Friday, August 23, 2019

Leh on Datsun RediGo Episode 3

Trek to Vittangad, Maharashtra

I am shifting the old blog so adding the old entries from there. 

It was already night and I wasn’t very sure of who else was joining me. It was not my plan and I had no idea where I was about to head to. A good friend of mine had this place in mind and I had just come back from Jaipur and my mind was all fuzzy. I don’t handle jet lag very well neither I appreciate air travels.
Day 1.
I was scheduled to pick up my friend (Nishi) from her office near Pimpri at 5:45PM, but my other schedules and meetings and stuff delayed me and nearly ruined her mood. Apologies again! 
After overcoming a long day at office and a very boring meeting I finally started out at 5PM from Katraj. Then I came to know I had to pick up her photography equipment from her house from Karve Nagar. Already I was terribly occupied in my mind with things going on in my business and hence I misjudged and took a very long way to her home through the city. The traffic was great and was jams allover. Finally I managed to reach her house at 6. After a short struggle with her cupboard, I finally got all her equipment.
Guess what! I had lost my wallet the same morning and was running low on fuel and definitely I had no cash, cards, DL, PUC etc. With fuel on reserve, I headed towards the pickup-point. Enroute I receive a call stating she is bored of waiting and she is heading towards Dehu Road by rail and then to the highway on FOOT ( she prefers walking instead of waiting at a place just sitting and doing nothing)!! 
So I had to reach Dehu road now and I was already at Shivaji nagar chowk. I sped on the fastest 200NS (which is basically a 250cc modified Pulsar200NS) on the planet to reach her. But, luck did have some different plans for me. I was again stuck with the damned traffic. It was already 6:30! As I neared Bhakti-Shakti chowk, I could feel the fuel dry up!
So now was all push to the gas station scene. Enquired for the nearest one and was amazed to find out it was more than 4kms! Pushing the heavy machine was a terrible job and had me all sweated. By the time I reached the station, sweat from my forehead was literally dripping. However I had already called up a business acquaintance and he was there already at the station ready to get me a full tank. I dint need that much, only the fuel to reach my friend. Finally I took a liter of gas and waved him good bye. I was on road again. Called her up and informed.
Finally after a brief struggle and a hot pursuit with time itself, I managed to reach her at 7:30! She was all angry and I was really feeling guilty. From here, it was all her sponsorship, all thanks to my lost wallet. After filling up a little more gas, I came back to her to find one more of my good friend (Pankaj) was waiting there. She was terribly upset over him too for not reaching in time. 
We finally started around 8. Already late we were and the light was all gone. Pankaj was leading the pack and was slow for my taste. However he accelerated up later on. Nishi dint have food since morning and was starving, so was I. My work leaves me a bad schedule for fooding. Around 9 we finally found a restaurant to satisfy our starving stomachs with missal-pav. Pankaj on the other hand was satisfied with few sips of the mango drink. We took on from there and under Pankaj’s lead to stop again for an unsuccessful attempt for ATM and aloo parathas to be packed which we were to have atop.
Nishi was sure of her route but Pankaj had some other route in mind and so, we dint take that route. We were all lost on the highways. However after about an hour of helter skeltering we found the right path. It was all dark and nothing was visible except few town/village lights. Had an amazing view of a local train passing by, sadly we were late to click it. After a few kilometers my fuel struck reserve again! Although a wrong route, it was all twisties and I was enjoying them to the fullest. The wrong road struck me hard when we discovered we were again lost in the darkness! Filled up little fuel of the remaining cash and headed on. Finally we reached at 11 to the foothills from where we were to trek to the Tikona fort.
We parked our bikes and after a short chat and equipment transitioning, we were ready to move. The pitch dark night trek was a bit hard on both me and Nishi. The lighting was not adequate but however we managed. She wanted to do star trailing and was searching for a spot. Finally after around an hour of trekking the gravelious stony hill added up with a mix of cliffs along with, we finally found a spot suitable to do a good star trailing.
We all were full of sweat. The heat in my thermal induced riding jacket was enormous. We settled up in the midst of a clearing. After much challenging quests we ended up fixing the focus of the lens suitable for star trailing. But as luck had it, something stirred in the bushes.
I was the first one to hear that. Pankaj was listening to music on loudspeaker (which was not so loud). I guess that is what upset the creature. After few minutes when we managed to communicate to Pankaj to shut his music off, we heard distinct growling sound. It was not of a dog neither of a monkey. I realized, we had barged in its territory and parked right in there and had disturbed it. What made it much more worse is, it could see us but we couldn’t. We were unsure of what it was. Snakes don’t terrify me neither do dogs or monkeys. But the growl we heared was more than that, maybe a fox or a wolf ar something. The place was unfamiliar and surrounded by moderately thick woods. It could be anything. I wasn’t concerned about anyone’s safety but Nishi’s. I can handle it, and so does Pankaj I guess, if I may say on his behalf.
I whispered her to get the things packed and move as slowly and stealthily as possible. This time again the growling sound came and it was much nearer. I could say, Nishi was terrified and yes, pissed off on it for ruining her star trailing. I was now freaked out. Clutched the helmet in one hand and the marine knife on other, to at least give it a good fight in case it attacked. However nothing happened and we escaped without any more adventures for the night. In all the flashing for setting focus for the star trails some one at the extreme top thought that there were trekkers looking for the lost route and signaled to us the light. We had decided on descending after hearing the growls but thanks to the flashing Nishi decided that we should climb to the top, and so we did.
Day 2.
It was already past 12a.m, so let’s consider it day 2 by now. We trekked up the fort now. The steep stairs and the heavy luggage on my back were giving me a horrendous feeling of the hairline fracture in my back bone although I was on morphine shots (injections). Finally we reached a clearing where we could rest for the night and yes, do some star trailing without any adventures whatsoever. 
We found a group of 10 guys had already occupied the fabulous cave that Nishi had planned to stay, to escape the wind. However, it was not possible. They were fire-puffing with the rum I believe. We setup the equipment again and were on the shooting spree. Focusing on stars is a big challenge unless you know the trick.
Shooting started and we saw the crescent blood moon come up on the eastern sky. It was a great view and there came out my camera. I could have captured a better shot if only I had a tripod. However, there was only one and it was being used. The winds had started blowing and it was all dusty. Hunger ran into our stomachs, this time Pankaj and I the food lovers. With much pains we managed to block the dusty winds and have dinner peacefully.
Post dinner, we tried to find a better spot to spend the night but of no avail. Finally with much grudges we had to sleep in the same dusty spot. I was with the camera shutter controller, taking the pictures of star trailing. At around 4, the wind increased its speed and our star-trailing was gone for a toss with the fall of Nishi’s camera. Nishi verified everything was working with her camera and we went to sleep.
The bed sheets we spread on the ground were already dusty. I needed a place to hide from the blowing dust. After much rolling left and right, finally the Eureka struck me. Rolled over the sheet and sealed all the three sides with my body weight and gone was the dusty wind problem. 
Was sleeping well until early morning when the chill managed to creep in and broke my slumber. A beautiful sunrise was there to welcome me. Shot some shots with our cameras and after a brief roaming around the fort, we started our descent. Nishi was on a clicking spree and shot some beautiful pictures. By this time the gentle monkeys also came into the picture and were all around us before we could realize. They took to a fonding of humans I believe and were following us till we were out of the fort.
The trek down was not that hard with all the light of the day around. It was a good but exhaustive trek down. All three of us had different plans for the day. It was decided finally, I was to drop Nishi and Pankaj would go to his flat nearby. This time the petrol on the NS had ended up leaving us stranded. Picked up some fuel from the nearby gas station in a bottle, in the process doing 5kms more of the travel. Finally bid adieu to Pankaj at Chandi chowk and dropped Nishi before starting another journey towards my home.