Tag Archives: trek

Sandhan Valley – A valley of rocks and boulders!

What?

Sandhan Valley Topography
Notice the straight line – That’s Sandhan Valley!

Sandhan Valley or the Valley of Suspense is a narrow 1.5 kilometre long valley with 100 feet rock walls on both its sides carved by water over years in the Western Ghats! Sunrays are not able to penetrate to the bottom and hence the valley always stays pleasant, sometimes even cold. Winds roar across the huge boulders unflinchingly.

Trekking Sandhan Valley

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Trek Grade – Medium

Sandhan Valley is filled with water during monsoons and becomes very slippery to rappel down; November to February is the best time to visit this – Post that, water reservoirs dry up, leading to paucity in drinking water. This is a two day trek; descent starts on Day 1 in the morning at 7.30 post breakfast and is followed by crossing a part filled with water by making a 10+ person human chain(4-6 feet deep, depending on the time you go), a 60 feet and a 30 feet rappel and some tricky descents on huge boulders. Post the descent, we camp at the end of the valley basking in the glory of moon light and start walking towards the village at dawn on the next day.

 

Reaching there

Kasara railway station is a pandora’s box for trekkers! It leads to many beautiful treks in the Western Ghats like Harishchandragad, Kalsubai, Alang, Madan, Kulang and Sandhan Valley. Catch the last local to Kasara and reach there by 3 AM. From Kasara, catch a jeep to Samrad. Taxi services are available; but would recommend you to do this trek only via a trekking organisation and in a group! You reach the base by 5.30 AM.

Things to Carry

In addition to carrying necessary stuff for a trek and camping overnight, please carry the following too –

  • Neck Gaitor / Scarf to cover neck from scorching heat
  • Alum to purify the water you fill from streams (or a cloth to filter water)
  • Odomos
  • Inflatabe Pillow along with a mat and blanket
  • Electoral Powder

How we did it

We registered with Mumbai Travellers – were a group of 34 people with 4 trek leaders. Trekking experience with Mumbai Travellers was good. Would recommend to join a group with a small group for this trek – coz there are three to four bottle necks and two rappelling points where only one member can descend at a time – thus making the procedure more time consuming for bigger groups.

Descending the valley; we crossed through huge boulders, braved the cool winds and crossed 5 foot deep water patch by forming human chains,  rappelled down twice, crossed a cave in military style – crawling on our hands and legs trying not to lift our heads or else, it would bang with the boulders, jumped along the final path and finally set camp in the evening on not so flat surfaced rocks. Playing games and singing songs at the bonfire brought an end to a tiring day only for our eyes to open again to witness the entire lake-side camp bask in the glory of moonlight. It was bright enough for anyone to read a book, if he had brought one 😛 The valley looked extremely calm and beautiful in moonlight – the breeze soothed our bodies and helped divert attention from our aching legs. It looked beautiful in the night.

Our Experience

Siddharth, my trek mate made this poem on Sandhan. As for me, I’m sharing my story through a video this time. Check it out!!

 

Sleeping in taxi and base village for some time,
Trembling, shivering in the cold water, no one wanted to dip in,
Passing the bags and crossing stones,
Many sung songs in tone of their own.

Rappelling was breathtakingly,
sitting on high stones, watching the deep valley,
Jumping on stones to passing the stony cave,
Exhausted and tired, we had no energy saved,
It was a trek all adventure seekers crave.

Under the sky we played funny games,
Attacked on dinner and peacefully slept,
At 1 AM, alone a boy danced, I got to see by chance,
At 3 AM the moon overhead, illuminated the patch,
Only chirping crickets interrupted,
Still the silence and beauty was serene,

The wind at night made us shiver,
Sleeping on stone was once in a lifetime experience,
The upma in breakfast was tasty,
The walk to village was nasty
The village lunch was indeed feasty.

The video – Please watch it in HD mode for clarity!!

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Song of Stars and Mountains – A day at Kashmir Great Lakes trek

KGL

Where eyes opened at dawn with the whistle of the trek leader,
We got out of our tents with toothbrushes and toilet papers…
Attending nature’s call in the midst of cold meadows was a dreaded task,
Its something about which to trekkers you never ask!

Once done with morning routine; we had breakfast and tea,
Waiting for the sunrays to bring warmth in bounty…
Sunscreen on our face made us look like ghosts,
We didn’t curse the sun; for without it we would have frost!

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Sunrays bring warmth after a cold night
Trekkers preparing themselves for the day ahead
Trekkers preparing themselves for the day ahead

Sunrays made way through the surrounding ice clad mountains,

The blue lake mirrored the golden peaks’ reflection…
Overjoyed with happiness, hundreds of sheep ran in glowing sunlight
Casting shadows on the lush green meadows, we saw dreams catch flight!

Vishnusar lake mirrors the golden glow of first sunrays on mountain peaks
Vishnusar lake mirrors the golden glow of first sunrays on mountain peaks
Casting shadows - Sheep playing around in sunlight
Casting shadows – Sheep playing around in sunlight
Emerald blue water at Kishansar Lake
Emerald blue water at Kishansar Lake

Tents were packed, along with food for noon
Things were mount on horses, they were a boon
Holding our backpacks, we began the day’s trek,
For any traces of litter we double checked!!!

Horses carrying the camping tents, cooking equipments at Nichnai Pass
Horses carrying the camping tents, cooking equipments at Nichnai Pass

Trekking pole on a hand, DSLR on another we walked uphill,
Passing by rivulets where melted water was filled…
Ring clouds engulfed mountain peaks,
Glaciers burst to make way for river streams!

Clouds on our top, flowers by our side, and miles to be lost, to ultimately find ourselves!
Clouds on our top, flowers by our side, and miles to be lost, to ultimately find ourselves!
Clouds covering mountain peaks
Clouds covering mountain peaks

Hours passed as we walked on terrain unexplored,
Meadows, snow, rocks, flowers; we couldn’t ask for more
Descent was nothing but the beginning of ascent we learnt,
Enchanted, we kept walking to see the next lake discerned!!!

Where goats pose for you when you take a break!
Where goats pose for you when you take a break!
Descending towards lunch point
Descending towards lunch point

There were moments when we felt we couldn’t make it,
Nature at its glory tired body would refrain to take in…
Fight between body and mind was always at its peak,
But odds of body winning over mind always were bleak!!!

Me after climbing Nichnai Pass. VIshnusar and Kishansar twin lakes in the background
Me after climbing Nichnai Pass. Vishnusar and Kishansar twin lakes in the background
The long descent - Towards Nandkul and Gangbal lakes
The long descent – Towards Nandkul and Gangbal lakes

We reached at a point just 20 km from the Line of Control,
And jumped with joy as we put down the trekking pole,
For it was time to unfurl the Tricolour of ours…
With Patriotism we sung our Jawaans’ glory for hours…

Jai Hind!
Jai Hind!

As we hopped and played at lunch point we arrived,
Resting our bare feet in water, by the river we dined…
Sound of water cutting through rocks brought in peace,
It reiterated struggle was essential, be it business or service!

Thousands I saw at a glance!
Thousands I saw at a glance!
Time had come to halt that moment, it was filled with calmness and happiness
Time had come to halt that moment, it was filled with calmness and happiness

Suddenly, wild horses from far off mountains ran down,
Enthralled, we looked at each other like clowns
And grabbed our cameras as they playfully bathed in the river…
And caressed each other with love infinite as we quivered!

Fellow trekker enjoying view of wild horses passing by
Fellow trekker enjoying view of wild horses passing by
Horses playfully enter into water
Horses playfully enter into water

As they twisted their necks and soaked in sun,
Competing with each other, we saw them run…
It were moments like these we got captivated,
Unspoken love of animals got us motivated!

On their way back!
On their way back!

We walked post lunch at reduced pace,
For campsite wouldn’t be far, though there wasn’t a trace 😛
Singing songs or playing some game as clouds passed by
Landscapes changed, but friends stayed by…

Identifying shapes of clouds was a favourite pass time
Identifying shapes of clouds was a favourite pass time
At one of the Satsar Lakes
At one of the Satsar Lakes
Our own private swimming pool!
Our own private swimming pool!

Finally we were near enough to see the campsite along the lake,
The view tempted us to take a break
Never had near been this far in life…
For to reach it, there was another descent

As we sat there observing the highest peak in the town,
Rivulets formed from melting snow slithered their way down
And joined the sapphire blue water reflecting thousand suns,
Beholding its beauty made all our pains shun!

Harmukh peak in glory with Nandkul lake at its feet
Harmukh peak in glory with Nandkul lake at its feet

As we walked down a sound reached our ears,
Amazed, we looked around to face our fears…
It was a Giant Indian Marmot so shy,
It fled soon as we passed by.

Cute Marmot
Marmot

The campsite view was beyond words,
The smell of pakode and soup struck a chord…
Undeterred by the ice cold water we took a dip in the lake,
It was more difficult than taking a leap of faith!

Nandkul Campsite
Nandkul Campsite
The feeling of chilling water hitting your face!!
The feeling of chilling water hitting your face!!
Engravings on rocks in lake
Engravings on rocks in lake
Nandkul lake
Nandkul lake

As we gathered to play the gentlemen’s game,
Bangalore team hoped to earn fame…
But ROI (Rest of India) team were destined to win the game,
As history repeated itself, Bangalore team lost with shame.

Cricket pitch with a view!
Cricket pitch with a view!

Clouds outburst as we ran for cover,

Chances of a rematch were over…
All wet; we assembled in the kitchen tent,
For what to do next was all set…

Playing cards as we popped on fries
Playing cards as we popped on fries

Playing mafia was a favourite pass time,
Mafias sweared on the country, for it was worth every dime
Villagers got out and mafias won;

And Doctors saved themselves for fun!

As the sun set; the sky dawned a star studded black gown,
And beguiled us with her beauty in which we drowned…
For dinner we ate to our heart’s content,
To summarise it, it was a day well spent!

Sunset at Nandkul lake
Sunset at Nandkul lake
Calendar Khaana lao!! :P
Calendar Khaana lao!! 😛

Washing plates in chilling water was an arduous task,
Later, we gathered in tents after filling hot water in flasks;
The night had just begun as we played game of tens…
Happy and content we felt like kings in our dens!!!

Warmth on hands, friends singing soulful songs, could it Be any better? :P
Warmth on hands, friends singing soulful songs, could it Be any better? 😛

As the moonless night advanced we dared to venture in the dark,
Watching a million stars shine just for us as we left our pug marks…
Nocturnal music entertained us as we shared life stories,
Then all got to sleep while I read Tuesdays with Morrie!

Counting Stars - Milky way as seen from Shekdur Campsite
Counting Stars – Milky way as seen from Shekdur Campsite

When eyes could no longer stay open, I went to sleep
Wondering how many mysteries could nature keep!
Tomorrow would be another date with heaven on earth…
Electrified, I laughed with mirth!!

Photo Courtesy – Abhinav, Chery, Sidd, Udit, Abhineet and myself 🙂