End of trip, back to Pune

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14-Feb-2017 : Woke up around 8:00 am. Today was a slow day. Had a nice cup of tea on the terrace. Weather was nice and today was the last day of the trip. We cleaned up the home, put things in order and were ready to leave. We were not going to come back to Satara home back and so bid a long goodbye to it. After the car was loaded with all our stuff, we first headed towards Ajinkyatara fort. We always make a point to visit this place, which holds such is place of pride and for us lot of memories from childhood.

It is close from our place and road goes all the way up the top. It took us around 20 mins to reach there. The road is small and uneven, but has some nice forest cover, earlier we had even spotted peacocks here. We parked near the fort gate and spent some time there. This is the 4th and final capital of Maratha empire. You can see the whole city from here and we could even spot our home from here.

We didn’t want to leave the place, but reluctantly had to move on. There are many historical places on the top like remains of palace, Mangalai mandir and the famous Ajinkya Tara sign board in marathi which is visible even from NH4. You also get good views of Yavteshwar, Sajjangadh and other hills around. We used to trek this often with my cousins when we used to visit Satara in vacation. One of my favorite places!

We were already hungry and we had planned for breakfast at Supnekar’s. So we headed stright to this eat out which is located just adjacaent to Rajwada. We had dahi misal and tea and was nice as always. Again this is our fav place to go when in city.  Before heading to our native village which is 12 km from the city, we had one more engagement.

One of our firends inlaws lives here and so they had invivted us and so we decided to drop by for some time. We were thinking out spending 15- 20 mins, but they insisted we have the snacks if we were not going to have the lunch at their place. That and the coffee and chat made the time fly and it was already 12:00 pm ! So bit goodbye and rushed toward our car, where our parents were waiting for us. They informed us the visit to native place has to be cancelled wdue to some of our acquaintance not available and which made us bit sad

So we decided to have lunch and head for home. We went to Prakruti which is a health resort cum restaurant. They have some unique combo of ayurvedic/natural cuisine, which they serve. Another of our favs and we visit often. Unfortunately for I and G we were so full with B’fast and food we had at our friend’s in-laws that we decided to skip it and instead had buttermilk. Baba, aai had thalpit and R , some Chinese! Ar had idli. While we were waiting for the Order to arrive, Ar wanted to play on slides and swings. She was having a good time, but fell down from slide and was quite angry at me, like I was the culprit for that :(.  Finally the food arrived and we left our tummy full (I and G’s was already so)

We were on our way to Pune, through Pune – Satara super highway, one of my fav and I was also excited to see the progress of the expansion (it’s now converted into 10 lanes and most junctions being replaced by flyovers. I have driven on this road so many times and wanted to do now so. Lets see when it happens next. The expansion has further cut the time it takes to travel between these 2 cities and we were on the Pune side in no time. On the way we stopped by one of our other favs Kailas bhel. I and G had bhel and tea. Others had only tea. We also took some parcels with us. This place has been our stop over point while coming back from Satara for many years now( The old place was just a short distance northwards from the current location, where they moved as the old place was taken up during highway expansion)

It seems we covered almost everything in this small trip and we were back home by 5:30 pm. What a trip it was, we created some new memories and relived some old. Spent some nice and fun time with family. We went from beaches to historic places to hills and mountains to our fav eat outs. So much fun. When is the next being planned ??? 🙂

PS: We started with may be 4-5 bags/carry bags and when we were back it might have been at least 20+. We even joked about it. Lesson for next time, CARRY ONE BIG BAG !!!

Satara via Pratapgadh -> Mahabaleshwar (part 2)

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13-Feb-2017 : We reached our Satara home at around 3:00 pm. We were fairly tired and took some rest. G and baba got down to dusting and bit home cleaning as it gets quite messy as we visit only once in a while. Ar also put her best by washing the terrace. With it cleaned up it became more habitual. We had garma garam chai to refresh and then I decided to checkout the terrace as I wanted to get a good view of Ajinkyatara and Yeveteshwar. Now till few years back we got the best view just from our balcony, but now many new tall constructions are coming all around and it has blocked the view partially. Who knows in some years, we wont get the view at all, which would be quite sad 😦

I also got everyone on the terrace and we clicked some nice pics, with Ajinkyatara in the background. Then we left the home around 5:30 pm. Our first stop was obviously Supnekar snacks center for some mast snacks, pattice being favorite of all. It is located in center of the city, on the ground overlooking the Rajwada. Its a mini chaupatty and Supnekar  and few others bring in there food trucks in the evening after 5:30 pm everyday (I believe Supnekar  being the first) and serve hot, yummy snacks. It brought back all the old childhood memories, when we used to be in Satara for summer vacation and this joint was on our radar every other evening (On others we used to churn on the bhel at Garden with a train which is opposite to this place).Sadly there was some function on that ground and so chaupatty was closed :(. Great start to Satara trip :(.

With heavy heart we went to the next option we had which was the Ajinkya hotel, which is located at the fork from where the old city starts. Its a nice place and we had been coming here since last few years. We had dosa, uttapa etc and tea. Next stop was to visit few of our relatives in the city. It was back to back, quite hectic, but was nice to see them after a long time and we had some good time with them. Before we realized it was almost 9:00 pm and we were really tired.

Normally we get a parcel from Supnekar for dinner, which serve home made food. But baba suggested we try a new place which he has been visiting since last few visits. It was close to Supnekar’s and was ok place. We had the rice plate which was ok, not as good as we expected. From there we went straight to home. As we were climbing the stairs we realized we had not got the water and so I decided to go and get it. It was around 10:15 pm and most of the city was asleep by now it seemed. Most of the shops were obviously closed, luckily I found one open near Gol Maruti chowk and got the mineral water there.

We all were quite tired, we had been on the move since last 3- 3.5 days. But we were bit sad as the trip was coming to end, tomorrow being the last day. We spent some time chatting on the terrace, it was so quite all around. We then called it a day and picked the bed.

PS: Though we missed Supnekar’s truck, we still had the Supnekar’s famous pattice. Don’t ask how, it was in our destiny 🙂

Satara via Pratapgadh -> Mahabaleshwar (part 1)

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13-Feb-2017 : Today was bit relaxed day. We woke up bit late, got ready and packed the bags. We decided to haul the bags to the car and get them in and then come back for breakfast. Breakfast was at their other restaurant and we ordered typical vada samar, utappa etc and tea. It was nice, but as Baba was not feeling that well, he didn’t had any. While we were completing the formalities, Ar had some fund time in kids play area with Aai. We left Mahad around 9:00 am and headed toward Poladpur on NH17. We were to take NH 17 -> Poladpur ->  Poladpur  ghat -> Pratapgadh -> Jawali Ghat -> Mahabaleshwar -> Medha Ghat -> Satara. Yeah there were many ghats on the way and this was the section whose first leg we were completely unaware of, in terms quality of roads, time it will take etc. But yeah, today we had the CD with us, we were hoping the journey would be bit more fun.

The road is OK and the traffic was quite lite, so we were cruising along. We crossed Poladpur and then in some time started ascent of the ghat. The ghat is quite good, though its fairly winding and with high gradation. It was only 10:00 am and we were closing on to Pratapgadh and we were thinking  by this pace, we would be in Satara for lunch which we had planned for in Mahabaleshwar. Now there was an opportunity here to go to Pratapgadh which is on the way and also R could do his souvenir shopping as well :). So I suggested we take a small detour to the fort and we all agreed upon. So we took the diversion from the base of Jawali and started the ascent of Pratapgadh fort.

Now this fort needs no introduction and it has been one of the important fort’s in Maharaj’s life, in fact he had it built and also established mandir of Tulja Bhavani on top.I have been here many times from my childhood days and still remember it fondly.The road goes all the way to base where there ST stop, some shop etc and from here there are stairs to go up the fort. We were thinking that I and R and may be G might go up, do the shopping and be back as I was not sure if it would be too much for Aai to climb. But Aai wanted to also come along and so we all geared up. On the way many old memories came along and we took a break at the hotel just before the top. We had limbu pani and kokam sarbat and from here you get great views of the the bastion adorned with flag, which every child in Maharashtra had grown up seeing on school textbook.

After the much needed break, we went straight to Mandir and took darshan. We were lucky to come here and get darshan. Then we went to building next door which has a large shop of souvenirs and handicrafts. We have been here before as well and its a good place to find some interesting things. We spent may be an hour here and got most of what we were looking for like key chains, t shirt, pics etc. So all our objectives being accomplished  we started the descend. On the way Baba suggested, should we have lunch here only on the fort as it was already 11:30 am. The hotel is on the edge of fort walls and has great views of bastion and Jawali khore. Great place to have food with family. We ordered zhunka bhakar, tak and all. Food was nice and we had relaxed time there. It was kind of place you can stay for as much time you have.

But we had our plans lined up and now we were running bit behind, so we started the descend. On the way we stopped at the same place we had limbu pani before as it was G’s upwas and she got khichadi parceled. It was Aai’s upwas too, but she doesn’t eat anything till the evening 😦 . We were at the base in 20 mins and then left. On the way we passed through Jawali khore and then started the ascent of Mahabaleshwar. This is one of my favorite spots and its just cool being here. We reach Mahabaleshwar around 2:00 pm and as we were not going to go to the town having already passed the schedule, we took the diversion for Medha ghat. This again is a good ghat section, good roads, good views and lite traffic. It takes no more than an hour to reach Satara city from here. On the way you pass along the Kanher backwaters which fall on your right side. Its a completely different experience during monsoon, which I highly recommend.

We reached Satara at around 3:00 pm and we straight away went to our home. It was good to be back to one of our fav cities after a gap of around 2.5 years. We had had a good day so far and equally long day awaited us.

PS: Now, for all that new CD, we could get may be at max 20 -25 mins of music and the car’s music system just died. It was total crap!

This trip though brought the nostalgia back, many childhood day we have spent on this tony hill station with family & relatives, visiting points, those Strawberry farms, eating at the town center, veg sandwich and Strawberry shake at Mapro’s, chane at Mama chanewala, hike behind the Hotel woodlands, the horse rides, coming here just to drink cup of tea or shake from Satara in the afternoon.. I think I should stop.. ;(

Raigad Fort (Part 1)

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Fort Type : Hill                                                      Base Village : Hirkaniwadi, Raigad district

Grade : Medium                                                    Height : 2700 feet

Distance From Pune : 155 kms

13-Feb-2017 : We were at Deveagar and had set an alarm of 5:30 am and had planned to leave by 7:00 am. Around 6:00 am, I went out to check for tea and breakfast which they had promised, but the staff was no where to be seen. So I came back bit disappointed and we got ready, packed the bags and locked the rooms. By now the staff was up and we could see some action in the restaurant. We sat in the waiting seat out and in some time they served us tea and bread/butter which was ok and then we left. The resort was good, the staff was helpful and we had a good time there.

On the way, we took darshan of Suvarna Ganesh mandir. We left Diveagar by 8:00 am, bit behind schedule. The road from here to Raigad passes through Mangaon and then you reach Mahad bypass and from here you take a left turn, which after crossing Pachad village enters the ghat and from here you reach the base of Raigad. The overall road is ok, though there are some bad stretches. Just before Pachad, on your right you start seeing the towering cliff of the Raigad and you know you are approaching the fort of the KING and KING of the Forts! Truly an amazing experience and the whole history starts flashing in front of you. I have been to many forts, but the journey is not complete till you see and set foot on this one!

We reached the base around 10:30 am and I headed towards the ticket counter for the rope way. The rates are Rs 250 per head to and fro and you have to enter all the names of travelers and contact info etc. There were few people ahead of us and I have heard on peak days, the wait can be as long as 3-4 hours. Today was ok day though and once tickets were booked we went to the hotel which was adjacent to the ticket counter, to have breakfast. We had vada sambar, misel etc, Ar had idli sambar and then had tea. Then we headed to the waiting area which is under a shed and there is some sitting arrangements as well. As we were going, we could see the trolleys passing to and fro to the fort and it was an amazing sight.

There was a large group (50+) in front of us waiting to board and the staff took a long time to adjust them in each tour. There was some arguments flowing, but we finally got close to the trolleys in 10 -15 mins. They take your collective weight (4 people max in one trolley) and then you sit on the side benches while the trolley arrives. There are 2 sets each having 3 trolleys, so in all 12 people can go up and 12 can come down at a time. Once the trolley arrived and the people off boarded them, we got in. Unfortunately I and R got the wrong seat. We were to go up facing down, Ar and G were having a good view going up 🙂 Then the trolley started moving and the ride is so smooth and as you ascent, you get good views of the surroundings including the Hirkaniwadi village, which is near the base. The whole ride takes 4 mins and we reached the top and set foot on the fort and we were truly blessed. Finally, I could make it to the grand capital!

At the top you have to take tickets to enter the fort, which is Rs 20. We then also booked a guide for 300/- and a palkhi for Aai for 1500/-. Aai was not to eager for that, but we felt she would be comfortable in it and would be able to watch the whole fort without it getting much tiring for her. We entered the fort through Mahadarwaja and saw many places near by like Rani mahal, Granaries etc. Then you take a right to enter the Maharaj’s palace and close to that you have the famous 2 towers (there were 3 originally) which we see in many pics. Mainly the base of the palace and some construction is what remains today. From a half standing a gate you enter the Darbar and on the high pedestal there is the statue of Maharaj sitting on the throne, where his original throne was and where Rajyabhishek took place. We all were just overwhelmed by the sight and we being there. Cant explain in words. We spent some time there, allowing the moment to set in.

We then headed towards the grand gate, on top of which there was nagarkhana, which is located at the other end of the Darbar. The Darbar space is so large, we could just imagine what it would have been like then! Once out of the gate, the palkhi guys said, their trip is over and they would return from here. We though they would be with us till the end, but Aai was also bit tired and so they turned around and dropped her at our starting point near the trolleys. We Continued towards the Jagdishwar temple, which is located at the other end. On the way you pass through another magnificent statue of Maharaj and this is the iconic one which we have seen many a times on the pics where sun is setting in the background.

From here as you continue straight, you pass through the market of those times. The unique feature of this market is that all shops are at an elevation as the shoppers used to arrive on horse to shop and so that has been taken into account. The shops are on either side of long, wide street and would have been magnificent in its days. From here there is 15-20 mins walk to Jagdishwar temple. On the way on your left you can see the TakMak kada. We reached the temple, which is nice and we took darshan and sat there for a while. Then from here through a gate we entered the samadhi of Maharaj and were natmastak. No more words! Blessed!

We spent a long time there and then headed back. On the way back, we had some kokam sarbat. It was quite hot day but, but we were not feeling tired, were taking in each moment of being there. We took the same way back to the starting point where Aai was safety dropped by palkhi. We had planned to stay for a while but the trolley guy told us that the big group which we had encountered on our way up was again slowly assembling and we better stand in queue, else it would be a long wait. Also on that day they were going to close the trolley early. So with heavy heart, we departed the fort. We would like to come here again and again and it would be nice to stay as well (MTDC has some cottages, just near our starting point). The wait for trolley was not long this time and we boarded it and had amazing journey back. We had the same seats, but enjoyed the descent. At the base, we had nimbu pani first and ordered the lunch which was a veg thali. It was nice and we had out stomach’s full. It was around 3:00 pm and we then headed towards out layover place for tonight Mahad.

PS: We had not booked any hotel at Mahad, but we had earlier done some research and were thinking of Motel Visawa which appeared to be good, but I hadn’t saved their contact no and there was no net range there, so we were wondering what to do and then right in front of us I saw billboard ad of it with contact no 🙂 They knew we were coming  ;).

Anyways, there was one more glitch, R wanted to buy some memento of ShivMudra which he was looking for at a shop on top of the fort, but I told him to hold on as there are couple of big shops near the base,. At the base there were couple of shops, but I kept insisting there are bigger and better shops I had seen on the way up the ghat, so lets go there. So reluctantly R got in the car, but we couldn’t find the shops till Mahad!. Was it a mirage, which I had seen or claimed to have seen!

Aurangabad Trip – Day 2 (part 2)

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15-August-2011 : We woke up early today and took our luggage and put in the car. Today was 15 th August and we were in transit to way back. No kadhai jalebis today 😦 But never mind, it had been a memorable independence day weekend. We had hearty breakfast at hotel, did the checkout formalities and took some pics of the hotel and headed out. Unfortunately, we could hardly explore the hotel, which was quite big and had lots of activities.

Our first stop was Bibi ki makbara. It is a copy of the Taj Mahal and after seeing the original this was a disappointment, but G having not being to the original one found it interesting. Then we headed towards Panchakki which was an interesting place. It is flour mill, which runs on water. It is designed such that the flow of water, rotates the wheels and grounds the grains. Was a nice place.

From there we moved to our last item in our itinerary, Daulatabad fort, also called as Deogiri fort. This was the capital seat of Maharashtra long time ago and the fort is one of the few which are well maintained. This fort is considered to be impregnable and have been ever won through kutniti only. We reached at the base around 11:00 am and we could see the majesty of the fort from far distance. I would have liked to cover the complete fort, but G was not up to it that day and so we decided to cover till midway and hired a guide. We saw ramparts, many doors and the minar etc. It truly looked  invincible.

We were at the end of our trip and to think of it we managed to cover more than we ever thought we could. We left Aurangabad by 12:30 pm. On the way we decided to stop at the food mall which we had been told served good food. The food was nice and we were in Pune city by 4:00 pm, but after crossing Ranjangaon, the traffic started to build up and it took more than 2 hours to reach home. We were tired, but had checked out one of the long standing places to see in our list.

Rajgadh Fort Trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Pali, Pune district

Grade : Medium/Tough                                       Height : 4520 feet

Distance From Pune : 50 kms

18-Dec-2009 : We were in thick of trekking season. Last week only we had covered Sinhgadh and we were immediately thinking of the next fort and trek to do. Ashk suggested we select one of the forts closer to his village which is in Bhor taluka and there are many forts there. After many deliberations Rajgadh was finalized. It is one of the most important forts, the first capital of Maratha Empire! One of our friends booked a Maruti Omni, which was going to be our companion traveler in many other treks to come. We decided to start at 6:00 am and Katraj was going to be our meeting point.

All of us assembled at Katraj on the day of travel and we left as per plan. The Maruti Omni, which we had booked was one of its kind. It was very old and the ride on even good roads was quite bumpy. But it was super cheap as the renting/driving was his side business, who owned and operated a garage as well, so heck with bumpy ride ;).

The route to Rajgadh is via Nasarapur phata which is around 20 Kms from Katraj on Pune-Satara super highway. On Nasrapur phata take right and reach base village Pali. Rajgadh fort is very large and there are various routes to  reach there and so one has to select the appropriate base village. The route through Pali is the medium easy and it leads to the fort through Pali darwaja.

On the way we stopped at a hotel on  Pune-Satara super highway for breakfast. The usual fare for us, Poha, vada pav and chai. Then after taking right on Nasarapur phata, we continued on the road towards Pali village. This road is in a very bad shape, which is quite sad and travelling through our Omni was even more adventurous.  Somehow we managed to reach Pali and started our trek.

Now there are many forts, fortification of which you can see from the base itself, but this is one of those forts when even after trekking more than half the way, you don’t see the fortification. This will give you an idea of the expanse of the fort and that’s why this was capital for so many years , before being shifted to even bigger and grander Raigadh.

The weather was pleasant, not too hot or cold. After covering the initial way quickly, the pace slowed. It was bit tiring for everyone. The trek is medium tough and a long one. We had nimbu pani at few of the places on the way. Finally we started seeing the fortification and it looked the top is near, but it still took us long time to reach the top. Near the top they have added steel railing to hold onto while climbing a bit tricky patch. We reached the top in 3 hours after we had started from the base. It was tiring but a fulfilling trek.

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We entered the fort through Pali darwaja, which is a huge door. We rested there a bit, took some snaps and then started to explore the fort. When you enter through this door, Padmawati machi is near by only.There are three machis on the fort and this one is the magnificent one. This machi had military base as well as residential areas. One can see many old structures here and gives us a glimpse to the days of glory. There is Padmavati temple and lake by the same name here on the machi. There are information boards explaining various structures which ones stood there.

After taking some rest and having some snacks, we wanted to continue forward towards Bale killa, which we could see from the place where we had taken break. But some of us were tired so we decided to start back. We took around 2 hours to reach the base. It was one of the most thrilling treks we had done.

After reaching the base, Ashok suggested to come to his village, to visit his house. We went to his house, spent some time there and started back towards Pune. We were quite tired and some of us went to sleep, surprisingly on the bumpy ride back in our majestic Omni. We reached Pune city by 6:00 pm and started back towards our respective homes.

Such a great experience to visit this historically important place!

PS – On the top, we could see the Torna fort and the ridge which connects Rajgadh to it. There it was our next destination!

Sinhgadh Fort Trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Donje, Pune district

Grade : Easy                                                          Height : 4429 feet

Distance From Pune : 20 kms

Dec 2009 : Now if you are from Pune or if you have been staying in Pune for some time, then its assumed that you have been to Sinhgadh, I am not saying you would have trekked to Sinhgadh ;). This fort is the first step for Punekar to start there trekking odyssey. But I had never been there all these years and don’t ask me why. Many a times our sight eludes the things which are close to us.I personally and we as a group had made many plans to go to Sinhgadh but that never materialized. It was destined to happen only in December of 2009 only.

We made the plan and all were ready to come. We decided to go on bike, which above all made Ram happy. On the day of trek I, Ashk and Ram assembled at Katraj, Sandy, Rav, Sam and Ani joined at the Sinhgadh flyover junction. One of Ashk’s friend also joined in . The plan was to have a half day trek as few of the members had some personal work to attend to.

We had started early at 6:00 am. It was cloudy but not raining. Once all joined us at Sinhgadh flyover, we started the journey on the Sinhgadh road. The weather was great and we were enjoying the ride. We took break for breakfast at some small hotel after Nanded city and had vadapav, bhaji and tea, which was OK. It had started raining by now, so we enjoyed the bhaji and chai even more. We waited for the rain to subside a bit, but seeing that is not happening we continued any ways. Sinhgadh is around 15 km from Sinhgadh flyover and around 25 km Pune city and it takes around 1 hour to reach.

The road passes over Khadkawasala dam and is flanked by its backwater on the right side. We took our second stop there. The dam was almost full, we had some roasted corn here and enjoyed the nature. We then moved on towards our destination. We reached village Donje, which is the base village at about 8:30 am and parked our bikes near the school and started the trek.

It had started raining heavily now and we were on for a fun trek. The trek is relatively simple and has many marked trails as many punekars frequent this place. Many people visit this fort especially on the weekends from Pune city. We took few breaks on the way to have nimbu pani :). The trek was not tiring at all as the weather was cool and it was raining. The pace had slowed down a bit in between, but seeing many NDA cadets climbing the fort running, made us put in more. We reached to the top of the fort in 1.5 hours. We took some snaps and proceeded to explore the fort further.

The fort is town in itself with lot of eating joints, smalls shops etc dotting the whole landscape. The fort was completely engulfed in clouds and there was hardly any visibility. You can feel the clouds floating and passing around you. It was such a amazing site. We visited the samadhi of Tanaji Malusare, its inspiring just being there. We then visited samadhi of Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj. 

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After that we had a look at few bastions and fortification left there. On top of fort there is a very peculiar place, which has a reverse waterfall. Basically, the rain water falls from this place downhill but due to heavy wind in the direction of the fort, it is thrown back up again. It is a sight one has to see from once own eyes to believe it.

We then went to one of the many eating joints present there. They are famous for bhaji and fresh pot of curd. It was really tasty and we had a good time eating and talking. We sat for some time and then decided to start the descent as we had to reach back to Pune by 2:00 pm. We reached the base in 45 minutes.

We picked our bikes and started back towards Pune. It was still raining heavily. On the way we stopped over at a hotel for lunch. They had nice cottages and good ambiance. We were comply drenched in rain and were feeling bit chilly. The food was good and the service was prompt. After having our stomachs full, we continued towards Pune. On the way back we again stopped for some time at Khadkwaala with rain finally had stopped. We were back in Pune city by around 2:30 pm.

It was a good half day trek on a wonderful day to this historic fort. Finally, we had crossed the first step :).