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Sandhan Valley Trek
I was just recovering from a messy heartbreak when my bestie Rhea decided to drag me out. Far out of my sadness filled room. Instead of getting a pointless haircut, eating three buckets of ice cream rather than the usual one cup, or wallowing in self pity, I could use some adventure and distraction, she said. It was time for Plan E, she said. It was time for elevation and escape! Time for two hidden treasures at Sandhan Valley trek and Lohagad trek.
The Great Canyon
Rhea had signed me up for a trek in Maharashtra closer home. She couldn’t stop talking about it. Trek day was here and Rhea came over to drag me out of my room to get me excited about the trek. She said it will change everything. We started off slow with some hesitation. Rhea felt that maybe something as wonderful as Mother Nature was wasted on me. But as I kept trekking, the serenity and the beauty of the nature all around me, hit me.
I hadn’t believed her when she said it’s like Maharashtra’s grand canyon but this Sandhan Valley trek took us to this 200 feet deep water-carved canyon. Soon I realised why Sandhan Valley is also called the Valley of Shadows! The gorges and valleys are so high that direct sunlight barely makes its way through.
Descent into good sense
What really blew my mind in the trek was rappelling down the gorge. It was intense! We were briefed on how to do it but I don’t think you really can prepare for this. My mind was focused on finding footing on the sheer steep wall of rock that was face to face with me. It seemed to go on forever (or maybe I was that slow) but I was so relieved when my feet finally touched the ground.
I felt a surge of happiness, a sense of accomplishment — a triumph over the rock face and bad feelings. At this point, I was so happy Rhea dragged me into this. The Sandhan Valley trek definitely taught me to overcome challenges and live in the moment to enjoy the beauty of nature all around me.
We reached the campsite I think by 5 p.m. There was a natural pond nearby where I dipped my feet, but Rhea went further and took a dive and swam in the pool like a fish. A bonfire, the starry sky, Rhea’s affection helped me centre myself. A few months later, I decided to venture out again. I still had calluses from the rappelling and I was strangely fond of them. They meant something. Rhea was unavailable, but I had never taken a solo trip before and I thought it would be something new and interesting. So I booked the Lohagad trek and looked forward to new calluses.
Lohagad trek was a nice and easy trek. I went in the winter so it was pleasant, even a little chilly. I joined a small group for the two-hour trek and together we took a train from Dadar. It’s always fun getting to know new people and hearing their stories. When we began the trek, I was taken aback by how green Maharashtra really is. Even the Lohagad fort walls were covered in bright green moss. The greenery and the vastness of the monument are actually the first thing one notices about it. Then you have to climb some 350 steps. Don’t forget to take your fitbit!
It’s not difficult to get lost in the intricate interiors of the fort and I almost did. The Lohagad Fort trek takes you to breathtaking heights shaped by a Scorpion’s tail and it means the iron fort. I let myself wander all about the fort and suddenly realised my group has already started moving ahead. I had to jog to catch up with my group, that was already at the bastion on the way to the exit. Thankfully my trek leader stood there patiently waiting and smiling at me as he has seen many trekkers getting lost in the fort. Staying in Mumbai, we forget how much history and culture we are blessed with. But a nature walk or a history tour is a great remedy. It was a perfect starting solo trip for me.
A heartbroken and lost Shewta writes about how she found herself again in the middle of the forests of Sahyadri and historic forts Lohagad trek full of stories of heartbreak and victory
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