Another trek this weekend. There were mails from Asif and Dnyanesh about a "hot trek" to Peth and Kothligad. The mail was enticing, about trees shedding leaves, golden grass, a test of survival, etc. I was not so sure at first, but at the last moment, I called Asif and confirmed my trip. I also got Gautam (from Visapur trip) to join me this time. Gautam, the epitome of stamina, joined us from another trek the day before! Apart from Dnyanesh, the entire troupe was different this time. New people, more fun!
Peth (village) and Kothligad (fort) are about 30 minutes away from Karjat. Peth village is at the foot of the fort, at a considerable height! To go to Peth, you have to walk from Ambivli village (in the flat ground). We had our breakfast, Poha and tea, at Ambivli village, and started walking up towards Peth. The ascent was a little difficult - considering the hot sun, dry weather, and my not-used-to-exercise body. Along the way, Asif taught a lot about the various trees, showed us birds building nests, and interestingly, fire ants building nests in trees! They build by joining together leaves with their saliva and possibly sap from the tree itself. The hike up took some considerable time, as I and some people took frequent rest breaks. Thankfully, this time we took sufficient water to last us till we reached Peth village.
Peth village was very dry this time of the year. We rested for some time in the village where we had aam panna, lots of glasses of it. I think aam panna is raw mango juice mixed with salt and spices. It was very tasty and refreshing in that hot climate. After spending some time there, we started climbing up towards Kothligad fort. The big part of the trek was up to the village, and the fort is not far away from the village. Towards the end of the ascent, it became very scary (especially for a person scared of heights). Some parts of the walk were along narrow ledges, with only the rock to provide a little grip. The fall down would've been the fastest descent, down hundreds of feet, and an even faster ascent towards heaven. Thankfully, Dnyanesh was there to encourage me and helped me climb up to the fort. At one point, he left me to rest in a safe cave, went round the fort on that tiny ledge, circled the fort and picked me up to the right place! I am absolutely mortified even by the thought of it.
Kothligad is a small fort, with a lot of caves, a water tank, and a temple. The temple was that of Lord Bhairoba. The fort was specially designed for stocking armaments and ordnance. Once we went up there, there was aam panna and lime juice waiting for us. Again, we had lots of it. From the fort, there was the pinnacle, which could be reached through an enclosed staircase. This was the first pinnacle I reached in all the treks I've been to. After some time, we started our descent to Peth village. It was much faster this time, and through a simpler route. We had two kids acting as our guides and they showed us the right way down. Once in Peth, we had our lunch at 5.30 pm - food made in the village itself. The rice reminded me of my village. We had rice, bhakar (rice chappati), drumstick curry, dal, and aam panna again. We were now ready to reach our buses so that we can be in Mumbai to go to our offices the next day. The descent down to Ambivali was much faster this time. We almost ran down the hill!
In the village, we rested for the last time, washed our faces, and had some cool drinks. I had a pepsicola - not the american cooldrink, but the indian pepsicola, frozen juice inside a thin, long plastic pouch. We used to have that a lot when I was a kid, but they don't exist anymore in the towns. We then took the bus back to Mumbai, and I just crashed down into the bed after a refreshing bath. I was so tired, I couldn't open my eyes in the morning, but got up anyway and reached the office.