Sahiya Caves: Discover the hidden gem of Chakrata
"But none paralleled the exhilaration caused at spotting of stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. Suddenly, all that effort seemed to pay off, the bruises didn't hurt anymore and claustrophobia melted into a childish joy."
The travel bug hit me when I went out on the first trip with my friends to Rishikesh with my friends in the first summer break we got after the Grilling Second semester in IIT Delhi. It was out of the scholarship money we got and I soon realized that my heart lies in the mountains - we camped at a site which was across the ganga river where the only way to get to the camps was to raft.
Between then and Sahiya Caves trip I couldn't be in Delhi for longer than 2 months at a stretch specially with the 2 pm to 1 am shift I did to make a living. Caving was one thing which I was yet to experience and with the group of friends I had, all travel junkies, we just got the trip booked by 'Shoes on Loose', a company owned by my batchmate Mohit - who also wanted to explore new destinations.
Transport - Upto Dehradun there are multiple options from there hiring a private car is the best way.
Cost estimate - For a group of 4 people it's around 8,500 per person from Dehradun
Contact number or website link to book - 9582153457 - www.shoesonloose.com
Stay | Cost estimate | Contact number or website link to book - Himalayan Paradise is where we stayed it is the oldest and the most reputed - Around 4000 per room / cottage per night
Food | Cost estimate | Your personal advice on any word of caution - There are not many food options as it is not a big tourist destination we had most of the meals in the hotel that we stayed in and the food was fresh as always in the hills - Cost - Around 350 per meal
We all started off a late summer friday night and got there by late afternoon in a brand new Etios. The first day we trekked upto tiger falls where on return it started pouring. Unprepared, as we mostly are, we took shelter in a shepherd's hut and were rescued by our driver who sensed that we could be stuck on the trail - enough adventure? - not yet. The next day we did some mountain biking to start with to the banks of the Yamuna river and explored the archaeological site - Lakshagrah.
Next day after checking out that Sahiya caves was enroute Delhi so we stopped at the guide's house where we were given helmets and Maggie(yeah once upon a time).The guide claimed to be the only person in the area to have explored the cave. Apparently, he spend more than 3 days exploring it.
The Tunnel: "Come on,you Fatso! Buck up!" "Just a little more push!"
I could almost see the torch lights at the end of hell hole and could hear the jeering at my athleticism or rather at the lack of it.
The entrance: "This is the most difficult part of the tunnel, most people turn back from the entrance itself. But let me assure you, Dear Sir, it is fairly comfortable and airy otherwise." said our guide to me. He lied.
Sandwiched between a huge gash in the mountain, the only way into the cave was to crab through this. Each rubbing against the jagged rock surface let out a curse at myself for not having paid heed to the instructions of wearing well padded clothing. To add to his woes, the fashion icon chose instead a cool half T shirt and cotton lowers. . We start climbing the narrow ledge - facing the wall with weight on our bums we start shifting in a very unnatural manner- a technique known as crabbing in the rock climbing world. One of us slips and groans - echo - the guide comes back to hold on to us and gives personal attention to everyone so that we get in - the toughest 50 meters I have done in my life. A 30 min ordeal finally ended into a surprising cool, airy, and wet world oblivious to the sun outside
The Tunnel revisited: Belly brushing against the cave surface, clothes soaked in the water of the underground stream, the crawling never seemed to cease. Even the Velcro of the knee and elbow pads gave way leading to the loss of each. The consequent bruises reduced the speed further. And behold! Is the noise I hear that of cloth being torn? Like all 'good' things in life, the treacherous path finally came to an end. Only to be reminded that the cave was relatively infinite and unless you feel homely in a cold, wet dungeon underneath a mountain you'd soon have to retrace the path on the way back. Sheepish grins follow.
The Cave: "I once kept on walking for three days in the cave but couldn't find the end, I don't know of anyone who has" our experienced guide told us. Claustrophobic, dark, cold, and wet hardly an ideal place for spending 3 night and 3 days(actually 6 nights) but perhaps that was the thing which brought him here in the first place. Thankfully we didn't find the devilish creepy crawlies or the stinky bats residing inside. Though the network of underground streams, cascades, and pools of fresh water were an amazing sight. But none paralleled the exhilaration caused at spotting of stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. Suddenly, all that effort seemed to pay off, the bruises didn't hurt anymore and claustrophobia melted into a childish joy.
As far a travelling or adventure sports are concerned, people often ask me why do you do this? I sincerely, have no answer for their question, but neither do they for mine-Why not?
Anshul is an IIT/ISB graduate who works as Associate General Manager at Lodha Group, Mumbai.
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