Trail by the Woods

Having the baggage of not travelling much has always bugged me to the point that I eventually decided to plunge on this opportunity for trekking offered by friend-cum- travel buddy. And trust me, I still feel if I had missed this one, it would have been a real miss! Being my first trekking experience, I had copious thoughts twirling in my mind, but I convinced for not letting go myself off this time.

Located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, India and famous for its association with Shivaji Maharaj and later Maratha Bajirao Peshwa, Vasota Fort is the historical place now owned by the Government of India. Since I went along with a trekking group it was a road trip that had us travelling from Mumbai by bus. It took us around 6 to 7 hours to reach Satara and another hour journey to reach Bamnoli. The road to Bamnoli was panoramic, giving me the sight of huge mountains surrounded by all the sides. As we drove through the twist and turns of the sun-kissed mountains, I felt the early morning breeze perfectly accompanied with bright sunshine, waking up my senses altogether.

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We reached Bamnoli which was quite scanty in population, freshened up and after having breakfast along with my favourite cutting chai, we were being called at a meeting place. Starting our journey as I got on a ferry or mini-boat, my excitement knew no bounds. We sailed through the Koyna backwaters and witnessing the scenic beauty around left me in complete awe. The lake water sparkled by the presence of the shiny sun above the blue skies, while giving way to high mountains on both the sides. It is best to take this trek usually in the winters or early summers, as this is a favourable time when the weather is not too hot, which might make you dehydrated otherwise. So after an hour of sailing, we reached the base village where we were strictly instructed not to carry any plastic materials with us, as it was prohibited by the Government.

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The trek now had begun while I took steps through the dense forest which was undoubtedly going to get much denser as I climbed. The ascent was easier in the start with mud steps and rough climb every now and then, but later it became challenging. But I kept pushing myself like fighting against the odds and reaching the end was the only thing on my mind. The moments when I became conscious of my energy levels dropping, I took rest and sipped bits of water, so that I wouldn’t get dehydrated. Trekking by the woods is a strenuous, daring and fairly interesting experience, at least it was for a first timer like me. Since it was a jungle trek, I took efforts to look around the old trees, different sounds of birds chirping, enjoying the whole process, as that kept me going and equally was also a kind of distraction when I used to get really tired. After 2 hours of climbing, yes that’s approximate, we finally reached the top of the hill which had an orange flag towering the Vasota fort, waving along with the wind. You know that flag will really push you to your best and it motivated me when the steep mountain in end became tough and each step had to be taken properly, preventing any accidents.

The view from the top is splendid, stunning and pure bliss as you can see the whole lake amidst the high mountains and the starting point of the base village. The awareness of victory and being marvelled is what I will never forget, standing right above 3800 something feet and believing that all you need in life is to push yourself to reach your goals, reminiscing the quote “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

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After an hour relaxing, having lunch and clicking few pictures, we started descending. On the way back the lake looked even more mesmerising as the sun was about to set down. In the night we were given tents that were installed just beside the river bank and a campfire where all of us sat and shared stories and had a gala time. The sky was filled with twinkling stars giving a perfect end to the night.

I truly cherished the experience as it was out of my comfort zone and I had never tried trekking before. I would recommend this trek for the starters, also for them who love nature as more than half of the climb towards Vasota is through the jungle.

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