Probably, I may have been the pioneer, as I talk about 1989-1992 time frame. The place was a bit scary..I know at least one case of murder And lot of robbery.. A bit about my daily routine
It is almost 6:15PM, when theTATA motors bus reaches home. There is still time to do a hill run. I scramble up the dusty stairs to my room for a quick change of clothes. Dressed in a Cotton tennis T-shirt and cotton shorts size 9 Bata Power shoes I ride on my Ind Suzuki, to the Parvati Hillock. Ignoring, the (unofficial) guy who asks for parking ticket, I start with my usual warmup i.e. climb the stairs towards the temple. Snubbing the crowd, I run towards the backside of the temple and start the hill run. It has now been a routine for a month, as I prepare for an expedition.
The parvati watertanks towards my right are leaking water and I do my usual skip on the stones, without wetting my shoes. As I veer to my right, the small stone quarry I start up the slope of the first hillock. People are planting saplings. Few carry cans of water to the top. The hot wind rustles the few grown saplings and I wonder, will these guys keep up. The hill is otherwise just gravel and stones. I come to a slight descend in a col and then bounce up the second hill and then run towards the third. The sun has almost set on my right. The tin roofs of the slums shines in a pale orange, the river, shines, with a bleak claim, that it still has the right to flow through Pune. The hills beyond are darker.
I come to the third hill. There is a young man on the top, around his mid-thirties. I have seen him here often. He does not run or walk, but he sits there alone, observing the sunset. While he relishes on the diminishing light, I am challenged by the thought of running through darkness. At Waghjai temple I take left and scramble into Taljai forest zone. This plateau is bleak but there is a clump of greens higher up. I cut straight through the forest. There is some dirt track that loops but still under construction. I do bit of steeple chase through the trees and branches on this small narrow goat path. Something moves in the bushes by my side. A peacock ‘meaows ‘ deep in the shrubs.
Within the entire month I have noticed hardly 4-5 people in this area. There is no one today. Through this daily run, I trample upon all the negative feelings and focus on my performance. I exist alone and there is no one to beat. I should be very strong, as strong as needed for a climber to be. As I increase my speed up slope, gasping for breath I come to the taljai park. Few kids from the slum are around. I do some quick Swedish exercises and start on my way back through the forest. Something moves in the bushes. It’s a down slope and I gather more speed..Its Waghjai temple again.
Since its dark I cannot do the hillocks again while returning and I run along the shahu college track. Few other runners training for the marathon, give me a chase. I cannot give up to someone from a road race. The climber rises and I sprint to the water tanks and up the Parvati. I am in a BLAH mood. All the people have returned and this is just my time. The wall underneath the temple is virgin. I sneak up to half of it and do some traverse moves. It is a good rock. I get down as soon as I see thee watchman.
Jog back down Parvati to my Bike.
My routine practice can get hampered that even a 10 minute delay in my bus time can ruin my training. The return run is done almost in darkness, with the limited night vision that I possess. But never did I fall or even stumble.
Many years later I revisited Taljai. The place has drastically changed from the barren landscape to a dense shrubbery. A hill run at 7PM inside the loops may be bit risky without a torch. But we have quite a crowd on thiss hill now-a-days.
There have been other hill runs but nothing has ever been the same to my Parvati-Taljai- Ambegaon hill runs.