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Rajgadh Trek

Date: 15-16 Dec. 2007

A trek to Rajgad was long awaited for me. Rajgad had been the capital of "Hindavi Swaraaj" for a long time till Raigad was built as a new capital. Also, Rajgad is a huge fort having vast area & enormous fortification. These were the reasons for my want to see Rajgad. So I was delighted to see Rajgad in Bhramanti's trek schedule. After some initial enquiries, I confirmed my participation. I have been trekking in the Sahyadris for a while now but I haven't trekked with Bhramanti earlier. My wife expressed her interest to experience trekking & we both were set to go.

It was Friday, 14th of December 2007, which marked the beginning of a wonderful experience. The number of participants was eleven. We boarded the shirdi fast passenger at Thane at 11.30 p.m. Eight of our trek members had boarded the train at Dadar. One member was to join us at Pune. Unlike the usual trek-journeys, we had reservations in sleeper coach. So it was quite comfortable. All of us got down at Pune station at 4.30 a.m. Waited in the railway waiting room till 6. Everybody was in a leisure mood & spent the time chit-chatting & having fun. We then moved to Pune S.T. stand which is besides the station for 6.15 bus to Ghisar via Velhe. Within ten minutes after reaching at the S.T. stand, the bus arrived. We all got in & surprisingly the bus left within no time without waiting for more passengers at 6.10. We were to get down at Margaasani village. The journey took 1.5 hours approx. Everybody was in partial sleep mode. The mountains were accompanying us throughout the journey after we left the Pune city. The member who was to join us at Pune station missed the bus there. So he rushed to Swargate to catch the bus there. Fortunately he reached there when the bus was about to leave. So the team was complete now. We got down at Margaasani village in front of a small tea stall. The weather was pleasantly cold. 4-5 members including me took out the digicams here & took the first photos of the trek. We had a much needed tea here & moved in a jeep to Gunjavne, the base village for Rajgad fort. Kiran, the trek leader initiated the conversation with the driver about the village & asked him about the rains this year & the various crops taken. The region experiences a heavy rainfall. We saw sugarcane fields on the way. At Gunjavne, we ordered for the breakfast & had a look at the fort model which was built there with all the details. Kiran briefed us about the fort history & the fort architecture & the approach routes with the help of the model. All of us had a discussion about the fort after that. Everybody was amazed on seeing the vastness of the fort evident from the model. We had a round of introduction here. Anthony was the deputy leader for the trek. Many members were new to Bhramanti including a lady from Finland. The breakfast of 'upma' was ready till this time & it was excellent with nice garnishing. Had the tea after that & we were all set for starting the actual trek. The route is well-trodden. On the way one gets the views of Baalekilla (citadel), Suvela maachi & Padmavati maachi & the various bastions along the length of the fort. We halted for a while on reaching a plateau. The villagers from the base village sell buttermilk & fresh lemon-juice at many places on the way. After enjoying some lemon-juice, we headed for the fort. after some flat walk & some moderately steep route, one reaches rock-cut steps which lead to the entrance "chor-darwaazaa" on Padmavati maachi. On entering into the fort we had some buttermilk & relaxed for a while & headed towards "Padmavati temple". The trek from the base to the top took nearly two hours. First we come across"Padmavati lake". The lake is beautiful with clear water. On the level above the lake, there are some old structures made in rock. We put our sacks in the temple & rested for some time. Then everybody took out the packed lunch & we had a feast of various types of theplaas with chutney & curd, sweet appam, fruits. After lunch, we set out for baalekilla & sanjeevani maachi. Maachi is a sub-plateau on the fort. Baalekilla is the highest part of the fort & it's like a small fort inside the fort having shelter & water. Baalekillaa of Rajgad is triangular in shape & the three maachis extend really long starting from the three vertices of the triangle. The route to reach the baalekilla is winding & is cut in the rock. Baalekilla has a grand entrance. On entering, there is a small temple. A staircase takes us to the upper level where we can see the remains of the palace & many structures in rock. There is another beautiful lake there which reminds us of "padmavati lake". There are many water tanks & a temple. A bastion in good condition stands at the north side of baalekilla from where one gets nice view of Padmavati maachi. From the baalekilla one can clearly see all the three sub-plateaus below. We started towards Sanjeevani maachi from here. The plan was to be on Sanjeevani maachi for witnessing a nice sunset. On the way we saw a huge rock face which was a great site. The route to Sanjeevani maachi leaves you spellbound with bastions, two-layered fort walls, water tanks, ponds & immense constructions in the rock. The fort wall moves on taking twists & turns which creates a grand view. Reaching the end point of the maachi, everybody found a suitable place & had a nap. We had a lot of time till sunset so everybody was in relaxed mood. We had some snacks which we had carried along. At first we were in doubt whether we will be able to get a view of sunset as the clouds had covered the sky. Some of us were singing songs & some were having some discussions. The moments were very quiet & peaceful. It was a different feeling. We ultimately got a very nice sunset view. We immediately started our return journey to the "Padmavati temple" where we had left our sacks & where we were to stay for the night. We reached in the temple when it was almost dark.

Everybody joined for food preparation now. First we made tea & had it with biscuits. Then Kiran started with his special recipe of "Moong daal soup". The daal took really long to get cooked but finally we got a real tasty soup. It was the filling starter till the khichadi gets ready. Khichdi again took real long time. But Kiran had never-ending patience. He was the main cooking activist. Others kept on joining in between. Finally everybody except Kiran lost their patience & the kihichdi was taken into plates. Kiran was telling that it should be cooked for some more time till all the water is removed. We had the khichdi at 11 p.m. All this time while the cooking was going on, Gopal, Akbar & Anthony were singing some old melodies. I joined them in between. Vineet, Kiran were playing the role of audience. Some were having good time relaxing on their sleeping mats. After having khichdi & doing the dishes, we went to sleep after packing ourselves in sweaters, monkey-caps. I got a fairly good sleep in the cold.

On getting up next morning by 6-6.30, everybody got freshened up, had tea made by Kiran, had some biscuits & set out for Suvelaa maachi by 8'o clock. The route goes through an area of dense vegitation in between. The first bastion which we came across in the way was really a sight. After clicking some snaps & spending some time, we proceeded ahead We then came near a needle-hole (A through & through hole in the mountain). There is a way to reach till there. So we spent some time sitting inside the needle-hole & then proceeded ahead. Soon after this, after walking on the fort wall & seeing some water tanks on the way, we reached the end point of Suvela maachi. It had a bastion just below the top. We spent some time there having a look at the glorious view all around. Had an instantly made mango drink & started our return journey to the temple. On the way, Kiran & Vineet went on to see the other branch of Suvelaa maachi which had some water tanks & plenty of fortification, but is not frequently visited. All others returned to temple. This time, maggi noodles were on menu & Anthony, Shreekant & Akbar took the charge. After having tasty noodles with salad & having some curd after that, everybody packed the bags & all were ready to go. After taking some group photos, we started descending the fort. Kiran & Gopal were of great help for those who were finding it difficult to descend at some points. We descended almost without any break & reached the base village Gunjavne in 1.5 hours. We had a plan of having lunch here but the maggi noodles had made everybody so full that nobody wanted a full lunch. So we had 'pohas' & some roti-subzi & waited for transport to Nasrapur. Unfortunately there was nothing available. So we started walking at around 2.45 p.m. Walked for almost an hour till the village 'Sakhar' where we were expecting to get some transport. Here we had some light snacks which we had with us.

At 4.15 we got a bus which starts from Gunjavne at 4. We got in the bus & travelled standing till Swargate for 1.5 hours. From Swargate, we travelled to Pune station in rickshaw & boarded the train "Indrayani express" in which we had seats reserved. The journey back home was fun-filled. We discussed about the trek & about some past-trek experiences & about many other things. Had some food in the train. We were in jolly mood & it was a great time. Finally, five of us got down at Thane with sweet memories of the memorable trek.

What I found is that the trek was well-planned & well-executed. It was a nice fun-filled trek & I enjoyed every moment of it. I was awaiting such a trek for a long time.

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Written by: Ajay Gokhale

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