30th Mar, 2003 . After the Prabalgad trek, Ruzbeh & I, decided to do a twosome trek and thus R&D Trek was born.
After the success of Prabalgad, we decided to do a trek in the Panvel region ie. Either Irshalgad or Manekgad. We chose Manekgad.
We met up at the Maruti Temple in Dadar (E) Rly Stn at 6:30am and took the ST bus to Panvel. After an hour's journey we reached Panvel. We immediately got our connecting bus to Vashivali via Rasyani. After a 45min journey we reached Rasayani. This bus terminates at Vashivali. Opp. the bus stop is a small lane going into the village. We follow this path and reach a huge abandoned factory. We cross the factory, follow a small cart- track and reach a small hillock. A ½ hr strenuous climb uphill takes us to Katkarwadi. From here, one can view Prabalgad, Irshalgad and the hill of Matheran.
We pass thru the Katkarwadi village, the local school, across the fields and reach a prominent cart track. Here, we get to see the first view of Manekgad and lo! It looked like a giant elephant's head.
It will take us atleast 3 hrs to reach the hill. We proceed on the ridge towards Manekgad which is an isolated hillock. On the left we can see the Bombay-Pune Expressway and on the right is the Mumbai-Goa highway. Soon we reach Dongarwadi, another village on this route. We are actually at the base of the Manekgad hill at Dongarwadi. From here two routes lead to the top. The route to the left is tricky and involves climbing scree patches. We decide to take the easier route on the right and start traversing the fort.
Just before reaching Dongarwadi, we meet Nagesh, a local who lives in a village further down Manekgad. His prime business is to make illicit liquor and sell it in Vashivli. He agrees to accompany us to Manekgad as a support. As we traverse the hill, we reach a small Hanuman Temple . After praying at the temple, we move further to reach a small water tank which holds potable water. This place has become a small factory for manufacturing spurious / illicit liquor. There are huge drums kept on firewood. As no one was around, we managed to peep in to a shoot a few snaps of all this activity. No offence however! We then started climbing thru the woods, and the climb traverses around the hill and finally we reach the top, just before the top one needs to be careful as the path is quite slippery. We enter thru a small square stone entrance and enter the fort area, there are a few broken fortifications around. There are huge water tanks on top which however are not clean. We reach the highest point on the fort from we can see the entire region right upto Prabalgad, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway etc. We than scout the area and find a Shivling. This small temple is still looked after by the locals. There is not much to see on top.
After having lunch, we trace our steps back to the base. We thanked Nagesh for all his support as he pushed off for his village (a further hour walk). The heat was quite awful and pulling our strengths down. We start our return by around 2pm and reach Vashivli at 4:30pm after a quick strenuous walk. We got the connecting bus to Panvel only after about an hour and finally reached Bombay at around 9pm .
This trek totally pulled my health apart. I contracted severe viral fever and had to be bed ridden for atleast 5 days following the trek. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the trek, the first ever R&D Trek.