"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf." ~ Tagore


Sahayadri in the Monsoons

Somit Doshi is a mountaineer and keen rock climbing enthusiast who has introduced several people to the joys of climbing. Here he writes about trekking in the Sahayadris.

Soaking wet under the rains
I was washing away all my pain
As God played with water again.

There is an old proverb : If the sky fails, the earth will surely fail too. In India, monsoon is the most important season and the most sensual one. Since time began we have performed strange rites and rituals to appease the gods to bring forth the rains. The rains spell a romantic freedom. No other season is received with the warmth of welcome of the end of summer. For me, it is a time of joy to visit the hills of Maharashtra.

The Rain Gods of the Sahyadri Hills certainly continue to shower blessings on the people of this land. It rains almost every day during the monsoons with several days of incessant downpour. Moods change with the complete change of landscape and it all happens within days of the onset of the rains.

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For me, it is a period of catharsis and spiritual cleansing. The smell of the first rains, the damp earth, the first step on a puddle, the sight of the looming dark clouds; hmmm...it's impossible for me to spend my weekends indoors at this time of year.

Like other years, I got together with other outdoor enthusiasts from the city for a walk in the clouds. It was time for a hike in the hills of the Sahyadri range. We didn't carry umbrellas and we elected to leave our raincoats behind. The chosen destination was Mahuli. A fantastic place in the rains with plenty of forceful streams and waterfalls. The place is dense with thick green vegetation in wild splendour and green hills that surround the place like giant walls.

Plush ! splash ! plush ! we were marching on the earth and water. It rained continuously while the sound of rumbling thunder echoed in the skies. Sometimes the deafening rage of outburst from the skies would halt me on my path to share my disbelief with the others.

We were in no hurry. We stopped at every opportunity to dance beneath the waterfalls. One waterfall was just the right size and force for a good body massage. Grabbing the best spot to sit under a waterfall is a skill to master. Time moved on but it lacked the urgency to compel us to move with it.

Our next adventure was Overhand Crawling - one good reason to return to Mahuli every year. The river of dreams is in full flow from mid July to mid August. What we did was to tie each end of a rope to each side of the river. We harnessed ourselves and clipped on to the rope upside down. While the raindrops fell on our faces, we pulled ourselves over the gushing waters clinging to the rope until we reached the other side. It was fun and thrilling. I remained suspended on the rope while hanging in the middle of the river. The level of the rope was just right for the river to tickle my back. River crossing is a technical skill, but sheer thrill if you are smart with knots and ropes.

All the activity had made us all very hungry indeed. Experience had taught us to carry loads to eat. An old temple on the way was the perfect setting for a lunch break.

The track meandered through lush green forests, forceful streams and rocky patches. My shoes got completely soaked, but they didn't feel heavy. I was wearing customized rain shoes. They are old shoes with holes at the tip which I wear only for walks in the rain.

I reminded myself not to look at my feet or the path too much, for it robbed me of the delightful sights around. The distant hills were coloured a thick deep green. I recalled the gold and grey patchwork of an earlier visit months ago. The rains had brought life to the parched earth. The tip of the hills seemed to merge with the heavens as rain-laden clouds moved over them. The cascading waterfalls seemed to emerge from nowhere at all.
In India, monsoon is the most important season and the most sensual one. Since time began we have performed strange rites and rituals to appease the gods to bring forth the rains.
It was 2 p.m., impossible to determine from the light of day. The sun was practically hidden for the greater part of the day by dark dense clouds. The day was cloudy and the temperature must have been a pleasant 22 to 24 degrees. We reached the top of the hill where lies a ruin of stone. Here, the mist had shrouded the hilltop. I think the visibility must have been around 30 feet. It seemed incredible God's Paradise. Nature is very benevolent in sharing it's beauteous bounty.

This was not merely a hike or a trail in the hills. It was an altogether different outdoor experience. Perhaps getting drenched all day in the rain had freed us of our inhibitions. Who cares? I have all the weekends of monsoon to treasure.

(Photo Credit: Somit Doshi)

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.