NIGHT TREK TO BHIMASHANKAR

 NIGHT TREK TO BHIMASHANKAR 

The place: Bhimashankar temple near Karjat. Karjat lies in between Bombay and Lonavla. The temple is one of those 12 Jyotirlingas. There are 2 separate routes viz, one for the buses and the other for the trekkers. They are exactly opposite on a hill. The trekking operation was named Wild Prairie.

We were 5 people namely Abhinav Choudhry, Aniruddh Mukerji, Ankur Tripathi (our capt), Satish and myself. The program was Tripathi’s brainchild.

We started from our college on Friday afternoon (at 1pm). The route to Karjat was via Lonavla. We reached Lonavla at 4pm. From there we took a bus to Karjat and reached there by 6 pm. We had to take an auto to reach the foothills of that temple. It was 40 min ride. We reached the foothills at around 7pm.

We consulted the localites about the route to the top but they advised us not to travel in the night, as it was dangerous. He warned us about the Panthers roaming in the nights. However, we did not really care about that and asked him to show the path which he did. He asked us whether we were properly armed. We had 4 khanjars. We left at 9 pm after having some refreshments and rest. He guided us until the start of the jungle area and left soon.

The action begins: By the time we entered the jungle it was already pitch black. We could hardly see anything. There was not even moon light because of cloudy atmosphere. Perfect setting for a horror scene.
We switched on all our torches and checked for the mobile signals. Thankfully, there was full network. There were indications marked on the trees about the route. While following that we kept singing some joshilay songs just to keep ourselves pumped up. Now as we got deeper into the jungle it started to get really scary. The huge trees formed into different horrific shapes. After about 2 hrs of trek we encountered an open place of the size of a 30/40 site. We decided to take some rest there. Had a glass of Glucon – D, drank some water and left after 20 mins. It was 12:30 in the night when we continued our trek. It was getting scarier. The rustling of leaves, the lizards creeping on the dry fallen leaves really checked our nerves. Now we had already stopped singing as it was really pissing off to utter something.
As we got deeper into the jungle our capt started to tell some stories about the Blair Witches that roam in the jungle. Mukerji cursed everyone in frustration. It was a tense situation. We went past a basti of about 3 jhopadis. There was huge deep well in that place. We did not really dare to see into that.

The dog menace:  At around 1:40 in the night we encountered another open place of just about the same size as the earlier one. Now Mukerji did not really have the courage to carry on. He was asking everyone to spend the night there and continue the trek in the morning. But we had come with a purpose. Our objective was night trek and we were not ready to quit that. All of us convinced Mukerji to keep going.


We  switched on all our torches just to check out what was there around us…We could hear some wild dogs barking at a distance. We steered our torches in all directions to see the huge tree cover and nothing else. Now the intensity of the bark increased and we could sense that those dogs were running toward us though we couldn’t see them. We just left our gear and ran for cover in different directions. That was a big mistake we did. We should have been together. Every one of us hid himself behind some cover. To make the matter worse monkeys began jumping from tree to tree and created a huge noise. We do not know where they came from. All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. Now I did not have any weapon with me. Imagine that situation. The dogs finally reached our luggage but they could not really find us. There were 5 of them. After the dogs left we went back to our luggage and this time we kept our torches off. It was not safe to spend the night in that place as it was open and we could hear some growling sound at a distance. We started again and it was 2:10 am then…thankfully mobile signals still full. But it would take just 2 mins for a Panther to kill you and what the mobile signal will do.
We continued till 3 am.

 

This time we were not getting any indications about the correct route. It was not late when we came to know that we had lost ourselves. Now imagine the height of getting lost. We had lost not only the path for onward journey but also for the return journey. I mean we had lost the route to that basti too. I do not know how that happened but I just believe that if it is not your day then nothing really goes in your favor. That is what precisely happened with us. We decided to take rest until sunrise. We found a small open place covered with huge boulders. We put all our luggage down and tried to sleep until sunrise… However, it was not at all possible. The night was scary. We had to keep a watch to save ourselves. The rustling of leaves, the wind, the monkeys jumping here and there, the intermittent growls somewhere in the thicket, the intermittent flashy things amid the huge trees, the sounds made by the jungle fowl were just enough to scare the shit out of us. After about half an hour we heard a loud scream and everything came to a standstill. We could not make out what the sound was. The monkeys stopped hooting and the fowl went in silence. It was about to hit 4’o clock. We started to curse just about everything and everyone. The moon was not setting soon. We even cursed the Sun for rising late. It was a typical Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin scene. None of us hoped to return alive. All of us kept humming some prayers with khanjars in our hands.

At 6:10 am, we could see some ray of light. We got up, packed our entire luggage, and started our return journey to that basti. As we traveled some distance, we met an aged man picking some dried sticks. We asked him the right way and he showed us. As we started to travel in that route, I just looked back at him. To my surprise he was gazing at me. I just believed he was God. We reached that basti at around 7 am. We enquired about the right path to reach the top and to our bad luck we had taken a wrong path after we saved ourselves from the dogs. Now in the morning we peeped into that well. We lifted some water and had a cold bath before we reached the temple.

The right path: The correct path was a steep slope climb. The localite told it would take around 1 and a half hour to climb that hill. We started to climb after having some refreshments. We reached the hill top at around 10 am. We could see the most exciting thing, the bus. We had our visit to the temple and left at 12 pm back to our college

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