Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dhak Bahiri Jan 2012

We had been planning to go to Dhak Bahiri for quite some time now. After a very inactive 2011(as far as treks are concerned) we decided to star the new year in our own biggish way.

Dhak Bahiri is popularly considered as to be a difficult climb compared to other Sahyadri forts. There was a lot of anxiety in the team, esp. after seeing photos from google. My take is always that perceptions about such things are very subjective - glass half full vs. half empty.

Getting there:
We chose to go via Jambhivali village, which is one of the three routes tp get there. There is one route from Rajmachi fort in Lonavala, another one from Sandshi village near Karjat.

We started from my place in Chinchwad, Pune at 4 am, 14 people in 3 cars.
Follow the old Mumbai Pune highway towards Mumbai to reach Kamshet. Turn right into kamshet village. Head towards the railway crossing (huge speed breakers at the crossing, my fiesta brushed the surface even after going over them very carefully). From there it's a single road with small villages and some paragliding institutes on either side of the road. Road conditions are very bad, took us about an hour to go 20 km from highway to Jambhivali. En route one would also cross the Tata Power plants.

At the base:
Jambhivali is a small village at the end of the road with about 40-50 houses and a couple of grocery shops. There is also a Kondeshwar temple at the base. If private transport is not an option one can take the state transport bus that goes here from Kamshet.
We reached Jambhivali around 5.30. There was a local who advised us to take someone from the village to show us the route to the top.

Amit ordered tea, which tasted like sweet hot water, with some mud for brown color and questionable source of milk. Locals also prepare lunch if you fancy eating local food. However we were carrying food from home.
Crappy tea @ Rs. 100
Parking in front of the Kondeshwar temple

It was decided to hire a guide for 400 rupees. A bit expensive IMO, however it was dark and difficult to see any route even in the moon light. Our guide wanted some time to get ready, so we started on our own with some initial direction from the locals.

There is another temple that you cross while going to the top. You can use a bike on the road till this point. Some funny messages we came across:
Chengalwadi, Khairachari, Atak Bhagyhano Savdhan!

We took a wrong turn in the beginning which brought us to a dried up natural stream. Followed it upstream which brought us on the right path.
There are various boards on the path saying "Ladies Not Allowed". Apparently there is a local superstition that ladies are not allowed in Bhairo temples. Not sure if locals would really object if you have ladies in your group. 
A half hour climb gives you a view of the famous peak at Dhak:


Our guide was a true Human Torch leaving no opportunity to set the forest on fire. At every pit stop he used to gather some fire wood and light a bonfire :). No harm done though


The road takes you to the path between the 2 hills above leading to a almost tunnel like descent to the Dhak Bahiri cave.

At the mouth of the tunnel
Descending the tunnel
From the other side
After descending the tunnel you see a narrow path to your right that takes you to the beginning of the rock patch leading to the cave.



Thankfully there were no other groups climbing along with us, so we could take our own sweet time negotiating these narrow trails. There are pitons installed in the rock and could be useful, though not needed, if you get a rope.
Amit had got an old rope we had bought about 10 years back during college. We used to carry this on every trek and never use it. This seemed the right time to put it to use :)

There is a small cave at the end of this track where you could keep your bags. However our guide advised against this because of monkeys. I had read on many blogs that there are aggressive monkeys close to these caves who steal food from your bags. However we did not see a single simian during our trek.


A short distance ahead you come to the vertical rock that takes you to the Dhak Bahiri cave. There are ropes and a couple of bamboo poles to help climb this patch. You need to use the ropes skillfully while climbing on the bamboo poles. This is a little tricky and some people from the group were ready to back out.
I was expecting few of the group to quit halfway, however after some coaxing & support all made it to the top. This was great until we started to head back :)
The most difficult patch esp. while climbing down
View from the top
How the world looks from inside

We had breakfast, post which we took some rest in the cave. There are a lot of utensils in the cave which locals and trekkers use to prepare food on chulah in the cave. Chicken seems to be a favorite here and you can see signs of hens being slaughtered and cleaned for food. I guess locals also offer poultry as sacrifice to the Bahiri goddess.
Breakfast


Signature photo, unfortunately not everyone could join due to space constraints - both vertical & horizontal
The climb down is certainly trickier than getting up. You have to see or rather feel the next step with your feet and cannot see beyond the first footrest. A couple of us got down first and then guided the rest of the folks to climb down safely.


The descent on the whole is tougher than climbing up this rock patch. After all of us had crossed the rock patch we made it back to the tunnel. Going up from this was slightly more difficult than climbing down. There are some narrow gaps between the rocks where you have to really twist your body and slide through.

Lunch was done at the village - we had lot of food from home. Entertainment provided by a group of children playing cricket in the farm. We headed home at 3 pm.
An amazing experience and satisfaction of finally scaling the infamous rock patch.

My perception - exciting, average difficulty but surely not for those with weak hearts and unsure feet.

Do's and dont's
  1. Carry food from home instead of relying on food you would get in the village
  2. Carry a rope if possible
  3. Carry about 2-3 liters of water. The water in the cave is not potable and can only be used for cooking
  4. Hire a guide unless you have people who've been there before. Negotiate the rate before hiring the guide
  5. Start early in the morning to avoid trekking in the sun. This would esp. hold in summer because the rock surface heats up
  6. Wear gloves on the rock patch to avoid blistering the skin on the rope or the rocks
  1. Don't drink tea in the village :)
  2. Do not force anyone on the rock patch. All said and done it is dangerous and a slip could cost you your life
  3. Do not be careless on the rocks
  4. Do not buy anything from the village grocery store without asking the cost. We bought cold drinks from one shop @ Rs 12 and the other shop charged us Rs 15 for no reason.
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