Fort Type : Hill Base Village : Gajapur, Kolhapur district
Grade : Easy Height : 3630 feet
Distance From Pune : 255 kms
23-Aug-2014 : Since childhood, we used to hear stories of the famous escape from Panhala fort to Vishalgadh and the rear guard battle at Pavankhind. I had been to Panhala in my childhood, but the other two places eluded me for long. After our twin fort treks of Tung and Tikona, we decided to go for Vishalgadh/Pavankhind trek. There were some murmurs about the long distance and suggestions if we should make it a 2 days trek, i.e. go to Vishalgadh on Friday night for stop over and then in morning trek Vishalgadh and go towards Pavankhind. Few other suggestions were to keep it one day event only, but add Panhala fort and Mahalakhsmi temple to it, which was impractical. But finally after lot of deliberations it was decided to keep it one day event to cover only the initially decided points. As we had to cover a lot of distance and we wanted to save time, this time as well we decided to pack food with us viz parathas, shrikhand etc. One way distance from Pune to Vishalgadh is 240 km and so we had decided to start early, very early, i.e. 4:00 am 🙂 . Few people expressed bit of shock hearing this, but then they came along. We finalized a vehicle and we were all set for 23rd August trek to this historic place.
As with last time, we were to meet at Ram’s place. Sam, Sandy and Sandi were to come to Katraj and I and Ram were to join them there. Surprisingly all came on time and we left by 4:15 am. It was pitch dark and thankfully there was no rain. We were cruising along Pune-Satara super highway. We stopped at Shri Ram Best vadapav and had upma and tea. As always snacks here were great and they kept us awake and refreshed for our journey ahead. From Karad, we took the Malkapur exit and had tea on the road side stall. Then we got onto the Vishalgadh road and were thinking that we would be at our destination in about an hour. Enroute we encountered some bad gravel road which slowed our speed, but we were still making progress. We passed by the Pavankhind, which we decided to cover on our return journey. Then the road took a real bad shape. In fact it’s not a road, only some big stones thrown on some pathway and that too in that hilly section. It was horrible and really bumpy ride. Few times our vehicle’s bottom got hit by stones. The route is very scenic though, with Kasari backwaters engulfing the hills all around. Also the hills were at their pristine best this time of the year. But the road is really really bad. Somehow, we finally reached the main road winding up to the fort and then in some time we hit the Vishalgadh base.
The base had many places to park the vehicle. From the base you get a good view of the fort. You can see the gate, the fortifications etc. Also as you look across, you realize how difficult it would be to lay siege and win this fort. Then we started the ascent. There is some work going on for building a bridge from the base to the lower fortification, which would cut the distance by quarter. Currently from base you have to descend a bit and then again start the ascend. There are proper concrete steps with steel railings at few places to climb. It is very easy and the height is also not much and you reach the top in max 20- 25 minutes. We were on the top by 10:00 am. At the top there is a full settled village and you don’t get the feeling of being on a fort. We first went to exhibition of pictures of various forts, which was very good. We saw many forts which we have covered, but there are many more which we haven’t and then looking at few of the forts pics we decided to include them in our list for next endeavors.
After that we decided to see Baji Prabhu’s samadhi, which is bit far from the place we were at. We were short on time, but still decided to go for it quickly and glad we did, because we had a good trek to and from that place. You have to first descend the hillock and then cross a river and reach that place. It’s very beautiful and felt great to be there. After spending some time there we were back to the fort village and started down hill. Before that we quickly visited the canon which was fired to let the Bandal sena know that Maharaj has reached the fort. We descended quickly and decided to see the caves from where Maharaj had entered the fort on that historic day. The caves are almost closed now, only a small opening is left to be seen. Then we headed for Pavankhind. We had apples and some snacks on the way. We were on the main road now, but had no other option than to take the very bad road we had arrived from. You can imagine how bad that road was, that we missed it 😉 and took some other road only. I then had a feeling that we were on a wrong path, but few guys disagreed and so we continued. We had actually entered the forest and it was quite scenic. Jungle safari :). We took stops at few places which had scenic view of the valley and hills and we took some pics. Finally everyone agreed that we were on the wrong road and we asked for directions to few passerby’s and finally we were on the correct path to PavanKhind.
After traversing one of the worst roads I had ever been to, we reached the Pavankhind entry point at around 3:00 pm. By that time we were quite hungry as well. So we sat beneath a tree and had good lunch in a great environment. Once we were done, we went on the top of the newly created observation deck, from where your get a good view of the khind. From there you get an idea about how the enemy forces would have come and got entrapped and Baji Prabhu and his forces were able to hold them for so many hours. The khind is quite narrow and deep with dense forest cover along both sides. Really a difficult terrain. Then we started descending to see and get to the base of Pavan khind. There are good stone steps to descend and a small bridge to cross. From here you are getting deep into the Jungle. Then you start hearing the sound of water falling in the khind. Just above the khind there is smarak for the braves who led their lives that day. Such an inspiring place and from there just few steps down hill, you see the Pavankhind, also called as ghod khind. Ghod khind means valley in the shape of horse shoe. It’s really quite narrow, deep, engulfed in dense forest and only one place to ascend/descend it. To top it all, a river runs through it as a big waterfall, which has created this khind over many years.
We were completely transformed 350 years into history and felt so blessed to be there. Literally I was overwhelmed. Steel steps and railings have been installed to get down. They are quite narrow and you have to tread them carefully. Once you descend you are in midst of stream and waterfall. It refreshed us completely and the tiredness of the day was gone. We were there for half an hour. Such a serene and peaceful place. We were the only ones present there at that time. We were already bit late, so we decided to start our return journey. Once we had climbed back, we found over selves in the midst of coluds which were clouds floating around and the water droplets had started falling. It was around 4:30 pm and sure enough we were back to the great bad road and then it started drizzling a bit. We took a stop for tea and Parle G at Malkapur and then we continued. Then it started raining cats and dogs and we could hardly see few feet in front of us. The roads were full of water and we were going through; splashing it around. We were lucky to get out at the right time, else on the bad road patch of Pavankhind, we really would have got stranded.
We were back to Pune by 9:30 pm at Ram’s place. I picked my vehicle there and went home. Had quick dinner and went to sleep. Such a great trek and visits to great historic places. Felt blessed again.
PS: The vehicle we had booked for this trip had to be cancelled for some reason and at last minute we went in Sam’s car. The car suffered the worst stress of its life on those great roads of Pavan khind, that fine day, that it had to be taken to servicing station for treatment the very next day :).