Finally, I grabbed opportunity to be on our group’s pilot hike on three forts near Pen(Raigad district in Maharashtra). I had a long break from my trekking activity for few months due to ailing back. I have been trekking, in Sahyadris, for almost 10 years now and been to over 125 forts.
The occasion was final day of famous Ganesh Festival when city of Pune gets ultra-noisy, crowded, and that is when avid trekker like us choose to escape from this. The rains generally subsidise by this time, it is still green all over, excellent time for hikes. I decided not to let this opportunity pass by, despite wishes of my wife.
After we crossed Khopoli and Pen, we halted for morning snacks. I got hold of Karwand Wadi(Blackberry cookie) for my son. Karwand is local fruit grown in jungles, which is plucked by local adivasi folks and sell them. We went to Meergad(also called Mira Dongar), but it was not our day. It poured during our hike…we strayed off normal course..due to low visibility…and after reaching the top, we could hardly see things around. Disappointed we headed for next fort in the list. Birwadi cha killa(Fort Birwadi). All of us were excited as we headed towards the base village..Sachin Joshi, our friend and guide, since last 10 years, on trekking expeditions, had informed us that this one of the forts build by Chatrpati Shivaji Maharaj. Environs were again lush green..we managed to find a way to the main door of the fort which was hidden in dense cover of trees. On the summit, we went around the fort, and this time we got a nice view of Kundalika river basin all the way up to to Korlai fort. It was beautiful. We decided to get down using another way, which had a 7-8 feet rock patch…all of us braved through it under guidance of Sachin Joshi. Then we were off to Samrajgad…it is 5.30 pm, we had not had lunch yet…determined to complete the list of forts we planned for before we waste(!) our time in lunch. Samrajgad is very small hill off Murud coast. As we climbed that fort, we were in double surprise. First one was beautiful view of Murud coastline on one side and Ganpati Immersion procession on the other side, typical Konkani Ganesh Festival style. And the other surprise was the panoramic view of Janjira fort from the other end of Samrajgad. It was worth and the memories are permanently etched in all our minds.
All photos courtesy to Sachin Joshi
We got down and headed straight for a Konkani khanaval for a delayed lunch at 7 pm(!). I did not forget to pass the bad news of my later arrival to my wife by calling my son and informing about it. After our food, we started return journey.
Update on Sept 25, 2015: I have started writing series of articles outlining my trekking journey over decade or so. Please feel free to visit it here for that.