Something different, Something challenging, Something courageous…..!
Why, What, When and How –
A dream becomes a goal when a primary action is taken toward its achievement. So
true…. the journey of ‘Dream to Reality’; right from the initiation of that very first action &
the whole process thereafter is an experience by itself. It is my firmly held belief that the
‘Master Key’ to achieve any goal, (irrespective of its size and nature) is the intense and
pure desire backed by a high degree of self-commitment.
For me personally, there wasn’t any specific reason to take up such a task of this
expedition. However, the paramount motive was to genuinely assess the mental,
emotional and physical attributes at this stage of life. The appropriate timing to take up
such a challenge was ‘now’, simply because in the process of reclaiming the potential of
youth and exploring various themes of transformation during the last couple of years;
the current timing, I thought was just right….
After overcoming all the odds and convincing the mind, I finally decided to go ahead and
accordingly soon shared this idea with Sharad and Sanjay. Together three of us have
had successfully accomplished quite a few challenging treks in the recent past. They
both were fascinated with the idea and took their time to arrive at a decision. After
looking at their respective professional commitments and domestic obligations which
was quite obvious & pragmatic, given the amount of time required to be earmarked for
such a mission; they both were ‘in’. Thereafter the actual process of preparation started
which called for various aspects such as micro detailing, precise planning, coordination,
consultation, physical training and last but not the least – involving all those concerned
whenever and wherever necessary. Accordingly, we commercially hired and engaged
‘Saad’ team with crystal clear scope of deliverables, primarily for their support for
technical climbs & route guidance.
The entire process of designing and drawing up a concrete plan was interesting but time
consuming as well. One important part of this preparation was the meeting with Prasad
Nikte in Thane to seek his valuable inputs, for he had successfully accomplished his
mission ( 2017) of ‘Walking on the Edge’ – 1000 Kms in 75 days. Other significant items
of this process were – intimation to various police stations, seeking permissions from
forest department, obtaining medical emergency numbers etc.
As the time progressed, our confidence level enhanced and ultimately reached fever
height by the time of Kick Off Dinner Meet which was arranged on 31st October, 2021 at
my residence. We had invited select few guests from the field of Mountaineering &
Adventure sport, for this function and were fortunate enough to have with us the
legends like Shiv Chhatrapati Award winner – Everest Veer, Shri. Umesh Zirpe;
Chairman of Maha Adventure Council & Founder of High Places, Shri. Vasant Vasant
Limaye, Olympic Gold Quest Pune Chapter Head & renowned businessman Shri.
Manish Sabade; Limca Book Record holder & renowned businessman Shri. Vinit
Kenjale; 1985 Trans Sahyadri Achiever Shri. Sanjay Doiphode; Owner & CEO –
Sindbad Publications Shri. Ranjit Jadhavrao, SmartMark senior team members, friends
Immediately after Diwali festival, we left from my place on 7th November morning for the
starting point. My lad, Atharva and his friend Tanmoy accompanied us in a separate car
to drop us at Waghambe (Gujarat – Maharashtra border). On the way in Nasik, we all
were overwhelmed with our friend Uttam’s gesture of warm and affectionate reception at
his farm house. We reached Waghambe at about 7.30 pm in the evening and settled
down for our first halt in a temple. A dinner at Adivasi house that night was a memorable
one, for their warmth and loving demonstration of hospitality.
‘Day One’ began with getting up at 5 am and sorting out our essentials required for the
day. We started our expedition that morning with full of enthusiasm and confidence.
Atharva & Tanmoy started for their return journey back to Pune that morning. Each day
thereafter was altogether a different and unique experience.
The beauty of majestic canvas of Sahyadri mountain range or the Western Ghats,
called as The Great Escarpment of India comprising of country’s flora & fauna is simply
mind blowing. We could witness the wide spectrum of diversity of the societal fabric and
accordingly the variety in the taste of cuisine from the northern tip to southern tip of
Stepping out of the comfort zone / daily mundane and living a totally different life for
over three weeks was a challenge by itself, in addition to the demanding fitness and
endurance levels. It certainly requires a trained and different level of mental
strength. Striking the right balance is a dire necessity in order to display the stability in
all difficult & volatile circumstances. The real test of courage was the Day Three, given
all the technical aspects of rock climbing and rappelling required for climbing Madangad & Alang-gad and that too with 15 kgs + sacks on our backs. Apart from this, the
long stretches in the mountains, the identification of right places (shelter) for night halts
(be it a temple or a veranda or village school or caves in the mountains), the deadly
traverse, the challenging elevation gains at times, the long treks of over 42 kms a day
sometimes, the long days of walking on the edges of mountains and number of passes,
the search for replenishment of water bottles from any available flowing water stream /
sources etc, – everything was a exposure to a different world. During the entire
expedition, for me the moment of enlightenment was when we reached Raereshwar
Fort on Day Thirteen. This Raereshwar Fort is of paramount significance in the history
of Maratha age, for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took the ‘Oath of Hindavi Swarajya’ at
age sixteen on 27th April, 1645 at this very fort in the temple. We reached Raereshwar
quite late that day. It was about 8.30 pm when we were inside the same temple &
literally at the same spot, where Shivaji Maharaj took oath of hindavi swarajya. It was a
great feeling and very special moment, as we sat inside the temple.
For me personally, the real test of emotional attribute was the final day…… “The Two
It was Day 23 the Final Day of our expedition. We were very happy as we were almost
through with our mission, as planned. We already had crossed a milestone of 600 kms
on Day 22 and on the last & final day, we just had 2 more forts for climbing (Samangad
& Pargad) taking the tally of forts to 24. So that was an exhilarating moment and we
were in a euphoric state of mind…. – joy of achievement.
I was up at 5 am this morning of Day 23 and was going through my inbox of mobile
phone. I was shocked and shattered with a message that was just received few minutes
before I woke up. A very dear & close friend of mine passed away that morning in
Melbourne. This final day i.e. Day – 23, was a Tuesday and this friend was following us
and cheering us and watching our updates on YouTube channel until Sunday the 28th
November,2021. I was aware about his illness and therefore had asked for my Aussie
Visa Renewal whilst on the expedition i.e. on 16th November. Never thought that he
would take the exit all of a sudden and so early.
This experience of being in between the two extremes can’t be described in words –
one end being the blissful moment, for life time achievement and the other for heartbreaking news of losing someone very near & dear.
Before concluding, I must say that this expedition in return, gave us lot of learnings from
different angles. This Trans Sahyadri Expedition 2021 was the real test of my physical,
mental and emotional attributes.
It is now the ‘RECORD’ in the “India Book of Records” : – “Trans Sahyadri
Expedition completed by a Quinquagenarian Trio – Non Stop 23 Days Trekking –