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TIKONA FORT(3633ft)
25-26 Feb 2000

     This was one of the long awaited trek. I did listed this trek in my plans in 1993. It never happened till today. I should give special thanks to Mr. Jayant Bhaduria who boosted me to plan one day trek since he was jam packed doing his regular work & wanted to go out somewhere away from this city where there will be no botheration at all of his regular work. So naturally I clicked the spot which is long awaited for me to complete, as well it is a simple trekking spot for my new trekker friends. I dedicated this trek to Mr. Jayant, since he was the initiator. He could manage to gather from all his friends only one who might be a nearest friend of him called Mr. Jay. 

    We started our journey by Pune Passenger 11:40 pm from CST on 25th Feb. We reached Kamshet at 3:45am on 26th Feb. After considerable rest at ST Bus stop, we had two option either Jeep/ST Bus, we chose private jeep by which we are supposed to reached faster. Our Sindhi friend who was sleeping almost all the way in the train didn't wanted to waste the time which we were supposed to spend till 6:00am(Bus arrival time). He wanted to take a nap. Though we two also like his suggestion, but it was little cold & not that comfortable to sleep near to ST Stand. I found one Jeep was waiting for the passenger, the driver welcomed us upon request & allowed to sleep in the Jeep till 6:00am. We left Kamshet at 6:00am to Tikona Peth bypassing Kale Colony then Pawna Dam by the same Jeep. We had a cup of tea at Kale Colony since at Tikona Peth their is no hotel. Our Sindhi friend still sleeping in the Jeep didn't wanted to waste his sleep time in seeping the morning tea. But it was his bad luck since their is no hotel in the Peth village. It took one hr. to reach the base of the fort. It was a nice fresh morning. As soon we alighted greate Bulbul bird welcomed us with their lovely whistling. Our sindhi member still don't wanted to come out of his two chaddar(Bed Sheet) rapped around his body. I told him to take it off now it's time to walk & take fresh air. But no! he was not ready to come out of that warm cover. After walking few minutes & watching the Tikona Fort from the base village as a normal human being he overestimated the distance between his position & top of the fort. Without hesitating he tried to make us little diversion of the trek to the Pawna Dam which is on the right side of the Tikona fort while climbing from Tikona Peth village, thinking that fort is far away. Though his choice was ideal to spend a day but I was already in fix of my mind I gave the secondary option like after coming back to Tikona Peth we may visit to this Lake. It is a nice idea since from the top it looks good. Also their is a chance of boating if someone like to visit the next Tungi hill. Another question came  from  our Sindhi friend that why this fort's name is TIKONA. The answer was because of it's triangular shape & fortunately we three were heading towards this fort; a coincedent! Also while traveling back to Kamshet one may drop in between next to Kale colony to visit Bedse Caves. Though the climb is simple but little scary for new comers in the last phase. For us it took 2 hr. to reach the top. We found total 3 gates. After entering the first Gate towards left we found one nice cave with small pond. On the top lies one Shiva Temple & little below another caves with water inside. On the back side of the temple their is a Big pond.

    We spend almost one hour on top. I did little map reading with the help of Harish Kapadia's map. Exactly on the north lies Lohgadh & little right of Lohgad is Visapur. We could easily compare the height of Visapur(1087m) which is almost same like Tikona(1091m). On the west one can catch in the camera a nice reflection of Tungi in the water of Pawna Lake. On the south-west lies Korigad but not possible atleast for me to find, I think it's hiding behind one mountain range.

    That's it we started back at around 10:15am & reached the Tikona Peth within 30  min. Then after little refreshment we returned back to Kamshet by ST Bus. Then no wonder we found a Sand Truck heading towards Lonavala. It was another exciting journey to travel on the back side of the truck fully packed with sand. Like us almost 20 Hens & Cocks were traveling all were having feared expression since they were locked by their owner & was supposed to be killed latter. I can't imagined our Sindhi partner Mr. Jay came out of a sentence from his heart that "This is one example of animal cruelty". I felt good atleast people are aware of such incident & I did show the sign of agreeing his thoughts what he says. On the way to Lonavla one can see Lohgad very clearly towards left of the road. After having little snack break & fresh-n-up we started our back journey to Mumbai. Everything seems OK & on time but no wonder it was wrong. We found that particular road patch between Lonavala & Mumbai are closed now a days in the noon time between 12:00 to 2:00pm. Though we were little tired we spend time in resting ourselves inside the bus. But it was another unique scene I found almost 2kms of the road was blocked by the vehicles. It was first time in my life seen such huge blockade. It took on & half hr. to clear the blockade. We reached Mumbai at 5:00pm & it was end of our journey with a simple successful trek of Tikona Fort.

Click here to see the sketch of Tikona Fort
 

Lohagad-Bhaje Monsoon Trek (3400ft)

22 Jun 2003


Almost after 10 years I visited to Lohagadh. This time the express highway made the looks of the area comlpetely changed. Also due to easy accessibility from the Malavali Railway St. the frequent visitors seems increased. Add-on to this in the Monsoon a nearby waterfall made people to increase the queue of their vehicles as well flourshing the local hoteliers.

This time we decided to go by local transport available to reach the destination station. Infact the purpose of travelling using local transportation was to let everybody aware what is the alternative to our regular luxary travel arrangement like hired vehicle. Part of our team gathered at CST to catch Pune passanger train on saturday night. The train left Mumbai by 12:00 night though it's actual timing is 11:40pm. All other members caught the train as the train arrived at their respective station. Most of them travelled standing since as usual the train was too crowded with trekkers & travellers. Finally at Malavali st. we all gathered & found total 16 faces eagerly awaiting who is who! This time around 10 guest members & 6 bhramanti members were there. Out of which one of my mountaineer friend who came from Nainital; one of the famous tourist place in India. In the 3 hr. 30 min. train journey our area of chating with all members was rain. "There should be raining on the way while trek!" This doubt was due to friday their was no rain in Mumbai. But as soon we arrived at Malavali, rain started playing hide & seek continuously. We all were happy! We took rest at Malavali St. for another 2 hrs. Those 2 hrs. was enough for everybody not for resting but to get introduced each other. Except 2-3 guyes all were chating each other. It seems everybody was opening him/her self from his/her inner feelings. I think it's cause of Nature, what I found in my past 12 yrs. of experience; People open up easily their inner feelings while in the nature. Trekking (being in the nature) is one of the activity where one can easily find a true person how he/she is.

Our plan was to visit Bhaje Caves & then the Lohgadh Fort. Bhaje caves are 3 km. away from the Malavali Railway st., a tar road ends to the base of the caves from where one can climbed man made steps to reach the caves. The caves are nowdays well preserved by Archiological Dept. of India. We found a snake on one of the tree in front of the cave.

After spending some time we came down & continued our journey to the Lohgadh. The whole atmosphere was cloudy & little cold. On the way we found good waterfall where most of the members planned to get wet while returning. It took 2 hrs. to reach at the base village. We had a seep of tea & some snacks. Then visited the fort in next 20 min. Then we explored the fort for another one hr. The rain was started like pouring. One of the view was mesmerizing to all of us which was a reversed waterfall. Everybody was stuck at this particular point to enjoy the nature magic & beauty. Then we visited Vinchukata the traling end of the fort looks like tail of the scorpio. While returning from Vinchukata we took left side route to reach a demolished darga from where one can take left turn to reach a Big Cave. It is one of the biggest cave, I had seen till date. We return back to the Lohagadh wadi had lunch & little rest at one of the local hotel/house. By 2:45pm we left the wadi for our return journey to Malavali. On the way all those who had a thought of getting wet in the waterfall enjoyed the waterfall. We reached Malavali St. From where by local (Pune-Lonavala) we went to Lonavala & then furher to Mumbai by the Koyna mail.

It was one of the less tiring but definitely enjoyable monsoon trek.

More About the place:
Lohaghad: Lohagad is 3400 feet high and is very wide spread fort. There are 4 doors to Lohagad from the nearby village -Lohgadwadi. i.e. 'Ganesh Darwaja' , 'Narayan Darwaja' , 'Hanuman Darwaja' and 'Maha Darwaja'. Some sculptures can also be seen on Maha Darwaja. Lohagad is can not be easily seen in few hours . The famous spot on Lohagad is 'Vinchu Kata' - a range of hills that looks like Capricorn. Amazing view of Pawana Dam is also visible from the back side of Lohagad. The wealth from Surat was brought here under the leadership of Netaji Palkar and kept here for some period. one of the better preserved forts of the region it retains most of its medieval distinctive defense features and some of the spirit and gloss of its past grandeur. Must have been built during the reign of the Satavahana Empire (30 BC to 200AD ) or possibly even before that. All the doors are still quite strong and are located on the serpentine ascent of the fort. The hanuman darwaja is the oldest of the quartet The remaining three doors were built by Nana Phadnavis, The space between the second and the third door contains some cellars used as granaries. On entering the Maha Darwaja there is a structure that houses some tombs. Further along the fortification is a spacious rock cut cave called the Lomesh Rishi Cave. Many water tanks dot the area one with a natural spring in it containing fresh clean water. A Mahadev temple adjacent to which is a tank with steps descending to the water. A narrow spur of the fort stretches westwards in sweeping curves both sides are girded with fortification and the westernmost tip is guarded with a bastion. The spur seems worthy of its name ' Vinchu-Kata' (the scorpion's sting) From here one can descend to the 'Gai - Khind' a col and head towards Visapur

Bhaja caves are in Maharashtra, close to Karle caves (4 kms.) It lies on the the Pune-Bombay express highway route. By road it is 54kms. from Pune. It is 9 kms. from Lonavale. Bhaja caves date to c. 2nd cent. B.C. The caves create large living chambers or chaityas from living rock. One chamber in Bhaja measures 55 ft. long, 26 ft. wide and 29 ft. high. This picture of the doorway to a cave-cell features, exquisitely-carved reliefs of Surya riding the chariot and Indra the elephant Airavata. Bhaja has 18 caves belonging to the 2nd century B.C. Cave No 12 is the largest and has a fine stilted vault. The last cave to the south has excellent sculpture including that of the famous "Dancing Couple" Bhaja Caves are located 12 kms from Lonavala and can be reached by an uphill climb of half-hour from the Malavali Railway station on the Mumbai-Lonavala-Pune section of the central Railway. Karla and Bhaja Caves are the largest Chaitya Caves in India that date back to 2nd century BC, which are situated near Lonavala. Ten of the 18 caves are viharas. Cave 12 is an open chaitya unadorned by sculpture and containing a simple dagobas. Rock cut architecture are said to have come into fashion in India in the time of Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty (273-232 BC). Structures excavated in stone were the most durable and Emperor Ashoka was looking for a lasting medium to commemorate and spread the teachings of Buddha. Besides according to ancient religious ideas, asceticism and the pursuit of a monastic life meant retirement to mountain caves. The characteristic features of these early temples were two establishments, each self-contained and consisting of a prayer hall (chaitya) and a monastery (vihara) which contained accommodation for the monks. The square central hall was approached through a verandah or portico, and doorways led into cells for members of the brotherhood.

The British first took hold of Visapur in 1818; Lohagad fell smoothly into their hands. Both these forts are of Satwahan Era and of great importance in Shivaji's period as to keep watch on Konkan and Bhor Ghat.

Photo: Tikona Sketch, Bhaje Caves , Lohagadh Ganesh , Maha darwaza, Visapur

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