A Date With Fireflies And A B’day Party – Monsoon Trek To Rajmachi

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“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
 
My first trek of this monsoon. Trek to Rajmachi and Kondane Caves.  A very popular trekking destination in the Sahyadris, Western Ghats, Maharashtra. Monsoon treks are always thrilling and raise the bar of adrenaline rush to umpteen levels.
This was a Fireflies Special Trek with Trek Mates India(TMI). The first few showers of monsoon is best fit since fireflies need a couple of showers to start flitting around. We wanted to witness the mating dance of fireflies, which would otherwise have been impossible while it rained heavily. Fireflies cannot tolerate the heavy raindrops and sadly, die.
 
Fact File:
Fireflies belong to the family of beetles and not flies, as they are commonly called. The light production in these nocturnal winged beetles is due to bioluminescence, a chemical reaction when oxygen combines with luciferin, present in the lower abdomen of the insect.
All fireflies glow as larvae. Bioluminescence serves a different function in lampyrid larvae than it does in adults. It appears to be a warning signal to predators, since many fireflies larvae contain chemicals that are distasteful or toxic.
Light in adult beetles the primary purpose is thought to be used in mate selection. Fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for mate selection. There are about 2,000 firefly species, and each has its own morse code of light to attract mates; an interested female flashes back from her low perch as the male flits overhead. They have a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships: steady glows, flashing, and the use of chemical signals. Can courting get any more romantic.
 
The Trek:
At a height of 3600 ft above MSL, Rajmachi is situated between Lonavala and Karjat. It can be reached from either places. We were to take the Karjat route. The fortification at Rajmachi consists of twin forts, Shreevardhan, the taller one towards east and Manoranjan, towards west of Rajmachi.
We were a group of 61 trekmates. The youngest member of our group was 6 years old Manav.
 
Manav- Our Youngest Trek Buddy
 
We started off from Mumbai. Boarded Karjat fast local from Thane station. The train was jam-packed. The locals cursing us at every station for carrying huge bags and blocking their way. What a start. Alighting the train at Karjat was a greater task than boarding. Anyone commuting by Mumbai local can get a clear picture of this scenario.
Kondivide Village is the base village where we started off after tea and refreshments. We had our usual “straight circle” round of introduction in a while. It was difficult to remember all names at one go but eventually, I managed to remember most of the faces and names by end of the trek. Most of them were first timers. The VGTI gang, doctors, engineering professors. 
 
The “Straight Circle Introduction”

 

Manoj Kalwar was our trek leader, leading from front. We had 3 co-leads, Ranjita, Harsh and Avinash. Ranjita and Avinash managing the group and Harsh leading from back.
It takes maximum 3 hours to reach Rajmachi or Udhewadi village from base. One needs to carry 2-3 ltrs of water per person.
We had 3 stopovers, the first being Kondane caves. Decently maintained Buddhist caves that were excavated during 1st century BC. It is a non-commercialized national heritage.
 
Kondane Caves

 

As the darkness grew, we could see the tiny yellow lights blinking over our heads. The sight became more mesmerizing when we neared a clearing and could actually witness millions of fireflies fluttering above. Ranjita, Harsh, Amit, Rajashree, Shreyas, Madhura and I along with few more trekmates chose to lag behind and adore the view. Everyone reached Rajmachi by 9:30 PM.
A big surprise awaiting Amit. It was Amit’s birthday and some of our other trek buddies planned to pay surprise visit via Lonavala route to celebrate Amit’s b’day.
After a delicious dinner, it was time to hang out by the lake. We had planned Amit’s b’day celebrations by the lake. It was simply amazing.

Blowing the Candles

 


Here comes the beeeeg one



Make Up Time

We had hardly slept for an hour or two when Manoj started waking everyone for our next leg of the trek. Ascend to Shreevardhan Fort. We skipped Manoranjan. We started off at around 5:30 AM. Reached at the top by 6:30 AM. The view from top was awe-inspiring. We could locate Lonavala, Khandala, Pawna Dam, Duke’s Nose from the top. And without forgetting to mention the floating clouds all over.

Ascending towards Shreevardhan

 


On Top Of Shreevardhan



Shreevardhan

By the time we descended half way, we were surrounded by fog. It drizzled a little bit every now and then.

In midst of the mist

 


The TMI Pose

 

Also got to savor Karvand or Karonda (Carissa Carandus) on the way back to Rajmachi. 

Karvand or Karonda

 

After a breakfast of Poha (a popular Maharashtrian breakfast dish made out of flattened rice) along with tea and old bollywood songs, we were supposed to take leave and start our descend. BUT… some of us wanted to visit the lake once more hence, pleaded Manoj to spare us 5 minutes. Our wish granted and we hurried off towards the lake.

Bhairavnath Temple- By the lake- We stole time to visit here

 

We were the bunch to start off last for our descend, however, managed to reach earlier than rest of the group. We utilized our wait time by clicking selfies. Wink wink. 🙂

Wait Time = Selfie Time

 


My Trek Buddy- Radha



With Radha

 

The best advantage to be ahead of others is that we can take as many detours as possible and one of them was by the river. The pictures below can explain our delightness best.

The Detour- By the River

 


Surya – With His New Love- The Pink Water Proof Camera


Enjoying to the fullest

An appetizing lunch awaited us at Kondivide village. The Rajmachi special chicken curry. My mouth watering as I write :). What more to expect than the rain starting it’s pitter-patter the moment everyone is ready to leave.
A sleepy journey back to Mumbai.

The Rajmachi Group-

 

** Click on pictures for better resolution
Picture Credits- Dipanwita, Harsh, Avinash, Madhusmita, Amit and Radha
Trekmates, let’s keep Smiling, Adventuring and Happy Trekking.
 
Share your thoughts with me at dipanwiita@gmail.com

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