My trekking journey#9

In this blog, which is part of the series related to my trekking journey over the years, I am going to detail out my expeditions in the year of 2006. Please refer below links for blogs on earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

The year began with a visit to fort Kenjalgad via Ambavade village. This is fort is also not far off from Pune. I also visited Jagannath Mandir and heritage hanging bridge.

After a long break until summer, I visited to fort hill of Bramahagiri during Nashik visit. The rock facade of this fort is very impressive. Monkey menace on the this fort is well known so one needs to be careful. Due to the steps, the access to this fort is not very difficult.

In the month of July during rains, I participated in a mega-trek, covering 6 forts in the Dhule region. We started with land fort of Malegaon. Then visited Laling, Songir, Kankarala, Galana and finally Dhudhna. Most of these forts are not huge and also don’t have much of height.

In August, again amidst heavy rains, visited Narayangad fort which is near Rajgurunagar on the way to Nashik from Pune. This area is rich and famous for vineyards and wineries(such as Sula, Chateau Indage). We also braved overflowing bridges to visit Vaphgaon Gadhi(fortress) in the rains. This place became famous due to the shooting of Marathi movie Pak Pakak Pak(पक पकाक पक) starring Nana Patekar. During this month, I also made a trip to fort of Drongiri near Uran in Mumbai region.

In September, we made trip to Akluj fort which is land fort. This is situated on the banks of river Nira. This is in good condition, but it also has turned out to be picnic spot.


In the winter season, during my visit to Mumbai for vacation, visited fort Ghodbandar in Thane district. Also visited few of the seven forts of Mumbai islands such as Mahim, Sewri, Worli. All these forts are in pretty bad condition, due to lack of conservation efforts. The winter had still few forts in store for us. We ended up going to Sudhagad and Sarasgad, later to Sagargad.

And finally, during our trip to Ratnagiri and Ganpatipule, visited forts of Ratnagiri, Jaygad and Purnagad which are coastal forts. We visited Thibaw Palace which is British time palace where king Thibaw of Burma was withheld by the British rulers(I wrote a blog on the history of his exile recently).


Theeba Palace

During this time, I had got hold of book by M S Narawane titled The Maritime and Coastal Forts of India. In fact, I had got opportunity to attend a lecture by him on fort architecture, and was lucky enough to visit them in Pune at their home.



My trekking journey#8

In this blog, which is part of the series of blogs, related to my trekking journey over the years, I am going to detail out my trekking expeditions in the year of 2005. Please refer below links for blogs on my earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

I did not get much of trekking done till summer this year, due to my engagements with Indology course related site visits, especially to Bhon archaeological site. In April, we went to fort called Daulatmangal, popularly known as Bhuleshwar which has an ancient temple of Lord Shiva.

Daulatmangal fort

Pushkarni on Bhuleshwar

Later in the summer, we went for a trek to Jungali Jaygad and Gunwantgad. Jungali Jaygad was long trek, especially through thick forests. We also visited Ramghal which is located near town called Helwak. This is one of the places where famous 16th century saint Ramdas Swami used to meditate. It also has a nice waterfall.

The month of July, in monsoon, saw me going again to Sinhagad. This time with my business colleagues traveling from USA. A visit to this fort is mandatory whenever anyone visits us from foreign country. I also went to a little unknown place called Kanifnathgad near Pune. This is unusual and little unknown as it has a shrine of Nath sect saint Kanifnath. This in on the way to Saswad via Kondhava and Bopdev Ghat.



In the month of August, during Independence Day weekend, we went to Ahmednagar where we visited famous land fort of Ahmednagar. This has its own significance due to the fact that many freedom fighters including Jawaharlal Nehru were jailed here during freedom struggle. Nehru also wrote his volumes of his famed work Discovery of India. I also happened to visit unusual museum dedicated to battlefield tanks about which I have written over here.

Later in the month of September, land fort of Bahadurgad near town of Pedgaon in Daund region, which is on the banks of river Bhima.

In the winter, we had traveled to Jabalpur on the way to Kanha National Park. I will write about it separately though. But I happened to take time to make a flying visit to fort called Madan Mahal which is in the city of Jabalpur. During the end of year, I did a solo visit to fort of Pandavgad, which is massive fort near town of Wai. This is clearly visible from the highway. I noticed one old Parsee person has been living on this fort quite a few years all alone, may be with help of some villagers at the base. There seems to be interesting history of Parsee community in this area. You may refer to this blog for some account of that. This site tells us that that person is no more, and his name was Sher Wadia.

My trekking journey#7

In this series related to my trekking journey over years, I am going to detail out my expeditions in the year of 2004. Please refer below links for blogs on earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

The year of 2004 happened to be another blockbuster year for me in terms of trekking. In the moth of January, we headed towards coastal Maharashtra(Kokan) to visit forts of Sumargad and Mahipatgad. We had to battle humid coastal weather, also lack of proper trails on the way to the top on both these forts. I went for another minor self-exploration to fort of Rohida near Pune, which is happens to be significant in the history of Shivaji, as this was one of the forts he conquered.

The month of February, we saw ourselves again heading towards coastal Maharashtra(Konkan) to visit forts of Alibaug(also called Colaba fort), Revdanda and Korlai, both sea side land forts. We were accompanied by Sachin Joshi, archaeologist, who had interest in exploring nearby Chaul area based on the certain evidences he had with him. In the summer month of April, visited fort of Rajmachi, and later trailed to ancient Buddhist cave of Kondane.

In the month of monsoon, went to hills of Neelkantheshwar near Pune. My seventy three year old father also hiked with us. Later in the month, we hiked the fort of Peb(alias Vikatgad) near popular hill station Matheran. One can get other side of Matheran from Peb, also views of other forts such as Prabalgad can be seen from the top. In September, we visited forts of Ramdarane, Thal, Sarjekot and Hirakot as well. Sachin Joshi, wanted to take GPS coordinates for the Ramdarane fort, for mapping purposes. Sachin is using cutting edge technologies to contribute towards fort conservation. Towards end of September, we went on trekking expedition covering five forts in one go, all of them in the Nashik/Dang region. We visited Hatgad, Achala, Ahivantgad, Taula and finally Kanhergad. Hatgad happens to be near to popular hill station called Saputara on the boundary of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The year ended with a trip towards north of Mumbai to forts of Tandulvadi and Jivdhani near Virar. Jivadhani, of course, is more famous because of temple which has become a pilgrimage place.


My trekking journey#6

In this series related to my trekking journey over years, I am going to detail out my expeditions in the year of 2003. Please refer below links for blogs on earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

At the beginning of the year itself, I got opportunity to venture outside of Sahyadris. I went for a business trip to Delhi, and my wish to visit land forts in and around Delhi came true. I happened to visit Red Fort and also Purana Qila, Tughlaqabad Fort. All of these forts been capital of Delhi at different times. In fact, it is said that Delhi had ancient seven capital areas or cities, of which Purana Qila and Tughlaqabad are part of it. Red Fort Lutyen’s New Delhi are more modern capital areas of Delhi.

I happened to visit Delhi recently, about which I have written elaborately hereespecially about landmark of Lutyen’s architecture Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In month of March that year, I joined Yuvashakti group from Pune for a trek to Ratangad. There are more than 3-4 forts named as Ratangad in Sahyadri mountains. This is near Bhandardara near Pune. The Amruteshwar temple at the base is also very beautiful.

In the month of April, visited fort of Tung which stands tall, now by backwaters of Pavana dam. This fort has been immortalized by Go Ni Dandekar’s novel Pavanakathcha Dhondi(पवनाकाठचा धोंडी). I also have in my collection the audio book of this novel, which I listen to many times. I also happened to trace the trails on the hills in and around Pune. This has been long dream of mine. I started from Chaturshringi Temple hill and trailed all the way to Chandani Chowk via Vetal hill. i have written about hills of Pune in another blog.

After some break on trekking for few months, my next trekking opportunity came in the rains, in month of September, when I visited fort of Kamalgad near, historic and heritage laden town of Wai about which I have written here. As the country reaches end of monsoon, the top of the hills and forts turn in to literally valley of flowers. And Kamalgad was no exception. One can get a majestic view of Dhom dam from the top of the fort.

The winter season is best for trekking, and I did not miss, with four treks in the space of October, November and December months of the winter. First, during my vacation to Mumbai, we trekked to fort of Malanggad(or Haji Malang).

Haji Malang

Fort Malanggad

The fort vista from far is majestic due to its several cliffs. But the fort top is not so pretty sight due to constant rush of crowd due to pilgrimage place. Later in the winter, I made a yet another trip to twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur, which is so near to Pune on the way to Mumbai. Next month, visited fort called Chawand or Prasannagad near town of Junnar in Pune district. This is famous for its array of water storage tanks on the fort which are still in good condition. One can get a view Manikdoh dam backwaters from the top of the fort. We also were able to visit nearby Kukadeshwar temple, which is ancient temple built in stone.

Later I also visited highest peak in Maharashtra which is Kalasubai, again near fort Ratangad which I had visited earlier this year. My year ended with visit to Daman and Silvasa, erstwhile Portuguese colony, like Goa, towards north of Mumbai.

This was my Christmas vacation. During that trip, visited land forts by the creek of Daman Ganga river in the Arabian seas, called Nani and Moti Daman forts(literally means small and big Daman), which were built by Portuguese. There used to be a bridge over the creek between these forts which happened to be on the both banks of the creek, collapsed few months before our visit.


तळजाई टेकडीवरील जंगल

पुण्यातील टेकड्या

पुणेकर आणि पुण्यातील टेकड्या यांचे नाते खूप जवळचे  आहे. आपण पुणेकर याबाबतीत नक्कीच सुदैवी आहोत की पुण्याच्या चारही बाजूने टेकड्या आहेत, पुणे आणि आसपासच्या भागातून ३-४ नद्या वाहतात. खरे पहिले तर ह्या टेकड्या सह्याद्रीच्या मुख्य रांगेच्या आजूबाजूच आहेत. अर्थात बंगळूरूसारखे तलावांचे जाळे पुण्याला नाही. मी सह्याद्रीत भटकणारा माणूस, पुण्यातील टेकड्यांवर आपल्यासारखाच मी देखील जात असतो अधून मधून. आणि ह्या टेकड्यांची परिस्थिती सध्या तितकीशी चांगली नाही. त्याबद्दल लिहावे म्हणून हा ब्लॉग.

मला वाटते मी जर सर्वप्रथम कोठल्या पुण्यातील टेकडीवर  गेलो असेन तर ती, नाही पर्वती नाही, तर ती आहे दुर्गादेवी टेकडी. हो, पर्वती नाही, कारण बऱ्याच पुणेकरांची पहिली आणि आवडती टेकडी म्हणजे पर्वती. दुर्गादेवी टेकडी ही निगडी भागातील ही टेकडी. मला वाटते मी दहावीत असताना, आमच्या शाळेतर्फे तेथे वनीकरणाचा कार्यक्रम होता. तेव्हा सर्वप्रथम गेलो होतो. आणि तेथे अजूनही नियमितपणे जात असतो, तिचे हिरवेगार रूप पाहून प्रत्येक वेळेला आम्ही मुलांनी लावलेली झाडे आठवतात. टेकडीवरून बऱ्याचदा मुंबई पुणे रेल्वे मार्गावरील जा-ये करण्याऱ्या गाड्या दिसतात. दुर्गादेवीची मंदिर तेथे आहे, तसेच पायथ्याला एक मनोरंजन केंद्र-अप्पू-घर आहे.

पर्वतीवर तर कित्येक वेळेला गेलो आहे. त्याबद्दल विशेष काही नाही. ती अशी टेकडी आहे जी आपल्याला पुण्यातून फिरताना कायम दिसत राहते. पेशवेकालीन मंदिर आहे, संग्रहालय आहे. पावसाळ्यात हिरवीगार, तर उन्हाळ्यात काळी ठिक्कर दिसते. बाहेरगावावरून पुण्यात आलेल्या पाहुण्यांना पर्वती पाहायची असते, इतकी तिची महती पसरली आहे. पण पर्वतीच्या बाजूला असलेली झोपडपट्टी तेथे नको असावी असे वाटत राहते.

तळजाई आणि वाघजाई ही टेकड्यांची जोडगोळी विस्तीर्ण, हिरवी वनराई असलेली आहे. काही वर्षापूर्वी वनविभागाने पर्वती पाचगाव वनउद्यान तेथे विकासीत केले आहे, त्यामुळे तेथे फिरायला छान वाटते. तेथे भरपूर मोर देखील आहेत. एक-दोन वर्षात पुणे महापालिकेने तेथे रस्ते, आणि इतर चांगली कामे केली आहेत.कोथरूड परिसरात असलेली वेताळ टेकडी(वेताळबाबा मंदिरामुळे नाव), तेथे असलेल्या पायवाटांमुळे सकाळी फिरणाऱ्या लोकात प्रसिद्ध आहे. तेथे जुनी सध्या वापरात नसलेली खाण देखील आहे, तिचा उपयोग प्रस्तरारोहणाच्या तंत्राचा सराव करण्यासाठी बरेच जण करतात.चतु:शृंगी टेकडी सुद्धा बरीच प्रसिद्ध आहे, ती देवीच्या मंदिरामुळे. तेथे रोपवे होणार आहे असे ऐकतो आहे. काही वर्षांपूर्वी चतु:शृंगी ते चांदणी चौक असा पिटुकला ट्रेक केला होता. तो हनुमान टेकडी, वेताळ टेकडी असे करत करत चांदणी चौकात जातो. पावसाळ्यात अथवा दिवाळीत करण्यासारखा छानसा ट्रेक आहे. वेताळ टेकडीवर Automotive Research Association of India(ARAI) चे मोठेसे कार्यालय आहे. हनुमान टेकडी तर फर्गुसन कॉलेजच्या मागेच आहे. तेथेही बरीच लोकं जात असतात. मी एकदा मुद्दाम तेथे गेलो होतो, तेव्हा काही लोकं पाण्याच्या बाटल्या घेवून आले होते आणि रोपांना, झाडांना पाणी टाकत होते. ते पाहून नक्कीच बरे वाटले. पुण्यात बऱ्याच संस्था आहेत ज्या टेकड्यांचे संरक्षण आणि संवर्धन करण्यास हातभार लावत असतात.

कात्रजपरिसरातल्या टेकड्या तर पुण्याची शान आहेत. कात्रजचा घाट, तेथील तळे, कात्रज ते सिंहगड हा ट्रेक मस्तच. महामार्गाने साताऱ्याच्या दिशेने जर पुण्यात येवू लागलो तर, कात्रज घाटातून पुण्याच्या असा काही नजरा दिसतो की त्याला तोड नाही. प्रत्येक वेळेला पुण्यातील concrete jungle वाढवलेले दिसते.  पुण्यात बाणेर भागातील टेकडी देखील विस्तीर्ण आहे, त्याच्या मागे असलेली पाषणची टेकडी, बिबवेबाडी भागात गुलटेकडी आहे, पण ती गुल झालेली आहे की काय कळत नाही, मी तरी अजून तेथे गेलो नाही. पण त्याच भागात आणखी एक टेकडी आहे, त्याच्यावर समारंभासाठी असणारे पार्टी हॉल आहे, तेथे गेलो होतो एकदा. पुण्यात अजून काही अश्या टेकड्या आहेत ज्या तितक्याशा माहीत नसलेल्या आहेत. हिंजवडीभागातील म्हातोबा टेकडी, येरवडा भागातील तारकेश्वर टेकडी, तसेच दिघी परिसरातील दोन टेकड्यांची जोडी. मी काही वर्षापूर्वी म्हातोबा टेकडीवर गेलो होतो. तेथे म्हातोबाची जत्रा आणि उत्सव जोरदार साजरा होतो. येरवड्यातील तारकेश्वर टेकडीवर देखील गेलो होतो, तेथेतर काही वर्षापर्यंत वाहतूक विभागाचे मोटार चालक चाचणी केंद्र होते. हडपसर भागात तुफान झोपडपट्टी असलेली राम टेकडी आहे, तेथे तर मी जाण्याचा धीरच करू शकलो नाहीये. खडकीभागातील रेंज हिल्स(Range Hills) ह्याला तसे का नाव पडले ते समजत नाही, कारण तेथे कुठलीही  टेकडीच नाही. वर म्हटल्याप्रमाणे, निगडी भागातील दुर्गादेवी टेकडीचा पलीकडे, देहूचा जवळ, भंडारा डोंगर आहे, तशी ती टेकडीच आहे. भंडारा डोंगर तुकाराम महाराजांच्या वास्तव्यामुळे प्रसिद्ध आहे.

तर अश्या ह्या पुण्यातल्या आणि आसपासच्या टेकड्या, पुण्याची शान असलेल्या. पावसाळ्यात तर त्यांचा नजरा आणखी खुलतो. विविध प्रकारची पक्षी, प्राणी सृष्टी, वनस्पतीसृष्टी(bio-diversity) तेथे नांदते आहे. पण ह्या टेकड्यांना गेल्या काही वर्षात दृष्ट लागली आहे. टेकड्यांवर प्रचंड प्रमाणात मानवी हस्तक्षेप, तसेच त्याच्या आसपास, अंगाखांद्यावरून बांधकामे होवून, दगडासाठी त्या बेफामपणे फोडून, त्यांचे लचके तोडले जात आहेत. ह्या टेकड्या म्हणजे पुण्याची प्राणवायूचे कारखाने आहेत. टेकड्यांना टेकड्याच राहु देत, तेथे जर मानवी हस्तक्षेप प्रमाणाबाहेर गेला तर अनर्थ होईल. नुकताच, म्हणजे, फेब्रुवारीमध्ये आपण World Heritage Week साजरा केला. ह्या टेकड्या पुण्याची वारसा स्थळेच आहेत, त्यांचे जतन केलेच पाहिजे. माझ्या घराच्या बागेत कांचनाचे झाड आहे, त्याच्या बिया मी गोळा केल्या आहेत, गेल्या १-२ वर्षामध्ये, त्या मी येत्या पावसाळ्यात ह्या टेकड्यांवर जाऊन विखुरणार आहे. तेवढाच छोटासा खारीचा वाटा. पुण्यातील ग्रीनहिल्स(GreeHills) या पर्यावरण संवर्धन क्षेत्रात काम करणाऱ्या संथेने पुण्यातील टेकड्यांच्या संवर्धनावर एक documentary बनवली आहे, ते येथे देऊन हा प्रपंच आता थांबवतो.

गो नी दांडेकर: आशक मस्त फकीर

प्रसिद्ध साहित्यिक गोपाल नीलकंठ दांडेकर यांच्या जन्मशताब्दीचे हे वर्ष आहे, त्यानिमित्ताने पुणे आकाशवाणीत एक कार्यक्रम झाला आणि माझ्या काही आठवणींना उजाळा मिळाला.

गो नी दांडेकर हे खरे तर अष्टपैलू व्यक्तिमत्त्व. गड-किल्ले, इतिहास हा तर त्यांचा आवडीचा विषय होताच. त्यांनी केलेली भटकंती, आणि त्यावर त्यांनी लिहून ठेवलेले आजही आम्हा भटक्या लोकांना उपयुक्त आहे. त्यांनी थोडी थोडकी नव्हे तर ९७ पुस्तके लिहिली. त्यांची काही पुस्तके मी वाचली आहेत, आणि ती अतिशय खिळवून ठेवणारी होती. उदाहरणार्थ, पवनाकाठचा धोंडी, पडघवली, माचीवरला बुधा, कोणा एकाची भ्रमणगाथा, स्मरणगाथा, रानभुली, महाराष्ट्र दर्शन, तसेच किल्ल्यांवरील त्यांची कित्येक पुस्तके देखील प्रसिद्ध आहेत. उदा. दुर्गभ्रमणगाथा, दहा दिवस दहा दुर्ग इत्यादी.  दुर्ग-साहित्य हा प्रकार त्यांनीच सुरु केला असे म्हटले जाते. महाराष्ट्र दर्शन हे पुस्तक तर मला वाटते महाराष्ट्राच्या सामाजिक इतिहासाबद्दलचे अत्र्यांच्या गावगाडा नंतरचे महत्वाचे पुस्तक आहे.


त्यांना अनेक छंद होते. नाणी गोळा करणे, इतिहासातील पुराणवस्तू गोळा करणे, छायाचित्रण, अत्तरे गोळा करणे इत्यादी. मध्ये केव्हातरी पुणे आकाशवाणीवर उष:प्रभा पागे यांनी घेतलेली त्यांची एक जुनी मुलाखत प्रसारित झाली होती. त्यातही ते त्यांच्या छंदांविषयी भरभरून बोलले होते. त्यांनी गोळा केलेल्या ह्या सर्व वस्तूंचे संग्रहालय आहे का काय ते शोधायाला पाहिजे. गड-किल्ले पाहणे, आणि ते इतरांना दाखवणे, त्या बद्दल बोलणे हे तर त्यांना खूप आवडे.

गेल्या वर्षी मी जेव्हा सिमला मनाली भागात गेलो होतो, तेव्हा, भाक्रा नांगल धरण आणि  तो परिसर वाटेत लागला, तेव्हा त्यांच्या त्या विषयावरील आम्ही भगीरथाचे पुत्र कादंबरीची आठवण झाली. पवन मावळातील तुंग तिकोना परिसरात फिरताना हटकून पवना नदीकाठच्या त्या धोंड्याची आठवण होते. वीणा देव आणि विजय देव हे त्यांच्या काही पुस्तकांचे अभिवाचन करतात. त्याच्या त्यांनी ध्वनीमुद्रिका देखील बनवल्या आहेत. त्याही ऐकायला मजा येते. कर्नाळ्याच्या परिसरात गेले की त्यांच्या जैत रे जैत पुस्तकाची आणि चित्रपटाची आठवण येतेच. त्या त्या भागातातील त्या त्या व्यक्तीरेखा त्यांनी अजरामर करून ठेवल्या आहेत. त्यांच्या बऱ्याच कादंबऱ्यांचे नाट्यरुपांतर देखील झाले आहे आणि ती नाटके देखील बरीच प्रसिद्ध झाली आहेत.

वीणा देव यांच्या स्मरणे गोनीदांची या पुस्तकात नमूद केल्याप्रमाणे, ते पुण्यातून तळेगाव येथे राहायला आले. त्यावेळी गांधीवधाच्या धामधुमीनंतर त्यांनी तो निर्णय घेतला. त्यावेळचे तळेगाव, अतिशय निसर्गरम्यच असणार. मी जेव्हा २०-२५ वर्षापूर्वी तेथे जायचो, तेव्हाच ते ठिकाण छान वाटे.  तळेगाव येथून मावळातील किल्ले आणि सह्याद्रीच्या डोंगररांगा जवळ असल्यामुळे, त्यांच्या दुर्गभ्रमंतीच्या छंदाला अगदी ते सोयीचे होते. त्यांच्या जन्मशताब्दीच्या निमित्ताने, तळेगावात त्यांचे एखादे स्मारक व्हायला हवे. काही वर्षापासून गोनीदांच्या स्मरणार्थ दुर्ग साहित्य संमेलन भरते आहे, ते नक्कीच स्वागतार्ह आहे. त्यांचा नावाची वेबसाईट आहे, पण ती अजूनही पूर्ण झालेली नाही. दूरदर्शन सह्याद्री वाहिनीवर त्यांच्या काही कार्यक्रमांचे footage देखील आहे, ते सुद्धा उपलब्ध व्हयला हवे. कार्यक्रमात त्यांनी गाडगे महाराज यांच्या हुबेहूब आवाजात केलेल्या कीर्तनाचे दुर्मिळ रेकॉर्डिंग ऐकवले गेले.

पुणे आकाशवाणी मध्ये काल झालेल्या कार्यक्रमाचे शीर्षक होते, गो नी दांडेकर-आशक मस्त फकीर. ते त्यांच्या व्यक्तिमत्वाला अगदी साजेसेच होते असेच म्हणावे लागेल.


Amby Valley

My trekking journey#5

As you might be knowing, I am tracing my trekking experiences over the years, in the series of blogs. Today, I am looking back at year of 2002-my fifth year of some serious and regular trekking affair. Most of trekking is confined to various forts, peaks in Sahyadri range as I live in Pune which is at the base of Sahyadri range. This was the year of bang on my personal level as far as trekking is concerned-hence this blog is going to be a long one, so be warned!

I did not have to wait for long for the first trek in the year, unlike earlier years. January Republic Day long weekend brought opportunity for first long trek covering 4 forts. We visited forts of Salher, Mulher, Mora, and Salota. All of them in north-west Maharashtra area bordering Gujarat. This area has been referred as Baglan(बागलाण) where Marathi language takes a form of Ahirani(अहिरणी) dialect which has elements of Gujarati language in it. We also got to participate in flag hoisting function at the school, on the morning of Jan 26 when we were at the base village. It was beautiful experience, in the cold morning that day, being with school children, and eating freshly made jalebi which was being distributed for the event. Salher is highest fort in Maharashtra. As I am writing this blog today, I read about specialty of Dasara festival at Salher where villagers and tribal folks around worship Ravan(BTW, I had written on similar topic here).

In February, I visited Shivneri and Sangramdurg. It was more of a family trip than a trek. There is easy way up there on Shivneri which is a birthplace of Shivaji. The land fort of Sangramdurg is on the way near the town of Chakan. This fort was in shackles and hardly anything left to see around.

In the month of March, I trekked the fort called Kothalidad(also called पेठचा किल्ला) with my trekker buddies. It was easy one day trek. The fort has unique shape, of funnel upside down which is on the steep hill. There are steps carved out inside through which one reached the top. This fort is near Karjat town on the way towards Mumbai from Pune.

In April, we visited fort of Pratapgad which is situated towards south of Pune about 100 km in deep forest. This fort has a historic significance in Maratha history as Shivaji tactfully killed Adilshah general Afazalkhan.

I visited sea fort of Sindhudurg in month of May. It was personal vacation for me, I did not loose opportunity to visit the fort even though it was vacation time for me. This fort is also significant as it was built by Shivaji, who also owned a naval force. The intention, of course, was to command the seas with help of this fort. The Maratha Navy became formidable force, after Shivaji era, under the leadership of Kanhoji Angre. Currently,  I am reading a Marathi translation(by Pu La Deshpande) of biography written by Manohar Malgaonkar, but more on that later. Later in May itself, I made a trip Sajjangad and Ajinkyatara, both near Satara town. Sajjangad is place where Samarth Ramdas Swami lived his last days. Ajinkyatara is a massive fort right in the middle of the Satara town, but having motorable road all the way up.

The highlight trek of this year came in August when I did a long trek of Bhimashankar to Karjat. This did not involve trek to any fort though. It was a walk in rains during monsoon season which is about 60 km. It was beautiful, full of adventure, and got the real raw experience. It was interesting experience dealing with leeches during the trek. We crossed the Sahyadri range using pass called shidichi vaat(शिडीची वाट) to reach Khandas village near Karjat.

Later in September, I happened to visit Koraigad first and later to Gorakhgadh, Sidhdhagad. The month of September is the time when Sahyadri is full of wild flowers bloom. Koraigad was no exception. It was very beautiful out there. One can see Amby Valley(of Sahara group) at the backdrop of this fort.

Amby Valley

On top of fort Koraigad

The twin forts of Gorakhgadh and Sidhdhagad are towards west of Pune off town of Karjat. We camped in the school at the Siddhagad’s base village called Bhise.

In Oct, I visited tiny fort of Malhargad near Saswad(~40 km from Pune). This fort is near a village called Sonori. This is in pretty good condition, most probably, due to the fact that it was built in later years of Maratha empire.

Later in Nov, I went for Mumbai trip with family, during which I visited sea fort of Arnala and land fort of Vasai which was built by Portuguese rulers. Few years later, I got to see the bell which was taken away by Marathas after defeating Portuguese during battle of Vasai, during my trip to Wai.

In Dec, we visited Bhairavgad, off Koyna dam. On the way, visited Ramghal(cave) where Samarth Ramdas Swami spent some time. This fort is situated deep inside forest and is right on the edge of Sahyadri. We stayed in the temple for the night.

All in all, this year, as said, was blockbuster for me, in terms of treks and enriched me with varied experiences of geology, people, wild life, forts, history. You may be interested in other blogs where I have written about earlier years of trekking.