Route : From Kalyan (on the Bombay-Pune Main Line) one has to take a bus to Murbad from where there are mini-buses to Narivali or to Dehri. Bus Frequency to Narivali is 30min (first bus at 7am & last bus at 1230am). To Dehri there is only one bus in the morning. So it is better to go to Narivali. From Narivali one can proceed to climb Gorakhgad but this route is quite steep & marred by lot of scree). The preferred route is to reach Deshmukhwadi on the way to Dehri and take the route behind Gorakshanath Temple.
This was my first trek with YHAI-Malad Unit and the second one outside Bhramanti. The first one being Tringalwadi with Chakram Hikers way back in 2001.
The trek was lead Manoj Shirodkar and deputy leader was Akshay Mule (I met Akshay after a gap of 10years - we had done our 1st trek together in 1993 to Harishchandragad). We were 26 members in all (20 boys & 6 girls) and the group was well supported with good climbers.
Ruzbeh, Gopal & Anil decided to join me (all Bhramantians) for this trek. Our reporting point was at the MSRTC enquiry counter at Kalyan S.T. Depot and we all reached there by 11am. We got into the last bus for Murbad (1130pm) and reached there at around 1230am. We then had to connect onto the Narivali bus. The MSRTC usually operates mini buses on the Murbad-Narivali route, however seeing the substantial size of our group the S.T depot manager decided to put the normal big bus on this route. We reached Narivali village an hour later around 0130am. Our stay was organized at the Maruti Temple which has a small hall (wada type) and we all slipped into our sleeping bags/blankets and managed to catch up some sleep. Our wakeup call was at 6am the next morning, however we were woken up much before the call time. Actually, none of us got a chance to sleep peacefully.
Anyway, we refreshed ourselves (there is a well behind the temple), ate our breakfast (idli, chatni & tea), posed for some photos in the village, thanked the villagers who had organized our comfortable stay and set forth for the trek.
It took us about 45min walk from Narivali to Dehri Village on the metalled road (this road goes further to Dhasai and onwards to Vaishakare). One the way one can spot the entire range, i.e.on the right side of the road (Gorakhgad & Machinndra detached from the main range, & the massive fort of Siddhagad). We now reach Deshmukhwadi, a small hamlet about 0.5 km before Dhasai Phata. The village lies on the left side of the road and on the opposite side is the Gorakhshanath Temple also called Vithal Mandir. The main deity here is Lord Vithal & Rukumini.
The route to Gorakhgad starts from behind the temple. We start climbing a small hillock with zig-zag routes and reach the top of the first plateau. Whilst climbing one could see the vast plains of the Konkan covered with mist and a few glimpses of smoke rising from the various villages scattered all around the plains. To our utter surprise, a dog (belonging to the temple area) accompanied us right upto Gorakhgad & back. Something unusual but some trekkers have experienced such activity in their past treks.
The climb from the first plateau onwards to the second one is a bit tricky as one has to climb thru several patches of severe scree (loose rock & mud) Nevertheless, all our members manage to safely pass thru and reach the second plateau. This is at the base of the hill and one can spot the temple on top of Gorakhgad fort and a flag fluttering in high wind. We took a 15min break here admiring the beauty of the valley that lies between Gorakhgad & Siddhagad. One can also spot the
.. Lingi just below the second plateau of Siddhagad.
Moving further on, we now pass thru dense vegetation traversing the hill and reach a point where one can spot some stone formations (large stone slabs kept
.). There is a route going down the hill from here and if one intends to go to Siddhagad from Gorakhgad without going to Narivali then he can take this route.
The difficult part of our trek starts from here. We have to climb a 50deg rock patch (about 50ft), with steps cut on it. We cautiously climb this one and reach an entrance with a rocky staircase inside (Like Peth & Harihar). We reach a small flat area and now encounter a larger rock patch with steps like the previous one. One starts climbing this patch by getting on the steps and then circumvent the rock cautiously (there are a few holds in this area for stability). After this point we again start climbing the steps. Most of the steps have niches so that one can climb them with utmost care & ease. We now reach a flat surface and move towards the right side of the hill. On the way we encounter a few tanks with some holding water and some dry. The water in these tanks are not potable. As we move on we reach a large cave which can easily accomadate about 50 people. We offload our bags here. The view from here is excellent. On the right side one can spot Naneghat, Jivdhan and the entire range with it's various coloumns jutting out and on the left side the vast Konkan plains.
The main attraction however is the deadly pinnacle of Machinndra right in front. It's quite an awesome sight from here.We rested a while inthe caves and were briefed about the historic importance of Gorakhgad (see top)
We were also treated to some extraordinary talent by some of the members which included singing (by Zai, Manoj, Balkrishna Bapat) and Mono-acting (by Jaiprakash). After staying there for about 45min we decided to climb up to the top most point of the fort. Two of the girls stayed back in the cave as they were extremely tired and the rest of the team moved on.
From the cave, we move further on walking over the rock, crossing 3 water tanks (the second tank is clean and has good potable water).We traverse a bit and reach the back of the fort. From here one can see a flight of steps carved in the rock. The look of it is quite deadly as these steps are about 2ft in size and there is total exposure on one side. To reach the steps one has do some free climbing over a rock-patch of about 8ft and then move on cautiously on the steps. The steps move on and at one point it takes a sharp U-turn. At this point has to be extremely careful we then climb on and reach the top of the hill. This climb takes about 10-15min depending upon one's speed.
The area on top is quite small with a small temple of Gorakhsanath and a flag fixed adjacent to it. There is a small statue of Nandi here and a Lingi inside the temple. The view from here is excellent as we can now see the top of Machinndra Pinnacle, Naneghat, Jivdhan and the entire range upto Siddhagad. We all prayed at the temple, while some of the members chanted the Ganesh aarti. After spending about 0.5 hrs on top we returned back to the cave. To prevent any mishaps a 20ft rope was put along the steps especially near the U-turn. The entire group reached the cave safely. We then sat down for a sumptuous lunch comprising of Chapattis (various colours & sizes), sandwiches, uppma, variety of pickles, cakes & fruits. The time was now 3pm and after taking rest for about 0.5 hrs we started our returned journey. We had a good time at the scree patch leading to the first plateau as most of us slid down the scree and everyone's pants turned brown. The entire group reached the base temple by around 5pm. At the temple we had post trek session where all the members shared their experiences on the trek. Everyone praised the organizers for managing the trek brilliantly.
We walked down the road to Dehri village. After a quick snack we got into 2 jeeps bound for Kalyan. Whilst travelling, we played antakshari and had good fun. Reached Kalyan by 9pm and finally reached home by 11pm.
I enjoyed the trek thoroughly and do feel that Ruzbeh, Gopal & Anil also have the same view. I personally never thought that I would be doing such a terrific climb which can be compared to Harihar trek. These treks have not only boosted my confidence to do more difficult ventures but also reduced the fear factor in me.
I do now look forward to doing more treks with BHRAMANTI & YHAI in the near future