The Harihar Fort/Harihargadh is fabled to be among the forts the British didn't destroy on assuming power here in Maharashtra because the fellow commissioned to do the job really loved how beautiful and majestic this monument is.
I was keenly listening to Pavan, who when not breaking into hand-wave dance moves and reprimanding us for stopping by too often to take photographs, would share insights such as the one above into the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of the fort we were trekking that drizzly Sunday morning.
|Getting the panorama right - Somewhere near the base ogling at the beauty that is Nature|
My feet were craving for some action a little more than a fortnight after I had returned from being away from home for 7 months. And what better way to exercise not just the feet but the legs in their entirety – thighs, knees, calves, ankles, heels and toes – than by going for a trek?
More so, it was the monsoons – also known as the ideal time to go trekking. Incidentally, my first Maharashtra trek did not happen until last year with Mapping Journeys when we scaled Kalsubai, the highest peak in Sahyadris. So who else to check in with but Mapping Journeys! As it turned out, the trek to Harihar Fort made a good first impression on me – that, along with the date the trek was scheduled on worked out perfectly. Devendra who was our guide-cum-force-to-reckon-with at Harihar too remembered me and my friend as the wild goats from Kalsubai who’d come racing down leaving him and the rest of the group behind!
|Guide-cum-force-to-be-reckoned-with = Devendra|
|Hand-wave-dancer = Photograph reprimander = Chuckling Buddha in blue = Pavan|
Harihar Fort is towards Trimbakeshwar near Nasikh (yeah, near the venue for this time’s Kumbh Mela) and was a five hour charming drive (thanks to the rain gods) to the base village.
The trek-trail necessitates the need to surrender to slush and slurry almost instantaneously i.e., there is no way of (or point in) tiptoeing your way around mud-filled puddles to save your shoes and feet! I say that because within the first ten minutes we found ourselves ankle deep and wading through them.
But if you’re thinking, ‘Eww! That is gross!’ then I should also let you in that we had an equal number of waterfalls and streams crossing pathways with us, letting us wash our sneakers before the next mud puddle awaited us! All I could infer is that Nature knows us too well.
|Wash your feet and your worries|
|Smell the grass or like me, wonder at how the droplets of water make the ordinary look extra-ordinary|
|Work of a fine craftsman!|
|Building the courage|
The trek begins with an easy, steady ascent i.e. your lungs are not giving up on you just yet. But that is not to say that your adrenaline levels are not soaring either. You are compelled to disband using your camera as the pathway to the top gets narrower, more slippery and therefore, trickier. There are more a couple of instances where you have to haul yourself up the rocks and my only thought then was ‘Okay, how the hell am I going to descend this trail?’ But it was my friend who chimed in to say, “Let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Right now we still have to make our way to the top.”
There was wisdom in those words because the last leg of the trek is – and I kid you not – an 80 degree vertical climb up the mountain wall! With spider-like moves you make your way to the top, one discerning step at a time. Not all steps are even in width or height! I was pleasantly surprised though to find that grooves were created on the steps as a part of the initial design for climbers to place their hands in as they made their way to the top. Such ingenuity further convinces me that we have since only reversed the process of evolution! I also think that this is the part the British officer (who was commissioned to destroy this fort) fell in love with.
|Zooming the top from the bottom|
|Zooming the bottom from the top|
|Some more zooming. Oh look! A bird|
The reward from any trek – besides your legs and lungs still holding ‘fort’ #punintended – is the view from the top. This one, in addition, also makes for a good stop to voraciously devour your packed lunch and revel in taking another couple of photographs (and then, some more).
|Some rewards are inexplicable|
The panoramic view is mesmeric and you see the Vaitarna which is one of the water-lifelines to the city of Mumbai in swollen in all her glory! It makes you want to think a little bit about open spaces and our incessant greed to take over them. Sights like this force you to pause and think (and then some more). Do you think our urban-planners should be sent on such treks too?
|Is it just me or does this not look like an infinity pool?|
|There's always room for some more company|
|Photo fetish - Droplets of water hanging by a blade of grass|
The descent was just about as challenging (if not more) as I had anticipated it to be – starting off with the 80 degree vertical climb downhill (after which my legs went all Jell-O on me) and the slippery stones maintaining a foothold for any longer than a couple of seconds is almost impossible.
And yet, impossible it was not. So what, if for the first time in my life I trekked uphill and downhill on my fours – and not just my feet!
P.S.: Did I mention I trekked in my floaters! #BadIdea
|#BadIdeas makes for crazy travelogues, agree?|
P.S.: This is NOT a sponsored post.
Other treks I have accompanied Mapping Journeys on: