I have hiked the Pandavleni Caves in Nasik several times. Surrounded by a lush greenery around, the caves are an ideal place for the early morning Pranayama lovers. I wondered though what lied beyond the caves, most of the times, but didn’t really make up my mind for it. Until in the rainy season of 2013, I finally decided to hike beyond the caves to find out…
A regular morning at the Caves
It was a family reunion when I created another excuse to climb the caves. My elder cousin, Suman, still maintains his ultra-fitness of his old school cricket days (He is an awesome sportsman and follows a strict diet and exercise schedule). As I mentioned him about the idea of hiking the Pandavleni caves, I knew the answer cannot be No. He kind of loves adventurous challenges. My younger cousin Abhishek was still getting a hang of our adventurous knack. He is amazingly persistent- doesn’t give up at all, until he does it. So, the group was just perfect for the job.
We climbed up early morning at 6, and this time, I kept on hold a little secret until I reached the top. I wanted to go beyond the caves, but I also had to see that all of us were ready for it. We jogged up the entire 600+ stairs up to the caves. I was able to feel the muscles tearing up, as I made my way up there. By 06:30, we were at the caves.
The Idea Of Exploring Beyond
After reaching the top, it was time for that deep long breath and the view of the Nasik city from the caves. Frankly speaking, from those caves, it is more of a revelation about life.It is like a bird’s-eye view of life and the minuscule ness of the human form. When I see things from up here, I realize how sometimes, we entangle ourselves with the trivial things in life and miss out on the larger perspective. Rather than looking for the happiness in these small moments of life, we are more bothered about how to win in the rat race, and in the bargain, lose out on these precious unforgettable moments.
It was time to enjoy these moments as we rarely get to meet each other. And when we do, we have lots and lots of stories and experiences to share, but very little time to cover all of them. I was somehow not ready today to go back so soon. After all, we also rarely got to hike together.
I just popped the question to everyone- Should we go further ahead? Let’s climb up further. I think they were kind of waiting for me to ask this question. And off we went, to climb further.
Feeling the Climb
The climb ahead was going to be challenging. The morning had started with showers and the track was slippery. Although the steel railings along the track help you in the climb, but they do not last until the end of the climb. As we started moving ahead, we realized the slope was getting gradually vertical. The grass still held the raindrops and some patches had pebble stones on the ground. One wrong foot was causing us to slip down, and the grip got tougher as we climbed up further.
At one point, I stepped on the pebble stones and I tripped, landed on my hands and started to slip down. It was not the first time this happened with me. Such things are usual when you try to climb up the slopes. The key is to keep your body facing sideways while climbing and not trying to go straight. This way, you can shift your body weight on the rear foot if you trip off.
As I tried recovering myself, I looked ahead. Several yards ahead, I noticed my elder cousin, taking long paces and striding forwards, as if it was a daily activity for him. Abhishek and I struggled behind, to climb up with slow paces and trying to keep up our balance.
Enjoying the View
Finally, when we made it to the top, the strong breeze awaited to give us a welcome embrace. A bench at that point made me wonder how someone would have managed to put it there. Definitely, not the way we tried to climb there today. The rainfall had revived the greenery of the land again and a green carpet enveloped the entire Pandavleni hills.
Far off, the Mumbai highway carried the hustle and bustle of the entire city; tiny vehicles plying to and fro over the road and trying to meet up with the timelines of the day. For us, it was not just a regular day, rather it was time to enjoy whatever little moments we got to stay together. The view from here was simply splendid and breathtaking.
From that height, for a moment, we tried to spot our house on the vast concrete jungle in front of us. The tiny green speck at the center of the picture is roughly the area where our house stood. It was now time to move back for us now.
In my experience, and I know the others too would agree to my words too, the difficult part is not climbing up the hill, it is moving down. Try doing that after your muscles get tired and that steep ascent, and it feels as if your legs are going numb and not in your control anymore. They somehow seem to move on their own, with your movements often breaking off down the knees. It is a terrible situation as you can fall anytime.
Our situation was no different. Add to it the pebbles on the slopes and it was another tripping descent to meet. We could now feel the thigh muscles straining and the pain in the muscles kept increasing, as I muscles stretched beyond their elastic limits.
It was 10:00 when finally reached the bottom of the Pandavleni hills. It was a fabulous hike and now, we were eager to hit the breakfast tables, for a sumptuous hog.