It was an overnight Kalsubai trek AKA Kalsubai Shikhar (“Shikhar” means Top in Marathi) during mid-summer of 2016. Most of the Trekkers go for an adventure during monsoon. I preferred summer because I was very much eager to get a bird’s eye view from the top which is not possible in Monsoon or winter.
And, I think there is no specific season for trekking, whenever I want, I just get into the woods. Otherwise, I would have been a seasonal trekker. But, yes monsoon is considered as the best season for trekking around Mumbai and Pune, I have done many monsoon treks, here you can check the done and dusted list of mine.
Overnight Kalsubai Trek
We were a group of 10 trekkers from Mumbai. Kalsubai trek plan was to start early, finish early. Thus, we took 10:50 pm Kasara train from CST which reaches Kasara by 1:30 am. With this in mind, we had booked a local Jeep (kaali-peeli) which was comfortable for 10 trekkers.
Upon reaching Kasara, we met the driver while he was chewing Mawa continuously to keep himself awake. Most of the drivers in India do the same. He appeared to be awake with a fresh smile on his face. He also helped us to load our heavy backpacks. Before asking him to keep my bag gently, he waved it in the air. I always keep my Camera surrounded by Clothes to face such uncalled situations. He weirdly smiled at me and I smiled back at him with a disappointed face.
Cruiser & Driver of Kalsubai Shikhar
Kasara is a small village, not even a town but one can easily reach by local trains of Mumbai. It’s the last station for local trains. It is also accessible by road and just a few km away from Mumbai – Nasik Highway. The journey started, I sat on the front seat beside the driver. He burnt two incense sticks and planted firmly on the dashboard in front of God’s miniature statue. Fragrance took a minute to spread and created a typical night travel ambience of rented cars. I have travelled south India with family members by Trax Cruiser during my childhood. That time we used to travel by night to save hotel cost and day times visit the places. My uncle was a Geography Teacher. He was very good at making and executing the itineraries. I still wonder how he was able to do it without Google, Tripoto, MakeMyTrip or Booking.com. During my childhood, I learned the travelling basics of cost savings from my uncle.
Baba Ka Dhaba
After 15 minutes of driving, immediately we took a halt before Kasara ghat on Baba ka Dhaba to which petrol pump was adjacent. I ordered a cup of tea for myself until he filled the car with petrol. I like to drink a cup of tea and like to observe traffic on highways. Washrooms were slightly better than the expected, got the info from a fellow lady trekker. Highway side area got improved a bit after the highway became 4 lanes. Actually, it’s a Mumbai-Agra highway to be very specific. Highways are the hearts of the nations and have to be in good conditions. This point in time, Kalsubai was the target and was making me impatient.
We got into our seats. We knew there will be no halts anymore. Everyone wanted to hike Kalsubai Shikhar, nothing was much interesting. It was going to be a long drive till the base of Kalsubai Shikhar. Our driver started playing kirtans of famous Indurkiar Maharaj. He is known for his comedy sermons across the Maharashtra state. He was famous among youngsters as well. I have watched his videos on Youtube and I just loved it. So I let the driver keep this on loud. He seamlessly drove through Kasara ghat at night.
It was dark. No moonlight to guide. But he was a pro. After Ghoti (a famous halt on the highway), we took the right turn. Each and everyone came to know that we are not anymore on the highway due to the bumpy ride and single lane. Few locals waved the hands for hitchhiking. They must have thought that their local share transport vehicle has arrived. But, the driver knew that we have pre-booked the same for Kalsubai Trek. Also, there was no space available to accommodate anymore. And off course, no halts anymore was the plan on his mind.
Base Village of Kalsubai Trek
We reached Bari – the base village of Kalsubai Peak. Everyone was excited to scale the highest peak of Maharashtra. Our group leader asked us to form a circle for introduction and instructions before we start Kalsubai ascend. Vinayak was the main lead in charge and Ganesh was the co-lead, both representing an adventure firm named Small Steps Adventures. T-shirts were clearly showing their professionalism. Both were first aid certified whereas Vinayak was the certified mountaineer from govt. institute of Manali.
Basically, we came to know that our lives are into safe hands. Vinayak took us to the villager’s home which was booked for us only. It was a very small village, hardly 100 shelters. Still, there were washrooms and to our surprise one was western.
Kalsubai Trek Begins
It was 3:45 am and our leaders wanted us to start early to finish early. Quickly, we kept our extra luggage at the base. Everyone was instructed to carry two important things i.e. torch and minimum 2 litres of water.
Before 4, we started ascending. Within a few seconds, we came out of the village surrounded by open fields. We crossed dried rivulet followed by manmade steps. It was pleasant weather but the body warmed up and started sweating.
There were many routes, dividing and again joining us while ascending Kalsubai peak. The Kalsubai trek difficulty level was mentioned as the medium. To me, so far it was an easy walk through the forest. It takes 15-20 minutes to reach the welcome board of Kalsubai Shikhar. There was a small temple of goddess Kalsubai built for people to whom hiking till the top is impossible.
Night Trek to Kalsubai Shikhar
It was still dark all around; everyone was waiting for the dawn. I was using a head torch, keeping hands free. As we were climbing up, a cool breeze touched our warm & heated bodies. After a few minutes, we reached a plateau where the breeze was in full swing. Undoubtedly, no one was ready to move ahead. But we enjoyed it for some time and again started our hike. We were wondering if this was the flow of the wind here, how it would be at the top of Kalsubai Shikhar.
Everyone was eager to conquer the top. Slowly without any break, we were marching together as a group. Finally, the first ladder came on our way. Suddenly excitement levelled up. We took many pictures. Vinayak asked us to move on to watch the best sunrise ever. I have also heard many times from other trek mates that Sunrise from the top of Kalsubai Shikhar is ultimate and one should not miss this. I asked Vinayak, “is this the best sunrise”? He said, “I have been to Kalsubai Peak many times but only during summer, it shows best shades”.
Ladders of Kalsubai Peak
We were gaining height, we crossed two more ladders on the way to Kalsubai peak. There was no one in the mountains. Vinayak told us that there is no single torch light visible that means no trekkers. Villagers climb mountains during day time to serve trekkers with Lemonade or Maggi. That time few trekkers got worried but Vinayak eased the situation saying nothing to worry, there are no wild animals and nothing scary happened here in last 10 years during his trekking experience. By the time, the horizon started changing its colour. It was dark slowly changed to Dark blue.
Shades of Horizon
After some time, a light orange shade was visible. Everyone was trying to capture some or other way. Vinayak was smiling at us and said, “Just enjoy the scene, don’t waste your time in capturing otherwise you will miss both”. He was a thorough guy. He knew everything starts from a vehicle, villager, route, time estimate, weather, history of Kalsubai Peak. Let it be anything he will share some valuable information about it.
We crossed railings, slippery patches. The wind was making our experience truly amazing. That time I realized, wind makes places beautiful. Take an example of Matheran or Mahabaleshwar. Early morning sunrise and wind of this mountain paid off. Photographers were busy in capturing the stunning beauty that Kalsubai trek has to offer. But there was a lot, yet to explore on our way to the top of Kalsubai. We told photographers to hurry up to reach the top before Sunrise.
We came as a group and stayed as a group. No one was running ahead and we never kept someone behind us. Later, I came to know Ganesh was handling the clearance department wherein you need to push people if they are not walking with the space of Group. That’s a tough job and needs a lot of patience, Vinayak explained me. No one was ready to take a break, but unofficially there were many photography breaks counted as official breaks during our rising Kalsubai ascend. The enthusiasm that keeps a man going, no one can stop him in that case.
The last 10 minutes of Kalsubai trek
We reached to a well where it was marked as a drinking water. From that Point, top of Kalsubai was clearly visible. It takes a sweet turn and one needs to cross the last ladder at the end. It was not at all risky till this point except few shivering ladders.
But once you are used to such type of ladder, you will not feel much difficulty in climbing as I had a similar experience during Ratangad, Rajgad – Torna range trek and many more. So I concluded Kalsubai as an easy trek but the lengthy one. One needs to have good endurance level. We gulped some water and Vinayak gave us instructions again, not to take selfies on edges. Told us to be careful at the top.
Finally, the Highest Point of Maharashtra – Kalsubai Shikhar
Within 10 minutes, we were on our last ladder patch of Kalsubai ascend, no one was interested in taking pictures on the ladder. Horizon was rapidly changing its colour. Nothing was much clearly visible. And, we crossed the ladder. We were on top of Kalsubai Shikhar, top of Maharashtra. Everyone was so happy and was amazed by the force of the wind. It was difficult to withstand against the wind and then I realize why Vinayak was giving us instructions again near the ancient Well.
One of the fellow trek mates kept a camera on the tripod to capture Sunrise. We totally forgot that we have hiked for 3 hours non-stop. Moreover, we had not slept last night. In addition to that, we had a real bumpy ride till ‘Bari’. Nothing was much important at that time. It was a peaceful journey. We sat down at one place facing east. Few Cameraman were still playing with the lenses as they did not want to miss this opportunity. Slowly Sun came out. No one was able to capture the whole experience. I will say, it was a game of colour that Sun was trying to play. It was a mesmerizing view. After some time, everyone relaxed a bit. After Sunrise, we were able to identify Bhandardara lake, Alang, Madan, Kulang forts. There was Bittangad as well.
The story behind the Name – Kalsubai
There was satisfaction on everyone’s face. We entered into the small temple. We prayed for a safe journey back home. Vinayak then shared a tale that has been passing from generations. ‘Kalsu’ was the local villager who used to work as a maid for a family in Indur Villages which is also situated at foothills of the peak just next to Bari. Due to the torture by family members where she used to work, she ran away to the top this peak and stayed forever here. She is now Kalsubai – goddess for many local villagers. It is said that during the Navratri period, people gathered in thousands and lined up till the base for Darshan at top. So my suggestion is to avoid visiting Kalsubai Shikhar during Navratri.
Kalsubai Trek Return Journey
We spent approximately one hour on top of Kalsubai Shikhar. For the last time, we took a group photo. We started our descend to which no one was showing any excitement. But, my stomach started craving for the hot Poha that Vinayak had ordered near the well. Quickly, we came back to the shed. It took 10 minutes for Vinayak to pull everyone from the top to Breakfast point.
Local villagers of Kalsubai trek were waiting for us only. They served us delicious Poha. I took one more dish as it really tasted good rather I will say any food after a hike tastes amazing. We really come to know the value of food and water due to adventure treks. These treks will teach you a lot; one has to keep their mind open.
Scrumptious Lunch of Kalsubai
The same way, we descended back to the base. This time we saw, people ascending Kalsubai and asking us how much more time till the top. We use to tell them just walk and walk till you see the top of Kalsubai.
A villager at Bari was waiting for our arrival. He was ready with the thalis. It took around three hours to reach back to the base village. Again, the whole group descended together. We freshened up quickly. Had our amazing lunch of complete thali along with the sweet dish of Kheer. I took extra papad, rice, daal and obviously sweet dish twice. I had so much food that I planned not to have dinner. Vinayak just questioned me looking at the way I was eating, “If I told you to hike back to the top after lunch, will you?” The idea of going back again to the top was terrifying due to the pain in the legs and that too with heavy stomach I just nodded negatively and everyone laughed in that room. Smiling faces and satisfying souls for which we work, Vinayak added while packing our bags. The driver was waiting for us. Vinayak had asked him to have lunch before the group descends Kalsubai.
Back to the city life
By 1 pm, we started our return journey by Trax. Kalsubai was slightly visible in the side mirror and I was saying goodbye to it. Indurikar Maharaj still loudly making comedy punches. The driver was still chewing that Mawa. And I was still there on the top of the peak, that wind force has made a place on my mind forever. Sunrise at Kalsubai top, till now was the best that I have experienced so far during my travel life.
We reached Kasara by 3:30 pm. Everyone was sharing pictures of the trek, email ids, Instagram Twitter handle. And city life started again. Everyone was sharing Kalsubai Trek Images with each other. We took the train back to Mumbai. We were exhausted but ready to work fresh for the next 5 days. Though everything is not possible to note down about trek, I highly recommend this Kalsubai trek experience. You can book your seat Kalsubai trek of Small Steps Adventures. Also, share your experience with me. I will be happy to read about your Kalsubai trekking reviews & blogs. Do comment about my Kalsubai trek blog.