Thanale Cave Trek
Participants – Gopal (Trek Lead), Rakesh(Deputy)
Abhishek, Chandan ( and group),Kiran, Lalitesh and family ( names please), Mr and Mrs Sib( please correct the name), Nitin, Piyush, Pramod , Sai Nath, Vinay, Winnith
Date of trek : 27/28-Jun-2009
The delay in the arrival of the monsoons did not dampen the spirit of adventure for many of us trekkers who participated in the first monsoon trek organized by Bhramanti to Thanale caves. The plan was to take the Mumbai local train to Khopoli on Saturday night, halt at the station or bus depot for the night, take the ST bus to Pali in the morning and from there another bus to Thanale village. Chandan and group boarded the train from CST station at 8:15 pm . This is the last train from CST to Khopoli. Piyush and Winnith boarded it at Kurla at 8:42 pm and Sainath, Pramod, Vinay boarded the train at Thane at around 9:15 pm. Nitin got in at Kalyan about half an hour later. Due to the heavy traffic, Rakesh was not able to reach Thane station on time to board the train and so he proceeded to Panvel, where he joined Gopal and they boarded the bus to Khopoli. We reached Khopoli station at around 11pm. Due to a continuous drizzle the station was quite damp and there was no decent spot on the platform where we could halt for the night. We then proceeded to the marketplace outside the station to see if we could get anything to eat. Here we were joined by Abhishek, a big backpack trekking enthusiast. Luckily there was a hotel which was still open at that hour and we had our dinner there. The next thought on everyone’s mind was to find a place where we could just crash for the night. By the time we had our dinner which was around midnight , Gopal and Rakesh reached the Khopoli bus depot and after some unfruitful discussion on both sides as to pass the night at the station or the depot, Gopal and Rakesh came to the station. We then tried to find a lodging to pass the few hours left of the night, but the rates there were not reasonable and so we decided to walk back to the depot to pass the night there. This is a good 40 minute walk and was a warmup to the actual trek which we would begin the next day. We then spent the night in the company of a lot of mosquitoes who not only made us exercise our hands all through the night but also ensured that we would be awake through most of the night so that we would not miss the first bus to Thanale in the morning. We were joined in the middle of the night by Mr and Mrs Sib. Everyone was awake well before the scheduled departure time, thanks to our mosquito friends. We then had some refreshing tea at a nearby stall and boarded the bus to Pali at around 6:15 am . We reached Pali at around 7:30 am passing through a very scenic countryside which was turning green all around with the advent of the monsoons. Here we met Kiran, Lalitesh and his family who had just arrived by car. We had our breakfast of pohe, vadas and missal pav at the depot canteen. There was a bus to Thanale village at 9:45 am . Since the wait for this bus would waste a lot of time we took another bus at 8:30 which would drop us at Dhondse phata and from there we proceeded on foot to Thanale village which took us about half an hour. After the introduction session by all members of the group we started the trek to the caves at around 9:30 , accompanied by a group of six bratty and noisy village boys. This trek is through quite a dense forest cover. After an initial ascend to a certain height we could see the caves at a distance as tiny dark spots in a horizontal line. We then reached a small stream where we rested and took a group photo. This stream could be a potential block during heavy rains & would not be able to cross through due to water flowing.
We started the climb again. Shortly, one encounters a left route which takes one to the Waghjai ghat which leads uphill to Telbaila village
There is a magnificent line of Budhist caves. In one of first few caves there are some enormous stupas carved from solid rock. The initial cave halls/rooms are ok while the last 8-10 caves have been blocked due to the cave roof collapse. The middle cave is very much suitable for a good relaxing sleep alongwith a community program.
Quite a few in the group explored all the caves and the adjoining areas. We skirted the caves from the front side & climbed up the hill which the caves belonged to. The top is being deforested severely. May be in a decade or so, the existing caves could get filled up by the mud from above due to deforestation.
We had lunch that we had all brought along and at around 1:30 pm we started our journey down to the village. On the way back we again passed some time near the small waterfall. Kiran, Lalitesh and group stayed on while the rest of us proceeded down to the village. The descent was much quicker and by 2:30 we reached Thannale village. After resting for about 5 minutes we then started walking on the road again to Dhondse phata to catch the bus to Pali. On reached there, we saw two Vikrams( tum tums) standing, and took a ride on them to Pali. There was a bus to Thane at around 4, but it was already crowded on reaching the depot and got filled to the brim at Pali making us impossible for us to board this bus. We then took the 4:45 bus to Panvel. Some of us got down at Khopoli and a few others at Kharjat to take a train back to the city and the rest continued the journey ahead to Panvel.
Telbaila, Thanale Cave Trek
25th - 26th Feb 06
This was going to be simple / medium grade trek.
The city had already started experiencing the pre summer heat.
The trek was dated for 25 th & 26 th February.
Telbaila and Thanale Caves lie in-between Lonavla and Pali region and can be approached from both directions.
As per to our schedule, we, a group of six which included 2 guest members started off for Lonavla taking the 9 am bus from Thane (Vandana) ST bus depot. A bus at 12 noon was to be boarded heading directly to Telbaila village. There are 3 buses from Lonavala for Telbaila. 9am, 12 noon & 4.30pm. except for which the 9am bus goes only till Ambavne village (sahara city and base village of Korigad) whereas, rest two go right upto Bhamburde (base village for Ghangad and Navra – Navri Pinnacles) via. – Telbaila. We reached Lonavla well in time to avail the 12 noon bus. Later, after confirming with the ST officials, it was brought to our notice that the bus supposed to leave at 12 noon, which due to unavoidable breakdown condition would not ply. Instead we would have to go in for some private transport or wait for the next bus at 4.30pm. The private transport would definitely run us out of our budget. So no much of alternative left, but to take the 4.30pm bus. A long time to pass. The wait till 4.30pm seemed endless, as no much of activity to do, except for to have the pack lunch, sit at the bus depot and wait, wait and wait. The time seemed to crawl.
The time somehow passed away and it was time for the 4.30 pm bus. A passenger waiting to travel by the same bus was too humble to come and inform us about the bus. The journey finally started at 5pm. We were lucky enough to find seats for ourselves as the bus later got overcrowded. Finally making its way over the winding road and through the beautiful forest via. Ambavne, Mazgao and Salter we finally reached Telbaila at around 6.15 pm, just in time to witness the beautiful sunset. The road onwards Ambavne is in extremely poor condition. ‘Hats off to the ST Mahamandal to provide bus services in such remotest areas’. On the way, the very first glimpse of the unique two grand walls of Telbaila is simply exciting. It’s was a sigh of relief to set foot in the Telbaila village. Kept our sacks at one of the villagers hut, we made our way over the plains to view the setting sun. Spent some time there eating snacks and enjoying the sunset and the cool breeze. It was already dark by now. Retracing our footsteps, we returned back into the village and moved our base into the courtyard of the Hanuman temple where we would spent our night. We had to skip on our much badly wanted evening tea as it was getting late to start with the preparations for dinner, as, per to our schedule (which was already delayed by almost half a day) we would windup for the day as early as possible and start early the next day and try to cover-up some time. In no time, everything was set, and the group got started with their assigned work for making dinner. For a change, after a long time, rice and vegetable curry (potato, cauliflower and green peas) along with another combination of vegetable (brinjal cooked over bonfire) was on the menu (courtesy : KK – Dy. leader), instead of the conventional khichidi. We winded up early for the day.
Next day morning was very pleasant. As per to our plan, keeping the sacks in the temple itself we would visit the col inbetween the two walls of Telbaila, come back and descend down to Thanale caves via. Waghjai Ghat and to Thanale village for further journey to Pali and thereon to Mumbai.
After having coffee and breakfast we started our trek only around 8.30 am. Reaching the base of Telbaila from the village hardly takes around 15 min and approximately 20 min to reach the col from the base. The approach to the col is from the right side of the right wall. The view from the top is simply breath taking. Ghangad with Navra – Navri pinnacles, Sudhagad, Sarasgad, and Dukes Nose can be seen very clearly. From the col onwards to the top, the climb is very vertical and should be attempted only by a good and experienced climber. Climbing equipments are essential. After spending some time and having the cool waters form the cistern we retraced our way back to the village. Descending down was much faster. From the temple it takes about half an hour to reach the start (descend) of the Waghjai Ghat. We were accompanied by two villagers who were on their way to Pali. Descending Waghjai Ghat is simple and would be very picturesque and beautiful in monsoons. On the way down we come across a small temple of Waghjai which lies on the left side somewhere about 40-50 ft away. Descending still further for about 45 min we come on a plateau which looks like to be a junction as a small but prominent trail can be seen going towards the left. This is the path leading to Thanale caves. The initial walk is very flat for about 40min where we come into the col over a dried brook with the route takes a sharp ‘U’ turn towards the right. This a landmark not to be forgotten as a route on the left leads up to the caves. Climbing roughly for about an hour form here we reach the caves. The first sight of the caves is amazing. They appear dotted in a row at a distance. There are about 15-20 caves lined-up in a row. Moving slightly ahead we come across a huge cave ‘Chaityagraha – a buddhist chapel hall’. We rest here for a while. After exploration of the place and spending almost about an hour we retrace our way back to the col where the route takes a sharp ‘U’ turn. This path further leads to Thanale village at the base. Continuing on this trail which descends further, we reached the village in about an hour and a half from the caves.
Unfortunate enough, we missed the 4.15pm bus to Thane starting from the village itself.
The only option left was to walk it down to Dhondse village (2.5 km) to avail autorickshaws and head for Pali. Tired and exhausted walking in the sun the whole day we some how reached Dhondse and from there on to mumbai, via. Pali and Pen.