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My Batcave Tales

Have you ever seen those adventure sports shows on Nat Geo and feeling the adrenaline rush just by sitting at home and watching them? Ever wondered how it feels like to be doing the exact same thing and having a brush with life and nature at one go? Well, I surely have. The sad, boring and alienating urban existence was getting on my nerves and it was time to take a break. I mean, if one has to live in solitude, then why not head to the mountains and enjoy it for a while, also escaping the boiling temperature of suburban Delhi? And why just focus on leisure when one can really spend a day in the caves like our ancestors? Yes, I am referring to spelunking, in other words, cave exploration. Smart, isn’t it?

As highly shocking as it may seem, but there are more caves in India than just the famous Ajanta and Ellora, and not to mention terrain wise-highly challenging as well.

One such place is the Chakrata Cantonment area in Uttarakhand The route is pretty good, considering the regular bumpy roads of India; this ride to Chakrata will surprise you. As soon as I entered the region nature in all its glory was present there like a heavenly spectacle and I got to know why Imtiaz Ali never refrains from shooting large chunks of his movie in the hills. The first local attraction is the Tiger fall, which is one of the highest waterfalls in India. You should not miss the opportunity to head to it, since Nigerian falls are not written in your destiny (for now) and the only other fall you have seen is the Kempty fall, Mussoorie.
To reach the Sahiya caves, I had to trek on a stony route since the cave is not like the one you see in the animated movies (duh!). After walking on a steep slope for a while, one is able to see the mouth of the cave and that too is visible properly from a closer distance. The next thing I did was to get my protection gear ready which included helmet; padded equipment for elbows and knees. The cave’s entrance is 50 feet long and it is almost 5 feet high. To make things more interesting, it is quite narrow, so that mostly thin or athletically build people can fit in there. The surface of the cave is very rough, with rocks jutting out of anywhere and everywhere and there is a high probability of injuring yourself. I can still feel the few bruises I got. It’s something one can’t escape. To reach to the other side of the cave’s entrance, you got to literally drag yourself and this becomes a bit problematic if you have no prior rock climbing experience. Luckily, with me, I had some experienced guides who made the whole adventure a bit less, life-threatening.
Once you reach the main area, you have to crawl and mind you, there is total absence of light, hence the protection gears and a torch becomes doubly important. The cave has many underground water sources, so there was water all around me. This made crawling difficult, but the experience is indescribable. The exit to the cave has still not been discovered and this information only added on to the aura of the place and to the overall adventure quotient as well. The only other living (shrieking) creatures I encountered were bats. The dry path that follows when all the underground waterfalls’ water has diverted elsewhere, is covered with bat ‘manure’.
The other caves that I explored were the Lakhamandal cave, that has a long history attached to it and the Budher caves. The lakhamandal caves have been associated with the Pandavas, and hence to Mahabharta. It is said that the Pandavas stayed here after escaping from Lakshagreh that the Kauravas had made for them. The trek route to Budher cave, on the other hand, is heaven on Earth, with pine and oak forests surrounding it. After exploring one cave, it becomes easier to explore the others. Even if one is not able to explore the caves, given the little time one has, the nature makes up for the lost experience and for once you are able to leave behind Delhi and feel what it is to be far from the madding crowd.

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