(Read it on rediff.com: Visiting the Holy and High Abode of Shiva!)
How I wish that title could be 'A Trek in BhimaShankar and Tryambak'! But illplanning cost us heavily and what I had hoped for a challenging trek trip turned out to be just a little more than travel trip. But nevertheless this was a memorable trip simply because I got opportunity to two of the holiest places in India. Can't feel luckier than that!
Hyderabad-Pune was uneventful, if you discount Narayan's tryst with APSRTC, and we reached Sivaji Nagar in Pune at the promised time. (You will have to give this to APSRTC, they are the most punctual luxury bus operators I have travelled with.) After a brief stopever in a 'lodge',that made us wonder if it was a 'Decent Hotel' (remember 'Jab We Met'?), we took a bus to BhimaShankar from Sivaji Nagar bus stand. This was a big mistake.
If you are planning to trek in BhimaShankar, do NOT take direct bus from Sivaji Nagar to BhimaShankar. It will take you all the way to top of the hills and leave you at almost doorstep of temple! Take the train from Sivaji Nagar railway station to Karjaat. That is where the trekking actually starts.
BhimaShankar is 125 km from Pune and the bus takes 4 hours. Yes 4 hours! The road is extremely bad in most part and the rattle of MRTC bus gave me a headache! You can also get cab to BhimaShankar if you want, though expense will be on a higher side.
BhimaShankar is one of the 12 Jyotirlings and hence I was surprised (or shocked!) by absolute lack of security in the temple. The metal detector was off, the security guys were selling laddoos and I was allowed to go in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple with my bag which was not even touched for checking. However once I was in all my scepticism vanished and I felt blessed that Lord facilitated me to have His darshan! I just thanked God for his great mercy and came out.
And though MTDC has no presence what so ever, the nature gives you an eyeful! View of Sahyadri Hills and the valley is spectacular. The heights are dangerous and enticing simultaneously. The rocks are covered with thick green and you can feel the expanse even in the air. It's a tremendous feeling being there.
You must spend atleast a couple of days here to be able to trek and explore the entire area properly. I was very disappointed that I could not roam around the place at all and tried to lessen that disappointment by taking some photographs!
Next destination was Nasik, where we had to spend the night before moving to Tryambak. After a hopping bus journey (BhimaShankar-Manchar-NarayanGaon-Nasik) described as 'hitch-hiking' by MSR and which saw great enthusiasm from Narayan we reached Nasik. The hotel seemed to be in an old building and musty smell of our room reminded Narayan of his 'ancestral home'!
Tryambak is just 30 km from Nasik and again we had made a mistake in choosing our destination. Instead of staying at Nasik we could have to Tryambak directly since there are lot many hotels and lodges there. If you are planning for trekking in Tryamabak, make sure you start really early. And it's best to stay here only for the night.
MSR and Uday had their sins washed in the 'Paap Nashini Teertham' before we went to temple. (Narayan and I washed the sins of our feet only!) You can't carry even mobile and cameras inside the temple complex and have to keep them in 'lockers' provided by local shopkeepers. There is a very interesting tradition here. Before you enter the main temple which houses the Lord, you pass through a small temple which houses 'Nandi' the faithful bull on which he rides. People whisper their wishes in the ear of Nandi and it is assumed that he will convey them to Lord himself. You see this 'sifarish' culture is embedded deep in our roots ;)
In the main temple, again I thanked Lord for his mercy on me and seeked blessings. However unlike BhimaShankar there was no time to think anything since the security whisks people away almost the instant they appear before sanctum sanctorum!
It was 11 and we still had atlest 4 hours before we needed to start for Shirdi to reach there in time for bus back to Hyderabad. I was hell bent on trekking to BrahmaGiri and though there were faint murmurs of 'not being sufficient time' and 'not being appropriate time' we started the journey. There were various versions of truth: how much time you need for entire journey? The answers ranged from 4 to 2 hours and I set the corresponding targets for our group from 3 to 1.5 hours! (And we did it in 3 hours!)
The trek to Brahmagiri is not too difficult. There are stone steps which can be a little difficult at times and at some places they are pretty steep but hot sun can be your only challenge if you start late. The view along the journey is exhillirating. The feeling of reaching and then going on top of the rock formations which look intimidating from a distance is simply wonderful. We had darshan in BrahmaGiri and ShivJata temples both on the same range about 100 meters apart.
Uday found a special liking for the Nimbu Pani being sold all along the path and he found ready partners in MSR and Narayan and these three brought a lot of cheer to some people that day!
Back to Tryambak town, we took a taxi to Shirdi which got us there in about two hours. Little more liquid diet for the trio (and mercifully some solids as well!) and we were in the APSRTC Garuda ready to start back to Hyderabad!
The photos of the trip:
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