Day 1 – The night hike through sandy terrain of Ajoba Hills
It is always recommended to arrive before the time for any trek to be on a safer side. But that doesn’t really go well with my friends. As we were almost seconds away from missing our train to Asangoan. We boarded the train to Asangaon from Ghatkopar station at 5:45 pm and reached Asangaon station by 7:00 pm where we the entire bunch was supposed to meet and head towards the base village, Dehene by a vehicle arranged by the group I trekked with. The drive to Dehene was literally a “pain in the ass”. That’s kinda normal when it comes to travelling across remote areas in any part of this country. We arrived at Dehene and got fresh, our leader for the trek walked us through some important dos and don’ts of the trek and last but not the least the introduction of all the travellers. (“I really need to prepare a better speech for this part.”)
Everyone was pumped up and excited for the trek. We began our ascent around 10:30 pm approx. With our torches and headlamps, we marched on! With a group size of 24 travellers, there was a lot of chit chatting which is always helpful cuz you don’t feel tired and bored. As it was night time, there wasn’t really anything to look around but to gaze the beautiful night sky and the stars shining bright like diamonds which made it a picturesque sight!
It was very humid and one could feel the hot air. I don’t remember sweating this much for any of my previous trek. Half an hour into the trek and we had already taken few breaks. At first, it felt like walking on rubble but as we moved on it was a typical trail. We made our way into the forest and a litre of water down already. It get tough at times to walk on such a steep trail but isn’t that what makes such treks interesting and worth the efforts?
(A quick tip – The trail till Valmiki Ashram is pretty steep, consider travelling light.)
After hiking for almost 90 mins we reached the spot where we going to halt for the night, the Valmiki Ashram. At first, the ashram looked like any other, but from the inside, it was completely different. A group of people was already sitting inside the ashram. The plan was to sleep inside the ashram but due to the hot weather it was decided to sleep outside, in the forest next to the temple under the open night sky. ????
Everyone had settled down, we all had our dinner with our torches on and relaxed for a while. Dense forest, Group of friends, nothing else to do. It all leads to only one thing, A BONFIRE & GHOST STORIES! Yes, the two leaders of the group decided to have a bonfire. while some opted out and get a good night sleep, a few of us decided to enjoy the experience. :) Time passed by but stories continued till 2 am. It was a great experience hearing real life experiences from a lot of people. As Avicii said, “These are the nights that never die!”
It was time to head to bed and get our beauty sleep for the next day’s challenging 2nd half of the trek.
Day 2 : We head towards the “Cradle of Sitamai”
I had a tough time falling asleep and regaining the energy for the 2nd half of the trek. We got up around 7:00 am, freshened up and had poha. It’s mandated to have poha before a trek. :p
It was a perfect sight! The tall trees canopied all the cottages. Seldom will you find a place with such a beautiful blend of Nature? For this half the trek we were joined by two more members, two lovely dogs. They looked more enthusiastic than us!
The second part of the trek is considered to be really challenging with the very steep rocky terrain. 15 minutes down and the trail had already started challenging us. It looked more like rock climbing. The ascent was getting steeper with every climb and we kept convincing ourselves that we would reach a plateau real soon. We also looked for alternative paths, but there was none. So we continued going forward upwards.
The view from every part of this trail was mesmerising though the amount humidity was a major problem for the entire bunch. The dogs made it look like a competition and they were clearly winning it. This trek was all about maintaining the right grip and moving forward, which the most of us clearly couldn’t do, Haha!
There it was! After a tough and slippery trek, we were at the top. There’s not much space on top but good enough to hold 20-30 people at once. To get to the cave of Sitamai’s cradle, you must climb a ladder attached to the rocks and overcome your fear of heights or else you can just sit and watch click pictures.
I’ll be honest, I climbed the ladder and came down immediately! It looked scary as hell! But I picked myself up and gave it a 2nd shot, the idea is to not look down, get a good grip and go for it. We climbed to the cave, clicked pictures admired the beauty of the spot and made our way down.
People say ascending is the tough part of the trek, but for me, the descent is the most challenging part. the chances of slipping and falling are double. Anyway, we started descending quickly to avoid the wrath of the Sun God. While descending I had a couple of falls, that’s part and parcel of any trek. It took us about two hours to get down. The last stretch of the descent was treacherous under the scorching heat but we made it through and reached the base village
It took us about two hours to get down. The last stretch of the descent was treacherous under the scorching heat but we made it through and reached the base village. Had our lunch, packed our bags and headed home! I was in a rush to go home, cuz Manchester United vs Everton!
All in all Ajoba Hills was a great trek! I wouldn’t repeat the same if given a chance but was glad that I did it the first time. One more trek to strike off and cheers to much more.
This post was originally published on 'Vatsal Nandu'.