Trekking in the night. Image Courtesy: Bertram Fonseca
Could an acoustic band performance in a cave and spending a night in the great outdoors be your idea of adventure?
The weekend I had been waiting for finally arrived. It was time for Crooners of the Night— a trek to Thanale Caves with Travel Master Gogo. An amateur trekker and camper, I was more than enthusiastic about this one. Not only was it my first night trek, but there was an acoustic band performance, planned high in the mountains.
On reaching Thanale village, in Sudhagad near Pali, the wheels in my head started turning— How is my little bod going to carry this big bag all the way to the top? What if I roll down? Will someone have to carry me back? Will I have cuts and scars? But the heart ruled over the head. Finally, an opportunity to camp!
Before we set off on our trek, we enjoyed a simple and delicious dinner at one of the locals` home. Armed with our flashlights, the mission began at 9.30 pm to get to the caves (1,200 feet), which are some of the oldest in India, dating back to the first century B.C. Spotting fireflies, scorpions, ant-hills and wild saffron by the glow of our torches, through the pitch black forests we traipsed on flat and uneven terrain, sometimes a one-foot-at-a-time path and at other times wading through knee-deep streams. The only sounds accompanying us were— gushing water that we couldn`t see, crickets chirping and our local guides calling out to one another, keeping us together.
Dancing the Night Away: Image Courtesy: Avril-Ann Braganza
Finally our mission was accomplished at 1 am. The downpour made the narrow and slippery path to the main cave, unsafe. With a steep drop below, we climbed across the cave partitions to our cave. A quick change into dry clothes and we settled down around our three piece acoustic band; Kunal on guitar, Alok on flutes and pianika and Nelson on the hand drum. A few popular English and Hindi songs later, we danced the night away around a kerosene lamp. At 5.30 am we were only seven of us still happily singing, oblivious to the other sleeping campers.
An acoustic band performance in a cave, high in the mountains: Image Courtesy: Avril-Ann Braganza
As the morning rays filtered into the cave, sleepy heads popped up and snores turned into stares, as we woke up to a stunning view of the green valley and dense forests around us. For a city slicker this was a refreshing change. Soon after breakfast of piping hot poha and black tea, we started our journey down only stopping at a waterfall for a dip. A few hours later, as we reached the end of our trek, the legs were sore but the heart was left longing for more. A quick lunch of bhakri and zunka at the villagers` home, and we were ready to say goodbye.
Travel Master Gogo organises Crooners of the Night every two months at different locations. For further details check www.facebook.com/TravelMasterGogo