A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies

Tripoto
14th Jun 2019
Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan
Day 1

Treading the smaller trails of the Sahyadri ranges usually begins with catching a train towards either Kasara or Karjat. I caught the 9pm train from Thane station to Titvala and my weekend had finally begun. After an eternity that lasted 10 weeks, I finally went exploring!

This time the destination were Ganpati Gadad, a set of 6 caves located in Dhasai village near Murbad. Public transportation does not serve this area and hence for those who wish to travel, it's advisable to hire/drive your own vehicle. I had gone with a group called Climbscapers who had made all requisite arrangements.
The highlight of the trip was that we'd get to see fireflies. The brief period between the last week of May and the first week of July is the mating season of fireflies when the males light up their tails in hopes of finding a mate for the season, and the females respond in a similar manner. I was worried that I might not get to witness the tiny twinkling stars on Earth because monsoons came a week or two earlier this time around. But thankfully it had not rained yet in Dhasai.

We got off at Titvala station and into a bus arranged for us. The playlist was good and the roads were empty, perfect road trip conditions.

Perfect Road Trip Conditions

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

With a music, the views, and the games we played, I didn't realize when 2 hours passed by and we reached our destination.

We got off, I stretched out my muscles and after some time we were off on the trail to view some fireflies. I had also retrofitted a bike phone stand onto my tripod so that I could take long exposure images and get the perfect shot of the fireflies.
While walking, I took out the tripod and tried adjusting it. To my utter and complete disappointment, the additions I made had broken when I was in the crowded train.
By the time I realized this, orders were yelled out telling us to turn off our flashlights and also disable flash on our cameras. Apparently it needs to be pitch dark for the fireflies to light up their butts, talk about performance anxiety!
We had come by a tree which was so lit, it seemed to have more fireflies than leaves. The scene was enough to quash my disappointment and I had decided to commit everything I see to memory and be more prepared the next time I will need to execute low light photography. At the time of writing, Tripod V2.0 is up and running and has addressed all the shortcomings of V1.

It was a 1 hour walk through a semi open trail, mostly lit by the moon with us operating our flashlights only when the moonlight was insufficient. The amount of fireflies that lined up on both sides of the trail were mesmerizing.
After that patch, we took a small pitstop because the route ahead was a steep ascend till we reach the caves.
The ascend lasted about 40 minutes and was a typical walk through the woods and the caves were finally visible.

Reaching the Caves, Guided by our Flashlights

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

Before settling down, I explored a bit. The biggest cave was made into a Ganpati Temple, and I was glad to get some beautiful shots using a handheld flashlight, mimicking the effect of a spotlight.

Entrance of the Temple

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

Ganpati Temple built in the Cave

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

View from Inside the Cave

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

We spent the night playing 2 rounds of Mafia at the entrance of the temple and at daybreak, I went to view the other caves.

View of 4 Caves from the Entrance of the Temple

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan
Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

The Entrance of the Temple in Daylight

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan

The caves face West which meant we could not witness the sunrise. But I imagine the view of sunsets would be breathtaking from here.

After a few rounds of tea, we began our descent. We reached the base village in an hour and while waiting for lunch to be prepared, I slept like a baby.

On our way back, we did what every other Indian was doing that weekend...
We watched the cricket world cup India vs Pakistan game cheering for the men in blue!

India vs Pakistan World Cup Game in a Train on the Way Back

Photo of A Trail Guided by Moonlight and Fireflies by Vignesh Ramanan
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