Trek to Mama Bhanja Hills ft. Zelocity by Zivame
|Feeding and posing with the mystical faithful canine|
Life was getting excessively busy with weekdays packed with work and weekends spent letting myself loose. I needed a break to cut down the monotony of a full-time job. The best blade for it was to either trek to a mountaintop or ride to a faraway place. I asked everyone I knew if they could take me to a soulful location, someplace amid the trees and bushes. My sibling was ready to accompany me and tagged his friends along. He frequently goes to the Mama Bhanja Hills by waking up at 5:00 am so he is a regular visitor and knows the slopes extremely well.
He already had planned to climb it with his friends and I was just an add-on. I never knew Thane boasted of any such place; I always thought Yeoor Hills, Gaimukh, Ghodbunder Fort, and the numerous lakes of Thane were the only nature zones of the city. However, I became acquainted due to my brother. Initially, I had presumed it to be an austere place, with a shorter height, lesser trees, lesser amazement, but it turned out to be rather impressive. I am just fancying how heavenly the place would be when it showers. There are a couple of corners in the transit up with dense waterfalls and beautiful intertwined branches. I believe every natural locale has two distinct identities: the one when it rains and the one when it doesn't.
On the previous Sunday, we set an alarm of 5:30 am and by 6:30, left in an autorickshaw for Lokmanya Nagar, which is the base of these hills. After getting down, we realised the place was brimming with filth and a blanket of waste spread across the ground. However, disregarding this sight, I was surprised to see the magnitude of the place. The sight, though enveloped with crushed bottles and flattened packages, looked promising; I knew the hills would have a lot to offer.
|A selfie captured before the ascend|
We furthered and reached a point where we had to climb flinty stairs. That's when my brother informed me that the entire trek is full of imprecise stony steps that instantly delighted me––not because it made the trek easier but because it imbued the vibe of a fort. Thane has a lot of unidentified history and I feel like digging out and understanding all of it. For instance, Ghodbunder Fort had intrigued me for its rich history where the Portuguese built it, the Marathas acquired it, and the British repurposed it as the East India Company's district headquarters. I wish I could witness the history because these memoirs really draw my interest.
We rested midway for a few minutes as the trek was not fatiguing at any stretch of the imagination. I was full of zeal and don't recall gasping even once. The view from the hills was incredible: the sky-high towers of Thane embellished with a milky layer of fog. We could sense a subtle competition: the tallest of towers fighting to be seen, to be recognised. Every climb has its own views and by far, this view was one of the greatest.
We continued our ascend and reached the first base (which I referred to as the second base in my vlog). I could not locate natives but a bunch of trekkers who clearly looked like they were descending after a memorable stay up top. There was a dargah shed attached to a barren yet well-kept piece of land, which implied that the base was meant to wait until the heartbeats normalise. Not waiting for more than five minutes, we put our legs back to work.
|Gone into a pensive mode|
Soon, after more amount of sweat, we could recognize the two hills––the Mamu hill and the Bhanje hill. We had predecided to go to the latter because the locals at Mamu hill are strict and orthodox. They don't let boys wear shorts let alone girls. Most of the guys with us were in shorts, nicely showing off their knees, because of which we had set our minds on the Bhanje hill all along.
We turned left from the board that directed us with the names of the hills. I saw a shack and only after nearing, learnt that it was Bhanja's dargah shed. There was a political party flag proudly streaming with the breeze and a dog that looked adorable yet protective wagging his tail besides a pair of trekkers. I deviated into a pensive mode and pondered what the dog did over there. Who was this faithful companion and what was his purpose of staying near Bhanja's dargah? From whatever I understood, the Bhanja's corpse dated 400 years back; so why did the dog stay there?
While I was still musing, I moved to a beautiful spot with the city's horizon as the backdrop. I knew then that I had to take my camera out and pose with the stylish and dynamic workwear by Zivame's Zelocity. I meditated for a little bit and alongside, still contemplated the past and Thane's history and the dog's purpose.
We then moved to the edge of the hill and laid on the ground for a decent sum of time. I just smirked thinking how moments like these motivate us to put another foot ahead. The mere thought of the incredible view on the peak paired with a guaranteed feeling of rest after reaching pushes us to keep on climbing. The exact ongoing sensation of our bodies cooling down after an exhilarating trek and the winds touching your conscience and suddenly everything starts making sense. You are happy that the wind is back and the sweat is gone. Finally, you put on your sweater and gulp down a hot cup of tea and devour a bowl of Maggi or a plate of bhurji pav. Suddenly, you understand that the climb and the breathlessness were all worth it, despite the trouble.
|Performing Chakrasana: my favourite yogasana|
We walked towards a shadowy area opposite to the dargah to make coffee. We had carried sugar, cups, and coffee powder from home and bought a pack of milk from a grocery shop in Lokmanya Nagar. This was the first time I was making coffee––or rather cooking anything––in the wilderness. The last time I had tried outdoor cooking was at Bhira campsite where one of the overly enthusiastic campers had carried chicken and paneer pieces along with a bunch of other ingredients to marinate and barbecue over the flame. However, we just marinated and couldn't grill because we ran out of matchsticks and keeping the fire alive was situationally impossible.
We blew up music on a portable speaker and sang along with the singers. I watched his friends and thought how cool was it to make coffee outdoors without a flame (and without boiling milk)! I was rather impressed and was convinced that my brother was smart in the wilderness too.
We then fed the mysterious adorable dog some Parle G biscuits and started descending. On our way, we met a lot of people climbing upwards and even a grumpy old man, who after looking at my vest and my sweater tied around the waist, commented in an as elderly manner as possible, “Toh sweater angavar ghala, kamrevar nahi.” (Wear that sweater on your body and not around your waist!) That's when I thanked the boys for taking me to Bhanje hill instead of the Mamu hill.
|Practicing yoga while facing a beautiful panorama|
Midway, we came across a family going upwards for picnicking. The ladies were draped in sarees and the entire family had their daily footwear on––some wearing Paragon chappals whereas some in sandy floaters. The kids were dragging large bottles of water and the family seemed to be having a jolly time.
This scene instantly took me back to my childhood days when our dear parents took us cousins out relatively every other month. I think the travel bug in me was conceived during those days. Credits to my dad and his cool siblings for taking us to beautiful places.
We then reached the base, hired an autorickshaw, and by taking away a South Indian meal on our way, reached home. The food tasted heavenly and the sleep I got after that was one of the best I've had.
MAMA BHANJA HILLS TREK DETAILSAltitude
400 metres above sea level
Available at the base
|The breathtaking view from the first base|
Water and Food Source
None. Carry your own or buy from the base area before climbing (Lokmanya Nagar)
View from the top
Thane skyline and an ethereal view of the Tulsi Lake
1. Leopards are believed to visit the hills, especially in monsoon, so be cautious
2. The locals at Mamu hill are orthodox. I recommend wearing full clothes if you're taking that route3. Since the base area is a part of Thane city, you might encounter nuisances from the locals. Be prepared for that
|Letting the sun kiss me|
History of the Mama Bhanja Hills
I read it on Aulia-e-hind.com and certainly unsure of how true it is.
Around 400 years back, two tall and handsome Iraqi men came to Mahagiri Masjid in Thane and informed the locals that there were two dead bodies on the hills. They requested the people to bury the bodies.
The two men guided these people to a higher hill. On reaching, they saw a dead body that was wrapped in a fresh white cloth (Kafan) with a lovely perfumed fragrance emitting from the body. The people had to identify whether the corpse was a male or a female, so they unveiled the cloth to see the body belonged to the same man who had guided them up top. When they turned to see him, he had disappeared. The locals believed that he was a Wali Allah (friend of God) who had come with a message to bury his body.
Since the hills were rocky and sans any tool, they couldn't dig. However, they heard an Al-Ghaib voice that directed them to use their hands. When they tried digging, the rocks had surprisingly turned so tender that they could easily scoop a grave for the dead body that they were told was Mamu. They then went to the other side of the hill to bury the second dead body that was known as Bhanje...
Watch my vlog:
Have you ever been to the Mama Bhanja hills?