Fort Type : Hill Base Village : Korle, Pune district
Grade : Easy Height : 4589 feet
Distance From Pune : 80 kms
29-June-2014: Our group was thinking of starting the 2014 season of trekking and was looking for an appropriate fort to start with. The 2 options in front of us were Raireshwar and Rajmachi, the factor being lets start the season with relatively nearby fort, which we can cover in half day. I was for Raireshwar over Rajmachi as the later one is in Lonavala and also it is a small trek of only 30 mins and so we can go there in middle of the monsoon as well. But Raireshwar being more remote and also bit long trek was better to cover now, at the start of the season as we won’t face much issue in reaching there (the roads would get pretty rugged in the middle of monsoon) and also the trek route itself would get quite slippery in the monsoon. Finally Raireshwar was locked in and we were all set. Ram helped in booking a local Max SUV at cheaper rate and we decided to start at 7:30 am in the morning from Ram’s place. I and Ram had the responsibility of getting all the stuff required for the trek, which we got a day before.
I woke up early, got ready and left for Ram’s place at Katraj. I had to leave by 7:00 am to reach on time, but I was running late and was prepared to hear the music. But not to my surprise I was the first one to arrive ;). It has happened so many time that even after starting late, I am usually the first one to arrive ;). Slowly the other guys started arriving and we all had heavy breakfast at Ram’s place. Tea was also served, but as I had some tummy problem, I asked if I can get nimbu pani and as always Ram was nice enough 😉 . Finally we were set to leave, it was around 8:00 am on the clock. This fort is located in Bhor taluka and the base village is Korle. On the way Ashk, brought in one of his friend over and he was good help in the trek as he was local and had good knowledge of the area. It took us around 2 hours to reach the base village. Ashk had done some setting with driver through his friend to take us directly to the machi, that is covering almost 75-80% distance through car only. We realized in time and asked to stop immediately. Ashk’s plan didn’t materialize and we all started trekking towards Raireshwar from the base :).
The trek is easy and you just have to walk along wide pathway. There are no shortcuts or difficult slopes to negotiate before you reach the final climb. The weather was spoiler though. It was hot, there were not many big trees to give shade and so we were getting tired quite early in the trek and also bit dehydrated. Though the place is good and it was so peaceful and calm. On the way we saw many would be waterfalls, but running dry now due to no rain :(. What a pity. We took more breaks than usual for photos as well as for taking rest as it was very hot and humid. We ate apples, brought by Ram on the way and that was refreshing. We continued along and finally reached the machi. It was almost at the top and so was very windy and cold. On one side you could see the way from where we had started the ascent, straight up in front of us was Raireshwar and on the other side we could see Mahabaleshwar and Dhom backwaters. There was a small shack there, run by a lady from some village in Wai and we ordered nimbu pani and took break again :). In the nimbu pani, there was hardly any nimbu, it was just water mixed with tang like powder and some nimbu sprinkled over it ;). All this for Rs 15 per glass. Disappointing! Then we started for the final push. And here was the real excitement of the whole trek.
From this point, there is a slight ascent and then you come to a huge rock which is almost vertical. There are steps created to walk up and at one point there is a steel railing which is almost 70-80 ° vertically tilted. There is hardly any place to keep foot on. It felt great to climb this one. They say that in older days, there was just a rope fixed there and one had to climb via that. Would have been existing :). We finally reached the top and it was great feeling. Though there was no signs of rain or clouds on the top which was a dampener. We thought this is it and the famous Shiva temple would be nearby. But the temple is almost 1-1.5 km from here. So we again started walking and reached the temple in around 20 mins. The temple is quite old though there are few upgrades done over the years, but it is beautiful. We took some rest in the courtyard of the temple and then we went into the gabhara. And then it all came along, I was transported to 350 years ago, when Shivaji Maharaj took oath of Swarajya here at the very place I was. I am blessed, what can I say. We took darshan and sat there quietly for some time. Unforgettable experience. There were others who were waiting outside, so we came out and nearby the temple below some shade we had some snacks we had brought in and then we started back.
On the way back, we saw a small pond which was being filled by a stream flowing into it. It was quite surprising that even though rains had not arrived but there was lots of water flowing. We refilled our bottles as they were almost empty and we moved on. The way back was same. Though negotiating the railings was bit tricky and fun on the way down. We had tried to call the driver to the top (near machi) so that we could get back early, but the place driver was standing had no mobile range and so we had to walk all the way back. Again it was quite hot and we were quite tired. Especially I was very sad that I was not with the same energy as I am typically on the treks. The main reason being I had just recovered from viral fever and also was suffering from stomach ache. I was struggling a bit and this was the first time it was so and I felt very bad about it. Finally we reached at the base and started back towards our home. On the way back we had lunch and also bought Poonam bhel from Bhor, which per Ashk is very famous. We were back to Ram’s place by 8:00 pm and back to home by 9:00 pm. This was whole 5 hours late, than the original itinerary :). I was quite tired and as we had had lunch quite late and my stomach was also not well, so had a light dinner and went to sleep.
PS: What a trip to a great historic place. I thank God and support of my family for giving me strength and will power to scale these heights and visit these historic places and be part of it. One more thing, we visited ancient Nageshwar temple along the way. It is a beautiful temple having 2 nandi’s in the courtyard from whose mouths water continuously flows. Cool, pristine water! We took some rest and refreshed ourselves here. I and Sandy also had lot of small semi ripe mangoes fallen from many Mango trees in the temple complex. What a day it was. I liked this place so much and was sure Ar would also like it, that next week I took aai, G and Ar there 🙂 and we had great time.