The year end celebration, this time round were some what muted due to various reasons. We didn’t had any specific plan for the 31st. Hemant and me had a discussion on Monday(31th Dec) about a small trek nearby for the next day. Based on that, I found Kohoj, a fort never heard of before. According to the limited information which I could gather, this trek was supposed to be easy. It was somewhere on the road from Manor to Wada. Around 70kms from Vasai. Ideal candidate for what we were looking for. After a brief discussion, we finalized on Kohoj.
Since this was a last minute plan, only and Prasad apart from us were available for the trek. As per plan I started off at the crack of dawn from my home, picked up Hemant and Sachin on our way to Virar for Prasad. Usually, for most of our treks, we travel towards Pune. Hence Prasad comes all the way to Vasai so as to proceed further. This was the first time we were picking him up from his home. This may sound a bit silly, but he was really happy about this one off exception. Everybody was on time, so by 6:30 we were cruising on the Mumbai-Ahmadabad highway towards Manor. We took a right turn at Manor leaving the highway behind. Our next target was a small village named “Vaghote”. It is around 9 kms from Manor. Since it was early morning, there were hardly any people on the road to ask directions. Unfortunately Google maps had let us down, even it was not able to locate the tiny hamlet correctly. Finally we found a guy who told us that we had came around 2-3 kms ahead. Even after going back it took us some time to find a good place to park our car and to find the path towards the fort. We lost almost half hour in this activity. The fort was hidden in early morning haze.
We proceeded towards the fort based on the instructions we had got on our way. After around 10 – 15 mins the fort was quite clearly visible. As I had mentioned at the very beginning, this was supposed to be an easy trek. But, just at its first sight, honestly speaking, we were taken aback. It is not a tough one though, but nowhere close to easy either. Another reason for our anxiety was that we were not carrying enough “water”. We were left with just a half liter bottle of water and a sole orange in my bag, thats it. Biggest possible blunder for any trekker. Such a basic necessity but the thought never crossed any of our minds till we saw the fort for the first time.
Demoralized though, we proceeded towards the fort. The atmosphere was very pleasant with early morning dew settling on grass and giving it the typical essence we find in forest or farms. In some time we had crossed a small dam below the fort. The trail goes along the perimeter of the lake into the forest. After around 30 mins into the forest, we came across few villagers who were collecting firewood’s. They guided us on the trail ahead. But after climbing few minutes we reached a dead end. The fort’s huge natural wall was just in front of us, but there was no trail which could have lead us ahead. We had to split in group of two, to explore in two different directions. But that effort too was fruitless. Finally we come down back to the villagers and requested them to guide us further.
By now even the sun had risen quite a bit, and despite the dense forest we were feeling the heat. The villager took us through a trail which we could have never found. Since not many people visit this fort at this time of the year, the trail was kind of lost in the bushes. The path we had taken previously was going straight towards the fort where it meets the wall. The actual path circumnavigates the hill. The villager took us through the thick vegetation upto a place where the path ahead was clearly visible. The trail ahead from here was quite steep. After another 15 odd minutes we met another villager. He told us that it would take another 45 minutes to reach the top. From that point we were able to see a cliff which was probably at a distance of 10 mins. We were puzzled a bit as to why did he say 45 mins for such small distance. But the riddle got solved when we covered those 10 mins. We realized, we had covered only half the distance until that point and the actual top was visible only now. Infact the 45 mins which he said seemed to be very aggressive. Prasad, by now was totally worn out. He had whatever was left in the half liter bottle we had with hope that we will find some water at the top. Halting after every few minutes, we finally made it to the top . We were happy, we made it. But the feeling of triumph was diminished to a great extent when we came across the two cisterns at the top. There was water in them, but nowhere close to potable. Infact it was not even good enough to wash our faces. We had the sole orange still remaining, giving us some respite.
After spending some time, we started our return journey. We thought we could make it to the base in an hour, since it doesn’t take much time while declining. But this was not to be. There was still some anguish left for us. After reaching almost half way, we met a village lady. She told us that the path which we were taking is a bit complicated and hence there are high chances of getting lost. There was another path which is simple and would directly lead us to the main road. Unable to make decision, we proceeded on our original path, but then looking at the dense forest, we thought the lady’s suggestion made sense. So we took that path. This was another mistake we made that day. The path was almost two times the original one. The lake which was at the bottom of the hill, appeared far away now. We realized, we have messed up with the path, but we were already far away from the fort. There was a village below the hill we were on. We left the routine trail and started declining towards the village. Sachin and Hemant went ahead of us. We reached the bottom where we requested one villager to give us some water. He was generous enough to give us more than two bottles of water. “Water had never ever tasted that good before” .He told us that the place where we have kept our car is now almost 45 mins from his home. We had to walk back this much distance to get back to our car. It took us another hour to reach our home. So, this is how we completed one of our most exhaustive trek. Exhausted but very much Content.