Sunday, August 21, 2011

Naneghat - How to go, Places to see, things to do

Naneghat : Had been missing monsoon treks for quite some time now. Hence, was keen to make one monsoon trek this year. Mumbaihikers yet again provided the options. With lot of trekking groups publishing their itineraries on the site, we opted to go with best of the lot - YHAI Mumbai unit. They had pickups across Mumbai at Sion circle, Amar Mahal Ghatkopar and Teen Haath Naka with the starting point near Dadar Station Jain Temple. We had to reach the place at 6.00 am. There were other fellow trekkers there. We did some chit chat as there was some delay. The bus came around 7.00. It was in fact a school bus. Most people who were supposed to join the group at Dadar had already arrived and we were all set to go our adventure to Nanaghat. 


Naneghat signpost
How to go: The route to Naneghat is via the Eastern Express Highway.  Cross the Thane Bhiwandi toll naka, take right at the large cross road junction on the SH 222. You need to travel through Kalyan, Shahad, Murbad, Saralgaon, Tokavade, Vaishakhare . In case you are travelling by public transport, you may take any ST bus from Kalyan going towards Ahmednagar. Except the Kalyan-Shahad road, most roads were in good conditions on the trip. After Shahad, we stopped over at a small hotel called Hotel Dajiba. It was  a vegetarian hotel that offered good breakfast and snacks options. We bought a lot of water here as we were told water could be tough to find. Once you cross Murbad, look out for a thumb shaped mountain peak on the right. This is called Nana's thumb or Nanacha Anghatha. I am sure it had nothing to do with a certain middle aged Marathi actor :). Soon we reached the base, there was a clear board pointing towards Naneghat and arrows marked on the stones. We got down from our vehicle, took our belongings, water etc. We formed a circle, that's when the leader introduced himself. Each one of us introduced ourselves as well. For some of them, it was their first trek for some it was at least second or third time they were scaling Naneghat. The plan was to have one group leader right in the front and the other at the end of the group. With a plan in place, we were ready to scale the Naneghat. So far, a good start. That's when the downpour started.Welcome. 
Nanacha anghata
The trek started on green plains, with the usual photography sessions of fellow trekkers. The peak was in sight from there, and we just couldn't stop ourselves from imagining what the view will be from the peak, once we reach there. As it began to rain, we put on our raincoats. It was nothing more than a light and thankfully pleasant drizzle. Soon, the trek moved into the forests. It was a narrow trail through the jungle, possibly made by the foot marks of trekkers and locals who had gone by the route.It was an easy route to follow, which was slowly ascending towards the peak. It was a slippery and muddy path interspersed with light streams of water. At one such place, we found some work going on the regular route, not sure what it was, but, that stopped us from going ahead along that path. The group leaders quickly went into action mode. One of the group leaders along with a few others, started to look for an alternative route, with the help of some locals. And once they found it and were sure, everyone took this new diversion. As the ascent finally started,it was a rocky patch. And it seemed to be the same till the top. Perhaps they might have been stairs ages ago. Climbing all these was tiring everyone. The breaks started increasing and the ascent longer. There were rivulets flowing at edges. At one such rivulets, everyone washed themselves and also drank water from it. The fresh rain water really invigorated our senses. After almost two to three hours of trekking, we reached the top. We were greeted with a nice gush of wind with a bit of rain. 

Caves at Naneghat



Things to see :
As we reached the top, we saw there was a narrow ascending rocky patch in between two hillocks. There were caves at the top in both the hillocks i.e. on both sides of the rocky patch. It seemed to be carved out of the mountain. The cave to the left was a huge one and most trekkers opted to take rest in this one.  There were little kids in the cave selling masala tea, cucumber, etc. They were probably from neighboring villages.There were inscriptions written in a language that appeared like Sanskrit. As we sat down and had our lunch, we wondered what this place was used for, what was its significance. As per many sources around the web (Don't forget to browse through Chandrasekhara's blog on Naneghat - Traces of an Empire – The Mountain pass of Naneghat), these caves were built in the rule of Satavahana period. In those days, Junnar was a big town of political importance. Goods from all far off places used to taken to Junnar for sale and distribution. Goods that landed in the port cities of Kalyan and Nalasopara, too used to be taken to Junnar. This pass was built by the kings in the period in order to cut down the time to take the goods from reaching Junnar from the mentioned port cities. In fact, taxes or rather toll taxes were prevalent in that period too. There were huge pots built in which the travellers used to put coins as tax. The pots are still present today, one can see them if one walks further up. We also found a road at the top. Yeah a motor able road to Junnar. It would have taken 5-6 hours for our vehicle to reach the place, i.e. going around from the base. No wonder, this pass was so popular and generated income for the kings. In fact, Nane is also another name for coins.

Inscriptions
The descent: The climb was so challenging that some of us felt, our vehicle would be at the top, and we don't have to trek down. But, that was not the case. After spending around couple of hours, we were back on our way to the base. The idea was to reach the base before it grew dark. Our group leader did inquire about us having any additional torches. But, the need didn't arise. Expect for the initial rocky patch which was a tough one for average trekkers like us, the rest of the descent was pretty simple. Some of us had a couple of falls too, but not serious though. The descent was easy.We reached back to the base rather quickly.Everyone washed themselves at the base in a rivulet.

Coin Pot at the top
Summary : This trek can be termed of moderate difficulty for an average trekker. Monsoon showers, detours, tryst with nature, history, a few falls, it had everything. Overall it was a very satisfying trek, excellently managed by YHAI, Mumbai Unit. With lot of historical importance attached, every trekker must have Naneghat on their list. Sadly the entire nostalgic look of  a different era seems to have lost at Naneghat nowadays. Not sure if anyone gets to go inside the caves any more. The government authorities have now put barricades and grills on the caves leaving behind travellers of future generations wondering, what it must be like in Naneghat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naneghat

5 comments:

  1. Excellent ! We too had quite an eventful trek to Naneghat !

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can someone guide me on the ST stop to get down for Naneghat trek?

    ReplyDelete