It has been past 2 hours since we have started climbing mountain, and we are yet to reach the peak. My friend, Pratiexit, tells me at least a dozen of times that the peak is just 5 minutes ahead.
“Bro wait, I am tired”
“Oh! We are very near. We will just reach the peak in 5 minutes.”
My T-shirt is fully drenched in sweat. My nose is flowing irritatingly, head heavy in sunlight and energy of legs fully sapped. Every time I lift my leg to climb, I go through a painful process. The frustration is out only by shouting “Fu*k!” loud. I am not even sure if this is even going to get over, I have to anyways continue.
We reach a section where we find a stair climbing the wall of a fort. Someone declared that the top is just ahead. I get ready for yet another climb of torture. But Wait, did he say that the peak is just ahead of the climb? There are barely 20 steps to climb. This means we have reached the top! I get a rush through my veins. Suddenly I feel relieved and I climb those steps contrary, with a smile on my face.
Note – This is not the stair used for climb
Here I am, standing on the top of the mighty Mahuli!
Did I just complete the trek and reach the top?
Has the torture of climbing got over?
Am I standing on the top of the mountain?
I feel a sense of pride and achievement! I couldn’t believe I did it. I look in one direction and laugh madly on achieving what I thought was Impossible. This is the first trek of my life. All the pain and struggle of climbing has paid off. And the feeling of summiting the peak is irresistible. The experience has left such a deep impact on me that I have totally fallen in love with it.
It all started when Pratiexit casually asked me……
“Dude, let’s go for a trek tomorrow. There is a mountain called Mahuli in Asangao.”
Unaware of what was awaiting me, I instantly agree “Chalo!”
As the Dawn washes away the night, beautiful green meadows come to life. Standing at the door of the train, the fast running landscapes and the continuous winds blowing, feels refreshing. We reach Asangao station and exit towards the east side. We hire a 3 seater rickshaw for 300 bucks. It is expensive for a 10 km journey, but that’s the standard rate. As we reach our destination, there is a small shop at the corner of the right side. It serves nutritious village food, though little expensive. The owner is humble and helpful. I catch a harmless baby crab that gives a tickling feel as it tries to escape from my hand.
We enter the Jungle after paying a nominal entry fee, which the forest authorities charge to maintain the route. There is a river that needs to be crossed, to get on the other side. A bridge has been newly built to cross the river. I skip the bridge and cross from below. The continuous flowing knee deep cold water with slippery rocks beneath it demands uttermost care. But it is fun.
The trek starts steep on the first leg itself. Steps are made using rocks to make it less slippery. Sun rise above the head sharply, but the dense jungle promises enough shade. The trail is well marked except for the few that goes here and there. In such a case direction is marked with white paint.
Steepness stays thorough the trek. So it is recommended to keep one constant speed instead of climbing fast and then stopping to rest. As we gradually climb, the vast plane starts getting visible. I wonder if this is so beautiful, then how it would be from the top. As I mentioned before, climb is very steep, but occasional plain meadows keep coming to give the much needed relief. It is past one hour and now I have started feeling the pain in my legs. I badly need a break. The trail luckily opens up to a vast meadow. The view from the place is just spellbinding.
What to say about the view?
The vast jungle has all the shades of green that Faber Cassel could ever invent. And when some blazing red trees stand in the middle of it, the others get sidelined. The jungle is slowly getting revealed as the shapeless pale white fog gets sucked by the slopes of upper mountains. There is an extended ridge of mountains on the left side. In a rushing speed, the fog is engulfing these mountains. It is amazing to see it getting overpowered by the mist. The entrance of the fog from the left and its exit from the right was happening simultaneously in sync. I just brace myself standing at one place and watching it with my mouth open to the unbelievable scene. But then I am reminded that we have to move forward.
The mosquitoes are the most irritating part of the trek. I mean, even after covering the whole body, they sting on face and small exposed parts of the skin. We get an idea of rubbing the wet ground, mud on our body. It acts as a repellent. We reach the top, as soon as we enter, there is a small tank on the left side. The water is not safe for drinking, but it looks good.
We follow a gentle 2 km trail. We find steps leading to a cave. It is a corridor with 2 caves on the opposite side. And then there is a grand exit/entry gate with a statue of a lion like animal outside. I walk further just to find a dead end with piles of garbage left by the previous trekkers. It is disheartening to see it.
While going back, we take a trail deviating towards ‘Bhandargad’. Unaware, we just follow the trail. The trail is extremely narrow and long. It takes 15 – 20 mins to reach a fort which is in a dilapidated condition. I thought, this is not worth for such a long walk. Everyone is clicking pictures while I stay away from them lost in my own thoughts. Suddenly I see water on the opposite side. I just walk further to check what it is. What I see is just mind blowing!
“Guys! Come fast! You have to see this”
“Don’t ask questions, just come, it is damn beautiful!”
“Why did you cal.….Wow! What the hell is this?”
We are standing at the bank of a lake which opens to a whole new world. Everything is blur. I am not being able to see the ends of the lake. The hue of fog dissolves in everything. It is hard to differentiate between the water and sky. The silhouette of a dead tree lies in the middle of the lake. It reflects in the mirror of the calm water. The utter silence is killed by the drops of water falling. The chilled air penetrates through my skin, making me shiver. Yet the elegant beauty makes me forget the struggle. The ghostly feeling of the place gives me goose bumps. The illusion once dominated my childhood imagination.
We soon leave from the place and start getting down. It took us 2 hours to descend as it is simpler than climbing. As we reach the river, I noticed some local boys climbing the bridge and jumping inside the water. I instantly approach them to ask if it is safe. They assured me that it is safe until I keep my knees bent. Thrilled, I get ready to give it a try.
I look down to the depth of water, unsure whether I should really do it. I stopped thinking and instantly jumped. A second in the air and next, I am inside. The flat surface of water slaps hard on my body. But the soft surface beneath gives me a safe landing. Now I know how a pebble feels when it is thrown in the water! It is so much fun that I did it again.
Our toes become sore inside the wet shoes. It is little painful and irritating to go back in it, But we are still happy and satisfied to end our trek on a good note.