselves. Sam’s bag was on his back, my bag on Amol’s back and the roll of sleeping clothes on my shoulder. But walking this section was tough with the roll of clothes on my shoulder so I had to throw it sometimes while balancing myself. In the process, the outmost satranji was spoilt with mud and slush. I already visualized mom screaming at me. Amol was (surprisingly) steady on this section and Sam was (surprisingly) slowest in this section. I was hopping either on 1st or 2nd position. Steadily I walked too far from both of them and had to wait for 20 mins for both of them. I waited for them at the place where this toughest section came to end and it was start of forest area. This seems to be the last airy point so I had my enough dose of fresh air and also last sips of Electrol water. After Amol and Sam came, we 3 sat there for 5 mins and then we moved. The trek through forest was relaxing in a way since it saved us from harsh sunlight (12 noon) but forest also obstructed the blowing of fresh air. Amol and Sam we busy talking with each other sharing past pleasant and unpleasant memories (Basically, Amol was talking and Sam listening). I maintained a steady pace and decided to not to stop for them anymore. Anyways, it was almost end of the trek and both of them were too slow for me.

I reached the place where bikes were parked at 1.15pm. Took some pics of bikes waiting patiently for us, checked the fuel tank of Thunderbird and was relieved to find that Fuel was in its place and nobody fiddled with it. Bro Amol and Sam reached the place by 1.45 and we left in no time after clicking couple of pics. Now our priority was to have a good lunch (preferably non-veg). We rode through the Kaccha road of 5 kms and reached main road. Turning right was Mumbai but we took left towards the resort for lunch. We ordered one full Chicken Handi and while we were waiting for the order, weather became cloudy and it started raining. I ran towards Karizma to un-strap the roll of clothes. I bought the roll of clothes inside hotel, got a big plastic gonnie bag from manager and put our roll inside it. While we were mentally prepared to get soaked in rain, we cancelled our plan to enjoy waterfall in Malshej ghat and got few plastic bags to protect our gadgets from rain. Lunch was too tasty (especially after that tiring trek and after that tasteless Jhunka Chapati on gad-But food is food and I am not complaining). After the lunch, Amol changed to shorts so as to not to spoil his good clothes getting wet in rains and we left at 3.30pm. It was raining heavily while we left and my shoes which were almost dried, got wet again. Thankfully I had helmet to protect my eyes and vision from rain and was enjoying it to the max. Sam too was enjoying rain with his arms wide spread. Amol cautioned me to be careful as road might be slippery. We were riding at steady speed of 60kmph and Amol leading and me following. Corners of Malshej Ghat needed to be dealt with caution and suddenly on one corner, Amol slipped. I was like, "****" and Amol controlled and again slipped within 2 feets and again controlled. I don’t know how Amol felt but I was scared like hell. He is a ridr afterall. Just imagine a person on shorts without helmet and on Karizma without crash guard. Sure-shot formula to get injured if one looses his control. Thankfully, he was saved. After 2 mins, he just slowed down, smiled turning back and moved. Rain stopped while we reached at end of ghat and road too started to get dry. We steadily increased our pace and we were soon cruising at our favorite speed band (100-120). Sometimes me leading, sometimes Amol and Sameer just enjoying last hour of riding. While we were enjoying our ride, we came across a Silver Skoda Octavia. I allowed Karizma to lead since its horn was working. Amol honked him hard but the Papajee who was piloting the Skoda was not willing to give pass. I too blinked headlight of my Thunderbird but no use. We followed him for around 5 mins and then got an opportunity while Skoda was blocked behind a truck waiting for oncoming LCV to pass. The moment LCV passed, and before Octy could overtake the truck in front, Amol honked hard and attemped to overtake Octy and he was successful. I too put on my headlight but papajee was too aggressive and pushed me to the right edge of the road. I was equally committed to overtake him and I too became successful in doing so. Now we were back on open road with all horses of our bikes set free. Could see the Octy in rear view mirror for 5 mins and later on it vanished from there too. While overtaking, Sam was smart enough to peep inside the Octy to observe that Papajee was a young man and accompanying him was a lady. Both of them looked like newly married couple. When Sam told me then I realized why he wasn’t willing to give us Pass. I always wonder why people with pretty ladies want to express their ego on road when they have better options and ways to do the same. Didn’t realized when we reached Kalyan. Traffic in Kalyan was again tiring but we somehow penetrated through it and reached Dombivili where we dropped Sameer and we reached Nerul at 6.30pm.

21st Sep 09
Got up on Monday at usual 7.30am with aching bum, had bath and rode on Thunderbird to Office at 8.30am. Ordered office boys to wash the Thunderbird clean and then went to Dinesh’s place to drop it. While I parked it on main stand, locked the handlebar and put off the fuel cock, I realized that fun is over and Thunderbird will be dearly missed..!

For Blog alongwith pics, please visit http://memoriesofabhi.blogspot.com/2009/09/harischandragad-unplugged.html
 
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No, Just this much of it. Hav lots of pics though for which you can click on the blogspot link mentioned in the bottom of the post.
 
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sorry i posted when u were done with the 1st post! :(
so i askd but anyways excellent write-up as usual and pleasepost some pics if possibe!
 
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Nice write up. You enjoyed the Thunderbird along with the trek.[:D]

& ya AWESOME PIC's.
 
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vijay

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excellent writeup mate, nothing matches the fun of indian harley on highways.The comfort and ease to ride this bike is on highways.Awesome pictures as well.
 
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Hi,
Its a great experience to halt in Caves.. I could not able to open the link of the blog.
If possible, post some images of the rides and Trekking.
 
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