First blog post

Hey guys! Orientation nurtures your talent. And the same is true when it comes to writing. U need a platform wherein u can showcase your feelings, your words that have been rolled up with the sweetest blend of flavors. I am Ajinkya Gadgil.. A nemophilist by choice and a research scientist by profession. I would use this platform to share my thoughts, my version of mother nature! I would like to mention about Harsha huddar, my school friend, who insisted me to start a blog, and i’m quite happy I am here! Here i begin a new part of my journey! 

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Connections

Some connections are so complex that it takes you years and years to understand it’s complexity. I have got a close connection with the mountains. I do not know what made me connect to the mountains, why i was looking for them, who made me understand them, all i know is, now they have become an integral part of my life. Travelling is the sine qua non of my life. On dull days, i hit to the mountains. On days when i am happy, i head to the nature to celebrate it. You need to understand the silence nature offers. There is a lot to understand if you can grasp everything. If you feel your life has become messy, take a deep breath, and just make your way out of the city. A place where you own a 4×4, where the walls of opposite buildings make a tangent with your own. Escape out, sit on a dry wooden log, walk on the trail, crunching those brown dried leaves under your sole. Listen to the whistles of nature, lay down in the shadow of a tree. Find a lake or a river. Take a dip into it and feel the freshness. Smell the soil when it rains, get wet like a child, jump in a puddle. Get dirty. Life is not just to wear hat and tie. It does not matter who you are and where you work. Once you start walking on a trail, you become one with the nature. You become a part of the nature! So set free your limits, break those chains of stagnancy and head out, take a less trodden path and make your journey worth remembering!

Why do people love mountains?

If you scroll down the list of people and what do they like, you would come across many people who love diamonds, gold, gadgets, cars, bikes, and what not. But if you go further down the list, you would stumble upon few people who love mountains, valleys, waterfalls, greenery and everything connected with it. A rare species love climbing and repelling too! So, my question is, why do these species love mountains? The answer is hard to find, but I can surely draw something that can explain this love. For centuries people have been traversing mountains, climbing and descending them in order to find the shortest route to reach their destination. Mountains are, by far, the most rugged, uneven and bumpy creation of mother earth. Mountains create a positive vibe when you are around them. They make you forget who you are, where you work and how much you have earned. As you start ascending, you loose your identity, and become unified with the nature. As you start panting, the rhythm of your heart starts resonating with the blowing wind. Your brand new clothes soon look tattered and dull. The crushing sound of windblown leaves under your sole elevates you to a different level of happiness. The vastness of the mountains make you feel lilliputian. Mountains offer you a broader view of life, a dose of how things are uncertain. A mountain enjoying bright sunlight can soon be soaked in heavy rain. Uncertainty hovers above every pinnacle. The struggle that you make, the sweat that you dry, just to see how the world looks like from above, is certainly worth the climb. You just have to be focused towards your goal, for every mountain can be scaled physically, once you win over it mentally. As the climb becomes steep, negative thoughts start making a place in your mind. You might even think to give up, but only thing that keeps you alive, is the climb. Soon the feeling to give up gets overshadowed by the view of the summit. Mountains teach you how resources need to be managed, with limited water and food. You learn to value things. Nothing can be more precious than a bottle full of water. As you rest under a tree shade, you soon realise that no air conditioner can beat this feeling. The panoramic view from the summit is something you live for. That moment, you cherish lifelong. After ages, you won’t remember the struggle you did to reach the summit, the efforts you took to come over everything, all you would remember is how you felt when you stood up high on the summit. Love mountains, worship them, for they make your life little better!

Shaping the Indian subcontinent!

India is the only country where you have myriad of flora and fauna. It’s pretty rare to find so many different geothermal zones as you find in India. We have arid desserts and frozen lands. We have humid areas and regions experiencing high downpour. But, if you look at the geological timeline, two different eras have marked structural changes in the whole episode. The era when the Sahyadri range and Himalayan range were formed. Prior to the formation of the Indian subcontinent, a single land mass was surrounded by water. It was called as “Pangea”. Later Pangea split into Laurasia (made up of North America, Europe and Asia) and Gondwana (comprising India, South America, Southern Africa, Australia and Antarctica).The single land mass was around 375 million years ago. The continent started drifting apart some 175 million years ago during the early Jurassic era. Presence of glossopterris and several other fossils in all different countries, across oceans confirm the theory of continental drift. The lithosphere lies above asthenosphere, like different plates of a jigsaw puzzle. These plates are in continuous motion even today. The gondwana land started drifting North East and finally collided with the main Asian plate. The magma underneath erupted and flowed down the deccan plateau resulting in an upliftment of the western ghats. This marked the birth of sahyadri! A range that is almost 2000 million year old.

Himalayas on the other hand are quite new mountains. Before the mountains rose, there was a sea called Tethys that was present between the Indian plate and Asian plate. When the Indian plate collided the Asian plate, eastern part of the Tethys sea was uplifted and himalayas were formed. The himalayas are basically sedimentary rocks that have been formed by the sedimentation of different layers in the sea crust that came out as the collision took place. This was all about the history of these two giants. Being born close to the Sahyadri range, I am quite attached to it. Sahyadri is something you cannot explain with books. You cannot draw them on canvas. It’s something you have to experience! Those deep gorges, dense forest, huge cliffs, overhangs, boulders, escarpments, rugged geology, gushing rivers and those needle heads being formed at many places portray a different picture all together. The greenery post monsoon adorns the crust. Rivers leap with joy and during the course of journey they spread happiness across people’s heart. Sahyadri gives you everything. It teaches you to be humble and kind. No matter how big you are, no matter how strong you are, be ready for all the erosion, and denudation.It teaches you the fact that magma, once underneath, rose high to form these giant peaks. Himalayas are equally mesmerising. The terrain is quite different and so is the nature of rocks. They are huge! All the tallest peaks in the world have taken birth from a sea! That is what the biggest lesson to learn. Himalayas offer a different level of satisfaction! They give you landscapes to behold. Those white, shiny, snow capped peaks portray peace. All those tall, mighty peaks offer you serenity on a different level. They soothe you, they calm your soul. Those crystal clear rivers flowing down the slopes of himalayas quench thirst of millions. You loose your mind once you reach the himalayas. That’s for sure. They have that charm that makes us awestruck! There are many things to be learnt from sahyadri and himalayas. They have been standing way long, facing all the bad weather, erosion and wind. Yet, they stand tall, mighty, rugged and never to be broken! Listen what the rocks utter, for they have everything to tell about life.

Unplanned long vacation 

After finishing a whole week, working all day long, I was finally done with everything. I beamed with felicity as the long weekend was coming closer. Vishal (my friend from dharwad) called me and asked about my plan. I had no other plan in the streamline, and Vishal had one this time. I happily said yes and the plan was set. I had a talk with Ajit (from Ahmedabad) and Shreyas (from Pune) and the plan was finally on the list. We decided to do harishchandragad for two days followed by shivneri on the last day (original plan was malvan-tarkarli-vijaydurg-kunkeshwar). But, plans are made to be changed and so was our plan. We changed it to harishchandragad (2 days) and kalsubai (one day).  We decided to meet at Pune as it was the starting point of our journey. I left to Pune as I finished my work on Thursday. Ajit was already in Pune as he had arrived a day before our departure date. He joined Pune from Ahmedabad. Vishal started his journey from dharwad (Karnataka) and we all met in the morning at 5:30am. We were lucky this time as Shreyas had his car along. So we had enough time and we could change our destination, as driving down to any place was at ease. We started from Katraj and took the trail from shivajinagar-manchar-narayangaon-alephata-otur-bramhanwada-kotul-lavhali-pachnai. The journey was a bliss, and the one sitting on the front left seat had to change the songs (We called him RJ.) I had a chat with bhaskar badad (Hotel kokankada) and informed him about our arrival time. We reached pachnai and parked our car infront of bhaskar’s house. We filled our hydrabags, sorted our bags and started the trek (1pm). As you cross a small bridge you need to take a left for the pachnai route. The route is well marked and the trail is wonderful. We started the ascend and soon we were exposed to the fiercest rays of midday sun. It was sweltering in the beginning. But soon canopy took over and now the route was more pleasant. We reached the temple in just 1h 40 mins. Everyone rejoiced as they saw the top of the temple. We first went to the harischandreshwar temple. A temple that leaves you with a wide jaw. A perfect piece of architecture, that’s being constructed somewhere around the 6th century. There are some faces at the entrance of this temple that indicate the guardians of the temple. At the left side of the entrance there is an inscription in devnagari language that dates back to the era when Saint changdev meditated in the caves inside the temple. What leaves you awestruck is that the temple has been carved out of a single huge rock (Basalt). There are two water cisterns inside, where you can get ice chilled water! River mangal ganga originates from one of the cisterns. As you come out and take a right, there is a kedareshwar temple where a huge shiva linga is a placed inside a cave that is filled with 4 feet ice chilled water. You need to dip inside to go towards the linga. That’s an experience to have. We soon moved ahead to the kokankada where our hault for the day was fixed. We kept our bags and pitched our tent on the kokankada. We kept our bags inside and took a round at kokankada. This is another marvel that everyone close to mumbai and Pune must visit. A huge cliff that faces the west, which is a crescent shaped rock mass, having a overhang and overlooking kokan on one side. The valley is thousand feet deep and the view is breathtaking. You need to sleep on the cliff in order to have a better visibility. Air coming up reaches the crescent shape of the cliff and due to its shape, the flow jets up rapidly. If you throw anything light like a piece of paper or a small stone, it goes a little down and due to gushing air, gets an airlift to rise up high. That’s one thing everyone must experience. We had our dinner followed by a campfire that kept us warm. It was chilling cold that night.(Shreyas has something to tell here.)

Day2- We started early towards taramati (4th highest peak of sahyadri) and reached the summit in an hour. The view from taramati is just fascinating. Malshej ghat, Naneghat, Jivdhan fort, Pimpalgaon joga dam can be seen from above. We came down to the temple, filled water and started the descend. We reached pachnai in 1 and half hour. We had planned to reach bari (base village of kalsubai) but, soon we changed our plan and decided to move towards junnar. We decided to do shivneri fort along with ojhar-lenyadri-junnar. As we reached ale phata we first went to ojhar (one of the ashtavinayak). Went to the temple and did boating in river kukdi. That was a cherry on the cake (as it wasn’t planned). We decided to stay at lenyadri but as we reached lenyadri we got to know that the place was overcrowded due to long weekend and we had no place to stay. We decided to move towards junnar. On the way we got a hotel where we finally got a room (again, this was never on the list). We had good sleep that night. 

Day 3- Next day we moved to shivneri (original plan) which is the birthplace of Shivaji Maharaj. Shivneri was overcrowded as many schools had trips due to long weekend. I loved the architecture of the place where Shivaji maharaj was born. Everything is symmetrical with perfect carvings. We saw the kadelot point, Shivai mandir, and the ambarkhana (place to store grains). A short and sweet place to visit. We came down, packed our bags and started our journey back to ale phata. From alephata I took a bus to Kalyan and rest three went to pune. From Pune, Ajit moved to Ahmedabad, Vishal started for dharwad and i reached Mumbai! This is what people call craziness. 4 friends from 4 different locations, but one hobby, and one goal, to see as many different places as we can. We bid adieu with hundreds of new plans that are still pending to be ticked. 

The city of Antwerp! 

Since the day I came to Holland, this is something I thought I should ink down. So why this? I have been to many other places in the Netherlands. But Antwerp was something different. I decided to see this place.The thing that excites me is “planning”. Especially a trek or a tour. I just love to read the history of that place, to see the location of the place , to note down important things I need to see, to study the routes, subways, trains and busses that take you there and so on. This is what i love the most. I love to plan. Anything. That’s more exciting because you study the place, it’s history, it’s monuments and you try to understand why they have been built there. Understanding the purpose and use of that place is very important. If you happen to visit a place without knowing anything about it then according to me it’s not worth anything. If you really want to explore the place then you should definitely study the place.May it be a small village, doesn’t matter, but you should know something about it. Studying makes your experience more lively! When I thought of Antwerp, I was sure I would love this place for two reasons.One, because it has a long history. And a place with history, offers you a lot to explore. And two, because of Rubens. Peter Paul Rubens, was a great painter of the 16th century. I was totally unaware of his paintings. The only painter i knew was Michaelangelo. But when i read about Rubens, i found out he was no less than Michaelangelo. He could narrate stories with his paintings. 

Peter Paul Rubens
He could make a sketch look real. He had that magic that could leave you awestruck! Though he was born in Germany he had his studio in Antwerp where he painted many paintings for the churches in Antwerp. He was acknowledged by Philip IV of Spain and also Charles I of England. I was excited because there is a museum in Antwerp called “Rubens house” where many of his paintings have been displayed.
Famous painting by Rubens
 When you look at a painting you understand the story. That’s the intensity. You can decifer what exactly he wanted to tell. If you’re able to achieve this, words need not be used , for your colours will draw the picture.

Yet another masterpiece!
 Antwerp has a history of its name. The city flourished since 4th century and some remains of pottery have been excavated few years ago, that dates to the exact period Antwerp was civilized. The river scheldt that flows through the heart of the city was the early boundary of the Roman Empire. 

River Scheldt
A tale says that a rebel named Antigoon troubled people and used to ask for money when they tried crossing the river. And if not given, he used to chop their hands. Silvius Brabo saved the city by killing him and so the name was taken from antigoon to Antwerp. 

Statue of brabo!
Another tale says that the term Antwerp must have been derived from term ‘ante’ meaning before and ‘werpen’ means deposition,which means the land that was formed by deposition along the inner turn of the river scheldt. Of course the stories remain with unanswered questions! The moment you enter the city, beautiful central station leaves you spellbound. The Gothic architecture, the domes and the carvings are very finely made.The cathedral stands tall in the Centre of the city and the tower can be seen from any end of the city.

Cathedral of Our Lady
 Just near the tower lies the brabo statue which depicts the tale of silvius brabo. On the outer periphery of the central city lies a old Fort. Now only the ramparts of the fort are remaining. It used to guard the city. The fort lies on the banks of river scheldt, which is quite wide and has a good flow. There is a tunnel that connects one end to the other end of the river and people can walk through it.  The city is famous for diamonds and has one of the biggest markets in the Europe where diamonds are cut and fine jewellery is made out. The city serves as an important harbour and is the second largest port in the Europe after Rotterdam. During world War 2 the city had to face the flames of war. There’s still a building that was demolished during the war but was rebuilt at the end.

To sum up, Antwerp is definitely a place where you can spend a whole day enjoying the beautiful architecture, monuments, museums and of course good old paintings! 

Manikgad- In the scorching heat! 

A  person who is on a constant quest for discovering new routes into the wild wont ever miss a single holiday sitting idle. Weekends are something that bring immense joy to any nemophilist. For he knows, plans that are into the wish list need to be done soon. Mankigad was a trek that was pending since quite a long time and that was to be completed soon. Summer was in it’s full swing, with temperature rising as high as 38-39°C. Sahyadri was decorated with golden hay, and water cisterns were running low. Of course this period was certainly not good to trek. But when you have some like minded people, you need not stay home even when it is sunny out there. And the trek was planned. It was 2nd April 2016. Prashant and I discussed and we were all set for the trek. We got a contact of Mr Atmaram Jambhulkar from my office colleague, Girish Ganu. Mr Jambhulkar is an employee of our company and resides at vadgaon. We reached panvel station and took 7:45 bus going to lohop village from Panvel ST stand. We got down at Vadgaon. We met Jambhulkar and he took us to his place. He served breakfast even when we refused to have some, such was his hospitality. A very polite and kind hearted soul. He gave us a guide, a local villager and we marched ahead. The trek involves a ascend of 15-20 mins that takes you to a plateau, an half hour plateau walk and then there are two routes that take you to the top.The first ascend has few rock cut steps that date back to the 17th century. After this patch, there is a plateau walk. Almost after 30mins there are two routes that take you to the top. First route is called as “Eka Payachi waat” which is the shortest route to reach the top. The route is narrow at some patches and has few boulders. This route is difficult as compared to the other one. The second route is a long traverse, and gradual inclined route that slowly takes you to the top. The fort remains on the left side and you go round and round taking turns. We, of course thought to attempt both the routes to complete the circuit. Initially we climbed up from “Eka Payachi waat” . The scorching heat was draining down lot of energy. Our guide was a young chap with 62yrs of experience along. Need not mention how fast he was at this age with just one bottle of water and slippers. 
The scorching heat made us exhausted but we never gave up and kept walking, enjoying the rhythm of the soul. Soon we reached the main entrance and a broken “Praveshdwar” welcomed us. It is called as “Ganesh dwar”. 
We were on the summit after arduous walk. Irshalgad, Prabalgad, Kalawantin were clearly visible from the top. There is a big lake called as “darya take”. 
There are many rock cut cisterns at the top.
 There is a place where the lime was mixed. You can now see remains of that place. It is called as “Chunyachi Ghan” (Chuna- Lime and Ghan-A stone cut pot for grinding and mixing of the lime).
We had our lunch at the top and we took some rest. There is hardly any shade on the top so you need to find a tree that can block you from the rays. The fort is very small and a quick look should suffice. 
This fort was built by Kanhoji angre. The fort looks upon the trade route that takes place through the maval province. About the name, not much information is available but I think the name must be given because of its strategic geographic location. The fort is invincible from all three sides and the only way to reach the fort is the southern side of the fort. In Marathi, Manik refers to Ruby. So, probably because of its location the name ruby must have been given to this fort. The fort was not involved in any major battles  and any other history regarding the fort cannot be traced. While returning we took the second route that traverses and takes many turns, meandering through the bushes. The lingi, a pinnacle of the manikgad fort can be seen clearly while descending. The Cole in between the fort and the pinnacle is called as “Mhashyashi khind”
 We reached the plateau in 45 mins. We saw some mangoes as we reached the plateau and we picked some. We reached the base and another trek was successfully completed. 
It is always fun to trek with Prashant. We left the place promising to come back again, probably during the monsoon, to see the other story of this fort when it is decorated with green ornaments! 

Mumbai,this is what you taught me!  

Mumbai, this is for you! I’ve been living in this city for past three years. Yet, i never even thought to write down something on Mumbai. The city that gave me everything. My first job, my passion for trekking, swimming and rock climbing. I would rather put it the other way. I started “living” only after i came to Mumbai. I had a sedentary lifestyle, as many people do have. I never thought i would do something offbeat. Seriously speaking, i was in a shell that wasn’t being cracked. As many others do, i finished my post graduation and started looking up for a job. And as it’s said, things happen for a reason. I was selected in beirsdorf, which was in Goa. But as it wasn’t something i was looking for, i skipped it. Later on i was selected in a polymer manufacturer in Ranjangaon, which i did not accept. My fate took me to Mumbai and i was selected in a fragrance and perfume manufacturer company. So it was Mumbai who gave me my first job. 

 

Little did i know that in mere 3 years, this city had something even more exciting to offer. My colleague, introduced me to his trekking group. I had a special place for forts ever since i was in 10th grade. My first trek was Torna-Gopya ghat-Shivtharghal. A two day trek covering the konkan and deccan region. It was the moment, that sowed the seeds of a different soul into me. Soon i started enjoying treks and then it became my religion. The feeling of liberating your soul is what you get when you stay close to nature. A soul that’s not chained up and has miles and miles of space to roam around. A different world, where greenery drapes you. Where the river soothes your soul and the canopy provides you the shelter. Where Valley depicts the depth of life and the rising sun teaches you to rise up high. Where the stars show you how to lead when life gets black. Where flowers blossom to spread out happiness. Endless journey of trekking took me to a different world. I soon joined swimming and developed a love for the water. When you swim underwater you enter a new world, which doesn’t have the continuous rumble of the traffic. Where you can hear your heart pounding. Where you can find tranquility. I used to love gym before. Now my routine included both, swimming and gym. Soon i started to learn rock climbing. We used to go to poddar college, where we started scribbling initial lessons of climbing. We loved going to Mumbra, where in we practiced climbing on natural boulders. Mumbai got the best out of me. It was because of Mumbai, i got a wonderful trekking group. I had a dream to trek a snow cladded peak, and it was because of my group, i could scale pangarchulla. Mumbai taught me to become independent. It gave me that pace to run in the life’s race.That’s the best any city can offer. I take this moment to thank Mumbai, for being everything to me, and making me a person i am! Mumbai, this is for you! 

Naneghat with new friends 

​Saturday morning, as usual the day started with heavy downpour. Rain had taken over the cards since last night. We had a plan to trek naneghat. Yet another time. This time the trek was with 25 trek mates and our responsibility was to executive the plan as it was planned. Prashant Salian and Kingsuk Biswas were there to help me out, and their contribution was immense as without them it wouldn’t have been possible. The journey started at around 6:50 from Kalyan and we reached base village at 9:15. After a quick introduction of everyone and short briefing we started the  ascend at 9:30. The route welcomed us with greenery everywhere and it felt as if the nature had been inviting us for a long time with its green carpet already rolled on. We crossed two streams and after 20 minutes of walk we took our first nap at the plateau that we encounter enroute. We got refilled with water and tang to compensate the loss of salts and electrolytes. The journey continued. Nanacha anghtha, a pinnacle wasn’t visible. It was already dim in the clouds panoply. 

Soon we could see the “V” shape of naneghat where we had to settle. Rain started pouring as we reached the neck of the summit. The weather took a leap and now fog was all we could feel. Rain, wind and fog these three things can turn you up. They are so mighty that u cannot refrain them capturing your soul. Anyone, may it be a trekker, a traveller, a photographer or just a greek into the game. You’re bound to be awestruck when you come across this. The steps now turned out to be a water track, where the water raced amongst it’s molecules, only to reach the river quickly.

 It had that excitement of getting itself drenched in the love of the flow. Soon we reached the summit, where caves welcomed us. We had our food, rested for a while and went ahead to see the old pot where toll was being collected, way back, during the Satvahan Era. We had a walk on the plateau and started to descend. Enroute we came across that same stream which we had crossed earlier. There is a little bit “you” in every soul, which gets evoked as you see a flowing stream. We played, splashed water, tried to hold our breath into the stream and had loads of fun. Soon we came to the base village. As malshej ghat was closed, buses were not available. We hired a cab and returned to Kalyan before 6:30. Thanks a lot for joining the group and because of you all, the trek was a treat! Happy trekking!

A lazy day


Very rarely do i get to say this as my mind clock starts buzzing at 6am everyday. And even if I try sleeping late, I’m not allowed to as mind starts writing something early morning. When i lay back lazy, i enjoy the serene walk which my mind takes over the heap of memories that have been stored for a long time. I enjoy the way my mind takes leaps over the memories and comes back with a glee. I’ve got so much to cherish. Being a nemophilist i get to wander a lot. I get to free my soul which can have no hurdles and can freely run across the memory lane. I love that feeling when you remember something you’ve experienced in your past walk or hike and you appear grinning cheerfully. It’s important to re-visualize the happy moments. For a lazy day is what gives you a moment out of your busy schedule. To think, to walk, to run across your memory lane. Travel more, don’t settle down onto something. Life is to experience autumn and spring! You need to enjoy both! 

A ridge where memories have been freezed! 


Tahuli! A series of connected pinnacles running across the terrain, offshoot sahyadri region. People would be awestruck to know that these pinnacles lie close to city lights. People from badlapur can actually see these pinnacles above their head. The reason I am writing this is not to describe about the summit. Sometimes the route is even more exciting than the summit. There is a point in this route just before the summit where a ridge runs dividing two valleys on either side. The view that you get once you reach that ridge is something you cannot describe, nor can your lense capture it into the frame. A picture can freeze the moment but your eyes can live the moment. You can actually see clouds coming up and in a moment you’re completely drowned in the clouds. Wind runs so wild that you get drifted. Only water can pour down that height and only clouds can capture the region. What more do you expect so close to the city! A ridge where my memories have been freezed!