Sandhan Valley, A Trek to Remember by Damini Mahajan

Womendiaries

Author: Damini Mahajan

"It was telling me to kneel, to bow. It was very mesmerizing. The mighty Sahyadri mountain ranges were calling me. The scenic beauty left me speechless and without thinking, I bowed"

Have you ever been to Sandhan valley?

The place is very near to my heart. The valley is surrounded by Sahyadri mountains like Kalsubai which is the highest peak of Maharashtra mountain ranges, mighty forts like AMK, Ratangad, etc. rated as the toughest trek in Sahyadri. The Sandhan valley is Asia’s 2nd biggest valley.

My dad and I went to this Sandhan valley with a trekking group. We reached Samrad village at night, stayed there, and woke up early in the morning. After breakfast, our leader gathered us all and had a round of introductions. In the introduction, the leader, Abhijeet, told us that the Sandhan valley is the combination of a valley and a canyon which is located near Igatpuri, Maharashtra, India.

We were carrying a sleeping mat, water, some food, and clothes. We started descending to the valley. There were some patches where we could walk normally and at places, there were big boulders to cross.

Sandhan valley is also known as the valley of suspense. One cannot predict what’s coming next. While descending, we came across a lake. Abhijeet told us to remove our shoes, socks and to carry our bags above our head. We needed to cross the lake with the help of a side rock that was perpendicular to the ground (steep). I could not hold onto it; hence I swam the river.

When my dad was crossing the river, because the depth of the river was one suspense, he accidentally stepped on an edged rock and got a cut on his foot. For the whole trek, he could not walk properly.

The valley is also known as the valley of shadows. One could see the bands of scorching sun rays and darkness crisscrossing through the way.

With the help of leaders and volunteers, we were marching ahead.
… and then came the rappelling spot! We needed to descend the rock which was 50 feet tall. Abhijeet had the necessary rappelling equipment. He helped us to go down one by one.

When my turn came, he told me to go down slowly. But curiosity killed the cat! Because I looked down to see where I was going, I saw nothing. Nobody was down there. I panicked I looked up to my leader. He quickly realized and told me to calm down. He asked me to fix my eyes on him. He told me not to look down, he encouraged me.

I followed him and started to rappel. After some time, I could not see him anymore, and at one point, I could not fix my leg on the rock and I lost control. For few minutes, I was hanging to the rope. My life was hanging by the thread. At first, I thought of calling Abhijeet but realized that was not the option. The only option was to go down until I see my 2nd leader. I kept myself motivated until I reached the ground. (I remembered stories of the queen of Jhansi, stories of Black widow from the movie Avengers. I chanted god’s name many times.)


As soon as my feet touched the ground, I started trembling. The leader told me to sit down like everyone else and said he is very proud of me. After few minutes, my dad also reached the ground, and we started to go further. Meanwhile, we kept hydrating ourselves by drinking energy drink. Abhijeet had given a big packet of citrus drink to everyone.

After few hours, we reached our 2nd rappelling spot. The rock was 25 feet tall. This time, rappelling was piece of cake.

At the 3rd rappelling spot, the rock was 30 feet tall, but we had to go through a vertical cave. This time, Abhijeet did not tell us to wear harnesses but simply tied ropes around our waist and guided us to throw ourselves into that cave, hang onto the rope and go down slowly.

And at the last rappelling spot, he told us to descend without any ropes, without the harness. He just said to hold the rocks, and rappel our way down down.

I swear this trek tested me mentally and physically. It was very challenging. But there was something that kept me amazed, My dad – Ravindra Mahajan! That retired man with his feet injured, with his frozen shoulder, was enjoying the trek so much…. he was clicking pictures, he was laughing with others, he was helping everyone in their difficult situations….. watching him, I felt amazed and excited.


Finally, after 8 hours of strenuous journey, we reached our destination. There was a natural water resource near our camping area. We were so happy and delighted to see the lake that many of us went for swimming. But my friend and I chose to relax and take some rest. Hence, we sat at the banks of the lake and witnessed the beauty of the jungle. We stared at the calm water. We enjoyed the small ripples when a leaf fell into the water. By looking at the lake, we felt very relaxed and fresh.
A few hours later, Abhijeet called us to build the tents. At night, our local guide served hot food and we had a campfire and we fell under the spell of a starry night.

Later, we went to sleep but almost everyone was feeling severe body pain. Abhijeet did provide sprays and painkillers but there was no rest for a wicked! The next day we had to wake up early, but our legs were heavy. So, we stretched a bit and after breakfast, we again started the trek.

Again, for half an hour we were descending. But this time to reach the Samrad village, we needed to climb the mountains. Climbing is my favorite part. Within 3-4 hours we reached the peak of the mountain.
But then in the middle, there was a steep rock. Abhijeet told us to climb up without taking the help of anything or anybody. After conquering this part, I felt very proud of myself. I was excited and congratulating myself when I saw her…Dark skinned, white teeth, lean body. She was walking like she owns the mountain, without a faltering step. She was barefeet and carrying a huge bag above her head. She was a villager! All my overconfidence got washed away.


We reached the top of the mountain and there it was! The ‘Konkan Kada’. It was telling me to kneel, to bow. It was very mesmerizing. It is a plateau from where if we look down, we could see the big ravine with scenic nature and if we look up, we could see mountains touching the clouds. The scenic beauty left me speechless and without thinking, I bowed.

Humble-minded we came back to the village and went to Ghatghar dam to freshen up. We took deep dives one after the other. It took away all our tiredness. And it was the true satisfaction of completing the trek.

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