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  • The Adventurous Journey on 14th, 15th, and 16th February was indeed a challenging but enjoyable experience. Completing it successfully left me feeling more confident about myself, and took me a step closer to achieving my goal of becoming one of the best puggy volunteers.

We were an excited group of twelve youngsters- myself, Raksha, Apurva, Madhulika, Ashlesha, Saachi, Sawani, Dhwani, Pranay and Sahil; and Rupesh sir and Naresh dada as instructors. We started our trek from Bhorgiri village and reached Yelawali at about noon, where we spent the rest of the day. The weather was clear and very pleasant, and it was a pleasure walking through grassy plains full of colourful flowers, narrow forest streams and an occasional uphill climbs over rocks. I enjoyed every moment of it, and couldn’t wait for the next two days. We even managed to hear the call of a sambhar, and nearly sighted it.

             Most people were tired by the time we reached our campsite, where we welcomed the call for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing games, and interacting with our newfound friends, laughing and joking around. In the evening, we walked towards the valley through the jungle, to get water for the locals at the campsite, and realized how difficult it was to climb uphill, with buckets full of water, and that too without dropping it! I wonder how they did it every single day!  After tea, we had a competition as to who could prepare a bonfire first- using only wood lying around and dry grass. As a result, we interacted with our hosts- who helped us light a cheerful fire…Our team won!!

            The rest of the evening was spent dancing, singing puggy songs, learning new songs, and playing around the bonfire. Rupesh Sir got our hosts, and the other villagers too to join us, and we too mingled with them and had a lovely time together.  We learnt new games like Angels and Demons, Celebration song, “Shaala Sutli, Ghanta vaajla” song, Rain clap, Horse clap, Soda clap, Rocket clap and many more activities, to entertain our future campers.

The first day overall, was quite fun and easy as compared to the next two. I learnt that

  1. we must be ready for using alternative means of travelling
  2. How to light a bonfire- by lighting the dry grass first, and then adding small wood pieces, and then -bigger pieces,
  3. Interacting with everyone, and taking help from locals and helping them in turn, too
  4. Inventing, innovating new songs and conducting them energetically and confidently.
  5. Realised that people work very hard for a living and I am fortunate to have so many comforts, facilities and privileges in life.
  • The Second Day began at 6 am, when after a hearty breakfast, we began our journey. We would be trekking up to Kalavantin, back, and then to Bhimashankar. The second day was indeed challenging, as we trekked downhill to Kalavantin. Walking downhill in sandy soil was scary, anyone could slip and roll down the valley easily. Next, there were moving rocks and stones., It was difficult walking with our haversacks, but luckily, I had carried a small bag and light supplies, and was quite comfortable. On reaching down, we took a break, where we shared dry snacks, and then walked back uphill all the way. Carrying sticks made trekking easier. Simple water felt good, and even electoral powder tasted better than any juice in the world.

            The trek to Bhimashankar was through mountain and buffer zone of a reserved forest. It was lovely walking through a dense canopy of trees, watching a variety of birds, langurs and macaques, and of course the giant squirrel. We reached Bhimashankar in the late afternoon hours, the weather had been cloudy throughout and it began to rain. We all were tired and hungry but Rupesh Sir and Naresh dada motivated us, and hunting for our abode in the dense fog, we finally found our destination for the day- MTDC  lodge.

            After a lovely and freshly prepared lunch, I accompanied Pranay, Sahil and Naresh dada in the forest area opposite for a walk, where we witnessed two giant squirrels leaping from branch to branch, spotted scorpions and tarantulas. Being in the wilderness, absorbing the quietness of the forest, identifying the various sounds, it was enchanting. Naresh dada taught us how to look for snakes, gave us lots of new information about the forest and its inhabitants. I saw an abandoned leopard trap. In the evening, we had a fun time playing dumb charades, we laughed, cheered, and mixed up very well.

I learnt many things including-

  • To trek as a team, help others, ask for help, motivate everyone on the team, walk cheerfully and not to give up
  • Travel light, carry only bare necessities in haversack, and lots of water and electoral
  • Interacting with locals, seeking their assistance while locating a new place
  • Secrets of nature, where to look for snakes, locate giant squirrel nests, learn about how moths’ larvae reside in leaves and leave their mark, pugmarks of mouse deer, and much more
  • Always laugh, be cheerful and make others laugh too!!
  • The last leg of our Adventurous Expedition began at 6am. After an early breakfast of poha and tea, we went to Bhatti village in a jeep singing songs. We trekked through the morning in the core areas of the forest, while the sun shone down on us. We walked through plains and grasslands, rocky mountainous areas. Then we had to descend down large rocks. It was a huge descent…but we finally got used to it. Walking, talking, we encountered cliffs and rocks and mountains, at one point, we were actually facing the cliff side of the mountain and could see the valley right below us! It was a breathtaking view. However, by now, we wanted to reach our destination- Siddhagadh as soon as possible, and were all charged up and refused to take any more breaks. After a long walk through the mountain forest, we reached Siddhagadh, and stopped at a house for lunch and rest. Doubtless to say, most people were dead tired by this time.

            However, the end was yet to come. We soon resumed our trek, and reached to the top of Siddagadh. Rupesh Sir gave a loud “lalkari” and we all cheered loudly for Chatrapati Shivaji. We began the descent, which looked very steep, unlike any I had ever seen before. Frankly, this was the first time during the last two days that I was a wee bit scared. However, I gathered up my courage- It was now or never. Carefully, I kept following the person in front of me. After a few steps, I was surprised to see how much I had descended. I looked up at a huge rock face above me. Now, I felt more confident and fearless. We trekked down the fort through the jungle, and also came across the pugmarks tree. After what seemed like hours and hours, we reached down to the roads. Our hearts leapt up in joy at the sight of the bus. A tired bunch of youngsters piled into the bus and many of them felt asleep, as the bus sped towards Pune. However, each one felt like a winner, as we had gone beyond ourselves, conquered mountains( literally!)  achieved something new, and gathered a huge variety of experiences.

            Today, I feel more confident about myself, feel more knowledgeable,  and feel that I am better prepared to take on another, and a more challenging journey. I made many new friends. Rupesh Sir and Naresh dada encouraged us immensely. I cherish every moment of the expedition, and am waiting for the next chance I get to pack my bags and…travel. 

Ketki Jain