So a day after vowing never to go back to Lonavala, I was heading back there, this time in the Breakfree bus. We woke up at 4.30 to find Mumbai soaked under the heaviest rains this season, and a 5.30 departure meant that a comfortable few hours later we were at Lonavala relishing the feeling of n0t having got into a train (See Korigad). However, Lonavala was as dry and sunny as before, and our breakfast of kaanda poha was punctuated with prayers to the rain gods. The traditional Breakfree introduction circle later, we were climbing up a flight of even stairs with a guide from the base village, when the clouds suddenly appeared out of nowhere transforming the landscape to the beautiful Lonavala gray from an ugly Mumbai yellow.
We soon left the stairs and got onto a muddy trail that was a steep ascent, the most entertaining part being when we were suddenly accosted by a group of mountain goats who seemed to derive great enjoyment out of nudging us with their noses just when we were negotiating a particularly tricky patch. No one really liked them frolicking around us with their evil horns a headbutt away, so arming ourselves with sticks to keep them at bay, we continued with caution. The goats of course followed us.
We soon reached a plateau, where there were a few rickety wooden shelters which acted as temporary respite from the heavy drizzle that had now started. Of course, after the summer we were having, no one really minded the rain, which stopped soon anyway, so we continued the climb up to the now visible peak of Visapur.
The path was overgrown with emaciated shrubs and cactii, making it a slightly uncomfortable but nonetheless easy path because of the very slight slope. We feasted on wild berries and jamuns we found growing on the trees, and made steady progress, enjoying the weather and the feel of being outdoors without feeling like we were in a microwave.
We encountered a rock patch that made for more of a challenge than what we had come across so far, but managed to scale it without too much of a hassle. Spotting a few caves on the way, we were soon close to the top, and that was when the skies were really set in motion! Continous cold winds made it an awesome experience to start off with, and we spent a while clicking photos and fooling around in general, but it got better, the winds bringing with them swirling gray monsoon clouds which soon had us completely engulfed.
The heavens then opened up with an unexpected vengeance for this early in the monsoon, completely drenching us within minutes. Cold and shivering and with visibility being a joke, we decided to follow the guide to a local headman’s waada that we could shelter in, heading off across the fort only to find that it didn’t have a roof. Feeling rather silly, we stood inside getting as drenched as before, before finding a rock overhang that protected us from most of the water. The food everyone had carried was soon being passed around, bringing some welcome warmth back into our frozen limbs.
We huddled around until the rain finally showed signs of letting up, after which we headed back to the caves we had spotted just before the entrance to the fort to dig into some spicy misal pav carried up from the base village.
The descent was a lot trickier than the ascent, mainly because the torrential downpour had loosened all the rocks and mud that we had traversed without a second thought on the way up. Heading down in a much more circumspect fashion, we soon started drying out because the rains had finally given us a break, and a chatter-filled trek downhill later, we were back at the bus changing into dry clothes and eating freshly fried vada pavs with chai that couldnt have come at a more opportune time as the rains were now back in full force. Grateful for the bus that saved us from the hassle called public transport, we were soon on the Expressway heading back to Bombay.
Breakfree Journeys is a Cult Tourism outfit with interests in off beat travel destinations , adventure and eco tourism alongwith backpacking! Follow them on Facebook for all the latest events and updates – https://www.facebook.com/breakfreejourneys