I classify my life in two modes- fit or unfit. And my hobbies in two options- trekking or not trekking. So, that gives me four options- trekking with a fit body, not trekking with a fit body, not trekking with an unfit body and trekking with an unfit body. The first is the best option. Nothing could be better! For me, the second option just defeats the whole purpose of being fit. The third option is the most lethargic and despicable life I think anyone could ever live. And the fourth? Well, that’s the option I undertook, isn’t it? Foolhardy and brave me, who thought I could go climb mountains and it would be a piece of cake. The piece of cake killed me and was a pain in the ass (quite literally!) But oh, what a piece of cake! It was perfectly like a heavy dark chocolate cake. Gives you the best experience you could ever want, leaves a distinctive taste in your mouth for a long time and leaves you thirsting for more. And the cherry on top? It was one of the most difficult treks ever.
You see my family has the knack for doing things that so many others wouldn’t dream of. And if we told any ‘normal’ person they would ask- WHY? It was not very uncommon you see. It’s just that its uncommon for the people we moved around with. But there were many other groups of trekkers moving around the Sahyadri range of mountains. The one that we had chosen to conquer was less-known trek from a well-known venue. Wondering what I mean? You see, my parents have been trekking before they had my sister, before they had me, before they got married and even before they started dating. And they keep saying that in their days, and probably today as well, if anyone wanted to for a trek, they just took a train heading to Karjat and chose any direction. It would lead to some or the other fort of the bygone Maratha empire. So from this Karjat “venue” we choose to trek this less-known fort called Dhak Bhairi. That is Dhak- dha from ‘dhol’, a nice and long ‘aa’ ending with ‘k’; and there is Bhairi that rhymes with ‘kairi’ the Marathi word for a raw mango.
Now, Dhak Bhairi was less frequented because it was known for its dangerous cliffs and the blood-thirsty rocks that awaited the bodies of falling men. Adrenaline charged that we were, we took my 9 yr old sister, a first-timer, 3 older veterans and me- a ‘no-more fit’ teenager. So the train journey that started at 4 ended at 8 in Karjat. We hopped onto a 6-seater rickshaw that was about 10 times noisier than my grumbling stomach. We soon stopped at a small dhaba on the side-road and had some nice and hot onion bhaji with tamarind chutney. Appeased, we got down at the bus station of this scenic and sprawling Wadap village. There’s this one awesome thing about all the villages in India- their temple. Big or small, stone or cement, Durga or Vitthal, the temple is always a landmark. You reach there safely, and you will know where to go. Some or the other helpful soul from the village is sure to direct you in the right way. And that’s what we did. We went straight to the temple and asked for direction. The weathered old man’s withered old hand pointed in the direction of the telephone cable pole on a hill. Standing there half an hour later we made our last calls and switched off our mobiles. We wouldn’t get range anymore until we reached the cave.