I started trekking way back in 1998 that too by chance. I had just returned from my stint in the US. One of the things you do when you are in the US, is travel, visit places. The kind of exposure it gave me about nature, wild-life, heritage conservation in US, it opened up whole new world in front of me. During my stay there, I also happened to read lot about India. As they say, you realize importance of certain things more when you are not near to it. And my inclination to history also made me take plunge.
It was rainy season. I happened to notice a note in local newspaper about a trek on the outskirts of Pune, now famous K2S trek-Katraj to Sinhgadh fort. Katraj is a top of a pass in Sahyadri mountains(ghat). This obviously was not very first time I had ventured into trekking in Sahyadris. I had few incidences where I had been to SInhgad, Matheran, even Lohgadh etc. But the series of treks after K2S trek and my association with forts lovers such as Sachin Joshi, Satish Marathe(of Giridarshan), and subsequent exposure to books on trekking written by Anand Palande etc gave me different perspective and triggered my hidden interest in history.
I don’t have to describe my K2S trek experience. It is very well known trek these days. It is, of course, popular during rainy days and also for a night trek on full moon day. This trek got hooked me on trekking in general more seriously. The next one was a trek to plateau called Rayreshwar, which is famous for a temple where famous king Shivaji took oath with his colleagues at age of 16, to fight for independence. In the rainy season, this plateau is a full of wild flowers.
Later that year went to Rajmachi twin forts, Vasota-jungle fort off Koyna dam backwaters, Karnala Wildlife Sanctuary, Shivthar Ghal-famous cave inhabited by Samarth Ramdas Swami in 17th century deep in the forest. All these places are in the vicinity of 50-150 km from Pune.
My trekking journey began that year has continued till now. I have visited more than 150 first, mostly in Sahyadris in Maharashtra, but few others outside. I also went on excursions in national parks, state parks, sanctuaries and explored wildlife, flora and fauna with various experts which enriched my understanding about it. I intend to cover some of the memorable experiences in subsequent blogs in future. I had already written about couple of them already in the past though(Meergad, Surla) which you may enjoy reading about.
I have not explored Himalayan treks so far. That has eluded me so far. That is next on my list. And some international trekking sites such Mt Kilimanjaro. Of course, no mountaineering-too old for it now.