July 1998

   This is one of the most difficult treks we have been on. The rainy season had begun and we had been after Dr. Errol D'Souza to take us on some trek. One weekend in the midst of the monsoons he finally took time off. The destination was Taovli. None of us had been to Taovli before or even heard of it.

   The group consisted of Dr.Errol, myself, Vivek and Amod from the campus, Shabbir and one of Dr.'s friends and a few girls from the hostel.

   We moved off on Saturday at around 10p.m hoping to catch the last train to Ambernath which was were we were supposed to get off. We reached a deserted Ambernath station well after midnight. Then came a walk through the ghostly silent town to a 11th century temple at the edge of town. The temple had been locked off for the night, so we had to take shelter under on of the archways outside.

   It started drizzling and as everything got damp our spirits went down. Opposite the temple one of the footpath dwellers was drinking and singing loudly. Dr.Errol and his friend had found a spot under a shop awning and were fast asleep. The rest of us were getting miserable by the minute. We all were thinking of our warm beds at home and cursing ourselves for coming here. Then Shabbir disappeared. He was nowhere to be found. After an extensive search we found him fast asleep under on of the archways amidst 6-7 dogs.

   As morning approached, so did the people. First the mandir pujaris came and took a bath in the cold water from the nullah which flowed just outside the mandir. The shopkeepers arrived and started cleaning the shops. At around 6 a.m. Dr. suggested we move.

   The morning was glorious and drizzly. But the rain was a welcome sight now. This was supposed to be a rainy trek and the laden clouds and the overcast sky made a promise for more to come. We moved off with Dr. leading the way...

   Through the outskirts of the city... through the fields... we approached a wooded area. Here there was an ancient forest surrounding a small lake - Kakuli Talao. This is a small reservoir outside the Ambarnath suburbs. There was a government guesthouse where we opened or backpacks and had our breakfast. The rain continued.

   The lake had one side dammed over which the water had started to overflow. We started off on this narrow wall to get to the other side. The atmosphere was rainy, cloudy and very romantic. We continued through tiny villages and fields for 2 and a half hours. As it was the midst of the monsoons everything was luxuriously green. The fields had fresh crops and were waterlogged. The villages had cows and buffalos and cow dung all over. The village urchins in their multicolored clothes watched us as we passed by.

   We could already see a low hill opposite us with three waterfalls on it. The Dr. said that our path lay up one of those waterfalls. We thought he was joking as the waterfalls looked almost perpendicular.

   When we reached at the foot of the waterfall Dr. started up... It was not as difficult as it looked from afar, but still the rocks were wet and slippery and the water had a force which was often not appreciated. We had to get to the top of this hill where there was supposed to be some kind of hermitage with an old hermit in residence. We climbed over rocks and through the water for over two hours. It was dangerous but exhilarating at the same time. We were all drenched to the bone due to the incessant rain and the waterfall. As we neared the top it seemed that Dr. had lost the way. The was coming here after a gap of 18years and everything was overgrown.. We reached a point where we could not continue upwards even with the rope. The Dr. decided to call it quits and head back. The rain still continued.

   When we were sitting and resting we had a unique experience. We actually saw a cloud come and dash against the hill. We were suddenly into clammy white stuff...

   The climb down was also every bit as exciting as the climb up. Back through the same villages and fields.. The nulla was there nearby but swollen in size since morning by the continued rain. At around 6pm we reached the temple. We had been walking continuously all this time, but the rain washed away the fatigue. But some of us were tired especially the girls, so we took autos from the temple to the station. Near the station we all invaded a hotel and ate. Then caught a fast back to Kurla.

   It rained the whole day... right up to the time we came back to the temple. This coupled with the waterfall climbing makes this one of my most memorable treks.

Abhijit © 2001

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