Monday, October 5, 2015

A trek to Chinchoti Waterfalls...

My  first trek amidst one of Mumbai's western , or to be more accurate , northwestern suburbs.

These waterfalls, the Chinchoti Waterfalls lie in the Tungareshwar National Park, which lie to the east of Vasai  , which is an old  northwestern coastal suburb of Mumbai.  About 5 kms from the Mumbai-Palghar stretch of the highway near  Vasai, these falls are about 100 feet high and about 20 feet wide.

Maharashtra has the Sahyadri mountains (Western Ghats) that run north-south parallel to the coast and the Satpura mountains lie north. Several rivers like  Krishna, Bhima, Godavari, Tapi – Purna, and Wardha- Wainganga flow across the land, and some of them empty into the Arabian Sea, and the geography lends itself to the formation of many beautiful waterfalls, like the Chinchoti waterfalls.

For the record, there are 52 wonderful waterfalls in Maharashtra .

I took the early morning western Railway suburban train to Naigaon, a station just before Virar, the furthest point on the western suburban train network, and met up with our team.

The trek would be through the village of Kaman .  We reached Kaman via the shared autos from the Naigaon Station.  A Dhaba Breakfast and an introduction followed.

We would trek through the narrow jungle path via Tungareshwar which is not known to many.  Two separate jungle routes end at two spots near the waterfalls, and so dense is the jungle and so narrow the path, that one may get lost without a reliable guide.

Unusually heavy October  rains in the region meant we would have to be careful with the flow of the waterfall , which is reputed to be dangerously fast in the rains.  The falls are actually a set of 2 falls, one above the other. This is an exciting trek where we hear the waterfall for a long time before we see it, amidst chirping insects in the dense jungle  along our path.

Heavy rain, followed by sunshine, and rain again. We descended from the falls and stopped for a tea break at the village. It was again too hot for tea.

And that's where I had the best sugarcane juice of my life. 2 glasses.

 An early start from home, predictions of rain , and trekking to the falls with friends calls for a hot breakfast  at the village , just before the jungle starts. And because this is Mumbai, hot fresh Vada Pao it is .  

  We proceed towards the falls through various fields. Mainly rice fields.  The base village is Kaman. 

      A few pretty captures en route, while still in the fields. Canna Lilies, often grown in gardens , and commonly used also for worship. 

 She has probably seen too many folks with backpacks traipsing by and is a bit upset at the encroachment of her territory.  Portrait of a village belle :-) .

 A typical walking path through the jungle overgrowth as we move away from the village . 

 One starts meeting streams here and there , indicating that we are on the right track.  It is easy to get lost in these dense woods. One hears the flow of water before one sees the water.
I needed to stop to capture some beauties along the way. Need identification for this flower.   I can see some unopened buds , and then there are these moths and dragonflies  on a nectar visit.

Amazing flower ! Need someone to identify it.  What a construction !  

Very clearly, there is huge insect traffic along the way.  That is why one hears a constant buzz  as one treks through the dense jungle.

A typical path. Makes it necessary to walk in single file. 

This must have been a stream area at one time. 

Yes, we are on the right track. We keep hitting streams as we climb.

And then I find these beauties.  You could almost title this a Jungle Garba . Don't know their name, but surely reminds me of the impending Navratri , Garbas and swirling Ghagras ...

Another beauty of a mushroom. Need an identification.  A top view. 

A side view of the same maybe. Or another one belonging to the same family .

A burst of sunshine  in a dark jungle and a day overcome with monsoon clouds, threatening to burst.

Yes, so much beauty, but the beasts have been busy, marauding it for honey.  The ways of the world. 

You can tell we are at an elevation now  and getting closer to the actual Falls. 

A long shot of the Falls, you can tell from the size of the people gathered on the rock. 

A view of the top of the falls taken from another rock top. .  These falls actually descend in two steps.

The falls descend somewhere on the right as you can see. This large pool of water is fairly deep, like 15 feet in some parts. It is a popular location for those visiting the falls.

Notice how folks are enjoying the water  with life jackets and floating jackets on. This must be a slightly deeper part.

A person who has been a swimmer and coach cannot keep away, and so here I am , mobilizing for a jump. Having kept away safely my camera and other stuff.

Clearly an action photograph. And it was good idea not to dive.

Yes, that's me.  Photo taken from a greater height. The guy in the water looks surprised and has turned to look.
But it was great fun. Would have done it again if the rains had not started.

Another long view of the falls. It had started raining a bit by now as you can see.

Rain brings out the best in everyone, whether it is plants or humans.  It started raining heavily and I tested by cell phone cover by clicking these . One of our team members in the background. 

The monsoon torrents rushing down the rock faces.  The flow of the water downstream from the falls is extremely rapid  when it rains here.

Here is a group pf us , enjoying the rains and the falls.

The raging Chinchoti waterfalls in a heavy monsoon downpour.

You can see the rage of the water more clearly here.  Clearly, it is very dangerous to be anywhere in the pool at this point. Our entire group was well out and away from the pool and on our way down , thanks to timely instructions from the team leaders. Those who did not take heed of warnings from experienced people , saw their cell phones  etc flow away. 

I don't know what this plant is. What berries these are.  But just one of the beauties I captured on our way back to he village and thence to Naigaon, amidst the hide and seek of rains and the Sun.

Like I said,  after imbibing the best sugarcane juice in the world.

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