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The journey of a 1000 steps

In my six years and a half years in Mumbai, I have never been to Kihim beach.

So when the opportunity cropped up, I decided to grab it. We reached our destination – Danny’s bungalow on Kihim beach – on Saturday evening at about 6.00 p.m. The bungalow, also goes by the more glamorous name of Sea Castle. The accomodation is pretty basic but clean.

[Hanging around at Danny's Bungalow]

Dhiraj creates an interesting, albeit unintended effect while taking this picture, as we sit around gup-shupping!

After dinner, we went for a midnight walk and admired other people’s beautiful beachside bungalows. Dhiraj nearly went off to sleep on the beach until we reminded him of painful crab bites. Came back to Sea Castle and had some totally strange conversations, but at that time of the night, anything goes. Then chatted with Lynn till the wee hours of the morning about womanly things (all the stuff you can’t talk to men about!).

Any other Sunday morning, I’d be dead to the world at 7.00 am. But this Sunday, I was up and about, raring to go. We were going step climbing.

[With Lynette, in the early stages of the climb. We're okay, so far!]There were around 1000 steps, though the official number we were given was 760. I think they lied. Our out-of-practice muscles said there were twice the number. And to make matters tougher, one step was between 5-10 times a normal step!

The rickshawallah left us at the base of the hill. We asked him to return in one and half hours. He naturally looked very sceptical.

The hill is actually a decoy because you can’t see the other hills behind it 🙂

So there we were climbing and climbing and climbing with no sign of the temple that we were supposed to find at the end of it.

According to our team leader Amit, everything you wish for is granted if you pray at the Kankeshwar temple.

This is a really ancient temple built around a gazillion years ago. The view is beautiful once you have climbed the first 300 odd steps as you get an almost 360 degree view of the surroundings, including mountains, villages and the sea in the distance.

There’s nothing except the sound of birds chirping as you climb the hill. The vegetation gets denser and there are a wide variety of trees to keep you guessing; if you are botanically inclined.

On the way down, we saw several village folk rubbing small stones on the rocks, creating an awful grating sound. While I thought it was an ancient Maharashtrian ritual, Amit discovered that they were actually catching crabs.

The sound makes the crabs uncomfortable and they come scurrying out of their hiding place. The villagers then swoop down on them catching them expertly in their hands and then deposit them into a bag. Eventually, they become someone’s lunch.

The hill is about 10-15 mins from Chondi junction by rickshaw. The trek upwards takes an hour (if you’re reasonably unfit like me) and about 40 minutes if you’re young and agile (like Ajay, whose wishes had gotten granted by the time I reached the temple!).

Chondi junction is about 8 kms from Mandwa jetty, which is about one hour from Gateway of India, if you take a really slow (and seemingly unsafe, but actually quite decent) boat.

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from Mumbai, you can try these beaches – Alibag, Kihim, Rewas – easily accessible from Gateway. The downside is that this particular stretch is not very clean. The sides are littered with plastic, food stuff, bottles, cigarette stubs and human/animal excreta. But for a Mumbaiite, a beach is a beach is a beach.

[Dhiraj and Ajay have a go at volleyball]

So we enjoyed ourselves playing volleyball (actually I watched, while others played!) and frisbee, walking on the beach and eating (nice vegetarian food cooked by two local women).

We were back at the Gateway at about 6.30 pm on Sunday. The Mandwa jetty was closed due to choppy waters so we took a detour via the picturesque Rewas jetty instead.

Lynn suggested we end the weekend with apple pies at Fountain Cafe. Sadly, they had run out of pies, so we settled for hot sundae nut fudge, walnut brownie, tiramisu and blueberry cheesecake instead. A pretty sweet way to end the weekend!

(The trip was organised by India Outdoors. If you’re looking for a quick getaway, an adventure holiday or a weekend break, IO organises frequent trips from Mumbai. So don’t think, just go!)

[*Pictures courtesy: Dhiraj]


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