There are three reasons why I’d not forget this trek! The first being, I wasn’t the youngest member in the team; the second being we had a 10 year senior,quite oblivious to us, sitting silently listening to all the *facts* about organisations and policies that we were putting forward; the third would get pretty evident as the print runs through till the end of this post!
I manage to fling the much awaited Sev2 resolution off the DS3 connection and zip across the eggs to board the 9:15 service back home. Thankfully , there’s a seat left just beside Walia in the Medipoint bus. Even before I get to settle down, my cell beeps with an unknown caller at the other end. Chetan, I re-collect had not responded to the mail that I’d fired sometime earlier in the day. He’d called just to enquire if he could still make it for tomorrow’s trek. Some cross checking and linking and we’re all set for co-ordinating tomorrow’s trek. Walia bangs his head to the seat in front of him. Damn! You never change . He’s got no questions to ask on my plans for the weekend!
A couple of wake up calls gets me back to real senses and at about 5:30am I rush towards Aundh Junction where Prayank and Vishal were to pitch in. Hitanshu soon joins in a few minutes and we manage to reach Shivaji nagar station by 6:05am. Rahul, Vishal and co have been waiting there right from 5:30 am ! Soon people pitch in and by around 06:15 the final count swells to 26. Lohagad-Visapur spells out to be a sequel to the Koraigad trek. The 6:30 local to Lonavala pulls into the station right on time. Rahul,Trupti,Abhijeet, Chetan and I hurl ourselves into a coupe and soon in minutes everyone gets into form. From nowhere a heated up discussion starts about job roles, company issues, policies, coding goofs and what not. Amidst all this Hitanshu just confirms with others if none of us were Job band D or above. Wonder why the ball was never thrown to Chetan. This chap remains silent all through the discussion and just keeps smiling now and then. Later we get to know the reason for that wierd behaviour of his. 10 years of Experience does take it’s toll. NOM !
We reach Malavli station at about 8:00am. You’ve got to reach Bhaje village which is about 2kms from here by walk and from there on start towards Visapur/Lohagad. Dhok who’d been here before leads us through the follow-up over-bridge above the Express highway to Bhaje village.As our order of VadaPav and Chai gets processed, probably for the first time ever in DH’s trek history we have a formal introductory sesssion . This big a size definitely called for a formal introduction! As people go about introducing themselves to the group, we get to know there’re about seven folks less experienced than me in Infy. I’m on cloud nine! Nothing really spectacular about it. But I guess small things do make a difference .
At about 9:30am we start moving towards Visapur-Lohagad. Just a few yards away from Bhaje village, you get to come across a beautiful waterfall. Though a couple of us decided to cover this in the latter half of the journey, not many of us could control our anxiety to get under the chilling falls. Dhok and Swati are blessed with minor bruises. Probably, you could call it a sacrifice that they’d pledged to nature! About half an hour here sets the right spirits and we sprint over to the main path and get back on track. The road from here is pretty much well laid out and is motorable to a certain extent. In about an hour or so we happen to reach the Visapur-Lohagad diversion. Lohagad stands to your right and Visapur to your left. A small confusion pops in as to which is the right place but soon it all precipitates down and we decide to finish Lohagad first.
Giving consistent company to the monkeys, We hit Lohagad peak in about another hour or so and while away quite some time on the fort. One particular spot ( Burj) gives you a spectacular view of the valley below. The gusty chilly wind and the mist make it all the more beautiful. At the other end of the fort , there’s one another spot wherein the thumping force of the winds on the bulwarks, literally raises water from the down flowing cascades and spews it across all over causing an illusion of rainfall happening in the reverse direction.I’ve never experienced this powerful and scenic a phenomena as this till date.We loose track of time and even before we realise it’s already 3:00pm. In twenty minutes flat we hit the base and have a quick lunch. By four we reach the Visapur – Lohagad diversion. To have consensus and re-confirm if everyone was fine with doing Visapur a poll is done. Not surprisingly, everyone’s game for it.
Patience pays when Reasoning doesn’t!
The Visapur trek starts at about 4:30pm. Rahul, Trupti, Dhok, Prayank and I happen to walk a bit ahead of the group and even before we realise, we make our first mistake – Loose track of the actual place where a diversion is to be taken to climb up the fort. Fortunately, we get to meet two people who’d already lost track before us and were on their way back looking for the actual path. You’ve got to take a left a few minutes after you take a left at the L-V diversion . The path from here to the fort up there is an awesome piece of the whole cake! Indeed thrilling to climb up the small rocks amidst water flowing through the whole path. As none of us were sure of the path up the fort, a few of us had to stay put in between while Dhok, Prayank, Parin, Rahul explored further. Abhijeet and I try in vain in exploring for a simpler route. Finally at about 5:15pm, having got not much of a positive response from the folks who’d gone a bit ahead to check for the path, Abhijeet gives the NO-GO signal and part of the team heads back to the base diversion point. I was sent to get back Dhok and a couple of others; but it so happened that I ended up reaching almost three forth of the climb so didn’t mind getting to the top altogether . At about 6:00pm Dhok, Parin, Akhilesh, Prayank and I head back downwards through the cascades to the base and meet up with the rest of the team who’d been waiting there. The moment I arrive, Abhijeet pulls me out and takes me away from the group. I was almost sure he’s going to give me a sound bashing for not having followed his advise and got back the people who’d ventured before me. Surprisingly he takes me to a small diversion just before the path we’d taken and shows me the path. One pointing made everything crystal clear – We could have taken the whole team up there and avoided the cascade climb . But damage was long done!
The sprint back to the base:
Visapur was indeed the apple pie of the Visapur-Lohagad trek. Probably this weekend trek wouldn’t have been as interesting as it was had we not covered Visapur. Vishal and I sprint all the way from the diversion to the base village Bhaje in about 15 minutes. We come across another waterfall that we had not stopped during our climb up and decide to jump in with no second thoughts. This waterfall was far more powerful than the first one and indeed pretty much comforting after the sprint. It starts raining heavily and only then do i realise that I’d left my Cell without much protection in my bag. Ah! There it goes…Plop – Contact service.
A quick bout of vada-pav’s and we board the 7:30pm local back to Pune. To be frank, neither of these two forts can be counted in as treks. I would put them in the Hiking bucket instead. But I guess it’s the smile that you get to see on people’s faces when they hit the peak after a tiresome climb up the hill that really brings in the vibes!
Team Count :26
Route: Shivaji Nagar –> Malavli ( One stop before lonavala) –> Bhaje village –> Visapur-Lohagad diversion –>(Right at diversion)Lohagad climb –> Lohagad Descent–> Back to Diversion –>(Left) Visapur climb–> Waterfall/ Cascade climb uphill–> Visapur Descent ( same route ) –>Back to Diversion–> Bhaje village –> Bhaje caves –> Malavli station –> Shivaji Nagar (Pune)
Distance: Malavli –> Bhaje village (2.5kms). Bhaje village –>Diversion (3kms). Lohagad Uphill (1km) Visapur Uphill (1km)
Altitude: ~3600 FT above MSL
Endurance: Medium | Difficulty : Low / Medium [ taking into account climb up the cascades]
Time :Malavli- Bhaje village: 15mins; Bhaje village to Diversion: 45mins; Diversion to Lohagad peak : 30mins. Diversion to Visapur top : 30mins.
Transport:Reach Malavli by train. No other transport required to Bhaje village.
Expenses: Rs 75.
Stay:Not Explored. Bhaje caves could be a probable place.
Prominent Spots: Bhaje caves, Lohagad kada ( A hole formed on a part of the fort / rock formations because of the wind pressure ).
Best time to visit: Monsoon!