This is my second visit to this Peth fort. Also known as Kothaligad, this is a small fort about 25 kms from Karjat train station.
Well first things first. I started my trek being on time for a change. But then someone or the other had to be late. So again I thought “If someone had to be late always why couldn’t it be me” . Anyways we were supposed to reach Mumbai C.S.T at 10:30 and believe it or not I did reach on time. Very soon people started joining us and we were already an expected strength of 37. Well we were in no hurry anyways, and we waited chatting till the last 12:43 am Karjat train. Well we couldn’t afford to be lazier, because it was the last train.
We reached Karjat station at around 2:30 am in the night. The best place to take rest we decided is the railway station itself and we spread out on the platform. Some of us decided to go to sleep but some talented ones like Abhijeet thought ‘Let me practice my vocal skills here’ And right in the middle of the night he blasted some old hindi songs. All those who managed to sleep through all this commotion finally woke up at 5:30 am. By 6:00 am we had some tumtums – (funny name for elongated rickshaws) waiting for us. And then started the beautiful journey into the wilderness. We could get an idea of things to come by looking at the greenery around us. In about half an hour we could see Peth in the outline. But also interesting was that we could in the skyline the ranges of Rajmachi and Dhak Bahiri.
Finally we alighted at the base village of Ambivali. I thought to myself ‘Every second village in Maharastra seems to have the same name. Here we had our breakfast – the customary poha and a brief round of introductions. There were many first timers but all seemed very enthusiastic about the trek. We started the trek at around 8:30 am or so. The trek starts with the tar road right near the shop which is also the bus stop. You take a left from the tar road and you follow a road laid with stones. Ajay, our leader, set the pace from the start itself and he was walking as if he did not care whether any body followed him or not. But thanks to his pace we covered quick ground. Within an hour we reached the plateau which is normally the first proper rest for the trek to Peth. You can see the top of peth to the side. But here the top we covered with clouds. From the plateau you start walking and very soon reach the Peth village.
The Peth village is exactly as the base of the fort and you can see the walls of the fort. You go right across the village and here starts the second part of the trek. Much steeper is the climb here. From a point there is a bifurcation. The easier route is from the left which goes around the fort with the fort staying to your right. There is a set of steps which will take you to the top. If you take the right side route, its much steeper but will get you faster to the top. Once at the top, there is a small plateau, which when we reached was covered in fog. Here there is a small water tank. Further from the water tank is a temple. A group was doing some pooja there and I decided to join them for the aarti. Then ahead is a huge cave – clean and very good for a stay. Right from inside the cave is the set of conical steps. This is the unique and amazing part of the fort. For someone who has no idea of this fort, he would sit wondering how to get to the top of the fort. Like most of the forts that I have seen even this fort had steps each about more than a foot high. Every time I wonder were the Marathas so tall or did horses climb these steps.
Anyways the view at the top was worth the climb. There is a huge tank at the top and pipes are drawing water to the Peth village from this tank. It’s a small fort and was normally used for storage of ammunition etc. To the north you can easily make out the most easily distinguishable feature of Padar killa. Right behind Padar Killa is the Bhimashankar range. If you are lucky you can get a view of Nagphani the highest point of Bhimashankar. Also if you strain you eyes you could see Siddhagad and the pinnacle of Siddhagad. Now to the south you could see Chanderi and Mhasmal. Also you could make out Matheran and it neighboring Peb fort. And far far away you can see the Karnala pinnacle.
Now everybody had enough of the peaks around and it only contributed to making them more hungry. Everybody came out with their tiffins and again I had to really gobble most of my food to keep pace with others. The interesting part was that the tank had orange colored water and some first timers were very scary of tasting the water. But beggars can’t be choosers and as its said if fortune throws a lime at you, better make lime juice out of it. And that’s what we literally did. Some locals were providing lime juice and we loved it.
Lunch done, we decided to turn back after spending some time at the lower part of the fort. There is a path which takes you all around the fort. We started back at around 2:00 pm. The descent was quite easy and the intermittent rains helped too. Once we reached the Peth village and the plateau, people knew there were half way through and walked at a relaxed pace. We reached Ambivali by around 5:00 pm. But the best was yet to come. The heavens decided to rewards us for our efforts and opened the floodgates. Many of the guys came out to get wet in the rain. Where else in the city can you take off your T-shirts and go around getting wet in the rains without being labeled a lunatic.
By this time the tumtums had returned to pick us up. We had a quick session of tea and changed into dry clothes. We had the feedback sessions and thankfully everybody was happy with the trek.
K.K and Apoorva went off to discover something on their own. Actually about 15 mins from the village there is a set of steps which takes you to a cave with a river flowing right before it. And they were quite happy to have come back discovered it.
So we took the tumtum back to Karjat and way back to our houses. I reached home by 10:30 pm. Even my parents seemed happy to seem me home early. On second thoughts were they really? ;)
Written By: Krishnadas Warrier.
9th Sept 2002
This was my second visit
to Kotaligadh. I was recollecting my memories about this fort when I
had been long back, but I could do so with few like it's funnel shape
top & the circular stair case inside the rock. As we were reaching
near the Ambivali village via Karjat-Kashele I could able to trace out
the same conical shape & informed to all the fellow members. Some
of the members had shown worried face due to the dificulty like how one
can climb such place. Since I was confident about the trek standard I
was confident about team reaching the top easily.