Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rajgad fort to Torna fort -- An Awe-Inspiring Chronicle


I, Shridhar Purandare, am back with one more trekking and admiring journey for travelers i.e. Rajgad to Torna trek. My brother Aditya joined me for this trek. When we completed Rajgad descend to Pali road he quit as it was getting tougher. Then it was time to show trekking experience as I alone had to complete it. Most exciting thing was I was doing this trek for first time and I was alone with a dog who followed us from Rajgad. But that's made this trek special for me. Patience, Endurance, Toughness and Courage was tested on each curve and rock patch.

History about Rajgad :

This fort is built on the hill called "Murumb Devacha Dongar" Rajgad boasts the highest number of days stayed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on any fort.
This fort has witnessed lots of historic events, including the birth of Rajaram Chhatrapati, the death of Shivaji's Queen Saibai, the return of Shivaji from Agra, the antyayatra of Tanaji Malusare to his Konkan village, the burial of Afzal Khan's head in the Mahadarwaja walls of Ballekilla, the strict words of Sonopant Dabir to Shivaji, and the Khandoji Khopade episode. The diameter of the fort at the base is 40 km making it difficult for anybody to lay siege to it.
History about Torna Fort:

This fort is believed to have been constructed by the Shaiva Panth, followers of the Hindu god Shiva, in the 13th century. A Menghai Devi temple, also referred to as the Tornaji temple, is situated near the entrance of the fort.
In 1643, Shivaji, son of a local jagirdar with royal ambitions, captured this fort at the age of sixteen, thus making it one of the first forts in what would become the Maratha empire. Shivaji renamed the fort Prachandagad, and constructed several monuments and towers within it.
In the 1700s, the Mughal empire gained control of this fort after assassination of Shivaji's son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb, then Mughal emperor, renamed this fort Futulgaib (Language unknown: Divine victory), in recognition of the difficult defense the Mughals had to overcome to capture this fort. It was restored to the Maratha confederacy by the Treaty of Purandar.
(Source: Wikipedia)
Trek details:
Days: 2
Start and end point: Swargate
Start time: Sunday 20th Sept 6.30am
End time : Monday 21st Sept 7pm
Route: Pune -(ST) - Gunjavane - (chor Darwaja) - Rajgad -(Sanjivani machi and Alu darwaja)- ( Budhala MAchi) - Torna - (Zunjar machi ) - Velhe - (Any transport) - Pune
Money spent: Rs 300 per head (includes everything)
Food: Hotels at Gunjavane deliver food on Rajgad and Hotels are there at Torna base i.e Velhe
Difficulty level: Tough and Tiring
Best season: Sept -Oct
Things taken: 1 liter water, Sleeping bag, extra clothing, 1 lunch, Fort and region maps
Team members: Shridhar Purandare (completed full trek), Aditya Joshi ( completed Rajgad)

Accommodation: Bring your own tent or sleeping bag. Temple on Rajgad available for 20 people.
Food: Available at base of rajgad and torna. Nothing on the fort. 
How to reach: Bus from swargate to base of Rajgad and Torna.

Tips after completing this trek: Carry at least 3 liters of water per head, Medical kit is compulsory, BSNL phone for emergency, Don't go alone until and unless you are experienced trekker, Leave as early as possible because Sun shine will make it tougher for you, in the late noon it rains heavily so reach at destination or cover as much distance as you can before 3-4pm, if you have acrophobia do not do this trek, avoid traverses of hills on Rajgad -Torna route at the budhala machi end
From here on you will get stunned by the beauty of Sahyadri.

Rajgad view from Gunajavane road. Right to left peaks are Balekilla, Duba, Chilkhati Buruj, Suvela Machi. We reached Gunjavane by 8.30am and started trek by 9.20 am. We also told hotel owner to bring our dinner on the fort. Menu was simple ( Pithale, Bhakari, Kanda ani Thecha).

Mother nature will mesmerise you time and again on this journey. So do not hesitate to say "Wow !!!!" "Aai Shappath!!!" "Ek number !!!" "Lai bhari lai best !!!" "Fantastic !!!" " Nadkhula !!"

We climbed up 30 percent and Sun light slowed us down a bit. From this point real climb starts.

Climb to Chor darwaja is easy if you know how to take support of rocks and railings.

We reached Rajgad top by 11pm. This door belongs to Padmavati machi. Wind on the top cooled us down.

First to do was to chill in the cold water on the top. Swimming in natural pools is my favorite hobby. It re-energised me to cover up Suvela Machi and Balekilla. There is temple and tomb of Saibai on Padmvati machi. Ample space for residence is available.

Finest swimming pool on earth !! On 4,200 ft !!

When we were moving towards Suvela machi clouds started poring water. Which made road bit slippery. But rain changed our mood completely.

Clouds moved away and we were able to grab complete view of Suvela machi. Bhatghar dam can also be seen from here.

We were transfixed by the scenery around it.

We slowly climbed to nedhe (natural hole inside mountain). It provides finest scenery around. In clear weather you can see Sinhgad, Purandar fort, Rayreshwar pathar, Bhatgahr dam easily. We were able to spot them too.

Monsoon clouds kept making sure that our eyes were busy watching nature play.

Views of Rajgad from end of Suvela machi are marvelous. Covering every single Machi on these forts is very important or else you will miss true beauty of fort.

After Sevela Machi we climbed Balekilla in half an hour. There was cluud cover on whole fort so we were not able to gaze beauty from the top. Fortunately clouds disappeared in few minutes and we got never seen before views of all the surrounding.

Suvela Machi

Sanjivani Machi and Alu Darwaja

Bale killa Top

Duba and Bhatghar dam backwater

Tired and Outwore we took an hours rest from 5pm to 6pm. Our dinner arrived by 6pm.We pounced on the food asap. We gazed around and enjoyed echos till 8.30pm and then went to bed.

Next day without wasting time we moved towards Sanjivani machi. You can see complete route to Rajgad. This is complete small hill range called connecting these two forts. You can see Torna at the end.

Below Sanjivani machi through Alu darwaja.

Reviewing our accomplishments and thanking those who built this miracle.

King of Forts Rajgad

Pointing to infinity. The peak at the end is Budhala machi i.e. our destination.

Pointing to Sanjivani machi.

Crossing one more hill ... You can spot the doggy behind Aditya ..!!! He was too faithful .. Followed me till Velhe ... !!!

This is where Pali road turns up. This is just 25 percent of route as we descend down from Rajgad. I and Aditya parted our ways. I continued to march down to Torna while he continued along the road.

On the way to Torna there are few homes of localites. You can have stay and food over there.

Path was difficult at some places and impossible at few. But difficult was easy for me and impossible took little time.

I could stare the my itinerary all the way from Rajgad.

Finally at the base of Budhala machi. I was ready to give 100% but nature took 150% out of me. Only with help of my never give up attitude I was climed to top.

Even doggy was not able to believe what we achieved.

After strenous trek and difficult climbs it was time for most dangerous but beautiful walk of my life. All my trekking experience helped passing through it.

I passed Konkan darwaja reviewing awesome beauty behind.

There is small shed where you can get lime juice. Water tank with drinkable water is also there.

By now I was almost half dead due to 5 hours tough trek. Climate was hot and I was in desparate need of water. But when I saw Zunjarmachi which is recognised as most difficult to conquere I forgot baout everything else.

There were few youngsters who were willing to go to Machi but waiting for someone who can guide them. I told them its easy and I have done it many times. I just boosted there confidense.
We all moved towards Zunjarmachi. There are few rock patches which are risky. As few thousand feet valley is on other side. With extra precaution we covered it easily.

Views of Torna fort from Zhunjarmachi were awesome and I was proud to complete it sucessfully. Those youngsters were high in confidense now and on way back they led the route.


I will always remember the moment and that group who accompanied me.

I relaxed a bit .. enjoying and reviewing fantastic job done. Its pretty difficult to cover both forts in 36 hours covering all points ;). I celebrated with 3 glasses of lime juice.

On the descend of Torna towards Velhe village we can see amazing views. It was rained heavily just after I completed Zunjarmachi. So waether was pleasent but route became more difficult.

Prachandgad a.k.a. Torna fort

As I came close to Velhe it rained heavily. I literally carried 4-5 liters of water on my body for almost 1 km. With wet mind I arrrived at Torna vihar and ended my one of the best journey with tea and misal.

As always you can contact me for queries and information. Comments/Suggestions are expected. :)

Shridhar Purandare

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