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!

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Catalina island sojourn

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14-May-2016 : Every six months we have office event, where we either go on outing or to eat out. This time around there were grand plans to go to Catalina island for a day long trip.  Catalina island is in Pacific ocean and is around 32 miles from the Newport Coast. There are many cruises which do these trips and they leave from either Newport beach or Long beach. As Newport beach was close to us, we were to assemble there and take the ferry. We had to board 8:00 am cruise and we left home at around 7:00 am. We had done the carpool and we reached there around 7:30 am and parked at the private lot. The parking is quite costly, but there is a discount with Catalina ferry ticket. I think it cost us around $15 for the day. The pier from where the ferry goes is close by and on reaching there we found a huge line. After looking for them, we finally found our group and waited in line.

Once boarded we were off to the island. This was my first experience of going to an island. The Cruise was quite big, it had 2 decks. We went to the upper deck for great views. It was very windy and chilly, but we still spent the whole journey there only. As the ship pulls out, you start leaving behind the mainland and on one hand you can see the fading coastline with its buildings and on other you can see only the large blue ocean all around. The journey takes around an hour and you do enjoy every bit of it. As you get deeper into the ocean, you are greeted by the whales and you can see so many of them, seeing to join you. Soon you start approaching the island and you start seeing large hills adorned with dense forest, surrounded by clear blue water. Its a sight which held’s your breath. As you get closer, you see some settlements and the pier and beach on the front.

The island is quite big and only limited section is accessible for outsiders. We off boarded and took up some benches on the coast line. Event organizers had brought in Sandwiches and soft drinks and we had those for lunch. The weather was quite nice, it was bit cold, but skies were clear. Once lunch done, the group split into 2. Some people had opted for parasailing (including me) and some for the golf cart tours. So we moved to the waiting area and after 15- 20 mins of wait, were informed that we are ready to board. So we go into this small boat, there were around 10 people from our group and 3-4 others.

The boat took us into the ocean for a mile or so and then prepared for parasailing. So they have this parachute, which is attached to the rope, which in turn is attached to the boat. 2 people take the turn. First they get you in the safety jacket and then they tie the parachute hose around your waist. You then sit on the boats hood and as the parachute fills with air it stars lifting up and they would release the attached string slowly as you go up. They release you up for a good distance and then the boat goes around, giving you great views of the surroundings. I have done this before, but it was on the beach sand, tied to the jeep, not in the middle for water. This was more fun and it was so peaceful at the top. You can literally go into meditation mode, so serene it is up here. We also spotted some dolphins and you get good view of the island and the ocean. All it lasts is 5 mins and then they start unwinding the string, till you land on the boat. Just before you get on boat, they would lower you so you touch the water :), I would like to do it again 🙂

So we were back to the pier and it was around 1:00 pm now. We still had a lot of time in our hand, as we were to pick the 4:30 pm ferry back to mainland. Also at this time our group dispersed, some went to restaurant, the golf cart group was no where to be seen, so it was me and one of my colleague. So we were thinking what to do, I wanted to do kayaking, but my colleague wanted to go biking. We might have spent 30 – 45 mins haggling over it. Now there was no point of doing Kayaking alone, so I also went along and we rented bikes for couple of hours and it was $10 per bike.

The bikes were OK, but I had hard time riding them. I don’t know when was the last time I had rode a bike, at least a decade earlier if not more 🙂 . Steep slopes didn’t help either, but we still went around the small town for some time. We rode through lanes and by lanes of town and it was really nice. The other guy was doing great, but I sure was struggling. So finally I protested and we turned around and decided to go the other direction, on the road which was running parallel to the coast. It was one of the most memorable moment in my life, when I rode the bike along the coast, blue pristine water on my left and high hills on right. I could have gone for ever. It was awesome. Would love to do it every morning!

On the way we saw couple of our colleagues doing the scuba diving and we pulled on the side to have look. There were some nice vista points and perfect weather aided it further. We then decided to go back and search for the cart crew. After looking for some time, we found them near the town, who were into I don’t know which lap count:). We gave back the bikes (1 hour earlier) and hoped onto the golf cart. You can go around the marked road which might be around 3-4 miles and loop back to town. It goes uphill, through zigzag ghat and then downhill to descend on the town. It had some nice views especially when you reach on top of the hill and get unrestricted view of ocean. Really serene away from any hustle and bustle. So we had best of all, parasailing as well as cart and then dropped back the cart.

Slowly all had started to assemble and in half and hour or so almost all were in except there are always some out-liars 😉 We lined up for the cruise which had already docked in and once boarded were off to our homes. On the ride back also we took the upper deck. The weather was bit warm than morning, but we had drizzles along the way and it was quite nice. We were quite tired, especially after the bike ride and so cool breeze and rain was welcome! After a while we could see the coastline and we started approaching it quickly. I really like the coast contours you get to see so far from the ocean, where the land and water forms different shapes. You could see and recognize many places like Huntington, Laguna, Newport etc .Under the evening sun, it was quite a sight and we reached the deck around 6:00 pm.We bid our good byes and got the car from the lot and headed home. I reached mine at around 7:00 pm and that concluded one of the best trips I have been to. Would definitely take G and Ar some day.

PS: From the time I got to the island, I saw many vehicles there and was wondering how they get these here. On dong some inquiry, came to know that there is a long wait (which goes on for years) to get the permit to get the car here on a ferry. Now that is something !

1st Cycle!

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My girl is growing up and she wants a Cycle now 🙂  Ar had been talking about getting the Cycle for some time and G also have backed her. But I wanted to wait a bit and there were reasons for that. One was that we were planning a trip to India in the near future and so my thought was it would be better to buy it once we are back. Another reason was to time it with an event which makes it special and memorable. Ar’s 4th B’day was in Feb, that was within few months and so that seemed a good time to get the Cycle. So after some convincing, I was able to get G and Ar on board.

So we were back to US in Feb, which was few days after Ar’s B’day. As we got over jet lag, we decided to scout for the Cycle, which is called Bike here. I didn’t expect that it would be a project in itself ;). 1st you have to determine what wheel size to go for, then what kind of side wheels you want, do you want hand brakes? and we have not even started talking about the style and the color .. We did some analysis on online stores and on the weekends we looked around stores. The more we looked, more confused we were. Though Ar had no confusion in her mind, she would do with any 🙂

Finally, seeing that it has been dragging a bit, we decided to go ahead and book. So I went to Walmart’s online store and bought the one we had seen and liked in one of our visits to there store. It was 18″, pink color (Ar’s Fav) with hand brakes (most bikes here don’t have hand brake, rolling the peddles backwards is its substitute :)) and ground level side wheels. We also booked the princess helmet for her. So the next day we decided to go and pick it from the store after office.

Ar was super excited and she couldn’t conceal it, even a bit ;). We drove to the Walmart which was bit far from our home, but that was the only one having store delivery for that bike. At the pick up point, when the lady brought in the bike, it seemed different. After giving a careful look, we knew it didn’t match with the picture we had seen on the online store. This one had black tires, I think green or some color and looked old. We told her so and refused the Order. Once the formalities of cancellation was done, we were thinking of leaving, but then decided to have a look around the store. Ar was still cool though!

We went straight to the bike section and found the one we had looked online. There was even a surprise as some good deal was going on and it was marked at $29 which was full $20 lower than the one we had booked online. So we grabbed it before others could lay an eye on it, but we were still suspicious due to price. So we had it completely checked out and it looked fine. We also got the price confirmed, which matched the display. Ar took ride around the store and she was comfortable riding it. There were couple of other families around us, who were eyeing the Cycle and Ar was bravely holding on to it :).

Without wasting more time,  we decided to finalize it. We got the air filled in the tires and also bought a unique bell (mickey mouse one, with a rolling disc ), which was for only a dollar. We checked out the bike at the counter and Ar was not willing to stay even a bit away from it. We clicked some pics of her with her first Cycle, had Orange juice and headed towards car.

Somehow we were able to fit the bike in the car and headed home. After reaching home, we did pooja, assembled the bells etc and it was ready, except we had to still wait for the helmet to arrive which was scheduled to be delivered in next couple of days. The bike went into the patio and that brought close an eventful day.

I don’t know if Ar really had a sound sleep that night, but as soon as she was up in the morning she rushed to the patio to check on the Cycle. She couldn’t keep her eyes and mind from it. Finally helmet arrived on Thursday and Ar had her first ride. She was fairly comfortable with peddles and turning the handle etc as she has a tricycle earlier, which she was quite fond of riding. Only part where she used to get anxious was brakes and so she didn’t enjoy going downhill (that’s the real fun part really and it took some time for her to start liking that). Another thing which used to make her anxious was someone coming her way like people and especially dogs. After seeing a dog approaching , she used to stop peddling and wait till it had passed 🙂

She first started riding in the Apartment complex, then on the service lane and then she started riding outside the complex. She obviously had her share of falls, yeah you don’t learn to ride without falling, but the real test would come when the side wheels are taken off. One interesting way the Cycle’s here are different is that the side wheels touch the ground, so technically you are ridding a quadracycle, not like the ones we have seen where the side wheels are above the ground level, so they come into play only if you loose balance and would help you not fall off. One thing we are observing since some days while we got out in our car is she tries to compare me driving the car and she ridding her bike. So she is like, why are you not applying brakes on slopes or why you turned so suddenly and why my car does not fall 😉

This even has brought back my own memories of my first Cycle when I was almost twice Ar’s age and we were in Bhopal . I remember I was in 3rd standard and Baba and Aai had promised me they would gift me a Cycle if I am among the top 3 in my class in the exams. I don’t know if that motivated me enough, anyways I studied hard but when we went to my school to collect my Finals marks sheet, I was bit sad to know I came 4th in the class. I was like Gayi Cycle.

But Baba still got me a blue Ranger Cycle. I was very happy and we started the lessons immediately. Many falls and bruises later, I could ride well :). Our colony was nice place to ride Cycle, it had hills, plain roads, twists and turns, some real steep slopes, woods. We really had a great time riding cycle with friends. We used to play many games which sound quite stupid now, one of which was called cutting. The premise was 2 teams were created and the goal was that one team has to move inside the designated boundary and the goal of the opposite team was to get that team players across it by hook or crook 😉 (mostly the later ;)) and if in given time you could hold out you win and if the opposite team got all your players across the boundary they win. This became even more interesting during monsoons 🙂

Really good old days!

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 2)

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13-Feb-2017 : It took us around 30 mins to reach the Mahad Bypass and we headed towards the place we had planned to stay Motel Visawa which is located on the outskirts on the Kochi Panvel highway. On the way we had called them and checked on the availability and informed them about our arrival. We reached the hotel around 4:00 pm and instantly liked it from outside. It is located on the banks of the river and is very big. Along with lodging there are 4 restaurants in the premise like veg, non veg, quick serve etc. It also had a large garden with children’s play area. It was quite nice and located bang on highway NH-17, so was easy to get on your way.

After getting our rooms we took some rest. The rooms were big and nice and the hotel was turning out to be better than our expectations. Baba had ordered tea by 5:00 pm, which refreshed us after a long day and we decided to go around Mahad city. Before leaving Ar had some time on the kids play area. Mahad city is hardly 10 mins from the place we were staying and it turned out to be bigger than I thought. We visited few temples and then walked our way to Chavdar tale which is a big pond in the middle of the city where the famous satyagraha took place in 20s. The place is good and it has a nice garden and in the middle of the pond which is accessible through a bridge is statue of BabaSaheb.

After spending some time there we went to the next door book stall to have a look and Baba bought one book as well. Then we called for our vehicle and after a bit of confusion (Aai, G and Ar were not interested in book store so they were at some other place, we were at other and car came at some different place 🙂 we started back.  On the way we stopped and I got out to get some upwas stuff. I got some items, but not all from the given list and as I was approaching the car, I realized there was something not right. On inquiring came to know Baba had forgotten his bag somewhere and after searching the photos the suspect places were either the book stall or near statue while taking photos..

So we rushed back and I headed straight to the statue, but from distance only could see the gates were now closed, so moved towards the book stall. As I was approaching I could see the security guard with the bag showing the book stall owner each stuff from it, here are glasses, medicine.. etc and asking him to look out if someone comes asking for it. Just then I popped up and declared our ownership of the bag. By this time Baba and R had also come and we thanked them for keeping the bag for us.

Then we headed back, our plan to do to some shopping and mainly buying mangoes cancelled. We might have reached the hotel around 7:45 and were thinking of heading back to rooms and coming back for dinner later, but seeing that the veg hotel was up, decided to be there first guest :). We had a hearty lunch panner, kaju , kadhai along with chaas. We ended it with coffee and were too heavy to move. Somehow we managed to get back to the rooms and went straight for the bed!

Tomorrow was going to be relaxed one as we could start bit late and we did not have to meet an appointment.

PS: We kept searching for the river and couldn’t find it. It was only the next day as we got in the car we saw it on the other side of the road 🙂

From a shop located in its premise we bought some food stuff and we also bought music CD of the latest songs. The driver used to rarely turn on the music system and in that too he used to play those funky music CD’s which irritated us to no end! Tomorrow, hopefully we would have a better ride, with nice songs!