Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Quick trip to Bedse Caves: A Hidden Gem

I was planning for quick half day trip in monsoon. I decided to visit Bedse Caves as it is one of the few places less crowded and worth visiting.

I was the solo traveller for this trip.

Bedse Cave
Bedse Cave

About Bedse Caves:
Bedse Caves (also known as Bedsa Caves) are situated in Maval area, Pune District. Bedse Caves are comparatively less known and less visited. People know about the nearby Karla Caves and Bhaja Caves but have hardly heard of Bedse Caves. The trilogy of the caves (Karla - Bhaje - Bedse) in Mawal Region can't be completed without Bedse.

The routes to reach at Bedse Cave is Pune -> Chadani Chowk -> Old Mumbai-Pune highway (Do not take left turn to join express way) -> Kamshet village –> from main Chowk, take left –> Cross Expressway from underground tunnel –> Bedse village –> Take right from Bedse village –> Drive for 1.5 km to reach at the base.

Another route is Pune -> Chadani Chowk –> Pirangut –> Paud –> Take a right at Paud after Bus stand –> Hadashi (No need to take Hadashi temple route) –> Javan –> Pavananagar village -> Take right for Bedse village –> Drive for 1.5 km to reach at the base.

18th August, Bedse caves 2015: (Total Distance traveled: 139 km):
               I started journey at around 6 AM. In morning I decided to go for a half day trip. Always advisable to start the journey early morning so you can spend more time nearby the caves area. Also Bedse cave is east facing so prefer visiting in the morning time. I usually travel to Mumbai/Lonavala by Express highway so the old highway was a good change. Old Highway is in a good condition – it’s smooth and wide.
             I took left at Kamshet for caves. Cave is about 6km from highway. Weather condition was cloudy with light rain shower. Sometimes rain and sun were busy in their hide and seek game. Soon I reached at base village Bedse. From this point cave is hardly 1-1.5km. Around 100meter before cave, there is enough parking space. After parking the car, I began climbing to the cave. For caves, you have to take stairs route. The climb is steep and if you are not regular at exercise, you will definitely need to take at least one break. Due to an odd day, I was the only tourist there. Within 20-25 min without any break, I reached at the cave.

Steps To Bedse Caves
Steps To Bedse Caves

           The caves appear suddenly from one point on, and what you see is some fabulous architecture. The most impressive cave is right at the entrance, with open, horseshoe-arched entrance. The best known cave is the chaitya (prayer hall) with comparatively large stupa, the other cave is monastery - vihara. There are many small rooms around Vihar. There is also a small "Stupa" outside to the right of the main caves.

The Chaityagrha in the Bedse Cave
The Chaityagrha in the Bedse Cave

Stup at Bedse Cave
Stupa at Bedse Cave

Vihara at Bedse Cave
Vihara at Bedse Cave

            There are total 12 water trenches within the cave area. Locals say, rain water from rocky mountain drips into the trenches and it is perfectly filtered water. Even during summer, these trenches contain a lot of water. Entire place is a masterpiece of architectural design... as always one wonders how people must have built them in the 1st Century AD. 

Rooms at Vihara in Bedse Cave
Rooms at Vihara in Bedse Cave

At Bedse Cave

At Bedse Cave
At Bedse Cave

           After some research and information from the locals, I got to know very interesting fact about Bedse cave. The people (Buddha) who carved these caves followed one specific technique. After carving the cave, they use to remove all rocks which were in front of caves. Due to some unknown reason, Bedse cave was incomplete and hence rocks in front of cave aren’t removed. Due to these rocks, no one can spot the caves from distance or from the base. It has helped to retain Bedse cave in a good shape from Mughal or British attack. 

Bedse Cave Map

            There are few monk rooms above cave area but for that you need to climb a little bit. At the end of cave area, there are rock-carved steps which lead to few monk rooms. This route is closed/banned in monsoon. There is one waterfall which you need to cross. Route is highly slippery and if you miss single footstep then you may fall down causing fatal accident. I checked that route but skipped the rooms considering safety factor.

Bedse Cave Panorama...Clicked by iPhone
Bedse Cave Panorama...Clicked by iPhone 

            After spending an hour, I came down in 10 minutes. For return journey, I preferred Pavana – Paud route. From Pavana Nagar village, there are 2 routes; one goes to Lonavala and other to Pune. I drove few km towards Lonavala to enjoy the scenic view of Pavana dam. You can also spot the four fantastic forts from Maval area namely Lohagad fort, Visapur Fort, Tung Fort and Tikona Fort. After enjoying nature’s monsoon beauty, I reached home safely by 12.30 PM

Tung fort at Pavana Dam wall
Tung fort at Pavana Dam wall

Pavana Dam

Pavana Dam

Other places which you can combine with Bedse caves for Day picnic:
  • Bedse Cave – Karla Cave – Bhaje cave and Waterfall at the base of Bhaje cave
  • Bedse Cave – Karla Cave – Bhaje cave and Lonavala
  • Bedse Cave – Pavana Dam – Hadshi temple
  • Bedse Cave – Pavana Dam – Tikona / Tung Fort
  • Bedse Cave – Pavana Dam – Lonavala
Other related Blogs
Expense:
  • Car Petrol: INR 500/- (approx. 7 lit: INR 71/lit)
  • Toll on Old Pune-Mumbai highway: INR 30/- (one way)
Tikona Fort, Tung Fort, Pavana Dam and my Uber cool machine i20
Tikona Fort, Tung Fort, Pavana Dam and my Uber cool machine i20...

Fantastic Four: Tikona Fort, Tung Fort, Lohagad Fort and Visapur Fort

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Monsoon trek to Sarasgad, Pali

As monsoon began after long break, we decided to have a trek nearby Pune - Mumbai. On late Saturday evening, we (My wife & I) decided to go for a trek on Sunday. We wanted to step up the endurance level (As compare to Malhargad and korigad) so we decided to go to the Sarasgad Fort

Trekkers for Sarasgad were me and my wife Renuka

At Sarasgad fort
WE at Sarasgad fort

About Sarasgad Fort, Pali:
Pali is small village in Raigad district of Maharashtra. This place is just 30-35km away from Khopoli which is located on Pune-Mumbai highway. Pali is famous due to Lord Ganesh temple from Ashtavinayaka. It is also known as Ballaleshwar Temple.

Sarasgad Fort is located behind the Pali village. It is a twin of Sudhagad fort. This fort was mainly used to keep a watch on the surrounding area. Not much is known about the history of this fort. Main attraction for trekkers on Sarasgad is huge size rock steps at the end and narrow route to its Bale Killa.

To reach at the base village of fort from Pune is Pune – Chadani Chowk – Pune-Mumbai highway (you can also go by Expressway) – After Lonavala and descending ghat, take Khopoli exist – Drive till Khopoli main Chowk – Take left at Chowk – Drive for few km till you cross express way from bridge – After crossing bridge, Take left – Drive for 30 km to reach at Pali village.

For Trek route, drive 100-150 meters ahead keeping Pali temple entrance road on your left – Check for Old water well on left – Just few feet before the well you can find information board for Sarasgad fort. Follow the narrow route which will take you to top of fort.

Route from Road, Sarasgad
Route from Road, Sarasgad

19th July 2015: Trek to Sarasgad fort (Total Distance traveled: 250 km):
           We woke up early morning by 5.30 AM and left Pune by 6.30 AM. We preferred Old Pune-Mumbai highway due to less traffic however we came back to Pune via expressway. Drive was wonderful with heavy rain and cold morning breeze. When we crossed Khopoli area, Sun was busy in hide and seeks game with rainy clouds. Light rain showers made us feel fresh. The atmosphere kept changing its mood regularly, sometimes raining and sometimes winds playing with us and sometimes sudden focus from sun glowing up on the wet green vegetation. 

Sarasgad Fort
Sarasgad Fort

Info Board of Sarasgad Fort
Info Board of Sarasgad Fort

             We reached at Pali by 8.45 AM. We had some breakfast and then our trek began. This is not a popular trek hence it is not crowded even on weekends. There are a series of interconnected hills of varying heights which gradually lead to the highest hill hosting the fort. First patch was quite easy but with sudden height gain. We somehow climbed carefully. Due to rain, the route was very muddy and slippery. After climbing the first part we took a small break to rejuvenate ourselves.

Pali village view from Sarasgad Fort
Pali village view from Sarasgad Fort

            Second and third part of the hill was easy to climb. Fort is hosted on the third hill. In reality it is one mountain but still I call them as series of hills because there are small flat walk patches between the two climbs. During our climb, one villager told us to take proper care as stone steps had become slippery. Safety is the most important part during trek so we decided that if anyone of us feels the trek route is not safe, we will turn back. 

Trek Route

After climbing the hill, we reached at the base of the fort. The last part of trek uphill was indeed pretty interesting. There are few steps cut in the rock patch. Those are more like small footholds than steps. After climbing the small rock patch with the help of rock footholds, you can see a small cave on the left. From this point, the final steep ascent to the top begins. Climbing the steep steps can make you a little tired. Each step is much bigger than a regular step. Most of the steps are about knee high. Take proper care during rainy season as rain water usually flows from these steps.

Small cave before steps

Steps at Sarasgad
Steps at Sarasgad

Steps at Sarasgad Fort
Knee high Steps

            At the end of steps, we saw a very beautiful main entrance of the fort known as Dindi Darwaja. On Dindi entrance, you can see Kalash symbol carved in stone wall. After crossing Dindi entrance, there are ruined room constructions known as Devdya in Marathi. Few steps from Dindi entrance will take you to the fort. There are 2 ways to reach at the base of Bale Killa. Take right route which is a well defined route. You can see the Fort wall from this side. Left side route after steps is a shortcut with sudden height gain. 

Dindi Darwaja of Sarasgad
Dindi Darwaja of Sarasgad

Dindi Darwaja and Devdya view
Dindi Darwaja and Devdya view

On Sarasgad Fort

            We saw a water trench at the base of Bale Killa known as Moti water tank. From this point, again you have two options to reach at the top of fort. Left side route (Considering you are facing the fort) is narrow, shortest and adventurous route but there is no fortification to see while climbing. Right side route is very easy one and you can see many ruined fortifications. We decided to climb by left side route which was a bit difficult whereas while descent we preferred the easier route to see ruined fortifications.

Route to Bale Killa

Water trench at base of Bale Killa

           We enjoyed the adventurous route and it was highly slippery. Helping each other, we reached at the top. It was real fun to climb by this route with each other’s help. My advice for others will be - climb from this side in the Monsoon only if you are experienced or if you have an experienced trekker with you. This route is quite easy during other seasons. On top of the Sarasgad fort, there is Kedareshwar temple and a lake nearby. There are two bastions to keep watch on surrounding areas. If weather is clear then you can spot Sudhagad, Tailbaila, Dhangad and Korigad. View of Pali village, Amba River and surrounding area is breathtaking. We took a break for 15 minutes, had our packed snacks and began our descent.
Kedareshwar Tmple
Kedareshwar Tmple

Kedareshwar Temple and lake at Sarasgad Fort
Kedareshwar Temple and lake at Sarasgad Fort

Sarasgad Bale killa

             We came down via the easier route. We saw fortifications such as guard rooms, water trench, grain storage room, ammunition storage room, Jail and some caves. Even though it is in ruined condition it is a treat for trekkers. When we reached at the base of the citadel, heavy wind forced us to wait for few minutes. After short break, we came down at Dindi Darwaja.

Group from Mumbai climbing down from Bale Killa

Ruined condition entrance gate at Sarasgad fort
Ruined condition entrance gate at Sarasgad fort

Ruined Fortification

Grain Storage on Sarasgad Fort

Ruined Fortification 

           Apart from us, there was a group of 12-15 trekkers from Mumbai on the fort. As girls from that group were new to trekking, they took more time to descent from rock steps followed by the rock patch. Our descend was quick once the route was clear for us. We took some photographs and then we covered the remaining distance with lighting speed. We reached Pali village at 1 PM. After we reached at our parked car at base, we had snacks and then we left this beautiful place.

Steps view from Dindi Darwaja

           Due to major landslide on Express way near Aadoshi tunnel, we were stuck in traffic for an hour. Luckily Mumbai to Pune route was less impacted hence we reached home safely by 5.30 PM.

Monsoon approaching towards Pali village
Monsoon approaching towards Pali village

Expense:
  • Car Petrol: INR 1100/- (approx. 15 lit at INR 74.72/lit)
  • Pune-Mumbai old highway toll: INR 61/- (One way)
  • Snacks at Pali: INR 65/- for 2 person (Poha: INR 20, Vada pav: INR 15, Coffee: INR 15)
  • We skipped lunch as we got news about Landslide and heavy traffic. We had dry snacks and joined the expressway quickly to avoid further delay due to traffic jam
  • Khopoli-Pune expressway toll: INR 117/- (One way) (INR 195/- if you join expressway from Mumbai)
Things to carry for Sarasgad trek:
  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water 
  • Some dry food, in case you don’t find any suitable food stall 
  • Windcheater / jacket / Barsati during monsoon trek. 
  • Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang. (Not required for monsoon treks) 
  • A towel or napkin and 2-3 old newspapers 
  • Camera to capture best nature movement 
  • Better avoid wearing Gold and other ornaments. 
  • No need to carry heavy cash.


Click on below links to read other travel blogs on Forts

Pune District
Raigad District
Some Other Snaps:

Kalash on dindi Darwaja

Route on Sarasgad Fort
Route on Sarasgad Fort


Guard room at Sarasgad Fort
Guard room at Sarasgad Fort

Ammunition storage room at Sarasgad Fort
Ammunition storage room at Sarasgad Fort

On Dindi entrance gate

Sarasgad Fort
Sarasgad Fort

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Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni, 
Pune

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Photo Blog of Pune - Saswad Wari 2015

Waari is a holy pilgrimage in Maharashtra and the participants in the Waari are called ‘Waarakaris’. It is undertaken in the Hindu month of Aashaadh (around June-July). Every year, millions of devotees walk along the 250 km route from Aalandi (near Pune) to PandharPur (near Solapur). The Varkari tradition has been part of Hindu culture in Maharashtra since the thirteenth-century CE.

Wari in Dive Ghat..Mauli's Palakhi is on left side just before cuve
Wari in Dive Ghat..Mauli's Palakhi is on left side just before cuve

Events such as Ringan and Dhava are held during the pilgrimage. During the Ringan, a sacred horse called Maulincha Ashva, who is believed to be the soul of the saint whose idol is being carried in the litter, runs through the rows of pilgrims, who try catching the dust particles kicked off and smear their head with the same.Dhava is another kind of race where everyone wins and it is held to commemorate the manner in which Tukaram first saw the temple at Pandharpur and started running in sheer exhilaration

The WARI tradition dates back into times. Saint Dnyaneshwar’s great grandfather – Trymbakpant Kulkarni – used to walk the WARI from his native Apegaon to Pandharpur. Saints Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Sawta Mali, Chokhoba and Tukaram used to participate in the WARI in their own life times. The tradition of the present ‘PALKHI SOHALA’ (literally WARI of festivities) can be traced to the year 1685 around 36 years after Saint Tukaram attained divinity (1649). It was initiated by Taponidhi Narayan Maharaj Dehukar, son of saint Tukaram. The ‘PADUKAs’ of Saint Tukaram would be carried over to Alandi where along with the ‘PADUKAs’ of Saint Dnyaneshwar they would form the WARI inching towards Pandharpur to meet their Lord Vitthal (God).

It was not possible for us to walk with Wari for 250km hence we experienced 3rd day Wari from Pune to Saswad.. Distance between pune and saswad is 29km.

Some clicks taken during Waari:

पाऊले चालती पंढरीची वाट...

विठ्ठल -- विठ्ठल जय हरी -- विठ्ठल

Warkari taking rest during Journey

During rest time...


Mauli mauli....



Warkari with handy cam...






Millions of devotees in Dive ghat...

In Dive ghat

Warkari waiting for Mauli's Palkhi in Dive ghat

Palkhi in Dive ghat

Mauli Mauli...Mauli Mauli Rup tuze...


Massive crowd waiting for Palkhi on Dive ghat hill








Warkari...

We at Dive ghat....

Waari information source:
http://www.warisantanchi.com 
http://173.255.245.157/waari/index.html 

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling. 

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune