Shivneri Fort Trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Junnar, Pune district

Grade : Easy                                                          Height : 3500 feet

Distance From Pune : 100 kms

24-Nov-2010 : I was about get married in few months and the group had planned few treks. I didn’t want to go before the big event. But then finally everyone convinced me 🙂 My only condition was lets keep it small trek and close by. So Shivneri fort was finalized.

The fort is in Junnar taluka, and located around 80 kms from Pune. It takes around 2 hours to reach this fort.We were planning to go early in the morning and come back by early evening. Ram also wanted to come back early as he had plans to go to his native village that evening itself. I always wanted to visit this place. Birthplace of Maharaj. Such an inspiring place. We had booked a vehicle and were all set.

We started early. All had assembled at Swargate and arrived more or less on time. On the way we took break near Chakan to have breakfast and then we continued.The road to the fort is not good. The Nashik highway it self is not that good, with much of the section is standard 2 lane highway. We reached at the base of the fort around 9:00 am and immediately started the ascent. The weather was good and surroundings pleasant. The fort had been renovated recently and many things have been restored. There are simple steps to climb all the way to the top. We  reached the top in around 1 hour.

We first went to the place where Maharaj were born. The palace still exists. We sat inside it for some time, took few pics. There is one  floor constructed above the base floor. We went up there which offers great view from the top.It was just amazing feeling to just be there.

Then we came down from the upper floor and went outside the building. We roamed around a bit. There is a big ambarkhana at the top and visited that place. Then we went to see and take darsan of Shivai mata mandir, from whose name Maharaj were named. We spent some time there and then we started back. On the way back we had nimbu pani.  The trek had not been much tiring as it is a short one and the weather was also cool. At one corner under a tree a man was telling stories and powadas of Maharaj. We sat there and listened to him and were completely transported back in time. It was such a great filling to listen to the powadas  on this very fort. Truly unforgettable experience.

Then we continued on our way down hill. Few in the group suggested to go to Ozar Ganpati temple which is en route. Ramesh was bit skeptical as he had to reach early to Pune, but we convinced him and went. We had a good darshan. There was plan to go to Lenyadri Ganpati temple. But by now Ramhesh had lost his cool. So we didn’t take any chances and started back towards Pune.

All of us were very hungry by now, so we took a break on the road side dhaba on the highway. The service was very slow, which delayed us further and the food also was not good. It was a very late lunch as the time was around 4:30 pm. As we were delayed on our trip back, the traffic had started building at Ranjan gaon and Chakan areas. We faced  heavy traffic on our way back in Pune city as well, till we reached our homes. Ramesh was very angry and upset with us. We finally reached home at 9:00 pm.

We had a great experience. My last trek as bachelor:)

PS: Even after reaching to Pune so late at around 9:00 pm and even after all of us insisting against it, Ramesh still went to his village at night :(. From next time we need to have a water tight plan and need to make sure that we don’t break promises..

Purandar Fort Trek

Fort Type : Hill                                                       Base Village : Narayanpur, Pune district

Grade : Medium                                                     Height : 4472 feet

Distance From Pune : 40 kms

Apr-2009 : We were planning to go for a trek since a long time. We had been to few outing and we had planned for trek but it took time for it to work out. We planned for Purandar near to Pune around 50 km. We were to go there by bike.

We were to meet near Sandeep’s place near Hadapsar bridge at 8:00 am. I was to go on Ashk’s bike.. We were on time ,but Sandeep was late.We finally started. We first visited Sopan maharaj temple and took darshan. Such a serene place. Then we took darshan at Narayan gaon. Then we started for Purandar’s base, where  so many historic events have taken place. We were quite late as we started late and then  we had many stop overs which were ideas of Ashk.

On the way we also stopped at few places on dive ghat to to take some pics. We also saw Mastani lake and decided to go there on some day, which hasn’t come yet ;).We took break in some village and had a hearty breakfast. As was the custom, the person coming late has to sponsor the break fast, so this time we were all thankful to Sandeep. We decided to park our bikes there only as we thought it to be safe. But the base of Purandar was around 4 km from there and so we regretted the decision afterwards. We started the walk. It was tiring and we were quite drained out. It was very hot. We finally reached the base. The road through out were good and so we had a good ride. Then we started the ascent. It was good. The weather was very hot through.

On the way we could see Vajragad fort on our left. Rav was quite tired and Ashk was encouraging him to take baby steps and keep going. This was the last time he got tired and from next time he was the leader of the pack :). The progress was slow as it was hot and we were tired after long walk. Then we saw a lady selling nimbu pani and it was much needed juice we required at that time. We took a break, refreshed ourselves and continued the climb. Finally we reached the top. It was a great feeling to be on this historic fort which had witnessed many historic events. We saw few paces, samadhi and took pics at the zhenda. Finally we had scaled the 1st fort of our group and it opened the way for many memorable treks over the next many years.

We had competently drained out of water. Not much planning. Low on stocks. Etc. Was a a lesson for future. We started the down hill trek. It was tiring and with no water, food etc it was difficult. We have had Nimbu pani on the way up, but now the lady was nowhere to be seen. To top it Ram took panga with fauji. We were lucky or say Ram dada was with us so we survived to see the day and continued the descend. Finally we reached the base and took some rest. Now a long isolated road lay in front of us. We were all exhausted. And then the luck smiled. A rickshaw just came to the base to drop few passengers and we asked him to drop us back to the base village. He was not sure if all of us would fit in . Some how we cramped in and started for the base village. Once we reached there we took our bikes and started back. On the way we took break to rehyderated ourselves. Bit refreshed we moved on and took a break at a hotel for lunch which was ok and then started back towards Pune. We were back in the evening. First trek of the group Mauli trekkers with full of thrills and excitement concluded.

We still vividly remember Rav and Ram from that trek event. The trek spanned more than 30 plus events and still counting over the next 8 years.

PS: The place we took break after the trek to rehyderate was Cane juice center. First we all ordered one glass of juice each, which was over in no time. Then we ordered another one and then another :). Finally the owner of the center placed the utensil filled with juice in front of us and said have it as much you want :). We were really completly drained out of water 🙂

Satara Trip 2

2-Jul-2010 : After the great first trip to Satara there was demand for another trip to cover the remaining places. Also we have been to Ashk’s and Ram’s villages quite a number of times and I also wanted to take the group to my village. So we decided to arrange Satara – part 2 trip. But this time around, we wanted to keep it simple and cover whatever we can as per our leisure.  We booked the vehicle and  were all set to go to Satara.

We started at 7:00 am. This time around we had decided to take stopover for breakfast at Virangula which is just before Satara near Bhuinj. It’s a good place to have breakfast and snacks. Last time we had been to Shir Ram Best vada pav and this time I decided to take the group to some other place. After having breakfast, we continued towards Satara. Our ancestor village is Shirdhon in Koregaon taluka. Its a great place to visit and I still have some very good memories from my childhood, when we used to visit there during our vacations. Its a prefect village as it can get, it has hills, river, railway crossing, beautiful fields and old wadas, temples and all. Once we reached the Bombay restaurant square (though Bombay restaurant has closed down the name as stuck) , which is exit to Satara city from the highway. You take right turn to go to Satara city and left to go to Shirdhon.

We took the left turn and were on our way to the village. The roads are good, lined with very old and big Banyan tress. Such a pleasant sight. We reached the village around 10:30 am. We first got the keys and went for darshan to Ram temple. Every one liked the temple so much. Unfortunately the power was off that day, but still we had a fair view. We sat there for some time and then went to couple of acquaintances  in the village who served us one more round of breakfast and tea. Then we decided to head straight to our next stop Sajjan gadh.

To reach there you have to pass through Satara city and then once you reach the tunnel, you cross it and take right turn. From here Sajjan gadh is around 15 kms. First you reach the bypass for Parali, from where you go straight to base of Parali, from there you can trek the fort or you take the left to get on the ghat to the upper base of fort. This fort is also called Fort of Parali, from the name of the base village. This ghat is very beautiful and I always like coming here. After 15- 20 mins we reached the base on top of the fort. Here you can park the vehicles and cover the remaining distance on foot. Its 15-mins walk to the top. We reached the top and went to the temple for darshan. After the darshan we saw the museum  where many of the Samarth’s personal items are kept. It was around 11:45 am now and we had decided to have lunch in the ashram only. They serve Prasad, which contains rice, dal, one sabji, tak etc. We had our lunch and then we decided to head back. On the way back we took a break for tea at the hotel on the slopes of the fort, where we do normally have snacks and tea when we visit this fort. After reaching the parking spot we on boarded and started for our next destination Thosegar waterfalls.

The road to Thosegar is again very beautiful and you pass through many ghats. At many places there is hill face on one side and valley on another. There are quite a number of waterfalls on the way. On the left we could see uncountable wind mills, which is the Chalkewadi area. This is the largest wind mill farm in Asia. We were going to go there as well.We  reached Thosegar around 2:00 pm. We went to many waterfalls present there and had a good time. Some people wanted to enter the falls, but I advised them not to as it is risky. Then we headed to Chalkewadi wind farms.The road to reach the place is bad and after a point  you have go by foot only. This is due to constant arrival of big trailers with wind mills which are then assembled there. Once you reach the top there are gusty winds. You cant stand still as the wind there is so powerful. Around you see innumerable wind mills rotating and generating there own unique sound, Its an amazing place to be in. On top of this it was raining and were completely engulfed in clouds, so it was even better experience. After some time we decided to head back.

Our plan was to have snacks on the chowpaty in the Satara city at the famous Supenekar snacks and then head home. It was around 4:00 pm when we reached the city. After reaching the chowpaty we found that Supenkear had still not come, Basically he has a tempo which he has converted to a food joint. Every evening he gets the tempo and parks at the designated place and serves hot snacks which are really tasty, especially his pattice, batate wada and sabudana wada. Bit disappointed missing the delicacy and we decided to move on and have snacks somewhere on the way. In fact as it happened we had them only after the Khed Shivapur toll naka, i.e. closer to Pune. We had snacks at Kailas, packed missal to take home and continued towards Pune.

We reached Ashk’s place by 8:00 pm. We got our vehicles and headed for home. Satara Part 1 was better than this part 2, but we all had fun and good time.

PS: At the Sajjan gadh, the prasad is served in a big hall. The custom is that gents have to take off their shirts to sit there and have lunch. One of our group mate once he knew about this become uncomfortable, but as per the process they had already closed the doors and once you are in then you can go out after having the prasad 🙂 .

Satara Trip 1

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2-Oct -2009 : We had had many treks in last few months and we were thinking of doing a sightseeing and relaxing trip as well. Satara had come in  our discussions few times along with other locations, but there was no consensus on any place. One day I sent the group; photos of Satara’s valley of flower, Kas lake, Bamnoli and many hills around Satara. First people didn’t believe such place exists :). Once they were convinced all were existed to go for Satara only. As I was the local expert, it was entrusted upon me to finalize the trip, though I do that in small or big capacity in almost all the events 🙂 We had a packed schedule and decided to start early. We booked the vehicle from one of our friends acquaintance and we were all set.

Pick up point as is many a times was Katraj. We all assembled by 6:00 am and we started towards Satara. There was some discussion regarding taking Katraj tunnel or ghat, but as I had all the veto this time, Katraj tunnel it was going to be . As this trip was a travel trip everyone were relaxed. The weather was good, not raining but cool. We took a break at Shree Ram vada pav at Shirwal. All had stomach full of vada pav’s, bhaji and then tea. Everyone really liked the place. Then we continued non stop towards Satara. We reached Satara by 10:30 am and went straight to char bhinti. There is a water tank pillar at the entrance and few  people thought it is a gimmick or something. But once we climbed the stairs to Char bhinti and went on top, everyone were like WOW. That’s what happens, I have been through it many times:) This spot offers a unparalleled and unobstructed view of Satara city. You can see the seven hills encircling the valley from which the city derives the name. Everyone were like can we settle in Satara :).

Then we continued the ascent towards the mighty Ajinkyatara fort, sitting in the car though :). We reached the fort and moved around. Then we went towards  temple, during which we lost a bit ;), but finally got on right track. We took darshan and then had many pics taken. At this place a large bill board having Ajinkyatara written with big letters is present which one can see from as far as Pune-Satara superhighway. We then decided we had enough and need to cover many things so moved on. Once we descended the fort, we again started the ascent towards Yevteshwar. This is a small hill station near Satara. We took darshan at temple and after travelling some distance took break near a point which currently has no name, but offers breath taking views. On ones side of this point you can see Kanher backwaters and on the other side Urmodi backwaters. Such a amazing spot. We then decided to enjoy the nature and took break there. We also ate the snacks which we had brought with us.

Then we moved forward towards the Valley of flowers. Words are less to describe this place which is very beautiful to say the least. Its like carpet of different colored flowers all around. This Valley is barren through out the year, except once monsoon arrives, flowers starts blooming. But the real season is of only 15 days which is normally the 3rd week of September to 1st week of October. We were bit late, but still there were many flowers to see and we enjoyed a lot. There were hardly any one there and we clicked many pics sitting in midst of  the flowers. We then went down hill to Kass lake. Its a really pristine lake. We went into the lake and had some good time. The view and the whole atmosphere was just amazing. We then continued towards Bamnoli.

We reached Bamnoli just after noon. We were bit hungry and so decided to check with villagers if they could prepare lunch for our group. At one of the house the person said that it would take around 1 – 1:30 hours for the lunch to be ready as he prepares on order. So we gave the order and decided to enjoy Bamnoli by the time lunch was ready. We decided to take a ferry to Tapola. This place is as always amazing , in middle of nowhere, part of the ShivSagar backwaters, We reached Tapola which is on the other end of the shore in 45 minutes, Then we off boarded and decided to do some water sports. We booked the water scooter ride and everyone had a good time ridding one. One sad thing was that the life jackets were there just for the show, they were not in good shape.Once done we deiced to have tea at the hotel onshore. As we got inside it started raining heavily. In this trip also we had seen rain gods shinning on us, once we used to be inside the hotel or car or ferry the rains would start and once we were done and ready to go out they would go away. Perfect!.

We then started towards Bamnoli again. The lunch was waiting for us. It was average but we were very hungry and the weather was perfect so we enjoyed it. Then we started back towards Satara. On the way we spotted many clouds flowing by and we decided to stop and enjoy the moment. It was just amazing being in the clouds. We took many pics, were refreshed. We were now thinking of going back to Pune, On the way we stopped at a tapari to have tea, when I made a passing remark that if we would have had some time we would have covered Thosegar waterfalls as this is the perfect time of the year to go there. So everyone started asking if we can still pull it off. So we decided to go for it and take a chance. It was around 5:30 pm and we requires another 1 hour to reach there. On the way we passed by the wind farms which are largest in the Asia and its an amazing site seeing these huge machines rotating. On the way we passed Sajjan ghadh, one of my favorite forts. Due to shortage of time, we couldn’t visit but decided to go there next time we come to Satara.

We reached the falls just in time. They were about to close the gate and the sun had already set and sunlight was receding fast. We just managed to see the falls and we were glad we decided to come here. I had not seen the falls at this time of the day before. Everyone liked it and we decided to come back with more time at hand. Then we had tea near the gate and sat for a while on a kata near by. We all were soaking in the moment. This trip had turned out to be the best we ever had and we were all sure we would remember it forever. Also we manged to cover so much in a day that we were ourselves surprised and felt happy about. Sadly the day was over and out amazing trip was coming to an end. We started back towards Pune.

On the way after crossing Pune toll on the highway we took break for dinner. I and Vin were the ones on the Veg side and anything we ordered the waiter used to say its not available. We were really frustrated and were thinking of walking off. Finally he promised to get us something. He brought in veg pulav which was average, but we didn’t had much option. Then we got in the SUV and reached Pune by 11:30 pm. Everyone wished others good bye and took with them the moments to cherish forever 🙂

PS: I think this was one of those trips when we had full attendance and there was even demand for once more, which we did 🙂 That is for another day.

Rohideshwar Fort Trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Bajarwadi, Pune district

Grade : Easy                                                          Height : 3600 feet

Distance From Pune : 65 kms

20-July-2012: It had been really long long time we had been for a trek. I think since my marriage hardly any trek had happened . There were few other guys who had  got married, became fathers, were on house hunt etc in that period. Basically the treks were on back burner and we wanted to start them again.. There were some half hearted attempts in between, but non could materialize. Finally we were able to lock down a date and decided to start rather restart the trekking scene with a smaller and closer by fort. We decided upon Rohideshwar. It is located in Bhor taluka 65 kms from Pune and near to Ashk and Ram’s villages. We wanted to start early and keep it half day event, as per Ram. But then at the last moment a problem arose, Ram had some family function at 10:00 am :). So Ram wanted to opt out, but we were not ready to allow him to do so. After such a long time we had decided to go and we wanted everyone to be there. Finally we worked out a plan, that we would start bit late at 10:30 am once Ram joins us. We decided to take my and Sam’s car as it was near by and also our returning time was tentative.

Everyone was at Ashk’s place by 10:30 am. We had breakfast at our homes only. But there was no clue of Ram. He finally came at 11:30 am :). We started by around 12.00 pm. We were already thinking about Purandar experience, though major difference was this was monsoon season, so we didn’t have to worry about the sun. The route to this place is Pune – Satara super highway, then take exit for Bhor after Nasarapur and then continue towards Bhor and pass it and then take route to Rohideshwar. We reached Bhor by 1:15 pm and pulled aside close to bus stand. Per recommendation from Ashk and Ram we were going to have Zada khalcha vada pav which is locally famous. We had couple of vada pavs each which were good and had tea. Then we continued towards Rohideshwar. Road till here is good, but after this it is bit patchy. We reached at the base of the fort by around 1:45 pm. There is a small village and a school by the road side. We parked in front of the school and started the trek.

It had been drizzling all the way. But as we started the trek it started raining heavily. Also the whole route was engulfed in clouds and it was thrilling to trek in such a weather. I had never trekked under such heavy rains. We were making progress slowly. The fort is not very high or tough, but the rains were slowing us down. Once a while the rains would subside a bit and then we could have a good look at the surroundings which were indeed beautiful. We reached the top in 1 hour and straight away went to the zhenda and clicked pics. We had scaled yet another one :). We then spotted a temple and went inside it. There was a pujari inside and he gave us some information about the place. We had good darshan and then we sat down. The temple from inside was unique and I liked it very much. It had the complete story of Maharaj in form of  paintings on the walls of the temple. They were really great art of work and spoke the story. We then decided to head back.

Some of the guys wanted to explore the fort more but we were very late by now. I also wanted to go home early that day and we wanted to get down the fort before dark. It was still raining cats and dogs. We started descending slowly. The visibility was hardly there due to rain and clouds. We finally reached the base in around 40 minutes and went to the back of school to change. Once done we were on our way. The other guys took a stop over near Bhor for lunch, it was already evening :), but I continued straight as I had to go home for some personal work. With this trek, we were again on the beaten tracks which we like and that too with a great start 🙂

PS: Ram wanted to have a half day trek, which is what he got. He came in the second half  🙂

Lohgadh Fort Trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                      Base Village : Bhaje, Pune district

Grade : Medium                                                    Height : 3400 feet

Distance From Pune : 75 kms

Oct-2009 : We were planning trek to Lohgadh for many days. Finally it was locked in and we  booked cab, bought all the supplies and we were all set. We started early as we had planned to go to the fort and also look to cover few caves which are near by. Everyone had asked for pickup, so the cab start first with  me, Ashk and Ram from Katraj, then Sandy, Ran and Sam from Sam’s place in Hadapsar and then Rav from Vimannagar. This took us forever and we were in Pune only for 2 hours. We had breakfast at a udipi hotel in Vimannagr. Meduwada, idli sambar and tea; perfect breakfast and we were ready for the trek.

Lohgadh is around 100 km from Pune on the old Pune-Mumbai route. I was going through this route after a long time and so was bit nostalgic as during my college days used to do Mumbai_pune updown almost every other week. It had been a while I had been on this side and I could see things had changed a lot :). You have to take diversion for Malvali road . Then you pass by the Malavali railway station, which many trekkers use to reach here through local from Mumbai or Pune. A train was about to cross so we had to wait at the railway gate. We reached Lohgadh base by 11:00 am and it was drizzling a bit. We got our things and started the trek.

Lohagadh is very popular trek as it is located almost between middle of Mumbai and Pune and its easy with well paved and marked trails. Also for non trekkers there are couple of big waterfalls to splash into and old caves as well to see. We started the trek through the trails. On the way; on the left side, near  top of the hill we saw few caves, to reach there  one has to take diversion from the main trail. But we decided to go there on our return journey and we continued with our original plan. After a while we got kind of bored just walking on the trail road and decided to go off trail and take shortcuts and enjoy the real trek. There are many off the trail roads and we had a good time trelking through them

Along with immense people who had come there for trekking and picnic there was a school children group which was ahead of us. As it was raining and with so many people and kids taking the off trails route, it had become muddy and slippery and it was very tough to go through them. But we still continued through them as it was exciting and definitely more fun than the monotonous trail route. On one such trail literately there was a  jam caused by the school kids in front of us and many were slipping and falling and then again continuing. It took us lot of time to get through theses sections. We really felt bad for the kids as the teachers had gone ahead and left these children behind. We met a fat kid, who was barely managing and we helped in through. He was quite upset that he already struggling so much and on top of it  teachers had given him lot of things to carry on his back. Poor kids :(.

It was continuously drizzling. On the way there were lot of spots to take good pics and enjoy the nature. Many of us slipped on the way as well. Ram of all had come with; would you believe it with slippers, which got snapped on the way and then he was bare footed 🙂 . We reached a spot where there is diversion for Visagadh which is jodgadh(twin fort) of Lohgadh. There was a temptation to go for it, but as we were already running very late, we continued with the original plan. We then reached the base of the fortifications where there are steps (rather mega steps, one step is equivalent to 2-3 normal steps). This is the most tiring of all sections as you have already walked so much and now you have to climb these big steps. We finally reached the top and one more fort was successfully scaled. It was such a satisfaction. We then roamed around on the top saw some temples, ponds etc. Then we sat at a point and had snacks which we had brought in.

Then we decided to go for the scorpion point. This is a hillock which is at one end of Lohagadh fort, bit down hill, which has a shape of scorpion. It looks really good from the top and we descended onto this point to have a look. At the end of this point there is a a vertical cliff which offers a great view of surroundings. This cliff used to be  kadelote, i.e. hardened criminals were thrown down the valley from the fort. Then we started back. On the way we came across a very interesting phenomenon which I had not seen before waterfall falling in reverse direction. At that point a waterfall was falling from the top and instead of reaching the ground it was coming back to top in reverse. Actually the winds blow at such a high speed there that the falling water is again thrown back to top and this moves in cycle. Its a treat to watch that.

We then descended the steps and went to one of the many hotels at the base. We had garama garam bhaji and chai in the rains. Good times! We then started the trail descend, this time avoiding the shortcuts as it had started raining a lot now and it would be more slippery on the way down. At one point it started pouring cats and dogs and we had to stop  under a small cliff. We were quite tired and so didn’t think about going to the caves, but some guys wanted to take bath in the waterfall so they went there Few of us went back to car and changed. Others joined in some time. We then again had hot tea. It had rained the whole day and we had a good time.

We then started back. We pulled across the highway at some place to have lunch. Yes lunch at around 6:00 pm :). Then we were on our way back to Pune. All were dropped to there respected homes and we were the last to reach ours 😦 . Really a nice and memorable trip, but we spent lot of time picking and dropping guys. Some thing to think about from the next treks!

Ps: Near the Lohagadh station, Ram found some guy to fix his broken slippers. We still don’t know why he came to trek with slippers on a rainy day, while on some other occasion where we had gone for sightseeing he showed up with shoes! 🙂