Travelling has always been one of by greatest interests. Travelling brings new experiences in most amazing ways, but this is a story which changed my life forever.
July 19th this year proved to be one of the best and the worst day of my life together. Worst because on this day I almost died, my whole life flashed in front of me. Best because despite of my experience I gathered courage and saved my life. This is an event that not only shook me to the core and gave me nightmares for days, but also made me realize what life is.
It was a rainy July day, we were a group of 14 people had decided to go to a trek that would prove an experience of a lifetime for me. Early in the morning we took a train from Nerul Station towards Peb. Peb is the adjoining peak of Matheran which is rated medium on hike scale during summers and difficult during monsoons. We were a mix of first-time climbers and experienced ones. Personally I had experience of couple of such trekking events. I am not a big fan of trekking because I am terrified of heights, but I keep pushing myself to overcome my fear. And on this trip that is exactly what I would have to face.
We reached the base of the Peb hill on 4 rented autos, and suddenly the picturesque place took us by surprise. The lush green hilltops covered by cloud sitting on them like cotton balls. As soon as the trek started the clouds started pouring down heavily on us, and it was evident that it is going to be difficult for us to make the climb. It was a 3 hour climb, 2 hours ascend and an hour to descend and a height of 2400ft. The beginning of the trek was easy and we moved quickly through the narrow paths. As the angle started increasing, the vegetation became denser and denser; we had to be very careful about the insects and snakes on the route. Every step was becoming harder and harder, after about an hour of climb we reached the peak of the hill but there was a rock patch which needed to climb, before we could stop. The day was extra windy and while climbing on rocks these winds would sway you around with it. We waited for the wind to die down, but that did not happen. We finally decided to go ahead with the climb in the strong wind.
We held the water drenched, moss-covered, almost green rock with our hands and started climbing. I was the fifth person on the line to climb the rock patch, after the climb everyone started waiting. There was a second rock patch after the first one it was around 10 ft tall. On a normal day this would have been an easy task, but not today. Water was trickling down the rock which was covered with dense moss and grass on the top, every step was could have been one’s last. The second rock patch was on the edge of the hill and had 2 ways around it, one on the left and one on the right. There was no clear demarcation to know which way to go. I was the first one to climb onto the second rock patch and here is where I made the worst mistake of my life. I took the wrong way, and I went left. As I loved along the rock patch finding a grip. Space below my feet became narrower and narrower. I reached a point where I could finally hold the rock and climb on it, but at this point the ground below my feet was only 4 inches, and beyond that it was a fall of 2300ft into dense vegetation below. I climbed a couple of steps more, making sure I was gripping on the rock well before I move ahead. But then I took the step that would prove to be the deadliest step of my life. As soon as I took the next step I realized I was climbing on the wrong side of the rock, and there was no grip beyond the point I was already at, this fact made me anxious and I started breathing heavily looking for the edges to hold onto. I was busy finding grips so that I could climb down when I realized that my hand was slipping. I looked closely and I realized that both my hands were at a point which was covered with moss and drenched in water. Both my hands started losing grip and I could feel my fingers slipping on the moss as I desperately tried to hold on to the slippery edge. I kept trying, and while doing that, I looked down towards the ground estimating the damage I could take if IT happened at all. I couldn’t see the ground anywhere near; it was a stiff edge below my position which could only mean a drop to the bottom. I looked up, still trying to hold on to the rock as time slowed down gradually. My heartbeat seems to have come to normal and my breath became slower, a strange serenity came onto me. A strange peace which I had never felt before in my life, I stopped thinking about what would happen if I fall. There was a voice from the back of my mind, a peaceful gentle voice saying, “It is time, don’t try to hold on any longer. Close your eyes and embrace your death, don’t be afraid of it. Death is beautiful”. I closed my eyes, and went blank for few seconds, that feeling of peace enclosed me like a cocoon.
I was just about to let go of the rock, when suddenly of the darkness the sad faces of my parents flashed in front of me. The scene where they were crying in front of my mutilated body flashed in front of my eyes. Suddenly I realized this was not the time for me to die, and give them the biggest pain of their lives. I told myself, “You have to survive. You have to live.” I closed my eyes once again and saw a light, and in that light, I saw Lord Shiva. I realized it is not the day I die, he has come to my rescue. I opened my eyes and held onto the grass on the top of the rock. I was not sure if the grass could take my weight, and I was correct. I could feel the grass getting uprooted one by one. I did not care about the grass now I started looking for a place on the rock where I could hold tightly. I was holding the grass with and with another I was feeling the rock for a grip. And finally, I found one. I pulled myself to the other side of the rock and jumped to the ground on the other side. I immediately fell onto the ground and started breathing heavily.
This was the best and the worst day of my life together. I almost died and got a new life on the same day. For following 4 nights I had nightmares of falling from the cliff. The memories of the incident shake me to the core till date. I almost had Goosebumps while I was writing the whole story. When we reached the top the view was worth the pain we all took. It was an awesome journey, and memories of this trek with last a lifetime. (For obvious reasons)