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Torna Fort (4604ft)

24-25 September 2005

Our last trek to Ratangad kept us off from the beautiful landscape due to constant cloud cover and torrential rains, even though charismatic in its own way. Torna came as another opportunity for me, the last monsoon trek for this year through Bhramanti. It’s been a real great experience being with Bhramanti, that I don’t bother about going through other groups. We a group of 30 people, some of us bhramanti brand loyals and some new, set out for TORNA on the 23 rd sept night.

torna_grp1.jpgTORNA was the first fort conquered by Shivaji Maharaj after he vowed for swaraj at Raireshwar. He put the garland (Called Toran in Marathi) of his first victory on this fort and therefore the name –TORNA. TORNA is also called prachandgadh because of it vastness (Prachand- big). I never imagined what I was to experience, unless it saw it. I was happy not to cancel my trek plan last moment, which I very much wanted to .TORNA is SURREAL.

TORNA lies 65 kms from Pune station .TORNA give s a very beautiful view of some of the big and important forts around- like, Sinhagad, Rajgad and Raigad.We started from Pune station by ST bus for our base village – Velhe. Vehle is a big and well set village. After enquiring at the local tea shop, we came to know that there is a big temple on fort top and we can stay there overnight, otherwise we were planning to descend the same day and stay back at the base village. The Menghai devi temple and the fort are under the care of Maharshtra government and they have deputed a person who takes care of this fort and temple. Any group wishing to stay back on the fort can enquire at the local tea shop and collect the keys from base village.

After a good introduction session by the leader(Ajay) we started the trek at around 10.00 am . It was a bright sunny day and rains slept under cloud covers. Relieved to have a pleasant day, we enthusiast started ascending. Most of the group members this time were new to trekking and I was really proud of them seeing them go on and on with all their enthusiasm.

As we moved across the narrow ways, on the way up, the landscapes appeared more and more catchy. We could see Sinhagad at distance. The entire way was laden with flowers, wild flowers in perky colors, textures and sizes. We kept moving seeing our destination far above us. The fort area remained covered throughout with clouds. We encountered two rock patches on the way up, a little slippery, not bad during ascending, but the descend would really prove tougher on them. We were past the 2 rock patches and entered the first door to the fort, there was another consecutive door which led us in to a world altogether different, and it was a bed of flowers, misty and dreamy. We moved from here and went further up searching for Menghai devi temple, where we were supposed to stay. After another 30 mins, we reached Menghai devi temple, it was big enough to accommodate us all. We decided to see the rest of the fort the next day as the visibility was very poor by this time, because of passing clouds. It was just 4 pm then. After surveying around the place, and tea session, we relaxed a bit and got in to preparing dinner. The menu this time was dal, rice, potato sabji and salad. Soon everything around was enveloped in dark and our candles flamed. The singing enthusiast mehfil started entertaining us where as the hungry ones were quiet. Another group of 10 guys joined us, only to make us all squeeze and sleep, but it only served us good to keep off from the cold.

We woke next morning at 6 am , after the breakfast session, went ahead to explore the fort. Everything was torna_grp6.jpgquiet and pleasant and the curtain of clouds was always there. There were flowers everywhere and they adorned the place, sometimes unwillingly we had to trample them to make way. We reached towards the Konkan darwaza, called so because it exposes the fort to the konkan plateau of Maharashtra. Not much of the fort is in good shape, but we were at least lucky to see what we saw. The Konkan darwaza lead us to Budla Machi. Machi is a small plateau like extension of the fort, used in those times to keep watch on enemies from distance. The view from Budla machi was spectacular, on one side a reservoir twisted and turned and on the other side a chain of hills covered with dense green vegetation. The clouds hardly parted to give us any view. The budla machi further extends below, but was inaccessible due to slippery rocks. Here Krishna spotted a mini rainbow, unlike the normal rainbow, this rainbow appeared on ground on the dense vegetation growing on the patch below. It was one attraction. We backed our way through Konkan darwaza and went towards the other side of the fort towards sadar, which was used to keep ammunition during Shivaji’s time. We further moved to a flag post and ahead towards Zunjar Machi. The approach to Zunjar Machi was a little difficult, and only Rishi and Nitin tried getting there.

The whole site was enthralling and I was spellbound. When I see such places, I only think of my friends and acquaintance who crib over my trekking and I only feel bad about what they are really missing. Well, I know I am fortunate of them all.

Most of the fort area was uncovered by us, due to inaccessibility and low visibility due to clouds. I wasn’t much content with my appetite of adventure as we had to move back. Sometimes we get lot out of something we never expected and yes TORNA was a treat for the eyes. Unwillingly, had to come back only to experience treks with the changing seasons and wait for the next monsoons.

Photo Link......

Written By: Jyoti Raut

Previous Article:

26-28 November 1999 

Torna Fort
This  was my long  awaited trek, since from when I started my trekking i.e. from 1989. Incidentally one of my regular trek partner & nearest friend told me to organize such a trek where we can enjoy night stay either in caves or fort. So since recently I had been to Jivdhan fort & spent one night in the Naneghat caves, so it made me to  think of such a fort where we haven't visited yet & also can spent a night. So naturally without wasting time I confirmed my plans for Torna Fort. As well informed to all our members of Wanderer group. I got response from five people & till Friday night it goes to four including me. I managed to arrange a tent in case due to Sat-Sun holiday rush on the fort temple site.

        Friday night we all comfortably able to manage to get seat in the Pune passenger train which left Mumbai at 11:40pm. We reached Pune at 5:45am next day i.e. Saturday. From Pune we reached Swarget to catch State Transport Bus for the village Welhe via Katraj Ghat. It took two hr. to reach this village which is base of Torna fort.  One can see on the way Rajgadh on left side of the road. I had been to Rajgadh  in 1992. As soon we reached Welhe, we took breakfast in the local hotel & made ourselves fresh to start our journey at 9:30am. As usual we were accompanied by local dog till where the actual climbing starts. He (dog) was doing this job like a guide on duty. But may be latter he(dog) didn't find anything good to continue with us & left our group to serve others. So the route was quite exposed enough for us to carry forward. TornaaiWe took one short break on the way & reached at 11:30am on the fort. Simply a ridge has to follow till  end of the fort. This is second highest fort in Sahyadri. After another 20 min. all our members reached on top. We decided to stay in the Temple since till nobody landed to it. After two hrs. rest we had our pack lunch & then again one hr. rest. Latter we spent next two hrs. to see the fort completely. It was very much fascinating to see all nearest fort Rajgadh also tip of Lingana pinnacle. We came back to our resting point to see the sunset from top. One of our singer member could not stop his good feeling & started singing his package of songs, we all joined him & ultimately it landed  into a joyful song party.

     Before complete blackout we gathered required amount of water to cater our need in the tornamap.gifnight for food & etc. By this time chilly wind intimated us the cold in night. We checked our cooking skill here it was ok. So around  8:30 we finished cooking & after having it we crashed on the bed(carry mat). Sky was very much clear to see stars in the night. The temple was covered with Galvanized iron shed with little support. So whole night due to continuous wind flow their was scary sound due to broken shed. We used to get up due small insect used to drop on us from the open part of the broken shed. As per our schedule we were supposed to get up in the next day morning at 5:00am to catch early morning bus of 6:45am. But as usual we could able to manage to leave the place at 7:15am & reached Welhe at 8:35am. We had tea & fresh-n-up. We left Welhe to Swarget(Pune) at 9:00am.& reached Pune at 11:30am. Then by Deluxe ST bus we left Pune at 12:00 noon to reach Mumbai.

     One can think of Trek to Rajgadh from Torna. Generally trekkers follow opposite way. We stick to Torna only since we wanted to see this fort as well night stay. Really it is worth to spent night in this season.

Written By: Rajan Rikame
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