I have never been keen on getting wet in the rain…so much so that when a few years ago, darling husband had very romantically suggested a motorbike ride to Lonavala in thick of monsoon I had, with an equal ardour, convinced him to cozy up at home instead of getting wet and cold in the rain!
But a few weeks ago, I decided to join a group of young trekkers from Pune and trek to Bhimashankar temple in the Sahyadris Hills of Western Ghats and that too in pouring rain!! Aim was to find out the romance of the rain…
Though the scheduled departure was planned at six but travelling in a group you always end up being late. And so we set course at seven in morning from Pune. The cool morning breeze and an overcast sky were signs of a pleasant day ahead. Meandering down the road I waited for the mushrooming concrete jungle to taper away…
Soon the bus was cruising along lush green fields of paddy swaying in the gentle breeze. Have you ever smelled a Paddy field? I never knew that it smells like the cooked rice…reminds you of the warm food at home!
Brimming seasonal rivers flowed exuberantly, small water bodies, bridges and small dams rolled past but the hills draped in layers of variety of greens remained our constant companions soothing the eyes and filling me with general sense of well-being ….no matter how much the terror-spreaders and skewed-brained people tried to destroy, the world was beautiful and I was alive to experience it, to breathe in the fresh air, to see the beautiful colors, to smell fragrances…
Three hours drive through beautiful countryside later, we arrived at the foot of the trek-trail. The group leader Mukund Kale and Wild Trek Adventure organizer Prasad had forewarned us to carry rain coats, umbrellas and salt to fend off leeches. Armed with all rain gear and cameras we began our trek to Bhimashankar temple.
Bhimashankar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and a popular pilgrimage. According to the mythological stories, Lord Shiva was invoked by all other Gods to defeat and end Bhimasur, the son of Kumbhakaran of Ramayana’s fame. While the war was on, Lord Shiva’s sweat fell on the ground and River Bhima was thus formed.
No sooner had the bus left and we began the gradual hike did the skies decide to come down on us in an incessant drizzle that would last us for the entire trek. Out came the rain coats and umbrellas from the backpacks and in went my camera, extra lens and all!
The terrain soon turned into slippery squishy muddy trail testing and teasing me. Weighed down by the heavy lenses and camera on my shoulder I stumbled along the slippery rocks. Though the slope was very gradual but I found it cumbersome in continuous rain. An hour later when I was on verge of giving up, the terrain flattened out much to my relief.
Small and big crabs peeped out of their holes and scurried past. Little rivulets streamed down the ground. Freshly formed small waterfalls gushed along the trail. The young trekkers despite being soaked in rain splashed in the waterfalls drenching themselves to the bones. I however looked on….trying to find a foothold on the slippery ground and protecting the camera from getting wet.
The perpetual rain had not particularly pleased me but the excitement and revelry of those fifteen year old trekkers was infectious and I had gradually begun to enjoy the journey. The breathtaking beauty was growing on me…the greenery calmed me.
Somewhere along the trail a shallow seasonal river had sprung up with clear gurgling water rushing in great abandon…dancing over every stone and rock…a picture perfect view!
That was the time when I fell in love again…with the unadulterated beauty of nature. I understood what it was that made poets write paeans on rains… And from that point forward, rain stopped bothering me…I let it drip down my neck, squelch under my shoes and chill my finger tips.
After seven long kilometers trek we reached the footsteps of the Bhimashankar temple wading through another deeper and fiercer stream. The rain had stopped by the time we reached the temple and was replaced by thick white veil of mist obstructing view beyond a few meters.
I was wet, cold and shivering but I had my share of romance with the rains and loved it….
Good to know facts:
Bhimashankar is about 110 km from Pune and a popular destination for pilgrims as well as adventure seekers.
Treks to Bhimashankar vary in degree of difficulty. There are treks for more adventurous to the Bhimashankar Forest Reserve, Bhorgiri Fort, Buddhist caves Amba and Ambalika and to the origin of River Bhima.
Trek trips from Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran are quite frequent during monsoons.
State transport buses and private commercial vehicles ply from nearby areas to Bhimashankar.
Cheap lodges and dormitories that serve basic local food are available near the temple.
Nearest resorts for accommodation are in Matheran, Alibaug or Mahabaleshwar.