Jyotiba Temple & Panhala Fort – Day 3

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02-Oct-2017: Woke up early today as there was so much to do. We got ready and did the checkout formalities. We decided to even have tea later on. The hotel was next to railway line and we saw few of them passing by which was a nice sight. We left the hotel at 8:00 am and went straight to Gokul restaurant. We had misal and batate vada sambar. We also had tea. Refreshed we moved towards Jyotiba temple. Jyotiba temple is located around 20 km from here and located on Jyotiba hill. It took us around half an hour to reach there. There are multiple entrances to the temple, one at the top of the hill where you arrive after you ascend the ghat, the actual temple being bit downhill from here. Another entrance is close to the temple and now a days they have a road which descents to the parking spot near it. But on that day due to some reason it was closed and we had to park at the top and descend many steps to the temple which was bit of excursion for Aai.

We had nice darshan at the temple and then after spending some time there and then ascended the steps back to the parking spot. It was around 10:30 am and we were thinking of what next. In the three days of our trip we had not really done some sightseeing or went to see some place and so we wanted to do something to that affect. So we decided to head towards Panhala fort which is around 12 km from here and takes around 20 mins to reach. As we descended the Jyotiba hill and touched the main road, from where we took right turn we could see the majestic fort from a distance on our left hand side. But as we continued on this road, we saw it going away from us. Off-course we were heading towards wrong direction :). So after checking with locals we realized we were headed in opposite side, so we took the u turn and were now on the right path. In some time we started ascending the ghat towards the fort.

The roads here are really nice and well maintained. This fort is the Taluka headquarter and has a living population of 5000+. The ghat section is beautiful and down below we could see lush green valley and fields. We reached at the top in 7-8 mins and were at the chowk there which has statue of Baji Parbhu Deshapande, wielding 2 swords in his each hand reminiscent of the famous battle of Pavan khind. Now we have been to this fort few times in childhood, but this was our visit after long time and so we wanted to explore the fort in detail. There are few guides who offered to show us around, but as our car was full there was no much space to accommodate them.  So we decided to explore it on our own.

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We went around for some time but were not sure if we were heading anywhere. On the way we spotted Tabak udyan, so we parked there and were thinking of exploring it. Luckily at that time a guy came on bike and offered to be our guide to take us around the fort. As he had his own vehicle it was perfect for us and his fees was if I remember correctly Rs 300 was reasonable. We were glad we found him, rather he found us else we wont have been able to see much. So he first gave some info on the fort and then took us to our first spot which was Sajja. This was a palace from the day of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and this is where the plan to break out of Siddi Johar’s vedha (encirclement) was made and from here only on that historic night Maharaj left in palki with 600 bandals towards Vishalgadh. This was also the place where Maharaj last met with Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.

This palace was of 2 levels and had multiple rooms. We explored the ground floor and then through stairs went to 1st floor. This room had good arches and some nice features. It also had big windows with nice views. It always feel so great being at the places where historic events had taken place. We were also interested to know the place from where on that historic day Maharaj descended the fort and crossed the vedha, which he told is at some distance from here and we would be visiting that too. We then descended and went to see some tatbandi (fortification) around this place. The next stop was one of the buruj which had a steep climb of 25-30 steps, The view from top was breath taking and has a good vantage point. From here on one could also see the bunglows of dyons of marathi film industry, Bhalji pendharkar, V Shantaram and all.

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Our next stop was to see the spot we wanted to see earlier, the place from where Maharaj descended the fort and it passed through thick jungle. If I would have come with our group or would have had more time, would have liked to go and explore it more. For next time, maybe!  We then moved to see a very interesting place, called Andhar Bawdi (Hidden well). It is a three storied structure having two levels located underground. At the base is a hidden step well. This structure would help protect the well from the enemies whose first act would be to poison the water in it.  The upper level is road facing and so as the enemy storms the fort, they don’t see the underground structures nor the guards stationed at the basement, who then could surprise them. This well was the drinking water source for the inhabitants of the Fort. The back side of Andhar Bawdi is also well fortified by two layers of thick stone wall and it also has escape routes in case of emergency.  From the fortification one gets excellent views of the fort and the valley.

Our next stop was Teen Darwaza (Three doors) which are at walk able distance from Andhar Bawdi. It is one of the gateways to the Fort from Konkan side. The doors have been constructed in such a way that the enemy entering from the main door from Konkan side cannot see another two doors until they are fully in by which time the guards stationed there can surprise them. The doors would have been huge and strong to withstand even the charge by the elephant. The doors have beautiful arches having nice carvings.

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Our next visit was to visit the Bale Killa (Citadel), which also houses the Ambarkhana (Warehouse) and is located at the center of the Fort. There are three granaries in this structure, having names Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati to store rice, varai and nachni and are huge, having capacity of around 25OOO quintals of rice. The rice collected from country would be poured from holes on the top of the high ceiling. The structure itself has huge pillars and they connected by arches which look imposing and beautiful.The Ambarkhana used to be fortified by 15 meter deep trenches to prevent attacks. This whole area is encircled by fortification and was part of the Citadel.

There were few more places to visit like Tararani’s palace, Shiva Kashid’s statue and memorial, but due to that day being election day some parts were closed and we could not visit them. So we were at the end of our tour and decided to have lunch on the fort itself. We were thirsty as well and chaas just outside the fortification of Bale Killa was perfect drink! From there we saw a hotel just opposite to it. We decided to try it out. They had freshly prepared bhakari, zhunka with thecha and chaas as menu. The food was really nice and the ambiance of we sitting in front of Bale Killa of Panhala was just perfect! We relaxed there for some time and would have liked to spend the whole day on the fort itself. But home was also calling and with our tummies filled, we decide to head back. We didn’t had to go back to Kolhapur as there was bypass connecting to the highway at some distance from Panahala and in some time we were on our way.

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The weather was just perfect, cloudy with cool breeze. I think most of us took some nap and we didn’t stop until just before the Khambatki ghat at Aaram hotel. This is a new hotel and last time we had missed coming here. Its very large and has many sections for different cuisines. We had some south indian snacks, batata vada and tea. Just as we were having our snacks it started raining heavily, really heavily and I got one more chance of enjoying the monsoon after many years. We had to wait for more than an hour for the rains to stop and then we headed home. As we entered Pune from Katraj we got some traffic till we reached home at around 6:00 pm. Thus came to conclusion a nice, spiritual and relaxing trip.

PS: With Panhala fort covered (though had been here few times in childhood) and my earlier coverage of Vishalgadh fort and Pavankhind the historic circuit was complete.

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Purandar and Vajragad Fort trek

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Fort Type : Hill                                                       Base Village : Narayanpur, Pune district

Grade : Medium                                                     Height : 4472 feet

Distance From Pune : 40 kms

05-Feb-2017 : So we were in India for few weeks and I was raring to go and do some trekking and visit some forts. We were thinking about the options and preference was to cover something new, but the limitation of time and people availability had also to be considered. So after much deliberations it came down to 2 options, Rajmachi or Purandar and Vajragadh. Both were close to Pune and even though we had done Purandar back in 2009, we could not do its jod gadh Vajragadh.

Finally Purandar/Vajragadh was finalized considering the distance and the limited time we had. So the plan was to start early and be back to Pune no later than 5:00 pm. I was running a busy schedule, the previous day (4th) was Ar’s B’day and the celebrations ran late in the evening and there was only few hours to catch sleep and head for the trek. After I would be gone, later in the morning G and Ar were going to G’s place and considering all these factors and other members availability, 5th Feb was selected. The day before we had packed some food, fruits etc. Breakfast and lunch we had planned to do on the way. We had booked our friend’s acquaintance’s jeep.

I woke up early at around 5:30 am, got ready quickly and was ready to leave by 6:15 am. I thought I was late as we had planned to assemble at Ashk’s place at 6:30 am and I was not going to get there in 15 mins for sure as I was still at home! So I gave him a call and told him that I am just leaving and would be there in 20- 25 mins. Now from sound of his he made me believe that he is all padded up and ready to leave, when I reached there he was still nowhere to be seen. Later he confessed, I was the one who had actually woken him up 😉  So left home on bike and reached Ashk’s place, parked the bike and as noted earlier I and Ram waited there for long time for him to arrive.

So we were 3 of us leaving from this pickup point and the next pick up point was Undri and then Hadapsar, where 4 more of our friend’s were going to join. We took the Katraj bypass road to head to Undri. This road I knew was bad, but it turned out to be even worse now. There are so many big potholes and with road concretisation going on it was real bad. The journey which should have taken 20 mins took more than double of that and we finally picked Sam and from there headed towards Hadapsar to pick Ran and Rav. After that finally we were on Saswad road heading towards our destination and we were running quite late. It was already 8:00 am!

There are many ways to reach Purander from Pune and the one which we took was Hadapsar -> Saswad -> (Saswad – Kapurhol road) -> just after Narayanpur take the ghat to Purandar fort. The roads are now good and wide, even the Dive ghat section, since the last time I came here. While ascending Dive ghat, in the valley on your left you see the Mastani talav, which we were planning to cover on the way back, but did not happen. We were making good progress and reached Saswad by around 9:00 am. Earlier we were planning to have Breakfast on the way to Saswad at any good restaurant besides the Highway, but we couldnt spot any and also Ashok through his friend found out that there is one good misal joint in Saswad and we decided to try that. The name of this place is Chandu seth misal and he seems to be quite famous. Near the Saswad Shivaji chowk we did couple of inquiries and they guided us to the spot. It is in front of Dakshinmukhi Maruti Mandir and its nice small place.

The misal here is unique and I have never had such. So before you even take a seat each table already has the bowl, filled with shev and farsan. Onion, lemon etc are on the table. Just as you enter the hotel you spot multiple big pots having sample are being boiled continuously. As you take seat and are ready to be served, the server would get 3 buckets on your table, one having medium spicy sample, one hot sample and one tarri. He will also get Pav in plates. You mix and match the 3 liquids in your bowl and enjoy the misal. Taste wise its OK, but I liked the style! So we had garma garam misal and with our tummy’s full, we headed out. They only serve Misal, not even chai. So we found one chai tapari just besides the temple and the kaka made special masala tea for us. We even had a uncalled guest, who had tea on our expense! So we were all energized and ready to head towards the fort.

So last time we had come to Purander, we were on bikes and it was in middle of summer. Some good old memories from then, I think it was in April 2009. It was nice to be going back. But this time around we were not going to commit the same mistake (or was it, its still being debated!) as last time of parking at Narayanpur and walking in sweltering heat to the base. In fact this time we were not going to walk from base, but were going straight till the Car park near the top of the fort and explore the fort. This fort is maintained by military and so there are number of gates and checkpoints. So as we came near the main gate we saw it was still closed. There were few cars waiting in front of us. On making inquiries at the checkpoint learnt that it opens at 10:00 am, so that was only 10- 15 mins away, what a great timing! Luckily all of us had brought ID’s with us as only after verifying that they allow you in. So the gates opened in some time and after our ID’s and vehicle checked we were allowed in.

The first thing you notice is this is one of the best maintained forts in terms of infrastructure with good roads and facilities and well maintained. We passed through the Binni darwaja, passed MurarBaji’s statue and parked in the parking area. There we were asked to keep our mobiles and camera’s in the car which you cant carry further from that point, which was sad. So we packed all those things kept it safetly in the car and started the small trek. From here you get a good view of the fort’s ramparts. You also get a good view of Vajragad. The trail passes through thick cover of trees and in 15- 20 mins you reach the top near the Zhenda. From here we explored the fort a bit and headed towards the Mahadev mandir.

Here you need to pass through the designed pathways only, else you are warned by the security officials. At one location where there was a Y intersection, we were not sure which one to take so we used the lower road which was quite an adventure, we had to pass over the water tank through ladder laid from one end to other :). Somehow we crossed it and we might have gone few meters, we heard the whistle. Not to say we had to do one more round of balancing act on the ladder 🙂 and we were on right road. Soon we could see the temple on the top end of the fort. There are stone steps from the bottom to reach the temple. We took darshan and sat outside on the platform. It was around 12:00 pm and we were at the top. A cool breeze was blowing and spectacular view was in front of us. We had some snacks and fruits (apples) and had some good chat. We then started the descent and came to the base in half an hour. We then went straight to Sambhaji Maharaj’s statue and then visited Sambhaji Maharaj’s birth place. It was nice being here.

We wanted to go to Vajragad next which is historical fort connected to Purandar. Unfortunately as it is now closed to public, we had to drop it!  Yeah, second time around  :(. We had to contend seeing that majestic fort from a distance only. Then we came back to our cars to find our mobiles safe 😉 and headed towards Pune. On the way we took stop at Murar Baji’s  statue and then headed towards Narayanpur and were soon on the way to Saswad. At Saswad there was some traffic jam due to nivadnuk miravnuk (Corporation and ZP elections were round the corner). We reached Garva hotel in some time. We took some rest, I had veg pullav and lime juice and relived some old memories. Then we headed back to Pune. The traffic was slowly started building up. We first dropped Hadapsar and Undri guys and then we were deliberating to change the route (after morning experience), but did not and that decision led to some avoidable consequence (see PS). We reached Katraj by 4:30 pm. I picked my bike and was back home by 5:00 pm. Nice fort trek after long time with our group!

PS: So our picking the same route of Katraj – Undri bypass had unintended consequence. Not only we had to endure the bad roads again(which was given) but our vehicle was stopped by traffic police and our driver fined due to some documentation issue!

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.