Sunday, September 10, 2006

Kurdugad A.K.A Vishramgad Pictures

The ever beautiful Mulshi lake ..
Tamhini Ghats while climbing Kurdugad ..
Fort Kurdugad from Kurdu Peth ..
Sahyadris south of Tamhini from Kurdu Peth ..
Narrow path round the pinnacle ...Getting down to Kurdu Peth.. Fort Entrance ...
Fort Kurdugad from Umbardi ..Bridge near Umbardi ..background Tamhini range...Sunset at Jite ...

Kurdugad A.K.A Vishramgad

No planning has by now become a regular feature. Although, some groundwork was done beforehand about the possible options. We headed towards Tamhini targetting Mangad/Kurdugad near Nizampur. The team was me, balls and bunch of gultis. After couple of waterfall/lakeside patel photos we got down from Tamhini and hit a sign which showed "Jita" [ Jite ] as 11Kms to left. After asking for Mangad near Borwadi, the local fellas had whats-wrong-with-me expressions on their faces. Although they said there is Kurdugad around, so we decided not to spend much time in R&D as lot of time was already spent in Patel photography and gults were showing signs of uneasiness.

In essence, to reach here -
1] Get down from Tamhini, on the way to Mangaon - 4km before Nizampur [ the one before you hit NH-17, There is hell lot of confusion Kapadia has caused about this place in his book ] you see a sign which shows a diversion to Jite. Reach Jite which is 11km s from the diversion, and walk to Kurdu Peth. There is some landslide there enroute, so you could also proceed to Umbardi [ Ooo-mb-ar-dee] and climb to Kurdu Peth.
2] Reach Dhamanohol/Dhamanvahal via Dasve [ Lavasa lake city ] there is some temple and a high tension electricity tower get down from there to Kurdugad.

Though it had rained cats and dogs in Pune the previous night, these areas showed no trace of rainfall. It was very humid and hot. We sought help of a guide who chose to run away after 5/10 minutes for unknown reasons. After lot of turmoil we reached 50 mtrs from Kurdu Peth. By then except for me and a first timer determined gult, rest of the junta was so tired that they decided to call it quits at the same point. Had it not been for a particularly nice snake to show up. So after Mr Nice snake showed up everyone covered the distance fast and some of gultis and balls decided to rest in the shades of the trees at Kurdu Peth while me, the determined-first-timer-gult and one more individual sought help of a local to show us around the fort.

The fort is not a big affair once you reach Kurdu Peth. Its a massive pinnacle at a lower height from the main range of Sahyadris. Is more of a outpost than a conventional fort. The final pinnacle requires rock climbing. There is walk involved going about the pinnacle which takes about half and hour and thats all that is there. There is a "fashi" point. Where apparently they used to hang the criminals. This point is where the pinnacle joins the main range. There is a big cave dug under the pinnacle, the guide Datta said it was an attempt to have the pinnacle removed from the mountain. Which kind of felt stupid to me. Because looking at the way it was dug the guys digging,would crush and die beneath it.

Per locals there was a landslide two years ago which got rid of most of the stone-soil around the pinnacle. Going around the pinnacle is a really tricky affair. Be "extremely" careful here. Locals told me that apparently long time ago there was a huge landslide which seperated one part of pinnacle [ you can see it resting on the main pinnacle ] under which all the men on fort died. Also there was fortification which collapsed into valley due to which the populace living there left. At the base of fort near Umbardi as well there are traces of stone wall. Similar to the Golkonda fortification inside which it has a whole big population as such.

When we got down, we got to hear couple of interesting stories about ghosts/an ancient temple [ To visit we had no time ] which apparently has some gold inside it/Some King's palace which again has gold etc. Ghosts interest me, I dont know why people in Konkan get abducted by ghosts more than others. Something like the way aliens prefer americans more than people of other nationality.

Check out the complete Imagestation album here

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Manikgad A.K.A Manekgad Pictures

Fort Manikgad from Talavali..
Vegetation on the way up...

Gollum of our guides..Fortification ..Fort Manikgad..
Ruins..stone arch with Ganesh ..Fort Manekgad..

Savna lake and Fort Karnala from Manekgad .. You find lot of these big grasshoppers on the top .. Dharamtar [or] Panvel creek from Fort Manikgad ..Manikgad ..taken while getting down to Vadgaon ..Sun sets on a hut enroute Vadgaon..

Manikgad A.K.A Manekgad

This weekend, after couple of beers and some hasty calls etc. We agreed that we need to meet at Devi House at 7.00 AM in the morning. Finally as we got moving in the Qualis, we brainstormed and zeroed in on Manekgad/Manikgad. Yes we had no plan. Whatever I had read about this place, they all say it was of little significance and was used as an outpost etc. Which made us think the hike to a insignificant fort would be pretty insignificant. Events showed, we were wrong.

The way to reach this place from Pune is to reach Chauk/Chowk. It is on the 1km to left of NH4 after Khopoli as one is travelling for Mumbai.
Two options again to reach the top

1] From Chowk take a left turn for a place called Talavali and hike from here to reach the fort.
2] Reach Vadgaon Vashivale from Chowk, a bit ahead from Talavali and hike the fort from there.

Option 2] is safest and nicest. We took route 1 for climb. There is no defined trail and our local guides had to carve a path through thick jungles for us using the blade they had with them. There are possibilities that you would be history if you had a slightest error in judgement, also there are giant mosquitoes so 3/4ths or shorts is not at all a good idea on this route. There is some real nasty variety of ants as well, and you cant help but to get at least 20 of them on you at various times and they seem to like humans. The climb is slippery as well. We got down from route 2 which is a very conventional safer and nicer route. It is lengthy nevertheless. Very lengthy in fact as it goes round the fort and takes you to Vadgaon.
Route 2 is suggested all the times, although if you do enjoy into situations described above like I do, please go ahead. Its a very valuable experience to have.
Despite 1 being a short route took us 3 hours to reach the top [ No we arent that dumb, it was really bad ].

There is not much left on the top. Couple of water tanks, one buffalo [ god knows how it made it to the top ], one stone arch etc. There are 14 water tanks somewhere on route 2 but then your guide should know. Our guides were pretty boring individuals. One looked like gollum, you can check him out in pictures section.

There is some interesting square tunnel enroute in option 1. From the top one can spot Patalganga [ river ] basin, Dharamtar or Panvel creek, Prabalgad across the plains and typically shaped pinnacle of Karnala.

It was almost dark when we got back, had some Malwani food before Khopoli. Never underestimate those things where they say its a insignificant fort or its an outpost, dont expect the locals to know *this fort* you are looking for. Lastly - Dont ask for Vadgaon. People would think you are crazy to come all the way past Khopoli from Pune when you wanted to go to Vadgaon *Mawal*. Tell them you are looking for Vadgaon-Vashivale.

Check out the complete imagestation album here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vairatgad Pictures

Lady working in the groundnut field...
Fort Pandavgad ..the distant square'ish peak ..
The guide ...
Fort Vairatgad..taken during climb ..
Looks like some variety of Dahlia..
Pachgani Tableland to left ..Thin white line is Dhom Dam...
Fortification..Fort Vairatgad ...
Temple atop the fort...One of the water tanks atop ..Fortification ..Fort Vairatgad ..Another view..looking west..Fort Tableland..


Managed to hike Vairatgad this weekend. This fort was something which always figured in the plans although was dropped couple of times due to various reasons. The team was bunch of guys from Paxonet and yours truely.

Way to reach from Pune -
1] Travel by NH-4 towards Satara, take a right turn towards Wai-Mahabaleshwar on NH-4. Just before Wai, take the left turn to Satara. Reach this place called Wyajwadi/Vyajwadi at the base of the fort. Climb is easy, takes around 1 hour.
2] For the more enthusiastic ones, on NH-4 take a right turn towards Bhor. Reach Bhor. Take a left turn towards Wai [ 35Kms from Bhor ] via MandharDev Ghat and reach Wyajwadi/Vyajwadi. You pass by the base of Pandavgad and you can also cover Mandhardevi if interested.

There are couple of water tanks and temples on the top. From the top one can get a view of square'ish shaped Pandavgad across the plains, Dhom Dam, Wai town and Pachgani tableland. I couldnt gather much about the history, guess I need to catch hold of those references mentioned by Harish Kapadia. Pachgani is pretty close so sunset at tableland is something that can be tried. Bikes are allowed on the plateau.

The fort is pretty insignificant as such, not as mesmerizing, rather dull. But for a fort collector like me, especially ones which arent frequented by the mortal populace its another one in the kitty.

Check out the complete imagestation album here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lohgad A.K.A Lohagad Pictures

Lohagad ..!!
Visapur from Lohagad !!
One of the plenty of primates ..on Lohagad !!
Macro ...!!

Some spooky tree ....!!
Vinchukata ...!!
Tung - Kathingad and Pawana Dam from Lohagad/Lohgad ...!!
Visapur..on the way back !!
Lohagad ...!!

Lohgad A.K.A Lohagad

Chose Lohagad this weekend. I had not been to Karla caves before so decided to cover that too. Honestly all buddhist caves appear the same to me. Well although I dont remember much about Bhaja caves now since I did not have an eye for the fine details etc. I thought the sculptures etc were pretty good here at Karla. Since we got done with it it soon, we decided to head to Lohagad.

A no-nonsense route to reach here, reach Malavali from Pune. If you are travelling by local etc. walk to the village from the station. If you are travelling by car etc, the paid parking business has boomed here. Prepare to shove 20 bucks down the throat of two old chaps fighting for your 10 bucks so that your car is safe etc and move on.

You can spot Pawana dam from the top, [ Only visible water body ]. I was told by some poor sods that its Mulshi dam. Man it was so amusing.
Right across Pawana dam you can spot Tung in Pawana Dam backwaters. You can spot Visapur right oppositte Lohagad/Lohgad. While getting to the place, you can also spot Tikona from this place.

The structures and entrances to the fort are pretty intact. The fort is under maintainance by ASI, although there is chai-bhajji shop there on the top. I had asked this chap 5 odd years ago how would they have his tapri there and he gave me an amused look. Poor guy, if Sahara can swallow an entire fort, why cant we have him have his humble tapri on this fort? Doesnt harm right?

Check out the complete set of pictures here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tung A.K.A. Kathingad Pictures

Pinnacle, there is a temple at the top !!

Road from Paud towards Tung
Tung from the Road !!
Another shot, the pinnacle in clouds !!
Waterfalls on the way to Morve !!
The entrance !!Machi below .. taken from rightmost point if facing Tikona !!

Tung A.K.A. Kathingad

I lost the 2006 monsoons till first week of Aug. The first weekend didnt work out that well, since I landed in Mumbai on Thursday and buddies kept telling me how busy they are working on weeknds meeting deadlines etc. Then things fell in place this weeekend and that saw the group of four from Ingot heading on two bikes to Tung.

First of all, all I had read and heard about this fort was its a tough one, which remains pretty much the reason why I did not experiment with this one for so many years though it was just couple of hours away from Pune. Things have changed drastically over a year now, I have lost some hair ;-) and there are more bloggers set to educate poor people like me about the forts and approach routes etc. I remember distinctly that few years ago all I had to refer even after googleing etc was just this one web hosted on tripod with whatever little information and more suited for people from Mumbai. So I did see some bloggers mentioning about their trek to this place etc, which was an ecouragement to poor soul like me who needed it badly.

Anyways, so we set out from Chandni Chowk, Paud Road at 7.00 in the morning. Precursor was some chai-sutta at a tapri opp. Banjara Hills.

Reasearch showed there are two ways to get to this place from Pune.
1] Reach Paud from Pune, take the turn right next to the ST bus stand and reach a place called Javan. About 10-15Km from Paud I guess, situated at the base of Tikona, another fort on the other bank of Pawana Dam. The road is great with no potholes at all. From here take a left to reach Morve-Tungwadi. This part of the road is not at all advised. Although its pretty scenic and although being warned we took our chances. If you find yourselves at this point, move straight ahead to Kamshet from Javan, reach Lonavala and follow option 2.
2] This is a no-nonsense route, - Reach Lonavala from Pune, take left turn to Bhushi dam, move ahead towards Ambavane-Sahara Valley without falling for the chicks frolicking in dam waters . Somewhere in between take a left at a place called Ghusalkhamb [About 20 mins drive from INS Shivaji] and reach the base of the fort. This road is in great condition though might sound time consuming and lengthy, effectively its not. Option 1 took us almost 5 hours, the road is that bad.

We started climb at 12.00 after our eventful journey which consisted getting bikes across flooded roads, pushing them uphill etc. There were 50% of ultra-noobies in our group of four, which called for lot of babysitting during this climb/getting down process. After leaving one of us behind we reached the top at about I guess 45 minutes. The climb is really tricky and requires one to watch his/her steps all the time. I had read somewhere there are two ways to get up this fort and one of them is a simple one. Although after talking to lot of locals I couldnt get my hands on any other route than the one we took.

There is not much to see on the top. A temple and a pinnacle which has a temple of godess Tungai. We did not attempt this pinnacle for reasons best not explained. You get a good view of Tikona on the other side of Pawana dam from the top. You can spot the wall of Pawana dam from here. Apparently you can also spot Lohagad and Visapur from here, but since it was too cloudy and my sense of direction etc failed me I missed the spectacle. The locals swear to god that from top of the pinnacle you can see both Mumbai and Pune but thats super unlikely.

While returning we took the Lonavala route. [ No way I was going to go back by that road ]. Overall, I would still say if you can avoid this trek in rainy season its better since the supports, paths/rocks here are all slippery and you hardly have a foot wide path for you. Haapy to be alive and the pictures will tell the story ;-) Check out the complete imagestation album here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kangori - Mangalgad Pictures

Bridge on Neera river on Pune Satara Highway !!

Fireball !!Neera river on the way to Varandha from Bhor !!
Neera Devghar Dam enroute Mahad !!
Varandha ghat !!

Kawlya fort [ At the base is Shivthar Ghal ] !!
Kangori - Mangalgad Fort !!
Wildfire on Goa Highway !!
Savitri river by Goa highway near Mahad !!