Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tungareshwar - The heaven of Earth

Trek to Tungareshwar

I have long been planning a trek to Tungareshwar, one of the highest mountain plateaus in Vasai Region. Me & my friend, Saju Isac, started from Vasai West by 10:00 AM on a quite Sunday morning, the second week of August. My back pack was packed with snacks, water bottles and my camera. I had the tripod with me, considering the low light in the monsoon and windy conditions up there. My friend carried the tripod.
Tungareshwar Mountains is one of the highest plateaus of the Vasai region and a tourist attraction. The best time to visit is during the monsoon. You can find the details about it here
I rode my bike through Vasai East – Sativli road. First get to the Highway intersection and cross the Highway. The narrow road ahead is the path to the base of the mountain. As I crossed the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, I spotted hundreds of picnickers walking up the path. I parked the bike at the entrance point of mountain and started the climb.

The first few miles were crowded. Picnickers of all kind, old, frail to mothers carrying infants were walking the rocky path. Huge rocks lines the road and few adventurous youths rode their Pulsars and Suzukis. And one or two Rickshaws also plying. The first obstacle is a small river and in monsoon it swells. About thigh-high. Careful not to get my camera wet, we safely crossed it.

From there it was relatively easy except for one or two small rivulets flowing down on giant rocks. A small bridge is provided but most of the picnickers chose to cross the stream. The Rickshaws were precariously swayed when it passed the stream but the experience hands were not trembling.

After about an hour, with a couple of halting, we reached the first stop. And for most this is the end. There is a temple of Lord Shiva and few villagers selling goods ranging from “Bhoota” (Corn fried on coal) to small firing ranges. From food stalls to book stalls. And long queue for “Darshan”.

The boisterous crowd melts here. They take a few steps ahead and get themselves enough fun at a small waterfall. I saw a few people smoking pot and upon seeing my camera and tripod, they invited me to join. I graciously refused.

We started our climb on 11:00 AM. There was not a single human being in sight. Very soon we got sucked up in the overpowering silence, and we too fell silent. The only sound was that of wind blowing onto the trees. The constant whirring sound. We stopped for a couple of times for snacks but apart from that no conversation was required. Whenever I stopped for shooting, my friend set the tripod and dutifully stayed silent. An overwhelming sense of the need to remain silent and respect towards the nature.

It was almost two hours and we spotted an open space. Through that opening of jungle, we could see the far fields and villages through the haze. It was dramatic as well as refreshing. It was 1:00 PM and the climate was fast changing. The whirring sound now turned to a roar and wind was swaying the trees as if in a rainstorm. We felt tired and sat down for lunch.

We saw some village people coming up. They just walked past us without a comment. Soon after finishing lunch, we encountered another group who was coming down. We asked them how long it is and the reply was encouraging. “Just half an hour more” was the reply. We walked for another 40 minutes but nothing. I felt cramps and my weak legs were complaining. But then everything changed. Soon we engulfed in the mist and the visibility was only about a few meters. And the view from that point was breathtaking. We saw three guys washing hands and readying for their lunch on a small stream. One side was an abyss and the other was huge rocks. The stream came from the top and run through the muddy path. For a second, the wind blew away the mist and whole world was visible. The next instant, everything is covered in cloud and you couldn’t see the person standing next to you. Literally it was like being on clouds. The heaven of earth.

Rejuvenated we started once again. And another 30-35 minutes and we reached the top. The path was straight and not steep. The tree grew very short and in curvy branches. An effect of constant wind, I guess. We visited the Ashram of Sadanand Maharaj, a scene straight out of picture postcard. They provided us with a hot, black tea made from local herbs. It refreshes the body & mind. The effect was miraculous. Our tired and saggy bodies were soon revitalized. The only thing is photography is not allowed on the premises. We thanked the Guruji and started our journey back home.

It took only 2:30 hours to get down to the bottom. Once down, we felt like we have no legs! I couldn’t even get my bike started. But it was worth all the fatigue. It was an experience I never forget. Since my migration to Mumbai, about 11 years back, I never experienced that much silence. Infact I forgot what it was. I never got that much pure oxygen. I never felt that clouds before. It was worth every penny.


Gini said...

Those pics are so gorgeous, especially the bottom three. Looks like you had a great time. The first pic is also really great.

Vaibhav said...

Amazing pics shinu .... nice to hear that u actually treked tugareshwar ....
I was a regular treker every year, atleast 5 times a year. I miss all that now.
But saw and experience all that through ur eyes, felt very nice.

Mumbai Guy said...

Also, This being one of top Shiva temple, Mahashivratri day attracts thousands of devotees. I used to one among them.

I also used to enjoy the small falls around the mountains. Cystal clear water flowing around is treat to watch. Nature at its best.

whistlingwoods said...

Thank you Chetta!

the pics are mesmerizing as usual!! Wish I could accompany you on the trip. :)

Yogesh Jangam said...

great write up... nice pics!
i see u setting up a magazine or ezine in near future shinu

Shinu Mathew said...

Thanks everybody for your kind & encouraging words!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am way behind on yr blog. These shots are awesome and it looks like a great trek!

Sosha said...

Looks great. I'm planning to visit this weekend.

Last three pis are lovely.