“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.“-Anonymous.
It was 8pm and a saturday night. I was sitting at my office desk, cursing under my breath for having to work on saturdays while my friends were chilling out at the nearby pub.
‘Should we go someplace tomorrow?’, asked Anupam, my co-worker,equally frustrated.
‘Yes’, I replied quickly.
We started planning and within the hour, around ten of our friends had agreed to come with us to Malshej Ghat, located around 100 kms from Pune.Nestled in the Western Ghats, it is famous for its flora and fauna and also its natural beauty. It is also notorious for landslides and the large scale death of birds that occurs during the monsoons as the birds get disoriented due to less visibility and strong winds and dash against the mountainside. However, it is not a place to miss.
We started for Malshej Ghat at 7:30 in the morning the next day. Along the way, we witnessed the sheer natural beauty of Maharashtra:the beautiful mountains, the azure lakes, the pristine countryside;all added to our excitement of reaching our destination.
We reached Malshej Ghat around 10:30. But we were in for a shock. Since it had not rained there for the past couple of days, there were no waterfalls! Imagine going to Essel World and after reaching there, finding out that the main water ride is closed for maintenance! That was how each of us felt. Even our driver shared the mood. But we were not to be disheartened. The natural beauty more than made up for it.
Since Malshej Ghat is well known and frequently visited by tourists, it has a cemented trail along the mountain path and is quite clean. We got down from the traveller we were travelling in and started walking along this path, with hot bhutta in our hands.Everywhere we looked, we could see the lush green mountains, the beautiful valleys nestled between them; the small streams winding the way through the valleys. After the hectic week at the office and the daily hustle bustle of city life, this spot was like a cave in a mountain: silent and peaceful. There is another spot called Harishchandragad nearby, but due to a landslide, we could not visit the place. We stayed there around an hour or so and then decided to head back.
Area surrounding Malshej Ghat
But our driver had some good news for us. He told us that since it had not rained, we all could go trekking to Shivneri Fort which was around 15 kms away. Excited, we immediately sat down in the traveller and soon reached the base of the fort. One of the gates of Shivneri Fort
Shivneri Fort is the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was the founder of the Maratha Empire. Located in Junnar district, it was used to guard the old trading route to the port city of Kalyan. The fort consists of seven well defended gates and extends about 1.6kms to the top.Near the base of the fort and also along the way to the top, one can find the villagers selling freshly made lemon juice. The fort is well maintained and is relatively easy to climb.
The birthplace of Shivaji Maharaj
We started trekking and in an hour and a half, reached the top. Here, one can see the ‘Badami Talav’ and also the room where Shivaji was born. After looking around these places, having our glass of lemon juice and resting for a few minutes, we started our climb down and soon began our return journey towards Pune. Stopping for a meal along the way, and then continuing onwards, I looked at my friends in the traveller, some sleeping, exhausted from the climb, some checking out the pictures in the camera to see if they have one worthy of a profile picture, and I realised that years later, one does not remember all the hours put in at the office, but moments like these, where we are happy and in the company of friends, where we do what we like, and where we just let go; those are the moments that matter.