After that I had a thought about going for a trek, and without wasting any time I just casually sms’ed him about my idea of climbing to Taptheshwar. To my surprise the reply was prompt, “We shall go today!!” I had no second thoughts, I immediately said OK, we shall go !!
With few calls and messages we confirmed that it wasn’t raining in Kaiwara, it was infact perfect for trekking. We had to leave
As usual the famous Food Court of our MSRMC was the starting point. Two of us I and Deepak Ganga had forgotten to have enough breakfast, in the excitement of the trip.
Finally we (The Three Deepaks, on two Discovers!) with my cameras and the water bottle (as usual) left at 9:45hrs and had a wonderful drive. Reached Kaiwara at 11:00hrs.
On reaching Kaiwara, we were welcomed by our friends and juniors. They offered to come with us after lunch, but as we didn’t have much time and no plans to stay back overnight at Kaiwara, the three of us set off immediately for the adventurous climb.
Armed with two cameras and only 1Lt of drinking water, we started the journey on foot (I would like to give you a humble advice. Always carry at least 2lts of water per head. We have learnt it the hard way, never followed it though.).
This was our third endeavor to reach the shivalinga (Taptheshwar) amidst the great mountain. We were thwarted in our previous attempts to get there by-
1. Ignorance of path
2. An Army of monkeys.3. Again an army of monkeys - Who gave us immense competition to get there ahead of us and conquer the Taptheshwar
It takes 50 mins on foot to reach the base of the Mammoth hill, or the Elephant hill as it is popularly known (cause it looks like an elephant head – its west side face, that is.) We have to pass through fields of mulberry plantations, which were a picturesque view. The last time we had come that way a few months back, it was all barren, and this greenery was more inviting!
Half way through, in the fields we met an old man sitting on a rock holding a stick watching his sheep graze. On finding that we were heading to the shivlinga he asked us to take bath in a Mutt. (don’t know where and what it really was!!). Anyways, we moved on…
Still half a km away from the foot hill, we entered THE Eucalyptus plantations. The uneven ground was covered with dried foliage. At this moment we were walking behind EACH other, each about 10mtrs apart. As usual I was ahead, followed by TG, and
As soon as I entered an open space out of the trees, I suddenly noticed the tail of a beautiful Golden brown snake, its head was on the opposite side (he he that’s obvious u might say) away from me!! (I was so fortunate because of that). As soon as I noticed the big bright snake, (with my right foot just 2 feet away from its tail) I stopped immediately and with the same pace retracted my leg so that i may not disturb it. But as I was doing that (still facing towards the well grown 7 foot long snake) in a flash of a second its head which was away from me lunged towards my right leg, coming as close as less than a foot . Its attack was so quick that I never expected it to miss!! That was the time when I turned back (as I was on the move already) and ran for my life towards the other two behind me. (All this happened in a matter of seconds!!)
TG who was 10mts behind had seen it all, the snake’s attack and my sudden response (read like in anaconda movie, this one wasn’t as big but it was surely, I can bet, as fierce!!). Now both I and the snake were darting towards him! Looking at this he was literally petrified!! He had to turn back and run, as he was doing so he slipped (on the gravel with his slippery sandals). But fortunately he managed to get up and run for his life!! All this time I never turned back to see whether the snake was really chasing me! (u see I was running for my life for the first time!!) The snake had actually covered a distance of 15 feet before it retreated.
Finally we both, TG and me without any time to catch a breath, ran back to the place where
We took some time to recover from the shock of our life. A snake literally chasing us without provocation. We had heard of cases with accidental snake bites while unknowingly stepping on it. But never heard of snakes chasing! That too a 7 foot long covering a distance of about 15 feet within seconds!
Phew! Putting aside this adventure inside an adventure we moved forward in spite of the monkey challenge & determined to make it to Taptheshwar this time (4th time!).
From the foothill on the southeast side of the Mammoth hill we had to climb half way up the hill to reach Taptheshwar on the south face of the mountain.
On reaching the foothill, (contrary to our previous treks) we saw that due to the recent rains, the path up the hill was unrecognizable and had developed a thick green grass and bush cover. This made the climb a lot more slippery (read as grass over rock), and the fact that we couldn’t know where we were stepping made us more nervous especially after the encounter with the reptile!
After ascending to a certain altitude, we had to go transversely to the south face of the hill. This is the place where the usual monkey attacks occur. But to our surprise not a soul of monkey this time except monkey pooh! Well one hurdle down. The next was the path to Taptheshwar itself. This is one of the most fearsome paths, where there’s the towering mountain boulder on one side and the treacherous depth on the other with a little space for our foot, an iron chain for support and the monkey pooh for company(trust me u would choose your life rather than try avoiding being smeared with the pooh)! And then the climb down on the iron ladders! I bet every trekker would love to experience this once.
Finally we managed to reach the auspicious place where the shivlinga was. We were so relieved to make it for the first time there. We finally had some satisfaction at last, that we ‘the trio’ could now proudly say that we have conquered Taptheshwar at last!
It was 3pm and that was not the end of the journey! As usual the plan was to climb to Tippu fort on the summit. And so we crossed back the ladders and the chains to go back the treacherous horizontal path, and start ascending further. This is another steep rocky climb, which not many would prefer to take, to reach the summit. At certain places not more than two can stand, with enough space for just half of our foot to hold! By this time all our reserve water got over and we were already feeling dehydrated.
After the rocky climb, we entered a small dense forest near the peak, which is the last of the adventures to cross. This time around, we found another surprise here! A lot of hard ticks hopping on to our pants! (cause their hosts the monkeys had abandoned them, he he). That was the first time I saw these hard ticks in the wild, after the extensive study under Community medicine microscopes! It was really hard to unhook them. (This reminded me of the similar situation I had during my trek to Kumaraparvatha, in the leech forest! Where, we had to keep running non-stop, to avoid more leeches latching on us.)
At 4 30, we had reached the peak! Exhausted, and dehydrated. We had no time to spend there as we had to get back down, cause of lack of time as well as lack of drinking water! We got down from the other side (east side) of the hill, which enters the zoo, tapovan, where we finally quenched our thirst! And from there walked back to Kaiwara, it was 18:30hrs.
ITS A PLANE!!
On our way back to
A perfect 12hrs of non-stop fun, masti and adventure, which I will cherish for a long time.
Conclusions – Fortune favors the brave.
- Always watch your steps, wherever you are!
- Birds of same feather flock together.
- The most important aspect of a perfectly executed plan is… the Start. Just do it!!
[I thank Deepak G, and Deepak TG for helping me write my first blog, and Venkatdeep for inspiring me.]