It wasn’t the first time I’d stepped foot on this terrain. However, the route we were about to tread on was unknown to me. I’d visited Sanjay Gandhi National Park (better known as SGNP) before but only to marvel at the ancient caves that lie at the top. This adventure promised to be something more than the ordinary trip.
The cool, wispy breeze reminded us of the forgotten foliage that lay ahead. The earthy scent of the forest mud and the pungent smell of the flora and fauna had already begun to tantalize the senses. Embarking on a route less tread on, we began ascending on foot towards the highest point known to Mumbai, lesser known as Jambulmal.
The trek was headed by our trip organizer Johann Daniels (https://www.facebook.com/JackAndHillAdventures/) and led by the young and promising wildlife zoologist Nikit Surve who shot to fame in 2015 for his project on the leopard census in SGNP (read more:http://bit.ly/1MsqHbI). We were exposed to the forgotten life that breathed amidst the towering, musky-smelling trees.
Although there wasn’t any deer or leopard spotting as we had expected with crossed-fingers, except for a bunch of shy baboons along the way, the experience awakened each and every one of our senses. Stealthily moving through Nature’s canopied pathways, it seemed like the forest had set an inviting trail for us. Anthills and poop trails entertained us and fueled our hopes along the way. I may never be able to recall the unusual names of a rare breed of birds announcing their presence, but relive their hypnotic tweets and whistles at every memory of the trip.
After what seemed like a short time, but was in actuality a long 3.5 hours of trekking up to the apex of Mumbai, we were serenaded by a view of the Powai, Tulsi and Vihar lakes right ahead of us. The crescent shaped view of the city was to die for! Braving my fear of heights, I gingerly climbed the viewing balcony (much like a toddler taking its first steps) to soak in the view of the city that lived below. Sun-kissed and now attuned to the silence, we sat down to a wholesome lunch, only to be threatened by a bunch of growling and fang-glaring baboons. Well, we had encroached upon their territory, so it seemed only fair for us to eat up and bundle up our belongings and head down.
Returning to the mundane congestion of city-life seemed like the last thing I wanted to do at the end of this stress relieving trek. The trek has reignited my love for the outdoors – a source of happiness and inspiration amidst the monotony of life.