Few days back, an email initiated by greysith was doing the rounds of inboxes of almost all active members of the college astronomy club. The content was simple – proposal for a trek; one day return / overnight, depending on the crowd. As an avid trekker in the Sahyadris, we had falconer, who suggested “Torna”. He has himself been there 3-4 times and I had been there a couple of times myself.
After much addition / subtraction to the list of people, we were finally down to seven guys, and had five bikes among us. Also, due to the widely accepted ‘girl-girl affinity’ which is very high in such situations (I’d call it “girls of any feather flock together!”) all the girls from our group eventually chickened out! (alternate debated variations to this – 1) girls’ version: nothing like that, we just had our own individual bindings… 2) enthu’s version: abba, ‘coz of your foot-in-mouth disease all girls are out! lol… 3) greysith’s version: (nodding to enthuin approval) ya! lol…)
So, as per plan we all met early morning in our college. By early I mean 6.30 am, +/-everyone’s deviation, ranging from falconer’s ‘-10 mins’ to…well, not-to-mention’s ‘+30mins’! The five of us with bikes (greysith, falconer, moiyyad, nikkit and I) were to roll off from college together, and pick up the two pillions (enthu and vrd) on our way out of the city.
Primary destination : One Mr. Lole’s farm, in a village called ‘Nasrapur’ (where we usually hold star parties for college students and general public).
Distance : 50 km from college.
Secondary destination : A village called ‘Velhe’, which is at the base of the hill atop which is built the prestigious fort Torna.
Distance : 20 km from the farm.
The ride to Nasrapur was simply amazing, mostly on the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway, NH4 and partly on a small diversion off it. The cavalry consisted of an Appache (greysithriding, enthu pillion), a Gladiator (falconer ridding, vrd pillion initially), a Flame I think (nikkitriding, vrd pillion later on), a Passion / Splendor (moiyyad riding) and a Bullet (my machine). After reaching the farm and one glass of sweet tea down, we started for Velhe. We left greysith’s bike at the farm for lack of fuel (he hopped on as my pillion and enthushifted to another bike). The road to Velhe was a beautiful, torturous country road, with occasional bullock carts and villagers carrying haystacks, to add to the effect! Finally after reaching Velhe we parked our bikes at Mr. Lole’s contact’s place. Our trek began.
With falconer leading the way and me sticking near the tail end, we all trekked up the very same hill that the great Maratha warriors once climbed. After two hours of climbing, with few halts in between and around two-three litres of water down everyone’s stomach, we reached the top. Snacks and lunch was finished with delight after a big appetite! Later on few settled for a nap and the rest went on to explore the fort. After an hour or so we were also up on our feet, wandering around, clicking photos and taking in the nice breeze.
Behind, from left : vrd, greysith, moiyyad
In front, from left : falconer, me, enthu, nikkit
Earlier, right after lunch we had realised that we were almost out of water and would have to fill up our bottles somewhere on the fort. There was a small tank of water, not surprisingly the home of tadpoles and their friends, and if that wasn’t enough, appearing green because of the thick algae at the base of the tank. Greysith and I proudly filtered around six bottles of water using nothing but a hanky! The water was free from major suspended particles, and didn’t taste too bad either! This would be my second time of filtering and drinking “green water” atop a fort (proudly!).
Photos clicked, bottles filled up and with a sense of accomplishment, we all started on our way down. Just as we were exiting one of the gates of the fort, enthu started a ‘ghoshana’ and falconer and I strengthened it, with everyone joining in chorus, to let the Sahyadris know that the great Maratha warrior Shivaji Bhosle shall always be remembered for generations to come.
Maharaj, Praudh pratap purandar,
Kshatriya kulavatauns, Gobrahman pratipalak,
Chatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj ki… Jai!
Jai Bhavani! Jai Shivaji!
Jai Shivaji! Jai Bhavani!
We traced our path back and were at the base in just over an hour. Riding back was equally fun, but almost all were now tired and hungry! On our way back, after a while, greysith and I swapped seats and he tried the Bullet. We swapped again after sometime and finally reached the farm. We were welcomed with tea and ‘jambhul’ which I must say were refreshing! Our host made us feel comfortable on his farm on a mat with blankets. At around 9 pm we sat for dinner- a very typical yet delicious dinner of ‘pithla-bhakri’ along with potato gravy and rice. Soon after, we were in bed, chit-chatting and later falling asleep under the sky. We had originally thought we would get to see a brilliantly starlit sky and possibly also do a bit of astrophotography, but the clouds had something else in mind. It was so overcast that we could barely see a few stars! Greysith did try to photograph something despite the odds, but I’m not sure what he managed to get. In all, it was a great trek, and a great trip with friends. We got up in the morning, and again after a glass of tea (we had requested a less sweeter version after the first tea!) hit the road to head back home.