Escape to Sandhan Valley

8th Feb 2020

Don't dare not to dare

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Day 1

After a long-tired week-day, I longed for a thrilling trek to bring myself back to life. I believe in concept of challenging myself the most when I am down. Leisure’s do not work for me in the same manner as adrenaline rush challenges me as I am an adrenaline junkie. It’s ironic how you feel most alive when heart skips a few beats. So, after little research, here we are to the ideal trek for such a situation: Sandhan Valley. I joined a group of trekkers to hike to Sandhan Valley.

Situated in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra at the west side of Bhandardara, Igatpuri lies the canyon in the Sahyadri mountain ranges. Often known as Valley of Shadows or the Great Canyon (of course, the Grand Canyon cut by Colorado river in America is in no way comparable to Sandhan Valley), Sandhan Valley is a naturally formed gorge with a depth of at least 200 ft from the ground level. The sides of the canyon are so narrow that even sunlight was seen for a fleeting moment.

The base camp was set up at Samrad village and we were ready to start the journey, unaware of the adventures we were about to witness. After having breakfast at 5:00 AM, we were set to leave the base camp to witness the deep gorges. A 2 km walk from Samrad in the southern direction leads to the entrance of Sandhan Valley. Sun was rising through the top of Alang, Malang and Kulang mountain ranges which surrounds the base camp. We started our trek with high energy and ardour. The trek starts with a flat trail until we reach the opening of Sandhan Valley. After that it is out-and-out descent. After an hour of trek through thrilling patches, we had to pass through shallow water body with a depth of 2 to 4 feet. The adventure starts!!!! We had to keep our backpacks on our head until we crossed the shallow water body. The rocks were slippery, which made it more difficult to cross the streamlet.

After struggling to cross through, we were off towards the linear rock patches leading towards the opening of the Valley. The path ahead was straightforward for a while. We were amused by splendid view of high cliffs and deep valleys. There was no food en route and no habitation in the vicinity. There was a sheer silence around. As we approached towards the opening of valley, sunlight was gleaming through the mossed crevices and the sound of my breath was reverberating against the narrow walls. We went further descent for next two hours through huge and craggy boulders. Rocky and rugged beauty makes it awe-inspiring secluded spot. After hiking through the thrilling rough patches, we neared to our first abseiling / waterfall rappelling point. It was a sheer thrill and unparalleled to descent down on a rope in the beautiful environs of Sandhan. It was approximately 120-feet rappelling patch.

After this thrilling adventure, which tested my strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control, I was in state of peaceful happiness. Thereafter, we had our lunch on the huge rocky boulders surrounded by spectacular canyon. After an hour of hike, there were three other rappelling points. Each of them was unique and thrilling.

After treading through all these hair- raising rappelling points, there was once again a flat trail. It was already dark. Initially it was rocky and after a while it was a jungle-like with barren and muddy road and rich vegetation around. We were too-too tired and hungry, unaware that something yet enduring was to come. This was the first time I witnessed moonrise on a distant horizon as it edges its way over mountaintops, trees and through a starry sky. It was a magical touch to the day and suddenly I was charged up again. "There is something in stars, the sky, the moon, the winds blowing that we can relate to. They have a tendency to create magic. Just feel the magic in the air and the power in the breeze. Feel the energy of plants, the bushes and the trees, let yourself be surrounded by nature at it’s best, calm yourself, focus and let magic do the rest"- Sally Walker

After spending an hour on the top of mountain gazing at the moon-lit sky, we went ahead to our campsite- our home for one night. Reaching the campsite, the air was filled with aroma of food and there was a bonfire around. We all enjoyed the delicacy of food, even though it was simple but scrumptious. It was a leisurely dinner with much chit-chat and laughter. We gradually drifted off to sleep. Looking at the moon, star-lit sky I recalled a quote by Christopher Poindexter: “Starring at the stars like they were pillows for mind and in their light, one could rest their heavy head.” Finally, I went to sleep in the lap of the nature.

Day 2

We were up at the break of dawn feeling refreshed and energized. The cool breeze was blowing and sun was about to rise. We watched the sun rise with a cup of tea and were ready to hike back to the base camp. But this time trail was flat and not at all rocky. After three to four hours of treading we finally reached to base camp.

I have done many treks but trust me this one gives a completely different vibe. It was an experience of a lifetime. It Sheds off all the cobwebs of routine life and you get delighted in the stunning adventure sport of rappelling.

And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling. I believe that travel is one of greatest freedom we have.