26th-29th Jan 2006
When i first learned about this trek organised by our group, i was a little reluctant to join considering the fact that the fort stood amidst dense forest in the Koyna Nature Reserve. But then I didn't want to misss out on an adventure that I knew won't come my way often. Moreover, there were eighteen other trekkers in the group, a couple of them even from Hyderabad and one from Chiplun.
We started on the eve of 25th January from Mumbai Central bus depot. Kiran joining the trek at the last moment was a pleasant surprise. The travel arrangements were absolutely comfortable and next day early morning we were at Satara where connecting departure was scheduled at 0930 which we boarded. We reached Bamnoli, one the the entry-points after an hour drive. Bamnoli was the place from where real adventure would start for it was from here that we had to ferry across the Koyna river. After taking the necessary permit from the forest department offcials, we found ourselves in the launch heading towards Met Indavli.
It was a welcome mode of transport for all of us and everyone took the opportunity to socialise onboard. After reaching the forest department base camp at Met Indavli at 1300 hrs, we ahd a hearty lunch and started off for Vasota fort.
The path to Vasota fort is quite prominent. For me it wasn't a difficult trek as I thought it to be. Greeting the people enroute and taking their feedback we reached a point where one way continued to the fort and the other was marked with arrow towards Nageshwar. As decided we continued climbing towards Vasota and reached the top after after two and half hours.
Immediately, everyone decided on a group photograph before exploring the fort. The view from the edge of the fort was scenic. To the right, one could see Chota Vasota, a pinnacle, and the path to Nageshwar. Right behind, the sight of Koyna watering penetrating in the dense forest below was enthralling. After snacking, we proceeded to the otherside of the fort to find a group of around thirty trekkers who had already set up their tents.
Now it was our turn to set up the tents. While the experts got down to work, others wacthed with amusement. For some of us, it was going to be the first night in a tent. It was chilling up there, something that many of us hadn't forseen. For a change, I wasn't equipped with much warm clothing and hence the cold was biting.
After the usual fare of Bhramanti Pulav ; yes we have a patent on it, pickle (the lemon pickle courtsy Rajat was mouth-watering) and papad, everyone called it a day.
Next day, that it on the 27th January, after seeing around the fort and having finished the morning chores, we started for Nageshwar at around 1045. The trek was nice and we were doing our best to be together. At every given chance we would take a breath before continuing. At a certain point the path to Nageshwar has cliff on one side and vegetation on the other. At around 1300 hours we reached Nageshwar. This is a place of pilgrimage for the villagers who live in the valley below. For spuses longing for a child, men looking for work, this is the place where prayers are said to be answered.
Now we had a journey ahead which proved to be quite a task.We had to start climbing yet again, this time a mountain next to Nageshwar. Everyone was extremely tired with their heavy sacs on their backs in the sweltering heat. The simplestof steps looked daunting and we were rather clumpsy with the ascend. The sun was just too brilliant and after then minutes many of us would stop for a breath. The heaarts were ponding yet the spirit of making it was very much alive. I realised what an 'uphill task' is! Finally we came to a plateau into even denser jungle. Soon though we found ourselves descending the other side of the mountain. No sooner that we trekked a few metres that we came across the serene Koyna again from the top. The view was spectacular. The river was dotted by a small island, the banks lined with fields on one side. The beauty of the place can be compared to the southern French resort of Saint Tropez.
The descent was relatively easy but took us quite some time. At our arrival, Prasad and Mr Mishra were just out of the water after a swim. I couldn't hold myself back anymore and thought of lazying with my feet in the water but Abhishek, Himanshu, and K D wouldn't let me out till I was completely drenched. Koyna as we learnt is a deep river.
The launch from Kusapur arrived and we got on to it heading for Arav, our base village for Vhakdev. As conversations flowed, the air seemed heavy and tranquil. The sky seemed to change into the evening colourss and stars came out of their abode. The reflection of the surroundings in the still water couldn't seem more beautiful.
Ajay was in pain, I realised once we were on the banks.It appeared as though he had sprained a muscle. We headed to the hamlet and were greeted by a family. The head or 'Sarpanch' of the village arranged for our stay and boarding in the village temple. The temple dedicated to a local deity is picturestic. with a courtyard. Dinner arranged by the Sarpanch was lip-smacking and soon everyone was asleep.
The next day, we had planned to distribute books and stationary to the children studying at the village school. Ajay has been the brainchild behind this unique project whereby we would donate necessary material for academics and daily life to the under-priviledged villagers that we would come across during our treks. We finished the morning routines just in time for the small ceremony of donation in the presence of the Sarpanch and villagers. I gave the introductory speech and then the formalities took their course.
By eleven we were ready for our final destination Chakdev. After walking five kilometers, we reached a small village called Walvan. The Sarpanch of Arav had suggested that we climb a mountain called Parbat near Walvan. Kituu, I and a few others decided to stay back opting to rest instead. Others, leaving their sacs decided to go ahead with the climb. As luck would had it, Parbat proved to be invincible for my fellow trekkers but then we all lauded their efforts to ascend the mountain. Lunch arranged with a family was a typical rural Maharashtrian spread of Bhakri and Zunka. After relishing the brunch we started for Chakdev at 1600 hrs. Climbing Chakdev was easy and it took us a little more than two hours to scale it. It was almost 1815 hrs by the time we reached the village cocooned atop. The village temple stood at the corner with 'Samadhis' of noble villagers at it's entrance.
We decided to explore a little and moved ahead to the edge. As we approached the edge, the sun seem to shed myriad shades in orange. The view in front of us was panoramic with mountains and villages nestled in between the valleys. We were spellbound by the beauty at dusk. Birds were on their way back after the days work of looking for food. When it was night time at last, a plethora of stars twinkled brilliantly just as diamonds would sparkle in an exquisite piece of art.
Sheltered in one of the village homes, my friends started a round of old classics. The sound broke the silence in an otherwise sleepy neighbourhood. Soon everyone had rolled out their mats after supper. I was thinking ; the next day would be the final day of the trek.
Next day morning, we all got up early and were ready for departure at 0900 hrs. We started descing and coverd the distance in scheduled time. At a point the strong wind was determined to blow us away. Finally after a descend of almost four hours we reached Amboli. everyone had a bath and we moved on for Khed where we boarded the Mandovi Express.
The trek offcially ended on our arrival and all that each of us needed was a drink! After and appeatising dinner we bid each other good night.
Vasota - Nageshwar - Chakdev is a must do itinerary for every trekking enthousiast. The experienceof travelling in a launch in Koyna makes this trek a unique experience not to forget the adventures in the dense forest. The locals are warm and helping as you come across as a traveller in Maharashtra.
As you make your way through forests, valleys and bewitching views, time stops......soul awakens.
Written By: Shrikant Vaidya
Trek : Vasota (3614ft)
Every Diwali generally we celebrate with trekking in Sahyadri. My mind was already prepared to accept the satisfaction which was supposed to gain after the trek since this was long awaited trek almost since from 2 yrs. back. The time was right since most of us were having continuous 3 holidays due to diwali.
According to historical records, the Vasota fort was buit by King Bhojraj II of Shilahar dynasty. In 1656, Shivaji Maharaj annexed this fort to his kingdom along with Jawali region.Latter Bapu Gokhale senapati of Peshwa defeated Pantaprstinidhi. Angered by this defest mistress of Pantapratinidhi, went to Vasota & led a revolt against Peshwas. Bapu gokhale faught her & captured the fort again after a tough battle.
We started on Sat. 2nd Nov. 2002 by road in the night, thanks to Dharmesh since he availed us reserved seats to Satara. Harshal, Astad, Saravanan, Milind & Deepak(Leader) were the participant of this trek. We reached Satara by 7:00am. While in the journey we wasted almost one hr. due to damaged tire of the bus. Due to this we missed morning local bus to Bamnoli which is at 7:00am. Another bus was at 9:00am. So we decided to fresh-n-up; have breakfast & visit & comeback from Ajinkyatara fort. But visit to Fort was not possible within short time span. So we excluded this adhoc idea from our plan. We left for Bamnoli which is one & half hr. journey from Satara. On the way one can see Sajjangadh on the left side of the route. The road journey was scenic & very much photogenic. But no possibility to catch any of the scene since our local bus was over packed. As we reached Bamnoli, we inquired about our next movement. We completed some formalities like getting permission to trek & boat booking. Boat charges are Rs 800/- per boat (group of 1-15) two ways. Forest department does not allow to stay in the jungle without the permission & very much careful about our belonging. One should not carry any weapons, alcohol which may affect the forest. Our boat journey was fantastic since this is one of the trek where one has to travel by boat this is very rare in Sahyadri. Crossing Koyna was a grate experience. It's clean & beautiful. From the top one can see the koyna with red border(sand colour on the bank). It takes one & half hr. journey by boat to reach the base of the new Vasota fort. One can attempt Old Vasota from this place.
Our trek started from here by the time it was afternoon. After first 15 min. walk we found A Hanuman Temple from where one can reach either Vasota or Nageshwar Temple. The route from Nala goes to Nageshwar which one has to explore since it's not that clear. The other route to the left side leads to new Vasota fort. Around one hr. from the Hanuman Temple one can find a small direction board named "Vasota" where one route goes to Nageshwar Temple on the right side. We choose the left one which leads to the Fort. It took total around 2 hrs. to reach Vasota. After Lunch we spent one hr. to see the fort. On the left side of the fort top lie some water tanks. As we proceed ahead from the tanks, we see the old Vasota fort in front, in the southern direction along with its Babu Kada(Cliff). As per our plan we were supposed to reach Nageshwar on the same day. But the Fort Vasota wanted us to stay on the same day. We tried to explore a path towards north side from the top of the fort which was finally found not the suitable & correct one, since we were not sure about the path which bifurcate from the Vasota board landmark. Then we descent down the fort from the same way just five minutes and tried to find the possibility of any route which will lead us to the Nageshwar ridge, but no way. By this time the time the sun was ready to set. So we all decided to stay on the Vasota fort in the Temple & visit Nageshwar next day.
We spent some time to see the sunset from the Vasota Fort. It was a nice site for us. By seeing this I asked everybody "Who are the lucky people to get such view from such place with peace of mind?" Deepak replied "We the Trekkers!!!" Everybody drank the sunset beauty & then disperse for the work assigned to them. On the left side of the entrance their are two water tanks out of which the left one can be used for drinking. We prepared Tea then soup & then dinner . WE closed our day around 10:30pm. The wind started blowing heavily which in turn was increasing the child effect. It was very cold in the night.
Next day after tea & heavy breakfast we return back to the same way down till the direction board & then took the left path. The right one is the one from where we came last day. On the way to Nageshgwar one can find some of the thrilling sites of the ridge connecting to Nageshwar around 1000 ft fall. As we reached near the caves their exist a man made railing. One route goes down to the Konkan towards Chorvane village. On the right side of the caves little down (200 ft) one potable water tank exist. In the cave one can find the Nature's creativity, a Shivling with water dropping from the top during whole year. The cave can accommodate 15-20 people easily. It was clean too. We spent around 30 min & then via the water tank visit return back to the same route which leads to choravane. The first 1000ft descent is almost a vertical descent down via rock cut stair case. It's around 3 hr. trek to Konkan. Then we walked down further from the village to catch local bus. The Bus timing was little doubtful so we left the place by auto rickshaw to Kasara & then to Chiplun by Sumo. Around 6:00pm We started our returned journey to Mumbai by Netravati mail.