Trek & Visit To Ajinkya Tara Fort

DSC07157Fort Type : Hill                                                     Base Village : Satara City, Satara district

Grade : Easy                                                          Height : 4400 feet

Distance From Pune : 100 kms

Ajinkyatara means invincible fort and is one of the most important forts in Sahayadri ranges and was once the capital of Maratha empire. It is located next to Satara city or one can say Satara is located on the slopes of this fort. It is on one of the seven mountains surrounding the city of Satara (from which the city derives its name). This is the first thing which one sees as one gets neat Satara on the NH4 highway and has a towering presence, which can be seen from any place in the city.

There are many important landmarks present on the slopes or machi as it is called, including Dholya Ganpati, which is patron deity of the city, Adalat vada, Hanuman temple etc. I still remember going to the Hanuman temple every other evenings when we used to be there. One of the interesting thing to see there is a huge rock, which some time in history rolled from the top and landed there creating a small cave (gufa) beneath it, which we kids used to love hiding under and spooking others. On the very rock, there is a vista point, from which you get a great view of the city along with surrounding hills and the sun set from there is a thing to be experienced. We used to drag our feet when the time used to come to go home from there.


On the hill slope there is one more place called char bhinti. There is a water tank at the entrance and then stairs to climb. This is the place where they have built a memorial to the freedom fighters of the First War of Independence and this spot offers a unparallel and unobstructed view of the Satara city. You can see the seven hills encircling the valley and on behind you is the mighty Ajinkya Tara and its buruj on top of it is this huge signage (“Ajinkya Tara”) written in marathi, which can be spotted as far off from the NH4 and is pride of the city .

The road to the fort starts from either Char bhinti or further down hill from the junction of upper and palace street from where it winds through a narrow street and merges to the ghat. It takes around 20 mins to reach the top, the road being small and uneven, but has some nice thick forest cover and so a treat in monsoon or just after that to drive on and we had even spotted peacocks and some other wild animals here few times. Just before you reach the top there is a nice vista point from where you can see another famous fort; Sajjan Gadh and the wind farms further in the background. The entrance area to the fort is small and the parking space is limited.


Satara has a very special place in my life and I have been coming to this city since childhood and the visit here is incomplete without ascending this fort, which keeps following you where ever you live or move in the city.  There is a road which leads to the main gate of the fort, which is fairly maintained as there are few offices on top (DD, Akashwani etc) and so people travel everyday there to work. I along with my cousins used to trek it once a while and I believe this was the first fort I trekked in my life. There are many trails and you crisscross the road as well and takes anywhere around 1:30 hours to 2 hours to reach the top.


There is a big gate at the fort entrance and some steep steps. On the either side of the entrance there platforms for the soldiers and the bases of which have some stone carved motifs. You can continue climbing the stairs and you reach the buruj or you can continue and you pass through the DD/Akashwani center and a short distance from there is  remains of the palace of Tara rani. There are many tanks and temples at the top and som remains of fortiffication. Mangalai mandir is close to the famous buruj and due to this temple the fort is also called as Mangalai. Just besides it is 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 surrounding it. One could sit there and time just passes you by.

I have so many memories of this fort and it has been my most visited fort and with the history associated with this place on always leaves this place with pride in the heart!



Trek to Matheran

Dec 2002: We were in college then. So yeah, its been some time ;), long long time to be precise :). We had lot of trekking enthusiasts in our group and we had discussed going for a trek one day but it had not materialized. So one foggy winter evening we 3-4 friends had just gone to the snacks center per our routines and over tea and cream roll we somehow again got into this discussion on how we should plan a trek and how no one really makes it happen blah , blah and then someone suggested why plan lets do it this week, then other added why not tomorrow and then it was like why not start today only, who knows we might change our mind. It happened so fast that no one was quite sure about whats going on, but as people had given commitments just now it was difficult for any one to go back on their word now.

But we were still 3-4 of us and we thought it would be fun if many others also join in. So we fanged out on different directions, scouting our college friends and trying to get them on board. Some hopped on instantly others had to be persuaded a bit. But in the end 10 souls were ready and we had a group. It was almost 6:00 pm and there were so many things to do. We had to plan for the actual plan :), then what transport to take, get things to eat, provision for money etc and most of all the place to go.  Many option were thrown in the air, but either they were too lofty or all were not ok with it. As we all were students and low on cash we had to factor that as well. So in the end Matheran was selected as we could go by the local train, which was a great option as we had direct connectivity from our place to the base village of Matheran called Nerul and also it was not too high and then we had one more attraction of the toy train.

So the place and mode of transportation finalized, some of us headed to get something to eat and water bottles etc and some got onto the finance part of it. The train to Nerul was at 9:00 pm from Akurdi and so we were racing against time. We had decided that all would meet at Pradhikaran road to have dinner. Slowly one by one people started arriving and we quickly had Chinese food there and headed towards the Akurdi station. We bought the tickets for the Pune – Mumbai passenger train and headed towards our platform. The station was fairly crowded and the train arrived in a bit though it was running late. Now we knew what to expect from the passenger train but what we saw and experienced was beyond the worst. It was jam packed and not only all seats were occupied but even on the floors people were sitting or sleeping. There was not enough space even to stand. The journey ahead was not going to be easy which had to be covered by standing all the way through.

It was so hot and cramped and it was only when the train started moving that the wind circulation made it bearable. There was lot of chatter going on there and we also saw couple of fights as well 🙂 Nothing new! The train ride was one of the worst I have had and it stopping at almost every station added more to our exasperation. Finally after what appeared to be eternity we reached Karjat and we had the vada pavs for which this station is famous. Later we got some seats or rather a piece of the seat :), which allowed us to rest. We reached the Nerul station at around 3:30 am, the journey had taken us ridiculous amount of time. We were quite tired so once on platform we found some benches and slept or rather tried to for some time. Then we were awake by 5:00 am and after getting fresh, we were ready to head towards Matheran.

It was quite and roads were empty when we started. Shops near the station had started opening the shutters. We made out way from the narrow lanes of the town and were on our way to the trail. Our original plan was to take the toy train ride, which is one of the few mountain railways and an icon of our country, but the first train does not leave before 7:00 am. We thought through it and as the journey had made us so stiff, we were no inclined to wait another hour or so there. So we decided to trek to the top now and would ride the train on our way back. Matheran top is around 8-10 km from Nerul. There is motorable road which goes all the way to the entry point and so this is the one we got on and started the hike. After a moment it was getting quite monotonous and so we decided to go off trail.

But we were not sure of the routes and we were lucky to meet the locals with the trail information at regular intervals. So with guidance from them and some of our own logic we went on. The trek is easy, but the off trail is always adventurous and interesting. All of us were making good progress. We took couple of breaks in between and had snacks which we had brought with us. It was quite cold in the morning and we were having chills when we started, but the hike warmed us up. Luckily we had started early on and so there were not too many people hiking with us else as this place is quite popular with Mumbai folks it is always swarming with people. En route you pass the rail tracks and the small mini stations as well and looking at them (we even crossed the 1st upbound train as we reached close to the top) we were dying to get on one. The hill is engulfed in forest and we were passing through some dense cover.

We reached the top in 2.5 hours I think as we took our own time climbing. The entry/exit to the top is regulated and cars can’t pass the entry point, before which they have to park. On the top you either walk or you can hire horses or the palanquin (which we referred to as shahi sawari !) . But for us commoners walk would do and after a quick break and rest we explored the place a bit. Matheran is a hill station and is covered with dense forest. It was quite cool on the top in the middle of the day as well and we saw few points which I don’t have much memory off. By this time we were quite hungry, so we had lunch at some restaurant there and now it was becoming difficult to keep our eye lids open. We hardly had the nights sleep and the walk and heavy food made us lazy. But there was no time for that as we had to catch the train to Nerul and from there back to Akurdi. So promising over-selves to come back soon to explore this wonderful place again, we headed back.

We had done some prior inquiries and there was a train at 4:00 pm which we had booked as we were not sure if we would get the tickets latter on. We were right on time and boarded the train which is one of its kind. It has small carriages, pulled by a small diesel powered engine and it runs on small gauge. Before the train left the station they gave us some instructions, some of which scarred us no less, like don’t close the windows else the strong wind could knock the train off, or not to move much and the best one was you may have to off board and re board when required. It all sounded exciting and we were on our way. This train ride is one of the best I have had, which passes through one of the most beautiful landscape. On many occasions it is skirting the edge of the valley and many a time the strong wind drift really gets it wobbling 🙂 . At couple of locations where it had to make an ascent, the train started going backwards :), as forewarned some of us were asked to get off the train, when it being lighter started moving forward again, we had to run and made a dash to re board it ( not sure what happens if you are unable to do do). So after that singular experience, which we wont forget for long we reached Nerul.

We got off and bought the tickets for the not so desirable train back to our place! We were very tired by now and all of our faces were pitch dark with the dust and the ordeal, though the bigger one was waiting for us ahead. The train arrived and there was again the same chaos and we absentmindedly went with the flow. We didn’t realize for how long we were standing and when that journey go over, but finally somewhere around 9:00 pm we reached our destination, exactly 24 hours after we had started our amazing journey. We somehow managed to pick ourselves and drop on the bed at home. We were done!

PS: What an amazing time we had, to this beautiful hill station which I liked particularly because of the way they had maintained it and not allowed the modern jungle to spread on it. 

Trip To Hoover Dam & Red Rock Canyon

WP_20150801_14801/02-Aug-2015: We were some what tired from our two days sojourn and on on the return journey from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas except the drivers I think everyone had a nice nap. On the way we decided to halt at Hoover dam, which was not in the original plan, but as we were passing close to it, we decided lets stop over. I have been around these parts few times but have not been to this iconic dam.

Named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century, Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel. Built during depression, construction began in 1931 and when completed it was largest of its kind. It is located on the borders of two states (Nevada, Arizona) on a Black Canyon. There is a big motorable road on top which passes over the dam walls to the other side of the Canyon. Beneath you could see the contained waters of the mighty Colorado river.


You also pass through one state to other and even transcend time zones! We parked on the other side and then walked the remaining distance. We only went half way and it was breathtaking to see the huge walls and gates of the dam constructed over 80 years ago. By this time Ar was quite tired and would not walk and G was tired of holding her, so we waited while others explored further and came back. It was already getting bit dark and we left for Las Vegas.

We reached our hotel by 8:00 pm and all were equally tired. Earlier we had planned that we might cook something at hotel but now decided to order something. We even had planned we might explore LV bit more tonight, but that plan was also quietly dropped! So after exploring a bit on what to order we decided to get a pizza. We went to Dominos and ordered few pizzas and waited for long time for it to arrive :(. Finally we got hold of the smoking hot food and were back. We had a nice dinner and spent some time chatting. Then it was time to take to bed as tomorrow we plan to leave early as we were heading back home and also we wanted to see if we could squeeze in one more attraction to our trip.


We woke up got ready quickly, packed our bags and did checkout. We were heading to the Red Rock Canyon before getting on the route to home. Bye, bye LV, until next time! We enjoyed our stay there but did not do all the activities. Would be back for chopper ride and yes Celine Dion show!

Red Rock Canyon is around 20 miles on the west side of LV, so a nice half an hour ride takes you to this interesting park. I call it interesting as there is no vegetation there or hardly any and its all barren and splintered with rocks, but there is something to it that you start liking as you spend some time there, I think its the unique topography and play of colors!

Red Rock Canyon is located in Mojave Desert and as the name suggest is Canyon made of red rocks and you get a feeling that someone had just randomly thrown the rocks of all sizes and dimensions everywhere. As you enter through the park gate, you buy ticket for the scenic loop. The 13 mile Scenic Drive through Red Rock Canyon takes you from highs and lows of the canyon and has many scenic stops along the way. As said earlier the drive is scenic in its own way as the rustiness of this place I think is what is appealing. The rocks are pitch red and are of different hues which provide a different shades to the mountains. It is quite hot and dry though and we only got out at couple of places and we wanted to go back in the comfort of the ac in the car as soon as we could.


We took a break at couple of famous vista spots, where you have to hike a bit on the boulders and rocks and is fun and good exercise. The rocks had created a unique design pattern and we got some nice pic shots and when we shared it on social media, some people could not believe it to be real! We would have liked to explore this place bit more but we were pressed for time. It would be really interesting to hike around here, so that thought in mind, we bid farewell to this lovely place and headed towards home. On the way we stopped at one place to have chalupas and shake and then we were back home around 6:30 pm in the evening with loads of memories.

Thus ended a nice 2 days trip, in which we found solace in desert and rusty topography and managed to cover lot more than we had planned for!

Trip To Grand Canyon

DSC0214101-Aug-2015: After a tiring day yesterday, today everyone woke up late. After getting our morning chores done we had tea and garma garam poha. Then it was time to go to our first stop of the day Grand Canyon. It is located in the neighboring state of Arizona and the Canyon is layered bands of red rocks formed due to millions of years of erosion by the river Colorado which cuts through it. Its one of the natural wonders of the world and is amazing to be at. There are 3 rims North, South and West to watch these majestic Canyons.

I had been to South rim before and it was unreal to watch. From the South Rim you can peer all the way down into the heart of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River runs a mile-deep from top. There are many vista points, outwardly hanging rock formations and though generally red in color, the Sun rays falling on the cliffs create multi hue color spectacle. It is indeed a mesmerizing sight and I was excited to go back to see it again.

Today though we were going to a different rim, the West one which is closer from Las Vegas. You basically take the I-93 S which merges to I-40 E and then you get on I-64 to reach the West side of the Grand Canyon and the journey takes around 5 hours with over 280 miles to cover. The route passes around Lake Mead, which is a water body formed out of Colorado river and we took a break there to see the great views.


The whole route is ghat section and with lots of twists and turns and G was bit uncomfortable through this section. The weather was also quite hot and so we avoided too many stop overs. On the way we had our lunch at a Mexican place and there we deliberated upon the activities to be done when we reach the park. We had two options, one was to do river water rafting, which was V’s choice, but as I and G had done that on river Bias in Himachal we wanted to go for the other one which was to go on the Skywalk!


Skywalk is an experience!0 Its a semi circular platform ring made of glass on which you walk. One end of Grand Canyon’s rim is 70 feet behind you and the other end is 3 miles in front of you and as you look down (if you have heart!) you see  —- nothing. There is nothing between your feet and the bottom of the Grand Canyon which is 2,000 feet below you. The constructors for this platform has done an amazing feet of engineering! I always wanted to do this and today was the opportunity. After lots of discussion, we finally picked this attraction.

We reached the West rim park by around 2:00 pm in the afternoon and straightaway went to the ticket booth. The ticket was priced I think $80 for adults and $60 for kids, which was on the higher side, but wait till you get on the Skywalk and its worth it. Not all of us joined in, I think we were 6-7 who went for it. After passing through the lobby and short walkway, here we were standing 2000 ft in air literally. I don’t think G saw much of the bottom, but I and Ar had a great experience walking there. We even sat there and the experience is hard to explain. You can see the bottom of the Canyon and the river flowing below you and the view of the rim opposite to you is enchanting. Not to mention we clicked many pics there and spent lot more time there than we had planned for.


It was after this memorable experience we decided to explore the Grand Canyon rims from the vista points. This is indeed a natural wonder of the world and you get lost in history of this place,which is not few hundred or few thousand years but goes back millions of years. You could spend the whole day exploring this place. Off course we did not had so much time and surprisingly were already hungry as well. So we sat on the benches there and had some snacks brought with us and also go some snacks for kids from the eating joint there which had a huge queue and consumed more than half and hour of our time.


As we came back to the table and were having food, some distance further from the rim we spotted a nice hillock tucked with boulders. We were excited to have some trek and leaving the ladies behind, we went to scale it. I was having a real trek after a long time and was enjoying all of it. At first we had to scale small rocks and boulders, but as we approached the top we had to pass on big ones, some as tall as meter. It was tiring, but finally we made it to the top and were glad we came. The top of hillock, which constituted only one rock where at max 3-4 people could stand was actually the edge of the rim and it offered unparalleled view of the valley and the river. We stood there for long time, before we were called back 😉 The journey back was equally interesting with the boulders and rocks really testing us.


Grand Canyon parks gives special preference to local Indian communities for jobs and opportunities, which was nice to see. After our tummies full, we explored the park a bit more which along with other things had a huge horse ranch. All of us even got our pics clicked sitting on the horses there. There were some other activities to do, but as we were getting late and also it was quite hot outside we left. As we were leaving I remembered a funny but embarrassing incident from my last visit here. At that time we had come with a group and our guide (Terry) had given us clear instructions to be back in 45 mins.

Now leaving aside if 45 mins can do justice to this place, we were on our way back in the given time range when I and P spotted one souvenir shop. In those days we were lot into souvenir thing and so we went there to explore and we lost the sense of time. At some point what we see is couple of our friends coming running towards us and asking to hurry. On the way they told us Terry is angry as hell and was even planning to leave without us. But our friends somehow convinced him to give them 5-10 mins to find and get us back. We were lucky they found us otherwise we might have to camp there only :). As we entered the bus all our co travelers gave us round of claps and we went and took our seats with our faces covered :):).

So it was time to say goodbye to this gem of place, which you can’t explore enough. I am sure we would be back here sooner than later.



Barbara Lake And Irvine Spectrum


30-Dec-2016: I was on long leave and we were going around places. Some time back we had got his tickets for rides in Irvine Spectrum which we had not completely exhausted and so wanted to use that. But we also wanted to go out some place to have lunch. So we decided to go to some park/beach etc for lunch and then head towards Irvine Spectrum. Considering how late we were and time on our hand we decided to drop beach etc and through of going to this lake called Barbara lake which is en-route to our final destination. So G got the lunch ready ,which was parathas and we packed up and left.


Barbara lake is one of the natural lakes here (many are artificial) and in the Laguna area. It is on Laguna Canyon road as is tucked in between the hills. There is an entry gate close to a mile before the lake, where you have to park and rest you have to hike. After parking we started the hike, which at the beginning did not sound very exciting. It was after noon and was fairly hot and also most of the area was dry wilderness. There are many rolling hills through which you hike to reach the lake. Ar was not interested and wanted to go home. Seeing the lake and may be ducks! kept her going. The route is pretty straight forward and well marked. There were only few people around but the place was not quite as the hike is parallel to the highway (CA 133) and you continuously here the vehicles passing by.


On the way there were hardly any trees and so no shade, but suddenly the area started turning green with lots of trees and we knew we are close to the lake. Finally we reached the lake which at that time was quite small, though in good rainy season it would be quite big.  What we liked the most the natural setup of the lake and the forest surrounding it as we were quite bored by the many artificial man made lakes with perfectly curated park and tress around it. Another natural thing about it was there were no benches to sit and unfortunately thinking that there would be ones we had not picked the sheet in our cars trunk. We used some paper and even the back pack to sit along the shore. It was so quite there and bit cool due to water. There were few ducks in the lake, some swimming close to us. We had nice lunch alongside such a nice and serene place. After the lunch we would have very much liked to have a nice siesta alongside such a nice place, but we had other engagements and so we had to leave.

The way back as the way in was not much exiting. We just drugged along the trial to reach the parking. We were quite tired and thought of going back home crossed our mind, but Ar was excited to go do the rides and so we jumped in the car and headed north towards Irvine. We were going to the Irvine Spectrum complex, which is large and nice complex of shops and entertainment zone. It is strategically located in between I-5 and I-405. The parking is huge and is located close to the complex. The Complex is a sky open boulevard flanked by shops. The architecture is Mediterranean and is really nice place to shop and unwind oneself. We like to come here once a while and it has an added attraction of rides and other activities.


They have rides like Merry go round, Giant wheel, train along with some seasonal attractions. You can but individual ride ticket ($5) or you could buy a ride book which include 4 tickets for each ride ($51).  We had got the book last time and had enjoyed the rides but there some tickets left (2 of train, 2 Carousal and 1 Giant wheel).

So this was a good time to exhaust the remaining tickets. So G ad Ar went to the train ride, then Ar did the Carousal which by the way is her favorite and G and Ar did the Giant wheel (we bought one more). I was mainly the photo and videographer 🙂 There was also the ice rink, but we did not do it. The Giant ride especially is really good, it being one the tallest in US and you get a nice view from the top. Especially in the night the view is spectacular, with the whole wheel lit in multi colored led lights and you get the city lights view from the top. Today luckily there was no rush as usual and so we were done in 1 – 1/2 hours and ready to head home.

We did couple of thing today but enjoyed a lot, especially Ar who was looking forward to rides for some time.

Eaton Waterfalls Trail


06-Nov-2016: There were no specific plans for today but we wanted to go somewhere hiking. We have been doing hiking since some time and so decided to keep the momentum. One thing which had been missing from our sojourns here has been waterfalls (leave aside the Niagara!) as there aren’t many. Also we were passing through one of the longest drought’s in California’s history and even the reservoirs were empty, so waterfalls was long shot. But in our research on the places to go around we found this location called Eaton waterfalls which is located in the Angeles forest north east of LA. Per the latest blogs we read on the net it had water at that point in time and so even if the place was bit far away we decided to head there.

We had to leave really early considering the early sunsets during this time of the year, but as usual we got bit late and started only around 9:30 am. G had plans to have sandwiches there for lunch and so she packed veggies, bread, etc along with other snacks items and juice. Eaton falls is located close to Altadena and which was over 70 miles from our place and took us well over 2 hours to reach. The route you take is I-405 N and then onto I-605 N and take exit at Altadena Dr. The weather was quite cold and it was going to be an interesting day. The traffic was light and we enjoyed the drive.

As we exited the Altadena Dr, from here to the destination was small road passing through few towns. I was not happy with the direction GPS was showing as in the map I could see a better route so I changed to Google maps on my mobile. Its quite intriguing that each app show different paths and one is better than the other on its day! So we thought we were now on the right path and had now entered the foothills which had winding roads. This part was even colder due to hills and good forest cover. It felt nice being there.


We somehow missed the entrance, blame the GPS ;). But I think it was G who had spotted the entrance on the way and so we rerouted and after some winding turns and reached the entrance. There is a big entry gate for the Eton Canyon Natural Area Park and they have nice gardens, a museum about the local habitat and people, a small picnic area and big parking lot. It was almost 12:00 pm and we were running bit late. We were hungry too! So we first got a table, cleaned it up a bit and opened our bag to prepare some yummy sandwiches. Sitting under a big tree and in the middle of a jungle we had nice lunch. It was already 2:00 pm and we had to get going as we had to start back and pass LA before dark, though we were bit lazy after nice lunch and won’t have minded for a nice nap 🙂


We filled our backpacks, had juice and started the hike. There are many small hills around here and many marked trails. So initially it appeared to be a plain hike and we were not sure if coming all the way down here was worth it. One another thing which I remember was using Google maps a lot to find the falls as there are many forks to the trail and sometimes it can be bit confusing. After continuing the walk we all were pretty bored and decided that lets turn back after walking for 5 more mins. Our map was showing the fall around 2 miles from here, but the hike looked so plain and vegetation mostly dry, we were not excited to continue. But in some time the hike completely transformed as we entered a dense forest, it was colder here, but was nice to hike. We then passed under a bridge, which was one of the oldest in the area and is called bridge to nowhere and is quite famous. It used to connect Altadena to some hamlet I think, but is no longer in active use.


And then we heard something.. a sweet sound.. off course it was unmistakably a stream. From here on it becomes real fun, kind of adventure, bit difficult to put down in words. There was small gorge formed here, stream traversing through it and all around us was thick forest cover. We rested here a bit to enjoy the scenery which was looked as if it had come out of a painting. There were couple of logs fallen on the stream path and we all sat on one, water flowing past and below us. Now was the real hike was starting.

From here on you just keep following the stream, which is fairly wide in size and under drought condition still had lots of water. Upstream from here is the waterfall and this stream would have it sources in the Angeles mountain. The stream was following a serpentine path and there are few places where you keep crisscrossing it. At the points where you have to cross it, the stream is like a small river, they have placed big stones or wood log etc and its so fun to step on them to cross, I think the most happy here was Ar.  There were fair number of people around and at these points there used to be a small jam as only 1-2 people could cross at a time. We could just imagine what this place would be like once it rains nicely!

As you start approaching the fall, the small stones, rocks on the path turn into big boulders and the water flows underneath or through the gaps. The boulders are pretty big some over a meter in height and give you nice calf and joint exercise. No doubt Ar was doing nice through out, but in this section with only little help she was at ease and was negotiating the trail nicely and enjoying it. Finally we could hear the fall and though we were bit tired, we rushed though the last few rocks.


The water falls from fair height and there are in fact 2 falls here. The upper falls which is closed for public access and the lower falls where we were. We all love the sound of the falls and all our hard work and persistence was worth it. The water slides down the stones and it has created a small pool or pond at the base. There were so many people around but it still felt so quite. We were in middle of jungle on the foothills along the falls. The water was cold though, so I and G stayed away, but as Ar got going, she even would have dived in it 🙂 She was not ready to come out of it and was enjoying the splash, but finally what brought her out may have been the juice bottle which G pulled from the backpack. Sitting on the rocks we ate and had juice.


It was such a nice place that our feet were not turning back. But it was around 3:30 pm and was getting dark and so we had to start back. We had planned to be part of or follow some group as on the way we had encountered multiple paths and we were bit concerned about getting lost (yeah!) amid my mobile also having low battery. But as no one seemed ready to move on (neither were we!), we got going. We kept following the stream and on the intersections we were trying to remember which was the right path. We did fairly well; though at couple of points we were having second thoughts, but G showed the way.  There was one point where there is this small cave, which looked quite old, may have been used by early settlers here! We could now see the sun going down the horizon which was such an amazing sight. On the way we talked a lot and also clicked many pics which we had avoided doing earlier (to conserve the mobile battery). Ar was in full speed and was racing with us. In the end we all were quite tired, but we enjoyed every bit of it.


We reached the base around 4:30 pm. We refreshed and also had a look at the museum which was quite nice. We had a long ride back and left around 5:00 pm. Not surprisingly we encountered heavy traffic en route and reached home around 8:00 pm. It had been a tiring day, but I can say that this was a gem of a place and one of the best hikes we had and we have had many!

PS:We would definitely return 🙂 . We also have to find more about the bridge to nowhere 🙂

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.