Fort Type : Hill Base Village : Pali, Raigad district
Grade : Easy Height : 2030 feet
Distance From Pune : 60 kms
20-Sep-2014 : After a great trek to Vishalgadh and Pavankhind, discussions were on to plan for the next big trek. Some of the options mooted were Prabalgad, Sudhagad and Harishchandragad. The preferred option was the later one as we always wanted to go there and also it’s considered as the benchmark trek in the world of trekking. So we started doing the background research for the same and it seemed that this time of the year would not be the ideal to go there due to rains. Also it might have to be a 2 day event or at least we need to start very early as it is far and the trek is also long. Same was the concerns related to Prabalgad and so Sudhagad was finalized.
It’s a historic fort, which at one time was candidate for the capital along with Raigadh. Also we were looking forward to a good trek and that too in Kokan region. During the planning phase we were still considering if we would carry the lunch with us or have it there at some hotel as some members wanted a change after the same kind of lunch in the last few treks. The options for packed lunch are really limited as we need to pack the food one day before only and it has to stay good till the next day evening at least. So a thought came to my mind that why not prepare lunch there only on the spot. Also it would be a good and unique experience for the group. So we deliberated on that for long, with few raising some concerns regarding the logistics, the weather etc, but finally we sorted that out and decided to take a chance with it.
This new initiative required additional planning. I offered to get the woods, which I got from wakhar near Kothrud stand, utensils were brought by Sandy, rockel by Ashk, matches and few other stuff by Ram and we got the raw materials from the shop near the office. We planned to prepare veg biryani and raita. We decided to buy the vegetables from the local shop as we needed many veggies, but in small quantities. We were really excited about all this prep and plan to cook and eat food there on fort J.
We decided to start early, so that we could be back in time. All were going to meet at Ram’s place, and we were going to travel by Max as in few of our earlier treks. Then I was to be picked from near my house, as I had all the weight of woods on me :). Sudhagad is around 3 hours from Pune. The route to take IS Pune – Mumbai expressway, then exit at Khopoli, then continue all the way passing Pali and then take diversion for Sudhagad. The vehicle arrived on time and we started for the fort.
Just after taking diversion from Khoploi, we pulled near a road side hotel for breakfast and tea. It had started raining bit heavily and we hoped that there would not be too much of a downpour at the fort. We had poha, bhaji and tea. Always fun to have it during rains. Then we started again. The area was beautiful and we were enjoying the drive. Then we passes Pali town, where we were stuck in the jam for some time. Ashk, suggested to take darshan at the Ganpati temple on our way back.
We continued towards the fort. After some time, we had started seeing the fort at a distance and took a wrong diversion towards it overenthusiastically. Finally we got on track and reached the base village by around 10:30 am. It was raining slightly, which was good setup for the trek. We offloaded our stuff. We were carrying lot of stuff this time around, so we distributed it and started the trek. The area is quite remote and there’s a small village at the base, literally cut off from the world. The trek is really good. As it was raining and it had rained heavily not so long ago we had to be careful at some places as it was slippery. There were many small waterfalls on the way. At one such place Ram suggested to get all the veggies washed, which he did 🙂 while others took some rest. Then we continued. By this time it had started raining heavily. We were getting tired a bit now, it’s a long trek.
There were few spots we passed through where railings have been put to aid the trekkers, without them one could just image how difficult it would be scale those hills. Finally we reached a long steep stair way and we thought that we are close to the top. We ascended the stairway and came to the top only to realize it was only a bastion and the fort lay still far off :(. One very intriguing thing about the bastion was we saw a wall fortification on both sides of it, which made us wonder how they were put there in the first place as the walls seemed to be hanging from nowhere. Then we realized that these bastions have been carved out of a single big rock and before it was cut, these walls would have been built and then the whole rock was cut off. Amazing engineering and construction work!
I had started to wear out now. I don’t know what’s happening, but I am not able to pull off the treks as I was earlier :(. We climbed the final ascent and reached the top. We were quite tired by then. We found a temple at the top and decided to make base there and cook somewhere close by only. We had been lucky to escape a heavy spell of rains each time, every time we took break under some shelter it used to rain heavily and then it used to clear in some time,. It was slight drizzle now on the top, with some fog. We took darshan at the temple and started the work. It was around 2:30 pm and it had taken us around 4 hours to reach to the top. We had to hurry now as we wanted to get down before dark and then continue on our journey back to Pune.
We divided our work. Ashk and Sandy started cutting veggies, I and Ran started peeling peas, beans etc and helping Ram, Sagar and Ash to prepare the fireplace. We selected a spot just adjacent to the temple, which was under shade as it was still raining. We got the right sized rocks and setup the woods inside it. After some trial and error and some efforts we got the fireplace burning. It was good that we had brought rockel else it would have been difficult. Now the vessel was on the fireplace and all veggies started getting into it. It had started raining heavily again. It was a picture perfect moment which I will remember forever.
While the veg biryani preparations had started we had to make riata and get the plates ready and all. So I and Sandy started working on it inside the temple. There was not much space there, enough only may be for 3-4 people. By now we had started smelling the aroma of biryani and it was increasing our hunger even more. Finally the biryani was ready and we served it along with riata, achar and shrikhand to everyone. We were scouting for the place to eat and selected a place on the edge of the hill. The rains had stopped by now J and anyways it was difficult for all of us to accommodate inside the temple. We were hoping that the rains won’t start again and they again obliged us and only started back once we were done with our lunch.
I can’t describe the moments in words. We were sitting beside the cliff, the clouds were flying past us and only sound we could here was that of wind, Such a peaceful and serene surrounding in which we were having our lunch :). Hope to have these kind of days many more times J. The biryani had come out well and we all finished it in no time. We then went to nearby pond to clean the utensils and got all the trash in a bag to be thrown at the bins at the base.
We then started back quickly. We were already quite late, it was getting dark slowly now, sun was near the horizon. The way back also was bit tiring. One of the factors we realized was as we were in Kokan belt which has lot of humidity in the air and so we were losing lot of water. On the way we came across some trekkers who were going towards the fort. They were planning to have an overnight stay. That is something we need to plan in future J It took us around 1:30 hours to reach to the base of village. We then started back.
On the way we took a break at Pali town. We had good darshan at the temple and everyone liked the temple very much. Glad we went there, thanks to Ashk off course. Then at the nearby hotel we had vada pav and garma garam tea. It had started raining :). We final started back towards Pune. I was dropped nearby my home and other guys continued towards there’s. It was around 10:00 pm. We were bit late but we had a great trek to a great historic place.
PS: While washing the utensils on the pond at the top of the fort, we realized that the bottom of the vessel had become pitch black and no efforts of ours could get off those stains :), Sandy had got instructions from his wife to apply soil to the bottom of the vessel, before it is put on fire and he had confidently told her, he knows all about it. Now we were imagining the scene ones he reaches home :).