The month of October is a pleasant one in Mumbai. The rains slowly receeding and the chillness of winter just creeping in. We decided on an easy trek this weekend for starters. It was just a week after my Konkan road trip and I eagerly awaited the trek plan. For starters, it was a trek after more than a month. My cousin was in the city and was also keen on it. Zeroing in on a location not far from Mumbai city, we decided on the trek of ‘Sagargad’. Located 10kms prior to Alibagh beach, it was an ideal getaway for a day trek.
Because of no private vehicles and relying on public transport, we decided to leave a bit early to make good our trek on Sunday, 14th October, 2012. Two of my friends Kris and Clive were also enthusiastic for this trek. Kris gave a wild idea of hitchhiking from ‘Panvel’ to the base village. This might seem really eccentric, but since no one had hitchhiked, we decided to give it a try. Leaving home at 1.00AM from ‘Chembur’, four of us went to the nearest ST bus stand and caught the bus to ‘Panvel’. It was a 45 minute bus ride, pleasant with the cool breeze and no traffic at that point of the night. Reaching the main bus stand at Panvel, we were in for a shocker. Being a major inter-city bus stand, none of the shops were open, but for a tea stall. Apparently, the shops aren’t open post 10.30-11PM on any given day. Stocking up on water, we stood by the road waving down potential vehicles to drop us off midway to ‘Wadkal Naka (Junction)’. This junction is the point where the road cuts off towards Goa and Alibagh. An ambulance travelling in that direction agreed to drop us off 5 kms down the road. The place where the ambulance dropped us off had shops that were open 24hrs. Stocking up on snacks, we stood on the side of the national highway waving down truckers for a lift. Reality hits in; no trucker agreeing to offer us a lift till 4.30AM.
The cops also shrugged off our plea to stop by a trucker. A passing van ferrying people, suddenly agreed to drop us off at Wadkal Naka for Rs. 25/- per head. We were quite lucky because the whole idea of hitchhiking was turning into one of embarrassment. Moving on, it was really stuffy in the van and a trip of 20-25kms was painful for the back. We got dropped off at Wadkal Naka at 5.00AM. Quite tired, we decided to sleep for a couple of hours before we ventured on. The gas station and the cop station weren’t feasible. We then found a decent spot just outside an SBI ATM at the junction. We woke up at 7.00AM and tried to catch a rickshaw to the base village of ‘Shali’. The auto agreed to ferry us till ‘Poinad’ from where we caught an ST bus moving towards ‘Alibagh’. Finally, we started off our trek at 8.00AM and inspite of the events, we were quite enthusiastic.
It was an easy climb initially. We took the assistance of villagers to guide us on the right path. Watch out for spiders hung on webs spun between trees; smallest size of a spider being the size of one’s fist. This is at the start as soon as one starts the trek. Moving forward, it was a steep climb for about 1.5 hours.
We pushed ourselves and made good time mainly because of the night travel to the base village. We reached the solitary village close to the peak at around 11AM. One of the villagers agreed to guide us to the summit primarily because there are many rogue paths leading to the summit. We were quite skeptical, but agreed to his request. Before we ascended the final climb, we made our way to the quiet waterfall just behind the village. Spending an hour there proved to quite fruitful.
Taking the villager's assistance proved to be lucky because, it took us nearly 45mins to reach the summit and was quite confusing for a first timer. The sights were beautiful. ‘Vanartok’ is a pinnacle at the edge of the summit that we could access. This pinnacle is famous recognizable point of Sagargad. Legend has it that the convicts on death row during the rule of Shivaji were bundled and hurled down to their death from Vanartok. One can easily view the beaches of Alibagh and Murud in the distance as well catch a glimpse of Janjira fort in the horizon. Since we made up a lot of time, on the trek, we got an extra couple of hours to relax at the summit. Continuing downward, the villager intimated us that the village receives electricity only for couple of hours during the day. A small village school in the vicinity for kids; agriculture being the only occupation; having no access to any sort of technology; they were content people. Content with their way of life and content that trekkers and hikers made an occasional visit to their village en route to the summit. Since, our trek was in the midst of ‘Navratri’ festival celebrations across the country, the villagers were also celebrating the festival. They insisted we have lunch with them; part of the festivities. Shankar took couple of pictures of the villagers and they were quite thrilled to see their pictures on a cell phone. Running short on time, we quickly bid adieu and headed to base village filled with happy memories. We reached just before darkness engulfed the entire region.
Getting an ST bus to Mumbai was proving a painful task. Since, the base village wasn’t a major bus stop, very few buses stopped. One mini carrier van stopped and offered us a lift to the next town ‘Poinad’ from where friequency of buses are better. Finally, after an hour’s wait, a bus fully packed was our only option. Cramming every inch of the way, it was quite painful to travel back to ‘Panvel’. 2.5 hours of partly standing and partly sitting on one butt cheek was not quite what one anticipates, but left with no choice. Reaching ‘Panvel’, we bid adieu to Shankar who continued towards ‘Mulund’ since the bus was headed to ‘Thane’ and 3 of us hopped onto the local train to my place in ‘Chembur’ from where Kris and Clive rode down to their place.
An enjoyable experience of travel through the night and an even more enjoyable trek. The cost per head was approximately Rs. 300. A beautiful trek and a must do amongst fellow trekkers. Hitchhiking isn’t something for the fainthearted, nor would I suggest it to anyone; it was something to experience.
1. Kris - @krist0ph3r
2. Clive - @the_rhoadie
3. Narayanan - @MeanderinTravel
Costing per head:
1. ST bus from Chembur to panvel – Rs. 40.00
2. The Sumo hitch ride from Panvel to Wadkal Naka – Rs. 25.00
3. Tumtum ride from Wadkal Naka to Poinad – Rs. 15.00
4. ST Bus from Poinad to Shali; base village – Rs. 20.00
5. Snacks, Cake, Chips, Water – as per requirement