It was an overnight trek to Kalsubai 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 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.
Night Journey for Kalsubai
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 me awake with 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 disappointed face.
Cruiser & Driver
Kasara is a small village not even a town but one can easily reach by local trains of Mumbai. It’s a last station for local trains. It is also accessible by road and just few km away from Mumbai – Nasik Highway. Journey started, I sat on the front seat besides the driver. He burnt two incense sticks and planted firmly on dashboard in front of God’s miniature statue. Fragrance took a minute to spread and created typical night travel ambiance of rented cars. I have traveled 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 learnt the traveling 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 the 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 hearts of the nations and has 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, nothing was much interesting. It was going to be a long drive till the base of Kalsubai. 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 to 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 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, 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. 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 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 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 body warmed up and started sweating. There were many routes, dividing and again joining us as we were ascending Kalsubai peak. Difficulty level of Kalsubai trek was mentioned as medium. To me, so far it was easy walk through forest. It takes 15-20 minutes to reach the welcome board of Kalsubai. There was a small temple of goddess Kalsubai built for people to whom hiking till the top is impossible.
Night Trek to Kalsubai
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, cool breeze touched our warm & heated bodies. After few minutes, we reached to a plateau where 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. Everyone was eager to conquer the top. Slowly without any break, we were marching together as a group. Finally first ladder came on our way. Suddenly excitement leveled up. We took many pictures. Vinayak asked us to move on to watch best sunrise ever. I have also heard many times from other trek mates that Sunrise from the top of Kalsubai is ultimate and one should not miss this. I asked Vinayak, “is this the best sunrise”? He said, “I have been to Kalsubai many times but only during summer, it shows best shades”.
Ladders of Kalsubai
We were gaining height, we crossed two more ladders on the way to Kalsubai peak. There was no one on 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, horizon started changing its colour. It was dark slowly changed to Dark blue.
Shades of Horizon
After some time, 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 vehicle, villager, route, time estimate, weather, history of Kalsubai. Let it be anything he will share some valuable information about it.
We crossed railings, slippery patches. 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 has to offer. But there was lot, yet to explore on our way to top of Kalsubai. We told photographers to hurry up to reach 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. Enthusiasm that keeps man going, no one can stop him in that case.
The last 10 minutes of Kalsubai ascend
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 similar experience during Ratangad, Rajgad – Torna range trek and many more. So I concluded Kalsubai as an easy trek but the lengthy one. One need 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
Within 10 minutes, we were on our last ladder patch of Kalsubai ascend, no one was interested in taking picture on ladder. Horizon was rapidly changing its color. Nothing was much clearly visible. And, we crossed the ladder. We were on top of Kalsubai, top of Maharashtra. Everyone was so happy and was amazed by the force of 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 camera on 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 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 game of colour that Sun was trying to play. It was a mesmerizing view. After sometime, everyone relaxed a bit. After Sunrise, we were able to identify Bhandardara lake, Alang, Madan, Kulang forts. There was Bittangad as well.
Story behind the Name – Kalsubai
There was satisfaction on everyone’s face. We entered into the small temple. We prayed for safe journey back to home. Vianayak then shared a tale that has been passing from generations. ‘Kalsu’ was the local villager who used to work as 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 navratri period, people gathered in thousands and lined up till the base for Darshan at top. So my suggestion is to avoid visiting Kalsubai during Navratri.
Kalsubai Return Journey
We spent approximately one hour on top of Kalsubai. 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 till Breakfast point. Local villagers of Kalsubai 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.
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, whole group descended together. We freshened 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?” Idea of going back again to the top was terrifying due to the pain in the legs and that to 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. Driver was waiting for us. Vinayak had asked him to have lunch before the group descend 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 good bye to it. Indurikar Maharaj still loudly making comedy punches. Driver was still chewing that Mawa. And I was still there on the top of Kalsubai, that wind force has made a place on my mind forever. Sunrise at Kalsubai top, till now was the best ever that I have experienced so far during my travel journey.
We reached Kasara by 3:30 pm. Everyone was sharing pictures of Kalsubai trek, email ids, Instagram Twitter handle. And city life started again. We took the train back to the Mumbai. We were exhausted but ready to work fresh for the next 5 days. Though everything is not possible to note down about Kalsubai trek, I highly recommend this Kalsubai trekking 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.