Sunday, 24 February 2013

Night trek to Rajgad


I was doing lots of trips from last few years. This time I got a chance to go for trek because of my friends. I was a good trekker few years back and I had been to most the forts during my college days. Somehow I forgot this activity after entering into the work culture. My friend Anannya and Aditya planned night trek to Rajgad and me along with wife Renuka decided to join them.
Trekkers for Rajgad were me, Renuka, Anannya, Aditya and Aditya’s wife Neha.

Bale-Killa from Padmavati Machee
Bale-Killa from Padmavati Machee

About Rajgad trek:
            Rajgad (meaning Royal Fort or King of all Forts), one of the forts of Maharashtra state situated in the Pune district, the fort is 1318 meters above sea level. Formerly known as Murumdev, it was capital of the Maratha Empire (Hindavi Swarajya) ruled by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for almost 26 years, after which he moved to Raigad fort and made that his capital.
This fort has great historical relevance, as it was Shivaji's favorite fort. The fort can be divided into four different parts based on geographical terrain and fortification. These are the three sub-plateau (Machee) namely Padmavati Machee, Suvela Machee and Sanjevani Machee, and at the center Ballekilla (meaning "small fort")
           This fort has witnessed lots of historic events, including the birth of Rajaram Chatrapati, the death of Shivaji's Queen Saibai, the return of Shivaji from Agra, the antyayatra of Tanaji Malusre 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.
            Rajgad is south-west 60 km from Pune. To reach at Rajgad fort base village, easy way is Pune – NH4 National Highway – take left at Nasrapur–Pali village – Wajeghar.
            There are 3 ways to start trek to Rajgad, one is from Gunjavane village which leads to the Padmavati machee. This trek route is mainly known as Chor Darwaza (Secret Doorway).
Second route is also from Gunjavane village but it leads to Suvela Machee. It is better to climb from this way under expert guidance and with professional mountain climbing equipment. I haven’t climbed yet from this route. Third route is via Pali base village which leads to Pali Darwaza. This route is simple but takes longer to climb from here as compared to other route. We decided to go via Pali village.


23rd & 24th Feb 2013: Night trek to Rajgad (Total distance travel by car: 120km + 3hr climb):
             On a very short notice, five of us decided and planned to have the overnight trek over the King of Forts. Two members from our group were having office so we decided to leave Pune after 8 pm on Saturday. By the time we left Pune, it was 9 in clock. On highway, we took small break for fuel and coffee. After having coffee at McD, we left for base village. I had fever on Friday so I was little bit nervous on my stamina. I didn’t want to spoil others mood only due to my health issues. I had taken energy drink (Glucon-D) with me.
             We reached at base village Wajeghar. From here we went at small village named Bhosalewadi. This was the starting point for our trek. We parked our car and we actually started our trek by 12:15 am. It was almost full moon night and bright moon light was helping us to show the route. After walking for few minutes on mildly steep walk-way, about 7-8 feet wide, pretty plain, we reached a small plateau. We can see Entire Rajgad in bright moon light. From here the actual trek began and so the slightly tough part starts. Now we have to climb massive fort. The moonlight was enough to keep our torches off most of the time. The journey was quite easy and ok as we were walking in the night time. We had to take stops at regular intervals to rejuvenate ourselves. My friends were taking my care during entire trek. After more than hour hike, we reached the point from where the stone steps are laid till the top - they call it as Rajgad Rajmarg (Route which was used by king)



            Climbing on stone steps was quite easy task. After sometime finally we reached Pali Darwaza. Slowly we moved towards Padmavati machee. We reach on top by 2.30 am. We were sure that will not get any shelter for to sleep so we decided to move ahead for Bale-Killa (Small fort constructed above fort). To climb Bale-Killa at night was really difficult job. Bale-Killa is the highest part of the fort which has remains of palaces, water cisterns and caves. Generally Bale-Killa is built to protect your surrounding fort and constructed in such a way that it is difficult to climb and conquer in war. It has a beautiful entrance door called Mahadarwaja. One can view the whole fort and the vast surrounding expanse.

Rajgad Rajmarg
Rajgad Rajmarg (Photo taken during descend)

Stone steps on Rajmarg

            Within 30-40 min we climbed the Bale-Killa. It was a very difficult climb. However there is a railing on your way up to make the climb possible. It was around 3:15 am in clock when we reach at the top of Rajgad. We found Janani Temple empty so we decided to sleep there. We all were hungry and had our packed dinner. Having your dinner under bright moon light with cool breeze was a lovely experience. We did some arrangement in temple and went inside our sleeping bags for much needed sleep. Till this point, I was not able to click a single photo and that’s why I was eagerly waiting for morning to capture sun rise photos from Rajgad.
             We were up by 6.00 am after hardly 2 hours of sleep. Till this point we were not able to see surrounding mountain ranges. There was plenty of sun light but I was waiting for Sunrise. The bird’s eye view from Bale-Killa was something that really cannot be described in words. We were able to see Padmavati machee on our right and Suvela machee on left. Padmavati Machee is the site of Padmavati Temple, Padmavati Lake, Chor Darwaja, Pali Darwaja, Gunjavane Darwaja, DaruKothar (storage of arms and ammunition), Diwankhana, Rajwada (ruins), Ghod Tale (Horse Lake), Sadar (office) and Dhalkathi (flag hoisting place).

Our stay at Janani Temple (Anannya, My wife Renuka and Aditya in Red sleeping Bag)
Padmavati Machee
Padmavati Machee from Bale-Killa

            Suvela Machee is another grand machee facing east with lots of secret routes and doorways. This one is a double-stepped fortified machee with the steps separated by a beautiful bastioned doorway. At the end of first step a hole cuts across the rock; one can sit on this Hole (nedhe). The final (lowest) step like Sanjeevani Machee has a double curtain wall. To the south side of this machee one can find a beautiful triangular bastion called Kaleswariburuz having an escape door near it. The home of the renowned military leader Tanaji Malusarewas in this machee.

Suvela Machee
Suvela Machee 

            We witnessed beautiful sunrise from Bale-Killa. I was busy in capturing this lovely nature. For few minutes, Sun was spreading orange red color light all over the horizon. You have to be there and experience it. You can spot Fort Torna, Sinhagad, Raireshwar, Raigad, Lingana and Purandar. We packed our bags after spending some time nearby temple, and processed to watch remaining Bale-Killa. After climbing few steps you can have a look of beautiful glimpses of Late and temple. On top of Bale-Killa, we saw ruin old time building such as Rajwada, storage of arms and ammunition etc. It was too windy on top of fort. We forgot all pains which we had from yesterday on trek when we were on the top of Rajgad. We took some breathtaking snaps before we started climbing down from Balle Killa.

Sunrise from Bale-Killa
Sunrise from Bale-Killa

Sunrise from Rajgad
Sunrise from Bale-Killa

Steps which takes you on the top most point on Bale-Killa

Lake on Bale-Killa

            We could not explore Sanjevani Machee and Suvela Machee as we were running short of time. Sanjevani Machee is huge, beautiful and royally constructed Machee faces west and has a three-stepped (layered) fortified structure. The lowest level is beautifully fortified by double curtain walls (chilkhathi) separated by a deep trench, on average 12 feet across. We decided to visit only Padmavati Machee. After we came down from Bale-Killa, we took small break and had our packed food for breakfast. Being girls in group gives you advantage on food department. Renuka and Neha had bought enough food for breakfast.

Main entrance for Bale-Killa

Wat to Sanjivani Machee
Wat to Sanjivani Machee

Way to Bale-Killa and our breakfast point

            After heavy breakfast, we proceeded towards Padmavati machee. We saw all historical building there. Many trekkers prefer this machee for stay and to cook food for lunch/dinner. May be bcos of this reason this area is not at clean. I really feel bad for it. After sightseeing, we started descending at 11.30 am. We set off for descend to the Bhosalewadivillage through PaliDarwaza. We were ahead of time as we had to reach Pune before 3.30 pm. Descending was not difficult job but after some time pressure on knee becomes headache. After descending half, we took break for 30 min. No reason as such but there was large tree and we tempted for power nap. After power nap in lap of nature, we covered remaining distance with lighting speed. After we reached at our parked car at base village, we left this historical place.

Sadar place

Padmavati Temple
Padmavati Temple 

Padmavati Lake
Padmavati Lake

Saibai's samadhi (tomb)
Saibai's samadhi (tomb)

Pali Darwaza (Fort Entrance a.k.s Pali Entrance)

             Rajgad is truly a place to visit and remember the greatest Maratha King. One must visit the fort and enjoy the nature and the beauty of the great fort. During our return journey, we took lunch break at Dhaba. After tasty lunch and tempting strawberry Cream with Ice cream, we headed back to our homes. It was perfect end to an adventurous weekend.

Fort Rajgad from Base (Taken at 1 pm so photo quality is not up to the mark)

Things to carry for Night trek to Rajgad:
  1. A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water.
  2. Sleeping Bag/Mat, shawl or bed sheet
  3. One pair of cloth in case you are on monsoon trek.
  4. Windcheater / Warm jacket as it will get cold overnight.
  5. Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang.
  6. A towel or napkin and 2-3 old newspapers
  7. Commander torch or any touch which can guide you at night
  8. Better avoid wearing Gold and other ornaments. No need to carry heavy cash.
Our Expenses:
  • Car petrol: INR 650 - 700/- (approx. 8 lit at INR 76/lit)
  • Toll on NH-4: INR 105/- (Return toll)
  • We spend some basic amount for bread, butter, homemade rise Pulav and other food.
  • Buttermilk on fort: INR 10/- per glass.
  • Lunch at kailashDhaba on NH-4: INR 130/- per head for vegetarian meal.
  • strawberry Cream with Ice cream: INR 80/-

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.


Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune


27 comments:

  1. I have also visited several forts but this one is very special and one can say 'gadat gad rajgad'. I have visited 2-3 times and we had started from village margasni. I still remember beautiful views seen from balekilla and machis. Actually I was very worried as you were visiting at night time and two ladies accompanied you. I also wanted to join you but missed due to my fort lover friend's illness.-GP Ghospurkar

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  2. mast re.... kharach lai bhariye Rajgad... amhi pan mukkam kela hota... Padmavati temple madhe.... BTW chan lihilays.... next time Rajgad - Torana la jau...parat ekda...plan karun..

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  3. I am planning for a night trek to Rajgad on 22nd of this month.Is it safe to take night trek in this season & details like from where to start,how to reach the starting point.

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    Replies
    1. yes, its safe... better to by rajmarg route as it safe.
      Refer my blog for how to reach at starting point.

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  4. Rajmarg route ie from pali base village, right...

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  5. And few people are saying that it must be slippery in rains so not the right time for trek..kindly guide

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    1. No its not slippery..safe to go in monsoon too.

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  6. do you all have any contact number of the villagers?

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    1. No...Really sorry as i do not have any contact numbers

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  7. what are the stay possibilities at night on Rajgad? The temple mentioned in the blog is one. If it is occupied, are there other overnight stay options?

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    1. hello,
      There are other locations on Padmavati machi for stay. Generally it gets fulled soon so i prefer temple from Bale-Killa.

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    2. Hi this is Nikhil we are planning for trek this monsoon to rajgad,is there any possibility of stay at locals?

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    3. Yes u can stay at locals at base village. There is no local house at the top. you can use temples to stay on fort

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  8. can anyone give me a base villagers contact no. please??

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    Replies
    1. Sorry but i Do not have any contact details form Base village

      Pritesh

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  9. We are planning to do night stay at Rajgad
    Can we prepare food at the top

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can prepare food at Top. No issue

      Pritesh

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  10. Is it safe to go at night with 5 boys n 3 girls

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  11. Is it safe to go at night with 5 boys n 3 girls

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  12. Is it safe to go with group of 5 boys n 3 girls for rajgad night trek...

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  13. Nice blog. I have few questions if you could please answer.
    Is the route clear at night?
    Are there multiple spots that could confuse at night towards trek summit?
    Is car park safe at the base? Do GPS guide till the base properly?
    By any chance do you have a local's number in case we get lost and need help or a guide.

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    Replies
    1. Route is clear at night id it is Full moon else better to carry torch.
      Route is straight so no misleading ways.
      Yes, Car is safe at base and GPS/Map navigate till base.
      Sorry as i do not have any local contact numbers.

      Pritesh Kulkarni

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    2. Thank you for the quick response. Appreciate it!

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  14. Very nice to read your experience. I went 2015 December, and are renumbering my own experience. Thanks

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  15. Hello Pritesh,

    Thanks for detailed description. I am planning to go to Rajgad via Pali darwaja with my parents, my sister & her kids. Will it be difficult for them?

    I have been to Rajgad like 7-8 times, but everytime I chose Chor Darwaja Trek route which I am pretty sure that is just not possible for my parents at least, considering their age.

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    Replies
    1. Considering your parents and Kids, i will suggest you to go by Pali side. Steps after some easily hike will be good option for them

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