The Return of the Explorer – with disastrous consequences!
Have you heard of the Bhivpuri falls? Riiight, nor had I. Till last week. So when it was decided that we were going trekking there, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Google fails when it comes to treks, because while it gives you photos, it can never tell you how difficult the trek is expected to be, and even if it links you to a blog that says the trek is ‘Medium Grade”, his medium may be an easy or a difficult one for me. So, more or less walking into the unknown this time. There were around 10 of us – no one who had been to the place before (The Explorer claimed he had been there, but we later found out that was just to get people to agree to the plan.)
Our plans to catch the 5.37 from Dadar to Karjat were scuppered when only half the people managed to turn up on time. We somehow managed to miss the 5.58 too, and ended up catching the 7.03. Bhivpuri is one stop before Karjat, and it took us approximately two hours to reach there. Thankfully the trains were empty (which means most of us got place to sit, sigh)
Bhivpuri is this tiny one-platform thing that is open to the mountains on the east and long lines of salt pans on the west. We walked out of the station onto a mud path, and asking directions from everyone we met, we walked for 15 minutes and reached the base of our trek. The walk was pleasant enough, with the greenery on all sides enhanced by a continuous slight drizzle that kept us from getting bored or tired.
The falls could be seen in the distance once we crossed a couple of villages after turning off the main road. We came across small rivulets that we had to leap over every few minutes. The first few times we spotted these, they were invariably accompanied by women washing clothes in the water, but this got rarer as we kept walking, and soon it was only us and a few hikers walking towards the falls.
After a while, we were stopped by a group of villagers who claimed entry beyond that point would cost us five rupees each for maintenance. We saw no signs that this was official, since they did not have any identification or proof whatsoever, but since it was only five rupees, we paid up and continued towards the falls.
Until now, it was mainly grassy flatlands and small patches of rocks that we were walking over, but the terrain started to get interesting soon. We came across a couple of streams that took some deft maneuvering over rocks to get across, and the path was getting muddy and slippery as we got closer, However, it was still little more than a stroll in a garden.
We came across a fork in the path, one way going up and the other going down. The path going up seemed to be going to the source of the falls, while the lower one went to a pool that the falls were falling into and flowing off as a stream. We decided to go to the base and freshen up in the pool before going up on the tougher path to the top.
We were close to the falls now, and we weren’t the only ones. We kept coming across small groups of people either going to the falls or returning from them. The trail we were following was lots more fun now, regularly requiring us to climb over boulders or rock patches and steadily go uphill.
When we reached the base of the falls, we found that it seemed to be a regular picnic spot, with dozens of people frolicking in the water. It was all a bit of an eyesore, but we were worked up enough to relish the prospect of a dip into the chilly water. The water did not disappoint us, being insanely cool and refreshing, and sitting under the waterfall with The Force on our shoulders was pretty awesome fun.
Once we were done soaking ourselves, we came out of the water and began the gradual descent back to the trail after clicking some photographs.
Photographs at the Falls
After some tomfoolery at various points along the stream, where we somehow managed to get ourselves soaked and dry half a dozen times, we started looking for a way upwards so we could go to the source of the waterfall. None of us remembered spotting an upward track after the fork in the road near the start of the trek, but The Explorer soon found a little gap between the trees that he claimed would take us straight to the top. No one really wanted to believe him, but after Hobs Crk and Deven followed without a word, everyone grudgingly fell in line.
Everyone was regretting this decision bitterly in a few minutes, when, after a nearly vertical climb, we found ourselves at more or less a dead end, with a huge tree and some bushes blocking the way and nothing to be seen ahead. The Explorer stood stunned for a moment, but before everyone could cuss him out, he quickly disappeared into the shrubbery, followed faithfully by Hobs Crk and Deven. After a heart-wrenching climb for a few more minutes, we found ourselves on a comparatively comfortable rock and mud patch, at which point even they had enough, and flopped down there. The Explorer was all for going on, but defeated by the Hobs Crk’s faultless reasoning, gave it up and made himself at home on a boulder overlooking the waterfall.
The next task was getting the rest of the group to move themselves from where they had resolutely stopped still at the trees. We spent the next few minutes hollering at them to move themselves up to higher ground, and in the end it was probably the lure of being able to sit that made everyone attempt those last few scary minutes of climbing.
After some relieved people had sat themselves down on the grass with us and some general griping about The Explorer, we decided to leave. Thats when we started having problems. One of us (who shall not be named) refused to leave his seat on the grass. We stood there for a minute unnerved, and then went to him to coax him to get up and get down,so to say. When that didn’t work, we tried pulling him up,but we soon found he was simply not the lightweight guy you sling over your shoulder and carry down a hill. Unsure of what to do next, we all sat down and rested for a while more, while creating unpleasant comparisons with the MV Wisdom marooned at Juhu Beach.
Finally we reached a compromise. The sitter (from now on referred to as Wisdumb) would not get up,but he would,slowly,slide his butt over the ground downwards so we could all start climbing down from the place we were sitting. Needless to say, the sight of him dragging his ass all the way down to the bottom drew not a few laughs, but for some time, everyone’s attention was focused on the treacherous trek down.
This part was easily among the only challenging things we had done that day, so it was fun when we reached the bottom and sat down at the stream so Wisdumb could wash his muddy backside and the rest of us could finish our food and STUFF. We left soon, and by then no one was in any mood to go upwards when we reached the fork in the path. It didnt help that by now Wisdumb had a bad case of wanting to go to the loo. All suggestions to take a dump in a remote corner of the fields we were walking through fell on deaf ears, and we walked back to Bhivpuri station, stopping at a restaurant for our customary Chicken Handi, which Shardul would not have allowed us to leave without. Wisdumb though, didn’t eat a thing, and fell asleep midway through the meal.
From there, it was back on to the one-platform station, with Wisdumb mysteriously disappearing for a few minutes, only to reappear with a relieved grin on his face. He was soon back to his usual chatterbox habits, and entertained the train mightily while the rest of us, tired from the trek and filled with chicken, dropped off to sleep.